“For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
So a kingdom was lost—all for want of a nail."
In many universes, in many realities, Valerie DeJesus plays a small but rather insignificant role in the history of the world. She is but a small cog within the great wheels of fate and destiny that spin and revolve.
In many universes. In many realities.
But sometimes, even the best of cogs have a momentary catch. In Valerie DeJesus’ case, she hesitated a second too long when she was reversing out of her parking space … and struck another car.
And that single, tiny, seemingly insignificant incident would cause a cascade of actions that would forever cause the wheels of fate and destiny to spin and revolve in a whole new direction.
It was a delay of a mere half an hour as she and the other driver examined their vehicles and exchanged phone numbers and insurance company policies. She was in a bad mood when she returned to the office, knowing that her insurance rates was going to be jacked up for this minor fender bender. So when she opened up the backlog of orders on her computer manifest, she pressed down a bit too hard with her pen. The ink bled and turned her usually neat writing into a mess.
And the cog spun…----
Ronald Greenwood frowned as he squinted at the blurry order form. Shit, is that a 5 or a 6? OK, that’s a 9. Or possibly a 7.
He considered calling the front office and getting them to resend the information but he had skipped breakfast and he was already an hour late for his lunch break. His stomach growled and he shrugged, deciding that he really didn’t care and grabbed whatever digits looked closed enough and started throwing them into the boxes. Not my problem,
he decided as he swiftly boxed up the stuff and ran off the mailing labels.Sunnydale. Weird name for a town,
he thought as he peeled off the backing and stuck it to the boxes. The name already fading from his mind as he hurried out, already focused on lunch. Let’s see, McDonalds or Arby’s? Decisions, decisions...
And the wheel revolved…----
Ethan Rayne; Part-Time Entrepreneur, Part-Time Chaos Mage, and Full-Time Pain in the Ass beamed as he handed over the signed order form and rubbed his hands together gleefully in anticipation. Then frowned as the FedEx employee began bringing in a lot more boxes than he assumed there would be. What the Bloody Hell?
He grabbed one box and nearly wrenched his back out. A bunch of sodding costumes should not weigh this much…
Whoever these shippers were, they definitely knew how to tape and seal. It took him a good five minutes to cut open the box. A little over three of those minutes were in trying to find a proper knife sharp enough to do the job. He peeked inside and scowled. “What is this?” Ethan demanded as he got a good look at the contents, he pulled out DVD case titled Robotech: The Macross Saga.
“Hey, I just deliver them pal,” the FedEx employee proclaimed as he set down the last box with a thump.
“This isn’t what I bloody ordered. Take it back!”
“You signed for ‘em. They’re yours. Take it up with the senders,” the deliveryman proclaimed with a wave of his hand and exited.
Ethan glared at the retreating mailman. He made a few subtle gestures and waited for a moment.
Several seconds later, he was rewarded with a scream as a skateboarder lost control and collided with the FedEx employee. Their heads struck and the mail carrier stumbled backwards and onto the wheeled board and it shot out from under his foot like a greased pig and causing the man to nearly do a complete somersault in midair before making a painful landing that broke at least four bones in the blighter’s body.
Ethan maliciously grinned. “The customer is always right. Poncy twit,” he muttered and began hunting around for the packaging information. Peeling the label off, he searched for a phone number and began punching buttons on the telephone grumbling.
After being forced to listen to an automated answering machine and punch in series of numbers to scroll through automated menus, then being put on hold four times, and being transferred twice, Ethan was fantasizing about how difficult it would be to magically seal all of the doors and windows to this bloody company and creating a portal to some dimension of excrement to fill the building entirely. It would take some judicious tinkering with the old never-empty horn of plenty spell, but he was sure that he could—
he lost his train of thought as the damn muzak (something he was sure that demons invented for their own hell dimensions) cut off and the service representative (and what a load of crap that title was!
And also the inspiration of his ever-filling pile of crap idea) finally got back from whatever it was she was doing.
“No—no! I wanted the cosplay costumes, the costumes! Not a bunch of tapes and books—fine, manga!”
“Two weeks?! Halloween is this weekend!”
“Thanks for BLOODY-WELL NOTHING!”
Ethan slammed the phone down. “Wanker.”
He drummed his fingers on the glass counter as he studied the boxes stacked up around. Great. Now what he supposed to do with this junk until they picked it up?
he wondered. It was a pity that most of his spell knowledge didn’t really deal with menial work. Although—
he reached down and picked up a grimoire and began flipping through the pages. There was a spell about summoning Cornish Pixies wasn’t there? A modified befuddlement hex might work to convince them to serve as an impromptu labor force…
A minor event. A major change. The cogs of Fate and the wheels of Destiny are ever helpless at the hands of the seemingly tiny and infinitesimal.
As it ever is.
And as it always has been.----
BOOK ONE: Farewell Earth
Chapter One: The Nail
Ethan tried not to giggle as he pranced around the bust of Janus and the freshly painted symbols on the floor of the back room. And bumped into one of the towering piles of boxes of manga and what-not and grimaced as it swayed dangerously.
He was getting robbed he was. The square footage was pathetically tiny for what he was paying to lease this space. On the other hand, considering how often the renters vanished and left the property owners eating the unpaid cost, he could have—Ethan grimaced and pinched the bridge of his nose. Good Lord! What was he thinking about? This respectable business crap snuck in and took over it did.
Calmer, he strode around the glyphs and reviewed them against his notes, checking to make sure that all of it was done properly. God! He couldn’t wait for tonight!
He thought to himself as he rubbed his hands together gleefully.----
The gigantic black van paused outside Ethan’s temporarily leased shop. “We’re lost aren’t we?” the almost-as-large black man growled as he remembered passing by this dump less than twenty minutes ago.
“Now now, Bosco, don’t get all het up! You know what it does to your blood pressure!” his grinning companion brought back up the map to his face, which was upside-down and also of Honolulu, Hawaii; the driver noticed, feeling a vein pulsate in his temple.
“Why did you let this crazy fool navigate!” he yelled over his shoulder to the other two men seated in the back.
The older white-haired man shrugged laconically as he spoke around his mouthful of cigar. “He asked.”
The other man was studying a fistful of cards with a frown, “What kind of name is Sunnydale for a town anyways?”
“It’s just a quiet, ordinary, little town. Just perfect for us to lay low for a week or so after that last mission,” the older man retorted as he calmly adjusted the placement of his handful of cards.
The driver snarled, “This sucks Hannibal! We have gots to get better paying missions!”
“We can’t exactly be all that choosey when it comes to our clients.”
“Yeah, well, it would help if we didn’t get so many charity cases that we barely break even most of the time,” the other backseater muttered as he discarded a pair of cards and picked up a new set. He remained blank faced as he examined the new cards. No help at all.
“I got it! We turn south on Beretania and turn left onto Hotel!” the front seat passenger/navigator proclaimed proudly.
The black man groaned and shook his head sadly. I sometimes wonder whose crazier? Murdock or me for sticking around?----
“The stars! Full of stars!”
Spike glanced at his sire, Drusilla the Mad bouncing around gleefully. “What about the stars Dru?” he inquired.
“We’re going! All of us! Going to the stars! The stars! So bright! Twinkle, twinkle in the sky! Diamonds in the sky!”
“Uh huh,” Spike said with a tolerant smile at the inane ramblings. He was used to it. “That’s nice pet.”
“We’ll all be different soon! My insides won’t be the same! None of us will be! Even Daddy and that nasty Slayer girl!”
Spike put a bookmark and closed the poetry book he had been perusing and focused his attention on Drusilla. “The Slayer? Tell me more love…”----
Events played out as they had in dozens of other dimensions as when Ethan Rayne cast his Chaos Spell, affecting hundreds of his specially prepared costumes that he had laboriously pre-spelled to interact with the Chaos Spell. Buffy Summers was transformed into an 18th Century noblewoman, Xander Harris became a soldier, and Willow Rosenberg became a ghost. Willow would alert Rupert Giles to the threat and Giles would immediately attempt to force Ethan to abort the spell.
That’s where everything went wrong…----
“How do I stop it Ethan!” Giles roared as he punctuated his query with another kick to the ribs.
“Break … statue,” Ethan gasped out.
Giles whirled around and took a step towards the statue and then sidewise to avoid the stack of boxes that ascended nearly to the ceiling. Ethan wheezed as he pried open an eye and glared at the back of his old friend. And then at the boxes filled with those useless bits of junk delivered a few days back. He smiled shark-like as he raised his foot and kicked out hard.
His boot hit the bottom box which bowing slightly, already showing it was at near-collapse from all of the weight resting on it. Giles’ head whipped round, “ETHAN!”
he roared as an avalanche of boxes came crashing down on his head. Ethan breathed raspily as he checked his ribs and cast a healing spell he knew. He took a deeper breath and sighed in relief.
He heard a soft moan of pain from somewhere in the pile of split boxes and chuckled. Licking his lips, he began to shove and push the debris aside to find the Watcher half-buried in a mound of books. Rather fitting actually,
Ethan thought whimsically, having learned that his old chum posed as a librarian.
“Look at you Ripper. How pathetic. You’ve gotten soft old boy. It’s almost a shame to put you out of your misery.”
He picked up a still intact box and considered it thoughtfully before discarding it and trying another one. Ah.
He chuckled and he lifted it up.
“What is it that they say?” he asked conversationally. “ 'Live by the sword, die by the sword?'
I’m going to batter you to death with a crate of books. Kind of apropos
don’t you think?” he asked grinning. He swung the box up over his head, forgetting that his footing such as it was—was very unstable.
It abruptly slid underneath him and Ethan found himself tilting off balance and falling towards the pentacle and the glowing Janus statue. “OH SHIIIII—”----
In other universes, Rupert Giles’ breaking of the Janus bust was nothing less than a forced disruption of the Halloween Spell Matrix. Akin to smashing a crystal goblet with a sledgehammer. Crude but effective.
Unlike Giles however, Ethan was the original spellcaster and thus, he had a far greater degree of control over the spell itself. And the spell had a far greater influence on Ethan as well.
He came crashing down, shattering the Janus bust and causing the box he was crashing to spill out it’s contents of science fiction anime, various novels, and even a few model kits. The angle of his fall also broke his neck and killed him instantly. ----
Ask ten magicians for an explanation about the inner workings of magic and you will get ten different answers. At minimum.
Some will profess that it is about intent. Others will say it is about will. Another will say it is about faith. And then there are those who will call it an art and another who will proclaim that it is a type of science with it’s own stringent rules and limitations. Someone of a particular bent will proclaim that it is all about power. Others will relate that magic is about harnessing the flow of energy in the universe itself while another will argue that the only power that magic taps lies within.
And that is not even touching about the various different schools, sects, branches, types, subsects, and kinds of spellcasting, enchanting, conjuring, rituals, potions, and summoning that each one has. And the various extradimensional entities that muck everything up doesn’t help either.
Basically, the first thing to understanding about magic is that all of the so-called masters and experts can’t explain it themselves. None of them can. It quite literally defies all explanations.
But there one singular thing that all of the various systems and branches and types of magic all agree upon; the one primal, central tenant regarding magic.
Magic requires sacrifice.
It could involve nothing more difficult towards the hours of study to master the pronunciation of spoken words and gestures to the expenditure of several hours/months/years of their stored life energies. Or to the more profane as to sacrificing their own soul to the odd demonic creature.
And Ethan Rayne inadvertently tapped into the most potent of sacrificial magics. Of blood, of bone, of spirit, and his own life. ----
The Halloween Spell went rampant as it was suddenly supercharged as it were. It’s raw transformative energies needed various fetishes and totems to work, relying on the pre-spelled costumes to execute them. It found several lying around (the anime and manga and odds and ends) and latched onto them.
It stalled momentarily as even Ethan’s life force wasn’t quite enough to perform such massive and widespread alterations. Like someone furiously revving a car’s engine while holding down on the brake, the Spell began building up to a cataclysmic force akin to a magical nuclear bomb.
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on one’s point of view), Richard Wilkins had long begun a process of seeding the Hellmouth with a number of mystical artifacts such as the Glove of Myneghon, the Amulet of Balthazar, the Gem of Amara, and hundreds more.
If someone had bothered to ever plot out the location of all these artifacts, they would have been surprised to discover that it made for a rather interesting and complex series of glyphs and runes that formed the basis of several potent spells and enchantments laid over the entire Hellmouth.
If Wilkins had ever bothered to reveal his long-term project to the supernatural circles, he would have certainly been regarded as a genius in spellcrafting and magic and at least a century ahead of his time.
Wilkins had quite literally pioneered principles of creating a permanent spell trap. It harnessed the powers of the Hellmouth and redistributing their energies, funneling it to enhance his personal powers but also spreading it throughout the town itself which contributed to what some dubbed, “The Sunnydale Effect”
which caused people to dismiss or ignore the fact that this was certainly no ordinary town at all.
And it had only grown more and more powerful as the years and decades had passed.
It also had a nasty side effect of poisoning and corrupting humans who lived here, enhancing their selfishness and pettiness and other base desires. Children tended to be immune to this, but as they grew up; they lost their innocence and their meager protection from the corrupting influence that rotted away at them.
As it so happened, as the Halloween Spell sought more power, it sought to draw strength from the ambient negative energies being generated from the Hellmouth. It helped that Roman God Janus represented change and also of gateways and passages; and the Hellmouth was in fact, a weak point in the dimensional barriers. It was a door in the broadest and loosest of sense and thus, it fell into Janus’ purview as well.
Ethan had originally designed the spell matrix to use Janus to aid in the transformative qualities of the costumes. Now, it drew upon Janus to tap into the power generated by Hellmouth and at first began to draw a trickle and dribbles and then … it found the power taps and began pulling power from them as well.
Across Sunnydale, those magical artifacts began exploding from the sheer raw energy being funneled through them. The entire town began to shake and tremble as the Hellmouth itself was being used as the main power source for the Halloween Spell.
And around the world itself, the smaller Hellmouths began imploding as they were ruthlessly laundered for their meager share of negative energies as the main Hellmouth underneath Sunnydale fought to maintain it’s structural integrity, pulling whatever strength it could from wherever it could. A process that it was steadily losing despite it’s best efforts as the Halloween Spell demanded more and more of its power. It was too hungry, it had it’s hooks dug in too deep as it devoured more and more of it’s supernatural energies to fuel itself.
Raw magical energies seethed, boiled, and thundered above the skies of Sunnydale … and shadowy shapes began to coalesce in midair even as across the entire city, people and demons alike collapsed, screaming as the Halloween Spell used the template of the various anime, science fiction movies, and model kits to alter them.
And the Halloween Spell fed more and more power into them … warping them, changing them, transforming them…----
The demon inside him was shrieking in agony. Angel wasn’t feeling so hot either as his entire body trembled like he was experiencing a seizure. *Thump.*
He clenched his eyes shut and tried not to scream. *Thump.*What was wrong with him?
The demon’s voice faded away and so did the pain.
After several long minutes of gasping, he slowly managed to pull himself up into a sitting position.*Thump. Thump. Thump.*Wha-what the Hell was that noise?
He swung his head to the right. And then left. *Thump. Thump. Thump.*
The rhythmic noise continued. Absently, he rubbed his chest and froze as he felt something he hadn't experienced in over 200 years. His heartbeat. He had a heartbeat. What the Hell was going on?
Absently, he noticed that the lightsaber prop had fallen out of his pocket. He had picked it up off the ground earlier from some fleeing kid with the intention of returning it to him but had gotten rather distracted with all of the strange happenings going on tonight and had simply stuck it in his coat pocket. He picked it up and frowned. It was … heavier than before. It wasn’t cheap plastic anymore. Some instinct warned him against pointing it at himself and he touched the ignition button. *VVVRRRUUUMMMM!*
He almost dropped it when a bluish-blade shot out of the emitter shroud. “Sithspit!” he blurted out. Then he frowned and cocked his head. Wait—what did I just say?
He grimaced and absently rubbed his cheek thoughtfully. Then he made a face as he felt smooth shaved skin instead of the familiar feeling of his beard. But—I’ve never grown a beard before…right?
Then he noticed the growing lightning storm above in the skies that was so bright that it looked more like noon than night. Then a shadow blotted out the light and his jaw dropped as he took in the familiar saucer joined by a graceful neck to a massive cylinder accompanied by a pair of glowing nacelles. That was—but—but it couldn’t be!
“No. Fucking. Way.” he breathed, feeling light headed and wondering if he was going to faint as this latest jolt to his reality was going to be the tipping point for him.----
Jonathan Levinson blinked and stared in awe at his surroundings. He was sitting on the bridge of the Enterprise. And his home-made James Kirk outfit was better than new after a bunch of weirdos dressed as pirates had attacked him. He whooped in delight.
“THIS IS AWESOME!
Harmony Kendall howled as she jerked her Viper sidewise to avoid colliding with this gigantic … Cylon-like thing that seemed to be coalescing in midair.
Then she froze.
“Wait a second! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FLY! I FLUNKED DRIVER’S ED!” she wailed. “EEEEEEEEKKKK!!!!”----
He was Admiral Bruno J. Gloval.
And yet, he was not.
He had lived a life of military service, of the unrelenting Global War, and thrust into the horror of the First Robotech War and dying at the end of it. And now he was alive again. Another man would have broken under the stress, of the sheer impossibility of it all.
But he wasn’t just Admiral Bruno J. Gloval. He remembered another life. He remembered being Captain First Rank Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, late of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ Red Fleet before the Central Intelligence Agency had quietly retired him to this town after his extensive debriefings.
And whatever else his detractors would have called him; sentimental fool, maverick, naively political; none of them ever stated that Marko Ramius lacked a will of iron.
Marko Ramius was used to the unexpected. He had grown up in an era of tyranny that even the Czars of Old would be hard pressed to imitate. He had navigated the brutally Byzantine labyrinths of Russian politics to command the first submarines of the Russian Navy. He had defected with the entire Russian Navy chasing after him and along the way, absconded with an entire nuclear submarine under the paranoid eyes of the Russian Navy with the entire American Fleet breathing down his neck.
And with the same iron will that refused to back down, he similarly refused to suffer any hysterical fit or have a psychological breakdown.
“Give me a Status Report!” he roared in his command voice.
The bridge crew looking dazed and confused snapped into focus at the barked order. “We … we’re … spatial coordinates are on Earth? We’re above North America!”
“There’s … some sort of … spatial distortion around us? Radar is scrambled, Lidar is … being reflected?”
Suddenly several of the displays started blaring and flashing red alert lights. Ramius felt something cold forming in the pit of his stomach. Somehow he just couldn’t convince himself that was a good
“It’s the Space-Fold Engine! It’s on overload!” one the technicians shrieked.
Ramius paled as Gloval’s memories flooded him. “Bozhe moi.
Here we go again.”----
TO BE CONTINUED…
This story and it’s contents were directly inspired by Kedrann and his epic, “The Traveller Chronicles”
which I was a big fan of and gravely disappointed when it came to an end. In case you were wondering; yes, Kedrann does know about this story. I let him know what I was doing and my intentions. He agreed that some of the basic principles and story ideas were the same but was different enough that he thought I wasn’t ripping him off.
However, I am hereby humbly dedicate this story in tribute to the story, “The Traveller Chronicles”
and it’s magnanimous author for letting me play around with his ideas.
Also, I don’t own anything.
Harmony Gold USA and Tatsunoko Production Co. Ltd. owns Robotech. Star Trek
belongs to CBS and Paramount.Star Wars
is the property of Walt Disney Company.Battlestar Galactica
is from Glen A. Larson. The A-Team
is by Stephen J. Cannell Productions and 20TH Century Fox.
The character of Marko Ramius is from “The Hunt for Red October”
written by Tom Clancy of course.
And Buffy the Vampire Slayer
belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions.
The more series I add, I'll let you know who they belong to.