More Than A Memory
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, MASS EFFECT, OR STARGATE SG-1. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IS OWNED BY JOSS WHEDON. MASS EFFECT IS OWNED BY BIOWARE AND ELECTRONIC ARTS. STARGATE SG-1 IS OWNED BY MGM. UNDER SIEGE IS OWNED BY WARNER BROTHERS.
For Lack Of A Sheet
More Than A Memory
----From the Journal of Alexander LaVelle Harris----
---January 23rd, 2083---
Some people remember October 31st, 1997 as just another plain Halloween. Another night where children venture out onto dark streets accompanied by trusted individuals going door to door trick or treating the night away. I remember it quite differently. I remember it as the night my best friend died.
Her name was Willow Danielle Rosenberg. She was a timid computer loving teenage girl who I found out later had a crush on me for the longest time but I had never noticed it before. To me, she was like my sister. How was I suppose to have known? Though from how history has played out over the eight decades, there are those of you out there who would say that it was a good thing I hadn't noticed. Because if I had, in what state would the Earth be in today? My ignorance to her affections saved the world, the galaxy, and possibly countless lives throughout the universe. Don't get me wrong. I've met countless different people, humans, asari, krogans, turians, quarians, geth, salarians, drell, hanar, elcor, volus, jaffa, tok'ra, and I wouldn't trade the friendships I've made or the lives of the countless others to change what happens. I still remember the cost of all of it though. I still remember the scared teenage girl who gained back memories from a previous life where she was the savior of another universe. A universe where she had fought against machines which wiped out technologically enhanced civilizations every fifty thousand years. A universe where she had shed blood, died, and brought back to life in order to save people from a nightmare that they vehemently denied until they were forced to finally admit the truth only after the nightmare became real for everyone. A universe where she united the galaxy in order to fight one final battle that even she doesn't remember the outcome.
We lived in Sunnydale, California which was located on top of an active Hellmouth. A Hellmouth was quite literally an active opening to any number of dimensions that could very well be described as Hell. Though if one of them is the actual Hell, don't look to me for that answer. Ask a Watcher. All I know was that a Hellmouth drew untold numbers of demonic creatures to it like blood in the water draws in sharks and the unfortunate residents who lived there happened to be the seals.
Anyway, that Halloween, a man had came to Sunnydale to open up a costume shop. That in itself would have been considered innocent enough but he had an ulterior motive. He was a worshiper of Janus and was set on casting a chaos spell on the costumes he had sold. Some would confuse Janus as a chaos god but he is the Roman God of Change, the namesake of the first month of the year, January. Perhaps he was unintentionally following his god's will that night. Janus could have been using him as his instrument to generate change. I don't know.
I do know that my best friend ceased to be the person she was that night. Willow Danielle Rosenberg did die that night but she was reborn as Commander Willow Shepard. She became a warrior that is usually only seen once a generation. You know their names, William Wallace, Shaka Zulu, Joan of Arc, and now she would forever be seen among them and I blame myself.
November 1, 1997
“So, Willow, how was being that space marine chick?” Buffy asked her friend only to see her friend's face darken. “Willow, what's wrong?”
It was a few moments before she spoke up. “Buffy, Xander, the people you became last night, do you remember them as yourself or someone else?” She asked timidly.
“I remember being my uncle and I can remember some of the missions he was on.” Xander replied. “But I know that wasn't me.”
“Willow, is something wrong?” Giles asked concerned about the young girl who helped his charge.
Willow let out a breath. “You guys just remember bits and pieces and knowing Xander, he probably remembers all his uncle's recipes.” She said. “I remember everything about Shepard and it frightens me. I remember my parents dying on Mindoir. I remember joining the Alliance and my unit getting wiped out by thresher maws on Akuze. I can still remember pushing Alenko out of the way of the Prothean beacon and getting my mind scrambled by the damned thing.”
Willow began to cry and Xander wrapped his arms around his friend as he tried to comfort her only for her to frantically push him away.
“DON'T TOUCH ME! I still remember seeing you as a batarian slaver blew a hole in your chest the size of a watermelon as you tried to stop one of them. I can still hear Buffy's screams as she was carried off by those four eyed bastards and seeing Cordelia only makes it worse.” She exclaimed.
“How do I make it worse for your freak-out session, Rosenberg?” Cordelia asked a little dismissive.
“You didn't die on Mindoir or be captured that night.” Willow said. “You were in my unit back on Akuze. Cordelia,” Tears filled her eyes as she talked to the cheerleader. “you died in my arms telling me everything was going to be okay.”
She dragged Cordelia into the cave and a feeling of overwhelming relief flooded her as she realized that the damned things couldn't for whatever reason burrow their way to them. Setting her down near a small pool of cool water, Shepard scanned the water with her omnitool relieved that the water was free of contaminants.
“Willow...” Cordelia said weakly.
She rushed back to her. “I'm here, Cordy, and I thought I told you to call me Shepard.” She said with slight irritation.
“Oh bite me, I still remember the girl who thought the male varren puppy she found was a funny looking girl dog who she named Buttercup.” Cordelia snarked at her before wincing in pain. “Willow, I can't see. I can't see. I'm hurt bad.”
“Don't worry, Cordy. There's medigel in the kit.” She said.
Quickly, she grabbed the med kit and looked inside it for the medigel canisters only to begin cursing in every language she knew. The canisters of medigel which could have saved Cordelia's life had all been ruptured.
“Where did you learn how to cuss in Asari?” Cordelia asked.
“The medigel is all broke open, Cordy.” She replied. “It's useless.”
“Willow, hold me up please.” Cordelia asked. “It kinda hurts to breathe.”
She did as she asked. Cordelia coughed and a little blood came out. She wished that there was something she could do for her to ease her pain but there was nothing she could do for her.
“It's going to be okay, Willow.” Cordelia said. “The Alliance will come and find you.”
“They'll get us both out of here, Cordy.” She told her.
“Don't kid yourself, Willow, I know I'm dying. I don't want you to cry for me, Willow. I always had a feeling I should have died on Mindoir and I was living on borrowed time.” Cordelia told her. “You're going to live, Willow. Anderson is going to find you just as he did back on Mindoir. You're not dying in some cave hiding from monsters. You're the one who's suppose to be 'marked by the Enkindlers'.”
She let out a breath. “Please don't bring up that group of crazy hanar, Cordy.”
“I always found it comforting. The idea that the Protheans were on some other plane of existence watching over all of us.” Cordelia said weakly.
“I held you in my arms long after you died crying, Cordelia.” Willow said. “Just as you said, Anderson was the first voice I heard days after you died.”
Cordelia shook her head. “That wasn't me, Willow, and you're not Commander Shepard.”
“Are you sure about that?” Willow asked. “I can't tell where I begin and Shepard ends anymore. I can still hear the screams from those poor people I wasn't able to save back on the Collector Base. What is wrong with me?”
“You're remembering, Shepard, who you really are.”
Everyone turned to see a dark haired woman walk into the library. Like most men, the first thing Xander noticed about her was that her white outfit tightly hugged her curves. Willow however reached into her backpack and pointed the Paladin X pistol she wore as part of her costume last night at her.
“Willow, put the gun down.” Buffy told her.
“Buffy, if she became who I think she has then she is extremely dangerous.” Willow explained. “The second time I saw her was when she was behind a hatch that had just opened and she killed a man.”
The unknown woman rolled her eyes. “He did try to get everyone killed. You and Miranda included.”
“What should we call you then?” Giles asked.
“I was Amalizanna, Patron Vengeance Demon of the Ignored. I was the one who granted Shepard's wish to have Xander's attention. Though I suspect that the last thing she wants anymore is for him to notice her now that she has regained who she was.” She replied. “I suppose you can call me Amalia Lawson now.”
“Good Lord, chaos magic mixing with the power of a vengeance demon's dark wish.” Giles said as he cleaned his glasses. “Do you have any idea what you have done?”
“Risked ripping apart the fabric of space and time and caused the universe to restore what had once been lost.” Amalia replied. “About the only thing that was restored was the Systems Alliance which I have been charged with doing but,” she pulled out a metallic orb that began to hover away from her. “I'll let D'Hoffryn explain things further.”
The orb glowed and a holographic image of D'Hoffryn appeared. He seemed quite pleased to see Willow.
“Shepard, I'm pleased to see you're fine.” He said.
“You need to earn the right to that plus you are no Illusive Man.” Willow replied. “I'm not Shepard. I can't be her.”
“You are her. Whatever you did inside the Crucible, it caused the universe to experience a new big bang. Under any other circumstances, that would have been the end of everything but you were inside.” D'Hoffryn told her. “Your force of will caused them to be saved as if the universe was a computer. Thessia, Palavan, Rannoch, Sur'kesh, Tuchanka, and other worlds you've been to were saved and the people native to there are waking up to finding their worlds looking as though the Reapers had never arrived. Even the Citadel Council in convening on the Citadel attempting to figure out what happened.”
Willow shook her head. “Then why is Earth like it is?” She asked. “Funny, it seems to be a little primitive by comparison.”
“You're the reason, Shepard. You experienced the horrors of the Reaper invasion firsthand.” D'Hoffryn explained. “The invasion of your own home world is more traumatic than anything else can be. It was still too fresh in your mind as you entered the Crucible. However this came about though, it allowed creatures that humans would consider monsters in.”
“Wait, so when the texts I've read say the world began with demons ruling it...” Giles said.
“The Old Ones were actually preceded by the Reapers. It was a way to make certain they weren't forgotten.” D'Hoffryn explained. “Unfortunately, Shepard, I didn't come here to exchange pleasantries with you. Earth is at war and most of humanity doesn't know about it yet.”
Over the course of the conversation, the pistol had been slowly dropping away from Amalia. When D'Hoffryn mentioned war however, the pistol began to be pointed at Amalia's head. If looks could have killed, D'Hoffryn would have been glad he was a hologram at that moment.
“Seriously, did you rip off the Illusive Man's dialogue or what?” Willow asked. “If you tell me now that human colonies are disappearing, I'm going to blow the Miranda-clone's head off.”
Buffy appeared to be shocked. “Willow, you can't be serious.”
Amalia however didn't seem concerned. “Oh, she is serious.” She said. “Listen to him, Shepard. If you don't believe what he says, go ahead and pull the trigger.”
“Not very concerned about your life, I take it.” Willow replied.
“I'm was one of Lord D'Hoffryn's most loyal vengeance demons as well as his most reliable. When he asked me to do this for him, I knew there would be inherent risks. One of them being your willingness to accept the current situation.” She said. “If you can't accept it for whatever reason,” she rolled her eyes. “then I don't want to live.”
Willow lowered the gun again. “Okay, talk.”
“For two years now, the United States Air Force has been venturing to other planets via an ancient device called a Stargate. Think of it like the Conduit only a hell of a lot more stable.” D'Hoffryn told her. “Their front line team has managed to singlehandedly piss off one of the most powerful races in this galaxy.”
“How in the hell did they do that?” She asked angrily.
“Ask your Uncle Jack.” D'Hoffryn replied.
Willow set the pistol down on the table and sat in the chair. She began to curse in every language she knew which thanks to her new memories were quite a few. Xander shook his head as he remembered what Willow's uncle was like. Buffy looked over at her male friend.
“How bad is her uncle?” She asked him.
“Willow's uncle could piss Ghandi off, Buff.” Xander replied. “A diplomat he is not.”
“Eventually, Shepard will need to leave Earth in order to rally the Citadel Council and the other races out there to fight against the Goa'uld.” D'Hoffryn said. “You know you can make it happen, Shepard. Hell, the krogan would probably jump at whatever you point a gun at. The turians will do so after they realize the threat. The salarians, quarians, and the geth will be like a bunch of kids in a candy store when they see the new technologies they could get a hold of. Might have a problem with the asari but I'm sure that won't be too much of a problem.”
“Willow can't leave.” Buffy said quickly.
“Let's see priorities. You deal with things that could mean the end of the world.” D'Hoffryn said before gesturing to Willow. “Shepard, on the other hand, deals with things that could mean the end of all life in the galaxy.” He began to motion with his hands as if the two were on a scale. “Is it just me or does anyone else notice the disparity?”
“So Willow is like Captain Janeway?” Xander asked.
Willow laughed. “More like Captain Kirk.”
“What, you get your shirt ripped off halfway into a fight?” Cordelia asked before she received a few stares from the group. “What? I can't be a Trekkie. Well, screw you guys. Kirk was the man.”
“No, it's just shocking.” Xander replied. “Next, we'll see Giles getting into an argument with you with him on Picard's side.”
“Actually, Miss Chase, I believe Shepard is referring to her romantic relationship with one Doctor Liara T'Soni.” D'Hoffryn told her.
Almost as if beckoned, Willow used her omni-tool to generate a three-dimensional hologram of the asari maiden. The image of Liara seemed to cause a stillness in the library before it was broken up by a rather rude comment.
“So what kind of demon is it, Giles?” Buffy asked. BAM!
They turned to see Willow who held the pistol at the slayer's direction. The barrel of the gun was still smoking and a look of absolute rage was on the red head's face.
“Never...call...Liara...a...demon...again.” Willow told her before she shoved the pistol into the backpack and leaving the library.
“That was a brilliant move, Summers.” Cordelia snapped at Buffy. “Who is it that's dating a vampire?”
Cordelia left the library and Giles walked over to the bookshelf to see which book he'd have to replace. He began to laugh.
“G-Man, have you cracked finally?” Xander asked.
Giles held the book up for the young man to see the title. “I guess this was truly a 'Farewell To Arms.”
“Willow, wait up.” Cordelia exclaimed trying to catch up to her.
“What do you want, Cordelia?” She asked not wanting to deal with anyone right now. “Going to make fun of me about someone I love if what they're saying is true.”
Cordelia caught the look Willow was giving her. It was the same look Buffy had when confronting anything in her path. It was the look of a predator gazing at her prey. This wasn't a comfortable experience for the former May Queen as the situation was normally reversed.
“How did you and Liara meet?” She asked.
“What?” Willow asked a bit surprised. “Why do you want to know that?”
“I saw the way you looked at that hologram of her.” Cordelia said. “You are completely in love with her.”
“It was during my hunt for Saren. He was a rogue Spectre that Sovereign was using to weaken the galaxy and help pave the way for the Reaper invasion.” Willow began to explain. “I was given three leads to start my search for the crazy guy. I thought I knew enough at the time about him but I was curious about his subordinate, an asari matriarch named Benezia. Liara was Benezia's daughter so I thought she would be a great place to start. I was just looking for information but...”
“You found something more.” Cordelia stated.
“I know you may not understand what I went through as Shepard. The destruction of my home on Mindoir and the massacre of my unit by thresher maws on Akuze closed me off to the idea of love. I had joked about it and occasionally sought 'relief' but nothing that could possibly be considered serious. But when I saw her floating in that prothean energy bubble, all I saw was an angel waiting for me.” Willow told her as tears began to well up in her eyes. “I felt like whatever deity that might have existed was finally telling me it was okay to fall in love.”
“That's sweet.” Cordelia replied with a smile forming on her face. “What was she like?”
“At first, she was really nervous. She didn't spend a lot of time around people and that made her easily embarrassed. Liara is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet.” Willow said smiling as she remembered Liara. “My death caused us to drift apart slightly...”
“Wait,” Cordelia said a bit perplexed. “you died?”
“The Collectors attacked the original Normandy and I got blown out into space after saving my ship's pilot.” Willow replied. “After Cerberus brought me back, I met up with Liara again and she changed a bit. At first, I thought I had lost her but I was pleasantly mistaken. Before the final push against the Reapers, she and I shared memories. I remember everything from her perspective as well. She was as nervous as I was.”
“So, did you and her plan on adopting?” Cordelia asked.
“That wouldn't have been necessary. Asari can reproduce with any other species including those that aren't compatible.” Willow said to her. “They use their mate's DNA to essentially scramble their own in order to become pregnant with a child. I had told Liara once of raising little blue daughters with her one day. But then, I apparently reset the fucking universe.”
“You couldn't have known.” Cordelia said. “You were trying to save the universe.”
“Everyone carries their own curses, Cordelia.” Willow replied. “My curse is that I'm always trying to keep the wolves away from the sheep. Even before when it was just helping Buffy stop vampires and other demony things, I can't ever get away from it. Looking back on my new found memories, the last year or so seems kinda trivial.”
That comment caused Cordelia to make a face of disbelief which caused Willow to continue.
“The closest thing I can think of something that would seem like a demon Buffy could face would be the Thorian. It was a sentient plant that enslaved the colonists on Feros. My team and I dropped it down a big ass hole that it was conveniently hanging over.” Willow told her before a smile crossed her face. “Ash, she dropped two inferno grenades down the hole and said 'Well, if it wasn't dead before, it's now having a really
She was not in a very good mood for several reasons. Most of the reasons had to do with Buffy's old friend from out of town had shown up from out of the blue. He knew that she was, in reality, a mystically enhanced girl known to the supernatural world as the Slayer. Ford had lied to her about transferring to Sunnydale High School as records she obtained had shown her that he had been reported missing by his father. Buffy's friend was a regular at a vampire-themed nightclub called The Sunset Club.
Details began to add up too much to the teenage Spectre and she didn't like it which led to her to be standing outside the door of the Sunset Club with her armor back on and her Paladin X pistol set on inferno rounds in her hand. She opened the door and began to fire at the vampires she saw. Three vampires went down in the initial assault which allowed Buffy to leap up to grab Drusilla and hold her hostage with a stake pointed at her unbeating heart. Fear racked Drusilla but it wasn't from the stake poised to strike at her heart if her parmour choose to ignore Buffy's ultimatum. The vampiress' fear came from the armored redhead who had just entered the club.
“Spike, the Shepard has come to save her flock from the wolves.” Drusilla said fearfully. “We are just like flies to be swatted by her, Spike.”
“I'm not afraid of her.” Spike told her.
“You should be. She slept in the sands of the great beach and saved the garden from a big metal cuttlefish.” Drusilla continued. “She scares me, Spike.”
The members of the club were released and headed out of the club as Buffy led Drusilla to the door. Buffy shoved the weak vampiress to her lover and walked out the door while Willow held them at gunpoint. She holstered her weapon and the vampires kept still.
“Don't be sad, Spike.” She said as she held three round objects in her hands. “Why don't I leave you with three parting gifts that a good friend of mine showed me how to make?”
She tossed two of the objects but dropped the third where she stood as she bolted out the door which Buffy shut behind her. Spike tried to reach the door before it closed to no avail but he realized when the object was at his feet.
“Bloody hell.” He said as the inferno grenades detonated and consumed everything within the club.
“I still can't believe you killed Ford.” Buffy said in the library the following afternoon.
“I also took out two members of the former Scourge of Europe as well as maybe fifteen to twenty other vampires with the only human casualty being a former friend of yours who fully intended to sell out not only you but the innocent and deluded people in that club to Spike just so that he could become a vampire.” Willow snapped back at her. “I believe everyone in this library can safely chalk that one up in the win column. Spike and Drusilla were two very dangerous vampires that were too dangerous to leave around especially if Spike had somehow managed to fix whatever was wrong with Drusilla in the first place.”
“But you killed a human.” Buffy said. “You're a murderer.”
“Buffy, this fight against the supernatural is a war whether or not you want to admit it or not and in war, you have enemy collaborators who have to be taken care of.” Willow replied. “I don't like what I had to do but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Those vampires that I destroyed in the Sunset Club mean that many more people can go home at night without becoming a late-night snack. Besides, no one messes with my team ever.”
Liara entered the CIC of the Normandy and went over to Joker and EDI. The pilot of the ship and the ship's artificial intelligence were conversing between themselves when the asari interrupted them.
“EDI, Joker, we need to get everyone on board now.” She told them.
“Have you found Shepard?” He asked almost like a child wishing for a toy for his birthday.
“No, but Balak has and he's leading a group to Earth.” She replied. “We need to get there before it's too late.”
Author's End Notes: I'm sorry to tell everyone this but I had been planning a massive update of the stories I had written when tragedy struck twice. First, my computer's hard drive went belly up and I lost every one of the chapters in the repairs. Then, the frakking motherboard fried. I don't know how long it will be before I can update any of them so if there is anyone who might wish to adopt one of them. Please e-mail me.