Thunder at the Crossroads:

If you recognize it, it probably belongs to someone else, I make no profit off of the following.

Graham Miller hit the door running. In the background he could hear their team's shaman screaming in pain as she struggled to hold the wards open. The door wasn't locked so he blew through it and landed almost gracefully on the carpet in the foyer. Springing to his feet he charged into what his briefing told him was the sitting room of the house and on into the living room beyond. The green glow emanating from there told him that he and his squad were in the right place. He had just charged into the room when he was all but blinded from a flash of light coming from the center of the room. He cursed himself, too late. He didn't have time to think about that though, the device on the floor in front of him demanded his immediate attention. It was a large block of gray-green clay-like substance, with a digital timer reading, "00:15" and counting down. Graham cursed and rushed forward and grabbed the timer, it didn't matter if there were any anti-tampering devices at this point, if it went off, it went off. He grabbed the timer and tossed it to the other side of the room behind the couch. "Fire in the hole!" he called as he dived for cover behind a chair. Everyone else did the same, finding what ever cover they could, so when there was a loud 'crack' from behind the couch, along with a puff of smoke, no one was injured.

As soon as it became clear that he was still alive, Miller glanced around the room, at the plethora of books, charts and graphs. Then he looked at the intricate pentagram drawn on the floor in the middle of the room, he didn't think he'd ever seen one so large or complex. In front of the pentagram he saw the body of a young woman, Graham recognized her as Anton Davis's personal assistant, from the position of the knife it was clear she had cut her own throat, this was seriously bad.

He glanced up as his commanding officer, Riley Finn, jogged into the room; he glanced at the body then said, "Tell me we got him?"

"Sorry, he got the spell off. He could be anywhere right now."

Riley cursed; The Circle of the Black Thorn had seriously overextended itself tonight. Angel and his people had managed to draw them seriously out of position, and The Circle had committed a fair amount of their forces into wiping out Angel and Company.

Slayer's Inc. had gotten a heads up and they had passed it on to the Initiative. The Initiative then fully deployed into the LA basin and was about to advise Angel of this when it had gone down. Angel's people had nailed the Circle and their chief operatives, including, to Riley's chagrin, a US Senator. They had suffered some losses and had been holed up behind the Hyperion Hotel waiting to make a last stand. The alleys had nicely channeled the demonic army and denied most of them much maneuvering room so when five hundred Slayers had come off of the roofs on either side of them they hadn't stood a chance. Riley had gotten to find out that while a stinger missile was not heavy enough to take out a dragon, the 25mm-chaingun that was the other part of an Avenger Mount did a real nice job of it. Riley had to fight not to smile at the look on Angel's face when he had taken it out.

The fight was short and brutal, The Slayers loosing over thirty of their girls, with more than a hundred injured, but in the end the demon army hadn't been routed; it had been annihilated. Angel had been pissed at first, but Buffy had pointed out they couldn't have very well tipped Angel off that they were onto the game with out tipping off the senior partners. Angel had been forced to agree. That was when Riley had brought up that there were three reserve members of the Circle, who sat out things like this incase there was a problem. Angel hadn't realized there were people he had missed.

The groups had each taken one of the extra's, with Angel Investigation picking up two Slayers to help them out. The Initiative had drawn Anton Davis, who lived outside of town. When they had arrived they had spotted an eldritch glow coming from the front windows. They had deployed to blitz the place with Tryeala Mountrose, the team's Shaman, ripping a gap in the wards that surrounded the place. Unfortunately it looked like they were too late.

"Can we get Tryeala in here to try and figure out what kind of ritual it was?" Graham asked.

Riley shook his head, "She's collapsed back in the transport, she's out and the Doc thinks it will be for awhile." Making a decision, he pulled his cell and dialed a number, "Willow? As soon as you're done I need you out at Davis' place, he ported out and I think we really need to know where he went."


Two hours later everyone was gathered in Davis' living room studying the pentagram on the floor, well except for Buffy, Spike, and Angel. They were outside where Buffy was expressing her displeasure that neither of them thought it would be a halfway good idea letting her know that Spike was back and her thoughts on the whole Samson idea that Angel had been working. Riley was sneaking peaks out of the window enjoying the show.

"I think it was a time spell," Willow said from her crouched position, studying the symbols that ringed the pentegram.

"To alter time?" Sam Finn asked from her spot opposite of the witch.

"Kind of," Willow began. "I think he sent himself back in time though."

"To where? Err, when?" Riley asked, looking back into the room.

"That's the million dollar question," Willow responded. "She would have provided the destination before she cut her throat," nodding at the corpse that was still in the room.

"This house was meant to be destroyed, correct?" Rupert Giles asked from where he was going over the bookshelves that lined the east wall of the room.

"The charge that he set would have left a good start to an Olympic sized pool," Graham Miller confirmed from where we was going over the charts and tables that covered the desk that was on the opposite side of the pentagram from the corpse.

"Then I would think that his target is somewhere in the American Civil War, most likely the Battle of Gettysburg," Giles stated, his tone leaving nothing to debate.

"How do you figure that?" Graham Miller asked.

Giles waved at the bookshelves, "These bookshelves are made up of histories and stories of that conflict, including some speculative fiction about the possible outcomes if the Confederate States of America were to have won. Over a third of them are about the Battle of Gettysburg. If he wanted that much information on that period it would logically be his target."

"Then he failed," Riley said, leaving the window, it looked like Buffy was finished with the two vampires, and was heading into the house. Angel and Spike stayed behind, putting themselves back together, figuratively anyway, mores the pity.

"You base this on?" Giles asked.

"We are still here. If he went back to change the past and succeed we wouldn't be here talking about it, we never would have existed."

"This spell doesn't work that way," Willow said pushing herself up, after satisfying herself about what the pentagram did. "Right now there is a parallel timeline running. If he succeeds, then we will all vanish as his timeline takes supremacy. We have to go back and stop him."

Riley looked shocked, "How? I mean not only going back, but we have no clue as to what he is planning on doing. There is so many ways he could screw this up for the North, how are we supposed to stop him?"

"He's planning on shooting Robert E. Lee, probably sometime on the morning of July Second."

Everyone stared at Graham Miller as he calmly watched everyone staring at him.

"How could you know that?" Giles finally managed to ask.

"These are ballistic tables, so he seems to be planning a long range shot" he said lifting up a sheet of paper from the desk. "Lee screwed up during the battle. Longstreet had the better plan but Lee wouldn't listen to him. I can't think of any other single individual whose removal could have affected the outcome of the battle as much."

"I thought Picket's Charge on the Third Day was the climatic event of the battle?" Riley asked.

Miller shrugged, "July Second was the make or break day for the South. If they had either pulled back to defensible ground, the way Longstreet had wanted to do. Or, if they had just gone around the Union line the way Hood wanted to do, but Longstreet wouldn't let him do. If they had done either thing the South probably would have won the battle. It might not have made the North quit, especially with Vicksburg falling the next day, but it could have brought European recognition of the South and could have cost Lincoln the election the next year."

"Even if true, we have no way of going back," Giles said, "At least I know of no spell to send us back in time."

"What about this one?" Sam asked, pointing at pentagram.

"Will you cut your own throat to power it?" Giles asked.

"If that's what it takes to save everything," Sam answered seriously.

Riley had just opened his mouth to cancel that idea when Willow said, "No one has to die to power this. She," nodding at the corpse, "Sacrificed herself to generate the power needed to run it. I can do that myself. It will drain my reserves so it will be a couple of days before I can bring everyone home, but no one has to die."

"Who goes?" Sam asked.

"I can take four other people," Willow said.

Giles nodded, thinking on who would be best to go.

"We figure out where he went?" Buffy asked as she all but stormed into the room.

"Pennsylvania," Giles answered absently.

"Let's get going then, I want this over with." Then catching the look that everyone was giving her she asked, "What?"