Changing the Death Toll
Changing the Death Toll
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, no money made. I own none of the canon characters or universes, nor the tiny allusion to Harry Potter, Star Trek, Heartbreak Ridge and Pooh. All writing has been done in fun.
Distribution: Wormhole Crossing, TtH
Spoilers: Fragile Balance for SG1, Chosen for Buffy and Episode III for SW
Rating: for language, violence, death, and major angst-‘cause I’m not changing the big parts of Episode III or the rest of the SW movie cannon and how can you not have angst with Post-Chosen Buffy and Clone Jack?
“Save the Children, get them out of here.”
That was the only thought in Buffy’s brain when she woke up. She had been having a Slayer Dream. Right now she didn’t remember the particulars but she felt such a sense of urgency. She knew that this dream was important. The urgency of this situation matched that of when she found the scythe.
She jumped to her feet. And blinked. Okay . . . one answer solved but so many more questions created. She was in the middle of a nursery. A futuristic nursery. “I don’t think we’re in Cleveland anymore, Toto,” she muttered. Babies of all shapes, sizes and colors slept in little, detachable bins that wheeled around on cart-thingies. Demon babies, maybe? Humans too, so if the PTB wanted her to save babies, Buffy would save all the babies. A quick glance and Buffy counted twenty-one bins.
“Save the Children, get them out of here.”
This time someone else said the words with Buffy. A quick glance at the floor revealed the ‘who.’ A man-young- was collapsed in the next aisle. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, just like she was, though hers were definitely more stylish. And was that a knife sheath like hers around his ankle? Buffy scooped up two of the babies and put them in a bin with a third. With any solution she came up with, it would be helpful if the babies were grouped. It just happened that the third baby was right next to the man on the floor. She kicked him gently.
“Hey Buddy! Wake up!” Buffy said urgently. “We have a lot of frickin’ babies to move!”
The young man was on his feet in a second. Then he swayed and blinked at Buffy and their surroundings. “Where are we?”
She rolled her eyes. “See babies? Save babies.”
He paused, trying to get his bearing. “Do we know from what?”
Buffy glared, “No and if we’re really lucky we won’t find out.”
“Are we sure . . .”
“Yes,” Buffy put her hands on her hips. “If we’re wrong we can always put them back. Now. See Babies? Save babies.”
He immediately realized Buffy’s plan and followed suit. He didn’t wince anymore than Buffy did at the many species represented, just picked them up and grouped them. Most of the babies never woke up and the few that did just stared at Buffy and the stranger intently. For the species with some sharp-looking natural defenses, the stranger paired the babies. In the end, Buffy and her new partner had eight bins with a total of twenty-one babies. The cart thingies didn’t look like they could hold up in a fight, so Buffy and the guy had wordlessly agreed to put all the bins on the floor and leave the carts behind.
“Rope would be good,” the guy muttered.
Buffy shook her head. “There’s not even decent sized blankets to rip up and tie together.” She looked up and suddenly had an idea. “What about wire?”
He looked up and saw the hanging lights-dimmed. “Wire would work.”
Buffy crouched down and then jumped as high as she could. She might have gotten better air if she had taken a running jump, but the male’s gasp of surprise was its own reward. As it was, Buffy overshot her mark by a lot. She nearly hit the ceiling. It was as if gravity wasn’t holding her down anymore. She had to reach out and grab the light fixtures and slide down to the bottom. She hung on a pair of lights and heard the ceiling groan. She yanked with all her might and momentum. Buffy and the pair of lights came crashing to the ground. Buffy absorbed the fall in her knees and held the lights far enough over her head that they didn’t shatter on the floor. Thus, no noise. Crying babies would be so of the bad right now. She gently placed the light fixtures on the ground and, ignoring the slight electrical shocks sparking on the wires, started pulling on the wires for one light. Soon she had gained a goodly length and ripped it out of the ceiling. She tossed the wires to the guy . . .
“What is your name anyway?” . . . And started pulling on the wires for the second light.
“Jack O’Neill. You?”
He paused in his work, considering a comment Buffy was sure, but then just said, “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise.” She finally had a second set of wires to offer Jack. She held them out. “You need more?”
Jack looked down at his handiwork. He had tied the bins together and had even added a makeshift seatbelt to the assembly. He had packed the light blankets around the babies to hold them even more securely. The bins were ordered in two sets of four, pairing each bin with approximately the same weight load. “One more length should do it.” Buffy liked his efficiency.
She jumped again to bring down another light. “Coming right up . . . or rather down.” This light was a little more stubborn than the last two, but it inevitably succumbed. “Just leave me enough wire to pull the whole she-bang.”
Buffy jerked her head away from the wires in her hands. That was way too Initiative-like. But she saw the gentleness Jack bestowed on the babies, no matter the species. She had to remind herself that not all military was bad and that she had a job to do.
By the time she had decided to trust the partner the PTB dumped her with, Jack had finished tying all the baby bins together.
“Want me to tighten the knots?” she offered.
Jack looked vaguely insulted but quickly stomped it down. “Sure, just don’t stretch the wires too much, it’ll weaken them.”
“Got it.” Buffy tightened every knot as much as she dared. She glanced up once and Jack was at the door, checking for any problems. There was one wire that mystified the Slayer.
“What’s with the tail?” she asked. The lone wire trailed after the bins.
“I’m guessing that you’re strong and fast,” Jack said.
Buffy snorted. “No, I just offered to pull the babies because I was a husky in a previous life.”
Jack grinned. “If you’re half as fast as I think you are, we have to be careful about whiplash. You could accidentally send the tail end of the baby train into a wall while you round a corner. I’ll hold the tail and try to keep the caboose on track.”
“Oh.” Buffy hadn’t considered that. “Good idea.”
Jack accepted the compliment with a nod. “The way’s clear. We’d better get.”
Buffy slung each part of the improvised harness over a shoulder and pulled. The bins sliding on the floor whispered its scraping. The weight wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle easily. Jack held the door open for her. She was at a slow jog by the time she had cleared the nursery and started down the hallway, following the directions the PTB had given her in her dream. Jack grabbed the tail and followed.
The nursery exploded behind them.
Buffy promptly broke into a sprint and Jack desperately tried to keep up.
The female looked on and mourned the children in the other nurseries. The clone troopers had set the charges in their normal efficient, unemotional manner. The younglings died in a fiery blaze. From the Powers’ perspective, they were whisked straight to the happiness of heaven.
“You did not allow the Chosen One and the Young Champion to see the other nurseries,” the Power accused the Balance Demon.
Whistler took a drag of his cigarette. “How many can they save before the Balance will be upset again? Eight? Ten?”
“The Dark Side is moving many forces into position. He is shifting the Balance greatly in his direction,” said the brother. “He cannot-would not expect us to do any less but counter his move.”
“But Evil has been setting this coup up for a generation,” counted Whistler.
The sister smiled. “What makes you think that this is an impulse for us?”
Whistler paused. “But you wasted effort by not using Earthly means to get them to the Temple. You stole them out of their beds.”
“Indeed,” chorused the Powers that Be.
The sister shook her head. “We learned our lesson from the last time we had thought we had placed the Slayer out of the reach of the Witch.”