This post is part of the series Buffy AVP
Other posts in this series:
- Buffy AVP: Hive
- Buffy AVP: Messiah (Current)
This post is part of the series Messiah
Title: Buffy AVP: Messiah
1. Chapter 1
The characters of the Alien and the Predator are property of 20th century Fox. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
The Earth, in the beginning, was not a paradise. It was a Hell. Creatures not spawn of nature, the Old Ones, warred among themselves as easily we breathed.
When they died, their essence persisted outside of time, immune to decay or corruption waiting for the day of resurrection.
“In the beginning, before the time of man, great beings walked the earth. Untold power emanated from all quarters—the seeds of what would come to be known as good and evil.
But the shadows stretched and became darkness, and the malevolent among us grew stronger. The earth became a demon realm.”
~ Jasmine explaining the origin of the Old Ones and the Powers That Be
Buffy was feeling better now. For the last few weeks she had been bedridden from the effects of being a human-alien hybrid. She’d became a creature known as Hive, a creature of such singular power that she was able to stand between the Alien species and the Predators that hunted them. As Hive she defeated the blood zombie known as Barik Null. As Hive, she had resurrected an Old One, torn open space and launched an army against the Predators. As Hive, she had single handedly stood up to a million ship fleet and defeated them using the power of the Key to destroy space itself.
And as Buffy Summers, she had killed her best friend. Under the effects of the Janus spell Buffy reacted like an Alien. She tore into Willow with her nails and teeth. Willow died screaming as Buffy acquired the blood memories of powerful magics. Buffy had to admit to herself that this time saving the world came at too high a price. She checked her appearance in the mirror one final time. She decided to go with a simple white blouse and tan slacks which gave her the solemn appearance she wanted.
Buffy turned and made her way down the stairs. Willow’s parents were waiting for her. Buffy was going to level with them. She was going to tell them everything. They deserved to know the truth. And with that Buffy accepted the fact that from this moment on, in the eyes of Willow’s family, she would always be hated.
“Perhaps.” Buffy thought. “I deserve it.”
*The Homeworld of the Aliens*
This was not the way it was done. For billions of years, there was only one queen on the throne. When the old queen died, the throne selected the next queen of queens. Illyria would have none of that. Illyria was an Old One in the body of an alien. She was the god-king of the primordium. She had been released by Hive from the deeper well to serve as her warmaster. The Queen-of-Queens had recruited her to fight on behalf of the throne. Illyria was accustomed to having a throne of her own. She would serve no master but her own ambitions.
The two aliens circled each other in the ancient dance of death. One was three times larger than the simple drone that challenged it. The old queen screeched one final warning to Illyria. Her next move would be to tear her apart. The Queen leapt. As she landed Illyria became a blur. The Old One slowed time around the queen. Illyria stepped up the Queen while she was in mid air and sliced across her throat with her razor sharp claws. The black shell of the queen opened easily. Drops of acid blood hung in the air. Illyria then took the rigid point of her stiff fingers and drove them into the sternum of the queen. She walked casually back to the throne and sat upon it. Illyria released time. She wanted to hear the death sounds of the old queen. Her screams echoed in the huge chamber.
As the old queen lay dying, the magics of the throne dug into Illyria. She could feel billions of years of knowledge and magics flow into her. She knew the true history of the galaxy and all of its secrets. She understood now. The power was in the throne. The throne of Queens was a simple black rock blessed with powerful magic. The throne served as a connection between points in space and points in time.
The sheer scale of it overwhelmed her. Even now blood memories were flowing in from distant points in the galaxy. In the Tau Ceti system a group of copper miners were attacked by drones and impregnated. Illyria got a complete view of their civilization including shipping routes and inhabited planets. She ordered drones to deploy along shipping lanes. In the flagship of the predator fleet, Illyria could sense survivors hibernating in the cold waste of the “Aerial Strike” as it orbited the burning streamers of gas that were the remains of the planet Jupiter. She ordered them to sleep. She would have need of them later.
On Earth she saw a handful of her children hiding in the sewers. She knew what she wanted from them. She ordered them to eliminate the traitor known as Hive. The old queen took her last breath and died. Illyria was relieved.
“Now my reign can start.” Illyria thought. The sounds of the old queen dying unleashed a flood of memories from her own time as an Old One. When she had reviewed the memories from her own time and the times that predated her she knew what she must do.
“We have been lost for too long.“ Illyria thought. “We have unfinished business with the Engineers. I will awaken Messiah. We will ascend, we will be saved and the Earth will burn.”
She was at a party. Andorra Null stood in a crowded field. In the center of the field was a huge bonfire. Thousands of family members danced and drank and retold stories of the Great Hunt. Celebrations had been going on for weeks. They had successfully gone to the cursed place and hunted the devils that dishonored their ancestor. Her own brother had gone into the dimension of the Senior Partners and killed them all. The blood hunt was successful. The spirit of Barik Null was now at peace. Andorra knew he was happily hunting souls in the afterlife.
Andorra herself had a chance to hunt a phantom known as “The First”. She incinerated it along with the planet Jupiter. Her personal score was now over one billion. This made her a major player on the big playground. Andorra took a long pull on the five liter stein of Predator beer. It was cold the way she liked it. She wiped the foam from her lips as three of her brothers walked up to her. She knew it was about family business. It was always about family business.
“We need you to return to the cursed place.” The tallest of her brothers said. Andorra tilted her head to the side.
“Why?” She asked.
“To retrieve the flagship.” Her brother said. Andorra was puzzled. The “Ariel Strike” was destroyed along with Jupiter. Besides the “Ariel Strike” was under the command of her brother Mortok.
“Let Mortok get it.” Andorra said.
“Can’t. He’s off somewhere hunting.” Andorra rolled her eyes. That guy never stopped hunting for a second. He was hardcore.
“Besides, you are fleet admiral. The fleet is your responsibility.” Her brother said.
“Fine.” Said Andorra. Her brothers stood there looking at her. “*After* I finish my beer.” She said.
As Buffy walked down the stairs to meet Willow’s family her mind was drawn to a dream she had last night. In it she saw the Earth on fire. Huge strips of matter was torn from the planet and sucked into a strange black portal. This was a prophecy dream. It had that feel of ultra reality. In her dream a thick voice said over and over. *Messiah rising*.
She shook off the goose bumps that crawled along her skin as she sat in a chair and focused on the sad task before her.
2. chapter 2
The characters of the Alien and the Predator are property of 20th century Fox. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
Los Angeles was a mess.
Weeks ago fire fell out of the sky. Mortok, a Yautja predator hunting the senior partners had attacked the Wolfram and Hart building with a collimated beam of anti-protons. He wanted the white room. His strategy was to create a blind panic then sneak into the building in all the confusion. It worked. The Predator was able to access the white room and kill the Senior Partners.
Mortok had left the city a burning hellscape. Thousands had died in the blast wave that leveled every structure to the horizon. A burst of infrared and gamma radiation illuminated the city in a brief microsecond glow. People were getting sick. People were dying of radiation poisoning the likes of which had not been seen since an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
The city was a hellscape yet in the mist of it stood the shiny bright and new Wolfram and Hart building. Overnight the building had been restored to a nearly new state by its magics. It stood in the mist of the rubble and destruction like an obscene temple to forces that ignored the destruction all around it. More than one eyebrow was raised at the mention of the Wolfram and Hart building being restored so quickly. There was no one to actually say that the restored Wolfram and Hart building was unnatural. Anyone that had seen the building attacked by Mortok was dead.
Angel sat at his desk. He looked out of his office window at the devastation below. The special glass provided by the Senior Partners protected him from the killing sun. This was one of the minor miracles provided by the Senior Partners. Of course now the Senior Partners were dead.
Gunn walked into his office.
“It’s *gone*.” Gunn said to Angel. His face held a shadow of fear. “The conduit to the Senior Partners is just *gone*.” Angel looked at him. This was way above his paygrade.
“Hey boss, you want to hear some bad news?” Gunn asked sarcastically. Angel looked at him with an arched eyebrow. They both understood that things were pretty bad already.
“As bad as the Senior Partners were, at least they kept the riff raft in line.” Gunn said. “With them gone it’s chaos out there.” Gunn thought about what he had said. “Well, it’s *more* chaos out there. Every two bit demon with a dream is lining up to take a run at us. Without our evil overlords we look weak.”
“We can handle them.” Angel said. He had no time to think about the thousands of fleas nipping at his heels. He had only one major concern.
“Any sign of her?” Angel asked. Gunn nodded his head in the negative. The one demon they wanted to find was missing.
“Mesektet has become invisible. “ Gunn said. “She does not want to be found.” They both understood. When Mesektet showed herself again she would be bringing trouble with her. Angel looked out of his office window. The distant light of blood red fires still lit the city, still burned in the distant corners of Los Angeles. The devastation changed everything. There was uncertainty in both the demon and Human world. He could feel the future weighing down on him. He knew a war was coming.
Giles was in the kitchen loading the snacks. Buffy sat in the living room of the Summer’s home with the parents of Willow Rosenberg. She was explaining to them the strange life her daughter had led. Giles did not envy her. He had witnessed the horrific attack on Willow. Buffy had torn her apart with her nails and teeth. He could still hear her screams when he thought about it. Giles wanted to keep the details of Willow’s death secret but Buffy felt she needed to come clean. She refused to carry the guilt of murdering her best friend and the guilt of lying to Willow’s grieving parents.
Dawn sat in the chair next to her sister. She was there for moral support. She didn’t care that Buffy had uncreated her then used her as a weapon against an alien fleet. Weaponizing Dawn gave Hive the power to tear open space itself and force a million ship fleet to retreat in fear.
“I loved Willow.” Buffy said. She struggled to find the words. “She always there for me in ways I can’t even began to tell you.”
“Yeah, like the time I brought you back to life. Sorry about leaving you in the grave.” Said the memory of Willow. Buffy stopped a moment. She could hear Willow softly talking in her head. Buffy cleared her throat and continued.
“I killed your daughter.” Buffy said. The faces of Willow’s parents looked and at her with a blank expression of wonderment. Their brains were still processing what they had just heard.
“We did a spell to make me an alien.” Buffy rushed to explain. “But we didn’t know the alien was a xenophobe. It though, I thought, Willow was a foreign intrusion into…” Buffy loathed to say the word but she forced herself to say it anyway. “…the Hive”
“Do you know where she is!” Willow’s mother asked. Buffy could see the desperation on her pale face. As Buffy was about to tell her, she saw a shadow move across the main window of the room. She had a bad feeling.
“Dawn, scythe now!” she said to her sister. Dawn ran to the weapons chest she kept in the living room. She had the chest open and the scythe in her hands when an Alien burst into the room. It smashed through the wooden door sending splinters everywhere. The alien was well over eight feet tall. It’s skin was as black as the grave. It had no eyes but Buffy could tell it was looking directly at her.
“I used to be you.” Buffy muttered to herself. The alien leapt. It slammed into Buffy. Both of them rolled together on the floor. Buffy could hear Willow’s mother screaming. She didn’t care. She could feel the sheer energy of the Old Ones pouring out of the alien. This was one of Illyria’s children. It was a supernatural creature now. The slayer within her awakened.
Buffy sat up forcing the alien back. She shoved it off of her and reached for her scythe. The Alien screeched. It’s mouth opened. Silicon teeth appeared then a second mouth. The Alien lunged towards Buffy with its claws extended. Buffy swung. The edge of the scythe’s blade sliced across the alien penetrating its shell and cutting into the flesh. The Alien’s head partially came off. Acid blood splattered out as its body slumped to the floor. Buffy jumped back. She looked at her blade in amazement. The acid blood did not melt her blade.
“Thank you Guardians!” Buffy thought. She felt a presence behind her. It was a second Alien. Buffy flipped the scythe bringing up the pointed end. She and the alien circled each other a moment. The alien was fast. Razor sharp claws sliced at her shoulder. Buffy blocked the pain. Vampire, werewolf, mummy, it didn’t matter. Stab something long enough and it died. She penetrated the alien in one stroke. The wooden end of the scythe covered in alien entrails poked out of the other side of the alien. Buffy yanked it out and pushed the alien away with one hand.
“Buffy, Watch out!” yelled Giles. The side of his face was bloody. Two of his ribs were broken. Buffy turned. A third alien was already airborn. All Buffy could see was sharp bright teeth flying towards her.
“*Incendo*” said the memory of Willow. The alien burst into flames in midair. Buffy dodged the burning corpse as it hit the floor. She could hear several aliens crawling around upstairs. She watched in a slow motion horror as they came slowly down the stairs. They were beautiful and horrifying at the same time.
“I can tell you what happened.” said the echo of Hive in her mind. “Illyria is trying to kill you.”
“Yeah.” said Buffy to herself. “The Predators are gone. Now I’m at war with Illyria and her Alien horde. “I don’t care.” Buffy thought. She was sick of dealing with the aliens. It was because of them that Willow was dead.
“Bring your horde Illyria, I’ll kill them, I’ll kill them all!” Buffy yelled as she lunged into battle.
3. Chapter 3
The characters of the Alien and the Predator are property of 20th century Fox. All characters from the Buffyverse are Property of Joss Whedon. Everything else belongs to me.
The house was torn to pieces.
Buffy had fought and killed a dozen aliens in vicious hand to hand combat. She had gone into berserker mode. She was working out her grief. Today, it just hit her that Willow was dead, really really dead. She refused to cry. She mourned by hacking the Aliens to pieces. The memory of Willow helped out when it could. But Buffy wouldn’t let her help too much. She didn’t just want the Aliens to die. She wanted to kill them. Towards the end, a few of the aliens tried to run away. Buffy hunted then down with a brutal efficiency that would have made the Yautja proud.
She had cornered the last alien in an alley a block from her home. As she walked back, she ignored the deep bleeding gouges across her chest. Her tan blouse was soaked in her bright red blood. She didn’t even feel the scratches on her face. As she came upon her house she noticed that the front door was gone. It was reduced to a ragged wood fragment hanging on its frame. The side of the house had a hole large enough to walk through. There were shingles scattered over the front yard after she had chased an alien up to the attic. She stopped for a moment to take it in. The roof of the house was on fire. She could hear sirens coming her way.
She was not satisfied. She knew the real target of her anger was herself. Buffy didn’t have a soul for self loathing. She simply made a choice to find and kill every alien on Earth and then Illyria herself.
She met Willow’s parents in the yard. They had minor cuts and scrapes as well. Willow’s mother was tall with pale skin and dark red hair. There was a long scar on her arm covered in blood that was only slightly darker than her hair.
“Now you see?” Buffy said as she walked up to them. “Now you see the work we do?” Buffy asked. Willow’s mother nodded that she understood. She didn’t say the words but Buffy felt that Willow’s mother was starting down the road of forgiveness. Buffy touched Willow’s mother arm.
“Do you want to see where we buried the body?” Buffy asked. Through tears she nodded yes.
A little girl walked across the parking lot of a San Diego Mall. She looked to be all of eight years old. She wore a ragged dress, her hair was dirty. As she crossed into the light of a street lamp in the parking lot shoppers stopped to stare at her, some whimpered, some cried. Her face did not look right. Her eyes were twin pools of darkness. Her mouth looked as if it had been carved into her pale head by a madman. She had big metal looking teeth. She spread her arms as she walked. Behind her the world was destroyed. Asphalt and grass and trees and people turned to black ash and blew away into the stale air that followed her. She was pestilence made flesh. She was living death. She was Mesektet, the fifth and most malevolent totem of the Ra-Tet. She was one of the dark totems. Her being was composed entirely of the black void of space. Along with the other totems, she was the physical embodiment of the sun god.
“This world is going to hell in a hand basket.” She thought. “Might as well have some fun before the lights go out.” Mesektet banged her hands together in a loud clap that sounded like thunder. A blast wave of pure darkness exploded out from her shattering the mall. Hundreds died, instantly turned into ash. She looked around at her destruction and was pleased. She had just sent her message to Wolfram and Hart. The Senior Partners may be gone but she, and others, had old grudges to settle. She sang a pleasant tune as she skipped away.
Gunn was animate. His fists pounded on the table. He was in a staff meeting that had gone on for hours. No one was getting the point he was trying to make. “The Senior Partners were evil Overlords, but at least they kept the peace.” Gunn said. “With them gone all contracts are voided.” Gunn looked at them. He didn’t get the reaction he was expecting. He tried again. “Every contract signed by the Senior Partners, which include every contract ever signed by every Wolfram and Hart branch in every *universe* is now void. It’s the wild, wild west out there.” He said. Gunn searched for a report that had come in only minutes before.
“In San Diego, hundreds were killed, turned to ash by what many survivors describe as an eight year old girl.”
“Mesektet?” Angel asked. “What would be the point of destroying a mall?”
“Before now , the demons hid. They would have never dared to attack the Human world. Whatever that thing was its sending us a message and the message is this: “I’m not afraid of you.””
“I don’t like the sound of that.” Angel said.
“If you don’t like the sound of that you’re really not going to like this.” Everyone turned to look at the beautiful woman that had just walked into the room. It was Cordelia Chase.
“The Powers That Be” woke me up to let you know that the end of days is coming.” Angel stood. He was shocked. The last time he saw Cordelia she was in a coma after being possessed by one of the Powers That Be. Every doctor he’d called said there was no chance Cordelia would ever regain consciousness. Yet, here she was. Angel looked at her. She still had the same brown eyes, brown hair and ample bosom. Angel remembered Jasmine exploding out of her. He remembered something else. He remembered that Cordelia was now part demon.
“What do they want?” asked Angel. Cordelia turned her head to Him. Her eyes were cold.
“This is the end of a billion year old war between the Great Old Ones and the Powers That Be. You will fight for us. “ she said.
“What happens if we stay out of it?” Angel asked.
“Messiah will rise and the Earth will burn.” She said. Cordelia approached Angel. She stood toe to toe with him.
“If you do this for us, we will Shanshu you.” Cordelia whispered. “We’ll make you a real boy.” That hit Angel where he lived. The thought of becoming human again, of being forgiven by the Powers that Be was overwhelming.
“What is this all about?” Angel asked.
Cordelia smiled as she turned to face the rest of the room. She waived her arms like a showman of old. “Gather round kids.” She said. “Auntie Cordelia is going to tell you a story about the history and destiny of the Great Old Ones and The Powers that Be.”
“What history could there possibly be between the Great Old Ones and The Powers That Be?” Angel asked.
Cordelia smiled. She knew she had terrible information to share. “Well for one thing they’re the same *species*.” She said. “The Old Ones became The Powers That Be billions of years ago.”
“But..” Angel interrupted.
“Are you going to let me tell this story?” Cordelia asked.
“Yes.” Angel said.
Everyone in the room listened.
4. Chapter 4
The Earth was a hellscape. It was a barren and broken land of molten fires and black smoke. The Earth was young and its heart was hot. Bright red lava gushed from its core building and burning the land. Even after millions of years, the Earth was still cooling from the solar nebula that had created it.
They had searched for millennia for the perfect place. Here they believed they had found it. From their mile long ships, the Engineers gazed out upon the horrific landscape that was to become the workshop of horrors they intended to perform. They needed an expendable place to manifest certain theories of creation. They needed a defenseless place they could damage and no one would care. Tens of thousands of years of research in the engineering of artificial lifeforms would climax in the thing they were planning to do now. They came here to build gods and monsters.
They had created the blood bomb. Blood was food. Blood was life. The single cell organisms they had built from mystical atoms in their labs were suspended in a nutrient mix and placed into the warheads of thousands of missiles. They seeded the burning Earth below them and waited. In less than a year they were rewarded beyond their wildest dreams. The Great Old Ones exploded into existence under the thumb of the ruthless process of natural selection. Using the magics build into the atoms of their genes, the Old Ones speciated to capture the niches of the magic that powered them. They were a curious mix of form and function and magic. They were power made flesh.
“And for a while, things were good.” Cordelia said. Her audience listened to her in rapt attention.
“For a while?” asked Angel.
“Well, you can’t have paradise without a serpent.” She answered.
For thousands of years the Engineers were farmers. They nurtured the Old Ones. They groomed them. And sometimes they had to cull branches of the Old One family tree that carried the fruits of abomination. And somewhere in the twinkling darkness between their constant warring and culling by the Engineers, intelligence was born. The Old Ones were still monsters but now they were smart monsters. With their intelligence came ambition. An Old One who had watched the Engineers and learned their ways created his own creations. And so, the Children of the Shadow were born.
But the use of their intelligence was dulled by the usefulness of their power. They began to overlook the little things. In their shadow, smaller weaker beings were born from their enchanted blood. Shape shifters, vampires and other monsters emerged from beneath their shadows. Chef among these were three creatures that would come to be called the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. They were barely above the vampire in the time of the Old Ones. So they put their heads together and swore an eternal oath to acquire power wherever they found it. Their first task was to remove everything that stood between them and absolute power. They had to find a way to get rid of the Engineers and the Old Ones that stood in their way. What the Wolf, Ram and Hart lacked in power they made up with in intelligence. They started their attack with a simple question.
“Is this all there is?” They asked the Engineers. “Could there be worlds beyond this plane of existence?” The Engineers were intrigued. They had begun to suspect that there were dimensions beyond the one’s they knew.
And so the contest was born. With the help of the Wolf, Ram and Hart the Engineers found a higher dimension in which to ascend. They would only take a handful of Old One’s with them. They would only take the strongest and the most obedient. The Wolf, Ram and Hart stepped back and watched the Old Ones war among themselves for thousands of years for the privilege of ascension while they worked on a way to eliminate the vampire. And when it was done, the elite, the best and brightest Old Ones ascended with the Engineers from the charnel pits of Earth. Before they left the universe, the Engineers build one last Old One. A special creature that they hid deep within the Earth. They promised that when the time was right, the Old One called Messiah will rise and the time of the Old Ones in the Earth will be done.
“Wait a minute!” said Angel. He’d understood what Cordelia was saying. “You’re saying that the Senior Partners *created* the Powers that Be?”
“No.” Cordelia said. “They created the conditions that created the Powers That Be. Millions of years passed before the ascended Old Ones assumed the mantle of power. Remember Jasmine? She was still a bit of a monster.”
“But” Angel said.
“The tale is not done yet.” Said Cordelia. “miles to go…”
They were lost. The remaining Old Ones were cut off from their creator. All they had left was the dead weight of eternity and their constant wars. The Wolf, Ram and Hart used that. They planted a prophecy among the Old Ones. They lead the Old Ones to believe that in a sacred place set aside by the Engineers, Messiah will rise and take those who were left behind to the dimension of the Powers That Be. This place was nearly on the other side of the galaxy in the outer spiral arms hundreds of thousands of light years from the spot near the galactic core the Earth occupied.
And so the Old Ones pooled their power and performed a profound act of magic. They moved the Earth clear across the galaxy to its current location to a star cursed by the Senior Partners to kill vampires.
“Sorry Angel.” Said Cordelia. “But your old bosses were the ones that gave the sun the power to kill you. That’s why they were able to create the tempered glass that blocks the curse.” Angel was dumbfounded.
“So you see.” Said Cordelia. “The Old Ones are not aliens. They were created here. It’s the Earth itself that is the alien. “
“Does this get any worse?” He asked.
“Oh yes!” Cordelia said brightly. “From here things gets much, much worst.”
The Senior Partners were winning. The best of the Old Ones and the Engineers were gone and the vampire was relegated to the dark places of the Earth. However, there were consequences for them cursing the sun. The Ra-Tet were now bound to the Earth. The Senior Partners had to deal with the constant presence of Mesektet and her kind. There were other complications as well. Moving the Earth across the galaxy used a tremendous amount of magical energy. From thaumogenesis came a plethora of lower demons. There was chaos on the Earth. Slowly, over thousands of years the Wolf, Ram and Hart began to structure and implement laws that would bring order out of the chaos.
“This law firm is the foundation and end of the world. It has been around a very long time.” Cordelia said. “And now we’re at the end. Illyria has escaped the deeper well. She will awaken Messiah. Messiah will rise and the Earth will burn.”
“Why?” Angel asked.
“Messiah is an ark. It will deliver thousands of Old Ones to a higher dimension. The Earth itself will be it’s fuel.” Cordelia said. “So fight for me or everybody dies.” Angel understood.
She had returned to the cursed place. Andorra Null dropped out of hyperspace a thousand miles above the burning ambers of Jupiter. Wisps of glowing gasses streaked across the space that once held the gas giant. She was hunting the flagship of the fleet. She had assumed it was destroyed when she ignited Jupiter in her hunt for the first evil. She found it exactly where Mortok had left it. The “Aerial Strike” was burned black on one side. The twenty mile long asteroid that was the flagship of the fleet had taken the full brunt of the energies released when she had turned the power of a solar system sized particle beam weapon on the metallic hydrogen core of Jupiter. She watched her brother’s ship slowly grow in her view screen.
“Has she responded yet?” Andorra asked her executive officer.
“No captain. The mind of the “Aerial Strike” does not respond.” He said. Andorra’s executive officer was one of her many cousins. He was well over six feet tall with thick arms and a broad chest. The silence of the flagship worried her. Initial scans had revealed that the engines of the “Aerial Strike” were operational. There was a very short list of things that would prevent the artificial intelligence that controlled the ship from responding. At the top of the list was the Plague. Yautja ships were programmed never to return to the Home world if any alien presence was detected onboard.
Andorra felt unease at something else. The last time she was here she had encountered a being of such power that it singlehandedly tore her fleet apart. It had shattered space and burned her fleet with the fires of vacuum energy. It called itself Hive and it had ordered her to never return to this solar system in force again. Andorra hoped that Hive would forgive her single ship.
“This place really is cursed.” Andorra thought to herself. Her family had files on the Senior Partners going back thousands of years. They knew some of the deep secrets.
“Admiral, we’re picking up reading for the plague and something else. We’re detecting ghost energies. There’s definitely something supernatural on that ship.” Andorra smiled. This system just kept on giving. She activated the ships intercom.
“Attention crew.” Her voice echoed throughout the ship. “There are points available on the “Ariel Strike”. Personnel not on duty are invited to increase score by hunting the Plague. In addition, there may be additional points awarded by hunting the unnatural. That is all.” She closed the intercom. Andorra gathered her plasma rifle, throwing stars, various knifes and a satchel of grenades as she readied for the hunt.
Her ship docked with the “Aerial Strike.” She had noticed that the main docking bay was burned out as if a ship’s engine had been held as a blow torch to it.
“Mortok, what have you been doing?” She thought of her oldest brother and smiled.
The airlock opened. Andorra split the hunting party into four groups. She activated her plasma rifle as she led her squad into the dark shadows of the “Aerial Strike”. Special scanners on her facemask that allowed her to see spectral forces showed her tens of thousands glowing life signs in the over twenty-five thousand cubic mile interior space of the “Aerial Strike”. She made herself invisible. She would become like the phantoms she hunted. Andorra became the haunter in the dark.
5. Chapter 5
Andorra walked in the dark place. The flagship of the fleet, the “Aerial Strike”, was as dark and cold as the black void of space. The “Aerial Strike” was a hollowed out asteroid used for training and generational hunts. It held a complete ecosystem managed by a network of quantum computers. The living area of the “Aerial Strike” was well over twenty-five thousand cubic miles in volume. The “Aerial Strike” was still spinning. It had ninety-five percent of the home world gravity. Above her head were thousands of square miles of frozen rivers and lakes and a landscape caught in a deep arctic freeze.
Andorra could hear the sounds of alien life stirring in the darkness. She heard the calls of bird like creatures in the air above her. Their high pitched squeaks build and echoed until it became an unbearable cacophony of hellish sound. She heard something huge crashing through the trees to her left. It bellowed loudly. Its deep guttural noise made the ground beneath her shake. She came here to clean out the plague but clearly her flagship was infected with other creatures not born of nature.
Something moved behind her. Andorra leaned forward. A brown tentacle barely missed her. It whipped in the air over her head. One teammate was not so lucky. As she turned, she saw her cousin snatched into the air. There was a scream. Blood and chunks of body parts rained down upon her. Andorra cursed as she brought up her plasma rifle and fired blindly into the darkness. Her teammates followed. The landscape lit up with the yellow-white glow of plasma fire. What she saw in the flicker of the gunlight chilled her to the core.
“The “Aerial Strike” was full of demons.
A solid mass of monsters surrounded her. Every nightmare from every species in the galaxy was here. Rubbery tentacles slithered towards her. She sliced them with her serrated blade without thinking. Green blood splattered across her facemask. She didn’t care. Andorra launched a series of grenades at the monsters. Blinding white light filled the air. Chunks of red meat exploded into long streamers of flaming flesh arcing into the dark like sparks from a heap of fireworks. Something black shot in from the edges. It was the plague. Razor sharp teeth glistened against smooth black skin. The Alien brought it’s spiky tail up as it leapt at Andorra. Her wrist claws extended. She stabbed straight up penetrating the alien’s head. She yanked her claws out tearing the alien apart from the inside. The alien screamed as it grabbed her by the throat. Acid blood dripped on her hand. The pain felt like fire. Andorra screamed. The pain only made her angry. With her other hand, Andorra grabbed her combat staff, placed it against the alien and activated it. The point of the spear stabbed into the alien brain. It was dead instantly. Andorra pulled it out. Her spear was unharmed.
“Is this hell?” Andorra thought. “Never before has there been such a vulgar display of the unnatural.” She was right. No Yautja had ever encountered such a concentration of supernatural creatures. Something else was bothering her. Andorra began to have sensations she’d never had before. It felt like her brain was itching from the inside. The extreme presence of the supernatural was awakening genes that been dormant in the Yautja for millions of years. Her vision rippled. Time shattered for her. It felt as if she was living seven lives at once. She felt herself standing on the primordial Earth. Silhouetted in the fires of the newborn planet the monstrous forms of the Old Ones were everywhere. She lifted her head. A ship miles across floated in the air in an impossible silence. She saw the Engineers working their strange machines. One of the Engineers saw her.
“You’re not supposed to be here!” It said. Blackness covered her vision. It returned again. She saw the cracked facemask of Barik Null. It was on a shelf, next to the polished white alien skull send to the Buffy Summers.
“There was a time when I was a god to a god.” Andorra could hear Illyria say. She saw Illyria in her true form. A headless creature hundreds of feet tall stood before her. Andorra was hypnotized by it’s long tentacles waiving in the air. Someone pushed her aside as teeth barely missed her. Her visions collapsed. Her facemask display showed her a screen full of monsters. Something moved. She stood and laid down a round of suppressor fire strafing the wall of monsters with balls of blue white fire.
A facehugger with yellow brown skin jumped at her. She pulled the trigger. One blast came out of the gun. The facehugger exploded. Entrails covered her facemask. Andorra pulled it off without thinking.
Her eyes amazed her. She could see the world around her in the pitch black. To her, the “Aerial Strike” was a blue white wonderland of horror. Far up the curve of the world she could see the blue ice in a frozen river hundreds of miles away. She could see huge six foot tall creatures that looked like albino penguins with their blood red eyes and pale pink skin creatures not seen since the cold wastes of Kadath. The horrors told her what to do. She opened her wristband and called her ship. She said one word.
The ship heard her. The artificial intelligence aboard her ship issued orders to the computers that controlled the “Ariel Strike”. The “Aerial Strike” reviewed the orders and microseconds later agreed. It activated it’s hyperdrives. The length of the asteroid rumbled. It shook as terrifying forces bubbled up from the engine room. The concentrated rings of exotic matter that lined the asteroid came to life. The laws of physics shifted. The hyperdrive activated but the ship did not move. The A.I ran the hyperdrive up to full power, and then turned the space warping fields inward into the tender interior of the asteroid. Instantaneously everything inside the ship jumped into hyperspace for a fraction of a second.
It took Andorra’s ship a full day to find her floating in Jupiter’s orbit. When she was well enough, she checked her score. She was pleased at the points she had earned. It was a good hunt.
6. Chapter 6
Cordelia stood looking out the window framed in a halo of sunlight. Her back was towards Angel and everyone else in the room. She was lost in her thoughts. He had delivered the first part of the message given to her by the Powers That Be. She was preparing herself to deliver the second part of the message. She knew this part was going to suck badly. She turned her head and saw Angel looking at her intensely. She knew what he was thinking. They had worked side by side for years. Feelings had developed between them.
“I’m sorry baby.” She said. “Cordelia is gone.” Angel understood. He hung his head and let his grief overwhelm him. Cordelia made her way back to the table.
“This is the stuff I left out.” She said.
The Engineers knew there was a problem. The Old Ones were an artificial lifeform made from synthetic genes made from atoms that were blessed. The Old Ones were built by magic to contain magic. The Engineers were building gods. The engineers wanted to explore the emergence of spiritual forces as a by-product of natural selection. Their goals were almost the same as the thesis paper written by Eve billions of years afterwards. The Engineers knew there was an interaction between flesh and sprit. They called the process synthesis. The Senior Partners would take up the exploration of that idea billions of years later with Barik Null and Buffy Summers. But there was something the Engineers missed.
The divine cannot be contained.
The genes they used to create the Old Ones escaped the ancient Earth. They spread like magic throughout the galaxy. Unless they found a way to contain what they had unleashed, creation itself would be overrun with monsters. So they did two things. They took the suggestions of the Senior Partners and ascended to a higher plane of existence effectively cutting off the contamination and secondly, they found a race of Predators and made it so they would hunt the supernatural but only if they encountered something that had the same genes as the Old Ones.
“It was one of those *Predators* that took out Los Angeles. “ Cordelia said. She smiled to herself. “Looks like our hunting dogs have developed a mind of their own.” Angel looked at her strangely. There was something missing from that story.
“How could these “Predators” hunt the Old Ones if the Old Ones are in the deeper well here on Earth?”
“Simple.” Cordelia answered. “Billions of years ago, the Earth and the predator home world were next door neighbors separated only by a few hundred million miles. *Earth was once part of the Yautja solar system*.”
The Engineers were not without mercy. They had realized that they were taking the best and the brightest of the Old Ones to ascend with them. They had mercy on those they left behind. The Engineers build the only Old One not buried in the Deeper Well. They built Messiah. This Old One was designed to punch through dimensions. It is an ark build to ferry the Old Ones if they could find a way to activate it.
“So what do the Powers want from us?” Angel asked.
“We need you to contain Mesektet.” Cordelia replied. “Through her the sun can be controlled. If she is not contained, the sun will nova. Bye-bye Earth, Bye-bye Old Ones, Bye-bye Buffy.”
“So, let me get this straight.” Angel said. “You want us to save the Old Ones?”
“No.” Cordelia said. “We want you to save the world. The Old Ones just happen to benefit along with, you know, everyone on Earth.”
“Besides, there is no way we are going to risk those idiots escaping the Deeper Well.” Cordelia thought to herself. The Powers That Be looked down on the Old Ones as if they were the poor relatives they were ashamed of. We were chosen from among them because we are *better* than them.” Cordelia felt the pride of the Powers That Be swelling within her.
“Any questions?” She asked. No one responded. “Good.” said Cordelia. “Now I have only one last detail to cover. This is about the day everything changed.”
The Engineers were leaving. For hundreds of years they had carefully wound down their planet wide experiments. For centuries they had been slowly disengaging from the Old Ones they had created. Oddly, in their own way the Old Ones began to miss the presence of their creators. As an act of sympathetic magic the Old Ones began to mimic the engineers. They tinkered with their genes and out of them came the Children of the Shadow. The Alien they had created was absolute and beautiful in it’s power to spread death. But it did more than extinguish life. It recorded life. It was the immortality of the soul by the immolation of the flesh. The Old Ones hoped to use the alien to gather all the knowledge of the galaxy into one place. The Old Ones would then be greater than the Engineers that had created them. The creation would become greater than the creator.
On the last day of the Engineers, an alien found its way on to one of their ships. An Engineer was impregnated. It’s blood memories flooded into the library of knowledge. And so it was done. The Old Ones had, deep in the blood memories of the Alien, all the knowledge of the Engineers. Afterwards, they looked out upon the stars and dreamed of all the possible things they would do next.
Illyria woke from a dream.
The energies she had used filling the “Aerial Strike” with demons had left her exhausted. She slumped into her black throne and fell into a paranatural sleep that mixed her memories with the blood memories of the Alien. In her dream, she saw ships miles long floating in the sky. She saw old allies and enemies in the ancient dust and bright red lava of the primordial Earth. Blood memories long buried began to work their way to the surface. She felt something like she had never felt before. She felt regret and then sorrow. Everyone she knew was long dead and turned to dust. The rest of her species were imprisoned in the Deeper Well. Illyria was trapped in the body of an alien drone. She wanted to cry. Her alien body was incapable. It stole her tears.
7. chapter 7
She flipped the stake into striking position and jammed it into the heart of the vampire. Faith brought her other hand down and struck the vampire before her. Both monsters disappeared in a cloud of dust. She looked to her left. Buffy was on the ground and surrounded. Faith sprinted over to her. She grabbed the nearest vampire by the hair and drove her stake into it’s heart. The other vampires had noticed her. She slammed her fist into one of them knocking it backwards several feet. That was the break Buffy needed. Like a tightly wound spring, Buffy popped to her feet, pivoted and brought the heel of her foot across the vampire’s face. It’s neck snapped. The vampire exploded. Dust filled the air.
“Where’d you learn that move?” Faith asked her.
“On the jungle planet of Ceti Alpha Six.” Hive whispered to Buffy.
“Just training.” Buffy said to Faith. She pushed the insistent voices out of her mind. “Giles is really pushing me hard lately.” Faith laughed.
“You think it may have something to do with you going crazy and becoming an alien monster?” Faith said as she put an arm around Buffy. Buffy let her arm rest there. It was good to be comforted. Days ago, aliens had attacked her in her own home. They did it just as she was explaining to Willow’s parents how she had killed their daughter. It was all too much. Buffy had snapped. The world went away into the white haze of her berserker rage. When her mind had returned, the aliens were dead and her house lay in the ruins of carnage, wreckage and flames. After going on patrol, Faith and Xander had returned to a smoking battlefield. Giles insisted she return to routine patrolling to gain a sense of normality.
“Damn girl, I can’t leave you alone for five minutes.” Faith said. “Plus you get to fight all the cool monsters.” Faith knew about Hive, the Predators and the Aliens.
“Cool?” Buffy said dismissively. “I was a monster that awakened an Old One, slaughtered hundreds of Bringers with my bare hands and used my sister as a weapon. Yeah, cool.” Buffy thought to herself. She hated feeling sorry for herself so she didn’t. Still, something was bothering her. She felt like she was neglecting something important.
“Messiah is coming.”
“Have you had the dreams?” Buffy asked Faith. Faith looked at her sharply. The color went out of her face.
“Messiah” Faith said. “Whatever it is, it is *massive*, thousands of times larger than the largest Old One. In my dreams, I see it cracking open mountains, frickin *mountains*!”
“Messiah will rise and the Earth will burn.” Faith said. “That’s what the voice is saying. But what does it mean?” Buffy shrugged. She didn’t have a clue. They walked in silence for a while. Something else was bothering her.
“So, did you like screwing Xander?” She asked.
“He belongs to me!” Hive screamed in Buffy’s mind. “He’s part of my hive.”
Faith was shocked. How did Buffy know?
“Well actually it was pretty nice.” Faith said coyly. The women laughed at each other.
He was middle aged with a middle aged man’s paunch and hints of grey in his hair. Doctor Castor was the chief resident of the Sunnydale mental health hospital. He had taken the position years ago. Sunnydale was a strange town with strange murders and strange events. A few years ago a young girl with a weird name was submitted for observation after she had told her parents she had seen vampires. He had one or two cases nearly as strange as that one. Today was different. The intake wards were filled with hundreds of patients submitted by the police. They were members of some strange religious cult. They were all wearing dirty brown robes and their eyes were cut out. They called themselves the Bringers.
Castor couldn’t imagine the forces that had driven these men mad, what evil had forced them to cut their eyes cut out and what other horrors lay in their minds. Doctor Castor looked in on one of the Bringers. The Bringer kept mumbling over and over.
“*Messiah is coming, Messiah is coming*”
Castor had witnessed all sorts of psychosis as his time as Chief of psychiatric services. He had never seen anything like this.
“Prepare an injection.” He told his assistant. Nurse Jane prepared the syringe. She had been doctor Castor’s assistant for almost ten years. Castor depended on her greatly. She was naturally empathetic. She had a real talent for understanding, for feeling the things crawling around in the heads of his patients. Castor took the syringe from her and injected the Bringer. He appeared to calm down but only for a moment. The Bringer sat up suddenly and said:
“In the hills of ancient spires
My eyes have sought to see
The mountains of madness
shaking in a dark calamity.”
He had quoted and old 18th century poem. The Bringer collapsed back onto the bed.
“The poem of “*Nine*”” Jane said as she stood behind Castor, “I remember it well.” Castor grunted. Sometimes Jane had too much empathy.
Castor knew there was evil in the world. He had seen the things junkies and murders and rapists had done to the innocent. He had seen mothers drown their babies; men butcher and kill each other for no other reason than to follow the voices in their heads. He had treated victims so traumatized that they retreated into their own world.
“Buffy.” Castor thought as he remembered the girl with the strange name he had treated a few years back. “What an odd name.” He thought.
“Doctor.” Jane said.
“Yes.” Castor answered absentmindedly.
“*Doctor*.” Jane said again. Castor turned his head. His brain didn’t understand what his eyes were showing him. His faithful nurse was standing there with a gun to her head.
“Doctor, *Messiah* is coming.” She said as she pulled the trigger. There was a flash of fire. Chunks of skull stuck to the wall.
8. chapter 8
*From the notes of Captain Hamilton Smyth of the “Aurora Dawn” Arctic expedition 1806 as recovered by the United States Naval Polar Expedition 1951*
“…June 17th in the year of our Lord 1806. It has been days now since we have seen the sun. This sudden ice flow which seems to have been conjured from the frozen lakes of perdition has slowed our progress to a crawl. We sit here in a blinding sea of white unable to tell sea from sky. We can see the aurora lights at night low on the horizon. My books tell me that the lights of the polar region should higher in the sky. But I have seen many unnatural things since we have set out on this expedition. “
“…June 19th in the year of our Lord 1806. Supplies are growing scarce. We have enough rum and hard biscuits to last for only a few days. The crew attempted to capture some of the local sea life for subsistence. The nets were cast overboard and dragged behind the ship for hours. The catch was peculiar. The first few times our attempts were rewarded with bits and pieces of managed sea life. We recovered a piece of a fish here, the torn parts of a whale there. And in everything we caught there were the same jagged teeth marks that spoke of something huge beneath the seas of this frozen waste. At the end of the day we achieved a type of success. We caught in our nets a thing which greatly resembled a squid but this creature had six eyes that we could find. It’s skin was pure white with exceptionally long arms. My men threw it overboard when it spoke english.”
“…June 20th in the year of our Lord 1806. The sky is black now. The men have been dreaming. I too have heard the voice whispering it’s vulgar machinations and vile declarations. They whisper their dreams in hushed tones trimmed in a type of panic as if they had been given knowledge of the invisible things that creep in the shadow of the world. The men do not pray anymore. Their dreams have shown them that they are beyond the grace of their Lord. Yet, they know he is coming. The men know his name. It is *Messiah*.
“…June 20th addendum. I have the journals of those who have preceded me. The merchant ship “Bolivar” had been blown off course during a return run from America. The captain and crew had been forced to navigate by starlight since the late December storm had blown them into the uncharted regions of the arctic north. I searched the captain’s log for some sign of how they survived and what they encountered. Nothing was revealed to me but I noticed that scribbled in the hand of the captain near the bottom of the page were words that leapt out to me due to the unusual phrasing and the near manic handwriting in which it was displayed. It simply said: “I have eaten the men. It must be made red for three days.” There was additional information. But it was hard to read. The words were blood covered and smudged. All I could make out of the scribbling was the phrase “*ritual of invocation*”
*Last log entry of the “Aurora Dawn”*
“…it is red now. They screamed and of course there were tears but I put the men away. A few fought me but I was grim and determined to obey the voice as it instructed me. I put parts of the men in the freezer and some parts in the cold storage below. There was blood of course, so much blood. I wait now on the deck of my ship as my skin freezes. I stand here listening to the voice as it reminds me of what is to come. It tells me the history of the Predators that hunt in the night. It tells me of the Children of the Shadow and the memories of blood. It tells me of the Old Ones buried in the deeper well. It tells me that the sky will be filled with a dark light that will melt the rocks and boil the seas. It tells me that Messiah will rise and the Earth will burn.
“I will sleep now. My fingers are hard to move as I write this. I can hear the voices starting again. They whisper to me as I am eaten by the cold. The sky is starless and full of light.”
9. chapter 9
“What I don’t understand is why everyone trusts her.” Gun said as he and Angel walked up to the armory window. “I liked Cordy too, but we all know what happened. She was possessed by one of the Powers That Be and tried to kill us. “Gunn tapped on the armory desktop getting the attention of the being that worked there. A man with pale rubbery pink yellow skin walked over to him. “She wakes up out of a coma after some alien decimates Los Angeles and we believe everything she says as if it was gospel? If you ask me, the Powers That Be are no better than the Old Ones. At least with the Old Ones, you know they want to kill you. The Powers That Be have a habit of talking down to us as if we were children.”
Angel looked at him. He didn’t disagree with Gunn. He had his doubts about Cordelia as well. He couldn’t put his finger on it but his instincts were telling him that Cordelia was leaving out some very important details.
“We don’t have many options.” Angel said. “Besides, it’s good to get out of the office, to actually do something. I’ve been fielding phone calls from every three letter agency on the planet. FBI,CIA,NSA, plus MOSSAD, and the demon power brokers in Los Angeles as well. I need to get out of the office. “Gunn and Angel signed for the phased plasma rifles, portable binding field generators and automated spell casters. They walked over and joined the rest of their team.
“Besides, she promised to make me a real boy.” Angel said. “Once that’s done I can finally put all this crap behind me.” Gunn looked at him. Fighting the good fight was starting to take it’s toll. Both men dreamed of a normal life. Gun patted Angel on the back and checked his shotgun.
“Yeah, Boss but let’s make sure we get this evil moppet before we start looking for retirement homes in Boca.”
“I hear you.” Angel said.
Giles sat the book down. It was useless. “The myths of the Great Old Ones” told him nothing useful for deciphering the dreams Buffy and Faith were having. The things they were seeing in their dark dreams were off the map of his Watcher experiences. The Prophecies given to slayers were typically useful. They were either a warning or a description of some nasty thing. But this was neither. “Messiah will rise. The Earth will Burn.”
“Not particularly *useful*.” Giles thought. Giles looked up and saw Faith and Buffy returning from a hunt. He smiled a little. It was good to see Buffy returning to normal. For days she had been a monster called Hive. For days, Buffy was other than human. From what she had told him, the things she had done made Hive scarier than anything she had hunted. That was behind her now. Giles hoped that the guilt of her murder of Willow would also begin to fade. He knew the memory of it would haunt his dreams forever. Giles took another book from the pile. This one was a transcript of a naval expedition to the arctic recovered back in 1951. It was a transcript of the logbook Captain Hamilton Smyth of the “Aurora Dawn”. Giles read the transcript with growing trepidation. Near the end of it he had to lay the transcript down and take a deep breath. Clearly Captain Smyth had encountered something profound and disturbing.
The “*ritual of invocation*”. That phrase leapt out at him. He had heard it before. Giles thought hard.
“Of course!” He thought as he scrambled for another book at the bottom of the pile. “It’s always in the index of massacres.” The watchers kept an index of strange murders and ritualistic massacres. The Roanoke Colony in the late sixteenth century in North Carolina held over one hundred souls. They all disappeared without a trace and no sign of a struggle. The only clue to their disappearance was the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree. Their disappearance was a great mystery. Giles knew better. The Watchers council at the time had conducted an independent investigation. They found the bodies, all one hundred and seventeen of them, laid in a circle in a pit with the elder signs carved into their flesh. They had been slowly bled to death over a period of three days.
“*It must be made red for three days*.”
Giles slammed the book shut. A cold fear like a wet finger slid up his spine. The ritual of invocation was a spell to awaken the Old Ones. This was far worse than anything he had imagined. A dark cloud of fear overcame Giles. That cloud was shattered when Faith and Buffy entered the room. They were giggling over something silly. Their smiles implied that there was some light in the world. Giles knew better. The world was always a dark black.
“So Jeeves, read any good books lately?” Faith asked him. He was glad to see that she was feeling better after drinking so much of Dracula’s blood.
“Just some light research.” He said as he shuffled the book he had just read to the bottom of the pile. He turned towards Buffy.
“Buffy, tell me again about the dreams.” He said. Buffy looked at him strangely. She and Giles had gone over her dreams dozens of times. She took a deep breath and started again.
“It starts as a pressure. I know I’m asleep but I can hear someone talking to me. “Buffy folded her arms around herself as her face scrunched up. Any appearance of joy she had, had totally disappeared from her continence.
“The voice is thick and deep and not quite human.” She said. “The voice says Messiah will rise. The Earth will burn.” Buffy mimicked the voice in her dream. It definitely sounded nonhuman.
“Not quite.” said Faith. She was remembering more of her dream.
“The voice says Messiah will rise then there is a screeching noise then …the Earth will burn.” Everyone looked at each other.
“You think there’s more to the message?” Buffy asked. Giles looked concerned. What could block a direct message from the Powers that Be?
“I could try regressive hypnosis to see if you remember more.” Giles said. Buffy and Faith looked at each other.
“Slayer dream therapy?” Faith said sarcastically.
“Let’s give it a try.” Giles said. “Fate of the world and all that.”
The watch floated in midair. They saw it as a shimmering golden light. Buffy and Faith relaxed and let Giles voice resonate with them. The minds of the slayers slipped free of the chains of the flesh. The women fell into a waking sleep.
“Tell me your dreams.” Giles said. Both of the slayers heard him. Their minds pulled the information from deep within their memories. Buffy spoke. Her voice was low. It sounded thick like molasses.
“We are not without our mercy.” Buffy said to the air that hung before her. “We could not leave them alone in this terrible place. “ Buffy spoke the words of the Engineers. “We build them an ark.”
“Messiah in the frozen waste.” said Faith.
“Messiah will rise. Our creations, both living and dead, will be saved.”
“Unless…unless…” Faith added. When he could gain no more information Giles snapped his fingers awakening the women.
“Did you get any additional information?” asked Buffy.
“Yes.” Giles said. “Just enough to make me really afraid.”
Across the galaxy Illyria dreamed. The blood memories had guided her to the spot. She knew the perfect place and the perfect way to perform the ritual of invocation. It needed to be performed at a place where the wall between worlds was thinnest. It needed to be performed at a hellmouth. Illyria knew she could perform the ritual correctly. Messiah would rise and because of the Powers that Be the Earth will burn.
10. chapter 10
Buffy watched the scene below her through a pair Nikon Prostaff 7 ATB binoculars. She was in the hellmouth deep under Sunnydale. She had argued with Giles to come here. For days people had gone missing around the city. Her slayer instinct told her why. Illyria was coming here to perform the deadly ritual that would awaken Messiah and destroy the world. She was here to save those people. She was here to kill Illyria and to stop her alien horde.
Her scythe lay next to her on the brown dirt of the cliff that overlooked the deadly and dark spaces of the Hellmouth. She had faint memories of coming here as Hive. She remembered killing thousands of Turok-Han here. Buffy scanned the huge cavern looking for a sign. There was a spark and the green neon glow of a portal opening. Buffy saw dozens of aliens carrying the cocooned forms of twenty or so humans.
“Showtime!” Buffy thought as she packed her gear and scurried down the face of the cliff.
**Near the “Aerial Strike”**
Her dreams would not let her rest. Andorra Null sat straight up in her bed. There was sweat on her forehead. Her sheets were wet. She had a dream. And in her dream there was a girl, a blonde girl, with an axe. She was hunting the plague. Andorra recognized that face. She had seen it in the holographic files of Barik Null. This was the face of his killer.
Andorra issued a prayer for the dead as her feet swung out and hit the floor. She hated feeling this way. She felt like she had important things to do and was falling behind. The events aboard the “Aerial Strike” still haunted her. The flagship of the fleet had been filled with natural and supernatural monsters. Aboard the “Aerial Strike” she had had a vision of gods and their makers. Aboard the “Aerial Strike”, billion year old genes within her had awakened. She ran her thumb over the curved edge of the blade she always slept with peeling off microscopic slices of dead skin. This helped her think. She wanted something but had no idea of how to satisfy her nameless desire.
Her soul burned for the hunt. She felt possessed by something that wanted to hunt the Old Ones not for sport or points. She wanted to hunt the Old Ones because that’s what she was. She found that revelation illuminating. A palm came down on the intercom button.
“Set a course for Earth, city of Sunnydale, stealth mode.” She said. Her crew obeyed. She felt a wave of satisfaction sweep over her. Whatever this thing she was now knew this was the right thing to do. She made her way to her personal weapons locker and prepared for the hunt.
Illyria stepped through the portal. The chosen had gone before her. She was here to perform the ritual of invocation correctly. Her drones had captured enough humans to ensure the proper amount of blood.
“*It must be kept red for three days.*”
She remembered the glorious simplicity of the spell. The elder signs and the words of Eyrishon the endless one must be fed for three days. When the words are fed, the locks will turn and the door beyond the world will open. Dimensions will shatter and Messiah will rise. She watched the others carry the humans in the pit dug for this purpose. The Alien lifted it’s head slightly. Illyria felt something, a presence of a once powerful being.
“Hive is here!” She thought. She dispensed her drones to deal with the intruder.
Buffy crept along the perimeter of the Aliens. She kept herself low and hidden behind the rocks and stalactites. She eased her scythe into position. Her plan was to take out the premier guards and then Illyria herself. Buffy never thought of herself as one who indulged in revenge but she had really come to hate the aliens and because of them what had happened to Willow. For her this was a blood hunt. She would right the scales and remove these monsters from the Earth.
She heard something behind her. She could swear she could see a shape moving in the darkness . It didn’t matter. Buffy turned her head back to Illyria and stared straight into a set of glistening teeth inches from her face. She jumped backwards as the alien lunged. Sharp claws cut the air inches from her face. Buffy brought the pointed tip of the scythe down into the head of the alien. It screamed. Acid blood splattered on the ground. The other aliens turned.
“Shit!” Buffy thought. All stealth was gone. Three aliens ran towards her. She ran towards them. The first alien was on her in a fraction of a second. It struck the ground where Buffy had stood only moments ago. It’s claws dug into the dirt but it was too late. She did a half flip over the charging alien twisting in midair. It’s smooth black skin was only inches from her face. She jabbed the end of the scythe into the back of the alien and made a right angle turn in space. Buffy landed on her feet as the alien hit the ground.
The other two aliens split apart and attacked from two different directions. One stood in front of her the other in back. The moment she chose one alien the other would attack. Buffy stood there a moment before she made her decision. She stutter stepped and then zigged towards the alien in front of her. She slammed into it. Both of their bodies rolled into the dust. She knew she had only moments before the other alien would be upon her. Buffy scrambled to her feet. The alien was a fraction of a second too slow. She brought the edge of the scythe across the face of the alien. She cut through shell, muscle and bone. It came apart in a bloody splatter. Buffy dodged out of it’s way. The third alien was upon her. She knew it was too late. The shape of black death opened its mouth to consume her and was incinerated by blue white fire. Andorra stepped out of the shadows to meet the killer of Barik Null. Buffy and the predator stood there looking at each other.
“What the…” Buffy thought. “Another blood zombie?”
“She’s mighty short for a legend.” Andorra thought.
The Predator and the Slayer sized each other up. Andorra growled. Buffy twisted her head slightly.
“I don’t have time for this.” Buffy thought.
She came up on the tips of her toes like a ballerina, twisted, and then slammed the heel of her foot across Andorra’s face. The predator’s head snapped as it staggered backwards. Andorra turned back towards Buffy, squatted slightly and then screamed her battle challenge. Buffy growled. The two hunters charged at each other. Questions were meaningless. The slayer within could feel the activated Old One genes in the predator. That made the beast before her fair game. By attacking, Buffy had challenged Andorra for dominance. Andorra was no one’s prey. Her fist slammed across Buffy’s face knocking her backwards. Buffy found her footing. She slashed downwards with her scythe. Andorra extended her wrist claws. Metal slammed into metal. Sparks flew into the air.
Illyria watched the two warriors fight. She found it amusing. The ritual of invocation continued. There were well over twenty bodies in the pit. With their claws, the aliens had scratched the Elder signs and the words of Eyrishon into their flesh. Illyria began to speak the ancient words. The blood signs flashed into a brilliant red. Burning Human blood lit the words. They glowed like fire giving a cold crimson glow.