This post is part of the series Ringworld
Other posts in this series:
Title: The Dark Command
1. Chapter 1
Ringworld is property of Larry Niven. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
The Slayers dreamed of fire. In their dreams they saw a burning sky. They saw white clouds turn into black clots of smoke. They saw the horizon ripped in red. They saw the moon covered in a sheet of orange flames. They saw the Earth burn. They saw forests with carpets of green began to smoke and then burst into flame. They saw a thousand miles of ice in the arctic shelf melt into water and then turn into steam. They saw the edges of the world melt as the continents became huge pools of molten lava. They saw the world become a star. The planet blossomed into a plume of searing white light a hundred times brighter than its sun. They felt seven billion people die.
Two hundred slayers screamed simultaneously in a long hellish chorus across the world. There was terror in their eyes and a fear they could not name. They were strong women. That did not keep a few of them from crying. They had just felt the world die and it weighted heavy on their souls. Willow was in the room with Rona when the vision occurred. She noticed the slim African-American slayer roll her eyes upwards and then lean backwards on the chair she was sitting on. Willow was on her way to find out what was wrong with her when Rona bolted upright and emitted a long pitiful wail.
“Please, No!” She moaned. “Please, no!” Rona held Willow by her shoulders and looked directly at her. “They’re dead Willow. Billions are dead.” There were tears in the corners of her eyes. Her hands trembled.
In the back room Willow could hear the Buffy-Baby crying.
It took almost an hour to arrange a conference call that covered all of the major continents. Willow took the call in her apartment. She was de-facto in charge until she could figure out a way to return Buffy back to normal. It had been six months since she had turned Buffy into a baby by mistake. The ringworld she and Buffy had discovered a few years ago contained trillions of miles of superconductive cable which produced large scale quantum entanglement events. The Ringworld was spooky action at a distance that distorted all of the magic on Earth. Willow was trying to heal Buffy when the magic took her literately and returned Buffy to her infant state. Buffy was for all intent an 18 month old baby girl and she was still a Slayer.
It took every skill she had acquired in the last six months to calm the Buffy-Baby down and get her back to sleep. Willow watched the baby for a long time. She could tell the baby was still in the grips of the disturbing vision.
One by one the nations checked in. Willow was glad she’d paid her phone bill this month.
“Rona.” Willow said to the slayer who was recovering from her vision. “Go.”
Rona moved up to the speakerphone that sat at the center of Willow’s dining room table.
“I’ve seen the world destroyed.” She said flatly. There was a chorus of agreements from the speakerphone. “The fire came from everywhere and nowhere.” She said.
“I saw the Minsk River explode.” The Russian Slayer said to no one in particular.
“I know it wasn’t natural. It didn’t feel natural. But it didn’t feel like magic. The Earth didn’t just blow up, it was destroyed. Something reached out and blew the Earth into a million pieces. I felt all of us die.”
Rona’s voice went up a notch. Willow could feel Rona’s pain. She could hear expressions of sorrow from the Slayers across the world. The thing they had seen had rocked them to the core.
“What are we going to do?” The British slayer asked.
“Yeah, luv, what are you going to do? A familiar voice said from behind Willow and Rona.
It was Spike.
Rona was on her feet in a microsecond. She turned to tackle the vampire and went right through him. Rona crashed into a bookcase, righted herself and then turned to face Spike. That’s when she noticed that she could see right through him.
“Are you a ghost?” Rona asked.
“I prefer the term ‘high frequency tachyon transmission’.” Spike said.
That’s when Rona noticed that Spike was wearing a black single one piece suit that seemed to absorb all the light that came near it.
“Aren’t you dead?” Willow asked. Her face held shock and amazement and then joy. Spike was alive. He hadn’t died when they closed the Hellmouth last year.
“Aren’t I usually?” He responded. “I mean I am a vampire.”
“The Hellmouth!” Willow yelled. “We thought you died when we closed the Hellmouth. You sacrificed yourself to save us all.”
The image of Spike looked at her weirdly then moved away. Willow could see that he was in some sort of laboratory.
“What year is this? Spike asked.
“2004.” Someone on the speakerphone answered.
Spike rolled his eyes. “I barely made it.” He said. “So, I save the world, again, huh? Was I cool or what?”
“Spike!” Hundreds of women screamed at him from across the world.
Willow walked up to him. “The slayers have been having dreams about the end of the world.”
“I know.” Spike said. “It’s the Ringworld. It’s covering all of its bases.”
Willow looked at him blankly.
“In about three months, the Ringworld is going to figure out a way to turn twenty percent of the Earth into antimatter. Then boom.”
“Why?” Willow asked all business.
Spike returned Willows stare.
“It’s you Red. The Ringworld wants to kill you.”
I want to give a shout out of all my homies over at alt.destroy .the.earth.
It’s full of kooks now but back in the day we were young and full of dreams (of destroying the earth).
Check it out.
2. chapter 2
Ringworld is property of Larry Niven. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
“Wants me dead?” Willow said. She was in open mouth shock.
“Yeah, seems the ringworld considers you a threat.” Spike looked at her for a moment. “What have you been up to red?”
Willow looked pensive. She was looking for words to explain.
“I gave the ringworld a soul. I gave it a part of my soul.” She said. Willow left out the part about combining it with the essence of her evil twin from another universe.
“Normally, suddenly getting a soul is enough to drive any soulless thing crazy with remorse for a short time. I have no idea what getting a soul does to a machine that’s been around for hundreds of thousands of years.”
Willow looked puzzled. Spike answered her.
“The Ringworld is over three million years old. So, I’m going with the "crazy as hell" theory.” Spike said.
Willow was staring at him strangely.
“What?” He said.
“You’re alive.” She said with a smile on her face. “You’re alive.”
Spike could tell Willow desperately wanted to hug him. He could hear whispering on the speakerphone. The slayers were all a buzz with Spikes return.
Spike attempted to deflect the oncoming display of emotions. Where’s Buffy? Don’t tell her I I’m alive. I want to see the expression on her face myself.” He said.
“Not a problem.” Willow said with a certain amount of understated irony. “Spike why are you here?” Willow asked.
“Need a favor red. I need you to recreate the Gem of Amara. “He said.
“You want me to recreate a ring that makes you indestructible? Why?” Willow asked.
“I’m going to war against the Ringworld. It killed Buffy. It killed my Buffy.” Spike looked both sad and angry at the same time. Through the frown on his face he bared his teeth. It simply uncreated the Buffy that got copied to the Ringworld. It didn’t even ask her if she wanted to continue living. It just took her!”
“If she wanted to continue living?” Willow was puzzled. “Was she hurt? Was she in pain?”
It took Spike a moment to understand Willows confusion.
“No, no nothing like that. When Future-Buffy transferred your Buffy into the future the transfer got messed up. Messed up in the sense that it wasn’t exactly like the Buffy-Protector remembered. At the moment the transfer was changed the timeline was altered. The Ringworld fixed that by anchoring the Buffy-Protector to this reality with a set of quantum calculations you could call a realty altering spell. The Ringworld simply ended the spell and uncreated the Buffy-Protector.”
“What’s a Buffy-Protector?”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Just call her Buffy.”
“Ok. So your Buffy is gone. What about the bad copy that was pulled through time? She should be around somewhere?” Willow said.
Spike smacked his forehead. “I can’t believe I just now got that. There’s a second Buffy running around the Ringworld and a second Dawn. I wonder what she’s like.”
“Something else you should keep an eye on Spike.” Willow said. “The magics of the Slayer are not affected by the Ringworld antics. Slayers are still slayers.”
“So, when the Ringworld uncreated your Buffy-Protector it essentially killed her. “
It took Spike a moment to put the pieces together.
“Someone on the Ringworld got chosen. There’s a new ringworld slayer running around somewhere and I’m still a vampire.”
“Do you have a soul?” Willow asked suddenly worried.
“Yes, but not the way you think. I wear my soul on the outside. My soul is in my skin.”
Spike was about to speak again when his laboratory was rocked by explosions. The slayers could hear the sounds of gunfire in the background.
“Gotta go luv. Got a war to fight. “Spike stopped a moment to stare at Willow. “Recreate my ring, Willow and I’ll kill Ouroboros myself.”
Spike’s image disappeared in fire and smoke.
The room was silent for a moment then all the Slayers began to speak at once. In the back room, the Buffy-Baby began to cry.
His command center was under attack.
Spike stood in the center of the pentagram, protected from the chaos around him. The Fist-Of-God Mountain was under siege. Within hours of announcing to Ouroboros that he was going to kill him, the Hellmouth that he had stood guardian over had opened fully.
Thousands of demons poured out of it.
The few automated defenses he had was overwhelmed. Spike had been fighting them for days.
“In retrospect, it’s probability not the wisest thing to tell an all powerful being you’re going to kill it.” He thought.
Ouroboros had opened the Hellmouth and poured down his wraith upon Spike.
He pushed the dying body of something that looked like a cross between a bear and a raptor off of him as he pulled Buffy’s scythe out of its bleeding body.
“Screw this nonsense. I’m out of here.” Spike pressed the ordnance detonator around his waist. He had just armed several metric tons of high yield explosives.
He pressed a certain spot on his chest and teleported out.
The explosion could be seen for miles. It produced a sound pressure level high enough to kill everything within a five mile radius.
Spike appeared in a cave. He could see the smoke billowing from Fist-Of-God Mountain. His black jumpsuit still sparkled from the teleport.
Years ago he had learned how to tap into the Ringworlds superconductive grid and take some of its power. The suit he wore was closer to being a keyboard/monitor combination. It sent commands to the ringworld grid and acted as a focal point for the output. If Ouroboros ever noticed the connection it could kill Spike in a nanosecond by simply ordering the suit to teleport in a billion different directions at once or set him on fire. Wearing the suit was a risk, but it was a risk he was willing to take.
In the cave was a small generator and a radio transmitter.
“StormBringer, this is Spike, over.” Years ago Spike had began to cultivate connections with the Ringworld natives. A particularly savage warrior had caught his attention. Spike spent years training him and obtaining his loyalty. A static filled voice answered the transmission.
“This is StormBringer, over.”
Spike smiled. “Begin operation ‘Chosen-Retrieval.’”
“Yes, my lord.” The deep voice said.
It was time he found the other Buffy and made sure she didn’t try to kill him. Spike waited for the shadow squares to bring on the night. After dark, he packed his things and made his way to the map of Mars.
Dawn watched her sister return.
Buffy had been gone for weeks. Spike had tried to kill her by firing the Ringworld meteor defense laser at her. Spike had burned several million square miles of land and only managed to piss Buffy off even more.
“I’m still your protector.” were Buffy’s last words to her.
Dawn watched Buffy coming towards her and noticed something odd about her. There was something alien in the way she walked. Her body language was aggressive and minimalist. She moved like someone with somewhere to go and not enough time to get there. Her hair was shorter, her body was more muscular, and as she approached, Dawn could see an ugly scar running down the side of her face. Buffy approached within a few feet of Dawn and stared at her cruelly. She stiffly brought up her arm and shot Dawn once with a tranquilizer gun. Buffy leaned over Dawns prone body.
“Oh.” She said. “You’re the *other* one.”
3. Chapter 3
Ringworld is property of Larry Niven. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
Spike set up camp at the edge of the great ocean.
He had hiked a considerable ways towards the structure known as the Map-Of –Mars. He could see it clearly on the Ringworld horizon. Map-of-Mars was a one to one recreation of the planet Mars topological features. The whole structure was lifted five miles into the atmosphere to simulate the low Martian air pressure. The builders of the Ringworld had built a one to one ratio of all the planets in known Human space.
For the next leg of the journey he would have to fly. The Great Ocean was millions of miles wide. A journey by boat to Map-of-Mars could take months even years.
Spike believed that the Great Ocean was built by the Pak Protectors to simulate interstellar warfare. It stunned Spike the grand scale of it all. You could drop a million troops on the Map-Of-Earth and a million troops on the Map-of-Kzin and a million troops on the Map-of-Mars and run battle simulations in real time for generations. You could document the whole thing from the cameras mounted on the shadow squares. From the records Spike had read, there were primitive humanoids, Homo Habilis, on the Map-Of-Earth. That meant that the Ringworld was at least three million years old. Spike was curious as to why the primitive humans had not evolved. There was no record of predators on the Map-Of-Earth and damn sure no demons.
It was a paradise which was a shame. The Map-of-Earth was crawling with untapped Human potential and no natural selection to spur evolution. The Humans there were stuck because no one had volunteered to be the serpent that would provoke them to be driven out of paradise.
If the PAK Protectors were able to abduct ancient Humans from Earth millions of years ago, then where were the Old Ones? Where were the demon lords of ancient Earth? No matter their technology, the PAK could have never defeated the Old Ones without damaging the Earth beyond notice. With his increased intelligence Spike came to the only conclusion possible.
The Old Ones had *sold* the Humans to the PAK as payment for them keeping silent. This could only mean that the Old Ones know about the Ringworld.
That one though chilled Spike to the bone.
Currently, the huge demons of Earth were prisoners in a place called “The Deeper Well.” They slumbered in eternal sleep there. If they were to ever awaken they would need a new world to conquer. The Ringworld would be perfect for them.
Spike hated being smart. It meant that now he could see and understand just how fragile and interconnected everything was. He also hated the nagging consciousness of his new found soul. By drinking Buffy’s blood Spike had tapped into a cosmic wellspring of knowledge. It changed him at the cellular level. A cosmic awareness had ingrained itself on every cell of his supernaturally animated body. That awareness carried energy that reprogrammed his flesh. He was literally a new man. He felt like Saul on the road to Damascus. He’d had a born again experience.
The demon inside of him still raged, still wanted to drink the universe but Spike recognized it as something small and selfish. The demon inside of him was still a mindless destroyer but now Spike had the power to compartmentalize it, to not let it define him. The power to choose made Spike more Man than Monster.
Spike opened a plastic bag of animal blood as he curled up inside of his reflective tent. He would have to hold up here until the shadow squares brought night then he would rendezvous with Stormbringer .
He needed to make it to Map-Of-Mars to launch his war.
The yellow school bus sped down the road.
He watched on the video projection over and over again. The destruction of Sunnydale was well documented. The pentagon had satellites overhead that recorded the whole event. He watched homes, businesses, the entire city collapse into a sink hole and all the while the yellow school bus kept ahead of the destruction.
When the school bus stopped, at the edge of the destruction, he watched her get out. His finger stabbed the pause button. On the wide screen was the fuzzy and distorted image of Buffy Summers and her band of miscreants. There was no doubt that she had something to do with the destruction of Sunnydale. He examined the image again. He could make out the image of the witch beside her and the British outcast in the back. The boy Xander was there as well. They were surrounded by a bunch of young girls he didn’t recognize.
“Now you understand what we’re dealing with. “ The general said. His face was covered in shadow. “I believe you’ve had some experience with this creature, this *slayer.*”
“Yes, sir.” He said.
“I don’t have to explain the seriousness of this situation. First Sunnydale, then the moon! The moon!” The General slammed his fist on the metal table. The others in the room agreed with him. The general slid a brown folder over to him. “Your instructions and deep background are inside. Do you accept the assignment?
“Yes,sir” he answered.
“Good, now stand.”
The man stood as the general walked over to him and pinned to the collar of his uniform the gold bars of a full Commander.
“Congratulations, son.” You’ve earned it.” The general shook his hand. The man gave him a crisp salute.
“I won’t let you down, sir.” Said Commander Riley Finn. He looked at the folder that held his instructions.
It was marked “Twilight.”
4. chapter 4
Riley took the elevator to the sublevels of the Pentagon.
The Twilight project was in the fifth sub-basement of the pentagon. That meant that its offices were surrounded by five feet of steel mesh reinforced concrete walls with secured doors that could only be opened with an encrypted key card. Whatever Twilight was it must be dangerous as hell.
It had been a heck of a morning. General Wertmuller had just promoted him to full Commander and he had been given orders to report to a new black opts project called “Twilight.” The general and his staff had a full debriefing on the “Initiative.” They knew about Riley, they knew about Sunnydale and they knew about Buffy.
The generals wanted the slayers gone.
He didn’t blame them.
The generals understood that there were forces in the universe for which they had no defense that could destroy the country and even the world. The proof of this was in the sky. A quarter of a million miles away the moon was wrapped in a halo of its own dust. Multiple telescopes had caught a glimpse of something huge that occupied earth’s orbit for a fraction of a second and then it was gone.
The analysts at the NSA, the CIA and even the mercenaries over at Blackwater all insist that the object was a ring, a ring the size of Earth’s orbit. It appeared in the skies over Earth almost a year to the day that Sunnydale was destroyed. There had to be a connection.
*“It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone…”*
The elevator played a Tom Jones song. Riley wondered how hard it would be to rip the speaker from the wall.
The generals understood power. They understood that whatever you cannot control absolutely will eventually come to test you. The slayers were a wildcard and judging by the billions of tons of lunar dust orbiting the moon they were a force to contend with.
“The problem isn’t the slayers.” Riley thought to himself. “The problem is magic. Magic is power. If everyone had power all would be chaos.”
*“It's not unusual to have fun with anyone.”*
He thought of Buffy.
She was everything he’d had ever wanted. She was the perfect woman. She had the stamina to keep up with him, the drive to compete with him and the knowledge of all of the weird things he’d dealt with to embrace him. Her lifeforce was tremendous. There were times he could actually feel his skin hum in her presence. He could feel the warm fire of her soul synchronizing with him whenever they made love. The world became a darker place every time she went away. Only, he wasn’t good enough for her. Apparently, she required her men have a little more bad boy in their bad boy bank. Her first love was one of the worst vampires in recorded history. He broke her heart when he went away to start a detective agency in Los Angeles. She’d even slept with hostile 17, a punk ass Billy Idol wannabe named Spike. In the end, he couldn’t connect to her the way the others had. In the end, he was just human, he was just a man. He could never satisfy her and that hurt him most of all. All of his pain came from the fact of magic.
*“but when I see you hanging about with anyone…”*
Riley hated the fact of magic. Magic was crazy. Monsters came from magic. Magic permitted a simple girl to resurrect the dead. It enabled demons to drink the blood of the living. It gave children the powers of a god. Magic was messy and lawless. It created a separate class of beings that were in the world but not of it. In a blink of an eye, Riley had made up his mind. He would do whatever it took to destroy all of the magic in the world. Maybe then, regular guys like him would have a chance.
*“It's not unusual to see me cry, oh I wanna' die.”*
The elevator doors opened. He had arrived at Twilight.
The Ringworld had stirred up a hell of a lot of dust on both the Earth and the moon.
On Earth, there were things that were sensitive to magic. They could track magic. On a normal day these creatures could sense the smallest presence of magic from miles away.
The appearance of the Ringworld in Earth orbit for even a fraction of a second had the same effect as standing next to a jet engine running at full throttle for a fraction of a second.
It was loud as hell.
One creature in particular, felt the microsecond tug of magic from the sky and decided to investigate. The creature was humanoid and older than the hills. Days passed as it traced the ethereal webs of magic back to its source. Now he was at journey’s end. He was at the spot where this new magic originated.
It stood outside of her apartment. It was tall and elegant with a top hat and a cane. The elements of the earth moved with it, agreed with it and obeyed it. Fog came out of the clear night sky and wrapped the apartment in a gray haze.
Willow dropped the cell phone in frustration.
She had been speaking to Giles. His arm was healing nicely but he still had no information on the Gem of Amara, the origins of which was wrapped in mystery. Xander was still in the hospital. Her evil vampire twin had drained some his blood and injured him badly. Buffy had given it to Oz to give to Angel who decided that he was unworthy to wear the ring and destroyed it. She had no clue as to how to recreate the ring.
She was all alone now with the exception of the Buffy-Baby. Rona had gone back to her apartment and the next conference call between the slayers wasn’t until the next day.
Spike needed that ring to move against Ouroboros, which was the mind that controlled the Ringworld and its magics.
There was a knock at her door.
Willow wasn’t expecting anyone. She grabbed a stake as a precaution. The last time someone knocked at her door this late at night Buffy got her face slashed open.
“Who is it?” She asked.
“Open the door.” The deep male voice said. Willow found that voice sensuous. She found it arousing and intriguing.
Without a second thought, Willow opened the door and stared at the tall, dark and handsome man before her. He was easily over six feet tall, thin but muscular. He wore formal black slacks, a blood red shirt with a black vest over it. He held a walking cane made out of black mahogany with a shiny silver wolf’s head handle.
Willow walked right up to him. She had no fear. Her heart was fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird. She felt as light as a feather and as meek as a lamb. She was lost in the strangers dark penetrating eyes.
“Come to me witch. I want to taste you.” He said.
Willow stood up on her tip toes as she reached up to kiss him. The strangers kiss was warm. She could feel his power moving through her stirring all her secret places.
Her mind didn’t know what to make of what her body was doing. She didn’t want to listen to her mind right now. She was enchanted.
“This can’t be right.” Willow murmured to herself. “I’m gay.”
“So many of your kind have chosen that path.” The stranger said to her after he finished the moist kiss.
“Who are you?” Willow asked. The breath had gone out of her.
“I am Count Dracula.” He said.
5. Chapter 5
Ouroboros watched the distant moon.
The trillions of miles of superconductive mesh embedded in the ringworld formed an excellent sensor net. It was capable of resolving the presence of asteroids in other solar systems half way across the galaxy. It viewed the universe across the entire energy spectrum from near absolute zero to gamma-ray particles energetic enough to create particle pairs of matter and antimatter. Not only could it detect matter and energy it could directly view the curvature of the Universe over a multi-galactic range. Ouroboros would even view and manipulate the tightly curled up spatial dimensions beyond the first three occupied by Humans.
It found the target easily. Fifty light years away, a dirty snowball with a metallic rocky core moved in the frigid space between the planets of its solar system. Ouroboros choose the target because it was structurally the same as its final target. The bulk of it was mostly water.
From Its point of view, the asteroid looked like a fuzzy ball of cotton. Like every object in the universe, it had sub-atomic tendrils that reached down into the microscopic cracks in space-time. Ouroboros knew the great secret of the universe. It knew that everything is connected to everything else. It located the impossibly thin tendrils that stretched to the ringworld across fifty light years and forced a quantum interaction that provoked every particle in the tendril to flip its spin value.
The effects were immediate.
Fifty light years away, thirty percent of the matter in a nameless comet turned into antimatter. A brief second star formed in the darkness. Incomprehensible energies poured out into empty space. Ouroboros observed the results and was pleased. The main weapon was now ready. With a slight recalibration, it would soon remove the threat from Earth and the red headed Witch.
Still, Ouroboros felt threatened. The time it would take him to recalibrate the weapon could be sufficient time for the witch to harm him. Ouroboros began to perform a calculation that would flood the Earth with feral creatures specifically designed to kill Willow. These monsters would be a lot livelier than his dead unicorns.
If it had hands it would have rubbed them together and emitted an evil laugh. As it were, the spirit of Vamp- Willow just laughed to herself as she felt the warm sunlight fall on her through the ringworld surface.
In the cold and dark recesses of space other eyes had watched the comet explode. They knew the origins of its demise. They were not pleased. In the way their kind had done for millions of years they began to make their plans.
She was enthralled by the vampire.
His dark beauty and power had captured her full attention. It took Willow a full minute to recognize the name.
“Dracula!” She yelped with great surprise. “Get out!” She said in mock disbelief.
“No, I will not ‘get out’ *Benandanti.*” Dracula called her by the ancient name of witches that worked to benefit mankind.
Willow placed the stake on a nearby table. She knew it wouldn’t matter anyway.
“Why are you here?” Willow asked. She could feel her self control returning. It was nothing she had done. Dracula has decided to ease his hold on her. Willow motioned for him to sit at the dining room table.
“What was it?” He asked. “The power of it was beyond anything I have experienced. What was it little *balaur?*” Dracula used the Romanian word for dragon. “What have you conjured?”
Willow knew he was talking about the Ringworld.
“For the briefest moments I felt the presence of a power that rivaled the Old Ones.” Willow could tell that Dracula was impressed. “This thing you’ve made appear contains the power to tear this planet apart. It is a threat to both the living and the dead.”
“There is a wheel in the sky.” Willow said. “I think it is the source of all of the magic here on Earth. It is the reason we are what we are.” Willow understood why Dracula was here. He had come to offer his assistance. This was hard for Willow to believe but it must be true. Dracula was afraid.
Dracula paused before he spoke again. “Where is the Slayer? I wish to see her.” He said.
Willow got up and went into the back room. She returned with the Buffy-Baby after a short while. Willow gingerly placed the Buffy-Baby into Dracula’s arms.
“I have a long story to tell you.” Willow said. “But first, do you know about the Ring of Amara?”
“Yes I do.” He answered.
“Good.” Willow said. That answer had taken a load off of her shoulders.
Dracula held the Buffy-baby in his arms. “The slayer is a lot younger than I remembered.” He said completely without humor.
Dracula looked at the baby with a far away expression on his face.
“These are strange times we live in.” He said to no one in particular.
“What’cha doing?” Dawn asked the woman that was not her sister. She was awake now. The tranquilizer she was shot with from the dart had worn off. Dawn sat up in the horse drawn wagon and looked around at the ringworld landscape that slowly shifted around her. Her caravan was long gone.
“All this technology and we’re using a buggy and carriage.” Dawn murmured to herself.
The Future-Buffy looked at her blankly without a smile.
“I have something the Monks never thought of.” She said. “I have two copies of the Key.”
“So?” asked Dawn as she looked over the scars that covered Future-Buffy’s body.
“What happened to her?” Dawn thought. “What made her so bitter and dark?” She felt sorry for this woman who was compelled to pull herself through time.
“I’m creating a doomsday weapon.” The future-Buffy said flatly.
Dawn inhaled sharply. There were over thirty trillion people on the ringworld.
“This is madness.” Dawn thought. “Madness!”
6. Chapter 6
They had been working the magic for hours.
Dracula had revealed to Willow that he had known the original creator of the Ring of Amara. The ring used Romanian gypsy magic to generate a protection spell as a standing wave around the wearer. Dracula used every bit of knowledge he had of the ring’s creation to help recreate it. So far nothing had worked. They were getting frustrated and tired.
Willow moved the embers from the sacred flame to see if anything had materialized. Nothing was there. She blew air between her lips and leaned back. She looked over the mess of burnt crystals, portions and half covered runes that covered her dining room table.
“Any ideas, my lord?” Willow asked. She was really starting to hate the compulsion spell Dracula had placed on her.
The Buffy-Baby looked over at both Willow and Dracula from her crib. She made quiet little grunting noises. Her green eyes were wide open. Drool formed at the side of her mouth.
“It eludes me *Benandanti.*" Dracula said.
It was hard for Willow to tell how he was feeling. His tone and posture revealed nothing.
“Your memories have proved unreliable.’ Willow said venting her frustration. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You will think of something little dragon.” Dracula assured her. “The continuance of the World depends on your magic.”
“Yeah, that’s me. Old reliable.” Willow said sarcastically. “I haven’t been called that since I summoned my evil twin from the wishverse” she said sardonically. Her mind flashed back as a revelation came over her.
“We don’t have to recreate the ring! We only have to pick up a copy!”
Willow quickly scurried around the apartment gathering magical ingredients. She placed the blessed sand in a small cup. Willow handed Dracula a sheet of paper and a pencil.
“Draw it, my lord.” She said. “The magics need an image of what we’re looking for to retrieve it across the multiverse.”
Willow waited until Dracula had drawn a highly detailed image of the Gem of Amara. She looked it over. The sketch of the ring was accurate. Dracula was good.
“I’m going to need a second to create a temporal fold." She said to him
Dracula looked at her. His dark eyes did not smile. “I have witnessed this spell being performed since before your grandparents were born.” He said flatly.
“Forgive me my Lord.” Willow said. She swore to herself that as soon as this was over she was going to have a long talk with Dracula about why it is rude to cast obedience spells on people who are her.
Willow began to talk more to herself than Dracula.
“I pour the sacred sand on the representation of the object. I’ll then call on Eyrishon, the endless one to retrieve the ring from the Wishverse.”
Willow began the magics. Dracula opened a portal across the multiverse as she sprinkled the sacred sand across his sketching of the object.
Willow chanted. “Diprecht. Doh-tehenlo Nu-Eyrishon.”
Dracula responded. “The child to the Mother.”
Willow joined him. “The river to the sea. Eyrishon. Hear my prayer.”
The room filled with gold white sparkles of light as the magic filled the room. There was a low sucking sound like something being plucked from thick amber. The lights dissipated. Willow looked down.
The Gem of Amara lay before her.
“I love it when a plan works out.” Willow said. She smiled from ear to ear.
7. Chapter 7
He swung the modified Heckler&Koch G3 rifle across his shoulder as he waited for the demon to stir. Grey smoke curled off the long black extended barrel of the modified premium assault rifle. The crowd at the mall had scattered soon after the demon had appeared. His team had intercepted the beast as quickly as possible. Riley Finn kicked the beast with his boot then turned to his second in command.
“Get the cleaners here fast.”
Samantha Finn, his wife, executed his orders.
It had been only a few days since his promotion to commander and his assignment to the Twilight project when all hell had broken loose. Reports were coming in from across the world about a new type of demon. The reports describe feral creatures attacking young red headed women. Riley had caught this one at the Washington mall. It had attacked a family of four. The wife had red hair.
Riley kicked it again. The demon was over eight feet tall with greenish red skin and oversized feet and claws.
“What the hell have you summoned, Willow?” Riley thought to himself. His initial reactions were right. There was too much magic in the world. There was too much wild power without a master. People like Willow and Buffy needed to be domesticated before they unleashed something into the world that would kill humanity. Riley thought of the Ringworld that appeared briefly in the sky. It had nearly torn the moon apart as its atmosphere slammed into the Luna surface at seven hundred and seventy miles per second.
The thought of something like Willow being in the world without a leash made her no different in his mind than any number of the demons he had killed over the course of his career.
“Clean up is on the way, sir.” His second in command said as she walked up behind him.
“You’re so cute when you’re obedient.” He said to her coyly.
“We’ll see who’s in charge when we get home tonight, buddy boy.” She said back to him with sly smile on her face.
Samantha Finn had been married to Riley for a little over two years. She was a fellow demon hunter. They had met on one of his search and destroy missions to South America. Samantha stood about five foot eleven. She had brunette hair and dark brown eyes and a fit and trim body that had been shaped by years of working in Special Forces.
“What now sir?” Samantha said.
“We go to the source.” Riley said. “We need to find out who they’ve managed to piss off. We need to pay a visit to Willow and clean up the mess she’s made. ”
His eyes scanned the crowd and the mall space beyond. His face was grim and his eyes here hard.
Riley signaled his troops. ‘Let’s go.” He said.
Dawn watched the back of her sister’s head for miles. Her eyes drifted between the back of the Buffy copy’s head and the clear blue Ringworld sky. She had a million questions to ask and no way to ask them. Dawn really wanted to know what was going on. The horse drawn wagon creaked as she drew herself up to face this version of her sister.
“I was wondering when you would get up the courage to talk to me.” The Buffy copy said casually. Her eyes looked straight ahead.
Dawn choose to voice the one concern that bothered her the most.
“What happened to you Buffy?” she asked. “You look like you’ve been through hell.”
The Buffy copy turned to her briefly and gave her a cold stare. There was an awkward silence before she answered.
“Everything went as planned.” The Buffy Copy said. “We were pulled from the school bus right after we closed down Sunnydale. I spent years figuring out the equipment in the lab and fighting with Spike. The monks still had me under a compulsion to protect you. It got so hard. It got so damn hard!” The Buffy copy clinched her hands into a fist. “One day, I just quit. Spike was up to his usual antics and I knew I had to take the Tree-Of-Life fruit and transform into a Protector in order to keep up. I was about to. I was this close. “The Buffy Copy held two fingers close together. “I asked myself why I was doing this. Glory’s gone so the Key is not a threat, Sunnydale’s gone, Mom’s gone, Dad’s gone. All of my dreams are dead. I had to drop out of college because of you. “
The voice of the Buffy Copy was high pitched and strained. “My life has never been mine.” She looked at her sister with hate in her eyes.
“You took my life from me. Mom died because of you.” The Buffy Copy said.
They rode on in awkward silence.