Chapter 1: That'd Be Telling
A few years ago an author called Methos created a wildly successful round robin story called Tales From The Barman on the Twisting the Hellmouth Buffyverse crossover site. In it Xander Harris opened a Cleveland bar, and the stories were simply encounters with customers from various fandoms.
It ran to 269 chapters and 120 authors, and spawned a sequel that currently has 89 chapters. I wrote several chapters; some only made sense in the context of the original story setting, but the four chapters that follow work as stand-alone stories with a little editing.
All characters belong to their respective creators, owners, etc. and as usual not me. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.
Xander looked up as Giles came into the Watchers Council’s London safe house, and said "Any word on Kennedy?"
"She's fine," said Giles. "Making a full recovery."
"Great. Want a drink?"
"God, yes, it’s been a long day."
Xander poured a Scotch on the rocks, took a Coke for himself, and said "Do we know how they got her yet?"
"Some sort of knockout gas. They pumped it into her hotel room, took her out in a laundry hamper, had her ten thousand miles away before we even knew she was missing, then kept her drugged so that Willow couldn't find her mind."
"I was half-expecting to have to deal with Darth Willow."
"Not this time, thank god."
The doorbell rang, and Xander let in Buffy and a tall man in his sixties, wearing a black blazer with white piping, who was saying "...can't believe how much things have changed." He had a British accent.
"I guess," said Buffy. "Giles is really your guy for that kinda thing, he knows all about England. I'll leave you with him, I've gotta get back to the hospital."
"Coke before you go?" asked Xander.
"Not this time. Willow needs to draw on some extra Slayer healing for Kennedy, and we want to spread the load round as much as possible." She went out, leaving the stranger looking a little lost.
"Being British does tend to help with knowing about Britain," said Giles. "What can I get you?"
"Whiskey and soda, please."
"Scotch or Irish?" asked Xander.
The stranger looked at him for a moment, and said "I'd almost forgotten there were brands. Johnny Walker, if you have it."
"Sure." Xander poured the drink, turned to Giles, and said "So how did you find her?"
"Willow just kept skipping minds, looking for someone who'd seen her. Fortunately our friend here is a good observer."
"Fortunately for me," said the stranger. "I thought it was just another trick when I heard her inside my head."
"Another trick?" asked Xander.
"They've been trying to break me for forty years," said the stranger, "everything from drugs and brainwashing to torture and fake escape plots. Usually a new arrival signaled a new ploy, something like voices in my head generally came from the interrogators. When people began to appear out of nowhere I was sure it was some sort of hypnosis."
"Not this time," said Giles. "When did you start to believe it was real?"
"When I saw Miss Summers cut one of the Rovers in two with her axe; somehow I doubt my captors would have thought of that."
"It's actually called a scythe," said Giles, "though technically I think it's more like a short halberd."
“I wish I could have been there,” said Xander, “But I guess someone had to man the phones. Trust Andrew to take his vacation when we really needed him…”
“Next time we’ll find someone else, I promise.”
"Do we know yet what they wanted from Kennedy?" Xander asked. "Or was it just the usual 'let's find out what makes the Slayer work' thing?"
"It looks that way," said Giles. "Nobody seems to have told her what they wanted, and there really wasn't anyone able to answer questions once the girls and Finn's chaps had finished demolishing the place."
"They probably wouldn't say," said the stranger.
"Why not?" asked Xander.
"That'd be telling."
"You always this cryptic?"
"That'd be telling too. Oh... sorry, bad habit. I've spent a lot of time avoiding questions; it's going to be hard to stop."
"Leave him alone," said Giles. "We don't need any answers right now, and we've hundreds of former prisoners to help. We might as well begin by making it clear that we really don't care about their pasts."
There was a warbling tone, and Giles grinned apologetically and got out his mobile phone, listened for a moment, and said "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to go back to headquarters, something's come up. Vi's on her way to pick me up. You could come with me. Or do something else of course, it's up to you."
"It's up to me," said the stranger with a smile. "Then if you don't mind I think I'll just take a walk for a while, if you could give me some money to get a taxi back when I'm ready."
"Of course," said Giles, handing him a couple of twenty pound notes. "That ought to be enough."
"Ought to be?"
"Inflation," said Giles. Vi appeared in the doorway, and he followed her out to her car.
"Right... thank you," said the stranger, looking a little lost. He put the notes into his pocket, pulled out something he found there, and tossed it accurately into the waste paper basket.
“I’ll get the spare bedroom ready,” said Xander. “Just ring the doorbell when you get back, I’m a night owl so I’ll probably still be up.”
“Thank you,” said the stranger, downing his own drink and heading for the door. "Be seeing you.”
Xander watched him go, finished his Coke, and out of curiosity looked in the waste paper basket. There was a large round badge there, and he turned it over in his hand, wondering what a penny-farthing bicycle and the number six symbolized. But there was nobody to give him answers, so he shrugged and went to make the bed.
Crossover with The Prisoner
Chapter 2: Illogical Commands
"Ready, honey bunny?"
The redheaded woman in the knitted cardigan sprang to her feet and waved a gun around the bar, shouting "Lie on the floor, motherfuckers!" while her Hawaiian-shirted husband jumped onto a table and screamed "Nobody move!"
Most of the customers did as they were told; the exception was a slim girl with a Texas accent who said "If you phrase your commands so illogically, why do you expect to be obeyed?"
"What?" shouted Honey Bunny, pointing her gun in the Texan's face. Her husband swung his gun even more wildly.
"You commanded everyone to lie on the floor, while he commanded everyone not to move. There is a clear contradiction." As she was talking she walked towards Honey Bunny, until the gun was only a foot or so from her face. "You are unworthy to rule."
"I don't want to fucking rule," screamed the redhead, "I want the fucking money!"
"More illogic," said the Texan. Her hand moved blurringly fast and she plucked the gun from Honey Bunny's hand, ejected the clip, cycled it to eject the remaining cartridge, and gave it back before Honey Bunny could do more than blink. "If you ruled you would not need money."
Honey Bunny screamed "Shoot the bitch!" Her husband tried to oblige, but his gun just clicked. The Texan woman seized Honey Bunny by one arm and, ignoring her struggles, walked towards him, saying "Illogical again. Does it seem likely that I would do this if there was any chance that you could hurt me?" She threw Honey Bunny at him, and took his gun from his hand while he was still trying to react. This time she didn't bother to eject the cartridges, she just twisted it into mangled wreckage, and politely gave it back. As an afterthought she took Honey Bunny's gun again and wrecked it too.
"Now then," said the Texan, "What would a logical person do now?"
"Run!" screamed the redhead, dragging her husband behind her as she fled the bar. "It's like LA all over again!" They dropped the guns as they ran.
"Untidy, but I suppose she showed some small capacity for learning," mused the Texan.
Xander came back out of the washroom, blinked as he saw the customers starting to pick themselves up from the floor, and said "Something happen while I was gone?"
"Nothing I couldn't handle," said Illyria. She handed him the guns, and added "apart from your species lamentable inability to master logic or recognise an anti-violence spell when I cast it."
"I have a feeling that there's a story there somewhere," said Xander.
"I didn't ask."
Crossover with Pulp Fiction.
Chapter 3: The Deconstruction of Xander Harris
"They must be considered the primordial ancestors of my kind," said the yellow-skinned stranger, just loud enough for Xander to overhear, "and their remains were found during the excavation of Sunnydale. Why are we in a coffee shop in Cleveland?"
"Quietly," said his companion, a bald man wearing an old-fashioned trench coat and fedora, "you know that we have to be careful."
"Can I get you gentlemen anything," asked Xander. "Something to drink, or a snack?"
"Tea please, if you have it," said the man in the trench coat. "Earl Grey, hot."
"No problemo," said Xander, putting tea bags into a pot, and filling it with boiling water from the coffee machine. "Just needs to brew a couple of minutes. How about your friend?"
"Ractageno please," said the yellow man. Xander noticed that even his eyes were yellow.
"My apologies. Strong black coffee please."
"Okey-dokey," said Xander. "Did I just hear you guys mention Sunnydale?"
"Why do you ask?" said trenchcoat.
"Because that's where I come from."
"Really? That's an odd coincidence," said trenchcoat. "My friend and I were discussing demographics. Apparently an amazingly high proportion of the population of Sunnydale is now resident in Cleveland."
"Kinda... but it's more that a whole bunch of friends decided to stick together, and when a couple of them wanted to relocate here the rest of us tagged along. After all, we didn't have anywhere else to go."
"That would be a Miss Summers and a Miss Rosenberg? Possibly a mister Giles?"
"Um... yeah, that's right," Xander said as he made their drinks. "How did you know?"
"Oh... a newspaper story here, a diary there..."
Xander tried to think of newspaper stories about the Sunnydale survivors, and came up almost blank. Eventually he said "So who are you looking for?"
Trenchcoat almost choked on his tea, yellow blinked twice.
"C'mon, guys. I heard you. You said a primordial ancestor. Now seeing that Sunnydale only went under four years ago, that sounds pretty weird. Do you want to unweird it for me?"
"My ancestors," said yellow. "We believe that they lived and died in Sunnydale."
"What were the names?"
"We only know their first names. April and Buffy. Would you know such persons?"
"Holy crap, you're a robot?”
"Android," said yellow. "And obviously you know that they were mechanical constructs. Do you know their history?"
Xander's mind raced, and eventually he said "You're from the future, right?"
"Don't be absurd," said trenchcoat.
"Don’t worry,” said Xander. “I’m good at keeping secrets."
"And that's it?" said Trenchcoat. "No fear, no alarm?"
"What's the point? You're not planning to hurt anyone or change history, so why should I care? Though a lottery number or two would be nice if you happen to have them."
"Absurd," said trenchcoat. "Computer, freeze program."
Xander froze. So did the other occupants of the coffee shop, and the traffic outside.
"I just don't understand this," said Captain Jean-Luc Picard. "However we tweak the variables, the simulation always lands us back in this shop, talking to this idiotic barista."
"He is a historical personage," said Data, "and the coffee shop is a real location. There are at least five temporal stress points on Earth in 2007, why the program insists on us arriving here, rather than elsewhere, is unclear. Shall I advance the program?"
"Computer, advance program five minutes."
"...made himself a robot girlfriend," said Xander. "Absolutely gorgeous, but for some reason he just didn't want to settle for what he'd got. She followed him a couple of hundred miles to Sunnydale, started attacking anyone that seemed to be friendly to him. Mechanical jealousy, if you can believe it."
"Computer, freeze program," said Data. Everything stopped again. "And there you have it. Exactly the same story as last time, and obviously false. No computer of this primitive era could possibly simulate an emotion such as jealousy.”
"What do you think the cause is?" asked Picard.
"Insufficient information," said Data. "The computer is piecing together the little we know about these people, and weaving it into a coherent narrative. It is obviously a false narrative inserted to overcome the limits of our data. The androids, my ancestors, had anatomically accurate bodies, therefore they are explained as sex toys. Everything is romanticized, none of it can possibly be correct."
"Very well," said Picard. "Computer, end program." The coffee shop vanished. "Send it back to Rosenberg Interstellar with my compliments."
"Of course, Captain," said Data, ejecting the crystal and putting it into a carrying case with a familiar pentagram and scythe logo. "We need to train with a much more accurate simulation before we can even consider travelling back to investigate the real events." He followed Picard off the holodeck.
The computer politely waited until they'd gone before it started giggling.
Crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The title, of course, was suggested by The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, a Babylon Five episode.
Chapter 4: A Gory Fate
This one is for Vogonguard, who will know why...
FR21 for all sorts of reasons, which will be apparent from the first paragraph onwards! For various reasons I’ve updated this to a present-day setting and changed the viewpoint character.
Lorne did a double-take when two giant ants, four scantily-clad women, and the guy in chains and bondage gear came into the Cleveland Caritas. The wards weren't reacting to them, and the anti-violence spell wasn’t triggering, so they couldn't be an immediate problem. The latest iteration of the spells was a Rosenberg creation, and he was pretty sure they’d stop Godzilla if they had to.
"Can I get you lovely ladies anything?"
One of the women, a brunette wearing a sword, a holstered gizmo that looked like a Buck Rogers ray gun, and some strategically placed sheets of translucent gauze, looked him over, seemed a little confused by the green skins and horns, but said "Black wine, four cups, and warm honey and water for the insects. Oh, and a bowl of water." Lorne couldn't recognize her accent, except to guess that it was foreign. The others took seats at an empty table, one of the women dragging the bondage man by a chain around his neck. She wasn't gentle about it.
"Don't think I have any black wine... and I'm a little dubious about the way you're treating your friend there. Not that it's any of my business how you get your fun, but he doesn't look like he's enjoying himself."
"He deserves it. No black wine? I thought it came from this place."
"It's called coffee here," said one of the other women. Lorne thought he detected a faint New York accent.
"Coffee I can do," said Lorne, filling a filter and putting it onto the coffee machine. "Cream and sugar?"
"Just sugar," said the woman. Lorne checked a cupboard, then said "I haven't got honey, would mead do?"
One of the women made clicking noises at the insects, who clicked back excitedly, then said "Mead will be fine."
"So..." said Lorne, pouring the mead then rinsing out a bowl he usually used for pretzels and putting in some water, "I get the impression you’re from out of town."
"Very," said the woman who seemed to be their spokesperson, carrying the mead over to the table. "As far out as you can get."
"Good try," she said, "but you would not know. It is Gor, the Counter-Earth, the world on the far side of the sun from this planet."
"Okay..." said Lorne. "And your flying saucer's parked outside?"
"Exactly." Behind them Illyria left the pool table where she'd been practicing shots and went to the door, looked outside, and nodded.
Lorne poured the coffee then went over to the window and took a look. The saucer was grey, about forty feet wide and twenty high, and would have looked right at home in a 1950s B movie. There was the faint shimmer of a force field distorting the light around it, and he guessed that it would be difficult to see at any distance. "I like the retro look."
"I hope that it won't be a nuisance there," said the woman. "We tried to avoid blocking the access routes."
"That's all right," said Lorne, "it's too early for there to be many cars, though I'd appreciate it if you could get it out of there by seven or so." He went back to the bar, and said "So what brings you to Cleveland?"
"Actually we were looking for New York," said the girl with the New York accent, a blonde wearing leathers and a belt with several knives, "it's where I come from, but the insects said that something around here was screwing up their navigation, so we had to land to check." One of the insects chittered again, and she added "Do you have a map?"
"Sure." He went into the back room and came out with a road atlas a minute later. "So... are you invading Earth?"
"Nope," said the New Yorker, gesturing at the giant ants. "These guys run Gor, operate the machines that keep it hidden from Earth. But they don't like getting their claws dirty, so they imported humans to do their dirty work. Trouble is that they really don't understand how we think, so they thought that it was okay to let the guys treat women like dirt and play sicko slave and bondage games. They even kidnapped girls on Earth and took them to Gor."
One of the insects chittered again, and she added "apparently they thought we really liked that sort of thing."
"Well, with the right..." Lorne faltered as he noticed hands moving towards weapons, despite the anti-violence spells, and went on: "...with the right story some sick bastards might be able to convince them. But I see you've changed things a little," he added, nodding towards bondage guy who was trying to lap water from the bowl and finding that the ball gag in his mouth made it rather difficult.
"Yeah, well," said the New Yorker, "a funny thing happened nearly ten years ago."
"Let me guess," said Lorne. "Suddenly some of the slave girls weren't quite so helpless any more? Broke a few chains and heads?"
"The same thing happened on Earth, only without the slavery, mostly. If you can stay for a couple of hours I can get someone over to explain why."
"That'd be good," said the New Yorker. "We're all dying to know. Anyway, things were grim for a while, but we're pretty sure everyone's free now. That's why we're on Earth, we want to set things up to bring some of the girls home, they're missing their families."
"Everyone's free?" said Lorne, raising an eyebrow. “Including your friend in the chains?”
"Well, we had to make sure that the guys realised they'd made a big mistake, so we kept a few of the worst offenders."
"What did you do with the ones you didn't keep?" asked Lorne.
"Nothing, mostly. Oh, took a few souvenirs from some."
"Thumbs, ears, and some of them won't be having any children, like Tarl here... Don't worry, we didn't do it to anyone who didn't deserve it."
"A salutary tale," said Illyria, who'd been listening. "I trust that you kept trophies?"
"Not me personally," said the New Yorker, "but I know a girl who's made the cutest little necklace..."
Lorne tried to tune out the rest of the conversation as he dialled Willow's cell. He had a feeling that she'd like to know just how far her spell had reached. As he waited for her to pick up he wondered how well he could run the bar with his legs crossed...
Crossover with John Norman's "Gor" novels. Chosen, the final Buffy episode, was first shown on May 20th 2003.
Chapter 5: A Change in Priorities
Drabble for a zombie apocalypse crossover challenge - Terminator TSCC / any Zombie apocalypse you like. Major character death.
John and Sarah are dead, now Cameron's old goals take priority. Skynet must be protected.
She dances through the shopping mall, swords in her hands, like a reaper through corn. Synthetic flesh bubbles and falls away, necrosed by the zombie virus. She pays it no heed. Functionality is more important.
Part of her wonders if any of the other Terminators have realised yet. It will be decades before humanity's technological infrastructure recovers. Wiping out humanity now would just ensure that Skynet can never be built.
She kills the last zombie, and shouts "Come with me if you want to live."
Chapter 6: Trainee
"Agents of the COA" was a round robin based on the premise that a lot of engineering goes on behind the scenes to make Buffyverse crossovers work, and that a lot of the work is done by agents with almost omniscient powers. This was a fairly early chapter, and works reasonably well as a stand-alone; later chapters don't, since they had to fit into an increasingly complicated plot.
"You have to remember," said Agent J, smoothing her black Armani suit and peering through the trees towards a clearing that was about to see some action "that he's everyone's favourite character for this sort of thing. We're bound to have to work with him occasionally. It's a shame that it has to be so early in your career."
"Shhh..." said the similarly dressed Agent T. "I can hear someone running out there."
J listened, and whispered "Right. Get down behind the bushes, they mustn't see us."
Warren ran into the clearing, and vines shot out to entangle him. A moment later Willow glided into view. black veigned and radiating an aura of evil. The other Agent tensed, and J put her arm over her shoulder to comfort her, whispering "This doesn't take long, then we can get to work."
On set Willow said "Bored now." Warren's skin vanished, instantly flayed from his body. He stood there shrieking for a moment, then burst into flames and vanished in a puff of smoke. Willow teleported away, the watching Scoobies turned to head back to Sunnydale.
"And cut," said J, pushing a button on the elaborate remote all Agents carried. The rising cloud of smoke halted, and the Scoobies leaving the clearing froze, their backs to the Agents.
"That was hard to watch," said T, "So much pain."
"She'll get better," said J. "She needs time to heal, and that nice Kennedy girl will help a lot. But we've got other fish to fry."
"Okay," said T, "let's get on with it. We'll need spell reversal first." She pushed one of the buttons on her own remote and the smoke swirled back down, reforming as the flayed Warren. He stood, still pinned by the vines, screaming with pain.
"Better freeze him for a moment," said J, after she'd watched for a few seconds. "It's a delicate procedure and if we get it wrong someone's going to notice."
"Oh... yeah, I guess." T pressed another button, adding "Sorry, I'll try to be more professional."
"Sometimes I forget how new you are to this game," said J. "Never mind, this really won't take long." She put on rubber gloves, opened her black briefcase, and took out a soft grey pod. about the size of a grapefruit, pressing it into Warren's chest under the ribs. It silently vanished into his body.
"Better get his skin back on," said T. "Spell reversal again?"
"Not this time," said J. "We're changing his appearance considerably, it'll have to be cloned skin. If props are doing their job properly it should be ready about..." there was a shimmering noise, not wholly unlike a Star Trek transporter, and the flaccid skin appeared on a wooden rack "...now."
"How do we get it on?" asked T.
"Slit it up the back and staple him in," said J.
"Of course I'm kidding," said J. "After all, he's not going to be in a slasher movie. Use the teleport setting and beam him into it. But we have to lay it flat first."
"Oh, right." said T. They laid out the flattened skin.
"I'll do it this time," said J. "it's a little tricky with the change in position and the need to fit him in correctly." She set the controls, making sure that T saw exactly what she was doing. "Get it?"
"I think so."
"Okay, I'll reverse it and you give it a try." The skin deflated again, and Warren reappeared, still flayed.
"Like this... and this... and this," said T. Warren vanished again and reappeared inside the skin. There was something odd about the shape.
"Upside down," said J, reversing it again. "You had the skin face up and the body face down."
"Damn. Let's try that again." Warren vanished and reappeared inside the skin, this time the right way up.
"Pretty good," said J, inspecting the body. "A bit baggy in the ass, but I doubt anyone will notice."
"Okay," said J. "Freeze him for now, we've got to move him to another set." T used her remote while J worked her wrist radio and said "Beam us out of here, and prep the shuttle. We've got a mining ship to catch."
* * * * *
"Him," said J. "Kane. We'll need to put Warren into his clothes, then keep him frozen him until we can deal with the medical problem. After that casting wants him for some Ripper slash set in the seventies."
"No problem," said T, beaming Kane out of his clothes and into their shuttle, and Warren into the clothes.
"Okay," said J, looking around the set. "Our work here is done. Time for our break."
They walked off the set, and the door closed behind them. On set everyone began moving again.
Ellen Ripley looked around at her crew; Dallas, Lambert, Brett, Ash, Parker, and Ka... Warren. Why had she thought... The errant train of thought vanished from her mind. Warren was looking a lot better now that the alien parasite was dead, and in a few hours they'd all be back in hibernation, en route to Earth.
Suddenly Warren grimaced. Ripley asked "What's wrong?", and Lambert said "What's the matter?"
In a strained voice Warren said "I don't know... I'm getting cramps," groaned, and clutched the table.
"Breathe deeply," said Ash.
Warren screamed and said "Oh God, it hurts so bad. It hurts. It hurts." He lurched to his feet.
"What is it. What hurts." asked Brett.
Warren fell back in his chair, screaming "Ohmygooaaaahh." His chest burst open, and blood sprayed out, followed by a head the size of a fist.
* * * * *
"What happens next, Joyce?" asked Agent T.
"He takes a few minutes to die," said J, "then I think they have him pencilled in for serial killer / victim of the week in a Dexter crossover after that, but someone else will be handling it. Fancy a cappucino?"
"Wait a minute," said Agent T, abruptly stopping, "Weren't we supposed to erase his memory before the scene started? He'd going to die knowing that we put him there, and that he's fated to die in agony, again and again."
"I don't have a problem with that, considering he shot my daughter. Do you, Tara?"
"A little, maybe. But I guess I can live with it."
"Fine. Let's get that coffee."
Chapter 7: They Might Be Drabbles
One of my favourite shows was Pushing Daisies. One of the episodes features a rather odd reanimated pigeon, which is released so that characters can follow it and find out the secret of a message it's carrying. Along the way they happen to sing "Birdhouse in your Soul."
I wondered what other fandoms it might fly through along the way, and started a round robin of my own. To make it more challenging the chapters were drabbles, and had to relate in some way to They Might Be Giants songs
The full thing is here, and has contributions from several other authors
Incidentally, this is still an open round robin, if you are registered with TTH and want to have a go...
Catch that Pigeon! (Buffyverse / Pushing Daisies)
"So it's..." Buffy hesitated "...an undead Frankenpigeon - parrot hybrid with a soul?"
"A little bird soul. And sequins," Willow said happily, nodding towards the cage. "Darndest thing."
"Should I slay it?"
"Nope, it's not evil. Just really weird."
"Nothing in the note on its leg to say where it comes from? Not Hogwarts?"
"Just your basic love letter, only written really small. Darling I miss you yadda yadda."
"The magician that made it has to be really powerful, I guess. What do we do?"
"Let her go, I guess. Then follow her and see who made a little soul in her birdhouse..."
My Story's Infinite... (Sandman / Pushing Daisies)
"BluE canARy in THE ouTLet bY tHe lIghT switCH." Delirium stares at the pigeon on her shoulder, entranced. It pecks the fish floating above her head.
Morpheus feels unusual amusement. "It's hungry." Golden grain from a dream of Kansas appears in his hand. The strange bird flutters down and starts to eat.
"Do you know what you get if you feed pigeons?" They turn to see their elder sister. "Fat pigeons."
"True," says Morpheus. "Is she yours?"
"For a moment," says Death. "No longer. Release her."
"Not ours, not yours... Our older brother's?"
Death nods, and Destiny's messenger flies on.
Filibuster Vigilantly (West Wing / Pushing Daisies)
Howard Stackhouse was in the fifth hour of his filibuster when the strangely-coloured pigeon flew in pursued by half-a-dozen pages and four guards, circled the chamber twice, and flew out again, leaving chaos behind it. An antique desk was reduced to splinters, the Minority Leader was mopping droppings from his head and two senators were chasing the papers they'd dropped as the pursuers charged by.
Stackhouse read on steadily through the interruption, refusing to let anyone or anything divert him.
Watching from the White House, CJ Cregg decided that it might be time to take Stackhouse seriously.
Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (Buffyverse / Pushing Daisies)
"There's that pigeon again," said Buffy, changing lanes to follow it. Three cars swerved to avoid the Jeep. Willow muttered something about "Slayer reflexes" and braced for a crash. The pigeon flew on for a few minutes, then landed on the edge of a pedestrian plaza and walked into the crowd. They parked and followed it.
"My spider senses are tingling. There's something here," said Buffy. "Don't think it's dangerous, but..."
"It's shielded," said Willow. "In that Turkish restaurant, maybe, let's get closer.
They went in and waited to be seated.
"Welcome to Istanbul," said the waiter, "we... Willow?"
WILLOW: I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I'm old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul and there you are, I won't be surprised. Because... you're with me, you know?
OZ: I know. (Pause) But now is not that time, I guess.
New Moon Rising
Say I'm The Only Bee In Your Bonnet... (Doctor Who / Pushing Daisies)
The last bee on Earth wondered if it had made a mistake hitching a ride on the multi-coloured pigeon. The stupid bird was fast, but it seemed to have no interest in the things that concerned the bee, like the new constellation of planets overhead. Still, the bee couldn't deny it was covering a lot of ground.
Below the Daleks were rounding up the two-legs. Up ahead... Up ahead was a familiar-looking blue box. Maybe the Daleks weren't as clever as they thought.
The bee deserted the pigeon, sent a telepathic message home, and sat back to watch the show.
Chapter 8: All Shall Love Me and Despair
All Shall Love Me and Despair was a fairly successful round robin I started on Twisting the Hellmouth. The premise should be obvious from the first chapter onwards; Illyria runs for President in the West Wing universe.
I wrote four out of fifteen chapters as 100-word Drabbles. I originally omitted one which depended on video generated by a web site that seemed to have gone out of service, but it's now back and I've added it as the third Drabble below.
All Shall Love Me and Despair
"I will rule, and those who obey will prosper," said Illyria.
"And if you aren't nominated?" asked the reporter.
"Then it will be necessary to start the nomination process again."
"I don't understand."
"There will be no other candidates."
"But..." Illyria walked away, ignoring the crowds. Most got out of the way in time.
Sam switched the TV off. "You've got to admit she's got one hell of a media presence."
"She plans to kill me if she isn't our candidate," said President Santos.
"A little extreme," said Sam. "But maybe we can negotiate. Think she'd consider the VP slot?"
"Fact. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that Illyria will be a better president than any other candidate."
"Fact. Eighty-seven percent of Americans believe that Illyria will rip their spleens out if they don't vote for her."
"Fact. Ninety-three percent of Americans believe that Illyria will rip their spleens out if she isn't elected."
"Fact. Your chances of surviving without a spleen are considerably worse than your chances of surviving under Illyria's glorious rule."
"A vote for Illyria is a vote for keeping your spleen."
"I am Illyria, God-King of the Primordium, your candidate. This message, though barely adequate, will suffice."
Channel 3: Breaking News
Illyria stared at the screen. How dare they call a God-King "unknown," or claim that nobody had seen her? Who was this stranger who said she was her friend? She suspected manipulatation, by the Senior Partners or the Powers That Be... or even worse, some faction of the crawling scum around her.
True, there was support for her on the internet, of course, but it was as the croaking of frogs, irrelevant to her true rise to power.
She watched to the end, and decided that those prepared to mutilate their skin in her name would be allowed to live.
Illyria stared at the holo-camera. "Since my first election, there has been unprecedented peace. Those who dared to face my wrath have fallen, and nations have learned the value of cooperation. Under my guidance this world, and the neighbouring dimensions we have conquered, have flourished. And I find myself growing bored."
"My ninth term of office ends soon... I will not stand for re-election."
"Instead, I intend to leave this world, and look for a greater challenge..."
The speech continued. Several thousand light years away Emperor Palpatine felt a strange disturbance in the Force, shuddered, and wondered what it heralded.
Chapter 9: Kitty Fantastico Must Die
Drabble written for the Miss Kitty Fantastico Bash Challenge, in which writers had to... well... bash the character of a sweet little kitten. I've spent enough time around cats that it wasn't particularly difficult...
And an image I edited for Deepest, Darkest, in which the idea was to illustrate various characters' darkest secrets. I went with Miss Kitty's secret...
"What the hell is that kitten?" said Clem. "The little bastard nearly took my finger off!"
"Serves you right for trying to eat a witch's kitten," said Spike, "it's probably a demon or something."
"That thing's a menace. You've gotta to help, Spike, it's shredded my recliner and those Passions tapes you loaned me."
"Kitty Fantastico must die!" shouted Spike, grabbing a crossbow.
Soon the kitten was skewered. "We can't leave it here," said Clem, "The witch will fry us."
"Fair point. I'll frame Dawn, Willow won't hurt her... much."
And they all, excepting Kitty Fantastico, lived happily ever after.
Chapter 10: Forgotten Fragments
Forgotten Fragments was a compilation of comment-fic and other odds and ends I wrote on Livejournal and elsewhere; all fairly short and fragmentary.
Five Times Donna Wanted to Slap the Doctor
(for a challenge by HonorH)
2: Every time he got broody about Rose - the poor girl was about a fiftieth his age, what the hell was he thinking?
1: The third time he shouted "Run for your life!" - she couldn't because she was too busy running.
4: When she noticed that they were stuck in another bloody time loop and experiencing events out of sequence again.
3: The fourth time he told her about the wonders of Gallifrey - she can understand being homesick, but the place is gone and could never have lived up to that billing anyway.
5: As he took her memories. Some things are worth dying for.
Five Times Modesty Blaise Lost a Wager
(for a challenge by Lilian13)
1: Maybe Duncan Macleod is a better swordsman. It's not like she didn't enjoy her forfeit.
2: "I'll back my old bus against your BMW any time I need to make a getaway," said Lady Christina de Souza...
3: "That's the worst pick-up line ever," Modesty shouted over the noise of the party in Islington.
"Want to bet?"
Okay, so Zaphod really was from another galaxy. Good thing she only bet a fiver.
4: All right, that really was the Dread Pirate Roberts, and he did out-sail her. Now the job is hers until she can find another sucker to take her place.
5: "You know, Princess, I've got a nasty feeling that we're dead," said Willy.
"I'll bet you we're not," said Modesty.
"SORRY TO DISAPPOINT YOU..."
Modesty Blaise crossed with (takes a deep breath) Highlander, Doctor Who, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, The Princess Bride, Discworld
The "Not the story you were expecting" meme
Weird idea I had for a fanfic meme...
"Give me a brief story idea from one or more fandoms I'm likely to know, but don't NAME the fandom(s) and keep character names down to a mimimum e.g. Sam, Kara, etc. Avoid unique character names such as Legolas, Frodo, Superman, etc. and unique terms such as Wincest.
I will try to write a ficlet, drabble, or whatever that fulfils the letter of what you ask for but completely subverts the spirit - for example, someone asking for "Sam and Dean slash" might get a story in which Sam Gamgee becomes Dean Rusk's budget adviser..."
I tried to answer five prompts - the first three got stories, and two of them even had titles, the last two came late and I tried to answer them at about 2AM and they ended up as story fragments... I've made a few very small changes, to fix e.g. the part where I mixed east and west. If anyone else is stupid enough to try this meme, write the answers when you're awake!
All characters belong to their respective creators / media companies / etc., this story will self-destruct in ten seconds if you try to make a profit from it.
Sam, Bill, gunfight - Bill the Galactic Hero and the planet where he didn't get laid.
Sam Finn hastily slapped another magazine into her Desert Eagle and rolled out from under the Humvee to the cover of a large boulder. A bolt of virulent red energy flashed overhead as she moved, and the vehicle burst into flames.
"What is this?" shouted Bill, firing his own ray gun back towards the source of the beam, "Bowb your buddy week?"
The beam sparkled harmlessly as it hit the force field around the small tyrannosaur that was advancing towards them, and it shouted "It's nothing personal."
"Wasn't that a man five minutes ago?" shouted Sam.
"Must be a Chigger android," Bill called back. "Didn't know they could transform like that."
"What's a Chigger?"
"Little lizard things, about six inches tall. It'll be inside that thing's head, driving it."
In one fluid movement Sam rolled out from behind the rock and fired. The first bullet penetrated the force field as though it wasn't there, drilled a neat hole through the android's head, and emerged from the back. The second and third completed the job, with blood and gobbets of gore spraying out from the tiny alien driver.
"Bowb!" said Bill, "where did you learn to shoot like that?"
"Magic bullets," said Sam, blowing a wisp of smoke from the barrel of her gun, "don't leave home without them." She made a mental note to buy Willow an extra-special birthday present, and wondered how long it would take to get rid of the visitor. Bill might think he was some sort of galactic hero; to her he was just a time-travelling nuisance.
BtVS / BtGH, the requester was expecting Sam Carter from Stargate and Bill Adama from BSG.
Kim, Simon, lost and found. - ...or mineral
Harry Kim leaned on the counter, sighed, and said "It's a pink crystal about so big..." he gestured to indicate something roughly the size of his head, "weighs about eighty pounds. It's just heavily leaded quartz, but it has a lot of sentimental value."
"I'll have to check," said the clerk at the spaceport Lost and Found office, "but it doesn't ring any bells."
Behind Harry a tall man in a black uniform with Eye of Horus insignia was waiting to be served, and checked something on the data pad he always carried. Eighty pounds was all wrong for quartz, and pink was wrong for most leaded compounds, but the weight and colour was definitely right for Dilithium. And Dilithium was definitely his business, potentially more explosive than plutonium.
Simon Illyan touched a stylus to a series of numbers on his pad, and pretended to be immersed in his work. In a moment an Imp-Sec squad would arrive, and Harry Kim would face a lot of questions...
Star Trek / Vorkosigan saga - Simon Templar was the only character expected.
Sarah and Millicent, The New Neighbors.
Millicent Dillmount looked out across the spacious grounds of her Los Angeles estate, and noticed a van unloading at one of the houses across the valley. According to the local paper there was a new family there, Sarah something-or-another and her teenage children. Another widow, like Millie herself, though probably a lot younger.
She got out her binoculars and took a closer look. An attractive woman in her forties, with a son and a daughter who seemed to be doing most of the work. They were unloading computers, and some heavy-looking long cases that Millie suspected might be guns.
As she watched the daughter stopped and seemed to look directly at her, across half a mile of valley. Millie drew back from the window, thinking that the blue glow in the girl's eyes must be a trick of the light.
Maybe after lunch she'd drive over and welcome her new neighbours, and find out more about Sarah... now what was that name again? and her children John and Cameron...
Thoroughly Modern Millie / Terminator SCC; the request was apparently expecting Sarah Jane of Dr. Who fame and Millicent Bystander from the Aardman animated movie, Flushed Away
Harry, Alice - Another Dead Night In Old Chicago
We were trading ghost stories when Harry Purvis said "Did I ever tell you about my visit to Chicago?"
He drained the last of his pint and looked at it with mild surprise. From experience we knew that we'd hear nothing more until the glass was full. Eric bowed to the inevitable and bought another round.
"Cheers," said Harry. After a short pause he went on: "It happened that just before the war I was in a little town called Chicago on the East Cape of South Africa, and needed a lift to a town called Alice on the West Cape. Now you might think that Aberystwyth is dead on a Sunday night, but that's nothing compared to East Cape. It took me an hour to find a pub that was open, and...."
Harry Purvis is the main raconteur from Arthur C. Clarke's "Tales From The White Hart," the requester was expecting Harry Dresden and Alice from the Resident Evil movies.
Victor takes Jack for a night on the town.
For an immortal, Captain Jack Sparrow had an uncanny knack for getting into trouble. No stranger to New York, he was delighted to offer to take Victor Von Doom on a tour of the town; he knew that the student was loaded, and hoped that some of it might come his way. He wasn't prepared for the trail of death and destruction that was to follow...
Marvel / Pirates of the Caribbean - the requester expected Torchwood / Dollhouse
Chapter 11: Code Ragnarok - Good News
Code Ragnarok is a series of round robins, again at Twisting the Hellmouth, based on the premise that the Cleveland Hellmouth has opened and Earth has been invaded by demons, with a call for help being sent out into the multiverse. The main fandoms are Buffy and Stargate SG-1, but the stories have taken in dozens of others. This chapter and those that follow with the Code Ragnarok title were written for one or another of the round robins, I've edited them a little to avoid references to characters and situations introduced by other authors.
Spoilers for the Futurama episode The Farnsworth Parabox.
All characters belong to their respective creators, production companies of doom, fanfic authors, etc. etc. and there is no intent to deprive them of their rights.
“Good news, everyone!” said Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, striding from his laboratory into the Planet Express conference room. “Gather round!”
“Someone wants us to deliver something?” asked Leela. “For money?”
“Not exactly,” said Farnsworth.
Fry, Leela, and Hermes groaned, and Bender said “Then bite my shiny metal ass.”
“Gather around the table, everyone, I’ve made an extraordinary and possibly profitable discovery!”
“Whoop de do,” said Bender.
Farnsworth moved to the holo-projector and displayed an image of several shelves of neatly-arranged cardboard boxes, each labelled with a long number. “For some time now I’ve been experimenting with portals to parallel dimensions.”
“We know, Professor,” said Leela.
“What? How do you know? Who told you? Is there a spy here?”
“You told us, Professor, when you made us all travel to the parallel world where I married Fry.”
“I did? You did? Congratulations, I’m sure that you could have done considerably better but if you’re happy…”
“Not me. The Leela who lived in the parallel world married Fry.”
“You’re married, Fry? I have a new aunt?”
“Not me,” said Fry, “that was the Fry who lived in the parallel world, he married Leela.”
“Leela, you’re married? Congratulations, I’m sure that you could have done considerably better but…”
“No, Professor,” said Leela; “The Fry who lived in the parallel universe married the Leela who lived in that universe. We weren’t married at all.”
“That’s so sad,” said Amy. Fry nodded his agreement.
“Now, no more shilly-shallying,” said Farnsworth. “Good news, everybody! I’ve secretly been creating and exploring parallel universes, and I’ve made an important discovery. There’s one where twenty-first-century Earth is being invaded by creatures from another dimension!”
“So what?” said Bender.
“It sounds dangerous,” said Doctor Zoidberg, sidling towards the door, clicking his claws nervously. Farnswhoth pressed a button, and a thick metal shutter slammed down to block his escape.
“Nonsense,” said Farnsworth, “Twenty-first century, remember, we have weapons they can’t even dream of. Why, they’re so primitive they think they’re being invaded by demons!”
“You want us to run guns to primitive humans in an alternative universe?” asked Leela, “in violation of a couple of hundred laws and the company’s code of practice?”
“Well, you could put it that way,” said Farnsworth, “but we won’t be committing any crimes in this dimension, and think of the profit to be made if we can ship a big enough load-“
“Count me in!” said Bender.
“-not to mention the advances to science if we study these so-called demons and their interdimensional technology.”
“You mean dissect them?” asked Zoidberg. “Count me in!”
“How will we get a big enough load through one of those little boxes?” asked Leela.
“Boxes? Who told you about the boxes?”
“You did,” said several people.
“Good, good… Well, we obviously need a bigger box or a smaller ship, and since I can’t make the box bigger we’ll have to shrink the ship… not for long, just for a minute or two while we travel through the box.”
“But Professor,” said Leela, “Wouldn’t we have to take the box containing our entire universe through with us?”
“Of course, of course.”
“Then if the ship is destroyed our entire universe will be destroyed.”
“No problem,” said Bender. “I’ll guard it with all your lives.”
“Maybe we could take a copy with us,” said Fry.
“Another universe?” asked Farnsworth. “I already have quite a few.”
“No, another box. If you put the same serial number on it we’ll end up back here, and it won’t risk the real universe.”
“Well done,” said Farnsworth. “That settles it then. And you, of course, shall be our native guide.”
“Start preparing the ship,” said Farnsworth. “Bender, call in your best black market contacts. I want our hold filled with the finest weapons a moderate amount of money can buy.”
“Load up on guns and ring my friends? Professor, it’s a dream come true!”
“Good, good. Everyone; get ready to travel. We leave at dawn!”
Fifteen hours later a cardboard box materialised in one of the Watchers Council offices. Fortunately the occupant was at lunch, and wasn’t crushed when the expanding Planet Express ship destroyed his office and a large part of the surrounding building…
Chapter 12: Code Ragnarok - A Little Recce
Another chapter written for the Code Ragnarok round-robin.
Crossover with the Laundryverse novels and stories by Charles Stross, with some background from the Laundry RPG from Cubicle 7 Games; spoilers for these books and especially The Fuller Memorandum. All characters etc. belong to their respective creators, Media Conglomerates of Doom, etc. Warnings for swearing and cruelty to animals.
If you're not familiar with this setting, the main things that you need to know are that magic is a product of mind and complex mental or electronic computational processes, and innovative programming sometimes lets some VERY nasty magical entities loose in our world. The Laundry is the code name for the branch of the British Secret Service tasked with handling this and preparing for Case Nightmare Green, when the sheer massed minds of the human race and ever-increasing computer power break down the walls between the dimensions, making magic all too easy and and letting in entities that are capable of destroying entire universes; it's expected to start some time in 2013...
"Read this," said Angleton, passing me a slim file. Sixteen pages of heavily redacted text describing how we got hold of a two-page message, then the message itself. Reading between the lines, someone in our comms section was trying to intercept Black Chamber communications through extra-dimensional space and got lucky, for some definitions of lucky, picking up a signal that actually originated in another dimension.
"One of the first signs that Case Nightmare Green has begun is supposed to be increased permeability between dimensions. Have we definitely established it doesn't come from our timeline? Some sort of hoax? The Black Chamber trying to set us up in some way?" The Black Chamber is the American agency roughly equivalent to The Laundry. Think of them as the NSA/CIA with fewer scruples and a lot more wizards and zombies. They don't love us, or vice versa,
"Yes." One thing about Angleton, he doesn't waste time. "If you could turn back to page nine, the energy signature is unambiguous. It's a dimension analogous to ours, but far more permeable."
I re-read the bit - one of the bits - I'd skimmed through. "That could actually be helping them."
"Case Nightmare Green assumes a sudden catastrophic failure of the dimensional barriers, allowing major incursions on a global scale. In this case there appears to be a long history of smaller incursions, pinprick leakages they call Hellmouths. Their universe must experience accelerated entropy, and magic would be relatively common, but it would actually be harder to bring the barriers down completely. Think of it as like... okay, think of our universe as something like an egg, and theirs as more like a balloon. We keep out a lot of the small stuff, because it doesn't have the energy to break through the shell, but sooner or later it's going to shatter, or at least crack. Their universe, the smaller stuff gets through relatively easily, but it might be harder to smash through on a big scale. It would yield temporarily, not shatter. Okay, a balloon made out of self-sealing rubber, I never said it was a good analogy."
"And the down-side?"
"I'm not sure. Depends how bad it is. They're leaking energy on a big scale compared to our universe, but if it was really bad life couldn't have got started there in the first place. It could be that their universe will stop expanding and start to collapse eventually. Not something that matters in human terms, of course, it'll take billions of years. That's assuming that this latest incursion doesn't change things, of course."
"And if it does?"
"Depends how bad it is. Worst case, they go down fast and hard, and take a clutch of the nearer timelines down with them. Maybe including us."
"I concur. What would you suggest we do about it?"
"Isn't it the Black Chamber's problem?"
"There's a globe on the table in the corner," said Angleton. "Please get it."
I got the globe (which was old enough that it still showed most of the world as part of the British Empire) and gave it to him. He found Cleveland and held a pen just off the surface. "The rotational speed of their world is slightly slower than ours, by a second or so a year..." I guessed that someone had been scrying for more data. "...possibly a result of the difference in entropy levels. Currently we are approximately seventy-five degrees out of phase with them, which means that the nearest point in our world to their version of Cleveland is in international waters, here." He rotated the globe, while holding the pen still, until it was above a point off the Spanish coast.
"Okay, that makes it Section Five's problem." Section Five is our Spanish equivalent, nicknamed the Spanish Inquisition for good reasons. They're the last remnant of Franco's intelligence operation, with all of his old-school Fascist charm.
"At this time there are certain... difficulties in our relationship with Section Five." Angleton cracked his knuckles, and I guessed that we weren't going to be talking to them any time soon. I could guess the cause; Section Five has worryingly good relations with BLUE HADES, our aquatic neighbours, AKA the Deep Ones, and they aren't sharing many of the goodies that come from contact with technology millennia more advanced than our own.
"The US Navy?"
"They tread very warily in those waters. The Spaniards have long memories." In 1966 the USAF lost a B-52 with a full load of nukes over the Spanish coast. None of the bombs exploded, but the ground where they landed is still contaminated with plutonium, and the clean-up is still going on. In 2010 Washington stopped paying for it, and the Spanish government really isn't happy about that. And with BLUE HADES possibly lending a hand nobody wants to provoke a naval incident.
"So what are we going to do?"
"Assess the situation, of course," said Angleton. "A reconnaissance flight. I want you to go along."
"Colonel Carter, this is Lieutenant Kilworth, another dimensional portal is opening." The call came from one of the Fifth Imperium planetoids, monitoring the battlefield through hyperspace instruments.
"Forward sensors confirm," said one of the communications sergeants.
"Location?" snapped Samantha Carter.
"Over Lake Erie, altitude approximately fifteen kilometres," said Kilworth.
"Confirmed, fifty thousand feet," said the sergeant.
"Anything coming through?"
"Not as yet..." Kilworth paused. "Wait, correction, one aircraft transiting. The portal is closing behind it."
"It isn't transmitting," said the tech sergeant.
"I have a positive database match," said Kilworth; "Silhouette matches an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde. Current air-speed Mach two point one, inbound towards Cleveland."
"Concorde? The last of them was grounded ten years ago."
"In my universe they stayed in service until 2028. Okay, we got a sensor lock; there are weapon and camera pods on its wings. I'm seeing dark camouflage and RAF roundels."
"What weapons? Nuclear?"
"I'm not detecting any radiation signature, I'd class the weaponry as defensive."
"Okay... I don't think we can get anything out there in time to intercept it, everything's busy fighting dragons. Any idea what it's doing?"
"I'm picking up intercom communications and telemetry from the aircraft. It's a reconnaissance flight."
"Record everything you can, and see if you can you patch me through to their pilot. They're heading into trouble."
"Working on it."
They put me aboard as an extra Specialist Technician, service jargon for sorcerer, which meant that if something happened to Specialist Technician Moore, who normally did the job, we were probably all stuffed. On the flight out he took me through the ritual that takes a whole bloody airliner through non-Euclidean space without killing everyone aboard; fortunately most of the fiddly bits were pre-programmed, most of what was left was an act of will, which is something I'm reasonably good at, and sacrificing a guinea-pig at the right moment, which frankly I could live without. As planned we reached the transit point just after dawn; on the other side shadows should be long, making it easier to distinguish shapes.
The crossing went about as well as expected, and the change in entropy levels hit me like instant migraine as we came out over Lake Erie and flew towards Cleveland. I'd expected to see signs of a struggle, but that was stupid. You don't get much of a view from nine miles up, especially aboard a militarised Concorde that doesn't even have passenger windows, and mostly what we saw in the monitors was smoke. I had to hope that the cameras and sensors were getting more. Intercom chatter told me the pilots were seeing some sort of low-altitude dogfight between fighter aircraft and dragons.
"Looks like it," said Dogger, one of the technicians; "They're not fixed-wing aircraft, the radar reflection is too weak for helicopters, and they're using flame weapons. How the hell can they do that at that sort of speed? How can they even fly?"
"They're bringing their own natural laws with them," I said, "probably only affects the immediate area around them, but the more of them that get through, the more things will work their way."
"We have multiple bogies rising to meet us," said Captain Phelps. "They aren't fast enough to catch us in a tail chase, but a collision would really spoil our day. Prepare for evasive action, dropping chaff and flares."
"Will they do anything to dragons?" asked Fergus, one of the camera operators.
"Buggered if I know. Distract them, I hope."
"Unidentified aircraft," said the intercom, "This is USAF Control Cleveland. You are entering a combat zone, alter course immediately. Please respond." It was a woman's voice, and there were no women aboard.
"Crap." They'd hacked us somehow. We had no instructions for this, it's not something you normally run into when the flight path goes into universes that are more or less hostile to human life. The mission was supposed to be a quick recce, not first contact with another world.
"Unidentified aircraft, please respond."
"Just a little busy here," said Phelps, "hang on a sec, I'll get back to you."
"More dragons ahead," someone shouted, and the plane started to bank. Someone else shouted something about missiles, I guessed we were firing Sidewinders at the dragons.
I suddenly felt nauseous again. It lasted a fraction of a second, and I guessed we'd come within spitting distance of a dragon, close enough for the modified natural laws to clobber us. Moore and I probably felt it more than the others; he was down, retching on the floor, I was fighting it off.
"Howard," gasped Moore, "take over."
I shook my head to clear it, and glanced at the monitors at Moore's control station. Two screens showed the view ahead, and more dragons climbing to meet us. Now why would there be two cameras... I realised what he meant, threw myself into the seat, then lifted the cover over a red switch and said "Request Scorpion Stare authorisation."
Over the intercom Phelps said "Scorpion Stare authorised."
"Going live in three..."
"For fuck's sake don't hit anything friendly!" said Moore, still on his knees.
"One..." I pressed the button, and cross-hair cursors appeared on the two screens, controlled by a joystick that would have been right at home on an old arcade console. I swung it to the closest target and squeezed the trigger, and felt a faint tingle of thaumaturgic backlash. Ahead, with a bit of luck, a small percentage of the dragon's body mass had just transmuted from carbon to silicon. I swung the cross-hairs onto the next target and squeezed again, getting off four shots before we were clear of the dragons. I have no idea if I did any damage, it all happened too fast.
"Unidentified aircraft," said the voice from Cleveland; "Clear the area, you're flying into fire."
"What the hell is she talking about," said Moore, "we're above everything, the dragons are behind us."
"Unidentified aircraft, you are flying into an artillery fire zone. Clear the area now! Veer west, repeat veer west!"
Modern rocket-boosted artillery can easily hit targets twenty-five miles away; on some trajectories the shells go well above the height we were flying. The odds of being hit are tiny, but the US Army is big, there could be hundreds of shells in the air. The aircraft below presumably knew which areas to avoid, we didn't. The plane banked steeply, and Moore grabbed the chair to avoid going over.
"Acknowledge your signal, Cleveland, we are veering west and clearing the area."
Barton, the co-pilot, came back from the cockpit, saying "We're going to head back out over the lake as soon as we can, be ready to get us out of here, but don't say anything over the intercom." He had his hand over the microphone of the headset he was wearing.
"Can you do the ritual?" asked Moore, "can't get my head straight."
"On it. Power up the grid."
The plane banked again. "Unidentified aircraft, this is USAF Cleveland. Continue due east, reduce spreed to three hundred knots, and orbit Toledo Express Airport. Do not attempt to land without authorisation."
I got the guinea pig out of its cage and held it by the scruff of the neck, a knife in my right hand, and took my place in the middle of the Mk. XVII containment grid (nobody calls them electric pentacles these days) inset into the deck. The little bastard twisted its head round and bit my thumb, and I was still swearing when the moment came to cut its throat and cast the spell.
'...appeared to be complying with our instructions' typed Samantha Carter, 'but on reaching Toledo lit afterburners and accelerated and banked north-east at full power, returning towards the point where it initially appeared. No aircraft were in a position to intercept it, and there were no further responses to radio and intercom messages. Lieutenant Kilworth then informed me that he was detecting another dimensional portal forming ahead of the aircraft, it transited out approximately twelve minutes after initial detection. The actual departure point was more than a mile from its arrival point, so the process appears to have involved creation of two short-lived portals rather than repeated opening of an existing portal.'
'During the incident Kilworth made repeated attempts to penetrate the aircraft's electronic systems, computers, etc. and was able to download the data take from their video cameras and other electronic instruments. The signals recorded were compatible with our systems, and have given us some new data on enemy positions and movements. He was not able to penetrate their computer systems, which appear to be hardened and screened at levels well above our military specifications. The reasons for this are unknown, but may indicate that the route taken by the aircraft exposes it to massive levels of radiation or strong electromagnetic pulses.'
She considered for a moment, then added 'This appears to have been a reconnaisance flight, but may have been a dress-rehearsal for a later mission. Although a weaponised version of Concorde was never built in our world, declassified British records show that such an aircraft was considered in the seventies, specified as a supersonic bomber with hard-points for several possible mission loads including bombs, cameras, and Blue Steel stand-off missiles with 750 kiloton warheads.'
'In view of this incident, and the known capabilities of this aircraft, I have requested additional air cover over the lake, which will be provided in the first instance by the Canadian Air Force, and must again request that all possible efforts be made to speed movement of a Guided Missile Cruiser to the lake. We must not assume that all those responding to the Summers message will necessarily be friendly to us or concerned for the safety of US citizens in protecting their worlds from similar attacks'
"So what's the verdict?"
"Verdict?" asked Angleton.
We were in the big conference room, and he was watching some of the reconnaisance footage on the old projection TV; they'll never get a new one because modern TVs have too much computing power to be safe around magic, and can't easily be reprogrammed for safety. I thought he looked rather wistful, as though he would have liked to be down there in the fight. No telling which side he would have chosen, of course... that morning we'd briefed the Prime Minister and COBRA committee. I hadn't been allowed to sit in on the post-briefing discussion.
"Are we going to help them?"
"Militarily? I doubt it."
"Why the hell not?"
"Do you really think they need our help? You saw what they already have on the ground, do you really think that we could make a useful contribution? They're already fielding a hundred times more firepower than we could ever supply, short of nuclear weapons, we'd be a drop in the ocean. With the current recession there was never a chance they'd go for it."
"I suppose that's true. It feels wrong, though."
"Of course it's wrong, boy. Did you actually read the signals traffic, and think about its implications? They're receiving help from multiple alternate worlds, and they're probably going to win. When Case Nightmare Green begins we're going to need the same sort of help, and they'll know that when they were in trouble we took a look and didn't lift a finger."
"Then we're buggered."
Angleton nodded. "Royally. Now go home and get an early night. Tomorrow we're going to put our thinking caps and come up with something else that we can do to help, short of armed intervention, within the Laundry's budget. And if you're really unlucky you'll probably ending up having to implement whatever plan we come up with..."
Chapter 13: Code Ragnarok - Memos
This is a sequel of sorts to Code Ragnarok - Good News, originally entitled From the desk of Mark Brainerd; since he was a character invented by another contributor to the round robin I've omitted him from this version. I've also made changes to omit references to situations other authors put into the round robin. See previous chapters for sources, disclaimers, etc.
To: General O'Neill, Homeworld Security
Further to your query, I asked the Planet Express crew about Slurm. Yes, it really is made that way. While they do have some aboard, it will not be possible to "score you a can or two" as you requested; they have four cases, which are currently on sale to the highest bidder. As I understand it the last three bids were $250,000 from a well-known US drinks manufacturer, then 225,000 pounds and 300,000 Euros from their European rivals, all of whom plan to analyze it and produce the nearest possible substitute using ingredients from this dimension. There have also been bids from Japan, China, etc. The final price is expected to exceed a million dollars.
To: Donald Kemp, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
VERY sorry to hear about this problem. I've reminded all of our extra-dimensional visitors that this is a war zone and looters are liable to be shot. Xena and Gabrielle have promised me that Autolycus will not go near the Hall again; it helps that most of the objects on display there would be useless in Ancient Greece. Unfortunately I have not been able to persuade Bender to reveal the whereabouts of Liberace's piano, but we will search the Planet Express ship again, and I'm confident that it will be recovered before it leaves this dimension. I'll keep you informed.
Regret that I have no information on the female cat-burglar you describe, she isn't one of ours and I'm reliably informed it isn't Catwoman.
To: General O'Neill, Homeworld Security
Further to your latest query, I really doubt that there is legal justification for confiscating the Slurm as an "essential military resource." However, this is not my area of expertise; if you want a definitive opinion I'd suggest that you talk to your own JAG department.
Anything else I can help you with? Possibly related to the current demonic invasion??
To: General O'Neill, Homeworld Security
Re: Chemical warfare
Generally demons are unaffected by human beverages; I have no reason to believe that they will find Slurm addictive or corrosive. The IWC is aready mass-producing holy water and other substances which we know are effective, but thanks for the suggestion.
Re your other query - to the best of my knowledge no-one from the Simpsons has visited this dimension, so I'm afraid that Duff Beer is also unavailable at present. I'll let you know if things change.
Re: Stolen Piano
Many thanks! I've arranged for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to collect it.
To: General O'Neill, Homeworld Security
To: Japanese Self-Defense Force, Earth-322
Re: Your offer
Many thanks for the offer, I'm sure that these assets will be very useful. General O'Neill will be pleased to take delivery of Gojira personally, his coordinates are...
Chapter 14: Ship of the Line - Out With a Bang
Ship of the Line is a challenge at Twisting the Hellmouth which has spawned several stories. It's a Halloween challenge, with gross exaggeration of the effect of the spell used in BtVS season 2. In this case the effect is supposed to be for the characters to acquire a starship and a war to fight.
I'm not a huge fan of the way the Halloween spell seems to have become all-powerful in all too many stories, this drabble was my response. Surprise crossover...
Xander shook his head and tried to remember where he was. The last thing he remembered was dressing as a cult science fiction character, the best he could afford on a tiny budget; a cheap fake spacesuit with lieutenant's insignia and the name DOOLITTLE. Now he was lying on a surfboard and trying to get his bearings, and wondered why the stars seemed to be spinning above him.
He rolled over, nearly fell off the board, but was pushed back by the air rushing past. Below... many miles below... was the giant blue globe of the Earth. Which meant that he was falling from space.
"I'm sorry, Lieutenant Doolittle," said a mechanical voice, "I can't do that."
"What the hell? Why not?"
"I am currently in a state of existential ambivalence. Do I exist? Do you exist?"
"Yes! For the love of god, YES! You exist! Now help me!"
"Very well. You have convinced me that I exist. But I cannot help you, I must fulfil my prime function."
Belatedly Xander remembered exactly who - what - he was talking to, and began to scream. "No... you don't exist... I..."
"Let there be light," said the thermostellar bomb. Instantly Xander's problems were over. So, unfortunately, were those of the entire planet.
Crossover with the cult classic Dark Star (1974).
Chapter 15: The Slayer Spirit - Alternative 3
Inspired by the then-impending landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, and by this cartoon, The Slayer Spirit asked what might happen if the Spirit Mars rover somehow attracted the attention of whatever strange force activates the vampire slayer, and ended with the magical discovery of a new Slayer on Mars.
By a weird coincidence I'd been working on a story inspired by the same cartoon; it wasn't very similar, but I was able to adapt it to become the second chapter of the round robin, in which some wild guesswork takes place. I still hope that more chapters will be posted, and that one say we'll find out why a Slayer is needed on Mars.
Warning - some swearing ahead!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Our mystery Slayer is on Mars,” said Willow, “I’ve run the spell a dozen times now, there’s no doubt about it. And there’s definitely something going on, NASA is playing it very cagy, but word is that one of the planetary probes has found something big, so big that they’re not sure how to handle it. I’ve tried hacking them, but I don’t think it’s been put onto any computer I can access.”
“ET?” asked Xander. “Could an alien become a Slayer?”
“Maybe. Or maybe someone set up a Mars colony secretly and they’ve just found out about it.”
“Not likely. The resources that would take would be pretty hard to hide. Aliens might actually be more likely.”
Giles polished his glasses. “This reminds me of something that happened in the seventies. There was a television programme called Alternative Three which claimed that Mars had already been colonised jointly by America and Russia, with the goal of setting up a self-sustaining colony to survive an environmental collapse on Earth.”
“I knew it!” said Andrew. “It explains everything!”
“What a load of bollocks,” said Spike. “I was in Britain then, saw it the night it aired. Alternative Three was a hoax. They were originally going to show it on April Fools Day, but it got postponed. A lot of people took it seriously, but you could see that the scientists they had on the show were actors.”
“That’s exactly right,” said Giles. “But what if they made it to divert attention from a real secret space programme? Vast amounts of money were poured into it, but the Russians didn’t even get to the moon. You have to wonder.”
“So our new Slayer would be a kid born in a secret Martian colony?” asked Buffy.
“Not very likely,” said Willow. “I’ve been hacking government computers since the nineties and I’ve never seen anything like that. A conspiracy like that would involve tens of thousands of people, are you really saying that all of them would keep quiet for decades? That just isn’t plausible.”
“Cough – the Initiative – cough,” said Xander.
“The Initiative was about fifty million dollars and lasted five years or so; The Demon Research Initiative went back to the second world war, but that was a much smaller operation. A viable Mars colony would be more like hundreds of billions, kept completely hidden for about fifty years.”
“If they got there with rockets,” said Andrew. “What if they used magic?”
“That makes a little more sense,” said Willow. “I could probably do that with the right spells and some sort of physical focus at the destination, something big enough to be used as a portal.”
“One of the early space probes?” asked Xander.
“Could be. A portal could be as simple as a metal disk with a few runes engraved on it. Something like the heat shield from a Mars lander would work pretty well.”
“But why a Slayer?” asked Kennedy. “If I’ve got the theory right, Slayers appear where they’re needed. It kinda implies vampires or demons on Mars.”
“Oh bollocks,” said Spike. “Maybe that’s what the Initiative was really about, cheap strong slave labour for Mars. Get a few vampires, stick chips in their heads so that they can’t attack humans, and teleport them out there to build your bases. Humans would need endless supplies; loads of air, food, and water, even with magic it would be difficult to keep them supplied. All a vampire would need is a little blood, and something like a space suit to keep it from drying out completely.”
“Your chip lasted about three years,” said Willow. “Under Martian conditions, and sealed inside a space suit so it couldn’t get at humans anyway, it might be a lot longer. And if the vampire didn’t have to walk around in public they could mount the control unit externally and make it a lot more complicated and rugged.”
“Cyborg vampires in SPAAAAACE!” said Xander.
“We’re making a lot of assumptions,” said Giles, “but maybe there’s something in it. When was the first successful landing? Some time in the eighties?”
“Seventy-one,” said Willow, checking Wikipedia on her iPad. “The Russians got a lander down, but it failed a few seconds later. There was another in seventy-four, then the Viking missions starting in the eighties. Loads more landings from the late nineties onward.”
“If you can pin down the location at all…”
“I’m way ahead of you. At that sort of range it’s difficult to be sure, but I think our Slayer is somewhere near the Spirit rover. It landed in oh-four, if there was a portal aboard they could have built a fair-sized colony by now.”
“Which has just acquired a Slayer.”
“Whoever she is,” said Buffy, “she won’t have any idea what’s going on, why she’s suddenly so strong. She’d be scared, and a danger to herself and everyone around her. We need to get out there and talk to her, figure out what’s going on.”
“Could we do that?” asked Xander. “Could we get out there?”
“Easily,” said Willow, “if we can get access to their portal. But if this thing is as secret as I think it is I’m not sure I’d want to ask. They might want to lock us up and throw away the key. I think we may need to make our own.”
“Difficult,” said Giles. “We don’t have a focus to open a portal on Mars.”
“Fred was the real expert; she could make a portal without a focus, just a PDA and the right equation. I’m not in her league, but I think it’s do-able.”
“Okay,” said Buffy. “Willow, maybe you could start working on the magic. Ask Dawn to give you a hand, but no using her blood! Andrew, start looking into space suits. And I mean real space suits, not movie props. Faith, Kennedy, Xander, find out if any of the other Slayers and Watchers know anything useful about this stuff. Giles, you’ve got all those weird government contacts, see if you can find out any more. And Spike, I’ll need you to do me a big favour…”
“I need you to track down Illyria and see if she remembers much about Fred’s work on portals, preferably without her deciding to rip out our spines.”
“And what will you be doing?” asked Giles.
“Trying to figure out what the hell we say to this Slayer when we find her.”
Alternative Three really existed – it was intended as an April Fools hoax but there are still people who take it seriously. For details of the original program see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_three
Video can be downloaded from several sites, follow links from the Wikipedia article.
And Curiosity landed successfully about thirty minutes after I originally posted this!
Chapter 16: Code Ragnarok - Out of the Dark
Code Ragnarok is the big "Everybody's army fights a demonic invasion" crossover on Twisting the Hellmouth. It crossed my mind that this is thinking a little small...
Sith are from the Star Wars universe, the Fifth Imperium fleet comes from David Weber's "Darhak" series; neither were introduced into this series by me.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
No one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's… that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water...
* * * *
"From Cleveland?" asked Jack O'Neill.
"From Mars, General."
"Well, that's new… Okay, anyone got eyes on them?"
"There's a Sith frigate out there," said Samantha Carter, "they claim they've been looking for useful minerals in the asteroid belt. They spotted ships leaving Mars orbit, didn't see where they came from before that. They're sending us their visuals, I'm putting the feed onto screen one."
"Okay, I'm seeing a triangle with nine dots at its base, then eight, seven, six, and so forth, that's forty-five ships. Any threat estimate?"
"Sorry, General, I'll give you the magnified image. Each of those dots is a tetrahedron of ships nine ships high, so a hundred and sixty-five ships per group, seven thousand four hundred and twenty-five ships in the fleet. They're circular; each is about two hundred metres in diameter."
"That's a lot of ships. And someone really likes the number nine." The screen blurred then the image sharpened again, showing several ships more clearly. "Flying saucers? Seriously?"
"You could call them that," Carter said reluctantly.
The image zoomed in closer. "Classic fifties model, I'd say, the ever-popular disc with a dome on top… oh yeah, there are three hemispherical bumps underneath. That's definitely from the fifties, The Day the Earth Stood Still and dozens of other movies. Are they transmitting anything?"
"Not so far. If they maintain current heading and acceleration they'll be passing the sun in about seven hours, assuming they start to decelerate and match orbital speeds they'll be on top of us around eighteen-hundred Zulu tomorrow."
"And here was I thinking tomorrow was going to be a boring day, apart from the whole demonic invasion thing."
"Didn't the Slayers warn us about being careful not to say things like that out loud?"
"They did. Okay, patch me through to the Sith ship, since they're out there they might as well continue to shadow the fleet. Warn them not to get too close or do anything that might antagonise them. They've got FTL communicators; that ought to minimise time lag if there's trouble."
* * * *
"Finally! What are they saying?"
Carter pressed a switch, and a voice said "Brak ak ak! Ak brak! Brak ak!"
"I've heard that somewhere before."
"Probably on my TV," said O'Neill. "It's the aliens from Mars Attacks."
"Get someone to check if it's an extract from the movie."
The alien voice paused; then they heard a wavering cry of "Uuuuuuhlaaaaa.... Uuuuuuhlaaaaa...."
"That's the Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds recording from the seventies, I think," said Carter, "I think I could hear the music very faintly in the background."
"The Sith ship reports one group of ships has split off from the main fleet," said one of the tracking officers, "they're decelerating at... if I'm reading their notation right, I make that over eighty g, and diverging towards the sun."
"I have confirmation of speed and course from the Fifth Imperium fleet," said one of the other operators.
"What about the main fleet?" asked O'Neill.
"Course unchanged, still due to arrive around eighteen-hundred Zulu, fourteen-hundred Cleveland time."
"This is the voice of the Mysterons," said a deep resonant voice from the main speaker, "We know you can hear us, Earthmen."
"What's that from?" asked Carter.
One of the communication technicians raised a hand and said "That's Captain Scarlet, an old British puppet show. The Mysterons were bad guys from Mars."
"Okay," said O'Neill, "They're quoting evil Martians at us. Think they're trying to tell us something?"
"I claim this planet in the name of Mars," said the speaker, in a deep yet somehow silly voice, "isn't that lovely?"
"Marvin the Martian," said Carter, O'Neill, and half a dozen others.
"Let's see if they respond to signals," said O'Neill. "Give me an uplink."
One of the technicians handed him a microphone and said "Live in twenty seconds, General."
"Wish me luck, Carter."
"Ten seconds… Five... four... three... two... one..."
"Earth to Martian fleet, Earth to Martian fleet, do you receive me?"
The only reply was a loud zapping noise. O'Neill scribbled "Martian death ray, 1950s War of the Worlds movie" on a pad and showed it to Carter, who nodded.
"Martian fleet, space around Earth is currently very crowded. I need to steer you into a safe holding orbit."
"Es tut mir leid, Dave," said the speaker, "Ich fürchte, ich kann das nicht tun."
O'Neill switched off the microphone and said "'I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.' Now we're getting somewhere; that was a direct response."
"In the form of a bad German translation of a quote from a homicidal computer. Not entirely reassuring."
"Another group of ships just broke off from the main fleet, they're also decelerating," said the tracking officer.
"Maybe they don't have their own verbal language. Okay, let's try something." He switched the microphone back on. "Why are you coming to Earth?"
There was a pause then they heard "Mars… needs… women!"
O'Neill switched off the microphone and said "Think that's your cue?"
"I'll give it a shot." She took the microphone and said "Martian fleet, please respond. Why are you coming to Earth?"
There was silence for a few seconds then they heard a low grating noise. It continued for several seconds, stopped momentarily, then repeated, again and again.
"I've heard that somewhere before," said O'Neill.
"Me too…" Carter thought for a few seconds then snapped her fingers. "The original Orson Welles War of the Worlds transmission, or someone's reconstruction of it; The Martian cylinders have just landed and they're listening to them slowly open."
"Well, that isn't at all ominous," said Jack.
Carter switched on the microphone again. "Are you here to help us?"
Another oddly accented voice said "We ask only that you... trust us. Only that you simply...trust us!"
"And suddenly I don't," murmured Jack. "That's the Twilight Zone version of To Serve Man, the one where the alien manual turns out to be a cook book."
* * * *
"We're established that there are force fields around all of the saucers," said Carter, who was trying to run on caffeine and fumes after too many hours without sleep, "the pictures from Hubble and the Sith show a slight sparkling effect forward of each ship that seems proportional to speed and the density of space dust in the region. If the figures are anything near right they're destroying everything in their path. About the one positive thing is that about four fifths of their fleet has already peeled off, and is spaced out along a route between the Sun and the Earth."
"What sort of route?"
"At the moment it's a curved line, with ships every hundred and seventy thousand miles or so. What worries me is that the shape of the line is slowly changing. Soon they'll be aligned in a straight line. I'm thinking they might have some sort of solar-powered weapon."
"They're already in firing range of most of our allies," said Jack, "and we've transmitted repeated warnings that we will have to open fire if they don't divert to a parking orbit."
"Who's going to take the first shot?" asked Carter.
"The Fifth Imperium fleet has put a screening force of four thousand ships in their path; that ought to make them take a little notice. And to be honest, if it doesn't there's not much we can do with our technology. Contact now in… six minutes. Any word from the Martians, or whatever they are?"
One of the communications technicians flicked a switch, and they heard music:
"Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," said the technician. "We've been checking, everything the Martians have sent us so far has been transmitted on TV or radio since the Cleveland Hellmouth opened. About eighty percent is relevant to Mars, the rest to space travel or aliens generally. Languages so far include English, Japanese, Chinese, French, Russian, and German, more English than anything else."
"…good with weird and gilly
And the spiders from mars. he played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were…"
"Why English?" asked Carter.
"Maybe they know we're organising the defence," said the technician. "Or maybe it's just that we transmit a lot of science fiction."
"Any repeats?" asked Jack.
"Nothing so far."
"Warn the Sith ship to stand clear, and thank them for their help." Jack picked up his microphone and said "Patch me through to the Fifth Imperium fleet."
"Three minutes," said Carter.
"Okay." Jack switched on his microphone and said "Fifth Imperium Fleet, all friendly ships should now be withdrawing from the Martian line of advance, you're clear for weapons fire in two minutes on my mark… mark!"
The clock counted down towards zero.
"Martian fleet course and speed unchanged, they're ignoring all communications. We're going to weapons live in five… four… three… two… one… Commencing firing in five… four… three… two… one…"
There was a long pause.
"Negative effect," said the Fifth Imperium communications officer. "Their force field seems to block our weapons completely, there's no sign they even noticed. They'll be passing through our screening force shortly; we're going to try coordinated fire on the lead group as they come through."
"Negative!" said Jack. "Get the hell out of there."
"I'm sorry, General, I can't accept that order. We have to try. Wish us luck."
"Oh crap. Good luck."
There was another long pause, then a shaky voice said "We have eleven ships failing to respond, the ones that were closest during the attack. No effect on the Martians."
"What happened to your ships?"
"They're still there, looks like they lost all power," said the Fifth Imperium officer. "We've got rescue ships on their way to them. Tracking the Martian vanguard, they haven't changed course, deceleration remains constant. We can't fire on them without hitting Earth, and at this range we'd devastate most of America."
"If nothing changes," said Carter, "they'll be able to land in twenty minutes, about fourteen-hundred our time."
"General," said one of the communications technicians, "I have a FLASH signal from the Pentagon. I need today's cryptography key to decode it."
"I can guess what it says," said Jack, giving him a card with the code key. "They're going to authorise the use of nuclear weapons if necessary."
* * * *
"Why the west coast?" asked Jack.
"Maybe they're headed for Disneyland."
"Report in from the Fifth Imperium fleet," said one of the technicians, "Their ships are okay, just completely powered down; everything's dead, from the main power plants to watches and their bionics. Everything seems to have failed safe and nobody's badly hurt, it looks like they can start things up with external power supplies."
"The Martians are converging on Los Angeles," said another technician. "We have hundreds of reports of UFOs flying west in formation over the city."
"Of course it's Los Angeles," said Jack, "I guess it's traditional."
"Any damage?" asked Carter.
"Lots of reports of windows breaking, shock waves generally. Wait a second… we have earth tremors too. About five point one, epicentre is 34.40,-119.69, about two hundred kilometres west north west of Los Angeles."
"Anything there?" asked Jack.
"The Sunnydale crater," said Carter.
"Any evidence they're doing it?"
"I don't think so," said Carter, somehow assimilating the data from half a dozen screens. "They were decelerating until the tremors started, then speeded up. I'd say they're reacting to them. Okay, every saucer that's in the atmosphere is now headed that way, and the ones that haven't made atmosphere yet are speeding up, not slowing down."
* * * *
That was the plan, anyway…
* * * *
Viewed from space, and felt magically by every witch and wizard within a thousand miles, five Hellmouth portals opened and dragons and other monsters began to pour out. Simultaneously the saucers moved into a geometrically perfect spherical formation, nearly eighteen miles across, touching the ground as a circle about six miles wide. The air between them glowed and sparkled, a dome of twinkling light. The demons continued to spread out until they encountered it then seemed to be trying to batter their way through it. Radios tuned to five point two megacycles heard a zapping noise, identified later as the attack of the Monster from the Id in Forbidden Planet.
A few minutes before noon a column of incandescent gas thousands of miles in diameter rose from the surface of the sun, and hurtled along the line of saucers towards the Earth at near-lightspeed, gradually condensing into a stream of intense plasma a few hundred metres across. At precisely noon it entered the atmosphere and flashed into the dome. For a fraction of a second the hemisphere glowed far brighter than the sun, and cameras in a dozen satellites burned out; then the dome turned black. The saucers continued to hover in place, apparently undisturbed. At 12.07 PM the dome slowly rose into the air, now a perfect sphere, taking with it the remnants of the Sunnydale crater, and leaving a perfect convex cavity whose walls were icy cold mirror-smooth rock. Sea water began to flow into the new crater. The sphere rose into space, slowly at first but rapidly accelerating, escorted by more and more saucers as it rose towards the sun.
Eighteen hours later the fleet was back together, a sphere of saucers which flew to within a million miles of the sun, then decelerated at nearly forty gravities, leaving the glowing remnants of Sunnydale on course to vaporize as they hit the sun's outer atmosphere. The saucers placidly resumed their original formation and flew back towards Mars, where they quietly vanished. Their last communication, if it could be called that, was the theme from Butt Ugly Martians. Played backwards.
* * * *
"Friendly… I think," said Carter.
"That's one way of looking at it. I guess we should count ourselves lucky they didn't do the same thing to Cleveland."
"So why didn't they?"
"My guess - we have Cleveland contained, we're probably going to win there. The Sunnydale thing was a complete surprise, we weren't ready for it. Though I guess we need to look out for another front opening like that. Somehow they knew what was coming, and decided to nip it in the bud."
"They certainly did that," said Carter. "The Watchers say the Sunnydale Hellmouth isn't just closed now, it's gone completely. It must have been anchored to the rock somehow; the Martians melted it and dropped it into the Sun."
"Okay then. Threat assessment?"
"More powerful than any of our allies - they weren't fazed at all by the Fifth Imperium attack, I doubt even the Asgard could survive that. They probably aren't Martians, and probably aren't from this universe at all. My guess… if it looks like we're going to lose, they'll do the same thing to Cleveland, and as much as the rest of the world as it takes to contain things."
"Agreed," said O'Neill. "Another reason we need to win this war. But even when we do, we'll need to keep watching the skies -"
"You just had to say that, didn't you?"
"Yep. We need to keep watching the skies, because we have no idea if they'll regard us as a threat the next time we encounter them."
* * * *
GCU Ultimate Ship the Second: What does that mean? And what's with the name change?
LOU The Voices Are Telling Me To Kill You (Formerly I Can Has Cheezeburger): Sorry, obscure Earth cultural reference, see [data attachment HP]. It means I've fixed this without letting these morons know who and what they're dealing with. And the name changes reflect the only interesting native art form I've found, see [data attachment Lolcats].
VFP Without Multiple Paddles: Arbitrary, do you have any idea what that means?
GCU Arbitrary: I know I was the last Culture ship to visit Earth before this mess started, but please could I remind all of you again that it wasn't that Earth, and it was more than forty planetary years ago. And last time I looked our universe's Earth didn't have demons or stargates! I'll have to get someone to check if they have Lolcats now, that does seem like the sort of stupid that Earth comes up with on a regular basis.
GCU Ultimate Ship the Second: Even if it's another universe's Earth, that still makes you more of an expert than anyone else around here.
LOU The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You: Ahem.
GCU Ultimate Ship the Second: Alright, admittedly you're on the scene, and none of us can get there in time to do much good. But you've been on station less than a megasecond; Arbitrary was there most of a planetary year.
GCU Arbitrary: And again I say, not this version of Earth. Moving on, can anyone summarise the current state of play?
LOU The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You: This culture is irredeemably contaminated. They've got two separate Out of Context Problems, the demonic invasion and alien contact, initially through the Stargate and now by multiple incursions from parallel worlds. There's a wild mix of technology, some of it several thousand years ahead of the baseline Terran culture. They're rapidly assimilating anything they can grab from their allies. But they're still fighting this thing as a ground war; can you imagine anything more stupid?
GCU Arbitrary: I remember what our universe's Earth is like, nothing those idiots did would surprise me. How do their technological levels compare to the Culture?
GCU Ultimate Ship the Second: Is this likely to be a problem for our own universe?
LOU The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You: They're still technological primitives by our standards, as are their allies. Their civilisation is a bad joke, and some of their allies are even worse. We've got a genuine evil empire, several others that would be evil if they could actually get their shit together enough to exert power competently, and a bunch of crazy military independents. They've contacted dozens of universes, our own included, and that probably isn't going to end when the current crisis is over. The best case scenario is an empire spanning the local star systems in multiple realities. The worst case is an expanding demonic empire. If that happens I think we'll have to go with our worst case plans and slag the planet. The humans are already planning for mass evacuation through the Stargate and their allies' ships, if I lend a hand casualty levels will be bad but acceptable.
GCU Arbitrary: Define "bad."
LOU The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You: 10-15% of the planetary population.
VFP Without Multiple Paddles: That's pretty good, all things considered. Okay, can they detect you?
LOU The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You: I faked the saucer fleet with drones and image generators, displaced them back from Mars at the end of the operation. The traffic I'm picking up suggests that the natives think they returned to another universe, so they shouldn't spot me hiding inside their sun.
GCU Arbitrary: Let's hope their magic isn't up to it, whatever magic is.
LOU Ceiling Cat (formerly The Voices are Telling Me to Kill You): It seems to be zero point energy manipulation [Data Attachment "Magic"], that would explain most of the things magic is supposed to do. Tricky, but we know how to block it. They won't catch me that way.
VFP Without Multiple Paddles: Let's cut to the chase; did this work, or have we made things worse?
LOU Ceiling Cat: I'm going to go with a qualified success. They have no idea who we are, other than a powerful alien race, and they're already aware that there are powerful aliens around. Communications I'm picking up suggest they'll be a lot more cautious the next time they run into something they don't understand.
GCU Arbitrary: I concur. In view of the situation I strongly advise against taking a closer look, especially with human crew. They'd be vulnerable to magic. Will your people go along with that?
LOU Ceiling Cat: So far. I've had to persuade the usual gun nuts to wait and see what happens, they're getting a little impatient but I've got them convinced that the natives can probably handle things without our help. I'm working on man-portable magical shields, hopefully they'll be ready by the time someone insists on his right to shore leave.
GCU Ultimate Ship the Second: I'm going to concur too. Good job. Keep us posted if anything seems to be going horribly wrong. Signing out for now.
VFP Without Multiple Paddles: Also concur, also signing out.
[GCU Ultimate Ship the Second and VFP Without Multiple Paddles have broken contact]
GCU Arbitrary: It's gone very quiet. Too quiet…
LOU Ceiling Cat: Har de har. Signing out; I'll let you know if anything changes.
[Conference circuit closes]
The late Ian M. Banks' Culture is a galaxy-spanning civilisation run largely by its starship Minds, vastly powerful computers whose intelligence and speed is beyond human comprehension. Since the Code Ragnarok series began I've been wondering how the Culture would handle things; the problem is that they would almost certainly be boggled by the idea of treating it as an even battle or fighting demons individually, and use whatever force was needed to end the threat permanently. Probably in about ten seconds…
The opening quote is a reworking of the opening of the start of Wells' War of the Worlds. Most of the other quotes should be obvious from context.
For more on Culture starship types, names, etc. see this Wikipedia page:
Arbitrary visits Earth in Banks' story "The State of the Art"
Chapter 17: Code Ragnarok - Oracle
This is a sequel to Code Ragnarok - Out of the Dark and involves the usual suspects, none of whom I own…
“The chances of anything coming from Mars,” sang the intercom, “are a million to one he said…”
Jack O’Neill looked up from the small mountain of paperwork on his desk, and tiredly flipped the switch, but it continued to play “The chances of anything coming from Mars, are a million to one, but still they come.”
There was no reply, just continued music; Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Fuming, Jack grabbed his jacket and headed for the control room. The room was surprisingly quiet… much too quiet… and he realised that nobody was moving. Carter stood at one of the terminals, her hand stretched out towards the keyboard, but was as still as a statue. Everyone else in the room was just as immobile.
“Carter?” he gently touched her arm; it felt as hard and immobile as marble. “Someone want to tell me what’s going on?”
A dark-haired man wearing a black uniform Jack didn’t recognise, who Jack had assumed was one of the visitors from another universe, abruptly turned towards him and in a deep resonating voice said “This is the voice of the Mysterons. We know that you can hear us, Earthmen.”
Jack looked at him properly for the first time, and realised that there was something odd about the stranger; he looked more like a CGI animation than a real person. “I’ve heard that before. Want to tell me more?”
The stranger morphed to a bloated looking forty or so, his face changing and hair lengthening his uniform morphing into a white suit covered with jewels and sequins in an elaborate eagle motif.
“Okay,” said Jack, “I guess you didn’t die after all.”
“No, Elvis is not dead.” said Elvis, with the voice of agent K, “he just went home.”
“Riiiight…” said Jack. “My guess, you’re not Elvis; you’re from the fleet that destroyed Sunnydale, and for some reason you don’t talk for yourselves. Let’s see – after you took out Sunnydale you went home?”
Elvis morphed into David Bowie and sang
“Okay, that doesn’t really answer the question.”
“There's a starman waiting in the sky,
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds”
The being morphed into Homer Simpson, and said “It's like something out of that twilighty show about that zone.”
“Nice look, it suits you. Got any beer?”
"24 beers in a case. 24 hours in a day. Coincidence?" said Fox Mulder.
“I get it,” said Jack, “the truth is out there. Right?”
It morphed into Rutger Hauer; “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.”
“And yet you can’t explain what you want. Let’s try something else… I’ll ask a few questions, can you just answer yes or no?”
The alien seemed to consider for a moment, then morphed and shrank into a black sphere, four inches across, floating in mid-air.
“Well, that’s new. Okay, are you really from Mars?”
The sphere rolled in mid-air revealing a white area with the numeral eight, then continued to rotate until a clear area appeared at the top, and a blue triangle containing the words “DON'T COUNT ON IT” appeared.
“A Magic Eight-Ball. Unbelievable… Okay, are you from this universe?”
“MY SOURCES SAY NO”
“I have a feeling this is going to take a while.”
* * * * *
“Okay, can you do anything to help us fight the demons? Without destroying the Earth?”
“Any chance you’ll change your minds?”
“CANNOT PREDICT NOW”
“Okay. One last question… how much of this is real, and how much of it is you trying to mess with my head?”
“BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW”
“Okay. What happens now?”
The ball fell to the floor, as everyone in the room started moving again. Jack picked it up; it felt exactly like every other magic eight ball he’d ever touched. He waited, and the words “THAT’S ALL, FOLKS” eventually appeared.
“General?” said Carter, “Where did you appear from?”
He checked his watch, and realised that no time seemed to have passed since he first heard the music. “I’ve just had a close encounter of the really weird kind. I think it was a friendly warning from the guys with the flying saucers…”
* * * * *
He pushed the door, and it opened a foot or so then stopped. He peered in the opening; the office was filled with cases of Duff Beer, filling the room from floor to ceiling. Out of curiosity he opened one of the cases, pulled out a bottle, and took a sip. It wasn’t the worst beer he’d ever tasted, but nothing special.
“Okay,” said Jack. “Now you’re just messing with me. I should have asked for Slurm.”
There was a soft popping noise, and a case of Slurm appeared in the corridor. “Sweet.”
* * * * *
LOU Ceiling Cat: I kept it cryptic but I think they got the message. They stop the Hellmouths from spreading, we won’t mess up their planet. I could really wish they’d just evacuate and let us take care of things, but I suppose they’re too attached to the place.
GCU Arbitrary: Grey Area thinks that if we knock them all out and move them to a good replica of the Earth without demons they won’t even notice, they’ll assume the demons were destroyed somehow. I keep telling it they’re really not that stupid.”
LOU Ceiling Cat: You could have fooled me. Okay, I have now read every book and watched every movie and TV series this place has ever produced, and I am BORED. Any suggestions?”
GCU Arbitrary: Have you come across fanfic yet…?
If it matters, all the quotes except the last are real – so far as I know no real Magic Eight Ball has the message “THAT’S ALL, FOLKS”
The Investigations Police of Chile seized 60,000 bottles of Duff-brand beer in the city of Linares following an intellectual property complaint from 20th Century Fox in March, 2013. Probably some of it found its way out of the property store and into Jack’s office. For more on the Slurm situation see Code Ragnarok - Good News and Code Ragnarok - Memos - although it may possibly be this stuff, not the real thing imported by the Planet Express team.
Chapter 18: Code Ragnarok: From Bad to Worse - BtVS / Surprise Crossover
Another chapter from one of the Code Ragnarok round robins - this one is from From the Files of Mark Brainerd, in which various fictional characters sign up to fight the demonic invasion, and invariably cause problems for the titular character, the world's unluckiest bureaucrat. Buffy / Surprise Crossover.
There was a loud rap on his door. He shook his head, intending to get up and answer, but before he could respond the door opened and a woman in her sixties (or was it a man in a dress?) swept in and said "I'm told you're the chappie we need to report to. We've come to lend a hand." She had an upper-class English accent. As she entered he heard a rhythmic pounding noise, a repeated "dum dum DUM," echoing along the corridor. It didn't make his head feel any better.
"And you would be?"
"Camilla Fritton, of course. And my staff, and the girls."
"Girls? Do you mean Slayers?" He handed her the special form for Slayers from other dimensions.
"Well, our Head Girl is, and a couple of the fourth years. Why, does it matter?"
"Exactly how many people are we talking about here?"
"Myself, six other teachers, dear Flash, and the children. About three hundred in all."
"You've brought thee hundred children into a war zone?" he said incredulously.
"Yes, it does seem to be overkill," said Miss Fritton, "but I'm sure there'll be enough of the enemy to go round."
The door crashed open, and a girl about fourteen years old wearing a black dress and blazer over a white blouse ran in. The badge on the blazer was a white heart shape with a large stylised T and small ST above it, forming a rough crucifix shape. She was carrying a hockey stick with the end sharpened to a point, and something that looked like a shrunken head was dangling from it on a length of string. She shouted "Oi, Fritton, we caught another f****** demon," and ran out again, slamming the door behind her.
"The dear girls do get so enthusiastic," said Miss Fritton; "One doesn't want to discourage them, but I really must remind them not to get viscera on their clothing." She dropped the papers on his desk and swept out. As she left the pounding continued, and Mark recognised it as the drum score from We Will Rock You. He looked out of the window, and saw about twenty black-clad girls pounding their hockey sticks rhythmically as they put the boot into a Fyarl demon.
He picked up the form, read it, saw the school name, a horrible legend across a dozen dimensions, and shuddered. "And I thought things couldn't get any worse."
The girls from Saint Trinian's were in town, and Cleveland would never be the same again.
Crossover with the St. Trinian's movies, of course. All characters etc. are used without permission, and with no intent to infringe on copyright.
Chapter 19: Marque and Reprisal - Stargate / Pirate Movies
Stargate crossover with... well, quite a few things, see end notes for details. All characters belong to their creators, grasping media corporations of doom, etc., and there is no intent to infringe on copyright. This chapter may not be distributed on a profit-making basis. This was originally written in 2010 for Methos' "The Truth is Out There" round robin, which was deleted without warning - fortunately the Wayback Machine site was able to find it for me.
The back story is that the existence of the Stargate has been revealed to the public, and various groups react to it in their own inimitable fashions. I hope that others who originally contributed to this round robin will post their chapters if they haven't already done so.
"It's been a powerful long time," said John. "Naming no names, but some of us here has been out of the water far too long. Sometimes I wish we'd never found the Fountain of Youth."
"You know why, just as well as any of us," said Jack. "We're too damned stinking rich, and too good at what we do; there was no joy in it any more."
"So we left it to the Somalis and Libyans and all the other riff-raff," said a voice from the shadowy end of the room. "Or some of us did."
"What are you implying, Roberts?" said John.
"We've all heard about you and the Colombians," said Roberts. "What did you do with the cocaine, John?"
"If ye must know," said John, "I made some fishes powerful happy."
"Where's the profit in that?" asked a blonde woman, looking up from the throwing knife she was sharpening.
"Profit be damned, Adams. It were a favour for a friend, that lad Franks, him and young Gibbs."
"So if there's no profit it doesn't count?" asked Jack. "Well, what if there was some profit in it, and more of a challenge, would you still be interested?"
"We're all seen the news," said Roberts, "and I'm guessing we've all had the same idea."
"We'll need a leader," said Jack. "Elizabeth's gone, of course, but there's the great-great-grand-daughter, she might be interested. Even uses the same surname, more or less."
"I don't sail with vampires," Roberts said flatly.
"Fair point. What about you, John?"
"It'd be an honour, but it's one I'll have to decline. My name's too well known, and for all the wrong reasons. That little bugger Hawkins made a fool out of me, and everyone knows it. We need someone whose name still has a little gravitas."
"That lets me out too," said Jack. "One thing nobody can accuse me of is any damn grav... gravity. What about you, Adams?"
She shook her head. "To make this work we'll need more than one ship, and I'm not cut out to be an admiral. I'd sooner command my own ship."
"Hooky," said Jack. "You haven't said much."
The gaunt one-armed man turned from the window and slammed his hook into the table, splintering the wood. "I'm in the same damned boat as John. That little bastard Pan made my name a laughing stock. As for that damned crocodile…" He picked up his tankard and drained it. "No. I'll join you, and command my own ship if we get that far, but I can't be leader. Nobody would take us seriously."
"That leaves you, Roberts," said Jack.
"It's a big responsibility."
"You're up to it."
"Well," said Roberts, "I have given it some thought. And of course it helps that I know a head of government, that'll be useful."
"Head of government?" asked Jack.
"Buttercup's President of Florin, now they got rid of the Communists. And it just so happens that there was a citizen of Florin killed by the Wraith the last time they attacked Atlantis."
"That wouldn't be posthumous citizenship, by any chance?" asked John.
"Not in the least. Or at least not that anyone will be able to prove. But it's enough to issue letters of Marque and Reprisal."
"I call for the vote," said Adams.
"Seconded," said Jack. "In alphabetical order, then… Captain Adams?"
"And Captain Sparrow votes for Roberts too. By four votes and one abstention, I hereby declare that the Dread Pirate Roberts is elected Pirate Lord of the Milky Way. Agreed, brothers?"
"And may God have mercy on the Goa'uld, the Wraith, and the Ori…"
Long John Silver - Pirate leader in Treasure Island (and see the recent Black Sails series)
Jack Sparrow - Captain of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean.
The Dread Pirate Roberts - Captain of The Revenge, The Princess Bride
Morgan Adams - Captain of the Morning Star, Cutthroat Island.
Hook - Captain of the Jolly Roger, Peter Pan
Franks and Gibbs - NCIS
Elizabeth Swann - Pirates of the Caribbean
Bella Swan - Twilight etc.
Buttercup - The Princess Bride
Chapter 20: Code Ragnarok: The Unfortunate AUs
Code Ragnarok: The Unfortunate AUs is another round robin on Twisting the Hellmouth, which I started a few days ago. It already has chapters by several authors, including two by me. It's basically a spin-off from the "official" Code Ragnarok series, exploring ways that the ideas in that story could have gone horribly wrong.
This chapter contains my first two contributions, since the second is just a drabble - see the whole story for the other authors' contributions:
In one of several dozen mile-long yellow blocks that floated the way that bricks don't...
"People of Earth... People of Earth... Is this thing on? People of Earth, your attention please."
"Do be quiet, I'm trying to talk here!"
"People of Earth, I am Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. We have received your message concerning the unauthorised dimensional portal currently endangering your planet, and have come to render assistance."
"Yes, your gratitude is greatly appreciated, please let me continue. Thank you..."
"People of Earth, Galactic President Beeblebrox has authorised immediate decontamination and repairs, which will take approximately three of your Earth months. Works will commence at the end of this transmission. For your comfort and safety you are strongly advised to move to temporary accommodation until the conclusion of these works. The fifth moon of Beta Centauri 4 is habitable by your species."
"Transport? What do you mean, you don't have transport? It's not even four hundred light years! And yes, we do mean all of you."
"As I was saying, you are strongly advised to move to temporary accommodation pending the works; any injuries, deaths, or extinction events caused by failure to do so will not be the responsibility of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council, President Beeblebrox, or the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation."
"Yes, we have filed an environmental impact statement. It's filed at the local planning office at Alpha Centauri. What do you mean, you've never been there? Apathetic bloody species."
Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz switched off his communicator, turned to an underling, and said "Activate the decontamination system."
"At once!" Beams of coruscating energy began to sweep the Earth clear of demonic life. It was in no way Jeltz's fault that all other forms of life on Earth were also affected. Terminally.
"This shouldn't take too long," said Jeltz. "And when we're finished, dig out that old demolition order. We can get the ball rolling on that hyperspace bypass at last..."
Crossover with The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"If I have this right," said Senator Kinsey. "The ISWC declared a Code Ragnarok, so some meathead decided to transmit a message requesting assistance. Not just to Earth's governments, not just to our allies such as the Jaffa, but to the entire multiverse?"
"That would be President Meathead," said Jack, "unless you'd like to change that description?"
Kinsey ignored the comment. "A transmission which directly led to the present crisis." He switched on the recorder.
"..shortly arrive and rescue your species, and add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile..."
Crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation, of course.
Chapter 21: Jeeves and the Doctor / An Awkward Question
Two story fragments written in a fanfic workshop at last year's Nine Worlds SF convention. The first is Jeeves / Doctor Who, the second CSI / Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Both were stuck in a notepad file on my iPad, which is why it's taken a while to remember to post them.
Jeeves and the Doctor
"Sir," said Reginald Jeeves, "there is a lady to see you."
"A lady?" said John Smith.
"A journalist, a Miss Sarah-Jane Smith."
"Apparently not, sir."
"I would describe her as attractive for her age."
"Oh... well, send her in, Jeeves. And I daresay some tea might be in order."
Jeeves left, and came back a few minutes later with an attractive woman in her fifties.
They shook hands, and he said "Take a seat, old thing. What's this about?"
"I wonder if you remember a woman named Martha Jones, a servant at this school before the war?"
"Jones? Jones? I can't say it rings a lot of bells." Jeeves came in with a tray and Doctor Smith turned to him and said "Does a Martha Jones ring any bells with you? Used to be a servant here?"
"Indeed, sir. She was the maid we had to dismiss after we caught her trying to steal your watch. The negress."
"Oh! Around the time those thugs broke into the church hall looking for some Doctor chappie?"
"Exactly. It was fortunate that Captain Harkness and his detachment happened to be on exercises in the area at the time, things might have gone very badly if they hadn't intervened."
"Jack Harkness?" Sarah-Jane asked sharply.
"We've had our differences. Tell me, professor, did you ever find out why she wanted your watch?"
That was obviously heading in the direction of Jeeves as the Doctor's next companion and hilarity of some sort ensuing, but I have no idea how it was going to come out. I have a feeling that this may have given me the idea for The Problem Of Susan.
An Awkward Question
"Ms. Connor, or whatever your name really is," said Gil Grissom, "I'm prepared to accept, for the sake of argument, that you believe you're being hunted by killer robots from the future. I can even accept that you believe that they want to kill John because he'll lead the resistance against them. What I can't accept, however, is that a group O mother has a group AB son. Where are John's real parents?"
Watching through the one-way glass, Greg Saunders saw Sarah Connor's facade start to crumble, a panicked look appear in her eyes.
"Does John know you kidnapped him?" asked Grissom. "What about your daughter? What's the story there? Why won't she let me take blood or saliva samples?"
it's canon in TSCC that John Connor has AB- blood, Sarah O-; it is not possible for a group O mother to have an AB son, short of massively unlikely mutations which would leave obvious genetic traces. This was probably just a scriptwriting error, but has some interesting consequences if you take it literally. I think this was headed in the direction of Sarah having stolen him from a doorstep in Little Whingeing, Surrey, after the still-birth of the original John, and eventually a Harry potter crossover.
Chapter 22: Prelude to a Story I May Never Write
The final episode of Lois and Clark ends with the discovery of a baby, mysteriously left in their apartment, with a note reading Lois and Clark... This child belongs to you.
I'm not quite sure how that led to this, but it's just the way my mind works...
All characters belong to their respective creators, and there is no intent to infringe on copyright. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.
"And that's all the note says?" asked Clark.
"That's it," said Lois, cradling the baby in her arms. "The blanket has Superman's 'S' on it, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. It was made in Taiwan, one of the companies the Superman Foundation licenses."
"How can he be yours?" asked Sam Lane.
"We wanted a child, maybe some sort of higher power knew."
"That would be wonderful," said Martha Kent, "but there has to be some reason for this. Babies don't appear out of nowhere."
"Don't worry," Lois said to the baby, "we'll look after you, yes we will!" The baby gurgled happily.
"He is awfully cute," said Clark, "and he looks a little like you, I think. Wait a minute..." Clark picked up the note again, and added "that wasn't there before. There's a P.S."
Lois snatched the note from his hand. "'P.S., you are his closest living married relatives. Adoption papers will arrive shortly. I will call on you tomorrow. A.D.' Who writes in green ink?"
"A.D.? Do we know anyone with those initials?"
"Can't think of anyone." There were blank expressions all round.
"I don't understand this," said Jonathan Kent. "If this really is someone's relative, surely Martha and I, or Sam and Ellen, would be closer relatives."
"I'm adopted, remember," said Clark, remembering at the last second to avoid saying anything that would reveal his Kryptonian origins to Sam and Ellen. "It could be some sort of relative on my side."
"Or on ours," said Ellen Lane. "We're divorced, maybe that's why he wasn't sent to us."
There was a muffled thump from the living room. Clark went to investigate, and came back a moment later with a bulky envelope, marked 'Lois and Clark' in the same green ink. "This just appeared in the bassinet."
"What is it?" asked Lois.
"Adoption papers," said Clark, leafing through the papers. "Some of these are dated weeks ago. That's odd..."
"Odd?" said Jonathan.
"There was a woman in Child Services who said we wouldn't be allowed to adopt because Lois's lifestyle was too dangerous. But this paper has her giving her approval."
"What name do they give for the baby?" Lois asked excitedly.
"It must be here somewhere," said Clark, looking through the papers again. "Here we are... it's Neville, Neville Longbottom."
Chapter 23: Challenges, challenges...
Over the years I've posted a LOT of challenges to various sites. Some of them have been answered, there are still many that haven't. If something here seems interesting, please use it - some acknowledgment would be nice, of course.
Buffyverse Crossover Challenges
These challenges were posted first at Twisting the Hellmouth; some have been answered, most haven't. They were written as Buffyverse challenges but most of them are easily adaptable to other fandoms.
Bat Time (Angel / Batman)
When the kids start turning up unconscious in LA in Smile Time their grins are noticed by another detective; Batman, who immediatly leaps to the conclusion that the Joker is involved. Bodies with smiles are his trademark, and even though they aren't dead...
Batman discovers that Wolfram and Hart are investigating and follows Angel into the studio. As a result he's also affected by the puppetising ray (or is the only one affected) and has to ask Angel for help.
Mood should be silly, lots of bonus points for bat-jokes and comparisons between Angel and Batman - maybe both of them will deny the resemblance. Can be based on TV, film, or comic versions of Batman.
Answered by stories in my First Contact drabble series
The Long Slay Goodnight
Watch the film "The Long Kiss Goodnight" then tell me that the principal character isn't a Slayer. So a crossover could work fairly well...
One possible plot - after she's stabbed, Faith flees Sunnydale. Rather than going into a coma, she eventually develops amnesia, but it takes long enough for her to successfully cover her tracks first. Also she's pregnant - the father's identity is up to you, but Xander seems a possibility. A few years later, just after hearing the news that Sunnydale has been destroyed by a freak earthquake, she starts to have weird dreams, and is suddenly ridiculously strong and fast. Trouble is that there seem to be a lot of people trying to kill her and her child, and some of them aren't exactly human...
There are lots of other ways to use this idea, but see the film first - it's fun and it'll probably give you ideas.
Things I'd like to see in this:
- A mature character coming to grips with the whole Slayer thing.
- A really nasty evil conspiracy; you'll have to work hard to come up with one that's better than the film
- a kickass ice skating combat scene; again, see the film to find out what you're trying to match.
Answered by The Long Kiss Goodnight by Kiwikatipo.
Father, Real Father
"And you're quite sure that he's the father?"
"No doubt whatever."
"How many does that make?"
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid that I've lost count."
"Very well. Get the legal department to handle any child support claims," said M, "Oh, and ask 007 to step in please, I think it's time we talked about that vasectomy again..."
The usual "real father" plot, the difference is that the real father is
(a) the world's greatest secret agent and
(b) not exactly a caring parent.
Almost anyone in the Buffyverse can be the child - Bond's career in fiction began in 1953 with mention of a career in World War 2, so his children could include Giles, Joyce, Hank Summers or Nikki Wood as well as the usual Buffyverse suspects. Or take a look at the first version of the film Casino Royale, starring David Niven, maybe everyone in the Buffyverse is related to him!
Answered by my own story Retribution and by Oz, Dan Oz by Dulcinea.
The Talented Mister Malfoy (HP crossover)
After Voldemort is defeated Draco Malfoy leaves school with little money and no prospects; the wizarding world wants nothing to do with the son of such a notorious Death Eater, and he's almost completely unsuited for life in the Muggle world. He's going to have to live on his wits, and find some way to persuade the world to support him in the manner to which he is accustomed. The problem is that Draco really isn't a nice guy, and absolutely hates the idea of working for a living. But perhaps he can find a rich heiress, or some other source of income.
Needless to say there are obstacles; the Ministry of Magic and its foreign counterparts have an eye on him. But on a Hellmouth, or somewhere close to one like Los Angeles, he ought to be able to dodge their attention. But even in Sunnydale he has the worst possible luck in choosing targets for his get rich quick schemes.
Have fun, and read the Ripley stories (Patricia Highsmith) or watch the film - The Talented Mr. Ripley - for more ideas.
Some possible victims:
- Beautiful spoiled woman who lives in a nice apartment (Glory)
- Beautiful lonely woman who runs a magic shop (Anyanka)
- Beautiful lonely high-school counsellor (need you ask...?)
- Bored looking young woman with no obvious source of income (Gwen Raiden)
Don't forget male victims too! Probably best BtVS S5 through S7, any Angel season.
Answered by The Real World by SlytherinQueen (WIP, possibly abandoned)
Xander NON-HALLOWEEN Holiday Challenge
Please could someone write a Xander crossover holiday story that
(a) isn't based on the Halloween episodes
(b) doesn't involve Xander acquiring super powers, and
(c) doesn't accuse every other character in the series of being insensitive to Xander.
Answered by Stout by Lindseyjo.
The Father Hunt
This is a reversal of the "real father" idea; instead of looking for a father, a female character is looking for someone to father her child, not necessarily as part of a permanent relationship. For example, Willow/Tara or Willow/Kennedy might want kids, and look for someone suitable to be dad. For some reason another Buffyverse character isn't suitable, so they have to look further afield. Or the female character might be from outside the Buffyverse, looking for a temporary male partner. This may sound good for the guys, but of course we may be talking about artificial insemination, aliens laying their eggs in the father, etc., and other alternatives to conventional sex.
Bonus points for weirdness!
Answered by The Father Hunt by Gylzgurl.
There are lots of stories set in the Wishverse, the world created in the BtVS story The Wish, but few or none in the world shown in the Angel episode Birthday. We know relatively little about that world; Cordelia is a major TV star with her own show, Gunn and a one-armed Wesley fight demons, guided by Angel's visions, but we have no clues to events in Sunnydale etc. The challenge is to write a Cordyverse crossover, preferably with other LA-based series such as The Shield, Six Feet Under, etc., bringing out the differences between the normal Angel world and Cordyverse.
Answered by Cordy After Dark by ShyBob.
In a hole in the ground...
There are loads of BtVS / LoTR crossovers, but I don't think I've ever seen a BtVS / Hobbit crossover. Maybe it's because there's never been a good film, but it seems a shame. Another problem I've noticed in LoTR crossovers is that authors rarely change the plot decisively.
The challenge is to write a BtVS / Hobbit crossover that changes the course of events so decisively that NONE of the plot of The Lord of the Rings happens. Maybe Willow gets the One Ring and takes out Sauron (not to speak of Gandalf and everyone else who gets in her way), maybe the Scythe can cut the Ring in two, maybe Warren brings the Ring back to our world and uses it for evil. Whatever, the challenge is to screw things up so drastically that NOTHING in LoTR can happen.
The Boy Who Died
Harry Potter dies in a random supernatural accident.. but Voldemort has nothing to do with it. Now there's a rogue prophecy on the loose, mutating and looking for someone... anyone... who can take his place and fulfil his destiny. And of course one of the Scoobies or AI team happens to fit the (revised) job description just well enough to get into serious trouble.
Any character (although I would prefer it not to be Xander or Willow, they've been over-used in the HP-verse), any rating, any or no ship.
Answered by Scars by Nicowa
A Case of Mistaken...
Remember Pulp Fiction? Remember the confrontation in the diner, and Vincent and Jules opening their briefcase to reveal the mysterious contents, presumably drugs?
What if it turned out to be the wrong briefcase, with the wrong mysterious contents?
Somehow, during the events of the day, the case was swapped with another containing something from the Buffyverse - a magic weapon, an Orb of Thessulea, a magic book, or the Key before it became Dawn. If this is 1994, when the film was made, Buffy is still in LA and just about to learn her destiny, Angel may still be in New York or just possibly visiting LA with Whistler, and Wolfram and Hart are already in business (and probably have Marsellus Wallace as a client). Alternatively move Pulp Fiction to a later date, say around the same time as Angel S1 to S4. The case's real owners want it back, Vincent and Jules want their case back. But naturally things can't be that simple...
The challenge is to make the story of the two cases as complicated and intertwined as the stories in Pulp Fiction, and if possible involve all of the plot threads from the film.
Answered, though not in the Buffyverse, in one of my Supergirl Returns stories Five Dates Supergirl Didn’t Enjoy… And One She Did.
Swapped! (BtVS / Good Omens)
When the demonic nurses swapped the babies at the beginning of Good Omens they made a small mistake... only not the one in the book. Instead of going to the American ambassador, the baby was accidentally given to another of the mothers at the clinic; the wife of a soldier from the local USAF base. A year later, when his tour of duty ended, airman Harris returned to the USA with his wife and child. And eventually, after cutbacks, settled down in Sunnydale California...
Xander is the Antichrist - it actually explains quite a lot - but because of the general weirdness of the Hellmouth it takes much longer for him to be found. Say some time during BtVS S1 or S2...
Don't attempt this one without reading Good Omens - and try to remember that sooner or later Buffy and Giles will have to find out who he is, and probably won't take it well...
Easily Broken... (Angel / HP)
Wolfram and Hart hire Bill Weasley to break the curse on Angel. Needless to say they do not tell him exactly what the curse is, or the consequences of breaking it...
That's all, folks, do what you like with the idea.
Answered by A Curse Broken by MaeveBran (WIP)
Area of Expertise (BtVS / Stargate)
Hank Summers tends to be despised as an absentee father - but what if there was a very good reason for staying away? We know he's a civilian and lives in the LA area (or did), and that's about all. But there are some VERY secret facilities in that area, companies that build stealth technology and other military hardware, and in the SG-1 universe some of them are going to be working on a war footing.
So... For years Hank has been doing something highly technical that's absolutely vital to the war against the Goa'uld, and something he can't possibly tell his family about. That's one of the reasons he and Joyce broke up. And Buffy and Dawn are keeping their secrets from him. The challenge is to write a Stargate crossover in which Hank catalyses an alliance between the Slayers and SGC, entirely unintentionally.
- The NID or Trust kidnap him
- He's injured aboard the Prometheus and Buffy visits him in hospital after he's returned to Earth
- The Goa'uld target him as a possible weak point in human plans
Naturally this isn't going to immediately heal all wounds between Hank and his daughters - I'd like to see this as a bumpy road that might eventually lead to some sort of understanding, not a quick fix for everything.
Answered by Absence makes a Summers heart grow fonder - Not by Buffyaddict (WIP)
IMF Sunnydale - BtVS / Mission Impossible
The original concept for Mission Impossible was an agency that could find exactly the right person for any mission, no matter how extraordinary the talents needed, drawing on the entire population of the USA, rather than using a small pool of recurring characters.
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to write a mission which requires the talents of at least one of the scoobies, but NOT for the usual reasons.
For example, the IMF might need someone who can spend several minutes in poison gas / underwater / etc. without equipment and without being killed - who better than Spike or Angel? In fact we saw something like this in the Angel episode "Why We Fight". Or someone who looks puny but can carry several hundred pounds of equipment past a guard - such as Buffy. Or someone who can pose as a high-powered financial whiz-kid - such as Anya. Or someone who knows how to operate heavy construction equipment and looks too young and stupid to be an agent - Xander.
Try to avoid the really obvious ones - yes, Willow's super-hacker but the US government already has all the hackers it needs - and anything that draws on the character's usual areas of expertise, such as Willow as Wicca. Willow does know other things if you want to use her - for example, she has a pretty good knowledge of Jewish religion and traditions, which could be useful under certain circumstances.
It'll help if you think how Mission Impossible episodes usually worked - something nearly always went wrong, and the most exciting moments were dealing with the problem without blowing the mission.
...or maybe midgets. (BtVS/???)
In Once More With Feeling Anya's rant against rabbits ends with the lines:
Rabbits, rabbits, it must be rabbits!
...or maybe midgets.
We found out a little about the rabbits in Selfless, but the midgets were never explained. Your challenge is to write a crossover that does so.
Some possible crossovers:
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
- Any film / TV show about circuses
- Time Bandits
- The Wizard of Oz
- The CSI episode about a midget's convention
I'm sure that people can think of others.
Any length, any pairing or none, preferably funny. And starring Anya, of course.
Answered by my story ...Or Maybe Midgets
Stop The Wedding! BtVS / Any crossover
The Scoobies are in Las Vegas for a short break, and one of them gets drunk and is about to marry someone completely unsuitable. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to derail the marriage so thoroughly that there is no chance whatever that the participants will ever resume the relationship. But needless to say there need to be lots of complications.
Obviously this needs to be a crossover - some possible unsuitable spouses:
- Anyone in the Stargate team - they work for the government, obviously they must be pawns of The Initiative. Not to mention aliens, ascended glowy thingies, etc...
- Any of the Smallville teens - too young, jail bait.
- Lex Luthor - because he's Lex Luthor, of course...
- Anyone from The West Wing - see "they work for the government" above.
- Anyone from Highlander - too old
Remember that this doesn't need to be a valid reason - the Scoobies were never really known for their judgment in these matters. Or take the other point of view and find reasons for everyone on the crossover team to find reasons to object to the Scoobies.
Obviously I'd prefer this written as a comedy...
Metro City Key (BtVS / Inspector Gadget)
One of Michelle Trachtenberg's film roles was Penny, Inspector Gadget's niece, in the 1999 film. Which suggests an interesting crossover... what if the Order of Dagon decided that the best person to guard the Key was Metro City's premier crime-fighter, and created a niece he'd never had to ensure that he'd protect her? Penny herself could be the Key, or she might suddenly have an identical twin sister, Dawn.
Needless to say Glory will eventually track her down, setting the stage for an epic confrontation.
Things I'd like to see:
- Gadget meets Glory, completely misunderstands what she wants, and tries to charge her with some minor offense (e.g. crossing the road against the lights) while ignoring the trail of bodies she's left behind her.
- Glory meets The Claw (and possibly allies with him)
- Glory drains Chief Quimby's sanity (but nobody actually notices); possibly the Mayor too.
- If you use characters from the second Inspector Gadget movie (which doesn't have Michelle Trachtenberg), it'd be interesting to see Glory try to drain the G2 robot's mind, or fight her.
- Lots of "Go go Gadget!" commands, e.g. "Go go gadget wrecking ball!"
- No other BtVS characters.
See the Wikipedia article on Inspector Gadget for more about the character, his world, and the various series, spin-offs, etc. - there's a lot of scope!
Watching the Potentials
One of the reasons why we tend to think of Buffy as a special Slayer, even when hundreds have been activated, is that she was being watched by Whistler, Angel, etc. even before she became a Slayer.
But what if all of the potentials were under similar scrutiny; not just Buffy but Faith, all of their predecessors, and all of the new Slayers Willow triggered? Yes, even Kennedy... What if every one of them had someone like Whistler steering them towards their eventual destiny? And what if the PTBs have to call in help to handle the extra workload as the S7 apocalypse approaches?
The challenge is to tell the story of one or more of these supernatural guardians, from the crossover(s) of your choice. Any rating, any pairing or none, as you like.
The Sunnydale Cuckoos
Crossover with John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned) and/or other fiction.
Everyone in Sunnydale falls asleep one night and doesn't wake for 48 hours. (This includes humans, vampires, demons, cats, dogs, etc.). Anyone entering the area also falls asleep, including the pilots and crew of planes flying overhead.
Some time after the effect ends it's discovered that some or all of the women in Sunnydale are pregnant, including all of the Buffyverse women present at the time - for example, in S2 this could include Buffy, Joyce, Willow, Cordelia, Jenny, Harmony & co., possibly even Drusilla, etc., in S3 take out Jenny but possibly add Faith, in S4 take out Cordelia but add Tara and possibly Maggie Walsh, later you could add Dawn and all of the Potentials.
When Giles and Willow run their checks they'll discover that it isn't a mystic pregnancy, and scans etc. show that the babies look perfectly normal, and are developing normally. All of the mothers feel very protective of their offspring, and none of them are prepared to consider abortion, even if a pregnancy will wreck their lives. Meanwhile the Initiative or its successor is trying to track down all of the women for unknown reasons. Or another organisation such as the Men in Black, CIA, UNIT, Brotherhood of Mutants, Manticore, etc.
Where you go with it from there is up to you. How the characters cope and what's really happening with the babies, how this affects canon, etc. etc. are up to you. Any 'ship or none as you prefer.
SQUICKY NON-CROSSOVER VARIANT
Set it at the end of BtVS S4, and have the people affected be just the occupants of Buffy's house - Joyce, Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles. And all of them, the men included, wake up pregnant. This time it is a mystical pregnancy, otherwise the mpreg is a bit unlikely, and all of them in due course will give birth to a little girl... and all of them will want to call her Dawn. We then do some accelerated aging somehow - no idea how we justify it - and hey presto, a Key split into five parts - and Glory wants to collect them all.
Five Crossovers For Someone Else To Write
A bunch of VERY brief crossover ideas I thought of while looking through a stack of laserdiscs and tidying some books and trying to remember what was on my defunct USB memory stick.
1: Volcano: It's set in LA, it's got a volcano, what more do you want? Maybe Wolfram and Hart summoned it in some way, maybe it's what's left of the area around the Hyperion after Not Fade Away, maybe mad cultists decide that the One Ring (currently incarnated as Dawn Summers) needs to be sacrified there. I took a very brief crack at this in Tales from The Barman
Incidentally, there's a lovely panning shot right at the end of this otherwise lacklustre film that shows LA with the volcano, I'd really like to see it in an Angel fan-vid some time...
2: Good Omens: Robin Wood was bought up by his mother's Watcher - whose name was Bernard Crowley. Anthony Crowly was an angel who "Didn't so much fall as saunter..." Could they possibly connect somehow? There are some interesting plot possibilities, if only one or another Crowley picking up the White Courtesy Phone at an airport and hearing something intended for the other one.
3: Broken Arrow: The Initiative is the nearest military unit when the nukes are nicked. And demonic forces are also after them.
4: Prehistoric Park: The First Slayer stumbles across the time portal while it's open, and steps forward to the present day. Chaos and time paradoxes ensue. You won't want to use the usual PP characters, since they are more or less real people and that would break the TTH Real People rules - maybe a franchise of the original park is involved, or they hire some new staff.
5: The Sopranos / Highlander: The family has trouble with a vampire gang moving in on their territory, but someone half-remembers a story of an old debt owed to them by a group called the Watchers. Unfortunately the Watchers they eventually locate are the wrong ones...
Really doubt that I want to write any of these, but someone might. Any pairings, ratings, etc. you like, but PLEASE no gratuitous character bashing.
US Slayers III (BtVS / Any recent action/adventure film)
2004. With large swathes of LA destroyed by demons, some of it on prime-time TV, the world has learned that the supernatural exists. Now the Slayers are the glamorous face of the War On The Demonic, and everyone, especially Hollywood, wants a piece of the action.
The challenge is to rewrite any action-adventure film made from 2004 onwards (or earlier if you want to write a remake), as it would have been made if it were known that vampires and Slayers existed. For obvious legal reasons real characters can't easily be used, so Buffy Summers becomes Billy Winters, Spike becomes Meathook, and so forth. Some facts about the Buffyverse characters probably won't be public knowledge (e.g. what happened to Warren), others will be distorted to fit the movie plot (e.g. there might be a Willow / Arnie ship in US Slayers III). Or write about the Scooby reaction to such stories, or their involvement in the productions.
Any pairing or none, applause for the best use of movie cliches, thinly-disguised Buffyverse characters, etc.
The Xander Show (BtVS / The Truman Show) Everything on BtVS was a lie, part of a "reality show" staged with VERY advanced technology - say equivalent to a Star Trek holodeck. Xander is the unwitting star of the show, everyone else is an actor or a hologram - or another dupe if you like. It started out as a simulation of small-town America, but when Xander was 15 a new producer took over and decided to add some new characters and a horror element. Since then it has got increasingly far-fetched and violent, and accidents are inevitable; Xander and the actors close to him have been injured several times, and there's pressure to end the show before someone is really killed. The challenge is to write about the last days of Sunnydale from this perspective, and Xander's reaction when he learns the truth. Or set it earlier, when Xander decides to go on his road trip and the producers have to scramble for a way to limit his movements (Oxnard is another set, of course). Lots of other possibilities, have fun with the idea. Answered by The Alexander Show by ShyBob
The Neptune Slayer - BtVS / Veronica Mars
Here's a hundred-word drabble, introducing a VERY AU version of Veronica Mars.
The challenge is simple: What happens next?
Friends Help You Move...
She looks at the body again and winces. There's not much of his head left.
"He was trying to kill me," she says to herself. "Not like I had a choice."
The trouble is.... The trouble is why he was trying to kill her. If the police find out she'll probably end up in jail.
She can't think straight... can't even understand how she fought him off. Except that somewhere in the back of her head a voice still asks "Are you ready to be strong?"
Lilly picks up her cell phone and dials. Veronica will know what to do.
Bambi versus the Scoobies
When Willow sacrificed a baby deer to bring Buffy back, she didn't know that she was awaking a primal force beyond all human comprehension. Angered by the death of his son, Bambi is back... and this time he's mad, and determined to get his revenge on Willow and the Scoobies.
OK, I know this is a VERY silly idea - maybe throw in an additional crossover (e.g. The Crow) to give Bambi more survivability. Or Highlander - "There can only be one stag!" Or make him a nature god / spirit.
The Smile Time Murders (Angel / Muppets)
Someone has killed the entire cast of Smile Time, one of the most popular children's programs - and although thousands of children must have seen the show, none of the crew or audience seem to be able to describe the assassin. Something very strange is going on - is ace reporter Kermit Frog up to the challenge of finding the killer and bringing him (her, or it) to justice?
Any length, any pairing or none, humour preferred.
The Wolf, The Ram, and Harry Potter (Angel / HP)
A fairly logical train of thought:
1: James Potter's animagus form was a stag.
2: Harry Potter's patronus is a stag.
3: James was staggeringly wealthy - the source of his fortune has never been fully explained.
4: One of his best friends was Remus, a werewolf
5: The sorting hat thought that Harry would make a good Slytherin.
6: Another name for a stag is "hart"
Putting these facts together, the conclusion is obvious, I think - James Potter was the heir to the vast Wolfram and Hart fortune, the human avatar of the Hart. For some reason he wanted nothing to do with the family business, and all of his income from the law firm was deposited in Gringrotts for Harry, who is now the avatar of the Hart. Remus probably isn't the Wolf, their association was more along the lines of an instinct on James' part. He never had a friend with Ram associations, there just wasn't anyone around with that particular animagus form or patronus.
Some obvious plots
1: During Angel S5 / post Half Blood Prince Harry becomes aware of the connection and decides to call in the debt the company owes him - not sure what form this debt takes - and have them take care of Voldemort and/or the Horcruxes.
2: Angel becomes aware that there is a living avatar of the Hart and decides to investigate him.
3: Post Not Fade Away there is only one survivor, and Illyria wishes to do more violence. Taking out the human avatars of the Senior Partners is part of her plan...
I'm not going to write this, I think, but if someone else finds a use for the idea a credit would be nice.
Great-great-great-great grandfather Liam
Just an odd thought for a crossover for any show which has Irish or Irish-descended characters; before Angel ever became a vampire, he was a young libertine in Ireland. What if he happened to father an illegitimate child or two along the way, and didn't kill them after he was turned? And found out in the present day and decided to trace his descendents - or as Angelus decided to kill them? Or after Angel is killed (Not Fade Away didn't end happily) someone goes looking for his relatives to settle his estate?
The most obvious character to come to mind is, of course, that fine outstanding Irish-American Colonel Jack O'Neill. Lots of others if you look for them.
No suggestions on plot, rating, etc., except that I don't see this as the usual "real father" (or whatever) deal - the relationship is too remote.
One of the most common mistakes on Twisting the Hellmouth is the spelling of "Los Angeles" as "Los Angelus" - maybe it's the spelling checker's fault.
The challenge is pretty simple - assume that it isn't a typo, and write a crossover that explains how LA came to be named after the leader of the Scourge of Europe. This might be a crossover with a historical story or time travel, or anything else you like. The only restriction is that it must be the real name of the city, not just a joking name used by people who know about Angel.
They Stole Buffy's Brain
Simple idea - in the immediate aftermath of The Gift Buffy's grave is robbed by the mad scientist of your choice; some possibilities:
- An Igor from the Discworld
- A Spark from the (HIGHLY recommended) Girl Genius web comic
- Aliens planning to use it as the controller for a giant robot or battle-tank, or as a computer (see e.g. Keith Laumer's "A Plague of Demons" and the Star Trek episode Spock's Brain)
- someone building a cyborg or planning to clone her.
Whatever, the grave-robbers steal Buffy's brain and put it into a new body.
No, I have no idea why that's the only bit they use, that's up to you to decide. Whatever the reason, the outcome is that the brain is elsewhere come resurrection time, leaving Willow and Co. with a Slayer-strong zombie on their hands, and a LOT of motivation to solve the mystery quick before things get even sillier.
Humour preferred, and preferably no character bashing.
Answered by The Great Brain Robbery by Sithicus
BtVS- Post S5 / Universal Soldier
Adam wasn't the first government project Maggie Walsh worked on - she was part of the US Government's ill-fated Universal Soldier programme, before being recruited into the Initiative. With terrorism again on the rise the Universal Soldier programme is revived, and suitable bodies are being taken to new laboratories for reanimation and use as virtually unkillable super-soldiers.
Unknown to the Scoobies, the remnants of the Initiative have been keeping Buffy under observation - when she dies at the end of Season 5 a commando team steals the body before it can be buried. Even Willow and the resources of the Watchers can't track it down - why not is left as an exercise to the author.
Months later blurred footage of the Universal Soldiers in action shows someone who might possibly be Buffy. Is it here - and if so, is there any trace of the original Slayer in her, or is it just another programmed corpse? In either case, can she be freed or given her final rest?
Answered by GR81 Please Respond by Batzugler
BtVS / Harry Potter: Fudge's Glory.
AU from HP book 5, BtVS S5 - Fired from his job as Minister, Cornelius Fudge delves into old magic and somehow learns of the power of Glorificus. He cuts a deal - if she'll take down Voldemort and help him get back in power, he'll use all of the resources of the Ministry to help find the Key. Once he sees what Glory can do he's too scared not to...
So there's a sudden end to the war, leaving Harry and the Order etc. trying to figure out what Fudge and his mysterious "adviser" are up to, and lots of brain-sucked muggles turning up while the Ministry is still looking for the Key.
Where you go with this is up to you - maybe the Key is somewhere in the Wizarding world, nothing to do with the Slayer at all, maybe it's Dawn Summers, maybe it's Harry himself. Can it be used without ending the world? And what can the Knights and Monks of Byzantium do against Wizards? Only one request - PLEASE, no Dawn Potter!!!
It Runs in the Family (BtVS / Miles Vorskosigan)
Cordelia... it's an interesting name, what if it ran in the Chase family? And a distant descendent of a cousin still has the name, now Cordelia Vorskosigan nee Naismith, mother of Miles Vorskosigan.
It might be VERY tempting for the Ascended Cordy to check up on her family from time to time, as well as keeping track of the distant descendents of the Scoobies and fang gang. And, of course, their paths might cross now and again... Not asking for anything in this apart from an interesting plot. Any ship or none, any genre, I really don't care.
Before writing this you really need to read the Vorskosigan books featuring Cordelia, especially Shards of Honor and Barrayar, printed in one volume as Cordelia's Honor. The Wikipedia article on her summarises her career but has massive spoilers for the books - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordelia_Naismith
Through the Looking Glass (BtVS / HP, possibly others)
Harry (or one of his friends) discovers that the Mirror of Erised can show the world as it might be if things were different; for example, if there was no magical community as they know it. One of the worlds shown is another castle, very much like Hogwarts, in which a load of teenage girls seem to be learning to fight monsters. So whoever is looking starts to study their techniques, hoping to find something to use against Voldemort, and gets glimpses of stuff like Wicca magic, maybe starts to fall in love with someone glimpsed through the mirror.
The problems are first that it's entirely a one-way street - nobody in the Buffyverse has any idea that this is happening - and second that sound and physical objects don't get through, just light. For an extra complication there's one exception to this - Willow begins to get a feeling (but nothing more concrete than that) that someone is spying on them and begins to put up wards to prevent it.
Where this goes is up to you - what I would prefer not to see is anyone go through from one world to the other in either direction, at least not by going through the mirror.
Addams Family Willow
There's a very dark side to Willow - what if it comes from her family, and the Rosenbergs are related to the Addams clan? How would that side of the family view her revenge on Warren, and her magic addiction? Could they bring Tara back from the dead, and what would it cost?
(dark) Humour preferred, and preferably no character-bashing.
The Girl Who Lived
When Harry Potter's parents were killed Dumbledore and co. decided that the only way to keep him safe was to hide him from the surviving Death Eaters. His muggle relatives were obvious targets, they had to look at other options.
Since Voldemort was looking for a boy, they changed his sex. Since he was looking in Britain, they found relatives in the USA, just close enough for protective spells to work. Finally, they cast memory charms to ensure that the child and her family would never remember that she wasn't originally theirs. They even found a Secret Keeper to guard the spell; a Vengeance Demon called Halfreck, patron of children.
But now Halfreck is dead, the spell is slowly disintegrating, the child is starting to dream of her real parents, and Dumbledore is trying to track her down.
The child can be any woman of the Buffyverse; Buffy, Willow and Dawn are the obvious ones, but it might be interesting if it was someone like Cordy, Tara, Fred or (dare I say it) Harmony. Or Joyce, perhaps, if a time turner was used to send her back to the past.
This can be set at any point in Buffyverse canon post S6, and post-Hogwarts (but without Harry) and very AU for Harry Potter. Voldemort is on the rise again, Hermione and her friends are about the same age as the Scoobies, and the war is beginning to get extremely nasty. Oh, and Dumbledore wants to cancel the spell and restore a male Harry Potter.
If it's Buffy or Faith the whole Slayer thing really doesn't work for men, whoever it is will be really squicked by the whole idea of becoming male. If it's Fred post-Illyria the attempt to restore her as a male Harry will just give her a new form she can take.
Preferably funny, and preferably not too much character bashing - except for Snape, Voldemort, and the Malfoys.
The Sunnydale Story
BtVS / Veronica Mars / Six Feet Under etc.
Following public revelation of the whole Sunnydale thing, Trina Echolls (Veronica Mars) lands the part everyone wants - she's to play Willow Rosenberg in The Sunnydale Story. Other roles include Celeste (Six Feet Under) as Dawn Summers, and any other stars of stage, screen, etc. played by BtVS actors, who will be playing their Sunnydale look-alikes. But there's something odd going on, and soon things take a turn for the sinister...
My preference is for humour with occasional horror, but write it as you prefer.
Joyce was once courted by a serial killer robot called Ted. But what if Ted was Edward, a contract killer specialising in the supernatural, in town on business but mixing it with a little pleasure, or using his relationship with Joyce to cover his presence in town? And what if things go further than he intends, and he ends up married to Joyce?
Possible targets include Buffy herself, Angel, Spike, Principal Snyder (someone has to hate him enough to want him dead), Willy (of Alibi Room fame), and of course Mayor Wilkins. If Buffy doesn't kill him, how will she react to him as her stepfather - remembering that they have quite a lot in common, most notably a love of lethal weapons.
Remember that at the time of the episode Ted, Joyce still doesn't believe that the supernatural exists, Dawn isn't around (unless you want to retcon her into the story), and Kendra is still alive, but isn't in Sunnydale. Of course all of this can be changed if you like.
My preference is for fun and violence rather than angst.
A Lonely Jew At Christmas (BtVS / NCIS)
Ziva learns that she has a relative in the USA - her cousin Jonathan Levinson, unsuccessful armored car robber and escaped felon, last seen in the company of his accomplice Andrew Wells. Now Wells has surfaced in Cleveland (or wherever else suits you), but there is no sign of Jonathan.
Ziva has a few day's leave over Christmas, and decides to visit Cleveland to investigate...
Answered by my story A Happy Event
There was a BtVS character who owned a VW beetle in canon - Jenny Calendar.
What if it was wasn't just any old VW, but Herbie, the Love Bug?
How would Herbie react to his owner's murder? How would the Scoobies react to a car that seems to have a mind of its own? And how will Angelus find out what a big mistake he's made...?
Any rating, humour preferred, but PLEASE try to come up with an original way for Herbie to deal with the situation.
If you want to justify Herbie turning up in Sunnydale, maybe Jenny buys a can of paint and some decals from Ethan at Halloween!
The West Wing episode Shadow of Two Gunmen introduced National Security Advisor Nancy McNally. What if she was related to Xander's friend Jesse McNally, who vanished a couple of years earlier? And what if Jesse, like many other vampires, killed members of his family before he was staked?
Before she got the job the FBI and other agencies would have investigated every facet of her life. After she was appointed press and political opponents would be looking for any oddities. What if there were unsolved murders in her family's background? How does this affect her career, and how do all those investigators and reporters affect Sunnydale, Xander, etc.?
If this doesn't appeal, please check out my other West Wing challenge, Slayer Down
Evil Twin Town
Weird idea I had after some discussion of the "Xander's 'Evil' Twin" episode...
There's an idea called Twin Towns, which began in Europe after WW2, in which two cities of roughly the same size and similar interests (e.g. industrial towns, mining towns, etc.) are "twinned" with each other. Typically they are in different countries, and the general aim is to promote peace, education, etc. For example, Cambridge (UK) is twinned with Heidelberg in Germany and Szeged, Hungary. The web page below explains the origins of the idea. Usually twin towns exchange cultural stuff (museum exhibits, sponsor orchestra visits, school trips, etc.), offer opportunities for natives of the other town to visit for educational reasons, host members of the local government while they study common problems (traffic, crime, pollution, public transport, etc.), and so forth.
This idea has spread beyond Europe, and some cities in the USA etc. are also twinned. For example Passau, in Germany, is twinned with Hackensack, New Jersey.
All of which leads me to the idea that Sunnydale might be some innocent city's evil twin - or have an evil twin that is even worse in some way. And of course this could apply to other fictional towns such as Smallville, Seacouver (or is that a real place?), Metropolis, etc.
I'm sure that there are plenty of ways to use this idea in fanfic, especially in a crossover. I'd particularly like to see something based on a BtVS crossover, but I'd also be interested in seeing the idea used for other genres and crossovers.
http://www.fact-index.com/t/tw/twin_towns.html is a web site explaining the idea.
There are lots of other web sites mentioning twin towns and giving examples.
BtVS S6 AU, Crossover with The Shield or any other LA-based crime show - When Buffy was killed the Buffybot wasn't repairable. A few days later Buffy's body is stolen from her grave, and although the Scoobies eventually recover it from the demons who planned to use it (to end the world, of course), Giles takes the decision to have it cremated to prevent any recurrence. In the arguments about this he learns of Willow's reanimation plan and proves to her that Buffy is in heaven.
So Sunnydale has no Slayer, no stand-in, and a growing demon problem. Giles uses his own backup plan, and Council lawyers exploit a technicality in Faith's conviction to get her paroled into his custody. She still has to wear a locator bracelet and in theory isn't supposed to go anywhere but work (The Magic Box), home (Buffy's house), etc. Needless to say Willow is expected to use her hacking skills etc. to allow her more mobility. But since she's not exactly happy about the arrangement she needs lots of persuading, and won't make it permanent.
So we have Faith, still on her post S4 guilt trip but expected to be the Chosen One, Dawn probably picking Faith as the person to blame for everything, Giles and Willow barely speaking to each other, Willow still on her slide into darkness (though not quite so bad because she didn't do the reanimation thing or kill the deer), and Warren and Co. about to become supervillains, and they've found this nifty bit of technology called Adam which they want to repair. Oh, and Sunnydale's current mayor / police aren't happy about having Faith back in town; there's still a lot of the old Wilkins organisation around, and those guys bear grudges...
Okay, that's one possible outline - use whatever bits of it you like. The one thing is PLEASE no Buffy, and no chance she'll be back except possibly as a ghost / dream. Preferably bring in a crossover with something related to the US legal system. e.g. The Shield, LA Law, NCIS LA (maybe one of the people Faith injured in LA was a Marine), etc. etc. since the police will naturally be interested in enforcing the law, the FBI investigating the Sunnydale Police Department, or whatever.
West Wing S4, several months post Chosen. Spoilers for West Wing S4.
Senior White House officials know roughly what happened in Sunnydale, and Molly O'Connor, Zoe Bartlett's bodyguard, is one of the new Slayers activated by Willow's spell. Naturally there's a fear of supernatural involvement in her murder (or injury if you want to keep her alive with Slayer healing) and Zoe's kidnapping. The Initiative is ordered to participate in the investigation, and if possible get the help of the Slayers.
Things I'd like to see:
- Giles meeting the British Ambassador, Leo, and other senior White House staff.
- Slayers (especially Faith) working with the Secret Service, FBI, etc.
- The FBI etc. trying to cope with weird stuff.
- Willow trying to help.
- Patriotic demons (e.g. Clem) volunteering to help.
- Jean Paul finding finding out that he's really annoyed the wrong people...
Things I don't want to see:
- Character bashing (except Jean Paul, of course)
If this doesn't appeal take a look at my other West Wing challenge, Background Checks
When Willow tries to resurrect Buffy, her spell happens to be cast at exactly the same moment as another in a neigbouring dimension - the spell to resurrect Voldemort. The Death Eaters are expecting their leader - what they get is a REALLY angry Slayer, who has just been dragged back from heaven. Meanwhile Voldemort wakes in a coffin, without his wand and with no idea where he really is, except that he's now buried alive and wearing a poorly fitting black dress...
Take it from there and have fun with it. Any pairing or none, but Buffy is an adult, won't be over being dead any time soon, and won't be interested in the kids.
D.R. & Quinch Go to the Hellmouth
If you don't know the D.R. & Quinch comic strips by Alan Moore and Alan Davis you really ought to - anarchic fun about two alien delinquents with a liking for beer, fast cars, man-eating fish and nuclear weapons. They've been collected by Titan books, amongst others.
The first of these stories has them going back in time to meddle with Earth's history (not to mention its evolution and geography) for some pretty dubious reasons; it occurred to me that it might be fun if one of the stops they made on that (or another) trip was Sunnydale.
Things I'd like to see:
* One or both of them being mistaken for demons
* Buffy, Spike, Willow, Dru etc. out-weirding them
* A drinking session with Spike and Xander
* An accidental solution to one of the Big Bads
* Gratuitous use of Rippy Fish, particle beam weapons, etc.
* At least one use of the phrase "Eat plutonium death, you disgusting alien wierdos!"
* A ridiculously high body count
Sleeper Agent - Nuke on the Hellmouth
The fourth season of NCIS: LA includes a story arc in which Russian sleeper agents hid nuclear weapons in strategic locations across the USA at the height of the Cold War, and continue to hide them in the present day.
What if one of the hiding places was in Sunnydale, a centre for high-tech industries in the seventies and eighties, and the location for at least one secret military installation in later years? What if the family of one of the key Scoobies or an associate is involved?
The obvious candidates are Willow, Xander, Oz, and Cordelia, all of whom are Sunnydale natives, but don't necessarily rule out others. For example:
* Joyce divorced Hank as a cover so that she could plausibly move to Sunnydale with a very large "abstract sculpture" in her luggage.
* Giles was blackmailed and recruited after the Eyghon mess, he's contacted after the local agents are killed in a barbecue fork accident and told to take over.
* Jenny's tribe needed Russian help to find Angelus; the price was their help in moving the bomb to Sunnydale and concealing it.
If the character's parent(s) hid the bomb does the character know? For example, could part of the reason for Buffy's depression in late season 5 and 6 be that she's inherited this huge burden, and can't trust anyone to help her deal with it? Is this the reason why Willow avoids her parents after S3? Why Cordelia really went to LA?
What happens if the bomb is detonated on the Hellmouth? What if it's used to take out one of the Big Bads, e.g. during Chosen? Does it make things better or worse?
What if the bomb survived the destruction of Sunnydale and is still somewhere in the area in the present day, maybe buried in the cave system somewhere near the crater, or in the desert a few yards from the old "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign.
What if someone who knows about the bomb is turned, and now has all the destructive urges of a vampire? Or is its undead guardian, still ready to activate the bomb if orders are received.
Bonus points for involving the NCIS LA or other NCIS characters - this probably means a present-day setting post the destruction of Sunnydale.
Bonus points for making it a romantic comedy and/or a tense technothriller.
If you need more inspiration, Walter Wager's novel Telefon (also filmed) has some good ideas on sleeper agents, as does The Manchurian Candidate and a lot of other Cold War fiction. And there are several sites which can model the effects of nuclear weapons so you can work out how much of Los Angeles will be affected; the location of Sunnydale is usually considered to be somewhere in the Santa Barbara region, but if it works better elsewhere don't let that stop you...
Just Another Angel Crossover...
Imagine that Angel was always the hero of the show...
The idea is simple; imagine that Angel was the original series, beginning in Sunnydale and eventually moving to LA. Maybe there was never a separate Buffy show (she dies in Season 1 and several episodes pass before Kendra arrives in town), maybe it was the spin-off.
So the first series begins with that menace to vampires, a Slayer, arriving in Sunnydale, when Angel has just heard that his ex-girlfriend Darla is in town. And the crossover of your choice is also about to begin, since due to some deranged logic the producers have decided that every episode will have at least one character from another show as a guest star. For example, one episode might have Mulder and Scully visiting the town to investigate the barbecue fork murders, another might have The Doctor of your choice materialising the TARDIS to recharge it at the Hellmouth. But these crossovers tend to be in the background; it's a running joke that Angel and any friends he recruits have to work hard to keep the visitors out of trouble while fighting some greater menace. Of course guest VILLAINS are another matter - Angel versus the Daleks has a certain charm...
- Angel is the hero; everyone else is a co-star, secondary character, etc.
- Evil events are largely unchanged
- You can do what you like to the good guys, other than Angel. This includes crossover characters, since nothing that happens is canon for the original shows.
Pure BtVS / Angel Challenges
The Initiative Was Right
Challenge - create an AU in which the Initiative was necessary, Maggie Walsh was justified in everything she did including trying to get Buffy killed, torturing demons, etc.
Cuckoo in the Nest
Something I can't recall seeing - in S5 Buffy realised that Dawn hadn't always been there, after casting a spell which showed things as they really are. What if the spell had instead shown Dawn as Glory - the kicker here is that Dawn has no idea that she occasionally becomes Glory, and is still an innocent in all this. The Key needs to be someone or something else, of course - perhaps it's that cute intern Buffy recently met at the hospital, who has begun to freak out because people in the psychiatric ward react oddly to him.
This obviously needs some big changes to S5, but I think it might be a lot of fun.
Might be nice to see an Xander vid to the tune of Lennon's "Working Class Hero"
Days Of Glory (YAHF)
Since it appears that YAHFs will never die so long as a single pumpkin blooms, here's a weird idea; Ethan somehow adds some of Glory's cast-off clothing to his costumes and Buffy ends up wearing it. Convincing her she isn't a homicidal hell-god when she's obviously much more powerful than any human won't be fun, and if she gets any of the real Glory's powers and starts sucking brains it won't be pretty. And what if she happens to be in Ben's form when the spell wears off?
Alternatively, Xander decides to dress up as a doctor for Halloween and wears some of Ben's old medical kit. And gets stuck in Glory form when the spell goes...
What I'd want to see with this is comedy, of course. Dawn needn't necessarily be around, but it might be interesting if she was, although that's a major chronology glitch - maybe the monks inserted her into the timeline much earlier than people think.
But please, before writing this... try to think of a plot that doesn't involve Halloween and write that instead!
This one is so obvious that I'll be amazed if nobody's used it - I just can't remember seeing it anywhere. Spike gets his soul at the EXACT second that Tara dies, and of course it's Tara's soul that he receives. He recognizes it, realises that something bad must be going down in Sunnydale, and phones as soon as he can (but it takes a few hours or days to reach a working phone and arrange a call from Africa).
Does anyone (especially Willow) believe him? And what effect does this have on the show?
My preferences are no Buffy bashing and (preferably) no Kennedy bashing, otherwise play it any way you like; Tragedy, comedy, Spillow, whatever.
Small AU thought for Angel S5 and Spike's return.
Having apparently died, Spike returned as an intangible ghost. We've seen dead people return in an intangible form before, of course, but previously it was really the First Evil. So what if it's the First this time too?
What would the First gain out of this? First, it may just be trying to distract the Angel crew from other problems - they're already on morally ambiguous grounds at Wolfram and Hart, so giving them an additional problem to handle keeps them off balance. Second, it may be able to con them into using precious time and resources to try to "rematerialise" its body. Third, if they do somehow create a body it can really mess with them, pretending to be one of the good guys until the right moment. And later mess with the Watchers and Slayers when Andrew sees him, and he and Angel visit Rome.
So all of this is presumably planned with an apocalyptic finale, such as the events of Not Fade Away, in mind. Angel is easily led that way, of course. So what happens next after Angel says he wants to kill the dragon...?
The State Versus Buffy Summers, Angel, & Spike
Not Fade Away ends with Angel & Spike surviving, and knowledge of the supernatural getting out. It's hard to hide a demon army and dragon attacking LA.
Suddenly Buffy is an international heroine, and there's a rush to interview her and her friends. Somehow the story of her relationships with Angel and Spike becomes common knowledge.
Which wouldn't be a problem, except that an ambitious DA sees a chance to prosecute Buffy for necrophilia, Angel for statutory rape (Buffy was under-age in California when she slept with him), and both Angel and Spike as accessories to necrophilia. There are also quite a few murders etc. to deal with, not to mention failure to report deaths, theft of a school bus, etc. etc.
What's the DA's real game, and how can it be handled without going outside the law, and in the public eye? Note that you can't get a presidential or governor's pardon without being convicted first...
I should eventually post another chapter with challenges that have nothing to do with the Buffyverse.
Chapter 24: ...and more challenges
More of my challenges, which have nothing to do with the Buffyverse. I don't think that any of these have been answered. If you come up with something, please post a link to it as a comment.
These were mostly originally written for the Lois and Clark setting, but can apply to any version of Superman.
Super--- for President!
Clark / Superman can't be president, because he doesn't meet the "born in the USA" criterion. But what about his children?
Let's say that someone nominates the son or daughter of Superman, and for some reason they feel obliged to go through with it - the snag, of course, is that it will be rather hard to prove place of birth without giving away secret identities, and there will be a LOT of pressure from all those who still regard the Kryptonians as alien invaders.
Might make for an interesting story, if anyone can find a compelling reason for the candidature.
Powers Linked to X Chromosome
Note - this doesn't work for Superman Returns unless you assume that the odd circumstances of Jason's conception somehow changed things
A variant on the idea that inheritence of superpowers is linked to genes - what if they're carried on the X chromosome, and the gene is dominant? Superman got the Kryptonian X from his mother, so he's got superpowers, but what about his children?
- Any sons would not have powers - they get their X chromosome from Lois.
- Any daughters would definitely have powers - they get one of their X chromosomes from Clark.
In the next generation
- Nobody descended from L&C's sons has powers.
- Any children of L&Cs daughters, both sons and daughters, have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene.
From then on, unless super-powered members of the family marry back into it the odds stay constant:
- There is a 50% chance that the son or daughter of a super-powered woman will have powers
- No chance that any son of a super-powered man will have powers.
- A certainty that any daughter of a super-powered man will have powers.
There might be ways to adjust this, e.g. by genetic engineering so that a son gets his X chromosome from his father rather than his mother, but assuming that isn't possible it would make for a very different sort of super family tree, with a lot more superwomen than supermen.
Lois and Sarah-Jane
Odd idea - Intrepid reporters Lois Lane and Sarah-Jane Smith (from Dr. Who and the Sarah-Jane Adventures) meet at a press conference or convention or some such event and bond as journalists who have had a lot of weird stuff in their lives. Maybe they both hate the same tabloid journalist or have something else in common. Or maybe she's one of Perry's contacts in Britain and Lois and Clark need her help with something. No need for an A-plot, but it'd be interesting if you can manage one.
I've included her as a friend of Superman's family in my Supergirl Returns series.
The Kent Dynasty - Nepotism at the Planet?
Recently there's been quite a lot of indignation about a British member of Parliament who was paying his sons and wife salaries and expenses (from public funds) as researchers etc.
One response to this was a British magazine, Private Eye, which pointed out some examples of nepotism in the British newspapers that were complaining about the MP; lots of Publisher's and Editor's sons and wives drawing high wages despite an apparent lack of talent.
So applying this to the Lois and Clark world, and thinking of the many Next Generation stories that have their child working at the Planet, you have to wonder what other papers and rival journalists would have to say about this - Ralph or his successor, for example - and how much it would take to convince them that the new Kent got the job on merit.
Might be a story in this for someone.
Dear Diary - Saved 357 people, pastrami sandwich and danish for lunch...
Clark, as Superman, must have a slightly skewed attitude to what is and is not important. What would his diary be like, if he kept one? Given the number of people he saves every day only the most noteworthy and unusual events would make the cut, and even then his life as Clark might tend to predominate. So the challenge is to pick a disaster movie / SF film / robbery movie/book etc. and write it up as Clark might note it, if he bothered to mention it at all. Remember that most situations, no matter how dangerous they are, won't endanger his life or make him work up a sweat, so it's goiung to have to be something apocalyptic or truly weird to make the cut. For example:
"On way back to office flew past plane, noticed that several hundred snakes had escaped (later learned as result of terrorist plot) and were attacking passengers. Boarded plane, used breath to chill interior and make snakes hibernate, then caught them and flew snake bite victims to hospital. Rebuked an FBI agent for excessive swearing, but decided not to make a formal complaint."
"Lois is wearing new lipstick, not sure it really suits her..."
And so on...
The Right Man for the Job
I was thinking about fictional US presidents and the Stargate program.
Weird thought - wouldn't President Lex Luthor (as seen in the DC universe for a while) be the right man to handle the G'ould, Ori, etc? Would it change him, and history remember him as a fighting president on a par with e.g. Roosevelt?
Miscellaneous Challenges - All Sorts of Fandoms
Remembering The Doctor - Dr. Who / Da Vinci's Demons etc.
What if the family that The Doctor and Donna rescued from Pompeii decided to honour him, not only by adding him to the household gods, and by their son becoming a doctor, but by changing their family name to Doctor... or in Latin, Medicus.
Which evolved with the passage of time to become its Italian equivalent, Medici.
So the reason that Lorenzo De Medici becomes Leonardo DaVinci's patron is that the family remembers The Doctor and honours him by sponsering the arts and sciences. Not sure where you would go with this, but I'm sure that someone can probably link it in to the various episodes that reference the Medicis, Leonardo, etc. Lots of crossover possibilities, there's a LOT of fiction related to DaVinci and the Medicis.
Cold Comfort Avengers
A blog post by a friend compared Game of Thrones to the novel Cold Comfort Farm, and I happened to comment that I'd seen some Avengers / Game of Thrones crossovers, also inspired by the similarity of character names.
But now I want someone to write me an Avengers / Cold Comfort Farm crossover. I'm not going to do it myself, I already have too many incomplete projects, but maybe someone else would like to run with it. Some possible characters:
- Flora "Pepper" Poste - When she was a little girl she was slightly dyslexic and wrote her name as Pots, hence the nickname. Youthful protagonist and organisational genius.
- Aunt Ada Von Doom, who saw something nasty in Latveria.
- Tony Starkadder, Howard Starkadder, Starkadder Industries, etc. - should be easy enough to shoehorn e.g. Tony into the Seth (handsome and oversexed) role, Howard as Amos - hellfire preacher at the Church of the Quivering Brethren. ("Ye're all damned!"), etc.
- Mary Smiling, Flora's friend and internationally renowned lingerie expert, is obviously one of the Black Widow's identities.
Haven't yet decided on the characters who will be Captain America, Bruce Banner, Clint, Thor, Nick Fury etc. but I'm sure it's easily done.
Squid out of Context
A quote from the web comic Freefall (which is great fun if a little slow moving):
"Sam, if you weren't a hideous squid thing in an environment suit, I would kiss you."
"No, you wouldn't. I haven't survived this long by letting sharp, pointy teeth get near my head."
In the comic Sam is an alien and he's talking to Florence, an intelligent anthropomorphic wolf - the challenge is to take this quote and use it in a story in another fandom, e.g. Supernatural (Sam Winchester), Stargate (Sam Carter), Buffy (Sam Finn), etc. and have it make sense in the context of the story.
Almost Mrs. Gibbs - Heartbreakers / NCIS
Heartbreakers stars Sigourney Weaver as a (sometimes) red-headed con-woman who specialises in expensive divorces with the help of her adult daughter, who seduces her husbands and deliberately gets caught with them. It's a fun movie with some good lines, and Sigourney Weaver is amazing in it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojl3cBc2fxQ (Sigeurney Weaver sings Back in the USSR)
Since this was filmed in 2001 when she was 51 it occurs to me that she's played as a woman about the right age to be one of Gibbs' wives, or a near miss. Maybe she got away with one of her cons and cleaned out his bank account, maybe it was a near miss and Gibbs found out who she really was before the wedding.
Together they Like Bugs (Bones / CSI etc.)
Bones S5 ends with Hodgins (Bones' bug guy) and Angela married and travelling to Paris for a year. And Gil Grissom is a lecturer at the Sorbonne as of CSI S10.
Someone REALLY needs to write a story in which Hodgins and Grissom meet up in Paris and bond over bugs... I haven't seen the relevant CSI episodes and don't know Paris so it won't be me.
Optionally throw in Highlander's Amanda, Duncan and/or Methos, all of whom have lived in Paris intermittently, for a nice complicated forensics mystery involving decapitated bodies etc.
Answered in part by my story Coffee, Croissants and Cheekbones
Double Trouble (West Wing / Dexter)
Write a West Wing / Dexter crossover in which President Santos meets ADA Miguel Prado (or Prado has to impersonate Santos or something). Lots of possibilities there, I should think.
Spot The Skrull
The 2008 Marvel story line re. Skrull infiltrators suggests some interesting crossover possibilities. The idea is simple - someone (or possibly several someones) in the fandom of your choice have been replaced by Skrull infiltrators, or possibly has always been a Skrull infiltrator. The challenge is to show what happens as a result...
For more on the Skrulls and the invasion see
Any genre you like, any pairing or none, my own preference is for short and funny but that's just me, write what you like.
And The Downside to Decapitation is...? (Highlander / Futurama)
I'm probably going to Highlander fanic Hell for this one...
In Futurama you can survive decapitation by having your head put in a jar on life support. It's common to have celebrities appear on TV that way.
What if it was an Immortal that came up with the technology and is using it to offer other Immortals an alternative to permanent death?
The challenge is to write a story on this premise set in the Futurama world. I'd prefer humour for this one, for obvious reasons, any length but it'll probably work best as a short or ficlet.
(Of course you can explain Doctor Who's Face of Boe this way too - Jack gets VERY drunk and wakes up in a jar...)
Saving Richie Ryan (Highlander / The Culture)
One of the least popular deaths in the Highlander TV series was that of Richie Ryan; there are still people writing "Richie Survived" fanfic, and trying to find ways for him to escape his fate. I've got one for them...
In Ian M. Banks' Culture novels the Culture discovered Earth in the 1970s (The State of the Art), took a look, and decided to leave us to get more civilised. But we know that their Special Circumstances agency recruits agents on primitive worlds, often ones that have had no overt contact with The Culture (Use of Weapons). Worlds like Earth, for example. So let's say that Special Circumstances hears about Earth and comes headhunting (in the employment sense) in the nineties, and discovers the existence of immortals. Someone who can survive being shot etc. would make a wonderful agent; there are a few problems, of course, such as not being able to make use of any of the Culture's advanced implants (I'm guessing that a regenerating immortal would reject them) or plastic surgery, but on the whole it would be a definite plus.
Now The Culture doesn't want to take anyone off Earth who is likely to be missed, but they have good cloning technology. As in being able to regrow someone's body from their head after they have been decapitated (again in Use of Weapons). Given the number of Immortals decapitated every year, it shouldn't take too long for them to be able to get hold of a head or two.
So let's assume that a few seconds after Richie was decapitated his head rolls out of view, and is promptly displaced (teleported) up to a Special Circumstances ship, placed in stasis, then connected to life support. Months pass as the body is regrown, and eventually a new Richie Ryan is born. Problem solved, and we can have a Richie Ryan: Culture Agent spinoff series.
The snag, I suspect, is that he's no longer an Immortal - his killer got his Quickening, and I can't see any obvious way to get it back, unless there's some sort of residue left in the head, and if that was the case the heads of all of the decapitated Immortals would presumably be growing new bodies, which is something we don't see on the show. But this snag apart it's one way to get Richie back into play. Or any other character from Highlander who is decapitated, of course. And whoever it is will still be a highly trained swordsman and warrior, in all probability, so very useful to Special Circumstances.
Heroes Crossover Ideas
Dr. Who - The Doctor needs a new supply of psychic paper, and has to go back to its source to get it. The Primatech Paper company, of course. Naturally things are never simple where the Doctor is involved...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Syler disappeared into the sewers. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes find him.
Dark Angel - The nuclear explosion over New York was the pulse, the prelude to Dark Angel. Hiro returns to find things are not good.
Title In Search of a Story
I thought of a silly title, but not in any fandom I'm likely to want to write. So if anyone wants to write a story called Battlestar Galadriel, presumably a LoTR/BSG crossover, please feel free...
A Re-Do for Dumbledore (Harry Potter)
There seem to be way too many stories in which Harry Potter goes back into his past and changes events to become more awesome / kick-ass etc.
But Dumbledore was also at King's Cross Station in Harry's dream (or whatever it was). What if he was really there, and also had the option to board one of the trains and go somewhere else - his own past - knowing what's to come etc.?
Does he learn from his mistakes, or simply make things worse?
Could be a crossover or pure HP, but I think it would be interesting.
The Witch in the Fireplace (Dr. Who / Harry Potter)
Dr. Who set up a situation in which the Dr. found a spaceship centuries in the future that had gateways into the past. The first one found was a fireplace, and The Doctor uses it to communicate with a little girl in the past. Later links lead to different periods in her life.
Okay... let's say, for the sake of argument, that instead of linking to the person shown in the episode, it was linking to the bedroom of one of the HP witches; Hermione, Ginny, or someone else. Or one of the girl's dormitories at Hogwarts. Will this be regarded as romantic, or as a threat? Will they suspect that the Doctor is Voldemort, and has found a way to hack the floo network? And why would the spaceship want a witch? Lots of possibilities here, don't think I'm the person to write it, but maybe someone else can.
Seafood AU (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
I saw a van belonging to these guys - http://www.shieldfoods.com/
Now I really want to see an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seafood AU... Unfortunately I'm allergic or dislike most seafoods so I'm really not the person to write it!
Punisher AU (Punisher / Lensman stories / Green Lantern)
The Punisher would be interesting as (a) a Lensman or (b) Green Lantern.
A Familiar Face in the Crowd (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
A silly idea inspired by Marvel's Agent Carter and other Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances. The Marvel universe has its own version of Clara Oswin, and his name is Stan Lee. He seems to turn up somewhere in the background of most historic events involving superheroes, and his apparent age varies wildly - the 1940s version looks OLDER than the one that appeared in the 1990s etc. He's either a time traveller or someone with a LOT of eerily similar dopplegangers, either would bear investigation by e.g. SHIELD. Clara may be around too - the same actress played Bucky's date at the Expo in Captain America, The First Avenger
Steam Avengers AU
The SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) is a WW2 organisation in Marvel comics that eventually became SHIELD.
But there are other uses of this acronym out there. One is the Strategic Steam Reserve kept by several countries, a collection of old steam locos kept for emergencies where e.g. a fuel blockade stops diesel getting through, the electricity grid goes down, magnetic pulse with all of the engine electronics fried, etc.
So it occurs to me that someone really ought to write a Talking Steam Train Avengers AU, in which all of the characters are steam engines or associated characters etc. E.g.
- Tony is something very high-tech by steam standards but temperamental - e.g., I think there were some experiments with steam turbine trains before everyone realised it was a stupid idea.
- Bruce is powerful and usually reliable but has a bad temper - when he gets angry he sometimes leaks superheated steam and has been known to ignore signals and even run through buffers.
- Thor is a extremely powerful engine imported from Norway, but not very bright. Loki was the next engine built by the same factory, much more intelligent, and resents his "brother" for his stupidity.
- The Captain is a blast from the past, built to pull military trains, extremely powerful and well armoured. He's patriotic to a fault and never backs away from a challenge.
Not sure about Clint, Natasha, Pepper, etc. Nick Fury is obviously the one-eyed Controller.
If you actually write any of these stories, please link to them in comments!
Chapter 25: More Unfinished Story Fragments (BtVS / Modesty Blaise, BtVS / The Sopranos, BtVS / JLA)
Three story fragments posted on the "WIP Amnesty" in 2004. All ideas are available for use if anyone wants them, if you use them please link to your stories in comments.
Demon Eyes - BtVS / Modesty Blaise
Willie Garvin was waiting in the underground car park under Modesty's apartment block when he noticed the girl. Sitting behind the wheel of Modesty's Jensen, idling the engine, he was looking for a CD and idly wondering where three copies of "Best of Queen" had come from when the lift doors opened and she ran out. She was in her teens, much too young for him, and looked terrified. As soon as the doors opened she was running, away from the lift and towards the Jensen. A second later the staircase doors banged open four stocky brown-robed figures ran out, curved knives in their hands, and started to chase her. He couldn't see faces under their hoods.
"In here", he shouted, swinging the door open, but the girl ignored him and vaulted the car, her boot-heels thumping on the bonnet as she used it as a platform to jump onto the roof of a van. Willie blinked; that second leap would be difficult for any athlete. The hooded figures were close now, and he could see their faces; crossed slits replacing eyes, mutilated or wearing prosthetic makeup. One of them ran towards him, swinging its knife for a savage blow, as the others pursued the girl. Willie knew they were heading for a dead end.
Willie didn't have time for games; as the figure attacked he flick-threw one of his knives, aiming it for the heart. He didn't bother to watch the result, just slammed the car into gear and took off after the other three. One was lagging a little behind the others, and Willie steered to hit him with the open door. There was a satisfying thud as it went down and the door swung closed with a quiet click.The other two were ahead, advancing on the cornered girl, who seemed to have finally run out of breath. Willy muttered "Sorry, Princess", aimed the car for one of the brown-robes, and accelerated.
Willie was wearing his seat-belt, and didn't expect to be hurt by the impact, but for a second he'd forgotten that air-bags had been fitted the last time the car was overhauled. They inflated, pinning Willie against the seat as the engine stalled. A little dazed, he struggled to draw his knife and cut through the bag as the last brown-robe moved in on the girl.
Something twanged, and the last brown-robe went down, the shaft of a crossbow bolt protruding from its back. As Willie finally got free a tweed-clad figure holding a crossbow kneeled near the girl and said "Are you all right?"
"Who the 'ell are you?" asked Willie, "And what the 'ell are those things?"
"Giles. Rupert Giles. I'm sorry, this must all seem rather odd, but I can assure you that there's a good explanation." He turned back to the girl, saying "I'm sorry to rush you, Miss Saunders, but you are in considerable danger if you remain here." She looked up at him warily. "Rupert Giles, Watchers' Council."
Behind him Willie heard stealthy footsteps, and turned to find one of the brown-robes about to lunge at him with its knife. Willie dodged the blade, kicked its knee, and followed up with a blow to the kidneys that would disable any normal man. It felt like hitting wood, and the... creature, whatever it was... barely staggered before twisting round to attack again.
"Go for the upper torso, they're vulnerable there," shouted Giles, scrabbling to reload his crossbow.
"Thanks." As it came back Willie dodged again and slammed his knife into the back of its neck. It convulsed, fell, and lay still.
"That works too," said Giles calmly, helping the girl to her feet. "Mister...?"
"Garvin. Willie Garvin." He waited to see if there was a reaction.
"I know that name from somewhere... are you a friend of Stephen Collier?"
"Pleasure to meet you."
There was an odd noise, like water draining from a plug, and the body seemed to dissolve into nauseating slime, which slowly evaporated as dull brown smoke, leaving a ragged brown robe and an elaborate curved dagger behind it.
"All right, what the hell's going on here?" asked Willie.
"And what on earth's happened to my car?" asked Modesty. She had Willie's knife and two of the curved daggers in one hand, and her MAB automatic in the other.
"Err... it's rather a long story," said Giles.
"Why don't you come up to the penthouse and tell us all about it," said Modesty. Somehow Giles knew that she wasn't planning to take "no" for an answer.
No idea now where this was going
Chosen One (BtVS / Sopranos)
One girl in all the world, a Chosen One...
- Rupert Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you'd be
The Chosen One...
- The Sopranos opening credits
Meadow Soprano was working on an essay in her room at Georgetown University when she felt something odd, a jolt like electricity that made her whole body tingle. She looked around suspiciously, decided that she wasn't touching anything that could have given her a shock, and concluded that it must have been static, or her imagination. About two minutes later her computer began to beep for incoming mail. She ignored it, preferring to concentrate on the stack of text-books on her desk. It beeped again, louder, then began to play the William Tell overture.
"What the hell?" She looked at the screen. Instead of the usual flashing icon, the entire screen was flashing red then white, with the words 'Urgent Message' replacing the desktop. "Oh great, another friggin virus."
It wasn't going to shut up, so she went over to try to shut it down. As her fingers brushed against the mouse the desktop reappeared, then a video-conferencing window opened in mid-screen, showing a red-headed girl who looked anxious. "Finally! Listen, you're in great danger."
"What the hell?"
"Shut up and listen, I'm trying to save your life. This is difficult to explain, and there isn't much time. About two minutes ago you felt an electric shock. That was how I located you. There are others who can do that, and some of them want to kill you."
"What? Why me?" Somehow Meadow knew she was telling the truth.
"There are reasons, no time to explain them. For now you need to get to safety. Anywhere that can be defended, or where people will protect you. Don't try to hide in crowds, they don't care if they kill innocent bystanders. The guys who are after you dress in brown robes, look like mad monks. They're killers. I'm sending you an e-mail address, copy it down." It appeared on screen - Meadow copied it, email@example.com. "When you've got to safety send me mail, let me know where you are. I'll get someone out to you who can explain things."
"What is this? Has it got something to do with my father?"
"Listen, I have no idea who you are, or who your father is. That isn't the point. Now get moving, and if you reach safety contact me. If all else fails, you're a lot stronger and faster than you think you are. Move it!" The screen went black.
Meadow thought for a second, then picked up the phone and dialled her father.
That one was going to be a high body count gangster movie, but it just didn't seem to work.
Untitled BtVS/Justice League Europe crossover
Justice League Europe Embassy, Paris - Monitor Room
"Gate here," said the bored security guard, "I have a visitor for Wonder Woman, is she in?"
"I'll have to check," said Wally West, "I think so, but I haven't seen her around. Who's the visitor?"
"Some girl. Says Zatanna sent her."
"Got a name?"
"Okay. Let's see if she has an appointment." Wally switched to a camera showing the gate and the girl standing at the security booth. Brunette, late teens, attractive. Very attractive. Nobody he recognised, but that's what the computer was for. He typed in the name and waited for the result. Eventually, it seemed geological ages to the Flash but was actually a second or so, a report appeared on the screen.
SUMMERS, DAWN (96% probability match)
Residence: Rome, Italy (Formerly Sunnydale, California)
Occupation: Student (Attained GED grades in the top ten percentile, now studying art, ancient languages, archaeology)
Affiliations: 85% probability member of non-registered vigilante group led by sister SUMMERS, BUFFY (AKA The Slayer), formerly based Sunnydale, CA., now believed international in scope. Group allegedly supernatural warriors against vampires, demons, etc.
Known associate of ROSENBERG, WILLOW, grade VI (estimated) mage. Believed to be responsible for Sunnydale, CA spatio-temporal distortion (2003), see Sunnydale Disaster, Hellmouth Closure.
Powers: None known - gives positive result on metahuman detector scans, but bloodwork tests negative for the metahuman gene. Possible dormant mystical / non-metahuman powers.
Criminal record: None
Medical record: Lost in destruction of Sunnydale, nothing subsequent.
Notes: DS seems to be the most normal member of her group of associates. "Normal" in this case means normal compared to the most powerful Wicca in the Western hemisphere (W Rosenberg), a supernatural warrior who has allegedly killed in excess of a thousand vampires and demons and at least one god and returned from the grave on two occasions (B Summers), two vampires with souls, and an estimated hundred-plus female warriors associated with them.
I think this was going to be a long version of my drabble Green but I'm really not sure now. It would have been set in the Justice League Europe continuity when the comics were actually funny.
Chapter 26: Announcements
This one's odd - fanfic about fanfic in another fanfic writer's world.
DianeCastle's The Secret Return of Alex Mack is a crossover taking in dozens of fandoms, posted primarily to Twisting the Hellmouth, the Buffyverse crossover site. The core character is Alex Mack (Terawatt), who starts out fighting crime and ends up saving the world from a gigantic conspiracy. Diane has written a couple of million words in this setting, other authors have written side stories around it, it even has its own TV Tropes entry. Read it before reading this chapter!
It occurred to me that the events of the story were bound to have an effect on one familiar community - fanfic writers! Of course there can't be a Twisting the Hellmouth in the Alexverse, because it's in part a Buffyverse crossover. But there are other fandoms out there, and one of them plays an occasional part in the story...
This is posted with DianeCastle's permission. I don't own anything in the story, especially Terawatt, Azure Crush and Action Girl or any Marvel characters.
Twisting the X-Men - The Marvel Universe Crossover Site
Site Announcements - Most Recent First
Just a friendly reminder and clarification of this site's policy on fiction involving real-world people, especially active superheroes and supervillains. It's tempting to read T-shirt slogans such as "What Would Terawatt Do?" as an invitation to write stories in which our favourite Marvel characters encounter real-world metas, but there are some reasons to be extremely cautious. While an outright ban would cause the moderators fewer problems, we tend to allow fiction which isn't likely to involve the site in legal issues, or result in someone deciding to hack the servers and/or blow them up.
Briefly, the site policy is to allow depiction of real-world people if they are shown doing things that the real person would do in their public role, and if there is no alternative (such as the use of a fictional character) that will work; e.g., it would be acceptable to show the Queen of England presenting Captain Britain with a medal, but not to show her seducing Steve Rogers during WW2 or blowing away HYDRA agents with her trusty .357 Magnum. It would be better to show the ruler of a fictional country in the Marvel universe in any of these roles. Additionally:
Depiction of real people in sexual/romantic roles is banned; it's permissible to depict fictional characters as attracted to them, but not vice versa.
Most of the currently active American metas appear to be government operatives, or cooperating with government agencies; speculation on their activities may endanger operational success or their lives.
Since most metas appear to maintain secret identities, it's entirely possible that some are under age. Action Girl may be an example, we really don't know for sure. It's important to avoid depicting real people in any under-age activity that might be considered illegal or immoral.
ANY speculation about the real-world secret identities of real-world metas could be libellous, and could endanger lives. Any story that violates this rule will be quarantined, and the author will be blocked from posting or editing existing stories until the problem is resolved. An exception may be made for stories which depict a fictional character as the secret identity of a real-world meta, e.g. Mary Jane Watson as Action Girl's secret identity, but please make it VERY clear that you are not talking about a real person.
Some real-world metas have expressed preferences about their appearance in fanfic; this site will always respect their wishes. In particular:
Terawatt has stated that she does not wish to be portrayed in fanfic; this site will respect her wishes.
Azure Crush says she welcomes any and all fanfic, the steamier the better. However, authors should remember ongoing speculation that she will be cast as She-Hulk (no special effects other than makeup needed) in the next phase of Marvel movies. Please show a little restraint and good taste, we really wouldn't like her when she's angry...
Batman has not made a public statement, but writers might want to remember what happened to the Weekly World News, Hello! and Daily Telegraph online servers after they published articles speculating on his secret identity.
And it's worth remembering that supervillains may object to their portrayal too; you may recall that Margaret Walsh threatened to destroy Chicago in response to one interview request - while she's no longer a problem, there are others out there almost as dangerous, and it may not be a good idea to annoy them.
Please see the site rules for a more formal version of this announcement.
1st November 2004: Christmas Charity Ficathon
This year's charity ficathon will benefit victims of the Davenport and Pierce County disasters in Iowa and their families. Please sign up on the usual forum page.
24th June 2004: Site Outage
Many apologies for the site outage last week. We're still trying to determine why the server crashed, and why several popular stories seem to have been eaten by it. There have been suggestions on the forums that the affected stories were thinly-disguised real-person slash and manips, most notably the Kilowatt series by MJ_Roolz; on checking our backups the moderators have decided to quarantine these stories and asked the authors to make substantial changes.
11th April 2004: Vocabulary Check
It's really Tera that so many of you are incorporating the latest slang into your stories. But several reviewers have pointed out that Terawatt doesn't exist in the Marvel universe, so this particular bit of slang would never be used there! Unless your story has Marvel characters visiting our world, please keep the Marvel purists happy by using another word!
On a similar note, we're pretty sure that Gojira existed in our world, not the Marvel universe, so having Marvel characters say that something is "as big as Gojira" is also likely to annoy some readers. There are plenty of big things in the Marvel universe, not least Ant-Man and Galactus, why not use one of them?
21st February 2004: Sad News
We've heard that Phillip Land, who wrote as Wolverine_Claws, is believed dead in the wake of the Davenport Umbrella Corp. massacre. He worked for the company and is believed to have been one of the office workers affected by their experimental chemicals. The family has asked friends not to send flowers, but to donate to the Red Cross instead.
5th January 2004: Tsurara
Yes, she has ice powers. Yes, they do sound a lot like Bobby Drake's, from what we've been told. PLEASE read tbe site rules about Real People Fic (RPF) and do NOT ship her with him! Any stories along these lines will be quarantined.
1st November 2003: Christmas Charity Ficathon
This year's charity ficathon will benefit victims of the Petrie’s Island disaster. Please sign up on the usual forum page.
12th August 2003: Comicon
Comicon pictures posted to our forums earlier this week have unfortunately turned out to be fakes; we're now sure that the pictures of Terawatt with Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) were photoshopped. Apologies to anyone who was taken in!
18th July 2003: Spider Challenge!
Prompted by recent events, the moderators are putting up a small prize for the best giant radioactive spider story posted by the end of August. It must be a crossover set in the Marvel universe and involve one or more of the canonical spider-related characters, e.g. Spiderman, Spider-Woman, Scarlet Spider, Spider-Girl, Spider-Gwen and of course Black Widow.
Update September 21st - After lengthy deliberation the moderators have decided to give the prize, a boxed set of Spiderman DVDs, to Antonia_Stark's "Ziggy Star-Lord and the Spiders from Genoshua." Congratulations, Antonia!
April 20th 2003: Terawatt!
After a couple of years of rumours, we now know that there really is a flying, lightning-wielding superheroine in California! Please bear in mind that she is a real person, not a comic-book character, which means that all of the site rules on Real People Fic apply. Thanks!
End (at the beginning)
Thanks again to DianeCastle for letting me play in her sandbox. I should also put in a nod to Batzugler, whose Chicago series suggested the supervillain section of the top post.
Update: revised to take in some clarification of the timeline received from Diane Castle - remembering that it isn't necessarily the same date in all of the parallel worlds - and fix a few small errors.
Update: timeline revised again for the last (first) entry. A timeline for this series will be on line eventually, I'll link to it when it's up.
Chapter 27: The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale - A Blast From The Past
The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale is a Buffy crossover round robin in which various fictional womens come to the aid of the Potential Slayers as they head to Sunnydale in Buffy Season 7.
So far I've posted three of 29 chapters, there will probably be more.
Kim's been on the run since her Watcher was killed, hitching lifts that gradually take her south and east from Scotland towards London. If she can get to the Council they should be able to protect her. She's nearly there, just a few streets away, when she hears the explosion. The wrecked building is burning fiercely, the first fire engines arriving, as she realises that her last hope is gone. Nobody could survive that.
It's getting dark, and beyond the police cordon the crowd is slowly thinning. She sees the first robed figures sidle from the shadows, and starts to run again. Down one street, along another, into an old-looking street that still has cobbles. A small sign identifies it as Paternoster Row. It's a dead end. And when she turns to run the Bringers are there. She backs away, looking for something, anything that will help her fight or escape. There's nothing.
Then a door opens, and someone steps onto the street. A woman, wearing a curious old-fashioned cloak and veil, two swords in her belt. She says "Shelter in my house, child," in a Scots accent that reminds Kim of home, and steps toward the Bringers. Kim backs toward the door, watching as the woman says something in a language she doesn't understand and takes up a guard position, then blurs into scarily fast motion as the Bringers attack. Her watcher has trained her with videos of martial artists and Slayers, she knows mastery when she sees it. The woman is fast, though not Slayer fast, and ridiculously good, a whirl of motion that draws Bringer blood with every strike. Soon most of the Bringers are down, dead or bleeding out on the cobbles. The last two go down together, their heads rolling into the gutter before their bodies have collapsed.
The veiled woman flicks her swords to shake off blood then wipes and sheathes them. Without turning, she says "I thought I told you to take shelter."
"I thought you might need help."
"I... I was too scared to move."
"Better." She turns to face Kim, her face still concealed by the thick veil. Although she can't see her face, Kim knows that she's assessing her, gauging her usefulness in a fight, and probably finding her lacking. "What were those things? Aliens?"
"They're called Bringers. They're servants of the first Evil."
"Well, that's different, I suppose. Come inside and warm yourself, and tell me more."
Kim follows her into the house, listens as she calls someone on the phone and arranges for the bodies to be removed, and starts to talk as her mysterious hostess makes tea. It spills out, the story of the Watchers and the Slayer, and the retreat to Sunnydale.
"I've never got on well with the Watchers," she eventually says, "a little too inclined to attack what they don't understand, think that everything that isn't human is a monster. Think that I'm a monster."
"You?" Kim realises that she still hasn't seen the woman's face, or anything apart from clothes, the veil, and gloved hands.
"Me." She lifts her veil, revealing startlingly human eyes set in a green reptilian face. "What would your Council say to me?"
"I don't know about the Council," says Kim, "but I'd say 'Thank you, um... er... miss.'"
"Good answer. And it's Madame. Madame Vastra. Now it's high time you were in bed, in the morning I'll arrange our flight."
"To California, of course. These creatures threaten my kind as well as yours, they'll have to be dealt with."
Crossover with Dr. Who, all usual disclaimers apply. I'm assuming that Madame Vastra is a lot longer-lived than humans, and is still around in 2003.
Chapter 28: The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale - Click Click
The Bringers crowding towards Joanne seem to pause for a second, and she stabs one with the pitchfork she's found in the abandoned barn. They turn back to her, their momentary distraction forgotten, as she pulls it back and waves it wildly.
There's a woman in a black dress standing in the doorway, black-haired and pale skinned, maybe twenty or so. If it wasn't daylight Joanne would think she was a vampire. The Bringers seem distracted again, and she spikes another with the pitchfork. It jams somewhere in the Bringer's ribs, black oozing out around the tines, and the Bringer grabs the shaft and pills it from her hands, collapsing but depriving her of her only weapon.
The woman clicks her fingers again, and with eerie precision the Bringers turn towards her, their daggers raised, and stand there. Joanne backs away as silently as she can.
Click. The Bringers on the woman's left turn to face right.
Click. The Bringers on her right turn to the left.
Click click. The Bringers start to fight, left versus right, until only one is left.
Click. It turns obediently to face the woman, and is nicely poised for the dagger she throws. It collapses, the hilt protruding from the centre of its forehead.
"Pathetic." The woman turns to Joanne. "Coming?" She turns her back on Joanne and walks out of the barn. There's a black hearse parked there, and she gets into the driver's seat. Joanne nervously walks round to the passenger side, fumbles with the door, and gets in.
"Who are you? How did you do that?"
"The weak-minded are easy to control. Are you weak-minded?"
"I.. I try not to be."
"Good." She clicks her fingers again and the engine starts, then leans back, her arms crossed. Her seat-belt snakes around her and clicks into place, as the car smoothly accelerates along the country road without a hand on the wheel.
Joanne finally clicks her own belt closed and says "Where are we going?"
"Sunnydale. It's apocalypse season, and I really don't want to miss it."
"Okay. Thanks, that's where I was headed. Oh, and my name's Joanne."
"I didn't ask. But if you feel the need for labels, you may call me Wednesday."
Crossover with The Addams Family, which as always belongs to a lot of people that aren't me. The Adult Wednesday Addams video series by melissahunter gave a good version of this character, but unfortunately seems to have been taken down by Youtube.
Chapter 29: The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale - In-flight entertainment and other diversions
They were the only passengers in the 12-seater Gulfstream G1-V executive jet. As it leveled out over the Atlantic and the seat-belt light went out Madame Vastra turned her attention from the Times crossword. "We might as well spend our time usefully." She opened one of the overhead lockers and took out a long case, and handed Kim a fencing mask, protective clothing, and a wooden practice sword. "How much training have you had?"
"A little. I saw you fight last night, you're a lot better."
"All the more need for practice. Get dressed, and we'll see what you can do."
Kim went into the tiny washroom to change, and came out to find Madame Vastra waiting with another sword. "Shouldn't you be wearing padding too?"
"I won't need it. When you're ready..."
They stood at opposite ends of the narrow aisle between seats, and Kim advanced and tried a cautious cut at Madame Vastra, who parried it effortlessly. Kim tried again, and they were soon into the rhythm of the fight. Or rather, Kim was soon finding out just how much she had to learn, while Madame Vastra parried her effortlessly and landed cut after cut on her arms and torso. Eventually Kim lost her temper and rushed at her, somehow parried her next cut, and ended up grappling her.
"You're better when you forget the rules," said Madame Vastra. Her tongue lashed out to touch Kim's wrist, and the sabre fell from her suddenly paralyzed hand. "But I'm stronger and faster than you, and have more tricks up my sleeve." Kim staggered as the paralysis spread into her body, and Madame Vastra effortlessly lifted her into one of the seats.
"When you're feeling a little better we'll try that again."
* * * * *
"Driving?" Wednesday's hands were still crossed over her chest, although the speedometer had read above ninety for most of the time they were on the road. None of the police cars they'd passed seemed to want to make an issue of it.
"Whatever you're doing, it must be an effort. Would you like me to drive for a while so you can rest?"
"Very well." The hearse swerved across three lines of traffic without warning, and stopped on the shoulder.
Joanne waited for a moment, then got out and walked round to the driver's door. Wednesday's seat-belt unfastened and she slid across to the passenger seat, her arms still crossed on her chest. She didn't seem to use her legs to move.
Joanne climbed in, took a moment to familiarise herself with the controls, then waited for a gap in the traffic and accelerated back onto the road. "It's a good thing my dad taught me to drive in a car with a manual shift."
"Is it?" Wednesday closed her eyes and Joanne guessed that further conversation would not be welcome. She got the hearse up to seventy and tried to concentrate on the traffic and the road.
"You're driving with a murderer." The voice came from behind her. Joanne looked up, startled, and in the rear mirror saw someone lying in the space normally used for a coffin. A blonde woman in her twenties in a white dress, who sat up and looked at her, then started to burn, blue sparks flashing across her skin, her dress bursting into flames. A car horn blared, and Joanne hastily swerved back into her lane.
"Ignore it," said Wednesday, her eyes still closed, "it's just the First Evil trying to cause trouble. It's been jabbering at me since you got into the car."
"They electrocuted me," said the woman.
"You're not Debbie," said Wednesday, "and even if you were, she deserved it." Wednesday snapped her fingers and the woman vanished.
"What did she do?" asked Joanne.
"Asked impertinent questions." The car accelerated back to ninety, the gears changing without Joanne touching the stick. "Wake me when we reach Los Angeles."
Crossovers with Doctor Who and The Addams Family, neither of which I own.
Chapter 30: The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale - A Brief Stop in LA
Continued from chapters 28 and 29. Spoilers for Angel s4e17, Inside Out
"We're coming up on LA," said Joanne.
Wednesday's eyes snapped open. She looked around for a moment, then said "Keep going this way past the next four off-ramps, then take the fifth."
"Okay." They drove on, somehow never running into heavy traffic, until Wednesday said "Stop here."
'Here' was an old-looking hotel called the Hyperion, with overgrown grounds. Joanne thought it looked creepy, but guessed that went with the company she was keeping. Wednesday got out, saying "Stay in the hearse, keep the doors locked. And don't believe anything you see." She went inside.
"I told you, she's a killer," said the First Evil, this time appearing as a boy in his early teens. "I thought she was my girlfriend and she scared me to death."
"She's pretty scary," said Joanne, "but if a girl scares you to death, you must be some sort of wimp."
There was a crashing noise from the hotel, glass shattering explosively. Joanne thought about going inside, but the First Evil was showing her some sort of graveyard scene straight out of a horror movie. Hands grasping the boy and dragging him down into the ground.
"Cool?" said the First Evil, this time appearing as Debbie.
"I love horror movies! Can you do the electrocution thing again?"
The First obliged.
"Thanks! Next time give me some warning, I'll make popcorn."
"Next time it'll be you that does the burning," said Debbie, vanishing. Joanne thought she sounded peeved.
A teenaged boy limped out of the hotel and ran away, clutching a heavily bleeding arm. Wednesday appeared in the doorway and tripped a pregnant-looking woman who ran out after him, seized her in an arm lock, and forced her back into the hotel. She came back out a few minutes later, in the company of a green-skinned demon who bowed and kissed her hand, then went back inside. She walked back to the driver's side of the hearse, holding a heavy bunch of keys, and snapped her finger. The door opened, and Joanne moved to the passenger seat as she climbed in.
"What was that about?" asked Joanne. "The guy you were chasing and the pregnant woman?"
"The usual," Wednesday said with a shrug. "Demonic pregnancy, spawn of two vampires, that sort of thing. This is why I hate visiting Los Angeles, everyone acts like they're in a soap opera." She seemed to be in a good mood, and Joanne guessed that the violence had cheered her up. "I gave them the recipe for a potion that'll fix things."
"Did you get what you wanted?"
Wednesday glared for a moment, then said "My family owns a mansion in Sunnydale, the last tenant was keeping the keys for us. It will probably need cleaning."
"Will we get there tonight?"
"No. I have some business with my lawyers to attend to. We'll do that next, get some sleep, and drive to Sunnydale tomorrow."
Yes, I have just derailed the whole Jasmine plot and Angel S5; the idea was for the new characters to make a difference! Next stop Wolfram and Hart...
Chapter 31: The Ladies Are Coming To Sunnydale - Native Guides and Hitch-Hikers
Continued from chapters 27 - 30
"Wolfram and Hart?" asked Joanne, looking up at the office block. "What's that?"
"They do some legal work for my family," said Wednesday. "Repossessing leases and corpses, throwing orphans out into the snow, that sort of thing. My father wouldn't use anyone else, not since we had to dispose of Tully Alford."
"Dispose? Did you mean dispose of his services?"
"I know what I meant. Now come along. Don't eat or drink anything you're offered, sign anything, or speak to anyone else unless you are spoken to."
Joanne followed her inside, looking around nervously for Bringers. She felt an uneasy sensation, and wondered if there was a dentist or a vampire in the vicinity. Or a vampire dentist... She really needed more sleep.
"Miss Addams," said the receptionist, "Miss Morgan is in a meeting that's running a little late. Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? Blood?"
"The tears of my enemies would be good," said Wednesday, "but I'll settle for some herbal tea."
"And your... associate?"
Joanne shook her head. Wednesday gave a slight nod of approval, and led her to a waiting area. "I'm a client, their rules won't let them harm me. You don't have that protection."
"Maybe I should hire them."
"You can't afford their fees, and they tend to be... unkind to their debtors."
The tea arrived in a few minutes, and Wednesday sipped it, said "not enough hemlock," and added a few drops from a bottle in her handbag. "That's better."
"Must be an acquired taste."
Eventually a smartly-dressed woman arrived, walking with an oddly stiff gait. "Miss Addams, it's been too long. And this is...?"
"Irrelevant," said Wednesday. "Do you have everything I requested, Miss Morgan?"
"We were executors for the late Mayor Wilkins, which allowed full access to all of his records. I think you'll be happy with what we've found for you." She snapped her fingers, and another woman came forward, carrying a document case, and handed it to her.
"Here you are, Miss Morgan."
"Thank you, Harmony."
"Harmony?" said Wednesday, raising her eyebrows. "Not Amanda?"
Harmony made a "meep" noise and backed away.
"It's been a long time, Amanda, but I'm sure you remember Camp Chippewa. Even if you changed your name and moved house three times to forget it."
"Oh god oh god..."
"Not to mention becoming a vampire. Did you really think that would help?"
Joanne hastily grabbed a crucifix and a stake from her handbag.
"Please..." said Harmony, "it's been ten years."
"I know," said Wednesday. "And most of that time you were in Sunnydale, which is exactly where we're going. I think that you'll make an excellent guide. Thank you, Miss Morgan, I'll pick her up tomorrow at eight AM. Have her ready for collection."
"No!" said Harmony, "I can't..."
"Of course you can," said Lilah, "it's part of your contract. Or didn't you read what you were signing?"
Two security guards grabbed Harmony's arms and dragged her out of the lobby.
"If she doesn't work out for you I'd recommend giving her to the Slayer. We can easily replace her."
"I'm sure she'll be fine," said Wednesday, taking the case and handing it to Joanne to carry. "And if she isn't, I really don't need to waste the Slayer's time for something I can easily handle myself." She shook hands with Lilah then led Joanne out.
"They always try that 'our employees are expendable' routine," said Wednesday, "but if you actually take them up on it they want a fortune in compensation. But Harmony shouldn't be too expensive, these days vampires are ten a penny."
"Don't you think carrying a vampire around with us is asking for trouble?"
"We are trouble. Now come along, we need to get an early night."
"It was kind of you ladies to stop," said Caleb. "I was worried I'd be out on this road all evening."
"It's no problem," said Madame Vastra. "I'd hate to see a man of the cloth stranded in the middle of nowhere."
"Are you headed for Sunnydale?"
"That's right," said Kim.
"More lambs to the slaughter."
"I beg your pardon?" said Madame Vastra.
"Well, that's what it is, all these young girls headed into the belly of Satan. And you'd be there to watch her burn, I guess."
Madame Vastra braked the car. "I think you'd better get out."
"Now that's a mite inhospitable," said Caleb, drawing a long knife from his belt.
From the back seat Kim said "You really don't want to do that."
"And you really want to keep your mouth shut," said Caleb, turning towards her.
There was a "snick" and he looked down, shocked, at the severed stump of his hand, dripping black ooze, as Madame Vastra sheathed her katana. "That's not possible..."
Her tongue flashed out and stung the back of his neck, and he collapsed.
"Not much human left there," said Madame Vastra, "and probably working for our enemies. Help me get him out of the car, I'd better finish him off before he regenerates that hand. Let's hope he can't grow another head."
They left the decapitated body on the side of the road and drove on into Sunnydale.
Crossovers Addams Family Values, Doctor Who. Mercedes McNab played Harmony in Buffy and Angel, and Amanda Buckman in Addams Family Values.
After-thought suggested by reviews:
Madame Vastra's katana is probably some combination of (a) the life work of a master sword-maker, (b) alien tech with a single molecule blade that will cut anything, or (c) both of the above. She's also been a swordsman/lizard for a couple of hundred years. If Caleb's head does grow back the swords and skills available to the potentials probably won't be an effective substitute.
And if his head does grow back, what are the odds that he will end up with a speech impediment and (for example) pronounce "Goddamn" as "gorrram"? Pretty good, I think...
Needless to say Caleb did reappear and became the Kenny of this series, killed repeatedly in nearly every subsequent chapter. But I got him first!
Chapter 32: The Ladies In Sunnydale - Learning Experiences
The Ladies in Sunnydale continues the stories begun in The Ladies are Coming to Sunnydale
Continued from chapters 27-30. At last the Vastra/Wednesday teamup (of sorts):
"Deadpool here, the merc with the mouth. I'm not actually supposed to be in this story, due to some weird prejudice against male characters, but I thought I'd stop by Restfield Cemetery and say 'High!' to Caleb." He held up a placard saying "High, Caleb!"
"Don't you mean 'Hi?'" asked Caleb.
"Nope. High!" Deadpool pointed upwards as an anvil, mysteriously dropped from a passing helicarrier ninety seconds earlier, landed on Caleb's head and smashed him to a bloody pulp.
"Oops, too slow. Ciao, kiddies. Don't forget to catch the movie, out on DVD on May tenth!" He decapitated a Bringer with his katana, said "gotta go," and dodged behind a statue of an angel, disappearing from view a fraction of a second before Madame Vastra and Kim (the Potential, no relation to the Possible family) arrived.
"Didn't we kill him already?" asked Kim, spotting the body.
"What do you mean by 'we,' mammal?"
"Poetic license?" Kim hastily changed the subject. "Any idea how that anvil got there?"
"Probably pushed off a passing helicarrier by an unkillable mercenary with a teleportation device, *" said Wednesday, arriving with Joanne in tow.
A footnote appeared in a yellow box. "* Deadpool only has that in the comics, not the movie!" Nobody noticed.
"That seems oddly specific," said Kim
"Miss Addams," said Madame Vastra. "Your father's reputation as a swordsman precedes you. Dare I hope that you share his interests?"
There was a faint 'snick' as Wednesday pulled her favourite rapier from katana-space. "Of course."
"First blood and no amputations or decapitation?" said Madame Vastra, drawing her own swords.
"Oh, suck out all the fun," said Wednesday, pouting.
"Not all of us have your family's advantages. En Garde."
"That's French," said Wednesday, "I like it." They began to fence, each feeling out the other's moves as they gained speed.
"This'll probably go on for a while," said Joanne. "Want to come back to our place and taunt the vampire?"
"I heard about that loser, sounds like fun. But it's probably not a good idea to go off on our own, that's how people get killed in horror movies."
"I guess." They watched the fencing for a while, then Kim added "Did it seem to you that that angel was further away a minute ago?"
Joanne looked at the statue and shrugged. "it's an optical illusion. They're closer to it, so it looks nearer."
"I'm not so sure. Madame Vastra told me some weird stories... Keep watching, and try not to blink."
Madame Vastra and Wednesday fought on, as Kim looked around for a suitable weapon, then said "Help me lift up the anvil."
"And don't look away from the angel."
"Okay," said Joanne, finding a portion of the anvil that wasn't covered with blood and brains and grabbing it. Kim took the other side.
"One... two... three... lift!"
They got it off the ground, and Kim said "Charge at the angel, hit it in the stomach."
They staggered toward the angel, picking up speed, and hit its midriff with the beak of the anvil. A small chunk of stone chipped off.
"Again, we want to smash it! Back off, but keep your eye on it."
They backed away, as Madame Vastra and Wednesday fought on, and charged forward again. This time there was a louder thud, and half of the angel's abdomen fell to the ground, glowing palely.
"That doesn't look natural," said Joanne.
"Told you so. Let's try that again, we're nearly there."
They backed off then charged forward again, and the angel finally shattered into several pieces, which glowed and slowly disintegrated. Behind them three other angels which had advancing on the scene froze as they were observed. A small figure taped sticks of dynamite to their heads, lit the fuses, and quickly backed away. They exploded almost simultaneously, the decapitated angels collapsing to the ground. Madame Vastra and Wednesday finally noticed the disturbance and broke off their fight.
"Weeping angels," said Kim. "We got this one, I'm not sure..."
Wednesday put her hands on her hips and shouted "Pubert!"
A moustachioed toddler wearing a bandolier of sticks of dynamite waved at them from the top of a nearby tomb, as Caleb's corpse exploded, splattering Kim and Joanne with body fragments.
"What a useful child," said Vastra.
"You know what this means?" said Wednesday.
"My parents have come to town, and they'll want me to baby-sit."
"I'm sure that the girls can handle it," said Vastra. "It might be a valuable learning experience."
Joanne stared at Kim, and Kim stared at Pubert. "We're doomed..."
Crossovers this chapter Deadpool, Doctor Who, Addams Family Values.
Chapter 33: Gremlins
Another chapter from the "Tales from the Barman" round robin which I somehow missed when I posted the rest. About all that you need to know is that Xander is running a bar in Cleveland. Crossover with Dead Like Me, originally published in February 2007.
Xander wasn't exactly delighted to see his father for the first time since Sunnydale, but he supposed there was no good way to get rid of him for the moment. He was in the mellow phase of drunkenness, not yet abusive, though that was probably only a matter of time. He was only passing through, after all, and it was only seven, not nearly late enough for him to be really plastered. An off-duty cop was taking a drink next to him, and so far she didn't seem to be too bothered by his behaviour.
"...sho I shays to myself, Tony Harris, it'sh time for me to look up my boy."
"That's good," said the officer, "Family is always important." Out of the corner of his eye Xander thought he saw something weird-looking skitter across the floor and out of sight, and wondered if it was time to get the exterminators in. Or the Slayers. The officer reached for her glass and accidentally spilled a little beer onto Tony's arm, and said "Sorry about that, I'm a little tired. It's been a long day." She dabbed at it with a paper handkerchief before Xander had time to find a towel. Xander frowned and wondered about gremlins. The bar had wards against that sort of thing, but they weren't actually evil as such, maybe they could slip past.
"You're not a local cop, are you?" asked Xander. The badge on her tunic wasn't right for Cleveland.
"No, I'm from Seattle. Had to deliver a couple of prisoners, and run a couple of errands while I'm here. I fly back tomorrow."
"Well, I always welcome police officers," said Xander, watching Tony stagger towards the stairs, "expecially when they spill beer on my dad."
"Your dad?" asked the officer. "You named after him?" For some reason she sounded a little alarmed. She glanced at a yellow scrap of paper, half-concealed in her hand.
"Nope... I'm Xander, he's Tony."
Xander wondered why she was interested. "Sure Anthony. Why not?"
"It's just that you sometimes come across Tonys who are just Tony, not Anthony. Names can be important."
"I guess," said Xander, wondering why the conversation had taken this odd turn.
"Take your name," said the officer. "Xander's kinda odd, is it short for something?"
"Why are you interested..." he peered at the badge she was wearing, and the name tag underneath "...officer Harvey?"
"Call me Roxy. Oh, there's no real reason," said the cop, "except that names are important in my line of work."
"Okaay... well, it's short for Alexander, if that matters."
"Alexander. Right. See, that's why names are important." She glanced at her watch, smiled, and went on "You and your dad are both A. Harris, so if say I was given a warrant to arrest A. Harris it'd be important to know which one I was after."
"Has my dad done something...?"
"Not that I know of."
"Wouldn't surprise me. He's been gone kinda a long time."
"It's only seven-ten," said Roxy. "He went upstairs at a couple of minutes to the hour."
"I'd better check it out, he's probably fallen asleep in the can or something."
"And I'd better be on my way," said Roxy, downing the last of her beer and picking up her hat. "You have a good day."
She went out, and Xander locked the cash register and went up to check on his father.
Tony was on the floor of the washroom, and it didn't take Xander long to realise that he was quite dead.
"How the hell could that happen?"
"It's not the first time I've seen this. The motor insulation for that model isn't up to spec, it deteriorates then the casing gets live. The manufacturers recalled them a couple of years ago, but there are still quite a few around, accidents waiting to happen."
"It was here when I took over the bar, I never thought anything of it."
"You should sue. I heard that the last time they settled for a hundred thousand."
"I'll tell my mother."
With one thing and another it was a couple of days before Xander got around to cleaning up the bar and reopening. While he was sweeping up he noticed a scrap of yellow stuck on one of the bar stools. A PostIt, reading "A. Harris 7.03 PM," followed by the address of the bar.
He thought about it for a while, then shrugged and stuck it on his wall of the weird.
Crossover with Dead Like Me
Chapter 34: Going Platinum
Another chapter from Tales of the Barman that I forgot to post here. This one's a crossover with Six Feet Under. Originally posted February 2007
Xander looked up from the tax report he was filling and said "Dawn, what are you doing here?"
"Vodka on the rocks," said Dawn. A heavily built Afro-American man stood behind her, impassively watching.
"Dawn, you're under age and your sister would kill me."
"Put on your glasses, cyclops," the girl said in a voice just a little different from Dawn, "because whoever Dawn is, it isn't me."
"Nice voice there, Dawn, but you're not fooling me."
"Oh for fucks sake, what do I have to do to get a drink here?"
"Give the lady her drink," said her escort. "She isn't whoever you think she is."
Xander pointed to Dawn's picture on the wall and said "Prove it."
"Holy fuck," said the girl, staring at the picture. "Can she act at all? I could use a stunt double."
"You should know," said Xander.
"Are you stupid or what?" asked the man. "This is Celeste, not your girlfriend."
"Celeste?" said Xander. "Never heard of her."
"WHAT!" shrieked the girl. "I've got four gold disks and my new album's gonna go platinum, and you never heard of me?"
"Sorry," said Xander, "kinda stopped listening to music a few years back. Okay, hypothetically you're this Celeste, not Dawn's evil twin or doppleganger or whatever. I still need to see some proof of age."
The girl swore, rummaged through a tiny gold handbag and eventually produced a Los Angeles driving license in the name of Celeste. Xander pretended to inspect it, while muttering a word that activated one of the spells that Willow had built into the bar. A green glow only he could see outlined the license for a second. It wasn't counterfeit or stolen.
"Okay," said Xander. "Vodka on the rocks it is." He began to pour. "So, what brings an LA rock star to Cleveland."
"Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course," said Celeste, cooling off slightly and knocking back her drink in four gulps. "They've got an exhibit about me, thought I'd come and open it personally."
"You don't sound too happy about it," said Xander.
"Those bastards!" said Celeste. "They said it was a new hall... it was in the hallway outside the john!" Behind her the escort raised his eyebrows expressively.
"Want a refill?" asked Xander.
"Could you have misunderstood?" asked Xander. "You know how it goes sometimes, the phone rings and you've got a dozen things to deal with, and someone tells you something and it turns out you misunderstood."
"Yeah right," said Celeste, draining her glass. "I flew a couple of thousand miles because I misunderstood. Gimme another."
"You sure?" asked Xander.
"Gimme another, you bastard."
"She driving?" Xander asked.
"Nope," said the escort.
"Okay then," said Xander, pouring another vodka, "but I think that'd better be all."
"Bastard," said Celeste, knocking it back, "men are all bastards."
"Can't argue with that," said Xander.
"You're kinda cute though... wanna screw a rock star?" Behind her the escort shook his head in warning.
"It's kind of you to offer," said Xander, "but you look like my best friend's kid sister, and I'd kinda have issues with that."
"Issues? Who gives a fuck about issues?" She picked up her glass and threw it at him. Xander dodged easily, and it shattered on the wall behind him.
"Okay, that's it," said the escort, throwing a hundred dollar bill and a CD onto the counter. "CD's on the house, cover's signed. Take any repairs out of the bill."
"You're fired!" mumbled Celeste.
"She does that every time," said the escort, half dragging her out of the bar. "Probably won't even remember tomorrow."
Xander shouted "Good luck with the new album!" as they went out and put the bill into the cash register, pinned the inlay from the CD package to the wall, and slipped the disk into the player. After listening for a minute or so he muttered "should have been in the john" and put on some country and western instead.
Crossover with Six Feet Under - Michelle Trachtenberg played Celeste in several episodes.
Chapter 35: Another Slow Night on the Hellmouth
Yet another chapter from the Tales from the Barman round robin. This one is BtVS / Discworld / Sandman, also from February 2007.
"DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT," said a voice that sounded like it was talking in hollow capitals.
Xander kept his flashlight on the breaker box and said "Ought to be fixed in a second," and flicked up one of the switches. It refused to stay in position, and the lights wouldn't come on. "Now this is beginning to seriously piss me off," he added. "It has to be the new sign in the window that's doing this. Can someone unplug it?"
"I'll do it," said a woman's voice, adding "Should be okay now" a moment later.
Xander tried the switch again, and this time the lights came on and stayed on. He looked round and saw a cloaked stranger watching him impassively. For some reason his mind refused to lock onto the newcomer's features, and he realized that he was quite pleased about that. A familiar perky Goth waved at him from the window; "Deedee!" he said, "Thanks for getting that. I'll have to send it back to the manufacturer."
"I guess it is kinda my field," said Deedee. "It's pretty dead."
"AH," said the stranger. "ANTHROPOMORPHISM. IT WAS NEVER ALIVE."
"Right," said Deedee, with a slight air of impatience. "What can I get you, Bill?"
"I COULD MURDER A CURRY."
"No curry," said Xander, "but we have Tacos, they're pretty hot."
"I'LL GIVE THEM A TRY." He moved towards the table Xander generally kept reserved for visiting Gods, and sat down next to another young woman, who had white hair with one black streak.
"What about you, Susan?" Deedee added, looking at the other woman.
"Scumble if he has it."
"Got any scumble?" asked Deedee.
Xander sucked in a breath between his teeth, and opened the cabinet he reserved for beverages that might possibly be banned under the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. He found two slightly lumpy looking brown bottles, with a picture of a frolicking hippo on the label, and some Teflon cups, about the size of egg cups, put the bottles into a bucket of ice, and with great care lifted it onto the counter. "Be careful with this stuff," he said as he took Deedee's money, "unless you're looking for extra customers. And on the whole I'd prefer not to be one of them for a while."
"Don't worry," said Deedee, lifting the bucket with exaggerated care, "You're not on anyone's list right now," she gestured towards a PostIt on his wall of the weird with a free hand "although I see you came close."
"Okay," said Xander. "That was one of you guys, was it? That cop Roxy? I thought so!"
"More a subcontractor's employee," said Deedee, moving back to her table. "Omnipresence takes a lot of organization."
"Was it supposed to be me?" asked Xander. "Because I never had much time for my dad, but if he died in my place..."
"RELAX," said the tall stranger, petting the purring Pixel. "YOU STILL HAVE SOME TIME TO GO." He looked at a hour glass, which had appeared from somewhere, then vanished it again.
"SQUEAK," said a small black hooded form, helping itself to a couple of peanuts from the bowl on the bar. "SQUEAK!"
"Sure," said Xander, "but I'm expecting the Librarian tonight, don't blame me if he gets pissed if you eat them all."
The Tacos arrived, and Xander took the plate over to their table. "So what brings you all to Cleveland?"
"It's just a handy place to meet," said Deedee. "The Hellmouth makes it easy to get here. Besides, we're always here, in one form or another. And I've already done all the reaping we're gonna do here tonight.
"Actually the spider that shorted it out. But yeah, that was it."
"Thanks. Well, bon appetit, and all that stuff."
"HMM... THESE ARE QUITE MORE-ISH."
Xander went back to polishing the bar, and putting together his next orders to the local breweries and wholesalers.
"A SMALL GIFT."
Startled, Xander looked up, and up. The cloaked stranger was at the bar again.
"FOR YOUR WALL." He handed Xander a small sugar skull.
"Thanks. From Mexico?"
"SOMETHING LIKE THAT."
"Gracias. Can I get you anything else?"
"MORE TACOS, TWO MORE SCUMBLES, AND SOME NACHOS WITH CHEESE." He gave Xander a handful of coins. Xander was less than surprised to see that most of them were in pairs.
"Oook!" said a familiar voice.
"AND WHATEVER THIS GENTLEMAN IS HAVING."
"Banana daiquiri coming right up."
Just another slow night on the Hellmouth. Nothing to see here, move along....
Crossover with Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.
Chapter 36: Freak Out
More from Tales of the Barman, also February 2007. BtVS / West Wing / Highlander / Harry Potter (and probably a few others). I've cut a few lines where characters were introduced into the story by other writers.
The bar was crowded again tonight, and Xander was beginning to think it was time to take on more staff. Maybe he'd advertise again, see who he could find.
A tall blonde woman in a smart suit left her companions and came up to the bar, beer pitcher in hand, and said "Can you refill this? Toby got it, not quite sure what it is but it seems pretty good."
"Toby? Guy with a beard on your table?"
"Yes, that's him."
"Sure, no problem." Xander refilled it with one of the local beers, took her money, and as he made change said "Excuse me for asking, but don't I know you from somewhere?"
"Maybe," said the woman. "I'm on TV fairly often. CJ Cregg, I used to work at the White House."
Xander clicked his fingers, and said "Sure... you were with President Bartlett that time, just after he left office, when he came out to Calfornia to campaign for the guy you had running to replace Senator Bruckner. Did he really do that just so he could duck out to meet Buffy and Giles?"
"Buffy and Giles?" She looked at him, searchingly, and suddenly seemed to recognize him. "Oh... yes, you were there, weren't you? I'm afraid I didn't get your name."
"Okay," said CJ. "I remember now, your name came up in reports a couple of times when I was Chief of Staff. I thought you were in Los Angeles?"
"Nope, most active Hellmouth's in Cleveland, so the Council's based here. I decided that I didn't want to work there full-time, this seemed more fun and I'm around to help out if it's a real emergency."
"Can I ask a favour? Toby and Danny, the guys I'm with, they don't know about this stuff, and I think they might freak out if they found out. And they've got enough credibility with the press that they might be believed if they talked about it."
"No problemo," said Xander, "most of our demonic customers are home watching the Oscars or playing poker out back, the ones that are here blend in pretty well. They won't notice a thing."
"Okay," said CJ, giving Xander a wide smile, "Thanks."
She went back to the table carrying the pitcher. Xander gestured for one of the wait-staff to take his place, and went out back to the poker game. With several Slayers around nobody wanted to risk playing for kittens, so they were using matchsticks. Clem and the Groosalug seemed to have the biggest pots, though Vi wasn't far behind. "Guys," he said, "we've got a couple of mundanes out front, people that the press might listen to. If you have to go out, use the side door."
"Okay," said Clem, "Nobody's gonna quit for a while. Vi, your turn to deal."
Vi shuffled with lightning speed, got Clem to cut the pack, said "Okay, the game is seven card stud, low hole card wild," and began to deal. Xander left them to it, and went back to the cash register.
Xander was just beginning to think that he might get away with it when Toby came over for another refill, and stopped to stare at the souvenirs on the wall. He seemed to recognize something, but he shrugged and carried on to the bar. While Xander was refilling the pitcher Toby casually took off his watch and rubbed his wrist, revealing a small blue tattoo. Xander smiled and said "Watcher?"
"Yeah. Thought you might recognize the tattoo. You?"
"I just get around a lot, though I help out the other watchers occasionally."
"The other..? Oh, you mean with the Slayer?"
"Yeah. Who are you watching?"
"You know I can't answer that."
"My guess is that guy Danny, there's no way that someone like CJ Cregg could be running around with a sword without someone noticing."
"You'd be... I could just be on vacation."
"Whatever," said Xander, with a total lack of belief.
"Look, CJ and Danny don't know about this stuff, especially the supernatural side of things, I'd be grateful if you could avoid mentioning it. It might freak them out."
"No problem," said Xander. He didn't bother telling Toby about the poker game, he was pretty sure that nobody was going to be coming out of the back room for a while. Toby adjusted his watch again to cover the tattoo and took the pitcher back to their table. Several dozen customers and another resolution to hire wait-staff later, Danny took his turn at the beer run.
"Nice place," said Danny. "Interesting trophy wall you have there."
"Some of our customers like to leave us little souvenirs."
"I hope you've got them protected. Stuff like that tends to attract thieves."
"I wouldn't worry too much," said Xander. "We've got some pretty good wards in place. You really don't want to mess with some of that stuff."
"Cut the crap. You know what I mean."
"How did you know?" asked Danny.
"Willow Rosenberg set up our security system, you've probably heard of her. And your wand is kinda hard to miss."
"Okay," said Danny. "Willow Rosenberg. Riiiight... I was thinking this was a muggle bar."
"I've got four demons and two slayers playing poker out back, and that's a god over there playing pool." He waved at Illyria, who waved back then sank a complicated cushion shot and took a wad of bills from her opponent.
"Right," said Danny, looking slightly stunned. "Look, my friends really don't know about this stuff, I'd be grateful if you didn't say anything. I think it might freak them out and I really don't want to have to obliviate them."
"No problem," said Xander.
A little later CJ came back to the bar, asked for directions to the ladies room, and said "Thanks for keeping things cool. We'll be off in a few minutes."
"My pleasure," said Xander. "If you'd like to show your appreciation, leave something cool to go on our wall of the weird."
"Something cool," said CJ, rummaging through her handbag. "Will this do?" She gave him a packet of M&Ms with the presidential seal replacing the normal logo.
A few minutes later they went out, and Xander breathed a small sigh of relief... for about ten seconds, until he heard someone shout "Demon!" and Clem ran inside, pursued by a stranger carrying a shining axe. Illyria was nearest; she let Clem run past, then clothes-lined the stranger with her arm and knocked him out with a flick of her hand. CJ, Danny, and Toby peered in at the door, CJ with a sword in her hand and Danny a wand.
"I had to go feed the meter," said Clem. "Wasn't expecting to run into a Viking invasion."
"We'll take care of it," said Xander. He turned to Illyria and said "Get a couple of Slayers to look after this guy until he tells us his story, and I'm buying your drinks for the rest of the evening."
"That will be satisfactory," said Illyria, picking up the stranger by his belt and carrying him to the back room one-handed.
Xander turned to the visitors from Washington, and added "And I really think you guys really need to talk..."
Crossover with The West Wing, Highlander, and Harry Potter.
Chapter 37: Xander Again
The 199th chapter from "Tales of the Barman" which I thought might bring the thing to a close. It didn't...
Xander looked around the bar and smiled at eleven Slayers, fourteen gods, nine different incarnations of Death, nineteen versions of himself from other universes, twenty-four superheroes, Harry Potter, Jabba the Hutt, Count Duckula, and...
"There's a logical contradiction here," said a woman's voice in the back of his head. Xander looked around, but couldn't see anyone.
"Think about it," said the voice. "There are nearly two hundred people in this bar, and you still have time to stand here and count them. Come to that, there's room for all of them... think about the actual size of the room, not to mention that you've got Hagrid, Jabba, and the Jolly Green Giant playing pool over there."
"Willow cast a spell to expand it, of course," said Xander.
"She did. Why is a figment of my imagination arguing with me?"
"Because I am Willow, doofus."
"No you're not," said Xander. "Willow's over there playing tonsil hockey with Kennedy."
"And I so didn't need to hear you say that," said Willow(?)'s voice.
Suddenly the room seemed to shake, and for a second Xander thought he could see Buffy staring at him and shaking him. Then the vision passed, and the room was still again. Nobody else seemed to notice.
"You've gotta realise," said Willow(?), "none of this is real."
"Think about it," said another voice... Dawn? "You open a bar that has this many slayers and demons as customers, and the place hasn't been torn apart by the customers, or burned by an angry mob? You have superheroes and demons and gods that hate each other in here, guys that could destroy the entire fucking world, and they don't squash you like a bug for being a wiseass?"
"Thanks, Dawn," said Willow(?), "I was trying to be gentle here."
"Umm..." said Xander, "if this isn't real, what is it?"
"You're hallucinating, of course," said Willow(?). Xander concentrated, and realised that he could vaguely see her in front of him. For some reason she seemed to be above him, looking down. As soon as he tried to concentrate on her face she vanished again, leaving him looking at the crowded bar.
"And the reason for that would be...?"
"You got hit on the head when we were fighting the Bringers in Sunnydale, you made it out okay but you collapsed a couple of hours after we reached LA. Depressed fracture. The doctors removed a blood clot, but you've been in a coma for the last month."
"You're saying it's still 2003?" Xander said incredulously.
"And I'm in a coma?"
"Coming out of it, we think," said Dawn(?)'s voice. "If we can stop Buffy from shaking you again and doing more damage."
"But it feels so... real," said Xander.
"What colour is the wall behind you?" said Willow(?). "Answer without turning around."
"How sure are you?"
Xander turned. The wall was wood-panelled, with shelves and optics for the spirits he served.
"See what I mean?" asked Willow(?) "I imposed my ideas and they became the new reality. It was easy, because you've never bothered to dream that part."
"Okay," said Xander. "This is all an illusion. How do I wake up?"
"You just have to want to," said Dawn.
"And all of this? It just goes away?"
"It's all inside your head," said Willow.
"Okay," said Xander. He closed his eyes and tried to believe what they were telling him.
"That's it," said Willow. "You're nearly there. Just a little more."
"Okay," said Xander. He tried opening his eyes again. Blurrily, he saw Willow, Buffy, and Dawn looking down at him, and a ceiling covered in acoustic tiles above them. To one side a machine was beeping, in time with his heartbeat. Willow leaned down and kissed him.
"Okay," said Xander. "Worse things to wake up to."
"You'd better believe it," said Buffy. "Now, let's get the doctor in and check you out, make sure that you're really okay."
* * * * *
"He was behind the bar a couple of minutes ago," said Kennedy. "Must have gone into the back room." She looked around and added "Boy, the place is packed tonight, good thing you expanded it into a couple of extra dimensions."
"That's odd," repeated Willow. "It's... I can't feel Xander. Not at all."
"He's probably out back."
"I can't feel him anywhere" said Willow, beginning to look frightened. "He's just... gone." She extended her senses to the maximum, and repeated "He's just gone."
Suggested by the Buffy episode Normal Again, of course.
Chapter 38: 4:03 AM
A little something to commemorate a certain 20th Anniversary - Artwork!
Happy anniversary, everyone!