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Tomb Raider 2 – Unfinished Business

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

Summary: There are a number of beings who don't like the changes which the Scoobies have gone through lately, and they've decided to do something to resolve the situation to their satisfaction.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR18210,7360215,76823 Aug 138 Nov 13No

Chapter One

Disclaimer: Everyone you recognize either belongs to Crack-Head Joss and ME, or to Marvel Comics, DC Comics or a whole truckload of other writers, companies and corporations. Deal with it. I have.

Category: Multi-crossover with Marvel Comics, DC Comics and probably a fair number of other fictional book and television series. Story #2 in the 'Lost Raiders of the Well' series.

Summary: There are a number of beings who don't like the changes which the Scoobies have gone through lately, and they've decided to do something to resolve the situation to their satisfaction.

Time Frame: Follows my earlier story, 'Tomb Raider,' which went seriously AU not long after BtVS Season Three's episode 'Helpless', and this fic goes even more AU. Consequently, Angel, Season One, would also definitely be significantly different from canon since this universe's Cordelia wouldn't be around to help Captain Forehead and Doyle with their detective agency.

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None whatsoever as far as the main BtVS characters are concerned. But be warned, it's 'Open Season' with no game limits on pretty much everyone else, though.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~/~/~

Previously, in 'Tomb Raider':


Contrary to what most of their classmates doing, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Oz and Faith were all calmly approaching the Mayor, who had now apparently completed his transformation and was eying them in the same manner that a shark might evaluate a school of bluefish heading his way.

"Ready, guys?" Buffy asked, not altering her sedate pace in the slightest as the Mayor loomed over them.

As the Wilkins-demon darted downward, jaws opened wide to engulf all of them, Buffy calmly commanded, "Okay, fry him!" and five pairs of eyes all turned to solid red orbs as an inhuman scream and a loud sizzling sound abruptly filled the air.

~/~/~

And now, in ' Tomb Raider – Unfinished Business':

A location outside the normal universe
An interval outside of normal time


"Clearly, the assurances we received – that all of the Da'acks'omaat bio-ships had been removed from the Arena – were in error."

The speaker was a brightly shining, octopus-like figure whose 'skin' was mottled with constantly shifting black and silver swirls vaguely resembling galaxies, and which was studying an enormous crystalline globe which occupied the center of the chamber in which it and its companions currently stood.

"True. This will most certainly have a significant impact on the Grand Design," a second, similar figure, but one whose colors continually fluctuated among shades of red and orange, observed in an eerily echoing voice-equivalent from its position hovering above the crystal sphere that showed the playing field.

"Allowing these individuals to remain there with the modifications they have received would incite wide-spread disruption among their own populace, should they decide to offer the modifications to the rest of their civilization. And they will undoubtedly attempt to spread their contamination to any other cultures they encounter in the future. Our opposition will be eradicated and the balance destroyed."

"Indeed. We must take steps to remove both the source of the contamination and those already infected," a third being – though this one currently maintained a humanoid form, and whose coloring seemed to randomly rotate through the entire visible spectrum – declared in a no-nonsense tone of voice.

"It occurs to me that, with proper preparation, it is eminently feasible that we can divest this worldline of both the meddling intruder who has been disrupting the patterns we have spent so much time cultivating in this particular civilization these past millennia, as well as the contamination we have just observed," the first being noted.

"Your suggestion has merit. We should take steps to implement it immediately," the third entity stated approvingly. "This uncertainty in the design must not be allowed to grow."

"Whistler!" the second being called out while it continued studying the display.

"Yeah, Boss? What do you want me to do?" the disembodied voice of the so-called 'balance demon' replied, looking up from his chicken and waffles in the mortal realm.

"Determine the current location of both the Abomination and the sect which currently guards the fragment of Oshtur's essence present in this dimension," the third entity directed the half-breed.

"Once you have done that, then you shall…"

~/~/~

A different location outside the normal universe
An interval outside of normal time, but corresponding to the preceding scene


{ Devourer consign them all to the lowest pits of Naraka! I *knew* those thrice damned, self-important bastards couldn't be trusted to watch over a stopped-up urinal, let alone an entire segment of the Mandala and the sentients developing in it!! This just simply proves me right beyond any possible doubt!! }

The less-than-charitable thoughts emanated from a glittering, constantly shifting mass of navy-blue, red and gold energy (or what would be considered as such, in the material aspects of the Multiversal All which was the current focus of the being's attention) which had been observing the earlier dialog manifesting among the trio of entities in the other segment of supra-existence.

An impartial observer would also have immediately noted that something about the fluctuations, contractions and expansions of the form taken by the lone entity (which had been variously identified by humans as Loki, Prometheus, Janus, Coyote and a myriad of other titles over the ages) conveyed an impression of significant displeasure and wrath regarding the three other beings.

{ All right, then, } the observer reflected to themselves after a moment's consideration of what it had just observed, { if they think they're justified in meddling in order to guide humanity's development along the exceedingly narrow channels they want, then I'm just as entitled to do so, too, in order to make things progress the way *I'd* like to see them go. If they can break the covenant, then so can I. }

"Now then, since they've already modified themselves and acquired Da'acks'omaat abilities, what's the best way to help them deal with these Pricks That Be?" the being wondered aloud to itself as it temporarily shifted into the form of a scruffy-looking, bearded human male, hints of amusement evident in its voice. "And most importantly, not have anything traceable back to me?"

"Maybe I could have them poach some of Illyria's icons from the Deeper Well? Yeah, Lyri's preordained to return in the next few years or so, but I don't recall any prophecy saying it'll necessarily have all of its powers available, when it does," the now-seeming human male mused to himself and a wide smile creased his currently human face as he considered the situation.

"Azogg-Mon and Arsgomor are both still conscious inside their sarcophagi, and they'd undoubtedly slaughter anyone and anything they found outside their tombs which didn't fall down and worship them immediately," the being ruminated to himself thoughtfully. "Now that I think about it, though, Neauth's and Sephrilian's powers are both bound up in several icons, just like Illyria's are…

"Maybe that's the way to handle things," the bearded man (who bore a strong resemblance to the depictions of various legendary figures whose feats were heralded in innumerable cultures down through the ages) said to himself, before then nodding his head decisively.

"Yeah, that's definitely the way to do it," he grinned to himself approvingly. "Have someone from their group grab some of the power foci from any of the sarcophagi they find inside the Deeper Well, hand 'em out, and then stand back and let things develop from there."

"Now, what would be the best way to clue them in, about the Well and its contents…"

~/~/~

Resolution Island
New Zealand

Monday, June 7, 1999


"So, Giles, this prophecy you found in that copy of the Book of Eibon you got hold of? Does it give any details about exactly what it is we're supposed to be doing – or NOT doing – once we finally get into this Deeper Well thing-y we're heading to?" Xander Harris asked from his position in the command chair of the small suborbital shuttle craft, which he was currently landing on one of the remote and desolate beaches of what was believed to be an uninhabited island.

"Unfortunately, Xander, while it is patently clear that we need to acquire several of the Old Ones' foci which were placed within the Deeper Well for safekeeping millennia ago, the still-intelligible portions of the text that I was able to translate failed to describe in sufficient detail exactly which foci it is we should be looking for," Rupert Giles, former Watcher to two former Slayers, replied with a negative shake of his head from the co-pilot's chair he was currently occupying, once the small runabout was finally settled onto the ground outside.

"Well, if we leave it up to Super-Dweeb, here, to decide which of these foci that you're talking about that we should take, Giles, then we'll probably end up with things that look like those stupid, big, fuzzy dice that people used to hang on the rearview mirror of their cars, or maybe some bobble-y headed thing that looks like Godzilla or King Kong, or something else just as moronic," Cordelia Chase interjected from her position in one of the extremely comfortable passenger seats in the front row of seats situated immediately behind the pair.

"Hugs and kisses to you, too, sweetheart," Xander tossed a somewhat sardonic smile, as well as pantomiming a kiss, over his shoulder towards the elegantly beautiful brunette, a hint of deviltry in his eyes as he finished shutting down the ship's controls.

Giles, meanwhile, unleashed a low sigh of exasperation at the constant flow of (sometimes) barely-veiled innuendo the pair had kept up over the course of their flight to this gods-forsaken patch of real estate.

{ Dear God in Heaven, what did I ever do to deserve having to endure the hormone-driven interpersonal interactions of a half-dozen teenagers? } Rupert asked himself silently, making sure he didn't inadvertently subvocalize his question.

*That* was something that he, and the rest of the group, had all learned to do quickly enough, after witnessing the results of Xander's inadvertently being overheard by Buffy making a less than completely complimentary comment regarding her attire the day following her own empowerment.

{ Well, at least Faith currently isn't also present to flirt with the both of them, } Giles reminded himself of at least *one* positive aspect of his current situation.

Deciding his best option was to ignore the teens' banter the way he would have customarily done if they'd been in the school's library, the former Watcher to the Slayer cleared his throat to draw the superpowered teens' notice to him. Rupert then hid the pleased smile tugging at his lips as both Cordelia and Xander instantly dropped their adolescent squabbling and focused their complete attention on him.

"Based on the information I was able to winnow from both my own and the Council's libraries, we will most likely find the local entrance to the Deeper Well inside one of the nearby caves, since it is situated diametrically opposite to the primary entrance within the Cotswolds in west-central England," Giles reiterated the information he knew they were already aware of, before proceeding to the more structured plan he'd decided upon implementing after extensive consideration, during their trip here.

"And as I informed everyone during our initial briefing back home, the prophecy warns of 'machinations against those gifted with power by the newly elevated lord of the vessel which fell to earth from skies far distant', as well as 'betrayal by those given the duty to mentor and help Gaia's guardians mature'," he noted, his scholar's eyes alight with interest as he expounded on a subject he'd clearly found most intriguing.

"Based on the events of the past few months, the person referred to as 'the newly elevated lord of the vessel which fell to earth from skies far distant' is almost indisputably you, Xander, given your recent acquisition of the Da'acks'omaat ship, while the 'machinations' noted in the first section are most likely being actions taken by those responsible for the 'betrayal' noted in the second section," Giles explained his reasoning.

"In addition, the prophecy also speaks of 'protections gained by the defenders of the Earth Mother and her children, acquired from the tombs of the most eldritch Ancient Ones – the precursors of all that now exist' – a reference I would take to mean all of us, as a group, given that we have been endeavoring to hold back the forces of Darkness for the past three years," the former Watcher hypothesized, "And with the protections apparently acquired in the course of some type of quest among the sarcophagi of the Old Ones –whom I believe are the ones referred to by the lines 'the most eldritch Ancient Ones – the precursors of all that now exists'."

"Unfortunately, the rest of the prophecy fragment which I had managed to acquire was either missing or far too damaged to be comprehensible," Giles again summarized the information available to their small group, "so, as far as any definitive plans regarding how to proceed once we are actually inside the Deeper Well are concerned, we will essentially have to improvise as needed, once we see what it is we encounter."

"Okay, big guy; we'll just play it by ear, once we're inside," Xander nodded his understanding of the general strategy and tactics to be employed, once they had entered their target. "I can do that."

"Don't worry, Giles. If it looks like the Doofus here is about to touch anything he shouldn't, I'll just smack him in the head as a warning," Cordelia reassured the one-time Watcher as she, too, nodded her head in understanding.

"Very well, then," Giles said, as he rose from his chair and headed towards the outer hatch, "let's get moving, then. The faster we can acquire whatever it is we're supposed to find, the sooner we can be heading home." He paused for a moment. "You did mean you'd strike Xander if he's about to touch something inappropriate and not myself?"

"Depends on who's closer."

~/~/~

High above Sunnydale, CA

Approximately the same time as the preceding scene


{ I never imagined being able to fly like a bird could be this relaxing and enjoyable, } Buffy Summers thought to herself, as she soared though the scattered clouds filling the sky above her current hometown. { Being able to just fly off and leave your problems behind – even if it's just for a little while – has definitely got to be the best way possible to unwind and get rid of minor aggravations. It's even better than skating! }

She wasn't being completely indolent, Buffy decided with a small pleased grin to herself as she made use of her 'Word of the Day' calendar's choice for today, since she was also using the enhanced senses she'd so recently gained along with her ability to fly, to keep tabs on the general flow of events occurring in their busy little municipality while she drifted through the clouds above the Hellmouth.

{ Hmm, I think we might have to check out that warehouse later tonight, and see exactly what a Serparvo demon is doing, inspecting the exterior of a known Grappler demon hangout, all by itself, } the now even-more-superhumanly empowered young woman decided from her aerial vantage point, as she watched the red-skinned creature leaving its ostensible enemy's lair and return to the Sunnydale sewer system via the nearby manhole. { Things have finally settled down around here, and we definitely don't need any sort of demon brood war starting up, to determine who'll succeed the Mayor, now that he's gone. }

{ Though I have to admit, things have certainly been – quite interesting – the past few months, as Xand would insist Dr. Spock would say, } the beautiful blonde thought to herself with a grin as she considered the events of the past few months.

The multitude of changes which had taken place in both her own and her friends' lives, since her Cruciamentum – a horrific test the Council had forced her to undergo on her birthday – and then, on the following day, Xander's somehow managing to become the Commander of a space ship which had been ancient before the first proto-human primates had left their trees behind and begun walking on the ground, would definitely be considered to be of earth-shaking proportions by virtually anyone who might learn about them.

And Xander's demonstration of the astonishing new abilities, which he'd received as a result of the alterations the ship had performed on him had basically left everyone who'd witnessed him in action in a virtual state of shock afterwards.

The fact that those alterations had been revealed to the Scoobies on the day following Xander's discovery of the ship and under the worst possible circumstances – when an apocalyptic cult called the Sisterhood of Jhe had been attempting to open the Hellmouth – had merely accentuated the strangeness of the entire situation all the more.

While, admittedly, Xander's then marginal hand to hand and weapons combat skills could never in any way compare to her own, Faith's or Angel's expertise, her best friend's newly enhanced speed and devastating strength, combined with the fact that virtually every weapon the vicious and unrelenting demons had used against him had broken upon impacting his skin, had enabled the Scooby Gang to successfully repulse each of the multiple waves the single-minded and apocalypse-focused invaders had thrown against them, with only minimal damage to their own.

The fact that Xander had also punched out and then somehow set the tentacled Hellmouth guardian on fire, using what he'd called his laser vision (one of his newly-gained abilities), had most definitely had a lot to do with the incredibly positive and powerful impression he'd made that night, the blonde reminded herself with a smile, as she drifted through the peaceful skies at a height that made it difficult for any pedestrians below to see her. But she still focused on staying low enough not to show up on LAX's radar – THAT earlier incident had been a little embarrassing!

Buffy also still found it somewhat humorous witnessing Giles' ongoing frustrations regarding his ongoing inability to figure out exactly what purpose the demons had intended for the four chewed-up dead bodies they'd found in the school basement, near the closet where they'd locked a transformed Oz, once the Gang had finished cleaning things up.

The fact that once Faith had recovered from her surprise regarding Xander's new abilities, she hadn't been the least bit subtle about insisting he go back to her hotel room with her, to help her 'take care of a major case of the hungry and hornies' hadn't been something Buffy had really wanted to pay too much attention to at the time. Which, given the somewhat blighted state of her relationship with Angel, was certainly understandable.

And Buffy could clearly remember the desolate and unhappy expression on Willow's face upon hearing the other Slayer's words. Not that the hacker and aspiring apprentice witch could have said anything regarding that particular development, given the status of the group's various interpersonal relationships at that time; she had chosen Oz after the 'fluke' and that was that where Xander was concerned.

And the various changes in those aforesaid interpersonal relationships following Xander's decision to offer his ex-girlfriend, Cordelia Chase, the same opportunity for empowerment that he'd made to the other members of the Scooby Gang, had definitely shaken things up enormously, Buffy reflected to herself. Frowning, she then scanned the ground below her with her significantly improved eyesight. She also simultaneously focused her enhanced hearing on the tunnel system she knew ran below ground, for any more subtle indications of problems or disturbances.

{ Sometimes it seems like Xand and Cordy are dating exclusively again, and then other times, it seems like they're not, and that he's dating Faith, instead. And Faith's heavy flirting with the both of them certainly doesn't make anything any clearer, } the former Slayer thought to herself with semi-frustrated annoyance before she mentally shifted priorities and focused a larger part of her attention on a vampire in Willy's bar.

The superpowered blonde listened intently as the bloodsucker bragged to one of her fellow leeches, about the various methods which she and her minions typically used to lure young college students away from the UC Sunnydale campus and back to the abandoned frat house which she and her minions had established as their headquarters.

{ Hmm, looks like some of us should start hanging around some of the college bars and watering holes for at least part of each night, } Buffy decided. Since she had refrained from using either her new laser vision or freeze vision to dust the vampire (the Scoobies wanting to conceal their freshly acquired abilities from the demonic side of their lives for as long as possible), the petite blonde also made a mental note to find and personally deal with the blonde vampire named Sunday later that night.

{ And even though I'm completely sure that Willow and Oz are still definitely an item, considering the way they behave with each other, sometimes it seems like Willow and Faith are dating, } Buffy thought to herself, once again refocusing her thoughts on her fellow Scooby Gang members' definitely confusing relationships. She simply couldn't help it, as she considered the various occasions she'd seen the two women together in the course of the past two weeks. Faith and relationships were difficult things to think about, to begin with, but Buffy found herself oddly un-bothered with whatever combinations her friends ended up with as long as they were happy.

After a few more moments of intense contemplation about what the status of their friendship actually was – which eventually lead to the decision to simply ask Faith or Willow, whichever one she met first – Buffy turned her reflections to the most recent developments the Scooby Gang had undergone.

The Da'acks'omaat ship's clear and unambiguous declaration, after a painstakingly detailed examination and several hours of calculation and evaluation, that it would be able to remove the mystical virus-analogue currently infecting Oz – should Xander direct that the young werewolf receive the same empowerment treatment the other members of the Scooby Gang had received – had initially enflamed the ex-Slayer's hopes that her former vampiric lover might be able to undergo the same treatment and, thus, become human once more.

Unfortunately, however, the blonde's hopes had been dashed to pieces only moments after she'd first raised the suggestion during the course of one of their Scooby Gang meetings shortly after the other teens had been empowered.

And it had been by the most unlikely source she could have ever expected – Angel, himself, of all people!

"No, Buffy, it's far too dangerous to even consider attempting something like that," the ensouled vampire had immediately declared after hearing his beloved first suggest her idea, a steadfast and unwavering expression on his face as he spoke.

"Even if the procedure does work for Oz, like you said, my situation is completely different from his," Angel had pointed out.

"Oz suffers from what most people would probably call the mystical equivalent of an infection or a disease, while my condition is that of a body which has been possessed and reanimated by an demonic spirit, and which was then subsequently cursed by gypsies with a soul," the vampire had elaborated on the differences between his own and the young werewolf's circumstances.

"A major problem I can see with me undergoing the treatment that you and the others have already had is that, based on Xander and Willow have told me, it essentially rips the body being treated apart at a molecular level, before then rebuilding it, although it happens so quickly that the recipient doesn't really notice it happening," he stated with a frown.

"Exactly!" Buffy remembered her nodding her agreement with her former lover's statement quite eagerly. "It's done so quickly that it just leaves you with a sort of ache for a minute or so, but that fades away real quick!

"So, you don't have anything at all to worry about," she had pointed out with a pleased smile.

"No, that's exactly why we *do* need to worry, Buffy," Angel had said, shaking his head in disagreement.

"Technically speaking, a-as far as magic is concerned, except in the case of certain specially designed rituals – a person whose body is destroyed is considered to be dead, Buffy," Giles had carefully interjected himself into the conversation at that particular moment in an effort to help his primary charge understand the obstacles standing in the way of what she'd believed possible.

"Even though you finish the treatment with a body which is significantly improved and empowered when compared to the one you possessed prior to beginning the treatment, as far as magic is concerned, you essentially died and were then revived in the course of the empowerment treatment," he explained with a frown of concern and worry.

"So what?" Buffy remembered herself replying, not immediately comprehending the significance of what she'd just been told. "Ship fixes everything it does to the person being treated before it can really affect them.

"We're all okay, aren't we? All of us are super-healthy and everything now, so what's the problem?" she recalled asking, with her own frown.

"In my case, the problem is that I'm sharing this body with the demon which originally possessed it after my death. You remember Angelus, I'm sure," Angel had dryly responded, and Buffy had paled as she began fitting the pieces of information available to her, together. Giles had simply looked aside, as *he* hadn't forgotten the monster lurking just beneath the surface where Angel was concerned.

"Since a blood demon can possess any corpse – any dead body – that it's summoned to, by means of the vampiric blood the victim ingested before their death," Angel continued his explanation, "it's quite likely that Angelus would be able to take control of my new body away from me, in the course of the empowerment treatment. And my soul would depart back to where it originally came from, in the hereafter."

"A superpowered Angelus – vampiric, or otherwise – is definitely *not* something you'd want to have to deal with," Angel had stated.

"He's right. The odds are we'd have an empowered Overbite who'd be immune to sunlight, fire, stakes, and everything else, assuming the transformation worked – since our new empowered bodies absorb sunlight, along with pretty much any other type of solar energy available, Buffy," Xander had pointed out, a moment later, before lapsing back into silence.

The petite blonde had abruptly sat back in her chair, dazed and shocked almost beyond words by the nightmare concept laid out before her, and it had been at that moment – as the realization that the very energy which now empowered her was the same energy which would destroy Angel – that Buffy finally acknowledged to herself that any potential for romance with her first love was doomed, without any hope of redemption.

It had been just three days after that discussion when Angel had announced to the group that he was moving to Los Angeles.

He'd been contacted by a Seer who currently lived in L.A., and who'd had a vision of the two of them working together in the future, helping people in trouble and working to stop the maneuverings of various demonic groups looking to establish themselves as powers in the city's demonic underside.

Accordingly, after several hours of at-times heated discussions with both Buffy and the other Scoobies, the ensouled vampire had decided that the next stage of his quest for redemption lay in the (ironically named) City of Angels, and he'd left.

Things had subsequently been very much of the über suck-age type for the next few weeks – at least as far as the Buffy romance front was concerned, the blonde remembered with a frown – but her friends had been more than willing to help out by spending the requisite hours which friendship required, listening to her complain about the unfairness of her life and the exceedingly shabby way the universe had decided to treat her.

Even *Xander* had put in some friend-time with her curled-up under his arm on the couch at Chez Summers, listening to her loudly whine and mope about the injustice and unfairness of Angel not being able to be empowered like the rest of them, while not making even one derogatory or disparaging comment about his former rival, she reminded herself.

And not only had he listened uncomplainingly, she remembered, but she also recalled three specific occasions over the course of that evening when she had seen his lips momentarily quiver, as though he was about to say something and had then reconsidered and remained silent.

It was enough to make one believe that miracles really could be relied upon to occur, in the former Slayer's opinion.

{ Huh. I guess Xander really is a good friend, to put up with all of my angsty whining and not actually let fly with most of the comments he definitely could have made, } Buffy concluded wryly, as she caught sight of a Fyarl demon lurking in the park and stalking a group of young children playing in the playground.

{ And I'll have to make it a point to thank him, again, as soon as he gets back in town, } the blonde one-time mystically-chosen Vampire Slayer decided, as she began swooping down out of the clouds, so as to effortlessly maneuver through the intertwined branches and approach her prey without drawing either its or the children's attention.

***

Six-year-old Matt Groener paused for a moment in his pursuit of Jamie Contner in their game of 'Tag', when he thought he heard something crash in the woods that partially surrounded the park.

But, after due consideration, when he didn't hear anything more, Matt just shrugged and resumed chasing after his friend, never noticing the golden-haired guardian angel who beamed radiantly as she spent a moment watching him and his friends playing.

Innocence had been preserved, if just for a moment.

~/~/~
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