Title: Always Darkest
Genre: Angel/Andromeda/Dracula: the Series/Lord of the Rings Crossover
Timing: This story occurs concurrently with "Before the Dawn" (and, as such is a sort of sequel to "In the Forests of the Night")
Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own these characters. The Angel Investigations crew belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Gandalf belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. Andromeda belongs to Tribune.
Distribution: After the Hellmouth, others, please ask.
Author's Notes: For Angel, this takes place early season four after "The House Always Wins." For Andromeda, this story begins during the second season finale, "The Tunnel at the End of the Light." The third season of Drom never happened in my world. For "Lord of the Rings," this story follows assumes that all events that took place were in the far distant past. For "Dracula: the Series," this story assumes that the events of the show took place in 1990, and all of the characters involved are 12 years older now.
Author's Note, Part 2: Don't worry, Angel fans, the AI crew gets involved in part 2.
Thanks to: Canada and Carol, for their beta-ing, and Valerie and Carol (again) for their suggestions. Thanks guys!
10089 CY (5169 AD)
Her name - at least, her current name - was Trance Gemini. She'd had others over the course of her life, some in languages no longer spoken aloud. When she was younger, she'd allowed herself to be worshipped as a goddess, but these days, she wielded her power with much more care. Worlds depended on her, and in this case, her friends' lives depended on her.
She'd never intended to have friends. She'd joined the crew of a little salvage ship called the Eureka Maru because she'd known what would lie ahead for the small group. They were destined for great things, and she had chosen to watch over them, to guide them on their journey. She hadn't expected to care.
Her persona had been young and innocent, so Captain Beka Valentine had taken her under her wing - looking out for and protecting her. Trance hadn't really known what to make of that; it had been a long time since she'd had anyone to protect her. The young engineer, Seamus Harper had quickly become her best friend. He was special, brilliant, with a zest for life undimmed by his past on a world where humans were nothing more than slaves. She'd suspected that Rev Bem, the Magog linguist and unofficial ship's counselor, knew that she was much more than she'd seemed but despite that, he'd embraced her as a friend. His prayer and meditation as a Wayist monk had given him a much different perspective than the rest of the Maru crew, and his counsel had been valuable, even to a being like herself. She'd missed him when he'd finally left them behind, looking for some much-needed peace.
After the Maru crew had pulled the Andromeda Ascendant from where it had been caught in the event horizon of a black hole, Trance had encouraged them to stay on the ship that had once belonged to the long-dead Systems Commonwealth. Captain Dylan Hunt had a destiny as well, and to rebuild the Commonwealth he would need a lot of help.
They all stayed with Dylan. Herself, Beka, Harper, Rev... even Tyr Anasazi, the mercenary who had initially been hired to kill Dylan. He stayed to use the Andromeda to gain the wealth and prestige, increase his status among his people - the genetically-engineered Nietzscheans -- but, like her, had come to care about the crew.
Two years later, the Commonwealth had been rebuilt. But life was never easy... and things never went smoothly. Which led her to where she stood. The current damage to the ship was not simply the work of an anti-Commonwealth saboteur, but the work of dimension-shifting aliens from a parallel universe.
Trance Gemini had traveled back in time, exchanged places with her younger self, just for this moment. In the future she had come from, she'd made mistakes and good people had died. This ship, her crew, and the entire rebuilt Systems Commonwealth had been destroyed in an instant.
This time, a perfect future was still possible - it had to be. She knew what would have to be done.
Trance stared up at the picture on the viewscreen watching thousands of alien spaceships floated through the inter-dimensional tunnel, headed toward the Andromeda and the Commonwealth Fleet. That's why they hadn't seen the aliens before, hadn't been able to stop them when the Andromeda had been attacked. Though, with phase-shifting technology making the aliens invisible, the ship still might have been doomed.
She glanced up as Harper's voice came over the intercom. The young engineer was brilliant, no doubt, and his bomb, affectionately referred to as Roseanne, might be enough to close the tunnel and send those dimension-shifting aliens back where they belong... if only they could get the bomb close enough.
"I bet Roseanne needs a Maru-sized limo to take her to the dance." Beka Valentine stepped down from the pilot's command station, walking in the direction of her ship's hangar.
Trance looked over at Beka. While this was a job for the best slipstream pilot in all the known worlds and her trusty ship, Beka hadn't been successful the last time around, and everyone had died. This time, there was even less margin for error, and Trance didn't want to risk her friends. But she had to. She also had to impress upon Beka the seriousness of this mission, and make sure she was along for the ride. The quickest way to do that? Challenge her. "Beka, no. Dylan is going to pilot."
"Why shouldn't I pilot my own ship?" Beka asked indignantly.
Did she tell Beka the truth about what had happened before? That the pilot had caused the deaths of all of her friends? Trance grabbed Beka by the arm, dragging her over to a corner of the command deck. "Why shouldn't you pilot your ship? Because you did last time, and it didn't work out."
Trance knew that Beka had to go - that was the only way the perfect possible future might be achieved. But she kept coming back to the same thing... she didn't want to risk the lives of her friends...
Suddenly the golden girl realized that Beka had stopped talking, in mid-sentence. She looked around, and everyone was frozen. Could it be the aliens? No. She looked up at the viewscreen, noting that the alien ships were frozen as well, which meant only one thing...
"You must let them go."
Trance didn't turn at the familiar voice behind her. "I know," she replied softly.
"The fate of the world -- of both worlds - depends on it."
"I know, Gandalf." Trance whirled around to face the wizard. "I know that to set things right Beka has to go... and has to get it right this time. Tyr, too." She looked up at the Nietzschean, standing frozen in mid-motion at his command station.
"She will not make it without him."
"What if she doesn't, anyway? What if they both don't make it? Then they'll both be dead, and the world will still be doomed." She started to pace before him, her agitation obvious.
"Neither you nor I can see the future with certainty; we can only know the possibilities." Despite the distressed indecision of the woman in front of him, Gandalf remained calm. Trance would do what was right. The future of the universe depended on it.
"I never thought they'd matter so much. They're mortal, fragile, yet possess more courage than most of my people will ever have."
She smiled ruefully. Her people. Her friends on the Andromeda had known her for more than two years, and Beka and Harper had known her longer than that, but they still didn't know what planet she was from, or exactly what kind of alien she was. While they had ideas about what she was capable of - she had come back from the 'dead' before - they had no way of knowing the extent of her power. Not only could she see the infinite number of possible futures, but she actually had the power to warp the fabric of time, sending Beka and Tyr back to the past to help the Champion stop the forces of evil.
"They're my friends, Gandalf."
"And they have a great role to play in the battle against evil. If the Hellmouth is destroyed, rather than just forced into dormancy, evil throughout the entire universe loses power."
"The Spirit of the Abyss..."
"May not have enough power to create the Worldship that is threatening to destroy all life in your time." He put his hand on Trance's shoulder, reassuring her. "For the sake of both times, both worlds, they must go."
"I know." Trance nodded. "It's time." She walked over to Beka, resuming her previous position in front of the human woman. No more arguments - she would have to let her go.
"Good luck." Gandalf disappeared, and time began again.
Trance paced in her corner of command. Beka was on her way to the Eureka Maru, ready to pilot the ship with the bomb to the dimensional tunnel. One thing was still missing, however - Tyr. But how to convince a recalcitrant Nietzschean to risk his life on her word...
The former mercenary hadn't been present on Beka's last trip to the tunnel. Instead Trance had gone, and the two women hadn't been able to hold off the aliens long enough to get the bomb in position. They'd released it too early and their friends had been incinerated.
If this mission were to succeed, Tyr needed to go with Beka. He was her only chance of surviving long enough to destroy the tunnel, saving this universe. Not to mention that if they couldn't get close enough to the tunnel to successfully drop the bomb, they weren't close enough for Trance to use the tunnel's time-and-space-altering properties to send them back in time. They were linked, their destinies intertwined, and they had to make the journey together.
"Tyr!" she walked over to where he stood, firing the Andromeda's missiles at the alien ships.
He said nothing, merely stared, waiting for Trance to reveal her intentions.
"Beka's about to take Roseanne out in the Maru."
"Roseanne." Tyr rolled his eyes. "Trust the little professor to give his invention such a ridiculous name."
"You need to go with her."
"Go with her? Out there, in a tiny spaceship, surrounded by heavily-armed enemy ships that disappear at will? With aliens that appear out of thin air in front of us? Aliens that will be targeting the Maru if they get an inkling of what we are planning? Beka's mission is suicide, and I am not looking for death."
"Death will find you whether you look or not."
He looked up, staring suspiciously at the golden-skinned alien. She had the power to see the future. Was this a prediction about his near future, or simply a ploy devised to manipulate him into following her mysterious agenda?
"If you don't go, we will all die."
"Really." He looked unimpressed.
"It happened before. This is why I came back, to right a serious wrong. In my future, Beka and I went on the Maru."
"We did. Only Beka and I did. You, Dylan, Harper and the entire Commonwealth fleet were destroyed." She looked him straight in the eyes before continuing. "You have to go with Beka. Protect her, protect the ship long enough for the Maru to get into position to drop the bomb. It's the only chance we have of surviving."
Tyr didn't trust Trance. The alien was far too enigmatic, with her hidden agenda and mysterious powers. He had no doubt that there was much more to her entreaty than that which she shared. Yet he also did not doubt her sincerity in this matter; she truly believed what she had said. He did not want to die, nor, for reasons he did not entirely want to admit to himself, did he want the rest of the crew to die, and she had shown an uncanny knack for predicting future events, even before she had changed places with her other self.
"Take over on fire control," he told her, striding out of command, heading for the Maru.