Title: A Little More than One Million B.C.

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG/K+

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.

Summary: Buffy had never thought she'd ever actually look forward to crossing dimensions... but there was nothing for her in 2149, not with all the magic gone out of the world. (A challenge drabble series). 10 x 200 words.

Spoilers: B:tVS post-Chosen; no comics; Terra Nova through episode 7

Notes: Written for the 2012 Mod Birthday Challenge. The drabbles end before Terra Nova does; but an altered status quo is achieved, and the stories I plan to tell after that point can't be confined to drabble format.

The Key to Breathing
#113 - Secrets

"Your bodies will not be accustomed to the oxygen rich atmosphere," the PA system overhead declared. "Please take short, even breaths."

Buffy pulled her arms tight around herself as the crowd jostled down the metal walkway toward the portal, trying to remember the last time she'd taken a full, satisfying breath. She'd never thought she'd ever actually look forward to crossing dimensions... but there was nothing for her in 2149, not with all the magic gone out of the world, and the only blood she had left had already gone with the first two pilgrimages.

Well... almost all of it. She was the last one alive who knew that the fracture marked the point in space where a certain little sister had spilled the last of hers a century before. It had taken time for the fault line to stabilize... but the Eternal Slayer found it kind of appropriate that Dawn's last act had been the foundation of a way for Earth's population to escape the consequences of the death of the supernatural.

She'd lived long enough to grieve the start of the decay. Buffy was rather glad neither of them would be around to see the end of it.

Welcome Surprises
#114 - Dance

Commander Taylor came out on his balcony to greet the influx of new colonists like a lord overseeing his people. He addressed them first as citizens of the future, reminding them who they'd been and what they'd left behind, and then set about inspiring them to join his vision.

Buffy remembered how much effort that kind of leadership took. She'd never been great at it, but she'd managed when she'd had to. Her sister's descendants, on the other hand, tended to take to it like a duck to water. Little Nate- not so little anymore- had inherited that in full measure.

He looked good, fit and strong in his army wear, with Dawn's eyes stern and bright under a thick head of prematurely grayed hair. She remembered playing with him as a little boy, making his dinosaur figurines dance together instead of fighting; he'd protested mightily, but giggled at the spectacle. Kind of ironic, considering they'd both ended up in 85 Million BC.

Not that he knew she was there, yet. She'd put her original name down on the paperwork, not her Auntie Liz alias.

She met his startled gaze when he scanned the crowd with her best mischievous smile.

Cutting in
#114 - Dance

One of the guards cut through the crowd, singling Buffy out: Commander Taylor wanted to see her. Since that had been the whole point of catching his attention during the welcome speech, she agreed.

It didn't hurt that the guard was cute: young and earnest and very Riley-ish. It made her want to pinch his cheeks and wish him a bright, normal girlfriend, like some kind of creepy nostalgic godmother.

The more weathered, taut-bodied blond who do-si-do'd awkwardly around her as he and his wife left Nate's office was more her current speed. Pity he was married- and crazy; she'd witnessed the chaos he'd caused at the portal.

...Not that she hadn't stowed away, too. She'd just... planned better.

"At first, I thought I must have a cousin I never knew about," her great-nephew growled, narrowing his eyes as she entered. "But that's not it, is it. Aunt Liz."

"Hey, Nate-ums," she grinned, teasingly.

He ignored that, frowning. "How? And I don't just mean, why didn't I see your name in the lists."

"I'm down as Buffy Summers. And... it's kind of a long story?"

He snorted and laced his fingers atop his nifty dino-skull table. "I've got the time."

A Question of Security
#115 - all's fair in love and war

The blonde gal who looked so much like Taylor's long-lost aunt had told an unbelievable story about a private program to create augmented warriors that had self-destructed in the early 2000s. But she'd also demonstrated the strength she claimed, and offered DNA so he could test their connection.

The tests had finally come back: positive. But she was a bad liar; there was more she wasn't telling.

"Soldier to psychologist," he mused, tapping her file as he considered how far to trust her. "How long did you fight before switching careers?"

Aunt Liz- she called herself Buffy now- shrugged. "Which time? I never manage normal very long, but sometimes I just need a break."

"You'd be wasted in the clinic, then," he decided. Best put her with another question mark whose character he wasn't sure of, but that he could be sure wasn't connected to the unofficial war with the Sixers. "The new Sherriff needs a deputy; Doc Wallace can request another shrink in the Eleventh."

Buffy must have run into Shannon already; her nose wrinkled in disgruntled resignation. "Fair enough. Working with the crazy guy it is."

He finally cracked a smile. "Should be interesting, at least. Welcome aboard."

Where They Understand You
#116 - home sweet home

The rover jolted slightly as the doc keyed the ignition, and Jim looked over his shoulder to see a slight blonde sliding into the back. It was the deputy Taylor had saddled him with; he'd called her his 'niece', but she'd giggled at the introduction. Something was a little off, there.

"Hey," he objected. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Buffy smirked as she strapped in. "Shouldn't I be asking you that? I heard Lt. Washington tell you about the quarantine."

He sighed. "Look, my wife's out there, and they missed their check-in..."

"Hey, I get it," she interrupted. "Why do you think I'm here? Commander Taylor's my... uncle. I haven't even got used to calling this place home yet; he doesn't get to skip out on me now."

Uncle; right. "So you won't mind if I blame you when Wash complains?"

"Hey," Malcolm put in. "If the pair of you are going to fight the whole way, then I'm not taking either of you. This is my rover, you know."

Jim caught Buffy rolling her eyes in unison with him a second later.

Well, at least they had something in common to build a working relationship from.

A Meeting of Equals
#117 - lost in translation

The shrewd green gaze of the short blonde at Taylor's shoulder made Mira uneasy. She seemed strangely familiar, though Mira couldn't place her.

No matter. Mira was sure the spy would uncover her identity. In the meantime, she was just another audience member for what was about to go down.

"Leah, look at me," she addressed the little infiltrator. "Tell them you want to come home. Speak!"

The girl reacted perfectly, looking pleadingly at Taylor and then latching on to his new cop as she declared herself a runaway. Mira replied with an exaggerated sneer, telling Taylor to keep her- letting him feel like he'd won, just enough to let down his guard.

The blonde wasn't buying it, though. "In case anyone missed the translation?" she snorted. "That was Sixer for 'Mwahaha, my plan is working'."

Leah cringed like a mouse under a hawk's stare- and Mira swore at the revealing gesture. Then she signaled her troops, abandoning Leah to Taylor's mercies.

The girl would keep her mouth shut about the box she'd been sent to steal if she knew what was good for her brother. And she might be useful yet. But for now... back to the drawing board.

Psychological Warfare
#74 - lost and found

She tracked the Sixers until they cut Shannon loose, then broke cover.

The little girl Mira had Trojaned into the colony had refused to explain why while her brother was supposedly held hostage: so, Buffy had snuck OTG to see what was the what, against her great-nephew's orders. Only to stumble over her nominal boss getting caught doing likewise. So she'd followed along, waiting for the right moment to intervene.

He stopped and winced as he spotted her. "You."

"Me," she agreed, crossing her arms. "Well?"

"She wasn't lying this time," Shannon shrugged, hand on the boy's shoulder. "You going to arrest me for rescuing him?"

"Depends on whether you bought Mira's speech before she let you go," Buffy replied, tartly. The terrorist leader had spouted a load of Fyarl snot about Taylor and Terra Nova's true purpose. Buffy appreciated Shannon's determination to do the right thing- but whether she could trust that depended on what he believed the right thing was.

"You trying to tell me your uncle doesn't have his own agenda, too?" he parried, skeptically.

Truthfully? She did have questions. Where the hell was Lucas, for starters.

"Fair enough," Buffy sighed. "C'mon, then. We'll talk more later."

Devil In The Details
#106 - it isn't what it looks like

Working conditions improved after Shannon and Buffy found common ground. He was surprisingly competent, and his crazy had turned out to be the canny kind. Family conditions worsened, though: Nate went all prickly on her after she brought up the subject of his missing son.

That made her hesitate when she overheard Shannon's eldest talking about meeting Mira with the barkeep while everyone else was busy solving a murder. She didn't want to rock the boat further- or distract from the investigation- without proof. So for the second time in as many weeks Buffy snuck outside the gates alone, tracking an idiot boy and a girl too sweet on him to be smart.

...And for the second time in as many weeks, Mira appeared to make demands, giving away more with what she didn't say than what she did. She made a heavy-handed deal with Josh to save his girlfriend back uptime- but completely ignored Skye. No glares, no threats, not a word.

...Which made zero sense unless Mira already had enough leverage to keep her biddable. Skye Tate: Nate's foster daughter. A spy he'd never suspect?

Forget rocking the boat; Buffy was going to capsize it with that report.

Turning The Tide
#95 - swifter, higher, stronger

Nate studied his aunt, arms crossed, as everyone else scattered to his orders.

"So." He was still angry about the revelations of the last week, and her continual poking at the raw wound of Lucas' absence, but realistically he couldn't blame her for either Skye's confession of betrayal or a desire to see her other great-nephew. So he was trying to be civil. "Just how comprehensive was that augmented warrior program of yours? If there's an attack while the defenses are down..."

Buffy glanced around at the debris flung up by the second meteor's sonic wave, then frowned and- reached. He didn't see where it came from, but an old-school weapon with a curving metal blade appeared in her hand. "I can handle it," she said- and suddenly he could see the years in her eyes, past her distracting physical youth.

"Good," he said, gruffly. "Let's hope you don't need to."

Watching her dance with a 'saur outside the fence later on, he had cause to remember that fierce expression- and be glad he'd trusted her enough to spread a few men out in case of a diversion.

Maybe, just maybe, his colony really did have a chance for survival.

All Together Now
#85 - making do

"They'll know by now," Skye said fretfully, curled up in a chair on the balcony outside Nate's office. "I've missed too many reports. My mother's probably..." Her face contorted.

Buffy sighed. She'd done some short-sighted things at that age herself. But seriously. Skye should have told Nate the Sixers had her mom ages ago; they might've been able to use Skye as a double agent, if not save the woman outright. "Maybe not. They won't know why, right? So they'll probably try to pressure you about the box again first."

"You think so?" Skye replied, plaintively.

"Yep," she said, remembering Kralick and her own mother. "That gives us some time; we'll think of something."

"And until then, life in Terra Nova goes on," Nate said, exiting the office. "Deputy? I believe Shannon's looking for you."

His smile was warmer than it had been, lately. He still hadn't talked about Lucas, but he seemed more- optimistic, somehow?

Buffy decided to take that as a positive sign. They might all be learning on the job, but they wouldn't lose the past like they'd lost the future. "On my way," she smiled back, then squeezed Skye's hand and headed down into the crowd.