BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Shadowrun RPG by FASA, WizKids, FanPro, Hare-Brained Schemes. Early Edition by Abrams, Brush and CBS.
-2000 AD, The Loft Above McGinty's Bar & Grill, Chicago-
Gary Hobson's alarm rang at 6:30 AM, but it was the silence that woke him up more than anything else.
After switching off the annoying buzz, he threw on his robe and walked to the front door. He flung it open, but there was nothing there.
Frowning, he looked around then padded over to the TV.
Yep, that confirms it, he thought. It's morning and the thing that has basically defined my life for the past four years is nowhere to be seen.
After trying to keep himself busy for most of the day and getting rather disgusted with himself in the process, Gary finally took a walk in a park.
He might have seen it as a vacation, but he had the feeling that something somewhere had gone horribly wrong.
-The Offices of Cleveland's Premier Evening Newspaper-
"What do you mean I'm being fired?" yelled a being best known as the 'Mailer Daemon'. "I founded this place! Me!"
"Them's the breaks," replied the target of his ire. "They bought you out, they can do anything they want."
The Mailer Daemon loudly responded with the proper outrage for the situation, until he realized he wasn't going to get much farther with that approach.
Spinning on his heel, he stalked to his desk. After digging into it with his fingers in frustration, leaving yet another set of grooves across its surface, he sat down to write what he thought would be his final editorial for Cleveland's Night with Moon.
-A Park Somewhere in Chicago-
Sitting on the grass with a sandwich, he heard a 'meow' and a 'thump'. Turning around, he saw a familiar orange tabby looking at him from its perch on the stone surrounding an ornate fountain.
He checked his watch, surprised to find it was 6:30 PM. He froze a second, then shook his head.
He cautiously approached the cat, which butted its head against his hand, before jumping down to twine around his legs as he picked up the sheets the cat had been laying on.
On seeing the header, he took a sharp breath.
"Night with Moon," he read aloud. "Cleveland's Premier Evening Newspaper." He paused, then looked closer. "June 30, 2000. Yep, that's tomorrow alright. Good thing that's normal."
Gary Hobson, a man who for years had been receiving the Chicago Sun-Times a day in advance and so was fairly used to odd evens, turned to the orange tabby cat and frowned.
"At least," Gary said with a long suffering sigh. "You're not pitch black this time."
-Headquarters of Night with Moon, Cleveland, OH-
Sighing, the Daemon opened up a familiar template, a stylized picture in the upper-left corner with his name and his 'NatDemCpy' e-mail address just to the right of it.
Goodbye template, he thought with regret. Goodbye desk. Goodbye home away from home.
'Dear Readers,' he wrote. 'It is with deepest regret that I end my time with you. I sincerely wish that this paper, founded to further the interests of those of us unable or unwilling to grab the early morning paper, will stay true to itself. I wish that it will continue to brighten up your lives with its unique brand of knowledge and insight into the length and depth of our great city. If only it were in my power to guarantee my own wishes...'
'No sense crying over spilt milk. What's done is done. This paper will continue to be an excellent read and many other members of our crack staff will stay with it. The worst that can happen will be that Night with Moon will be slightly less honest, slightly less hardcore, and I know from your e-mails that many of you have been crying out for just such a change.'
'My apologies to all the people I've managed to annoy over the years. My mission and often stated goal has never been to make your lives safer; simply more interesting.'
-Office of McGinty's Pub, Chicago-
Gary had spent most of the previous two hours making phone calls.
He was very glad it had been a slow news day in Cleveland. Most of the bad stuff had been resolved by him and his friend Marissa doing various voices and giving the right carefully phrased information to the right people.
With that out of the way, he was free to focus on the single story in the evening paper that had to do with his bit of the world.
'Chicago, IL- This morning, around midnight, a fire erupted in the first floor and basement of a residential neighborhood. Several bodies, of varying ages, were found half-eaten. Oddly, most of them were in the position of murder-suicide. The survivors, possibly those that caused the odd madness, probably set this fire to cover their tracks.'
That had been it, so, trying to find a sympathetic face among those in charge of the paper, Gary decided to send a plea to the outgoing editor.
Sure enough, as soon as Gary clicked 'Send' his copy of the paper changed to reflect the next day's new reality.
-Night with Moon Headquarters, Cleveland-
The Daemon broke off the flow of writing when his mailbox beeped for attention.
"Hmmm..." he mused as he opened the message. "Who would be writing me from Illinois?"
The letter amounted to knowledge that he was losing his job as editor, appreciation of his work and a plea that the 'Outside Events' page for the night would include an expanded section on Chicago.
Heh, he thought, shaking his head. Odd request, surprising that rumor spread this quickly, but it's the least I can do for a fan... "Oh, well... It's my last day with this paper. Might as well make the most of it."
-Office of McGinty's Pub, Chicago-
Gary frowned as he read the expanded article. He had hoped for more details on the arson event, but it remained unchanged. Instead, a second news story had appeared above the first one.
'Chicago, IL- In the alleyway behind the aptly named 'Boggart's Books', probably within the first half-hour past sunset, a young man was decapitated. Still no sign of the head. Why report this minor event? An in-depth look revealed this specific white-lighter has connections to the team in Sunnydale. Expect major shake-ups in the Chicago underworld for some time to come.'
Gary checked his watch, which gave the time as 8:18 PM.
Looking outside, he realized that the sun was setting and that twilight would be soon.
Not good, he thought to himself as he reached for his coat. Not much time left at all.
-A Chicago Sidewalk-
Oz, Sunnydale's favorite red-headed werewolf, stood just outside an alleyway in the Windy City, peering around the corner. He had just started to move forward when a hand grabbed his collar and forcibly pulled him backward.
Frowning, he shook himself loose and spun around to face the brown-haired man. Oz's keen ears had heard the man's approach but hadn't classified it as a threat.
"Look," Gary Hobson said, with an odd expression on his face. "I don't understand what's going on here, but you can't just take shortcuts at night like this."
"No, I think I'll be okay."
"No, you won't be. Do you have any idea what things hide in alleys around here?"
"Yes, I've got a very good sense of smell," Oz challenged. "Do you know what's in there?"
"Well, no. I don't. But trust me, I've got a very reliable feeling that if you go in there you're going to be beheaded."
The red-head smiled, interested. "Beheaded, eh? Tell you what, stay here, out of sight, and, no matter what happens, give me a thirty-second head start."
"No, I don't think so."
"Well, I do think so."
"Fine! It's your funeral."
Gary Hobson stood at the corner, waiting for the exasperating red-head to either get killed or not. He heard clanging and yelling and more clanging.
At the first moment of silence he charged around the corner to see...
... The red-head panting heavily next to a six-freaking-foot long sword lying on the ground. The sword's shiny surface was still vibrating from the fall.
There was also a dented silver breastplate that might have fit an old suit of armor and nothing else of interest in the alley.
"So?" Gary asked, looking around, before finally turning his gaze up at the sky and the thin sliver of the moon. "Where'd the big guy go?"
"He popped," the shorter man stated, catching his breath. "How'd you know we'd be in here, anyway?"
"I'd rather not say," Gary replied, before his well-trained instinct took over and he pulled out the paper.
The appropriate bit of Night with Moon's 'Outside Events' section suddenly read:
'Chicago, IL- This morning, around midnight, in the three-story Oak Park residence of one 'James Olson', a fire consumed the ground floor and basement. This was, presumably, an act of arson meant to cover the depravity found within. Several bodies were half-eaten, most in the position of murder-suicide. Of particular note was the body of a young girl which had been altered to confuse the time of death. A charred copy of today's Chicago Sun-Times had been placed in her backpack several hours after the crime had been committed.'
"Oh, no!" Gary shouted, shocked into motionlessness.
"What's going on?" Oz asked, concerned.
"A young friend of mine is going to be in serious trouble if I don't get across town very fast," Gary said, clenching the paper in his fists. He had decided she'd be the best person to receive the Sun-Times early after his run had ended, but this... "Her name's Lindsey, and the worst of it is that it's going to be my fault."
"Oh, I've got a van," Oz stated, pointing in the direction of the street, before moving the arm down into a friendly gesture. "You haven't told me your name yet."
"Oh, sorry," Gary said, shaking the offered hand. "Gary Hobson. What's yours?"