Disclaimer: Angel the Series is owned by Joss Whedon. Merlin is owned by...I'm gonna say the BBC and leave it at that? Regardless, I don't own any of them.
I am a man who apparently doesn't know how to shut his inner muse up.
Thanks to deiticlast for beta-reading and being a sounding board as I wrote this chapter.
The Ruins of My Kingdom to Come
Chapter 1: Mutari Wormhole
Wolfram and Hart Los Angeles
April 24th, 2004 C.E.
"You ask me to allow you to murder me." Illyria said imperiously, the impression of the all powerful God-King ruined somewhat by her distinctly...unhealthy appearance, the pained expression on her face..and the fact that she had been doubled over moments before. Still, she drew herself to her full – not very impressive, given the limitations of the shell she wore – height as she spoke.
"It's not murder if you say yes." Spike quipped, with his usual brand of not-helping sarcasm. Arrayed in the training room were the four remaining survivors of Angel Investigations, plus Spike, each armed with a weapon. Even Lorne had a crossbow. The weapon Wesley carried though...it was a strange contraption that appeared like it belonged more on the set of Star Wars or a similar movie than the premises of Wolfram and Hart.
"No one is murdering you." Wesley said softly, still holding the weapon. "This device won't kill you." The former watcher was long past the point that he had once been at. The compounded trauma of the last two years – and then throwing in the Orlon Window...
"What?" Angel interjected, confused. "But you said-"
"I lied." Wesley replied smoothy, unrepentant, voice flat and cold. He turned back to to the blue-haired demon. "Illyria, this device will draw the energy away from you safely. It will allow you to live."
Illyria narrowed her eyes at him, one hand clutching her stomach. "Your intent is not murder." she sounded skeptical...her tone...surprisingly human.
Wesley didn't lower his device, but he did step closer to her. "It never was."
"Well!" Lorne held up one hand, forcing cheeriness into his tone, "No harm, no foul, right?"
"But you tried to destroy me to bring back Fred." Illyria said, ignoring the empath demon.
"I did." Wesley admitted. "But it didn't work. It was a failure. Fred is gone. I understand that now. You are all that's left of Fred."
"You want to take my power...to let me live?" Wesley nodded. "But I am my power. And I would rather be a titanic crater than be like unto you." With a speed that only Illyria could possess, she kicked Wesley in the stomach. One hand flew off the weapon, and he flew back across the room. Spike ran up to her, his foot flying up to kick her in the face.
"I kill you." Illyria told the vampire. "That's how this ends." She charged at Spike, but he managed to grab her, flinging her at the wall, away from him.
"What? Getting ahead of ourselves a bit! This fight hasn't even started!" He charged at the demon-god, but Illyria slowed time. Standing tall, she walked towards the door...another spasm of energy crashed through her and she doubled over again, hands clutching at her stomach. The flow of of time returned to normal. Spike hit the wall, but got back up in seconds, still ready to go.
Angel didn't move towards her. "Illyria, the future can change here. You can choose a different path."
Illyria sneered. "And be nothing."
"And be what you are." Angel corrected as Illyria groaned again. "Fighting to hold onto what you were, though...it's destroying you."
Illyria faced Wes, even as he leveled the device at her again. "You would do this to me?"
"I'd try, anyway." Wesley replied. "Every time."
Fighting past another gasp, Illyria spoke, "I possess so much grace, more grace than this bag of sticks could express. I was the immaculate embodiment of rule." A glowing blue fracture appeared in Illyria's cheek, then more cracks appeared, blue light shooting out everywhere from deep within her collapsing form. She glared at Wesley. "I blame this on the weakness of your species."
"Fair enough." Wesley acknowledged. He pulled the trigger on the device. A beam of white light flew out, hitting Illyria in her stomach. Just as it was supposed to. He saw the cracks in Illyria's form start to close, the immense power of the God-King of the Primordium flowing from her body into the pocket dimension created by the Mutari Generator.
It all happened too fast for Wesley to process it. The energy was flowing in...and then...he felt himself flying backwards, white light exploding outwards in a bursting sphere, forming a rippling pattern in the air. Wesley felt pain in his hand, and looked down to see blood flowing out of open cuts...and he held only a part of the generator, the front half of the device gone. This was not something he had anticipated. Not at all.
Struggling to his feet, Wesley looked for Illyria, trying to find her...there was no sign of her for a moment...then...out of the corner of his eye. He saw her, he turned, moving towards her. The cracks were gone...she seemed heeled..and yet.. no... she was still clutching her stomach, yet another crack forming there, opening wider.
"NO!" Wesley felt the world fall away from his vision...Illyria got to her feet staggering. One hand reached out in front of her, as if she was feeling her way blindly. He reached her, grabbing her shoulder even as she touched the ripping white light, her lost energy...the pocket dimension to which he'd sent it too...it called out to her, he realized...it was as much part of her as the shell was now. With it in reach...she could no more resist it than a moth could a flame.
As Illyria's hand touched the light, it happened.
The images flashed across Wesley's vision as the training room fell away, as Spike, Angel and Lorne vanished from view...a sea of boiling lava...demons...horrors unimagined by the greatest scholars of the Old Ones, heaving themselves out of the birthing pits of the earth...Illyira in her true form, that he'd seen in the books...an army of demons, millions strong, chanting her name in Primordial Sanskrit...over and over again...wars...glorious conquest as her armies marched across the world, Pangea falling to her domination...the betrayal of Illyria, her defeat...her sealing away in the deeper well, even as the other Old Ones battled and bickered over the shards of her empire. He watched history move forward, faster and faster...primitive primates were soon rising in the jungles, and then man, spreading across the earth, like the cancerous diseases Illyria had so often compared them...creation of the first Slayer...the Pyramids...the Akkadians, Great Babylon, the early Chinese, Assyria, Persia...the Golden Age of Greece...legions marching across the Mediterranean, bringing it all under the control of room. In a heartbeat he saw Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus declared Augustus...Commodus ordering dozens of deaths over dinner...the bloody purges of Septimius Severus...Theodosius I ordering the altar of victory removed from Rome...the final sack of Rome...and then...
Wesley Wyndamn-Pryce knew not how long he was out of consciousness...the first sensation was...something...digging into his back...blinding pain in his head...to use a well worn cliché, like it has been split in two...no, make that three or four, actually, he reconsidered...slowly, agonizingly so, he opened his eyes. And then closed them again, as the rays of light slipped in through the gaps in the trees, nearly blinding him.
Wait...trees? Wesley forced himself to sit up, hands on... a tree root, the dirt floor of the forest. Which is what had been digging into his back. He opened his eyes all the way, then rose to his feet, squinting, shading his eyes with with one hand. The forest's trees were old and thick, with wide roots that went deep into the ground, no doubt. This was was a forest that mankind had not subjected to its total ravaging, in industry and logging and mining and hunting. He couldn't see any animals, but he could hear a few in the distance.
He felt thirsty, he realized. Very thirsty. Parched, really. And...his stomach rumbled just a little. Hungry as well...how long was I out...?
Wesley looked at the hand that had been injured by the explosion of the Mutari Generator...bandaged...with strips torn from his sleeves, he realized. He looked around...wherever he was, obviously someone else was nearby, and had had the inclination to bind his injury.
He saw Illyria standing next to a tree, one of thickest he'd seen in a long time, actually. It soared up into the sky, its upper branches spreading to cover quite a lot of space. Illyria appeared to be looking at it intently, one hand on its bark. Wesley approached her slowly...she didn't seem to be in the state she been before. No sign of the fractures in her form. He reached out a hand.
Without turning to face him, Illyria interrupted him. "Touch me and die, vermin."
I guess not that much has changed after all...but he knew those thoughts weren't fair. Illyria had always been a being of supreme power and with that, supreme confidence. But now...she wasn't what she had been. And she was likely confused, lost, unsure of herself and her place in the world.
"Very well." Wesley withdrew his hand.
Illyria didn't acknowledge his words. She moved her hand up the tree a moment. "I can no longer hear the song of the green." She sounded...disappointed...perhaps, upset, or even forlorn, about that fact. Wesley bit back a comment. Regardless, she spoke again, "I don't want your pity."
"You never had it, Illyria." Wesley replied truthfully. "What happened?"
"Your device was poorly constructed." Illyria said. "It interacted with my power, opening a rift in the currents of time."
"We traveled through time?" Wesley never read much science-fiction literature, but he immediately looked to make sure he hadn't stepped on any bugs. "Should I be worried I'll change my own future and prevent myself from existing? Or accidentally prevent the evolution of the human race?"
"By traveling back through time, we have created a new universe. You may prevent a future you being birthed, but it will not affect your existence now. And we have not traveled back far enough to prevent your kind from rising up from the muck to rule this world."
"How far back have we gone? And how can you tell?"
"My senses are far superior to yours. We have gone back nearly fourteen hundred circuits of this world around its sun. You have remained unconscious for two days." She turned back to face him. "I am not what I once was...my power is but a pale shadow of what I once had. But I am still Illyria, God-King of the Primordium. I am still far more powerful than any of your pathetic species...but I cannot rebuild my empire on my own. You are my Qwa'ha Xahn. My guide. You will serve that role for me here, now, in this place."
"You seek to rebuild your empire? Here, over a thousand years before your return?"
"I seek to rebuild what I can of it. I am meant for rule. If I cannot rule my empire as I once did, I will rule your kind instead. I have had much time to consider my new situation, my new circumstances."
"Much time? You've had forty-eight hours. You've come to terms with your loss of power, and determined on a new plan in such a span of time?"
"I think far faster than you, Qwa'ha Xahn." Illyria said, as if that was enough explanation. She was perhaps even more terse than normal. And she was leaving out most of the insults. By now...at any other time, she'd have gotten far into the 'muck beneath my feet' speech. It was...almost strange, in a way, to see her...humbled was not the word, but rather, she was less...less overtly arrogant. Or perhaps, less secure in her innate superiority - she even admitted it: she could not rebuild her empire on her own.
"I find myself uninterested in helping you enslave humanity to your whim." Wesley commented dryly.
"Regardless, you will help me. You will stay with me, and serve as my guide."
Wesley knew she was right. He could no more abandon her now than he could have had they remained in Los Angeles in their own time. "Correct."
"Then it need not matter. My conquest of your kind will occur long after your death, regardless." She turned away from him again. "You are familiar with the history of your kind?"
"Very." Wesley acknowledged. As he spoke, he checked to see if he still had his weapons. His collapsible sword was long gone, but he still had one pistol, and several daggers, most of them enchanted, taken from Wolfram and Hart's vaults. He opened the pistol, checking his clip. Ten bullets, and the one in the chamber. Irreplaceable now. He'd have to use them sparingly.
"You will determine where on this world we are, and determine the great centers of power, such as they might be, in this area."
Wesley nodded. "I expect a promise from you in return."
"You see to extract a ransom from me?"
"If you want my help, yes." Wesley replied. "Restrain your instinct to violence. And consider, if you kill all those that provoke you in ways that merited death once, long before, you will have no Kingdom to rule. Humans are fractious, disobedient creatures."
"Your works speak as ashes. You do not believe them."
"No. But the truth of them to your goals remains evident, correct?"
Illyria said nothing in reply.