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Wings of Destiny

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Wings of Paradise". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The third enstallment of my Wings Of series, this is the first one that involves Buffy. Destiny is a funny thing. No one ever said it can't take a sharp U turn.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralTheKnightofFaerieFR18541,326033,67126 Nov 1222 Jan 14No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR21 which is above your chosen filter level. You can set your preferred maximum rating using the drop-down list in the top right corner of every page.

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Chapter Two

“speech (English mainly but varies for location of action)”

telepathic speech”

thoughts





Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½, Ah! My Goddess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Harry Potter. Hey, is that a Silent Hill reference too I see? Why yes is and I don't own that property either. Captain Scarlet as well? I don't own Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, sorry. That would belong to Century 21 television. I make no money from this, nor do I plan on trying to. This is purely for fun.

Warning: There will be OOC for some characters. It is an AU though, so that can almost be expected.

Timeline Issues:

*Wings of Paradise is mainly set around 1998 or so and takes place during the first major storyline for Sailor Moon

*Wings of Recursion is set in a twenty year period between 1998 and 2018, looping over and over

*Wings of Destiny is set in 2008, and starts ten years after the time loops finally end

*For the most part I was not verifying what day of the week any given date falls upon. As such if you notice I have classes on what proves to be a weekend, or claim a day falls on Saturday when it was actually Wednesday I would appreciate you letting me know so I can fix such references. Honestly, it didn't occur to me to verify such minor details until half way through writing chapter 2. Nor did I sit down to pin down exact dates for when each story is set till part way through chapter 2 of this, the third story.

Needless to say this series is set in an Alternate Timeline





Wings of Destiny

By

Faerie Knight


It was a little known fact in the wizarding world, but Hogwarts was alive. Oh everyone who schooled there knew the castle changed it's interior configuration fairly regularly. But most didn't know the castle was sentient. Witches and wizards just assumed the castle's enchantments had some sort of schedule embedded for the changes. The truth was that Hogwarts found enjoyment in messing with students. Especially the new ones.

For those who could track such things it was obvious that the castle was angry. And there were a plethora of reasons why too. The biggest one was a huge gaping hole now in one of her bathrooms. And yes, Hogwarts identified herself as female. Another was the fairly recent discovery that the current headmaster had enslaved her friend. Then there was the Dark creature skulking about the castle. The fact the Headmaster did nothing about that also sat ill with the castle.

Thus it was that a supposedly inanimate object sent a message to a man who once held one of the most important positions possible without being a deity. Hogwarts had no way of knowing the connection between this individual and the current Defense teacher. If it had known the decision might have came about much sooner. When the message was received the recipient found himself much displeased with it's content.

November 24th

Eric sighed as he flew through the air. This was not a particularly good time for him. First of all he'd been separated from his wife for five years. The letter he received a week previous was also kind of alarming as well. Things had settled down greatly after the recursive loops had ended. The girls had managed to defeat their enemy without anyone dying for once. He'd managed to pass the torch to someone else who was responsible too. And yet his personal life had descended into the toilet.

A thousand years of making hard choices takes it's toll on anyone. And the stress had hurt his marriage. They were still bound in matrimony, yet no longer a couple. Perhaps in a few decades she'd said. Maybe when she finished training her apprentice. And in all honesty Eric couldn't blame her for leaving. They'd been together for longer then most couples lived. Both had stared into the abyss for so long it was a good friend. Eric knew both he and Susan just needed their space.

If there was an upside to this trip It was the Eric had not seen in England quite some time. So long had it been in fact that he wasn't quite sure if he hoped things were the same or not. But that still didn't make the letter any less alarming. It wasn't every day a castle sends you notice that you were required to be there within a week's time. The timing for the notification was suspicious too. His contacts had indicated something big had just happened in the American west but not what it was.

It was for this reason he was traveling in the uniform given by his former employers so long ago in his personal time line. The vest, tights, cape, and mask were all in varying shades of green. As were the boots and gloves. The belt he wore was a steel gray, or at least the buckle was. The belt it's self couldn't actually be seen beneath all the tan utility pouches adorning it. Each pouch held items he found useful when in uniform. At his side was an ornate sword with a hilt shaped like an angel with the wings forming the cross guard.

He didn't like walking into anything blind. Which was why the man had arrived in England several days early. He had a few contacts in the area who would only speak with 'Emerald Avenger'. Others he would meet with in another guise. The first stop was a man named Flanagan O'Riley in a pub called the Leaky Cauldren. While Eric wasn't too familiar with London's night life he had good directions. Oddly enough as he passed by the area the pub should be, there was nothing there.

Eyes narrowed as the emerald clad man pulled out the piece of paper with the address. He checked the buildings in the area, and scowled. All the building numbers were correct, yet one was missing. The one he needed. Something's wrong here. Eric reached out and felt the chi of the area. And right where the empty lot stood the chi felt off. It didn't flow like an empty lot. It flowed with so much chi, both positive and negative that he shook his head to clear his vision. What the hell?

It's shrouded,” Eric heard within his mind.

Well no shit, Eric thought back. Can you do anything about that, or am I on my own?

I could, but there just might be a reason for the concealment.” The sword snarked back.

Tell me again why I had to find a sarcastic weapon of Light?

As I recall you stole me, remember? Your just lucky I agreed serving you would be better then sitting in a dark room for centuries. Or being used as a dragon's toothpick again. Ugh!”

Fine, if you aren't going to help at least be quiet. The costumed man landed and closed his eyes. He examined the chi of the area with a closer attention to detail this time. Slowly he got a vague impression of a doorway. Cautiously he reached out. Moments later the man found a doorknob which he turned. A quick experiment had the unseen door opening inward. With eyes still closed he entered the building. With the entrance closed behind him Eric opened his eyes.

And blinked three times slowly. “Oh you have got to be kidding me! When did the nightgown convention come to town?”

He could hear the sword at his side laughing it's proverbial ass off. “These are the people you're suppose to blend in with? HAHAHHAHA! I can see it now! The 'great' Von Mason, master of the Victorian ball gown!”

“Keep it up chuckles and I'll dip you in pink glittery nail polish,” Eric whispered to the sword under his breath.

The sword actually shuddered in it's scabbard at the thought. Briefly the sentient weapon considered insinuating that it's wielder wouldn't dare. But Eric not only would dare, but had done something similar in the past when mocked about his 'uniform'. And ever since then the sword had developed a bit of a phobia involving glitter, the color hot pink, and technicolor cartoon bears with cute images on their stomach. It was better for everyone's sanity not to ask for details of that event.

With a purposeful gait he strode towards the back area. That was where the meeting was suppose to take place. Eric could hear the confused conversation surrounding him. These weird people didn't seem to keep up with the news. And he had no idea what a 'muggle' was, or why they shouldn't be able to find the pub. His chi awareness told Eric someone else was in the back room. He didn't see anyone, but trusted his more mystical senses.

“Show yourself O'Riley. You indicated you had news for me?” The costumed man spoke.

The unseen man said “Not how it works green knight. You don't see me. You don't know me. I don't exist. Remember? Someone you've been watching was arrested four days ago by the Ministry. Don't know who exactly. Cute red head from what I hear. Fights real well too.”

“Oh for Pete's sake, Can't that woman go one year without getting into some sort of trouble? I swear she's a chaos magnet.”

Hogwarts

Today was the big day. Today was when they would finally return to being human, hopefully. It'd been almost a month since Halloween and the troll. And already the boy's dorm was upset with Ron Weasley. Emotional outbursts were normal for preteens and teens. What was not so normal was emotional outbursts leading to snow storms while indoors. It was similarly uncomfortably abnormal that Ron kept causing ice slicks every time he sneezed. Humorous, but abnormal.

As the three students shuffled into the infirmary they looked eager to be back to what passed for normal. The Potter boy however also betrayed his worry. Before this year he'd had very few good things happen. Even now the good was mostly overcast by the bad. Harry had made friends for the first time in his life, yet one of the teachers hated him for the crime of being alive. He was learning magic, which was really neat. And a student tried killing him with an axe, which was so very much bad.

For every positive that had entered his life, something equally bad had occurred. So Harry was concerned. When would the other shoe drop this time? And how serious would it be? It was bad enough that only he and his friends seemed able to see what was going on. Whatever was hidden in the third floor, it was clear as day that Harry and his friends were the only ones able to see it was at risk. It was also obvious to the boy that the headmaster was most likely insane.

The infirmary was crowded today, and not because of patients. A dozen of the best curse breakers, potion masters, and medi-witches were there. They had been called in to help restore the three students. The presence of so many experts had come in handy a few days ago too. Several of the beds were still occupied by injured aurors. Casualties from whatever had happened had been few, but almost half the people who came for the mysterious raid had been carried away from the battle site.

Before they could undergo the treatment their Defense teacher approached. The woman wore a pair of sturdy jeans and a blue tee shirt. Her ever present tan trench coat was also being worn. Susan Mason examined the three transfigured students with obvious concern. Everything the giant of a woman knew screamed that mixing magics was a really bad idea. A person being turned into one of the 'fair folk' was also unprecedented. In fact it shouldn't have even been possible.

“I wont pretend to know exactly what you've been going through,” Susan said. “All the research I could do wont tell me anything beyond the physiological changes. But I do know what it's like to question your identity. I wasn't that much older then you three when my mother was crippled by demons. That's when I found out I wasn't human, and that she was an avatar of Ishtar. So I do know a little of what you're experiencing. I know this has been hard on you.

“But it could be worse. Your still yourselves after all. And your still alive. Everything I've ever learned about magic says trying to reverse this could end badly. Hells, it shouldn't have been possible to begin with. What little there is on magical species changing says becoming one of the faerie folk is as close to impossible as you can get with magic involved. And my references all hint any such change is normally one way. Of course they're also all fifth hand at best. Finding reliable texts can be difficult in most the last two dimensions I've lived in.

“I guess what I'm trying to say is think carefully. For all anyone knows there is no way to reverse what happened. Trying could work, or could hurt you. So consider the price you may pay first. But then again I'm no expert on magic. Demons, monsters, and the paranormal yes, but not magic. I know just enough to get by, and to know how much I don't know.”

After the speech Harry sank onto one of the beds and thought. He thought long and hard about what to do. What if she's right? He pondered silently. What if I'm stuck? What if the cure hurts me? It was a scary thought. His aunt and uncle hated him already. They called him a freak while beating him. Yet what would they do if he returned to the house with green skin? Nearby his first real friend also contemplated the choice ahead.

Ron on the other hand didn't quite understand what all the worry was about. He wasn't an idiot by any means. Yet he also didn't like to think about his actions. Consequences were something others suffered, not him. That was why he drank the elixir without any hesitation. After all, to his mind nothing magic could fail. A niggling bit of doubt formed when Ron collapsed in pain. It felt as if his entire body was on fire. And that was an experience the boy had never wanted to have again.

Harry turned to Hermione and said “This is a bad idea.”

Sunnydale

Buffy was laying on her back. She was fully clothed at least, and it hadn't been by choice. Her favorite stake was laying on the floor nearby as a pile of ashes. There was a simple explanation for both situations too. Thirty seconds previous Buffy had attempted to Slay the succubus named Rei Hino. It hadn't gone as planned. The surprise assault from behind had been stopped by the impact of a wing to Buffy's face. A follow up charge had ended with the slayer being flipped onto her back and disarmed.

“Why are you trying to kill an ally?” The millennial shrine maiden asked.

As the faux blond stood and pulled out a new stake she growled out “Slayer, your a demon. Get the point?”

The horribly bad quip might have made Rei chuckle if it wasn't herself being threatened. “Are you a slayer? I am starting to wonder about that. Xander-san, when you found her was she ice cold, warm, or room temperature?”

It didn't take long for the others in the room to grasp the question's significance. If the slayer's body had still been warm it meant Xander Harris had arrived moments after the Master had taken the girl out. If the body had been ice cold she might have still been barely alive, then there would have been a chance at resuscitation. But there was a saying that went 'they aren't dead until they are warm and dead'. This saying was in regards to reviving people who had been submerged in water.

“You told us the master had drained you. And then there's the fact that you died. Are you still a slayer? Or are you something else?” Rei sidestepped another charge, one leg hooking out to trip the slayer. “Yes I'm a demon. I don't advertise that fact. I never wanted to be one, but I've accepted my fate. And it was because of my own carelessness. I've never fed on someone who wasn't willing, and I only feed when I have to heal. So I ask again, why are you trying to kill me?”

Well, there might have been that one time. Rei let her tail snake around the other girl's waist and pulled her close. Then the demoness wrapped her arms around the slayer and kissed her on the lips. While Buffy was still dazed from the unexpected toe curling kiss she was quickly disarmed and secured. Now I just have to figure out how to convince her taking out the vampire is the right thing to do. Was I ever that blind?

At least privately Rei had to admit she never liked or trusted the vampire. While she herself had made mistakes, there was only one time in the last thousand years she'd ever slept with someone who wasn't over eighteen. And that time she'd been nearly crazy with hunger. The vampire known as Angel on the other hand was a true pedophile in her opinion. He was over two hundred and fifty years, and chose to court a sixteen year old.

It had been a conscious choice on the vampire's part. He'd withheld his true age for the longest time. He'd withheld other important facts too. Such as the curse he'd been under. Curses could be broken, and Rei had to believe the vampire had known how to break his own. That angered the former shrine maiden still further in regards to Angel. As long as the fiend had fought on the side of right she'd been willing to hold back judgment.

"Do you know how old 'Angel' is?" Rei asked. "How about what he's done? Let alone the crimes he's committing now. Your precious vampire had willingly unleashed a demon he believed was invincible. A demon that would destroy all of humanity. And yes, that includes you Miss Summers. So what would you rather do? Would you prefer waiting until the vampire finds a way to actually damn all humanity that we can't stop, or stop him now?"

London

When he strode into the building all talk stopped. People turned to look at the stranger approaching the front desk. he as Asian in appearance with long strait black hair. The man was wearing a robe that looked very out of place. It was light green and tailored more like a Japanese kimono. He had a short beard which was close cropped too. The ornate sword at his waste only furthered the interest in the man. It seemed he was also growing angry.

The sword was drawn and brought down through the receptionist desk within seconds. He re-sheathed the blade and continued to chew her out. The arrival of several aurors didn't even phase the man. As they drew wands he pulled out a sheet of paper and lit it on fire. He then exhaled a cloud of white mist which blinded the aurors. That was when the man moved into the cloud.

Several grunts could be heard, followed by a soft thud. Several more impacts could be heard after that. When the cloud finally was drawn back into the man the four aurors were laying on the ground groaning in pain. A series of pops signaled the arrival of four more aurors. One of them was a woman the man recognized from his intel gathering. He scowled at the newcomers and cracked his knuckles. The glare sent at their leader could have withered a plant.

"By what right do you hold this one's countrymen hostage?" He demanded with a thick Japanese accent.

Amelia Bones found her attention being drawn back to the sword repeatedly. It had cleaved through marble like it was tissue paper after all. The hilt from what she could see looked like a winged woman. Next she focused on the man himself. He'd used magic of some sort, that much was obvious. But it was a completely unknown type. The man carried no wand either. So if he was a wizard it wasn't any kind Bones knew about. Either that, or the wand was part of that sword, probably the hilt.

"No Barbie, you may not break the blunt sticks. This one thinks they might need them."

The statement created a massive disconnect. This slightly intimidating Asian man who'd just made a demanding question had apparently felt the need to tell his sword not to break their wands. It was so out of the blue, so bizarre that Amelia's mind had trouble wrapping around it at first. And then the sword left the scabbard under it's own power. The wing shaped cross guard flapped and the weapon hovered beside the stranger. Thus proving conclusively the weapon was magic in nature.

"Watch this one's back, but disarm without hurting." The unknown man said.

Then he was moving again. It was graceful and terrifying at the same time. For the second time in a week the head auror watched a person with unnatural combat skills engage his trade. He moved with a grace which shouldn't be physically possible. The man seemed to instinctively know when to twist out of the way. At one point he'd even deflected a stunner with his bare hand. Strangely the unknown man didn't once attack Amelia herself.

"This one begins to see why you would imprison an innocent woman now. What else may one expect from those who willingly work alongside one dedicated to the spread of evil? You surround yourself with those tainted by foul influences, yet are not tainted. Are you truly so pure of spirit, or just blind? Stand down Barbie, those two are untouched by foulness."

He walked over to the ones initially dispatched and checked them over. The unknown man laid hands on two of them, and still forming bruises vanished. Out of ten aurors sent to take this intruder down, only three were still standing. Of those three one alone remained uninjured. Which raised the question in the woman's mind of just who she was dealing with.

Amelia's curiosity in regards to the man's comment about taint caused her to check the forearms of those insensate near her. Alarmingly they both had the dark mark. Since one of the more recent requirements for the post was not having served in the Dark Lord's private army, that should not have been possible. And yet it had happened. Again she wondered who this unknown man was that he could tell that without even looking.

"Who are you?" Bones finally demanded.

This caused the man to turn towards her."This one's identity of no matter. More important to know what this one is. This one, little child, am but a single warrior in an endless battle. This one is one who draws a line in the sand which Evil may not pass. This one is a ghost, unseen and heard till they strike at down the heart of corruption. This one has come to ensure a fellow champion shall be set free from unjust imprisonment."

The sword whacked him in the back of his head before settling back in it's scabbard.

Hogwarts

It had been two hours since the burning pain began. Two hours since he'd recklessly drank a potion which may or may not restore his original form. Ronald Weasly was starting to hedge his bet on 'may not' with side stakes on 'will kill me'. Since drinking the potion water had been flowing off the boy as if he was melting. Yet no mass had been lost because of it. But now the agony was starting to fade. The blue hue of his skin also was fading into pink.

Not that Ron had noticed that. All he'd noticed was his throat was raw from screaming. As the torture finally came to an end the sound of cracking wood echoed through the room. All eyes turned to where the sound had come from. When Ron pulled his wand out of the pocket he stored it in he stared. There was a jagged line down the length of his wand. But it wasn't exactly a split. Or rather not just a split. It almost looked like ice had forced it's self along the length of it.

In all the time since Ron had drank the potion his two friends had refrained from sharing his act. To Hermione it was due to the extreme pain her friend was suffering. She didn't exactly consider herself a coward. Yet at the same time taking risks for no real gain seemed foolish. For all anyone had known, the potion was killing Ron. Harry on the other hand was thinking long and hard. The entire situation was because his magic had gone haywire while casting a spell

The fact that magical accidents had stopped after Halloween meant something. Harry just wasn't sure what. And no one had bothered trying to figure it out, let alone explain things. The truth was that it sometimes felt like Harry was being prevented from learning anything important to his own well being. The teachers themselves weren't too bad. But they treated him like a little kid. That was something he hadn't really been in years.

Innocence had been beaten out of the youth by his uncle and cousin. Wide eyed wonder had been starved out of him by his aunt. In their place was a boy of surprising maturity. He was quiet and a hard worker. And Harry Potter had no illusions of how harsh the world was. Magic wasn't some great adventure, it was a tool to protect himself. Friends weren't something to take for granted, but to cherish and protect with his life if needed.

Of the teachers only one had seemed to even partly see this about the boy. That teacher was huge, maybe as tall as Hagrid. Yet she wasn't anywhere near as bulky. It was hard to respect someone who allowed an axe to be plunged into your chest though. In all honesty Harry thought the Defense against Dark Arts teacher was a little scary. In part it was due to her knowledge of ways to kill. In part it was her enthusiasm for the subject of killing supernatural entities. But mostly it was the axe to the chest.

"No," he finally insisted after hours of debating the choice.

That it would mean being unable to go back to number 4 Privot drive was a huge bonus. It was a bit of a surprise when his friend Hermione also chose not to risk the potential cure. Her reasoning was completely unfathomable to the young man. He'd have thought Hermione would have jumped at the chance to be human again. Girls, who can figure them out? The young man thought ruefully Harry then decided to try explaining his own reasons. And that would probably take a while.

Sunnydale

There were times when Buffy Summers hated the quiet. They weren't often, usually she enjoyed the piece of Normal such times offered. But sometimes she hated it. She hated it today because she couldn't help but think. And thinking this time meant she had to actually consider her own actions. Self reflection wasn't a strong point of the teen. Point of fact, she did her best not to consider her life. There were a multitude of reasons behind that subconscious choice.

Chief among them was the decidedly bleak outlook on Buffy's future. Already she was defying the odds by simply surviving. I died. There it was again, that troubling thought which refused to stay banished. I died after only six months as the Slayer. Again with the depressing thought that wouldn't go away. Why did it plague her today? It was that demon's fault. The monster had reminded Buffy what happened that night. The demon that tried to kill her Angel, thus proving it was evil.

Or at least that was Buffy's line of reasoning. It seemed pretty reasonable. Demons were Evil. The girl was a demon. That meant that Rei was Evil and had finally proved it a few days ago. Then again the teenage girl had never questioned the origin of Slayers. Nor did she question if all demons were evil threats to humanity. The fact she'd been romancing a vampire also was swept under the rug of denial. That line of thought was another reason Buffy hated the quiet these days.

Vampires were evil with a capital E. They killed people for fun. They killed people to feed. They killed people just for the 'crime' of existing. But that was because they didn't have souls. Angel was good because he had a soul. Never mind that one can be extremely evil even with a soul. Ignore the fact vampires drank blood, and even with a soul Angel still did that. Also ignore the fact Angel was in fact a two hundred plus old walking corpse. Thinking of that was not 'of the good' as Willow would say.

Instead of continuing to dwell on such topics Buffy finally managed to fall asleep. Sleep however didn't give respite from her torment. Instead of peaceful oblivion or her childhood Buffy found herself back in the mental institute. But it wasn't quite the same. Instead of the off white padded room the walls were covered in rust, or blood. It was hard to tell which at a glance. The floor it's self was a blood red grate which occasionally dripped. Lights were dim, almost to the point of it being too dark to see.

From the other side of the room's only door she could hear a faint scream. Shortly after that there was an ear rending sound, possibly of metal scraping on metal but it was hard to tell. When the cell door creaked open the teenage girl couldn't help but jump a little. Cautiously Buffy pushed the door open wider and looked out. The harsh sound grinding of metal continued echoing through the halls. Halls which appeared to consist of rusty grating for walls and floor. Inhuman shapes could be seen between the grating in torturous appearing positions.

Just barely through the metallic noise came the faint sound of shuffling and moaning. It sounded ominous, so naturally Buffy found herself making her way towards where the sound came from. The lack of a weapon was disturbing. Not quite alarming, but disturbing none the less. And the ambient sounds sent chills down Buffy's spine. As she walked the teen eyed various bits of debris that littered the ground. But none of it looked very sturdy. That changed as she entered a ruined bathroom.

The mirror above the sinks was bleeding from several cracks. In the center of the cracks was a rusty but still serviceable combat knife. It's removal from the mirror was much harder then it should have been. Pulling it out however caused the blood to gush out. From one of the stalls what looked like a faceless nurse shambled. The female figure was also holding a knife. It turned towards Buffy unerringly and began to shuffle towards her.

As the teenage Slayer tried to wipe blood from her eyes the faceless nurse continued it's approach. Why isn't my slaydar going off? Buffy wondered in a panic as she backed up. That panic only grew when fighting off the demon nurse proved really hard. The creature ended up being stronger, and slightly faster. By the time the teen had managed to slay the nurse demon Buffy had been cut several times. One of them was deeper then expected. Which lead to her thinking What if there's more around?

Suddenly the nightmarish asylum was even more frightening.

November 26th

Hogwarts

When an unknown man of oriental decent approached the castle few took notice of the fact. That he was armed with an ornate sword was a passing curiosity to a few centaurs. Yet since the stranger took no action against the centaurs it wasn't thought upon for long. After all, the stars had said nothing important would happen that day. What was interesting was that some of the dark creatures that lived in the forest avoided his presence like they were scared of the man.

"That's odd," the man commented as he checked a GPS tracker. "It was working a minute ago."

He spoke with a Japanese accent, Which fit considering he appeared to be from that nation. His mode of dress on the other hand was a century or two out of date. Which meant if it'd been European in style it would have fit in perfectly at the castle the man was approaching. Instead the man was wearing a light green kimono with a red dragon that wrapped around the torso. Over the years the man had gone by many many names.

He was born Eric Von Mason, the middle of three children born to a carpenter in Norway. As a young man he'd earned the code name of 'Liquid Ghost' for his infiltration skills while serving the united state's central intelligence agency. For a time he'd lost all memory of his past. During that period of time he'd gone by the moniker of 'Emerald Avenger' and fought crime publicly as a costumed adventurer. The man had even spent time in another dimension as a wandering warrior believing his name to be 'Jake Grooberman'.

Many names he'd worn over the years. Many faces as well. Most of them were not his own. In truth as the man exited the forest near an ancient Scottish castle the face he wore was not the face he'd been born with. Perhaps it was paranoia, but Eric had felt this meeting would not be good to do as himself. Since there was still a good distance between him and the keep, the man stood there and thought. Finally he nodded to himself.

"Well Barbie, what do you think of messing with them?" He asked.

"What do you have in mind now?" a telepathic voice replied.

"Oh, not much. Just convincing them you're the reason I can fly."

He got the impression of snickering and a mental nod. The man drew his weapon and thrust it forward into the air. As he did this Eric shot off in the direction his sword was pointing. At what appeared to be the apex of his ascent the asian man swung the sword downward. His flight path followed the arc of his sword, altering his trajectory towards the keep's main entrance and completely bypassing the outer walls. As he came down the man twisted so his feet impacted with the sturdy oak door.

The fact it actually opened from the impact was what set off the headmaster's personal wards. Oh, the castle had it's own wards. Dumbledore however had taken to setting up additional ones for several decades which only answered to him. It was for that reason alone the old wizard had been alerted to the intruder. The castle's wards hadn't alerted him at all. On the other hand, they had been actually disabled since the students had arrived. As the old man quickly strode through the halls (the headmaster did not rush anywhere) he wondered what the latest problem was.

What the headmaster found was a man who might have been in his thirties or forties yet gave off a feeling of incredible age. Passive scans of the man's mind only helped to strengthen that impression of being a child next to him. And that was a feeling Dumbledore had not experienced in a while. The aged wizard was about to demand answers when he saw something within the other person's mind which was a little disconcerting. And that was a man of European ancestry engaged in frantic battle with hordes of monstrous creatures while wielding the self same weapon worn by this man.

How the one seen in memory was connected to this man was something Dumbledore was unaware of just yet. It did seem odd however to see things from that perspective. It wasn't that he saw the memory from the point of someone else watching it. Rather he got the impression it was himself watching from the outside. When searching for more about the stranger Dumbledore got confusing results. It was as if he was standing before dozens of men instead of one. The name which stood out the most however was Wong Sun Lao. Or at least that was the name at the forefront.

"How may I help you Mister Lao?"

The Asian man responded with "You may respect the privacy of this one's mind. Beyond this most basic form of respect, you may escort this one to their accommodations."

The method of speech was rather formal. It also conveyed the the impression of being looked down upon. It already was starting to grate on the ears, the Asian man's own as well. There was true disdain held for these unusual Europeans too. After having been filled in two days previous on the full situation, the Asian appearing man had come to believe this entire hidden society was corrupt. Not all the people in it, but the society it's self. What 'accommodations' is he expecting? Dumbledore thought bemusedly.

"This one has received urgent summons to wart of swine. This one now here. Why has this one been summoned?"

It took the headmaster a moment to decipher what was said. There was a reason he actively prevented students from other nationalities after all. Dumbledore hated having to figure out what they said. Not that he made such knowledge public. Upon determining the stranger's meaning he began a more active probe into the other man's mind. If he saw the foot which impacted Dumbledore's temple was something which would remain a mystery for a while yet.

"Man, what's with these people? I warned him to stay out of my mind. Ah well, once more into the breach, eh Barbie?"

"Indeed 'Wong Sun Lao', but why that persona? Why not come as yourself?" The sword asked.

"Mostly due to habit. I've used Lao for public appearances for so long it almost seems natural. Besides, I'd rather not give that moldy ports guy any real intel on me."

He bent down and lifted the headmaster with a slight grunt of effort. The scroll had said to come to the castle's great hall. The question was how to reach it. No directions had been given. So with a slight shrug Eric began to search. The first time stairs moved beneath him came as a shock. And he was almost positive the halls themselves were moving, but that was silly. By the time an hour had gone by it was starting to get annoying. Eric also had begun to worry that he'd struck the old fool too hard.

The tang of disinfectants struck his nose, which brought a sigh of relief to the Asian man. Eric turned back to the door which he'd gotten the whiff while passing. Eric pushed the door open and found himself standing outside of an infirmary. He cleared his throat loudly to attract attention from the stout woman tending a handful of men and women. He didn't drop his guard though. This could all still be a trap. Unlikely as it was, Eric felt it was still a possibility.

"This one bring fool in need of treatment." He said. "Fool suffer blow to head. Own fault, this one warn no invade this one's mind. This one be called Master Lao. Directions to great hall this one much appreciate honored healer."

XxXxX

When lunch came around Susan Mason made her way to the great hall. There was one day left until her ultimatum came due. As such the demi-god was dotting her I's and crossing her T's. That meant submitting her findings to the authorities, along with her authorization for executing criminals who dealt with the supernatural. And wasn't that a pain. Part of it had involved a meeting with the head of magical law enforcement and her mother. Which had in turn lead to accusations of Susan being a 'dark' creature by one busybody named Lucius Malfoy.

The very idea of her being a 'dark' creature was laughable. Even the most evil of those with her calling would still lay down their own life to protect humans from supernatural evil. The idea was still more hilarious considering just how long Susan had been holding the line against supernatural forces out to enslave or destroy humanity. In her time Susan had met vampires who sought to do good deeds, and angels who were worse monsters then many demons.

As such the idea of unilaterally labeling everyone with specific traits as 'dark' was laughable. Even if most entities of certain types tended to be evil, there were always exceptions. This was a fact the Ministry seemed to forget or ignore. Susan wasn't sure which one it was. It's hard for even the most corrupt of government to claim your a creature of evil however when your resume for destroying demons and monsters is twelve inches thick. Even harder when several gods of Light backed your past actions. The meeting with the DMLE had also been an eye opener.

Huh, Eric's here? And in his 'Master Lao' guise no less. Guess it was him I heard about thrashing Miss Bone's aurors. I wonder what's up? It's not like he's here to see me. Hell, we've barely spoken in a couple years. When the aged martial artist approached the staff table her musing was brought to an abrupt halt. And where is the bastard? She wondered upon noting Dumbledore's absence. The school's students also had taken note of this oddity.

The deputy headmaster, whose name Susan always had trouble pronouncing, stood and greeted the apparent stranger. To keep up the fiction of them not knowing each other Susan focused on her lunch instead of what was said. Besides, it always annoyed her when Eric delved so deeply into that particular persona. It was one of the reasons they split up after all. Maybe in a few years when 'Master Lao' was too old and had to be retired. But until then the paranormal exterminator felt keeping her distance was a good idea.

"Wait, why is the hat being brought out?" She asked Snape, who was sitting next to her.

London

There was something seriously wrong going on, and Amelia Bones wasn't sure just what it was. The headmaster of Hogwarts had tried to get his defense against dark arts teacher declared to be a Dark creature. That hadn't gone over nearly as well as the old man had likely expected. In fact Bones was still a little shocked at just who and what had shown up in her office yesterday. That namely was several gods, among them Ishtar and Ra. Having the Babylonian goddess of war and beauty visit had been alarming. Seeing a heavily armed teacher greet said goddess with a warm hug even more so.

Learning that the Egyptian god of the sun was a drinking buddy to the Babylonian god of magic had also shaken her world view. Then of course had been the most shocking revelation. The goddess Ishtar had demanded to know what her role in Ranma Nightbane missing a 'ladies night' poker game was. The Ministry had strict classifications of magical beings. They were either 'Light', which there were very few of, or 'Dark', which was the majority of magic beings.

The very concept of neutrality was alien to the wizardry world. Especially when it came to non-wizard sentient creatures. Nearly all of those were classified as Dark, including goblins and centaurs. As such the idea of a demon being neutral and thus nether Light or Dark was hard to understand. But being chewed out by a goddess for capturing and trying to interrogate a demon was something new. And now here she was approaching the home of Ms Nightbane (learning the demon was actually married had also been a shock).

"What are you doing here?" The red haired demoness demanded when she opened the door. "Was not ruining my mission enough? I was given a simple yet long term task. A task which you short shortsightedly have ended prematurely. Now I must report to my employers that the Potter boy is not protected from persecution by your corrupt government."

"But," Bones began only to be interrupted.

"That may just work. Yes, you will accompany me to the meeting Miss Bones. And you will be the one to explain why my mission has failed."

"Wha?" Was all the head Auror could get out before being dragged back to the bedroom.

Sunnydale

She had to admit the kid was brave. Stupid, but brave. To think that with little training and no real chance of success Alexander Harris had decided to guard his friend's hospital room. And he did so alone. Furthermore he'd done so without telling anyone about his plan. Yet what truly impressed Rei was not his foolish act of bravery. No, it was the fact he'd actually managed to chase off a master vampire. That fact alone was alarming since it raised many questions about the class clown.

It spoke of an intensity which could scare the undead. The question was where did it come from? Rei knew he had a nearly obsessive need to fight vampires. Yet the teenage boy hadn't displayed anything which would account for causing Angellus to back down. And Harris wasn't talking about how he'd actually done it. Not for the first time Rei wished she still had access to the sacred fire. Without it her precognitive gifts were much harder to use.

All they were telling the ancient warrior about Harris was a confusing image of a calendar with several days circled. A check against the lunar cycles had only furthered the confusion. The circled days didn't correspond to any phase of the moon she could see. That meant he wasn't a lycanthrope of any sort. But that left the puzzle unsolved. Nothing her mentor had taught had dealt with this. Not that Rei had been studying under Miss Mason too long.

They'd been traveling together for a little under a year when they stumbled across the possessed man that started this current situation. And since then Rei had found herself frequently vacillating between boredom and frantic research on how to stop the latest threat. Wistfully she thought back to the centuries spent fighting Queen Beryl over and over as the senshi of Mars. The first time had been frantic at times too. But with age things became easier.

After a while the war with Beryl had gotten so easy that they had made a game of it repeatedly. Her friend making a statue of the many silver imperium crystals. they recovered was just one indication of those games. It had been simpler. Find a monster, and destroy it with the magic equivalent of blunt trauma. None of the subtle or complex plans being dealt with now. If she stayed in Sunnydale too long, Rei knew things would only get more complicated.

Meatball head would hate it here, she thought with a little amusement. She never did like studying. Thinking of the woman who had been her friend for over a thousand years called to mind other things. Among them a man they'd met a long time ago during one of the weirder time loops. Madam Mister was an oddball. A woman who had claimed to be born a man in the Victorian era. A scientist who specialized in steam tech. Oddly enough she'd seen Madam Mister on the news a few times since the loops had finally ended.

Then again there were many other things that hadn't been around previously. The castle her sensei was currently working in was one of them. This plague of demons and demonic vampires was another. Or was it just that they had only focused on Japan all this time? Had these things always been around? It was hard to tell. But at least some things were still the same. Among them was an old friend who no longer remembered her.

Rei remembered Sam from before the loops had began. And maybe when things settled down here a bit she'd go visit the man, woman, it was as confusing as with Ranma. She hadn't seen the others in a few years either. Last Rei had heard they were all working for that detective guy again. He was another person she'd not seen in entirely too long. The senshi paused in her reflections. Why did musing about what was going on with the Harris boy cause her to think about people she hadn't seen in centuries?

Then it hit her. What if it's a different monthly cycle? There were other things which ran in regular cycles for specific days each month. Most of ones Rei could think of off hand made little sense for a man with no job though. Speaking of which, Rei thought, tomorrow's our yearly reunion. I wonder how everyone's doing? And has Setsuna finally gotten herself a boyfriend? Or maybe a girlfriend? Thoughts of her oldest friends gave the ancient demoness an idea on how to protect Buffy though.

Hogwarts

When the evening meal came around it was discovered that four students were missing. Ordinarily one might have assumed a tryst or prank. However the students who'd gone missing were from all four houses. Not to mention who they were. From Griffendor Hermione Granger had vanished. From Slythren it was Draco Malfoy. Luna Lovegood had gone missing from Ravenclaw, and Susan Bones had vanished from Hufflepuff. The fact the headmaster was also not attending supper raised a few eyebrows.

"Madam Pomfry, did Dumbledore leave your ward?" Susan asked.

When the healer gave an affirmative Susan Wellington-Mason scowled. She suspected what was going on. And if correct it didn't bode well. She stood from the faculty table and checked her ever present pistol. Finding it in working order, she began to exit the room. Wong Sun Lao also stood to leave. A few hours ago he'd been affirmed as the next headmaster of the school. As such he felt it prudent to find the missing students.

Susan paused about half way to the door and asked, "Is there another place in this castle that could be used for dark rituals while staying hidden?"

Professor Sprout replied "The room of requirement most likely, but why?"

"Because I probably have some student sacrifices to prevent. Now where is this 'room of requirement' and how do I enter it?" Susan snapped. "This is what I found him researching a month ago."

The defense teacher tossed a book to her fellow teacher. One which had a bookmark in it still. Even a quick skimming of the bookmarked page had the herbology teacher worried. According to that quick review it was a ritual which was unquestionably Dark. It involved blood magic of the worst sort, human sacrifice. While the effects were unclear from such a quick perusal, the ritual was undoubtedly one to prevent at all cost. Even the name sounded serious. After all one didn't name a spell or ritual 'warrior undying' without due cause.

Nor did it help that the ritual described had been created by the undeniably dark wizard and self styled naval captain Skar Lett. A man who was reportedly executed six hundred and seventy nine times. At least a hundred more recorded deaths were from injuries suffered in battle. While not the most powerful of dark wizards, he'd been notable for being as hard to stop as a cockroach infestation. In fact Skar Lett had once bragged that he was indestructible.

A house elf named Tiddly was quickly summoned and told to escort Susan to the room of requirement. Considering how pale she looked, it was no real surprise when Minerva pulled the tome out of the other teacher's hands. In this fashion all the staff present read the passage. Each in turn paling in horror. The exception was Professor Snape. It was hard to imagine him being able to grow any more pale then the man already was.

In the halls Susan raced after the house elf. Sure it (probably) could have teleported her. However there was no guarantees that wouldn't damage her equipment. At her side was the elderly seeming Asian man. For someone who appeared old and infirm he did move remarkably well. But then she knew the secret. What Susan didn't know was why he'd gone with Lao instead of come as himself. It wasn't like the two of them had doubles in this dimension.

"Why are you here? And why Lao?" Susan asked as they sprinted through the halls.

They reached a flight of stairs leading up as the man answered. "This one most aggrieved. Rescue of Nightbane this one did preform. Trouble again did she find."

Silence reigned after that Long experience let the Defense teacher interpret her husband's comment. Seems the ministry isn't safeguarded anymore. Shoot. That'll probably make things unnecessarily hard. They approached the painting mentioned and saw a door appear on the opposite wall. Both man and woman looked at each other and nodded. Susan drew her odd pistol and held it at the ready. 'Lao' drew the magic sword at his waist.

Together they kicked open the large double doors. Arrayed before them was a vast chamber, far too large to actually fit within the castle's dimensions. There were four ritual alters arranged around the room. Each one held a missing student chained to it. There were runes engraved into the floor around each alter and drawn on the students. From the distance it was impossible to tell who each student was with any real clarity. Just their genders.

One of the females was bleeding. Professor Dumbledore stood above the other female student with an already bloody dagger in hand. He was chanting as the dagger was lowered towards the helpless student. With a soft 'pfft' sound Susan fired a bolt of telekinetic force at the dagger, knocking it out of the old man's hand. In truth the blade didn't just leave his hand. It left in two pieces, the blade spinning off and embedding it's self a wooden support arch.

"What would the ritual have done if successful?" Lao asked with his heavily accented english.

Susan snapped back "Not sure, but it's called Warrior Undying. Sounds bad, and anything involving murder is unquestionably Evil."

The unnaturally tall woman rolled to the side to avoid an emerald bolt of magic. She wasn't entirely sure what the 'reducto' spell did, but was unwilling to test it on her own body. The explosion that erupted from behind said more then enough. Lao surged forward at the same time. Enchanted steel flashed twice and severed the iron chains binding Dumbledore's would be second victim. With practiced grace the aged martial artist scooped up Susan Bones and swiftly removed her from the room.

With the teen moved to safety, the next greatest concern was the girl already injured. A gut wound if his eyes read the situation correct. And those were never good. Without proper medical treatment they were usually fatal. And even with said treatment they were not always survived. Recalling where the medical ward had been, Lao cut Luna free and picked her up. As the asian man lifted into the air he was struck in the chest with a jade bolt.

The force of the impact caused the floating champion to sail out the sacrificial chamber with his charge. Lao hit the wall and slid to the ground, wincing in pain from the impact. At the same time he felt disguised metal plates which had been grafted onto his chest long ago and in another dimension smolder and darken. That should have killed me. Once again the cyber armor saves my life. Only this time I can't replace it. Gives me an idea though.

As he flew rapidly through the halls the man triggered a chemical reaction. While normally he liked to personally handle any facial sculpting, he'd long ago programed his actual face into one of the five preset 'disguise' configurations of his cybernetic disguise. The fact the cybernetics were as much magic as technology anymore was completely lost to him. Still his almost almond skin lightened into that of a native of Norway. The smooth features roughened too.

His nose flattened and billowed out into it's natural shape gained from being broken far too many times. Once it had resembled a hawks beak to an extent. But then the life of first a crime fighter, then later a roving champion in another dimension had taken it's toll. The soft curve of his jaw became more angular and chiseled. Smooth skin became rough and more then a little withered from hard years living. His coarse hair stayed it's midnight black though. In short, Eric Von Mason was a rather ugly man.

The flying man burst into the hospital wing and gently laid his burden on one of the beds. Not seeing the mediwitch, he guessed the woman was still in the dining hall. As the once and future champion of justice sped through the halls once more his estranged wife was continued trying to defend the students. Back in the room of requirement Susan had taken cover behind a stone pillar. She'd seen what that green bolt had done to Eric. And felt what it did to her ghost armor's protective energy field.

Each of those 'Avada Kedavra' spells packed quite the punch too. Aside from the explosions they were causing upon hitting anything, it immediately shut down her ghost armor's protective field each time. Which meant Susan was starting to get a little psychically tired from restoring it repeatedly. A quick check of her ghost gun showed it was down to one TK round left. Her ecto shotgun was still in her personal chambers too. Enough psi energy left for one reload and maybe two more activations of my armor. I have to end this now.

"You know, you aren't the first nutjob who mistakes the 'greater good' for personal power I've taken down. Nor are you the strongest. At the end of the day Albus, you're just another notch on my gun belt. And in six months I wont even remember most of this fight. It's just that minor."

The taunt seemed to work. The wizened old man flew into a rage at his grand magnitude being ignored. He was Albus Dumbledore, the Leader of Light, the headmaster of Hogwarts now and forever! How dare this subhuman creature claim him to be insignificant! And while Dumbledore was letting loose his anger with a wandless telekinetic rampage she spun out from where the woman had taken cover. With three quick pulls of the trigger she sent invisible bullets of pure psionic force towards his head, heart, and left lung.

The trio of impacts sent him backwards. Brain matter splattered on the ground behind where Dumbledore had been standing. Blood from the other two impacts also sprayed in great fountains. It was a sight that Hermione would be seeing in her nightmares for years to come. And one which would cause Draco to have trouble looking at red meats for the rest of his life. With the fighting now quite obviously done, the weary warrior collapsed to the ground in mental, if not physical exhaustion.

"I'm sorry you two had to see that," Susan said sadly. "In my classes I've talked about what I do. But to see how ugly it gets... you kids are too young for that. I was too young when I first encountered the supernatural too I suppose. Anymore I think all mortals are too young to see things like this. Huh, mortals... When did I stop thinking of myself as one? I'm getting too old for this life."
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