(In response to Zaion's "Ship of the Line" Challenge.)
YAHF. All characters and settings from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stargate SG-1, and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha belong to their respective copyright-holders, of whom I am not one.
The Fae, however, are my own original creation.
Forever After Earth
"Oh no you don't, Wills," Buffy said.
Willow jumped, dropping the ghost costume she'd just pulled off the rack. "Don't what, Buffy? I wasn't gonna do anything to make you all with the don'ts," Willow protested weakly.
"Willow," Buffy whined.
"Okay fine," Willow sighed, picking up the ghost costume and putting it back on the rack.
"Come on, Wills, Halloween is all about being able to get away with wearing something that you'd never dare go out in on a normal night," Buffy reiterated. "This is your chance to put on something sexy that'll make Xander sit up and take notice, right?"
Willow suddenly looked around frantically, but Xander was clear on the other side of the costume shop and she calmed down, blushing. Willow nodded.
"Hey, I know," Buffy said. "Why don't we go as a matching pair? That way you won't be the only one wearing whatever you end up wearing."
"Um..." Willow dithered.
"Ooh, or even a matching trio, if we can find the right costumes... Hey, Xander!" Buffy called.
Xander looked up and ambled over, seconds before he would have found a certain toy rifle. "What's the what, gal-pals?"
"Um, Buffy thinks we should go in matching costumes," Willow said to her shoes.
"All three of us?" Xander asked, to which Willow nodded. "Really? Well sure, that could be fun, but most of these costumes are kinda flopping into the gender divide. Did you have something in mind?"
That was what Buffy was looking around for, and finally her gaze settled on a rack in the corner. There were two versions of what looked like some sort of wood-nymph costume, with a version for men and a version for woman.
"What about those?" Buffy said, heading towards them.
The costumes consisted of a form-fitting body-stocking the color of a very deep tan, with leafy vines woven into in strategically placed ornaments. According to the picture, each costume also came with a pretty golden anklet, bracelets, and a small bottle of spray-on tan in the same shade as the body-stocking, meant for the face. The male and female versions had different faint shading in the otherwise-uniformly-colored body-stocking, to emphasize a masculine or feminine physique without the need for padding. The cardboard tag read, The Earth's Children.
"B-b-buffy!" Willow stammered. "I can't wear that!"
"Sure you can, Wills," Buffy said. "Right, Xander?"
Xander looked between the costumes, Buffy, and Willow. He swallowed. "I dunno, Buffster. They're kinda a lot with the flower-power-y-ness."
"But they're cheap, and Willow would look so great in these, don't you think?" Buffy hinted.
"Um," Xander said. "What do you say Willow? Time to hang up the bedsheet of Willow the Friendly Ghost?"
"Ah, okay," Willow sighed in defeat at her own predicament, while holding in naughty excitement at getting to see Xander in something just as revealing. The similar image of Buffy that popped into her head was in no way indicative of anything, at all, nope no sirree.
Three costumes were bought and paid for. A chaos mage dispensed shopkeeper pleasantries, and an ascended being named Janus tapped his metaphorical fingers together and cackled in delight.
Eelesia Rin blinked in surprise when she suddenly found herself standing on a coarse, hard surface, surrounded by patches of something that looked like grass only smaller and blade-shaped, and little wooden buildings in light colors. Little creatures ran around her, growling at each other, looking to her like a bunch of outliers who'd disabled the safety limiters on their morph settings and then randomized them all.
Eelesia turned her attention inwards to her Dreamlink, seeking the small corner of her mind that always contained an accurate notion of where she was, only to get no response. Somehow, the Overlink was missing, which mean something very strange was going on.
"Hey, little odd ones," Eelesia called. "Where are we? Do you know what's going on?"
The little creatures ignored her, and one actually leaped at her and bit her on the thigh with surprising jaw strength. "Hey! Ow," Eelesia complained as the little creature's teeth kneaded her unbreakable skin.
"Somebody talk to me, or sign at me, or something, or I'm going to start retaliating," Eelesia warned.
The little creatures ignored her, and the one attached to her thigh by the teeth continued to savage her futilely. Eelesia made a face and sent streamers of her aura into the little creatures head, and let off a small electrical discharge. The little creature fell from her thigh and lay twitching on the ground. Eelesia stretched her aura into a larger arc, and made a loud crackle-snap of electric arcing that seemed to effectively scare the rest of the little creatures away.
"Leezee!" A familiar and yet unfamiliar voice called.
Eelesia turned and saw a normal-looking blonde woman - for a Fae, which meant unnaturally perfect bronze skin with a complete lack of body hair, a sexually-idealized and impossibly perfect figure, and no clothing beyond a few ornaments - running towards her. Eelesia's Dreamlink immediately identified the blonde as her close friend, Lyn Rea-Val.
Lyn sprinted up to her and slammed into Eelesia. Eelesia embraced her, and they shared a quick but searing kiss. Lyn pulled back and idly fondled one of Eelesia's breasts. The two looked at each other consideringly.
"What's with the new look?" they both asked at the same time.
"Huh?" they both responded.
Eelesia made her aura form an optical sensor, and looked at herself. Sure enough, her morph settings had been changed drastically. Her hair was red and wavy, her face was a little longer and shaped completely different, and like Lyn her skin tone had been reset to the default bronze.
"What the luck?" Lyn exclaimed, obviously looking at herself the same way.
"We must be missing some time," Eelesia said. "Changing our morph settings this much would take days. Do you have any idea how we got here, or where here is?"
Just then, a noisy wheeled vehicle rumbled passed, producing a vaguely musical rhythmic thumping.
"Was that an internal combustion engine?" Lyn wondered, shaking her head. "If it wasn't for the weird little creatures running around, and the fact that I have no idea how I got here, and that we're both apparently missing a day 'cause like you said we look different, then I'd say we were standing in someone's history project."
"Well done, Lyn. Your counterfactual deduction skills continue to impress," Eelesia snarked, pouring on the sarcasm and swatting Lyn on the butt.
Lyn rolled her eyes. "Well we might as well look around. Somebody around here has to know where we are. Come on, let's get our bearings from the air..." Lyn trailed off as she frowned and hopped in place a few times. "Or not."
Eelesia, having also spun out a few loops of force from her skeletal magnetics, realized what the problem was. "There's no superconductor lace! How? That's innate in even the most basic patterns."
Eye's going wide, Lyn suddenly looked up at the sky, suspicious. "Leezee? I don't think we're under a projection. That looks like real sky. I think we're on a planet."
Eelesia slowly nodded, and sighed. "Which brings us right back to, how the luck did we get here?"
That was when they heard the scream. For a moment, neither Fae woman understood what they were hearing. The kind of frantic, panicked terror embodied in that scream was simply too alien. Fright, surprise, pain, these they would recognize, but it was seldom that a Fae feared for their life in the hearing of others.
The scream came again, and Eelesia finally recognized the sound as coming from a person. She shared a wide-eyed look with Lyn and together they ran towards the sound.
Cordelia Chase screamed as the smelly pirate guy yanked her up by her hair, his sword leaving a line of burning pain on her hip as it slashed through her catsuit.
And then suddenly she was free, her vision filled with rippling muscles and bronze skin... and leaves? What the hell?
Cordelia's jaw fell open as she saw a mostly naked man with a body like a greek god - he was wearing a couple of leafy things and metal things on one leg and one arm, but that was it - completely destroy the pirate guy with a liquid grace like nothing she'd ever seen before.
The man stood back, and seemed to stare at his bloody knuckles in shock. He turned around, and Cordelia almost started drooling. She had to force herself not to stare at the work of art that was the impressive phallus jutting up from his hairless crotch.
Then she looked at his face, and her brain skipped like a broken CD player. Harris? How could that be Harris? Had she been perving on Harris?
Cordelia shook it off, because no matter how much she suddenly wanted to, no way was she giving Harris rescue sex. She clambered to her feet and dusted herself off.
"What the hell, Xander?" Cordelia snapped. "Where the hell are your clothes?"
Zach Reon was still reeling.
He'd gotten a bizarre satisfaction out of beating up the guy in the pirate costume. The problem was, Zach had actually hurt him. He hadn't seen blood in centuries, since the accident that ended his human life and left him in cryonic suspension.
Thoughts were coming back to him from that time. Things he hadn't bothered to remember for years and years. Because the guy he'd just beaten bloody, and the girl he'd saved, they were human, which was impossible. None of the Giaas would sit back and leave a sapient in a frail, flawed, natural body.
His mind went blank trying to figure out how he'd gotten there, but it was obvious that he was very far from home.
The girl stood up and yelled something, and his brain stuttered when he realized she was speaking english. Zach hadn't spoken english since his rebirth.
"What the helzander? Where the hell are your clothes?"
"I've not clothes for long lifetime, Miss," Zach said. "What's a helzander?"
"Hello? Zander? Did you lose your brains along with your cloths? Or did you trade them for those muscles?"
Zach stared. He didn't know where to begin to respond to that. The sound of running feet made him turn, and he saw a pair of girls that his Dreamlink identified as Eelesia and Lyn vault a chainlink fence, hit the ground in a roll, and come to their feet.
"Oh god, Buffy and Willow?" the human girl groaned. "You're kidding me right? This better be some weird hellmouthy thing... I cannot deal with you losers joining a nudist society on top of everything else! And using magic to make yourself hotter is cheating!"
"Oh, you too, Zach?" Eelesia asked as she greeted him with a kiss. "Looks like all our morph settings were changed when we found ourselves here."
"Gals, there are humans here," Zach said thickly. "Look at that girl, she's bleeding. And look at... what I did... that guy on the ground. Unaugmented, natural, mortal, humans. It's almost as if we were on pre-singularity Earth."
"Hey! What are you perverts talking about?" the girl demanded. "Since when do you speak... whatever the hell that is? What the hell is going on tonight?"
Lyn suddenly perked up. "Hey, my translate request just went through. The Overlink's back! Stars, this girl is rude," she said as she went over what the human girl had said so far.
"Hey relax human girl, we're trying to figure out what's going on too," Lyn said in english.
Zach suddenly realized something. "Hey, miss, do we look like people you know?"
"Duh!" the girl said, pointing to each of them in turn. "Xander. Willow. Buffy."
Zach shook his head apologetically. "We're not them. We don't normally look anything like this, but right now we do for some reason. My name's Zach. This is Eelesia, and Lyn. Can you tell us where we are?"
The girl was silent for a long moment. "Okay, that's actually a relief. After all, you're way hotter than any just world would ever let Xander Harris be. I'm Cordelia, and this is Sunnydale, California."
Zach blanched. "California, like the one on Earth?"
"Is there anywhere else it could be? Really," Cordelia huffed. "Well, good luck and everything but I am so done with Halloween this year."
Cordelia stalked off, and the three Fae shared a look.
"This is impossible," Zach finally complained.
"We'll know soon," Eelesia soothed. "Look at the Overlink map. It's only sensing one node, but it's a generation ship, and it's in orbit. Let's call down a shuttle, and go investigate."
Eelesia sent the mental request through her Dreamlink even as she spoke, and she forwarded the landing coordinates to the other two. It was a short walk passed two houses to a street corner with an open area covered in Earth grass.
Zach leaned on one of Eelesia's shoulders, Lyn on the other, as they searched the sky.
"There," Lyn said, pointing.
The generation ship was visible to the naked eye. Well, Fae eyes, which were a good deal sharper than human eyes, but even human eyes would have seen an oddly-elongated star moving overhead, if they'd happened to look. Eelesia spotted the faint glowing line of something entering the atmosphere.
"Slayer," a strange voice drawled, surprising the three.
A man with bleach-blonde hair and a big black leather coat stalked out of the shadows, followed by more than a dozen men and women with oddly-shaped faces.
"Little birdy told me the most interesting story," the man said. "Seems the slayer doesn't remember who she is. Can you believe that? Why, if she's forgotten how to slay, she's just ripe... for..." The man sniffed. "the picking... sodding hell?" The man sniffed again, and turned to one of his fellows. "They smell right to you?"
"Um, what?" Lyn said flatly.
The minion shrugged, and then the bleach-blonde man shrugged, and suddenly a baseball bat connected with Lyn's head, shattering into splinters as she went tumbling to the ground. The bumpy-faced minions moved with startling speed, seizing Zach and Eelesia with fantastic strength.
Lyn flipped up to her feet and lunged at the bleach-blonde man, striking out with a flurry of blows, but it was clear she was vastly overmatched in both strength and skill, even if she was almost as fast and clearly more graceful.
Zach struggled against the bumpy-faced woman that was holding him, but his strength was no match for the woman. She let out a feral roar and sank her fangs into Zach's neck. Then she pulled back, blinked at Zach's unblemished skin, and tried again with the same result. Her fangs sank in, but didn't penetrate.
Eelesia wasn't even bothering to struggle as a bumpy-faced man bit her over and over, with increasing frustration. Another bumpy-face was leering at her and fondling her naked breasts, while a third was giving up on trying to bite her thigh and began prodding her exposed sex with vicious glee. Eelesia merely endured with a stoic patience, as though she didn't have anything better to do, at least until the shuttle showed up. (This rather took the fun out of it, for the vampires.)
Lyn took a blow to the throat that would have killed a human and retaliated with a twisting double kick. The bleach-blonde man grabbed her ankle in mid-air and swung her around, smashing her down headfirst onto the edge of the streetcurb. Concrete cracked and sent chips flying when it struck Lyn's skull. Lyn swayed a bit as she stood up, but the dizziness was gone in seconds.
The bleach-blonde man caught Lyn's wrists and just held on, looking put out. "Right then, this is getting boring. No fun in it if nothing hurts you. What a bloody rip off."
"Hey, you hurt me plenty," Lyn complained.
"He means injured, Lyn," Zach said.
"What?" Lyn screeched. "What is wrong with you?"
"Hey, sod off, Not-Slayer," the bleach-blonde man huffed, tossing Lyn away where two bumpy-faces grabbed her and held her down.
"Boss, even if we can't feed on 'em, can we still have some fun with them," one minion suggested.
"Forget it," the one who'd tried to finger-rape Eelesia snarled. "It's no fun if they don't even struggle."
The bleach-blonde man was staring at Lyn's sprawled form with heavy-lidded eyes. "I dunno, I like a challenge."
"Aagk!" one minion suddenly cried before exploding into dust.
A handsome dark-haired man, dressed in black, was suddenly a storm of violence in their midst. The three Fae all took the opportunity to unleash a paralyzing electrical shock with their auras. The man in black grabbed a large splinter from the broken baseball bat and slammed it into the chest of each of the twitching minions in turn.
Soon, there were more dust piles than minions.
"What are they? Constructs?" Zach wondered.
"Get lost, Spike," the man growled at the bleach-blonde.
"Oh? Or what, Angel?" Spike taunted. "You gonna..." Spike trailed off, staring at something above and behind Angel in bafflement. "What the bloody hell is that?"
Eelesia, Zach, and Lyn hurried up to the shuttle where it was settling to a gentle stop. The small transport didn't look like anything anyone had ever seen on any scifi TV show. It resembled nothing more than a particularly thick, cloudy, five-meter wide soap bubble. If one looked at it under a high-power microscope, one would see a fantastically-advanced example of meta-materials technology, but to casual observation there didn't seem to be any technology in the thing at all.
The three Fae all put a hand to the shuttle's outer membrane. The cloudiness - which was actually the ships store of reaction mass - pulled away from their hands as the inner and outer membranes bent to touch each other.
Angel and Spike were staring with expressions that were far to similar for either of their piece of mind.
"Hey, Mr. Poofy-Hair!" Lyn called over her shoulder. "Thanks for helping us, but we want to get out of here. Need a ride?"
Angel stared for another second, then dashed for the bubbleship. Eelesia and Zach were sucked through the membrane and into the ship, but Lyn waited with only her hand sunk through.
"Hey!" Spike exclaimed, giving chase.
Lyn held out her hand, and as soon as Angel took it, they were both sucked inside, leaving Spike to be blown off his feet by the downwash of ionized air as Eelesia mentally commanded the shuttle to lift off.
The sensation of being sucked into the flying bubble thing was possibly the weirdest pleasant sensation Angel had ever felt. And now he was sprawled on top of a very naked, magically-beautified Buffy, on something that felt halfway between an air-mattress and a water-bed, and even if she was currently being possessed by a chaos spell, she didn't seem to mind.
It made it kind of hard to remember why he was there.
"Buffy," Angel started, but she put a finger to his lips.
"I'm Lyn," she said. "I know I look like this Buffy person, but that wasn't my doing. I'll be back to looking like me in a few days, once I have time to change my morph settings. Thanks for the help, but I'm not Buffy. Is there somewhere we should drop you off?"
"No, I need to go with you, wherever you're going," Angel said.
"Alright," Willow said from Xander's lap, and they were suddenly pressed down into the floor of the bubble as the ground shrunk away.
Angel managed to sit up, but the four of them were pretty bunched together at the bottom of the bubble. Xander and Willow, or whoever they thought they were, didn't seem to mind the closeness, but Angel was feeling a bit awkward. Not to mention that they'd just broken through the clouds and were still accelerating.
"Are we in space?" Angel asked, side-tracked by the view of the curving horizon.
"Nearly," Xander said.
Angel shook off his awe. "Listen, you are Buffy, and Xander and Willow. You dressed up as, whoever you think you are, for Halloween, but the costumes were sabotaged by a malicious magic-user."
Buffy looked confused and Willow seemed to be concentrating on controlling the bubble, but Xander looked thoughtful. Angel was relieved they weren't dismissing his claim out of hand, at least. Suddenly their weight lessened as the bubble ceased accelerating, and floating weightless, the bubble seemed a lot more roomy.
"You mention magic like its simple fact," Xander questioned.
"That's because it is," Angel said. "It is - "
But Angel never finished that sentence, because at that moment, the bubbleship passed out of Earth's shadow, and into direct sunlight. Angel had a moment to feel horror and to curse his own stupidity, before the flames took him.
"Luck!" Lyn swore as she caught the floating ashes in her aura. "Did he just die?"
"I wouldn't think so," Zach said. "I mean, he was clearly a construct, so I doubt his consciousness was housed in... that." Zach gestured to the ball of ash.
"No," Eelesia said softly. "He had the full actual mass someone his size ought to, and now that mass is gone. I'll bet Lyn won't find anything but ordinary ash in his remains."
Lyn concentrated for a moment, probing with her aura. "Leezee's right."
"But that's impossible," Zach complained.
"Yes," Eelesia agreed. "It was, literally, magic. I think maybe he was telling the truth. We're not us."
"I feel like me," Lyn said.
"Think about it," Eelesia said. "We have conclusive proof that we're not in our own universe. Perhaps we never left. There is no mechanism in our universe to allow us to do so."
"Oh. Oh!" Zach exclaimed. "But it is possible for a magical universe to, say, reach into the space of all possible humanoid beings and pull us out." Zach's excitement withered as he realized what he'd just said. "So we're stranded here. At least our generation ship was copied here too."
The generation ship Eliezera hung like a gleaming pearl against the blackness of space. The two-hundred kilometer long starship was shaped like an elongated ellipsoid, its pearlescent surface vast and featureless. In the universe it came from, the speed of light was an immutable physical law, as was conservation of momentum. There was no faster-than-light travel. No reactionless propulsion.
Like the shuttle, but on a vastly grander scale, the Eliezera moved by excreting tiny quantities of charged noble gas from pores in its meta-material hull. That heavy gas was then accelerated along magnetic lines down the length of the ship, reaching just below the speed of light, allowing the ship to exploit the relativistic effects on the accelerated mass to gain a significant thrust from a small quantity of matter. Like most relativistic stardrives, the Eliezera's could, at need, serve as a devastatingly powerful weapon.
The interior of the ship contained only one individual piece of technology bigger than a fingernail, and that was the fusion reactor. The vast majority of the room inside the Eliezera was dynamically configurable living space. Fae had no bodily needs, and any luxury items could be synthesized on demand.
The Eliezera was also a being in its own right, inhabited and controlled by a Giaa. A Generally Intelligent Artificial Agent. A synthetic mind, one of the children of the original machine superintelligence that engineered the Fae - the race Forever After Earth - to save humanity from evolution's mistakes. A Giaa was nothing like a human or a Fae, or even a god. At its heart, a Giaa was the distilled essence of the power to understand. It was by far the most dangerous and useful thing in the universe.
Or at least it would have been, if it had actually been there.
"It's like the Eliezera is in a coma," Zach said as the three of them walked down a stark white corridor, the floor smooth and spongy under their feet as their skeletal magnetics simulated gravity. "It's alive, and all the sub-systems are working, but there's nobody home."
"So much for asking it how we got here," Lyn sighed.
"The entire ship is empty," Eelesia noted. "It is looking more and more likely that this is a magically-created copy of the Eliezera. Perhaps whatever power is responsible deemed a Giaa to be too powerful to bring into this universe. Huh, that's a funny thought."
"What?" Zach asked.
Eelesia shook her head. "There might be gods in this universe, and if there are, I wonder if a Giaa would recognize them as sapients it should care for, or just destroy them and take their power for its own use."
The three turned a corner. A vertical corner, now walking in a direction that was previously straight up. They soon came to a larger circular space and stopped. With no Giaa to construct an appropriate environment for them, they had to program the room themselves.
Eelesia raised two platforms from the center of the floor and ceiling, each a circle three meters wide, until there was only a one-meter gap between them. Then she tweaked the material settings until the two surfaces were softer than the most expensive memory-foam mattress on Earth, and had a texture like skin.
Zach played with the color and the lighting in the room until it felt cozier, while Lyn just used her skeletal magnetics to fly around the room doing lazy loop-de-loops. Zach made cabinets emerge from one wall, where the three of them put their body ornaments.
"There," Eelesia said shortly. "Done."
Lyn promptly tackled Eelesia off her feet and carried her onto one of the newly-made beds. The warm skin-like surface wibbled under Eelesia's back. It felt like laying on a giant boob, almost. Lyn kissed Eelesia fiercely, running one hand down between the redhead's legs and dipping into her folds.
Zach floated into the space between the beds to join them. He pulled Lyn's hips up and ran his glans through her labia, slowly pushing in as her wetness spilled out, until his hips met her butt. Lyn moaned and arched her back as she clutched Eelesia's head to her chest, where the redhead was busy suckling on Lyn's nipples.
Arousal worked a bit differently for Fae than it did for humans. Physically, unlike with humans, the aroused state of the organs was the default state. Males were always erect, unless specific stimulus caused them to go flaccid. Females always had an extended vaginal barrel. For both sexes, arousal brought moisture for lubrication. Orgasms were easy to reach, and there was no recovery time needed. Female Fae did have wombs, but they remained dormant unless activated by a Giaa, and even then one had to opt-in to become a potential mother. Birth Control had a very different meaning to the Fae than it did to humans.
Lyn climaxed three times in the first five minutes, Zach twice, and they were barely getting started. Lyn slipped off Zach's shaft and floated up until she was sitting on Eelesia's face. Zach pressed himself against Eelesia and plunged his erection into her depths with a wet squelch.
Eight more orgasms between the three of them and twelve minutes later, they reversed their magnetization and fell from one bed to the other. Eelesia sat up and rode Zach tirelessly. Lyn straddled Zach facing the opposite way, up on her knees, and resumed kissing Eelesia. Zach pushed a few fingers into Lyn's sex from below, eventually working up to his entire fist.
They didn't get tired. They didn't get sore. They didn't need to sleep. Their auras could collect and reabsorb most of their lost moisture, and pull more from the air, without them having to think about it.
For the next two hours or so, the three Fae friends abandoned themselves to simple wholesome pleasure.
Then Rupert Giles smashed the bust of Janus and broke the spell. The three Fae passed out from the backlash, and Sunnydale Syndrome stopped protecting the Eliezera.