Title: Taking Up the Quest
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Summary: B:tVS/Terra Nova. "It was because of her, wasn't it? The fracture reacted to my heritage, somehow." 2500 words.
Fandom: Post-series for Buffy, no comics; Terra Nova circa 1.9 "Versus"
Notes: More world-building. The idea at the heart of this chapter was the whole inspiration for me to start writing this crossover in the first place.
"Somebody's getting impatient," Nate said, staring at the twitching, broken-winged form of the massive dragonfly Buffy had dropped on his desk.
"I figured," Buffy frowned. "At first, I just thought it was going to attack the kids at the rehearsal- big gross bug buzzes the crowd; big gross bug goes splat. But then I noticed the cargo."
Nate snorted, the corner of his mouth curling up as he shot her an amused glance at her phrasing. "Well, at least if anyone saw you swat it, they won't be surprised when their reply is delayed yet again. It's definitely one of Mira's; Skye said she might try sending one, after she skipped her last several heliograph appointments."
"More harbingery than immediate disaster, then," Buffy concluded, shuddering. Good. She wouldn't have apologized for hitting it, regardless; the thing was as long as her forearm. There was something just not right with a world where the insects were bigger than your face.
"I reckon so," Nate nodded, leaning over the desk to detach the little microchip from its leg. "Though we are running short on time. I was going to hunt Curran up tomorrow after Shannon and I went fishing at the cliffs- but there likely won't be time for him to insinuate himself with the Sixers before Deborah's situation becomes critical. Skye says they sometimes skip feeding her mother or providing her with medication if they're not satisfied with her performance, and it's been a while since her last message."
Buffy considered that, and the shrewd, calculating intensity in Nate's eyes, then dropped into the chair across from him with a sigh. "Don't give me that look. It reminds me of Dawn when she was trying to drop a hint; I half expect you to start pouting next. To answer your question, though: Elisabeth released Wills from the infirmary this morning. The toxin's clear of her system. We can be on our way by dusk."
Nate chuckled, raising both palms apologetically outward. "I wasn't going to say it. But that would be appreciated. I'll have Shannon break the news to his son."
They had planned on retrieving Kara that night, with Willow properly casting the spell Buffy had flubbed. "Make sure he knows Kara's not actually in any more in danger now than she was yesterday; the spell's not tied to a specific number of years in the future the way the fracture is. We can yank Kara whenever, and no time will have passed for her since the last time they talked."
"And that's why Ms. Rosenberg doesn't recall the eighty years that passed after the date of her disappearance?" He tilted his head, assessingly.
He was still a little skeptical of their grander claims- probably half the reason he was asking her to break out the mojo that evening instead of sending a regular assault team- but he wanted to believe; it was like a constant loop of hope and cynicism churning just under the surface. He didn't have many tells, but Buffy was family, and that stern-jawed thing? His line had been doing that ever since Summers and Harris blood had combined in one big old genetic pool of selective denial and stubbornness.
"Pretty much," she shrugged. "You'd have to ask her for the details; but intent's pretty key. I was really missing her, and thinking about the day she'd disappeared, when I cast the spell."
She'd regretted for years that she hadn't been with Willow that day. The police had decided she must have vanished voluntarily, but Buffy had always believed she'd been either kidnapped or killed. And that it would never have happened if she'd only agreed to visit the memorial with her that afternoon.
Because Buffy had been too selfish to want to ruin her day by visiting ground that still resonated with Dawnie's presence, she'd lost her best friend and the chance to spend time with her sister's legacy whenever she wanted. She'd barely had a handful of visits with Nate's mother, and she'd missed his young adult years entirely, the period when she usually gave Dawn and Xander's descendants the World Is Older Than You Know speech. His son Lucas was the first generation of Scrappy-Doos that she'd never even met at all; she'd only ever seen him and his mother Ayani in pictures.
She hadn't had many options, though. As the actual supernatural Hellishness had faded out of the world, the purely human variety had worsened considerably. And since Buffy's lack of aging was a little obvious in a digitized society without a Watcher to help her hide it, she'd figured she'd best reveal herself on terms she could control. For several decades thereafter she'd been employed by the government as a one-woman army, infiltrating and cleaning up riots and rebellions too hot for regular forces. But once the last person she'd cared about was gone, she'd had no reason to stay. Terra Nova had been her secretly planned escape route, her way of redressing the balance after too many years of regret and loneliness.
Escape from more than that, too, if it was true that the government had been behind the whole thing in the first place.
"I can understand that," Nate replied, his gaze focused somewhere far away. Then he shook his head and glanced at her again, tucking the microchip into a pocket, probably to hand over to Doc Wallace later. "Will she be staying, then?"
Buffy wrinkled up her nose. Another touchy topic; but Nate had kind of a gift for pouncing on those. "We've talked about it. She's worried about what might happen if we try to send her back uptime, though, since I don't remember her being there, and the guys that caught her obviously wanted to keep her. The toxin they hit her with was some kind of debilitating compound; not a good sign when we're talking about the last powerful witch in existence. I didn't know about it, obviously, or I'd have fought them when they bought the land Dawn's memorial stood on and started building that particle accelerator. At the time, I thought it was a coincidence that they'd figured out something had torn the fabric of reality there, but considering everything else I've found out since I came here..."
Nate stiffened in his chair. "Now. Wait just a minute. Are you saying that Hope Plaza was built over my great-great-grandmother's grave?"
He honestly didn't know that? Surely his grandmother hadn't told him all those stories about Dawn Harris' life without mentioning the hows and whys of her death. And his mentor had definitely known that Hope Plaza was constructed on ground soaked in Summers blood; General Philbrick had been Buffy's boss on a few especially difficult missions. "Why did you think you were picked to lead the expedition?"
He stared at her, aghast. "You're saying her death was somehow related to the opening of the fracture?" he asked, voice rising incredulously.
"You really had no idea?" she replied, shaking her head. "Not just related. Caused it. We kept it as quiet as we could, but Dawn was basically a living nexus of interdimensional energy."
He just kept staring, processing that for a long moment as the color drained out of his face.
During that pause, Jim walked into the room, then stopped short of the desk and threw Buffy an alarmed look. "What did you do to him?" he said, then held up a hand. "No, forget I asked. Not that I don't want to know, but I kind of need the Commander in unbroken condition right now, and it won't help if I'm right there with him."
The expression on his face after Willow had done some magical demonstrations the other night- first on a few loose medical instruments, and then on Jim himself when he'd been the first to scoff- was already a treasured memory of Buffy's; very Blue Screen of Death. That wasn't exactly Nate's problem, though, and she shook her head at her boss: it wasn't the time for levity.
Fortunately, Jim was pretty good about picking up her cues. He raised an eyebrow at her, then turned back to Nate and kept talking like nothing was wrong. "Anyway. We've been questioning Boylan about his contact with the Sixers, and he's refusing to talk to anyone but you. I wouldn't bother you with it, but he's started making threats about what else he might say if you don't let him walk."
Nate took a deep breath at that, his face contorting with disgust. His face was still a little grey, and he looked more his actual age than he had at any point since she'd first laid eyes on him playing lord of the demesne from his balcony, but whatever it was about what she'd said that had jammed his mental gears, Jim had got them moving again. "I'll just bet he has. I'll take care of it; it's something you should probably know about anyway, but I'd prefer if he didn't broadcast it to the whole colony."
He stood slowly, glancing down at the now-dead dragonfly again; then he sighed and nodded to Buffy. "I think you've just answered a question that's bothered me for a very long time. I never reported it to 2149- but something strange happened when I walked through the portal. I arrived several months before the rest of the First Pilgrimage, alone, and no one on this end could ever figure out why. But it was because of her, wasn't it? The fracture reacted to my heritage, somehow."
It was Buffy's turn to gape in surprise at that news. Maybe the differences in herself she'd felt since arriving weren't just her imagination, or products of the magical quotient of the era- if she'd known that, she'd have been paying a lot more attention on her way through it. "Crap, and I was so relieved when they said you made it through okay; I'd been worried it would affect you differently than everyone else, because of Dawn's blood. What happened to Lucas when he came through?"
Nate usually ducked any and all questions about Lucas as though he hadn't heard them, but his usual filters must have been down. "It didn't affect him the same way," he said, frowning. "But he can see it, I think, differently than anyone else does. He's been working on calculations to make the portal go both ways since he got here, and from what I saw of his work it certainly looks like he might be able to do it."
Jim seemed to have heard about that part before; his expression darkened, and he swore under his breath. "No wonder the people behind the Sixers hired him, then. If they expected him to have some special insight into the fracture because of your family- think about it. I bet the only reason they didn't put him on the First Pilgrimage with you was to make sure you actually came out the other end."
Buffy swallowed thickly. That certainly explained why Nate never wanted to talk about his son. She'd heard they had problems, but nothing beyond the simple disappearance story since her arrival in the past. The idea that he was actively working with the folks trying to tear down his dad?
Well. Betrayal did kind of run in the family, too. Fortunately, it usually wasn't a permanent condition.
"So the first Waymaker in the family since Dawnie is a black hat? Well, it won't be the first time I've rehabbed someone I cared about from the Dark Side. Though it doesn't sound like it's going to be as easy as 'Luke, I'm your great-aunt; join me, and I will complete your training.'"
Nate choked out a laugh. "Search your feelings, you know it to be true," he rasped. "God; that's a classic. My grandmother had an old VR version of the saga on chip. Lucas loved it, too, until- well." He shook his head. "But you have to be willing to be saved; and Lucas hardened his heart a long time ago."
He still wasn't saying why- but the conversation had been rough enough already that Buffy wasn't going to press him on it. Not now. There'd be time for that later- in more privacy.
"Then I guess we'd better get Deborah Tate the hell out of that camp, and then put Willow on hacking that box of Mira's the Sixers wanted so badly. If anyone can open it, she can, and then maybe we can negotiate with Lucas from a position of strength."
Nate nodded, then walked around the desk and poked his head out the door. Alicia Washington had been talking to Willow down below the command office, and both of them came up the stairs when he called Wash's name.
"Lieutenant, we're going to push up the schedule. I'd like you to guide Buffy and Ms. Rosenberg to the Sixer camp tonight. Just the three of you; in and out, as surgical a strike as possible."
Wash nodded. "Will do, sir. I'll need to take them by the quartermaster's first. But if we go OTG at nightfall, we can probably reach the camp by moonrise; we still don't have a fix on the exact location, but we've been able to determine the general area from Skye's and Shannon's reports."
"Good," Nate said, then nodded to Jim. "We might end up fielding a retaliatory attack before morning if they're successful, so I'd like you to do a thorough check of the new security protocols once we're done with Boylan."
Jim grimaced. "Sounds like a fun evening."
"I'll help when we get back," Willow spoke up, looking very earnest in her pale scrubs and simply styled hair. She didn't have any possessions beyond the clothes she'd been wearing when she came through, and the few keepsakes Buffy had brought in her luggage, and the effect reminded Buffy a little of the nerdy girl who'd befriended her first all those years ago. Buffy knew she was doing it deliberately to some degree to project 'helpful' and 'only harmful to the enemy', but it still made her nostalgic.
"I know I haven't been here long enough for you to see what I can do," Willow continued, "but I'm good with barriers, and anything that deals with shifting energy- you mostly use sonic weapons, right? I can make it so none of theirs work, but yours still do."
"If that's true- well, I have to say, I look forward to seeing you in action." Nate raised his eyebrows.
So did Buffy. She'd been on her own for eighty years; she couldn't wait to fight alongside another Scooby once more. She reached out, linking hands with her friend, then smirked at her nephew. "The Sixers will never know what hit them."
"Tonight, perhaps. But I'm sure they'll learn soon enough," he replied, with a grim, anticipatory smile.
"This is the turning of the tide, ladies. Let's make this evening count."