Ship of the Line: Three Stars United.
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS, Stargate, Star Wars or Star Trek, or any related properties. Those belong to their respective owners, and I'm just using the settings and characters to tell a story. I also do not own any other recognizable properties from this story, although those will likely be but temporary guests on stage.
Author's Note: I like the whole premise behind the Ship of the Line challenge (found on the Twisting the Hellmouth fanfic website), but I found it difficult to reconcile my own knowledge with any one ship. I looked at the various star ships that were associated with a particular character, and failed to find one that fit. Then it hit me. If I couldn't find one ship that fit, I just had to fuse together the ones I liked until what I had did fit. The results follow...
Prologue: A Destiny Defied.
The web of destiny and fate was cracked. Far more fragile than it seemed from the mortal perspective, the entire structure was less a tapestry than a spider's web. The Great Plan, the Balance, all hung on a design woven of thoughts and choices. All to keep the Chaos bound away, to maintain the Powers' positions of authority and balance the forces of Light and Dark. Built from prophecy, the web itself couldn't be easily broken. The Powers set down rules and gave orders, claiming certain outcomes to be inevitable, but in a moment such as this, it became very clear exactly how fragile fate could be.
The entity known as Janus, as Loki, as Anansi and Coyote, the ultimate trickster and the essence of change itself, watched the events unfold, as one fragile mortal made his choice, to ignore prophecy and step forth to fight it, pushing aside his own fear to intimidate one of the strongest vampires to walk the earth into taking him to confront another, even stronger vampire, defying her fate and risking his own life to make sure she lived, even going so far as to deliver CPR, prying her life from Death's very fingers. Even as Janus watched, the strand of fate snapped, parting with a noise that had not been heard in centuries. A single note of pure hope.
The Powers moved swiftly, struggling to repair the damage to their plans, touching on the dreams and emotions of the youngsters calling themselves the 'Scoobies', and were almost successful. Janus reached out and nudged a decision in a distant corner of the world in response, using the 'noise', although that was hardly the right word, of their working to cover his own, and as an afterthought, also laid his hand on the soul of the boy who would so defy destiny. Now and forever more would this youth be an avatar of Chaos, an Anakha, a man without a destiny, who would walk the world unseen by the Powers, bringing their plans low with every tread of his feet upon the Earth...
The Order of Dagon began their ritual, to safeguard the Key, with the life force of those who would know where it... no, she, now... was sent being used to fuel that very sending, and by doing so now, when the hell god they avoided naming finally tracked the order down, there would be no traces for it to follow to the Slayer's new sister, barely two years younger than she...
Xander Harris rolled over in bed and stared at the books his best friend Willow had loaned him to read, wondering exactly why he'd identified so much with the man called Sparhawk...
Chapter 1: The Door is Opened.
Xander looked around the shop as the boy took the last toy rifle and ran off with it. ::Darn kid,:: he thought, warmly. ::A true master of the Eyes of the Puppy-Dog technique. Of course, now I'm gonna have to dig into my road trip funds for a costume.::
As the dark-haired Sunnydale native glanced around, he saw Willow with Buffy, and Joyce was escorting Dawn through the store. He was also witness to Cordelia's arrival, and her movement as she went straight for a dress reminiscent of a noblewoman from the 1700s. Catching Buffy's pout, he shook his head and returned his attention to the costumes around him. He was totally unprepared for the sudden appearance of the store's proprietor. “May I be of assistance?”
The sudden arrival of the man, and his query, startled Xander, and he spun to face the blond Brit. “Gahh!” he exclaimed. “Don't do that! This is not the town to be all sneaky-up-on-people in!”
The wry grin on the man's face seemed sincere enough. “I'm sorry, I'll keep that in mind,” he replied. “Now, what do you see yourself as for Halloween? A knight? A soldier? A sorcerer?”
Each possibility was accompanied by a gesture at an appropriate costume, and the last was close enough to Dawn Summers that Xander saw her notice him and begin to head over, dragging Joyce along. The spunky little fourteen-year-old had pretty much decided that if Buffy and Willow weren't staking their claim on him, she would. As they approached, with Willow and a disgruntled Buffy in tow, Xander returned his attention to the shopkeeper. “Well, I was going to be a soldier, but the little rug-rat with the eyes got the last rifle...”
“Yes, I saw that... it's a shame there aren't more folks like you, thinking of the kiddies,” the Englishman said. “My name's Ethan, this is my store. The sign's probably a big clue there. Follow me.” He led the way to a door in one corner of the store. “Not all my costumes get returned in one piece, and some are damaged, bits missing... you know the whole deal. You and your friend can help yourselves to the stuff in this storeroom to make your own costumes if you want, and I'll only charge a nominal fee. Say, ten dollars a costume, with a dollar for each accessory?”
Xander nodded. “That sounds like a deal to me,” he agreed, noting the minimal digging into his travel funds. “The five of us?” At Joyce's confirming nod, and Ethan's grin, Xander nodded and began rubbing his hands together as he looked around the room at the incomplete outfits. “Let's see what I can do...”
The next evening, Xander strode towards the Summers household in his costume, rattling in his pocket the final touches for everyone's costumes. The basic outfits that he'd started with were Starfleet uniforms from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but there were no rank insignia or comm-badges in the store. His own had been in the red of the command track. Unfortunately, that was all there was, and he'd turned to other elements to finish up his outfit. From among the Star Wars racks, he'd managed to locate what was left of a Han Solo costume, the vest, boots and belt, and found a 'sidearm' in a spare parts box. It resembled nothing so much as a plasma pistol from Warhammer 40,000, the miniatures game he, Jesse and Willow had dabbled in during their days in junior high. He also found a number of broken Star Trek comm-badges. With a bit of work during shop class, and the eager assistance of a couple of classmates (Andrew Wells and Jonathan Levinson, as he recalled), he'd managed to rework the plates. Since his costume was such a blend of both Star Wars and Star Trek, however, they'd used the emblem for the New Republic to make the badges, and Xander had also made a number of rank pips for their collars. He'd even given some to the two fellow geeks on the condition that their own costumes had to blend the two 'realities'.
Knocking on the Summers' door, he was greeted by Joyce, already in costume. The blue-green of the medical track graced her shoulders, and a sturdy belt with first aid kits sat on her waist. Over this was the open white robe of a Force-user, and the silvery cylinder at her waist was obviously a lightsaber, hanging opposite her 'shock pistol'. “Xander,” she said, smiling as he stepped through the doorway. She accepted the badge and rank pips he handed over. “Glad you could make it.”
That was as far as she got before a brunette blur came charging down the stairs to tackle the young man into a hug. Xander barely had the time to identify said blur as Dawn before she was on him. She was wearing the red-shouldered suit of command, with a white polar-fleece vest and boots, and her hair was pulled back into the long tight braid of Leia from Jabba's Palace. In the back of his mind Xander breathed a sigh of relief that Joyce had put her foot down about the metal bikini from those scenes. Dawn quickly attached her share of rank pips and the comm-badge to her vest. “Hey, Xander, thanks,” she chirped as she secured them, and made sure her plasma pistol was snug in its holster.
The sounds of a low-voiced argument echoed down the stairs as Willow and Buffy tried to be the last to arrive downstairs. For once, Buffy lost, and so was first to display her costume and receive her rank tabs. There was of course the basic uniform with the yellow of the specialist track, but it was combined with a long grey robe, and the belt held a lightsaber, not unlike her mother's, and a combi-pistol, shock and laser. The biggest departure was the ears and tail, as well as the whiskered make-up. The resemblance to a panther was unmistakable, and the black dye in her hair accented it perfectly. “What d'ya think, Xander?” she asked, striking a pose on the stairs. “Do I look like I'll stand out?”
Xander saluted in the Republic manner, his right fist over his heart. “Indeed you shall,” he glanced at the tabs he had left. “Are you a lieutenant or a Lieutenant-Commander?” he asked. “That's the only tabs left. Mrs... I mean, Joyce has to be a Commander, 'cause she's our CMO, Dawn Patrol grabbed another Commander and the XO spot, and I'm the Captain, so...”
“Can I be the Chief Engineer?” Willow asked as she stepped out from behind Buffy. Her uniform was also yellow, but her belt had a las-pistol and many tools. As another accessory, she had managed to find a wrist-mounted 'computer' interface. She had also found a set of elf-like ears that she had quite happily applied, making her resemble a five-foot pixie. “That's an L-C slot, isn't it? And that way, Buffy can be the Head of Security, you only had to be a lieutenant for that.”
Buffy tapped her white-painted chin. “Hmm. Take the rank, and have to talk techie, or don't take the rank and get to beat up the baddies... let me thi- Lieutenant!”
Xander chuckled as he handed her the tab and comm-badge. “So, does everyone remember who we are?”
“Aye, Captain,” Dawn replied, giggling. “You are Captain Alexander Solo, of the Republic Starfleet Starship Millennium, and we are your loyal crew. Commander Leia Summers, Executive Officer, reporting for duty.”
Joyce chuckled at her youngest's enthusiasm, and decided to play along. “Commander Padme Summers,” she announced, smiling gently as she did. “Chief Medical Officer. It's a pity I have duties elsewhere, or I'd join this 'away mission'.”
Buffy nudged Willow. “You're next by rank,” she hissed, having picked this much up from her friends. “It's your turn.”
Willow nodded. “Uh, I'm, that is... >ahem< Lieutenant-Commander Willow Scott, Chief Engineer, ready and able.” Everyone then turned to Buffy.
::Alright,:: she thought, ::I'm just at home, it's just the guys, no need to panic.:: Clearing her throat, she spoke. “Lieutenant Panthra Summers, Chief of Security, reporting for duty. Does anyone else feel kinda embarrassed now?”
Sunnydale High's halls echoed to the sound of children, and had Snyder actually possessed hair, he would certainly have been pulling it out. Xander had been intercepted by Andrew and Jonathan as he stepped onto the grounds, and the two fellow geeks (both in science track blue and brown robes with lightsabers, and the rank of Lieutenant) had presented him with a side-project that he'd inspired. By use of model kits, and their own ingenuity and talents, they had assembled a miniature of the RSS Millennium as Xander had described it, a melding of the designs of Star Trek's Voyager and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, with a list of 'specifications' that they'd put together over the past few hours. They had also confessed to providing a few extra tabs and comm-badges to others, and rank tabs. They weren't sure who'd gotten them, though.
Snyder's speech to the escort 'volunteers' (although his definition was significantly altered from the one in the dictionary) consisted mostly of don'ts, and had Buffy and the gang ever intended to follow his instructions, would have prevented the very task he'd volunteered them for.
Ethan Rayne strode into his carefully prepared 'temple', also known as the storeroom of his shop. As he began his ritual, he brushed away a vague feeling of foreboding, certain that nothing would go wrong, that everything would go according to plan. He forgot one fundamental fact as he did.
Plans and Chaos don't go together.
The wavefront of the enchantment poured forth from the shop, and rolled outward, reaching the Sunnydale city limits in no time, and finally halted at a radius of ten miles before the second wave, the actual transformation, barreled out in its wake. If Ethan had stuck to standard costumes, the entire history of the world from that point would have been very different. But the transformation drew a large degree of Janus' power through its channeler, Ethan. It took some energy to maintain that channel, so the spell would be limited by the parameters set by the mage, and the scale of transformation required. When the spell rolled over Xander Harris and Dawn Summers, things changed... drastically... as the energies of the Key became involved. Had they been pure Star Trek or Star Wars characters, then perhaps the energies may not have had the side effects that followed. But Xander had not only invented his costume wholesale from a fusion of the two, he had either directly (in the cases of Buffy, Willow, Dawn and Joyce) or indirectly (as with Jonathan, Andrew and the handful of people they'd supplied with the tabs and badges) brought others into the mix, which when combined with the Chaos magic and the Key's power (and Xander's status as an avatar of Chaos itself didn't help), brought an entirely new universe into existence for the duration of the spell... and in some corner of the multiverse, for good. The creation of an entire reality took far more energy to enact than simply twisting what was already there.
Ten miles directly above Sunnydale, a massive star ship came into existence. The sleek lines and angled nacelles called to mind the ships of Star Trek, but the mounted armaments and the split-nosed saucer section with the side-mounted observation deck and lounges (more like a public park and garden) called to mind the arguably most famous star ship from Star Wars. Nor did its sudden appearance go unmarked...
Captain Alexander Solo looked around at the various... beings around him. He didn't recall being on the Millennium's holodeck, and he certainly wouldn't have set it to a 'Halloween gone wrong' scenario. There was too much risk of clowns... or worse... mimes. He spotted Commander Summers... the younger one, the braid was distinctive... fighting off what looked like a very small gargoyle. Reaching over and throwing the creature back, he drew his plasma pistol and aimed, but the gargoyle took to the sky and fled. Helping his XO to her feet, the young captain (youngest in the Republic Starfleet, at that) showed his concern. “Are you all right, Lei- I mean XO?”
Commander Leia Summers nodded. They were dirt-side, so they had certain protocols to follow, even if they were in love. A prodigy at tactics and strategy, the girl had blasted through the Academy's records even allowing for her own young age. It had been spoken of in the halls of power that the only reason that Solo was the Starfleet's youngest captain was that she didn't want the rank... or any posting that took her away from him. They made a good enough team that the upper brass didn't want that either. “I'm fine, Xan- I mean, Captain,” She said as he helped her stand. “”What's going on? This doesn't... feel... like a holo-deck, they tend to forget the smells...”
To prove her point, a car passed them on the street, and its exhaust confirmed the oddity. “Late twentieth century,” Xander concluded aloud. “Maybe early twenty-first, before they developed the Rosenberg filters.”
Waving her hand before her face to disperse the stench of the exhaust, the brunette agreed with her Captain. Tapping her comm-badge got her a chirp as the channel opened. “Commander Summers to Millennium, Transporter Chief respond.”
The computerized voice that replied was not what she was expecting, and the feminine contralto gave her a chill as she realized what it meant. “Millennium to Commander Summers, Transporter Chief is unavailable.”
Xander's raised hand stopped Dawn's response. “Captain Solo to Millennium, which crew members are still aboard, and how many are ground-side?”
The few moments the ship's computer took to process the request were worrying. “Processing now,” they were told, and the computer went on. “Captain, I request permission to operate the helm. The Millennium's current orbit is unstable, and I have been painted with no less than seventeen separate sensor signatures, albeit primitive ones. In addition, there is a great deal of activity in a particular segment of the EM spectrum... it corresponds with radio waves.”
“Take the ship to stable geosynchronous orbit, and shield. Maximum transporter range if you will.” Xander wasn't taking any chances with his ship.
The Millennium's voice chimed from Captain Solo's comm-badge. “Acknowledged. Complying. Earlier results indicate no life-signs or synthetic sentients aboard the Millennium. Scanning the surface has produced results. Counting yourself and Commander Summers, there are a total of eight comm-badges active in your area. No comm-badges are present on the surface except these. Comm-badges and life-signs have been processed to determine identities. Identified personnel are as follows:
“Lieutenant Panthra Summers, Overt Moreau of the leopard strain, Security Chief and J'dai.”
Lieutenant Panthra Summers looked around. Something was wrong... very wrong. She could smell it, and by touching the Force gently, she could feel it. It was coming from the northeast, she knew. Stretching further, she located a handful of other Force-users, and she recognized some of them. There was her mother... once Padme Summers had accepted that someone had stolen one of her eggs and used it to make a moreau, a genetic blend of human and animal, she had welcomed the feline girl with open arms, and Leia had loved getting a big sister. All being posted to the same ship was a bureaucratic mix-up, but it was one that had worked in their favor. Now if only Leia Summers would learn to touch the Force...
Shaking her head hard enough to flap her ears, Panthra retreated to the heights even as she recognized two more of the Force users... the rest were unfamiliar, complete strangers, and half of those were Darksiders, too. Moving silently across the rooftops of this settlement, the feline officer began to investigate. If she was lucky, she'd figure out enough that Captain Solo would praise her initiative, and not reprimand her for not keeping contact...
“Commander Padme Summers, Human, Chief Medical Officer and J'dai.”
A moment of surprise as she found herself somewhere new, somewhere very far from her quarters or the medical bay on the Millennium, was all she allowed herself. There were more than a few humans in costumes here, but there were also several monsters from the types of horror vids they'd had three hundred years ago, even before the first Gene-tech War. Still, she could sense that there was something wrong there, something off about their forms and spirits, so her first response was not her incredibly dangerous lightsaber, but her shock pistol. As it spat its payloads, electronic charges designed to shock the nervous system into unconsciousness, at any hostile being she saw, she reached for her comm-badge, praying that someone knew what was going on...
“Lieutenant-Commander Willow Scott, Eldar, Chief Engineer.”
Willow Scott prided herself on her abilities. It was even said that her knowledge of modern technology was unmatched, not that she'd believed it herself. But even so, she almost certainly knew that a twentieth century internal combustion powered van, badly made up to resemble a shuttle complete with nacelles and fold-down wings, should not transform into the real thing. Something was incredibly wrong, and she certainly shouldn't be dirt-side on her own. Her hand reached for her comm-badge.
“Lieutenant Wedge Osbourne, Human, Primary Helmsman.”
Wedge, 'Oz' to his friends, raised his head from the controls of his shuttle, which had come to a halt, and now sat at rest on the surface of whatever planet this was. The only problem was, he didn't remember getting into the shuttle in the first place. A quick glance showed no damage, and the on-board sensors, while more limited than the Millennium's, and not his specialty, showed no signs of transporter activity... particularly not on the scale needed to move a shuttle. However, out the front view-screen he spotted one of the three people he thought might be able to explain these events, or at least form a working theory...
As he hit the switch to open the boarding ramp, he called out. “Hey there, L-C, do you need a lift?”
“Ensign Jonathan Vao, Twi'lek, Astrogation and J'dai. Ensign Andrew Sarek, Human-Vulcan Hybrid, Sensors and J'dai.”
The two friends with such disparate backgrounds tapped their comm-badges, signaling their presence. They were somewhat lucky, in that they had found themselves in an area of some concealment, and managed to avoid the group of more primitive people nearby. Several of them looked like pirates from some of the really old vids about adventure on Earth's high seas. Others could have been aliens (a few looked like slavers, to be frank), and others looked like monsters. Neither the red Twi'lek nor the half-Vulcan desired to attract their attention, so they hunkered down, waiting for contact or orders, cradling their shock pistols in a half-ready manner.
“Commander Leia Summers, Human, Executive Officer of the Millennium. Captain Alexander Solo, Covert Moreau of the hyena strain, Commanding Officer of the Millennium.” The synthetic contralto concluded. “All crew are exhibiting optimal life-signs. Analysis of surroundings is incomplete. An unclassified form of energy is blanketing the area to a radius of sixteen kilometers.”
Xander thought hard. If his crew was in trouble, the ship was the safest place for them. On the other hand, what was happening was not necessarily of the good... he paused a moment. ::Did I just think that?:: he mused, uncertain why he would mangle the English language that way. Shaking his head, he responded to the chirping of his comm-badge. “Solo, go ahead.”
From the communicator emerged the voice of his CMO. “Captain, this is CMO Summers... I have several civilians in what looks like old twenty-C Halloween costumes, including three wounded. Permission to take them aboard the Millennium?”
“Granted,” he replied. “Deck fifteen for the unwounded, straight to med-bay for the injured, and activate the EMH. Once they're stable, I need you back here with us. I'm gathering the troops now. Solo out.”
The people at the Sunnydale Gallery, which had been hosting the local Halloween bash, turned to the blonde woman in the odd combination of Star Wars and Star Trek costume. “Millennium,” she was saying, “lock onto all human life-signs here and beam us up.”
The soft warm light of the transporter shimmered, leaving behind only the transformed monsters... and Mayor Richard Wilkins the Third. As the creatures approached, no longer fearful of the woman in white's weapons, he looked into more tooth-filled grins than you could shake a stick at... not that that was a good idea.
“Well, crap,” he said, just before he disappeared beneath a pile of fangs and claws and hunger...
The shuttle accelerated towards the star ship, racing through the atmosphere of a planet that was very familiar... and at the same time, incredibly alien. Willow looked up from the read-outs on the admittedly limited sensors. “It's impossible,” she stated, the lieutenant her only audience. “There's no sign of even twenty-one-C technology, no Annie plants in orbit, no Artemis City, and the only signals we're picking up are radio waves. It's like we're in the late Twentieth, but the shuttle and the Millennium and our sidearms and my porta-com and the comm-badges are all real and working...”
“So we do this,” Oz agreed, and tapped his comm-badge. “Lieutenant Osbourne to Millennium, patch me through to the Captain.” Willow gaped for a moment. As clever and intelligent as she was, sometimes it slipped her mind to think about simple solutions. When Xan- Captain Solo's voice emerged from the tiny device, her nervousness ratcheted back a few notches. He'd know what to do...
“Solo here,” he was saying. “Report, Lieutenant.”
“I'm in the Dingo, heading back to the ship, and I have with me the Chief Engineer. Requesting orders, sir.” He grinned inwardly. Never use a sentence where a word would do, that was his motto. That and, 'If it moves, I can fly it, if it doesn't, push it first'...
“Proceed as you are, then catch a transporter beam back with CMO Summers,” came the reply. The Captain had come up with that method of dealing with the fact that two of the Summers ladies on his crew had the same rank. “You will be brought to the same co-ordinates as XO Summers and myself. Knowing our Security Chief, she's doing recon, and the XO and I will be finding our wayward Ensigns.”
“Acknowledged,” said Oz. “Rendezvous in ten. Dingo out.”
He'd no sooner finished speaking to the young pilot than his comm-badge chirped again. As Xander tapped at it to open the channel he waved for Dawn to find the two Ensigns. While she began talking with the Millennium's computer to triangulate their position, he turned his attention to his own communication. “Solo, go ahead,” he said, fighting back the inexplicable urge to apply 'can't go under it' to the end of his name.
The throaty, purring voice of Lieutenant Summers was unmistakable, even at a whisper. “Captain, I have located an upwelling of Dark-side energies,” she reported. “My location is grid seven, co-ordinates 375-564. Current elevation fifteen feet, the local flora is sturdy, if somewhat sparse. There seem to be two humans guarding the upwelling, although I can't sense any darkness in them, that could be due to this location. Orders?”
“Hold your position, Lieutenant, and good work,” the dark-haired captain replied. “I'd appreciate your initiative more if I knew about it beforehand, though. We'll rendezvous in five, be ready.”
William the Bloody, known far and wide as Spike, stalked the streets in full 'game face', glaring around as he searched for the Slayer. He couldn't pick out her scent for some reason, and the few details he'd teased from Drusilla's ramblings were the least helpful help he'd ever been helped by, while still being helped... and that last train of thought was itself no help.
“What the bloody devil did she mean by it?” he muttered. “The Slayers not herself tonight, she said. Someone else has come to town and all the rules are broken, she says. Not to mention that Nancy-boy Angel's out here too. Bastard.”
As he wandered he spotted a Pirate accosting a noblewoman, who was screeching at the top of her lungs for help that just wouldn't be coming. He grinned. He could do with a bite...
The Dread Pirate Larry advanced on the screaming woman in the voluminous dress, far too billowy to run in, as she backed away and ran into a wall. As he reached out with a murmured “Don't fight too much, pretty,” the Duchess Cordelia of Chase found her retreat blocked and, still screaming, closed her eyes, knowing what was to come...
But the cry of pain wasn't hers, and she opened her eyes to see the pirate being hurled against a tree with enough force to render him senseless by a man... who turned around, revealing his face to be that of a monster, and a lowborn one at that by his accent as he spoke to her.
“Don't worry, love,” Spike said with a leering grin. “This won't hurt... for too long.”
The two Republic Starfleet officers had picked up the Ensigns in a matter of minutes, mere seconds before they heard the screams of the woman, and all four ran in that direction without hesitation. They arrived in time to see the Pirate thrown aside and fall, and catch sight of the monstrous face and intent of the vampire as he went in for the kill. Still, they hesitated to kill...
“Captain, open fire,” Ensign Vao yelled as he pulled his weapons, both shock pistol and lightsaber. “It's not alive, there's no Force within it!”
The raised voice caught the monster's attention, and it turned sneeringly towards them. “Oh, look,” the thing said. “It's the Slayer's pet and sister, and two flunkies. What, you think guns are gonna stop me? Take your best shot.”
The flare of white-hot plasma that seared through the air tore through the vampire, and Spike looked down at the basketball-sized hole through his chest in shock. “Bugger me,” he said, a fraction of a second before exploding into dust.
“Good shot, Captain,” the young XO offered, as they ran to help the girl to her feet. Turning to the young woman, she spoke quickly and soothingly. “You're safe for now,” she said. “And we'll find somewhere safe for you in a few minutes. Until then, can you keep up with us?”
The raven-haired young duchess nodded. A Chase was never weak before strangers... especially demons or elves, as two of these seemed to be. The one referred to as Captain was just scary... and she couldn't figure out why. But if he had his own ship, he must be a wealthy merchant, something that was not to be overlooked... and nor was he unpleasant to the eyes...
While Leia was not trained in the J'dai arts, she did have a sixth sense for someone setting their sights on her Captain. “By the way,” she hissed, well aware that her crew-mates could likely hear exactly what she said, and equally aware they'd either ignore it or back her up, “the Captain is mine. There's no ring on my finger yet... but there will be. Eyes... and hands... off!”
The young noblewoman stepped back a pace at the vehemence of the girl's reply, and nodded again. Her throat was sore from screaming. Xander, for his part, felt like a major plasma-bolt had been narrowly avoided.
“Ensigns, the two of you have point,” he said, snapping out tactics on the spot. “XO, you're in the center, escorting the young lady, and I'll take rearguard. Head out.”
Panthra Summers watched from her perch as her Captain... well, Leia's Captain who was her commanding officer, if you wanted to be really technical... arrived, with Leia herself and two Ensigns... it looked like those J'dai padawans from Astro and Sensors... as well as someone she at first took for a local, until she saw the fear in the girl's gaze as she glanced here and there almost constantly. She was freaked by all sorts of things it seemed.
As the Millennium's Security Chief sprang down from the tree, there was a flare of light as a transporter beam deposited three more crew nearby. Once assembled, they began to proceed inside the building where the 'wrongness' was, the upwelling of dark energy. The other three J'dai could feel it, but not to the same degree. As they approached the double doors that led to their destination, they paused hearing the raised voices inside... three distinct voices, where the J'dai only sensed two people! Focusing, Panthra noted an absence in the Force. From what the Captain and the Ensigns had said, it was like that creature that Solo had destroyed earlier.
As the 'away team', a misleading appellation considering they were all the crew that remained, took their positions around the door, they listened to the voices...
Angel paced restlessly. “I couldn't find even a trace of any of them Giles,” he ranted, as he turned again. The librarian was poring through one of the many tomes he possessed, trying to decipher what was happening, even as Jenny Calendar was attempting to enact a locator spell with a map and a crystal pendulum, to no avail. “Not a scent, not one voice I recognized... I thought Spike was out there after her for a while, but when I tracked down where his scent was, he wasn't there anymore, and there was no trail for him either. It's like they vanished from the face of the planet or something.”
“Codswallop,” Giles insisted. “There has to be an explanation in here somewhere... th-they can't just disappear like that!” He raised his hand and snapped his fingers to demonstrate.
The self-declared techno-pagan looked up from her working. “Well, English, either Angel's right or there's some really big magic that's blocking them,” she stated. “This spell isn't working, and if they were beyond the map, the crystal would pull that way. Maybe...”
Angel cut her off with a raised hand as he cocked his head. “Wait, I think I heard something...”
Ethan Rayne struggled back to consciousness, every part of him straining in protest. ::What went wrong?:: he asked himself as he feebly twitched and failed to rise, all his energy draining away from him. ::Why is this magic drawing on me so badly?::
He quickly concluded that he wouldn't survive this kind of expenditure of his spiritual power for much longer, and set himself a goal. Rolling over, ignoring the pain and effort, he began to fight against his exhaustion as he strained to reach the altar again...
Janus looked on, watching as the Chaos unfolded before him. A few tweaks to his priest's spell, and the Chaos was guaranteed to last. It was all a matter of timing now. The first change had been to weave a safety measure into the magic, ensuring that none would die from these revels, so long as they occurred. Unfortunately, that guarantee only helped those who fell beneath the ritual's influence... any other was taking their chances.
The second 'tweak' wasn't entirely his doing... When a certain prophecy had been broken, and a certain avatar chosen, he'd set loose a force of free will even he could not predict... not that he'd want to, of course. The combined presence of the Anakha, a veritable Door to unlimited possibilities, and the Enshekh, the Key to all locks, would alter certain parameters within the ritual. For instance, the creation of a reality no-one had yet dreamed of... There were times that Janus loved his job.
At Captain Solo's signal, Ensigns Vao and Spock lit up their lightsabers and struck the hinges of the doors, at the same time as Lieutenant Summers ignited hers (a shimmering golden blade as compared to their green ones, or her mother's blue) and kicked the doors into the room beyond, her bolt pistol in her left hand. Standing back with her shock pistol at the ready, Commander Summers ran her gaze across the people within the room. ::Perhaps she should go by Doctor Summers? It would cut down on confusion,:: Xander mused, even as he noted the three beings within the room, and the many books. A plasma bolt here would destroy so much paper it wouldn't be funny. ::Plan B, then::
The crew of the star ship so high above their heads each took note of the shock and startlement of the three occupants of the library, especially the one that looked to be in his mid-twenties before the surprise caused his face to twist into features resembling the creature that Xander had blasted earlier. Tapping his comm-badge, he barked out his order, even as Panthra fired her bolt pistol at the creature's face. “Solo to Millennium, lock onto life-signs in this chamber and beam up!”
In the costume shop, Ethan Rayne passed out, falling forward to slam against the altar he'd consecrated to Janus, and the marble bust wobbled, tipped and hung in balance, an entire world caught on the very edge of a destiny no-one could possibly guess at...