Author: Bastille Kain
Title: Wheel In The Sky
Disclaimer: Standard—The Characters are all borrowed and belong to their various creators. I own nothing, least of myself so please no suing. The people I already owe money to won't be happy if they find out somebody else is trying to cut in on their share of the pie.
Spoilers: Possibly. But I ain't got a clue as to what might be spoiled, so…
Summary: People and or humanoids, from various genres—BTVS/Marvel/Highlander/Dark Angel/Stephen King novels/Forgotten Realms/Roswell/and others—are plopped down in the Wheel of Time Universe and forced to make their way as best they can. All begins at the same time that Rand encounters the stranger on the road; the one whose cloak doesn't move and vanishes without a trace.
Pairings: Standard fare—Rand/Min/Elayne/Aviendha – Buffy/Spike – Max/Liz – Amanda/whoever happens to catch her fancy – the same for Logan and Faith. A surprise or two just to keep things interesting.
Rating: PG-13??? Maybe a little more. Will be violence and strong language and possible nudity somewhere along the way.
Feedback: Is always appreciated. Just try to keep it constructive.
Email: Kain6639yahoo com
Archive: If you like it that much, sure. Just be sure to let me know where it's going, and give me the credit, good or bad, for my work.
(Will not appear in order listed here)
Drizzt Do'Urden – Alec X5-494: Pair encounters Loial on the road to Caemlyn and travel with him to the great city. Take a room at the Queen's Blessing.
Katherine "Kitty" Anne Pryde – Dawn Marie Summers – Charlene "Charlie" McGee – Kyle Valenti – Richie Ryan: The quintet survive in the Aiel Waste for some time, thanks in part to advance technology Kitty has in her possession as well as Kyle's ability to create and alter the molecular structure of objects. Encounter, stumble upon, capture a group of Aiel Maidens of the Spear after several weeks on their own and are brought to Cold Rocks Hold.
Michael Wiseman – Lisa Wiseman – Heather Wiseman – Ava: The quartet appears in the Royal Palace of Caemlyn, in the throne room where Queen Morgase is holding court, in a brilliant flash. Chaos ensues, all out fighting as Michael begins taking out all comers and Ava manages to deflect or turn aside most of Elaida's attacks. Elaida knocked unconscious and Heather is wounded, fatally so.
Elizabeth "Liz" Parker Evans – William the Bloody a.k.a. Spike: The pair awake at least a days travel from the city of Falme. Liz is able to create blood for Spike so he won't have to kill anybody and money so they will be able to pay for things. Spike's presence, the essence of the demon within him, appears to draw Myrddraal like flies to a midden heap. They are both afraid of his evil and envious of it. Spike kills them out of hand, their blood makes him violently ill, but he likes their swords and is glad they keep showing up because the black blades lose their effectiveness after a week or so. Later he finds Trolloc blood to be better then human, plus it comes in different flavors.
Buffy Anne Summers – Methos – Carietta "Carrie" White – Michael Guerin – Joshua: The quintet appear at the height of raging battle between Trollocs and Shienaran soldiers. In various ways the group helps the human soldiers defeat the Trollocs. The soldiers seem more afraid of Michael then they had of the Trollocs, especially when he attempts to heal Uno. He still manages it, but has to keep a shield between him and the others, Carrie helps keep them at bay. Uno doesn't appear very grateful for not dieing as he has the group put under guard until somebody smarter then him can figure out what is going on.
Duncan Macleod – Isabel Amanda Evans Ramirez – Amy Thomas: The trio arrives in the Warders' training yard, Duncan still receiving the dregs of his latest Quickening, absorbing a barrage of lightening out of the sky. He is immediately attacked by group of young pupils using wooden practice swords as other students and Warders retrieve their swords. Duncan easily defeats students using non lethal force before gathering up his sword to take on the more series challengers only to have Isabel seal them within a barrier of transparent green energy. Demands a meeting with whoever is in charge, Aes Sedai arrogance and attitude instantly puts Duncan's back up and he meets their twisting truths and promises with blunt rudeness.
James Howlett a.k.a. Logan a.k.a. Wolverine – Amanda Darrieux: The pair are discovered on the al'thor farm when Rand and his father Tam return home from their trip into Emond's Field the night before Bel Tine. They help with some of the chores and about to enjoy a meal when the Trollocs attack. Logan takes the fight to the Trollocs and disappears for some time. Amanda helps Rand out a side window, but stays behind to cover his escape. Upon returning to the house Rand discovers Amanda dead, the side of her skull bashed in. She revives moments later, her wounds healing leaving unblemished skin. Amanda helps Rand carry his sick father to town.
Max Evans – Max Guevara X5-452 – Alexa Bond: The trio is taken in by a band of Tuatha'an. Max and Max are both able to offer them a startling amount of music, most of it is modern rock from the nineteen-fifties through twenty-twenty. They are amazed by Max's power and only a little hesitant to be around him as it seems very similar to channeling but Max explains about them being from another world. Max doesn't think it's the right thing to do, but when the people seem accepting of his story she has no choice but to glower like an insolent child. When they discover Alexa is suffering from a terminal illness, advanced AIDS, Max explains that he might be able to heal her as he's done with cancer patients and fatal gunshot wounds, but everybody that he has healed and tracked down have all developed powers. Alexa agrees to be healed. Max enjoys his time with the Tuatha'an, the peacefulness they exude is like what he's spent his entire life searching for. When Max asks if he's planning on staying with he shakes his head, the way of the leaf is not for him, he wouldn't be able to keep himself from acting if trouble started, after all in a previous life he had been king. Besides Liz and Isabel and Michael and others are out there, he can feel them spread out over the vast distance. Max on the other hand fumes at the sedate pace and often takes to scouting ahead of the caravan, she also spends a great deal of time practicing her Katas and honing her fighting skills when the wagons are camp for the night. Can't help the feeling that she's being watching but when she tries to find them there's never anyone about. At night her dreams are becoming incredibly vivid and there are always wolves about watching her but never seen.
Faith Lehane Wilkins: Her arrival is partially witnessed by Min, who watches from an attic storeroom as Faith stumbles out of an alley. For a moment, possibly because of second sight Min is able to see the horrific shape of the slayer demon as it hunches over Faith, worse the demon essence is able to see her and appears on the verge of consuming her when it snaps back, vanishing within Faith who seems to be gaining her bearings. She looks up and spots Min staring at her through a window. She smiles and goes to cross the street ignoring a number of Whitecloaks that accuse her of being a darkfriend. Faith doesn't deny the accusation instead telling them she's been a lot of things in her life and if they don't want to get the asses handed to them they best move on before they annoy her more then she already is. They charge her with some crime try to arrest her and she enjoys disabusing them of that notion. With a throng of onlookers gawking at her she relieves them of their coin, their weapons, and anything else she thinks might be of value. Min runs fearing for her life, several blocks away she stops sure that she's gotten away, only to discover Faith has been following her the entire time, using the rooftops to stay out of sight.
Prologue: Land of Confusion—Part one
The air was bone crushingly cold. In the not too far distance, pops like fireworks exploding, could be heard as frozen sap burst from thick bole trees. It was faint, barely heard over the clamor of steel striking steel, of steel biting into flesh.
Despite the cold it was hot as large, coarse haired bodies with twisted faces, more animal then human; hooked beaks, boar or goat snout or wolf muzzle replacing mouth and nose; tufted ears and feathers, ram or goat horns and eyes as black as polished darkness. Each was almost twice as large as any human, able to look the men atop their armored horses in the eye, black armor with spikes at shoulder and elbow, wielding cruelly hooked axes and long spears or overlarge scythe like swords. Steam rose from thousands of throats, harsh and guttural shouts as they tried to swarm over the much smaller human army before them.
The clang of steel crashing against steel—waves thundering into cliffs—filled the morning, overpowered the hoarse shouts of men and Trolloc alike. Frozen ground turned to blood soaked mud, churned by boot and hoof, making the ground hard to purchase; harder to hold.
Uno shouted orders; shoring up the line, holding it against the frenzied swarm of the Trolloc horde pressed against it. The line needed to hold, there was nothing between them and the small village of Kern, with reinforcements still leagues away. They had to hold. There was no other choice. They had been too late to stop the Trollocs from sweeping up a handful of outlying farms, but Kern still stood and if Uno had any say in the matter it would be standing an hour from now.
A ram horned Trolloc towered over Uno for a brief moment before it dropped away carved nearly in half by the two handed sword only to be replaced by one with a wolf's snout and tufted ears.
Lightening flashed out of the dark, overcast sky. It was the most unnatural lightening any had ever seen, a sickly green that would turn any man's gut sour. It struck just beyond the Trolloc lines, striking without any sound. A second followed the first, and was followed by a third and a fourth and a fifth; each coming faster then the one before it, all faster then an eye could blink. When each bolt vanished a person was left behind and Uno cursed coarsely wondering what new sort of shadowspawn had been deposited on their doorstep.
Only it didn't make much sense, not that Uno could see; of the five two were women, the smaller a blonde hair piece of porcelain so fragile looking Uno was sure a strong enough breeze would be able to shatter her into a thousand pieces, but she was on her feet. She looked young to his eye, younger then his sister's daughter… Seventeen at most, but her expression bore an uncanny resemblance to piqued irritation bordering on anger.
The other girl; a tall, thin reed whose pale red locks fell to the small of her back, was huddled on the ground as if fear gripped her, which Uno was sure it had. He wished to the creator that there was some way to help her, only there was none. Too many Trollocs, not to mention half a dozen Fades, stood between the Shienaran line and her.
Both women wore man styled clothes; the blonde wore a light brown shirt, the color of desert rock, with laces running up the back. It left her stomach bare and exposed a good portion of her bosom for anyone that should happen to look her way and bared her shoulders and arms. Her trousers were light crimson with dark flowers running up the seam that barely climbed above her hips and ended mid-calf. Something like white slippers covered her feet. Her skin was sun dark, as if she spent a good deal of time out of doors. She looked as if she were dressed for summer somewhere far to the south. As if anywhere was going to see summer this year. The taller girl's clothes while no more familiar at least covered her in a proper fashion; her shoes looked sturdier, but were laced up the front with some type of buckleless strap, her trousers were deep blue and looked like woven canvass and appeared quite baggy on her, but it was hard to tell with her huddled on the ground. Three shirts covered her upper body; the outer shirt looked more like red knitted wool and covered the others. A large bag like he had never seen before lay next to her.
Of the men two lay on the ground, light and dark hair, both looked like something mothers would shield their daughters from ever seeing. Men who spent twenty hours on a fast march wearing full armor after three days inside a wine bottle did not look so bad as they.
The black haired man was dressed all in black and grays; black boots, black pants, a black coat—made from leather and polished till it gleamed under the weak sun—that ended mid thigh. The coat covered a heavy knit sweater made from some coarse looking material that was folded double under his jaw. He was pushing himself to a knee as he dragged a heavy double edged sword from somewhere under his coat.
The youth, pushing himself to hands and knees as well, his dirty blonde hair was long and unkempt, his light blue eyes had a frenzied look to them, wore a white button down shirt to thin for the weather and with sleeves that ended well above the elbow. A pair of black stripes, one thin one thick climbed the right side of the shirt and disappeared down the back. His trousers were nearly identical to the red haired girl's, as were his shoes, only without the strap.
The third man, if such a creature can truly be called a man, wore a light green hooded shirt that closed up the front by means of interlocking pieces of metal. His trousers were a mesh of dark and light green patches faded with age. The legs were shoved into the tops of black calf high boots that laced up the front.
Uno thought if there could be an abomination between Trolloc and Fade, then this creature just might be it. A head and half shorter then a Trolloc and not as broad through the shoulders, it was still considerably larger then a Fade. Where a Fade had smooth skin instead of eyes this creatures eyes were almost an amber color as they caught the light, and where a Fades hair was uniformly black, like its cloak, his hair was a light brown, a bit darker for its greasy nature, and hung loosely past his shoulder. His face though, marked him as inhuman, or only partially human. While there was a human cast to his face it was dominated by sharp canine features. And when the creature lifted his head and howled a mournful wail it had an eerie similarity of a lone wolf separated from its pack.
A Trolloc appeared in front of Uno and was hacked under by great two handed chops of his massive sword. He couldn't spare much concern for the newcomers but he gave them what he could. What he saw chilled his blood.
The Trollocs may not know what to make of a dog faced man but they certainly knew what to do with a normal one. One with an eagle's beak and feathers behind its tufted ears lifted its wickedly curved, scythe like sword above its head, meaning to split the dark haired man in twain, only Dog-man was there. He grabbed the trolloc by its wrist and bent the larger creature's arm back painfully; the sword fell from its hand. Dog-man's left hand punched up into the soft flesh of the Trolloc's lower jaw and then ripped, tossing away the hunk of bloody flesh. He turned tossing the Trolloc away as if it weighed no more then a small puppy.
A high pitch wail rose over the din of battle and out of the corner of his one good eye Uno saw three Trollocs stop as if frozen, curved swords and spiked axes poised to strike. Even from the distance Uno could see their bodies quiver as if they were trying to move forward, trying to reach the girl with the pale red tresses kneeling on the ground. She was frightened, more then frightened, with light eyes wide as saucers and bulging from her head. The girl looked as if she just woke from a nightmare only to discover the waking world was far more horrifying then the dreaming one.
One trolloc; with ram's horns, tufted ears, and a wolf like muzzle, but dark eyes that were far too human to be sitting in that twisted face lifted into the air. Its limbs began twisting in ways limbs should never move, loud pops, like muffled firecrackers, punctuated the din. The trolloc screamed for a moment, a bestial roar that cut off abruptly as its body bent backward; its upper and lower halves twisting in opposite directions. It fell to the ground limp and unmoving.
A boulder, twice the size of a large wagon, half buried in the earth ripped itself free of the ground shackling it. The giant rock flew through the air faster then a thoroughbred. The other two trollocs flew backward, away from the girl and directly into the path of the boulder, colliding with bone crushing force, and stayed there; held by some invisible hand as the boulder careened into the bole of a thick tree and bounced to the ground, rolling to a slow stop. Whatever gave it life, gone now.
The tiny blonde girl stood completely still as a massive trolloc bore down on her. The creature easily doubled her height as she couldn't even look the creature square in the navel. One of its hands was big enough to fit all the around her waist and snap her in two. Occupying the trollocs hand now was the thick haft of a cruelly hooked axe. The weapon looked a toy in its massive hands. The trolloc swung and still she stood there and stood there.
At what seemed the last possible moment she stepped forward, moving well inside the trolloc's guard. Her hands snapped up grabbing the haft and it stopped. There wasn't the slightest strain on her part. Then she ripped the axe from its hand as if he was nothing more then a small child with a dangerous toy… and then she spun; moving with the grace of dancer and the speed of a whirlwind as she twirled around the trolloc, the flat of the axe smashing into the creature's backside. There was a sickening bone crushing, organ bursting sort of sound as the trolloc lifted off from the ground, limbs thrown out, back arched as it arced high into the sky.
Uno forgot himself, forgot where he was as he followed the trolloc's flight as it sailed over their lines and landed some fifty feet beyond the last man. It twitched weakly and then was still.
The girl looked surprised and vaguely disappointed at the same time. After a beat she shrugged and as if she weren't in the midst of a heated battled, with trollocs all around she studied the massive axe in her tiny hands, gave it a couple of experimental swings and then beamed as if she just received a wardrobe stuffed full of fine dresses and fancy slippers and whatever other things girls dreamed of.
Suddenly the axe blurred in her hands, whistling as it cut the air. Her light eyes gleamed and a dark smile twisted her lips. She threw herself among the scattered trollocs and they died without ever realizing the danger. When they did realize, it didn't matter. They had no defense against her.
Fire suddenly raged in Uno's guts and the man cursed at the thick haft of wood sticking out of his stomach. He snarled and cleaved the wrist thick shaft preventing the trolloc from ripping the spear and most of his intestines back out.
"Hold the line you goat kissing milksops!" Uno shouted when one reached for him. He was unsure if he was shouting at his men or himself for being such a witless fool. He deserved to have his guts carved out. "Burn you, you gutless swinard," he raged holding his place, laying about him with his great sword wielding it with a single hand. "Anybody that doesn't hold… I'll peel their hide. You light cursed coward. Then I'll stop being pleasant. Burn your bones to ash if I don't."
"Back to your kennel."
Joshua glanced at the tiny girl with the dirty blonde hair. He didn't think anybody was suppose to hear her. The chimera like creature she hit flew over the humans, arced high into the air before crashing back to the ground over a hundred feet away. She shrugged, looked at him, studied him seriously for a moment before she blinked, smiled brightly and said, "Present company excluded," before she turned her attention to the weapon her hands had been caressing.
Joshua smiled and chuckled softly, happily, a strange sort of contentment settling over him. The girl hadn't been afraid of him, had even shared a joke with him apologizing for her other joke, not that he minded. For a moment he felt as if he belonged, as if the girl accepted him the same as Max and Alec and all the other children father made. Same as Cindy and Logan.
Only for a moment.
The fetid stench of the creatures filled his nostrils, pulled him back to where he was. They smelt wrong… like somebody who knew what baking was but didn't realize how to mix the ingredients together. Much like his own attempts to bake Max a birthday cake. Each attempt had come out worse then the own before, until he finally asked Alec for his help. Alec had much amusement at his expense that day, but it was worth it because Max got her cake and for a little while his family had been happy.
Whoever made these creatures didn't care that they came out not quite right.
Father had learnt, he had worked hard to make sure Max and the others would fit in, that normal people would think they were normal to.
He reached down and grabbed the young man with dark hair by the upper arm and hauled him to his feet. "Not a good time to rest," he joked with a soft, hesitant chuckle. The man smelled of lightening and something else, something that made him think of dusty leather books and candles and oil lamps. It was an old smell that clung to him, like blood. For the moment they enjoyed a small space of isolation. Joshua didn't think it would last.
Methos looked up at the man who brought him to his feet, his voice was thick and had an odd sort of lisp. What he saw was nothing he expected. It had to be some odd sort of genetic defect… Engineered! His brain screamed at him. In his entire life, which spanned more then five thousand years he had seen very few real cases of dog-men or pig-boys or any other such thing. As enjoyable of a read as The Island of Dr. Moreau was, with several feature films and a television series or two loosely based on the H. G. Wells' vision, it was something else again to turn science fiction into science fact.
Then again, with how quick science was advancing, the chasms it had leapt in recent years, who could truly imagine what the future was going to hold.
He glanced around, a quick twist of his head that took in the carnage around him, the twisted animals that walked like men. "Joshua," the creature next to him said.
"Methos," he replied too stunned to realize the words coming out of his mouth. This was very much like a scene ripped from the movies. Something the Sci-Fi channel would no doubt have a heavy hand in making.
"Stay alive Methos," Joshua encouraged him, then was gone.
Methos watched as he bound toward the nearest beast man. There was no other way to describe his running gait. The creature sported a crest of feathers atop its ram horned head with almost human looking ears behind a thick snout. Joshua kicked out the creature's leg, wrapped his arms around its head and jerked, snapping the creature's neck. He grabbed the heavy blade, a too large scimitar and swung the sword. It cleaved armor as easily as it did the flesh underneath, the sword sliced halfway through the creature. Joshua threw out a heavy side kick that hit solidly, hurling a beast-man several feet away where it crashed into several of its beast brothers—whatever they're called—as Joshua jerked the sword free and hack at another animal man. The blade missed but it caused the creature to shift its guard, leaving its throat open for Joshua's clawed fingers to rip out.
Movement to his side pulled Methos' attention away from the show Joshua was putting on. He wished he had ignored it, only that would have meant taking that black blade in his back. For the most part this creature looked exactly like a tall man, if the hood of his dead black cloak had been pulled up the illusion would have been completed. With it thrown back, its flesh was so white he should have been in the grave a week or more. Where its eyes should have been was nothing but smooth flesh, but Methos could feel the thing's stare. Its hatred for humanity in general, him in particular, was palpable. It would take great pleasure stripping the flesh from his bones. Fear like he has never felt before burned in his bones, oozed in his blood. Leeches burrowing into his brain would have been more pleasant. The man, the creature that came forward did so with a silky smoothness of a snake. Black armor of overlapping plates only enhanced the illusions. Its sword flickered back and forth like a serpents tongue.
With more effort then he can ever remember it taking Methos raised his blade and knew it would not matter. He knew he was going to die, here; maybe his last death and could only feel grateful this things gaze would be elsewhere. The thing smiled at his raised sword, a contemptuous grin, as if it knew exactly what Methos was thinking.
A spark of anger ignited in Methos' gut, a tiny amber if that; the fear didn't so much lessen but sort of receded. Like a tide flowing back into the ocean. It clicked for him, like the first time somebody ran him through. Strong emotion could keep the fear at bay, a bonfire that managed to hold the night at back. Methos fed it anger, his rage for letting this thing frighten him at all… anger and rage that this thing dared to come at him in the first place. He fanned the flames with his pride; he was Methos, he was Death… He had slaughtered and pillaged and raped his way across three continents; warlords, kings, emperors, and pharaohs paid homage to him and his brothers; the most beautiful women had been his to chose from along with the finest wines and the best horses. He had been a god and this gnat thought to frighten him with its eyeless stare.
Its advance faltered under Methos' twisted grin. The ancient Immortal could practically read the things hesitation. It had expected an easy kill, a victim quivering in fear, not a man whose whispered name had long ago made the mightiest nations of the world tremble.
Methos flowed forward, his blade an extension of his will as it reached for the eyeless almost man. It was all the black blade could do to stay between Methos' hungry steel, to keep his thirsting blade from pale flesh. Methos could tell his style confused the creature, like any Immortal with a couple hundred years under their belt his style was eclectic. It had been molded seamlessly over the course of his life; it was from every land but of none. Contained within it was the story of Methos, from exalted deeds to perdition and the flames that sear his soul to this very day.
Back the creature moved back and back again. Always back, until Methos' blade bite through flesh and bone. Black blade, fingers still clutching the hilt, flew through the air. Hand and sword were quickly followed by the things head.
Methos stepped back quickly as the thing, without its head, continued to flail wildly. Out of the corner of his eyes he spotted a few of the beast men drop to the ground; clutching their skulls, heel and hoof scraping groves in the frozen ground.
Michael groaned softly as he pushed himself up to a knee. He wanted to scream at the chaos that greeted him… Wanted to wake up on the instant… If this is Isabel's idea of a joke …only he couldn't. It was with a sublime sort of horror that he realized there was nothing to wake up from.
He wasn't asleep.
He wished he was. At least then he wouldn't be seeing what was going on around him; animals that walked like men, animals that wielded cruel and wicked looking weapons that left gaping holes where they tore out flesh.
Or the little blonde girl who twirled a monstrous axe with a haft that was twice as round as both her hands and was a head taller then her as if it were a plastic toy. Once he had seen her cut a swath into the frozen ground, casting chunks of dirt and rock into the air, spin—wielding the axe much like a baseball bat—pelting any number of creatures with bits of rock and frozen earth hard enough to knock a few of the animal-men off their feet. Then she just stood there, staring at them, looking as innocent as a newborn babe, like chocolate wouldn't melt in her mouth. With her Capri pants and slip on safari sneakers with little pink hearts and her halter top of frilly lace; hair dyed the exactly right shade of blonde and perfectly bronzed skin she looked like California bubble headed prom princess. At least that was image she seemed intent on pulling off.
It was worst then watching bad anima with Max and Kyle, and there was nothing worst then watching bad anima with people who didn't understand or appreciate the art. This wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't been part of the cast.
Pain seared through his back, lanced through his gut as a barbed shaft, thick as his thumb, punched through his body. He fell forward clutching at the shaft. Acid burned in his gut making him want to empty his stomach. Each breath sent fresh waves of pain shooting outward from his stomach. He wanted nothing more then the fire burning in him to sweep him away. Let the darkness claim him once and for all.
He twisted the bloody shaft and jerked up screaming. Something inside of him, some voice he could only credit at being Rath, was screaming at him. To get up, get on his feet, that there was no way he was going to die on this back end of forever, no account planet, to a bunch of genetically backwards engineered freaks. It was the first time that Michael had ever felt Rath's presence, from what he could sense the man had been a warrior through and through.
Panting, Michael erected a dome of transparent green energy as he pushed himself upright once more, turning to see what sort of coward struck at his enemy from behind. A dozen hairy bodied animal-men, each nearly twice as large as a big man, were advancing on him. They would make a professional wrestler seem almost normal sized. Their faces were an assortment of snouts and muzzles and beaks with horns—goat and ram—or crested feather and tufted ears.
They weren't what drew Michael's gaze. That fell on the normal looking man. Normal looking and man were both relative terms. His flesh was so pale, so white as to appear bloodless. Where his eyes should have been was smooth flesh. Its armor was overlapping plates a dull, grayish black and its sword blade was as black as the deepest night.
Something oozed along his bones, maggots crawling over rotting flesh. It struck a cord deep inside him… Inside his human half, a fear boiling in his blood. The Antaran part of him snarled at the sensation, casting it aside.
The shaft of the arrow glowed as Michael altered its density and removed it from his side. He pressed his right hand against the wound in his side and the area glowed again, the wound closing at his touch. He didn't have much skill at healing, not even as much as Kyle, nowhere close Max—the man could raise the dead, obliterate terminal illness—but this was well within his range.
He rose to his feet, the arrow hovering in front of his outstretched hand, its density altering once more as it become harder then titanium. It shattered into a thousand, thousand little arrows, each one barely the size of a needle. With a single thought they rocketed outward, exploded really. In a single instant each needle size arrow found the flesh of an animal man, sliding through armor as easily as they did muscle and bone, taking them through throat, heart, eye… Anywhere and everywhere. Out of them all only the eyeless man remained, completely unscathed.
Michael's smile twisted his face into a sneer, green energy burst from the shield, slammed into the man like thing, seemed to burrow into its chest, through the plate armor without so much as a smear. The creature screamed, clawed at its own chest, ripping a single plate from his armor before he exploded.
Buffy leaned against the haft of the axe she had liberated early in the fight; the blade was sunk halfway through the bole of a leather barked tree. Her arms were folded across her chest as she watched impassively while the Shienaran soldiers policed the area. She had never cared much for soldiers and this hard faced group did little to improve their standing in her eyes. They were quick to bandage their wounded. The ones that could were making a consorted effort to avoid Michael, a heavy brown cloak draped over his shoulders.
Oddly enough it was one of the Shienarans that had given Michael the cloak. They had given one to Carrie; it was deep green and thick. Buffy wished she had one as well, not because she was cold because she wasn't, not really. She was aware of the cold just like she was aware of the heat but since being called neither bothered her. It was simply one more thing that made her a freak, but this one was one she could conceal; she simply dressed appropriately for the weather.
They had offered, had practically thrown an entire wardrobe at her, but knowing everything they were offering had, until this very morning, belonged to people that were now dead, killed any desire she had to burrow into their clothes just so she wouldn't stand out so much. Besides, knowing how much her presence flustered them filled her with a childish glee and almost made her want to flaunt herself even more. If only she had a string bikini with her, she could probably send the entire nation into epileptic fit. A secret little smile twisted her lips at the image. The women would probably try to burn me at the stake as some kind of succubus. They really need to dig themselves out of the stone age.
Most of the uninjured were scouring the nearby farms, looking for any survivors from the Trolloc raid. So far they had found several, mostly young children who had been hidden in secret niches. They were a dirty and miserable looking bunch, most weeping in the way children do when they know they've lost everything, when they know their mom and dad aren't coming back for them. A few, the older ones, seemed more stoic. They didn't cry, but their dark eyes glittered with unshed tears and burned with a dark light. She had seen that look as well, on people who felt they only had one thing left to live for. Vengeance was all that mattered to them, it became their life and they would do anything to achieve it; deal with the devil himself, bargain away their souls, become what they hated… Watch the world burn.
Buffy hardened herself; she couldn't let herself be drawn into their struggle. Their problems, whatever they were, were theirs and didn't concern her. The only thing that mattered to her right now was finding a way back home. Considering she didn't know where here was, or how she had gotten here, much less who her traveling companions on interdimensional rift airlines were, made the process just a little more burdensome for her. She didn't know if they all came from the same reality as her or if they had been plucked up randomly from all over the multiverse.
What she wouldn't give to have Giles and Willow here to do the research and Xander with his lame jokes and donuts, and Dawn trying to horn in, like she had ever right to be there, and Tara with her reassuring presence, and Anya constantly informing them of her many orgasm and just how enjoyable they are. Even Spike smelling like cheap whiskey and stale tobacco, with his rapier like tongue just waiting for an opportunity to draw blood.
Her eyes kept sliding back to a young girl, she couldn't be more then seven or eight, she was weeping and sniffling, but was fighting so hard not to. It pulled at her. She looked nothing like Dawn, but it was the same way Dawn had been when mom and dad told her they were separating and getting a divorce. She had asked to be excused but hadn't bothered waiting for permission before leaving the kitchen table. She had left in that far too quite way she has sometimes, when she didn't think anybody was paying attention to her and went to her room.
Buffy had wanted to cry herself that day, but her tears had all been used up weeks early; used up for everybody she hadn't been able to save; Merrick, the students of Hemery. She had heard Dawn crying later that night, and when she knocked on Dawn's door and after nearly a minute of waiting had simply pushed the door open. Dawn's eyes had been red and her cheeks tear streak but she wasn't crying anymore. They had talked for a while that night, one of the few times they had actually talked, and when she had pulled Dawn in for hug they had both been crying freely.
She tore her eyes off the girl and went back to studying the soldiers. A bunch had the unfortunate task of hauling the dead Trollocs out of the area. They were bringing the creatures to a series of large pyres they had erected a few hundred yards away. Joshua was helping them, dragging two corpses at a time across the frozen ground. He would toss the bodies into one of the four roaring fires from twenty feet away. Joshua said they smelt bad enough without burning and she could only agree with him. Her nose twitched every time the wind shifted and blew in her direction.
Another group of soldiers were busy digging large holes in the frozen ground. Buffy was rather impressed with the progress they had made with how hard the ground was. Several others were stripping the dead soldiers of their armor, clothes, and other possessions. A small number of farmers, just as dead and just as naked, lay in that group. When Buffy asked one of the soldiers, Masema she thought his name was, where the rest of the people were he had told her, in explicit detail, what Trollocs did with humans. If he had been expecting her to be all delicate and girl like, emptying her stomach for his amusement, he had been disappointed. As a slayer she dealt with things that made Trollocs seem like fluffy bunnies.
With a guilty wince, she glanced upward and whispered, "Sorry Anya." It wasn't the sky of her earth, or her sun, or her anything else of her world, but she didn't think whoever was up there would mind.
Bringing her attention back to the situation at hand, she sighed heavily as another soldier backed away from Michael; their polite, but rather firm refusal to even come within arm's length of the man was beginning to grate on her. A knife slicing through skin and gorging bone would feel almost as pleasant. If not for him killing off nearly a fifth of the Trolloc forces in one fell swoop these men might still be fighting and dying. Yet you would think the man carried some sort of plague with the way these people avoided him. She caught words like channeling and madness whenever Michael passed too near for their comfort. She figured she'd stick near his side on the ever increasing chance that if trouble did break out, it would be because of Michael.
Methos, the swordsman that had skill coming out his yin yang, was hovering close by Carrie. Buffy knew she could take the man in a fight, maybe… But if it came down to a simply contest of skill, she had the feeling he could carve her clothes off without ever touching the flesh beneath them. He seemed to have taken up the position of Carrie's personal body guard, though she couldn't imagine a person who needed one less… The girl tossed five ton boulders around with her mind like they were Tonka toys, but was also the poster child for shy and timid, even more so then Willow had been. She seemed to huddle inside herself far too much. Most of the Shienarans treated her with a profound sort of respect, as if they were in awe of her, which was understandable considering the things she could do with her mind, but it was the exact opposite of how they treated Michael. She was going to have to figure a way to break the girl out of her shell; Michael might be able to help.
Several of the soldiers had used the term Aes Sedai when talking about Carrie and after the battle had expected her to be able to heal their wounded. When she said she couldn't, that she didn't know how to heal people, Michael had volunteered telling them he couldn't heal much but that he'd do what he could. No one had moved but there was this sense of everyone taking a collective step back. There had been a tension in the air and Buffy had prepared herself to kill these men she had just saved at the slightest misstep. She didn't much care for bigots or their ideas of racial purity and ethnic cleansings. Without looking around she had sensed Joshua and Carrie tensing as well, but to help or not she didn't know and hopefully would never have to find out.
Surprisingly it had been Uno, the foulest mouthed man she had ever meant, who put a stop to any kind of trouble. He told Michael to do what he could for the worst injured and if any had a problem with it they could see him about it, any that could decide for themselves, could. Of course Uno being Uno, his language was a bit more colorful then her own. She still wondered how the man could make the words milk drinker seem a crime worse then child molester. The man had, but it was a mystery to her how.
The only reason there weren't more people waiting to be tossed into a hole was Michael had healed the most seriously wounded first. While most still couldn't walk, or not walk very far unaided, and some had yet to rouse, they would at least live long enough to reach proper medical attention, if this world even had anything that resembled a hospital, which they probably didn't considering their stone age attitude and archaic weapons.
Suddenly she pushed herself away from her resting position. She left the axe where it was, nobody had said anything to her about it but she doubted if anybody was going to try and take it away from her. Most everybody here had seen what she was capable of doing and if they hadn't, they had heard… stories. Distorted versions of the truth. She had no doubt the tales about her would be twisted into stories even she wouldn't be able to recognize a year from now.
Making a beeline toward where the soldiers had herded the children Buffy marched on them with a purpose. What that purpose was she didn't know, but she took each step with the intention of finding out. She could feel her heart thudding in her chest and found it amusing. Here she was, dumped onto a strange world, possible a completely different reality and she doesn't miss a bit. Spends the early morning hacking Trollocs into Kibbles 'n' Bits like it was an everyday occurrence, yet right now she's nervous, her palms feel slick and, she could admit it too herself, she was scared.
Several of the soldiers must have sensed her approach; they turned, hands going to sword hilts until they saw who it was and they began to relax. Men in general had no idea how to care for children, soldiers in particular, had even less. They must have gotten a good look at her face because they didn't relax much and their hands strayed near their sword hilts once again. Ragan though, his hand fell completely away and he smiled openly at her, but she had been the one to pull a Trolloc off of him after his horse went down so maybe it wasn't so strange. Of course he was also one of the few Shienarans that allowed Michael to heal him.
"May peace favor you," Ragan said giving her a slight bow. "How may I serve?" He asked standing back up.
If nothing else the Shienarans were ultra polite, more polite then anybody Buffy had ever dealt with before. "I need some questions answered," she replied bluntly.
His smiled widened slightly and somehow his eyes managed to stay focused on hers. Buffy decided he had a nice smile, one of a man determined to squeeze all the good he could from a world that often showed nothing but ugliness. "If I can," he said with a shrug. "If I know the answers they are yours."
"What's going to happen to them?" She asked pointing at the small group of children.
He blinked obviously expecting her to ask something else. He glanced back at them, a touch of sadness pulling at his face. "Those that we can find their families will be sent on to them. The others, those that we can't… we'll find homes for them."
Buffy forced herself to ask the next question. She didn't want to, but she needed to know. While she hadn't paid too much attention in history class, she doubted if this specific subject had ever been broached, she was a big fan of the fairy tale, and they always ended with happily ever after. While those stories had certainly glossed over the how and why Cinderella had come to be living with her wicked step mother, the fact remained that she had been when the story started. Buffy didn't believe anybody deserved to have that fate thrust upon them. "And if a home can't be found for them?"
"It's happened a few times," Ragan said. "When it does they become wards of Lord Agelmar. The older ones will be given a place in the servants' quarters and a job. If they are younger they'll be given to an older servant to watch at night. During the day they'll be taught their letters and numbers as well as chores, hauling water or firewood, things of that nature."
"Their children." The low growl in Buffy's voice made Ragan seem to move back without ever moving. She turned away slightly, her hands gnashing the air in frustration. "They should behave like children… go to school, cuddies, boys making armpit farts, fifth grade romances, abandoning homework for their parents to finish so they can hang with their friends at the mall." She wanted to pound on something and wished Spike was at hand. The vampire was always good at enduring her temper, most times giving as well as he got, sometimes he even managed to turn her tantrums aside. "Somebody should be taking care of them—" She fumed rounding on Ragan. This time he did take a step back, a small one before stiffening as if prepared to meet a Trolloc head on. "—not profiting from their labor."
"Peace," he said sharply as he put his hands out, not touching her but bracketing her shoulders, attempting to get her to focus on him. Her blue eyes settled on him, it was like being buried under an avalanche of intensity. He can't remember ever seeing eyes so sharp before. "The work that they're put to isn't hard or useless, and nobody profits from their labor. It also gives them a sense of purpose, of accomplishment, that they're needed and useful."
"You agree with this?"
"Peace," Ragan whispered. Buffy didn't know why he kept using the word but she could sense he meant it; like a vow or a pledge. "Everybody needs to know their place—" He knew the words were wrong the moment her eyes began to glitter.
"Really?" There was a dangerous note with how she said that one word. "What's my place going to be Ragan? Am I gonna have to haul wood in exchange for a bed? Dance for some lord so I might enjoy a meal?"
"Peace Buffy," he said in a breathless rush. Every word that came out of his mouth seemed to push her the wrong way. "You're a warrior Buffy. I've never seen your like before. Once Lord Ingtar and Lord Agelmar hear of your skill a place will be found for you. The Army per—"
Her laugh, something between a giggle and a full blown chuckle, a very un-lady like sound, stopped him mid-word. "I've tried the whole military thing Ragan. We're not compatible. Me and orders, we're completely unmixable."
"I saw you fight. May my sword never know peace Buffy if you aren't a warrior."
Buffy let out a heavy sigh as she rolled her head back. "I am more," she brought her head back down, "then my job… more then my calling. Everybody on my world is. Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn't guarantee its always going to be there. People whose parents and grandparents were sharecroppers and refugees have the same rights as the billionaires and the senators and our legal system holds everybody accountable to the same standards, unless you're crazy. Then it's a room with padded walls and all the drugs you could possibly want. A MacDonald's clerk has as much chance of becoming President as an heiress, and children aren't forced to follow in the footsteps of their parents… Just because your dad was a soldier doesn't mean you have to be one." She ran down, finishing in a barely audible whisper. "I shouldn't've bothered you Ragan. I'll let you get back to what you were doing," she said and turned away. If she was aware of Ragan lifting his hand, unsure if he should reach out for her or not, she gave no indication.
She had to get out of this place; it was going to drive her up a wall inside a week. She wanted her summer line and fall wardrobe. She wanted her malls back and her sketchers and her prada bags. She wanted her no foam lattes and ice coffees. She wanted to DQ something different. To take in a Lakers' game on a Sunday night or to will away a lazy Saturday afternoon at the ballpark watching the Angels play. That might be pushing it a little since she had never done either, but she wanted the option of being able to do them.
What she didn't want was to be here. She didn't need to get swept up in these peoples' problems; she had enough of her own. These people had their own way of doing things, which if her conversation with Ragan was any indication, was the complete opposite of everything she cherished. She'd be lucky if she didn't wind up tossed in prison for preaching sedition against the crown.
She had only taken a few steps when she felt a tiny hand tug at hers. Looking down Buffy was surprised to see the child she had noticed earlier holding her hand. She smiled at her, but the girl didn't seem to notice, her eyes seemed distant, as if she were trying to work things out in her own head. Without any preamble the girl spoke, her voice hoarse from hours of crying. "The soldiers all say you killed Trollocs." Even sounding so rough Buffy had no trouble hearing the doubt in the girl's words.
"A few," she answered. Her voice was flat, as neutral as she could possibly make it. The last thing she wanted to do was discuss her body count with a child.
She nodded, a sharp jerk of her small head. "Good," she said. Buffy winced inside. No child's voice should contain so much happiness about death. "They took my mother and father and my brothers. I was with the pigs when the trollocs came and hid under the pen. I was as quiet as I could be, hoping they wouldn't find me."
Buffy had no idea what to say, how to counsel this little girl. She seldom had to deal with any aftermath. Most of the time the people she was rescuing ran once she drew the vampires' attention; no thank you, no can I give you hand with that, not even an aren't you too young… How was she suppose to congratulate a child when their family was dead, food for the Trollocs. She was going to need years of therapy to deal with the survivor's guilt. "You did the right thing," she finally said. Her voice low, solemn. She pulled the child to her, hugged her to leg and hip. "I'm sure the last thing your—"
"I wish all the trollocs were dead," the girl whispered against Buffy's leg. Without her slayer enhanced hearing she never would have heard the utterance, with it those words were like a clarion call. "I wish you and the soldiers killed all the trollocs."
And I wish I had been here soon enough for you and your family to be together, she thought as she stared straight ahead. It was the truest feeling she's had in a long time. "I'm Buffy. Buffy Anne Summers."
"That's a funny name."
"Hey," Buffy said with mock indignation. "I'll have you know my mother gave me that name." Buffy sensed rather then saw a wisp of a smile crack the girl's lips. It might have been nothing more then her imagination, but she'd like to think it was real. "You know, where I'm from, it's considered rude when someone gives their name and the other person doesn't respond in kind. It sort of means you can't be, or don't wanna be friends with that person." She almost felt guilty playing on the girl's guilt this way, but…
"Fliriece Arisien," she said into the prolonged pause.
The pair had almost meandered their way back to where her axe remained lodged in the tree trunk. The soldiers continued to eye her with a wary sort of caution and gave her a wide berth when she passed. Not quite the space that opened up for Michael, but still a respectful enough distance, and one that gave them enough space to draw steel. She suppose they thought that since she was a girl she would never see it. It was only fair she guessed, since she could cover the meager distance in less time then these people suspected. None of them realized that she had been toying with the Trollocs, that while they look all fearsome the only thing she had to worry about them getting through her guard was their odor. The fetid stink almost had her on her knees gagging to start off with.
Not moving overly fast to begin with, Buffy slowed their pace even more as they neared where Michael knelt next to Uno, talking seriously. "…be the flaming son of a goat if you think—"
Michael shrugged as he stood up, a bland sort of expression on his face, like what they were discussing was of absolutely no importance. "It's your choice," he said brushing his hands on his pants.
"Blood and ash if it isn't," Uno snapped keeping the bandage pressed to his side. He pressed down harder and sneered, his already harsh face becoming twisted and cruel. The man made a sack of rocks seem soft. "Don't you flaming forget it, you—"
"I just hope your men are as understanding," Michael said into Uno's rant.
Buffy wanted to slap Michael upside his head. When Uno got going the man could spout half a dozen colorful phrases without slowing. The soldier could give Spike a decent run for his money when it came to turning an epitaph.
Michael waved away his own statement saying, "Of course they are. You're their commander after all. I'm sure you pulled their fat out of the fire all the time, that they'd follow you through thick and thin, to hell and back on your word alone. I'm sure they'll understand that you let a man heal them, especially knowing that you would have made certain it was safe by going first—" He stopped as if suddenly realizing something. The glint in his eyes said he had won.
"Burn your goat skinned hide," Uno growled. The man did not look pleased. "You flaming sure you aren't bloody Aes Sedai?"
"Never heard of them," Michael said kneeling back down. He reached out placing his left hand over the bandage. Closing his eyes a look of deep concentration slipped over his face. For the first time Buffy noticed just how tired Michael was. He appeared to be on the ragged edge. A soft glow suffused the area of the bandage for a second or so. It vanished and Michael slumped, his arms providing most of his support. "Are they the local rock band?" He murmured.
"Bloody," Uno hissed. All the pain was gone from his voice. "That's it?" he asked forgetting himself enough that not a single cuss slipped out of his mouth.
"Did he channel?" Fliriece asked in a stunned voice.
Buffy shook her head no as she said, "I don't think so." I really need to find out what channeling is. "I think his power is something different. Like magic."
"Remember," Michael began as he leaned back pulling the bloody cloth away revealing unbroken skin underneath, "take two aspirin in the morning and be sure to schedule a fellow up exam with your regular physician. Just to be on the safe side."
Uno stared at Michael with a completely blank expression that Michael rolled his eyes at as he let out a prolonged breath. The grizzled veteran gave a slight shake of his head, deciding to simply ignore the odd comment. With a terse frown Uno tentatively, to start at least, pushed himself to his feet. "Flaming," he said in wonder, twisting his torso, touching the flesh with a testing finger. "Better then a bloody—" His one good eye twitching toward Carrie; the barest flicker. "Burn my bones if it wasn't. None of that goat kissing flailing about."
"Good," Methos said. The man had been hovering nearby, but most of the people seemed surprised by the sound of his voice. "Now that that's settled, if you wouldn't mind pointing us in the general direction of Tar Valon." Uno's eye tightened slightly. "I've been fairly well informed that's the only place we'll receive the assistance we require."
Buffy could only wonder, she had seen Methos talking to a fair number of Shienarans, getting in good with the locals she had thought at the time, but now it was obvious he's been pumping them for information. The man was subtle about it too, she hadn't suspected anything.
Uno snorted sourly, turned his head and spit on the ground before meeting Methos' gaze with an unflinching dark eye stare of his own. "Much as I'd bleeding love the lot of you to up and flaming vanish faster then a mug of ale set in front of a drunk after a week spent in the Waste, burn me if I wouldn't carry you to Tar Valon myself. The bloody decision isn't mine to make. Lord Ingtar will be here any flaming minute and a detachment will be sent off to escort you to Fal Dara where Lord Agelmar will decide what to do."
"Do you honestly think you can hold me Uno? If I don't want to be held?" Buffy voice was ice, but it was nothing compared to her eyes, a glacier slowly sweeping forward.
"Light burn my bones woman if any man her would care to fight you. Even with the rest of the flaming Borderlands guarding our back. Ingtar isn't so bad as far as being a bloody lord goes and Agelmar always been fair, blood and bloody ashes if he hasn't. I've never heard of him hanging anybody who didn't flaming deserve just that if not ten times over. For all I know Agelmar may send you on to King Easar, he may keep you cooped up at Fal Dara for a time, until he's bloody sure of you in his own mind. Maybe he'll take one flaming look at the spavined lot of you and kick your sorry asses out the front gate."
Buffy felt twice as tense, it had her tied up inside. She tried to keep the anxiety from showing, tried to keep her body relaxed, ready to move. She didn't know how well it worked, not much if Methos inching closer was any indication. Again she was startled that she had to focus her senses on him, he held himself far tighter then any other person she's ever encountered before. It's as if he spent an entire lifetime becoming completely in tune with his body, honing it to the greatest degree possible and then expanded that awareness to the world around him.
Buffy concentrated on Uno. "If that's your idea of alleviating a girl's worry you better take some remedial courses. It'll be a positively artic day in hell before—"
A strong, yet surprisingly soft hand gently touched her shoulder as Methos bent close to her. When he spoke his words were quiet, almost whispered, but they were said in such a way that they seemed to carry further then they normally would have. "Nobody here doubts that you could fight your way out of here. You and Joshua both could probably get clear in a matter of minutes. What happens to everyone else?"
"I don't know the rest of you," Buffy answered barely bothering to lower her voice.
"And if these guys are the evil bastards you believe them to be?" There was a barely contained hint of something dastardly in his voice.
"They're not," Buffy answered tersely even though she couldn't help asking herself, What if they are? She reminded herself of how thoroughly they had conducted their search for survivors. It hadn't been overly difficult, most of the time all they had to do was assure the children hiding that the Trollocs were gone. Those were their own people, a suspicious seed whispered. Not strangers who pop out of thin air. All Michael has to do is twitch and a dozen men are ready to put a sword through his gut. Masema doesn't even need that much reason.
"So what are you going to do," Methos voice dipped suddenly, a hiss meant for her ears alone. "Kill them all…?" There was a hint of glee at that thought. "…After saving them?"
Knee caps. A few months on crutches would teach them a valuable message. Like how not to get in my way, she thought blandly. A light shudder ran through her as she wondered when she had become so hard, when casual violence had become so blasé to her. Growing up on a hell-mouth, it's a wonder I'm not granite.
"Besides it'll be easier to escape in transit," Methos assured her. He had the sound of a man with infinite experience in the area.
Buffy didn't like it, but she could admit, to herself anyway, that her opinion was slightly skewered on the subject. She was more of smash it until it broke sort of girl. Most of her friends only used the term cautious in regards to her as relative to Faith. "Fine," she growled with a great deal of pent up frustration.
Reaching behind her, Buffy took Fliriece by the arm and swung her around, catching her in the crook of her arm. They made an odd sight, the child should have been too large for someone of Buffy's diminutive size to pick up so easily or carry for too long, yet Buffy held her without any sign of strain.
With a pointed glare Buffy ignored the man around her as she turned. "You ever hear the story of the three little pigs?" Fliriece shook her head no. "Cinderella?" Another no. "Hansel and Gretel?" No again. "Ali Baba and the forty Thieves? Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Dwarves? The Little Mermaid?" No, no, and no. "The Princess Bride?" One more no.
All she could really hope for is that her friends were busy trying to find her and bring her back. Hopefully Sunnydale wouldn't get to bad before they got her home. Riley would be able to handle some of it and if they had to Spike was there, and he might not charge too much to kill any uppity demon. If it really got bad they could always bring Faith back to town, work out some sort of parole. Wouldn't Willow and Xander just love that?
"Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin. Her favorite pastimes were riding her horse and tormenting the farm boy that worked there. His name was Westley, but she never called him that. Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around…"