Celebwen Telcontar: This is the third installment in Death of Shadows, Brightness of Light. Hopefully you will all like it!
Balrog: Like it? Why? How could I like it?
Celebwen Telcontar: I wasn't talking to you, you overgrown… overgrown volcanic vent!
Balrog: Overgrown Volcanic Vent? That's a new one. Any more interesting insults up your sleeves?
Celebwen Telcontar: Oh, jump in a glacier!
Balrog: (Blinks, confused) Oh, well.
Celebwen Telcontar: Please review, people!
The Temple amphitheater was filled to capacity. Umbra-Letum recognized the grey stone and clerestory windows as belonging to the ancient Temple of Varenni high in a mountain range on Minbar. She had no idea why her probes had dragged her here, to see this old relic. But it wasn't occupied only by the Temple keepers, but by quite a few people. Delenn and Lennier were there, talking to Neroon and Shakiri. Then, Delenn and Shakiri stepped into the blazing beam of luminescence called the Starfire Wheel. Neroon and Lennier watched on, horror fixating the young aide's face, while the stoic Warrior was hard to read. Shakiri dove out, his garments smoking, and Neroon delivered a stinging verbal slap to his Caste Leader. Lennier looked worriedly at the Starfire Wheel, and Umbra-Letum gasped as Delenn fell to the ground, looking up into the malevolent eye of light. Neroon suddenly roared, diving into the Wheel himself, picking Delenn up and handing her to Lennier. He screamed to the filled temple to listen to Delenn, and stated the true calling of his heart to be Religious. Then, the burning energy engulfed him, leaving the area completely bare even of his ashes.
Umbra-Letum sat up in a flurry of comforters and blankets. Bastet yowled, diving off of the bed, and then jumped back on again with a tribble in her mouth. The young cub dropped the small rodent at Umbra-Letum's side and curled up to her human.
"Neroon," Willow whispered. She knew why Neroon had done that, it was to end the Minbari Civil War.
"Umbra-Letum?" Beryl asked, coming into the bedroom. "What is it?" The elderly Narn sat on the edge of her bed, looking into her eyes.
"Neroon just ended the Minbari Civil War. The Religious Caste is the Leader, I suppose, since Neroon flung himself into the Starfire Wheel and declared himself Religious."
"What in the Galaxy would prompt him to do that?!" Beryl yelped.
"Delenn was in the Wheel, challenging Shakiri to the Leadership. Shakiri flung himself out of the Wheel, and Delenn stayed in to make a point. Neroon took her place."
"And she agreed?!" Beryl replied.
"No, she was unconscious at the time."
"I didn't think she'd allow anyone to die in her place. So now Neroon is a martyr and the Civil War is over. Thank Valen that the war ended peacefully. Neroon died for a reason, he died so his people could live in peace."
"I understand, Beryl. I'm not going to try to resurrect Neroon," Umbra-Letum muttered. Beryl gave her a paternal smile.
"I know; I just know how impulsive you are sometimes, Umbra-Letum. Especially when you're grieving." The Human Techno-Mage blushed. Beryl understood every part of her life, even before she was flung into her home time from the past. The elderly Narn knew everything, from Amy the Rat to her addiction to magyk to Buffy's death and subsequent resurrection to her reaction when Tara had been killed. Both were jolted from the conversation by a loud crash and screams augmented by the fire alarm from downstairs. Umbra-Letum tried to stand up, only to tumble to the floor on top of a pile of recently-born tribbles, which shrieked under her weight. Beryl helped her up, roaring to see if everyone was alright, and carried his apprentice down the stairs, Bastet leading the way with a yowl.
The living room was filled with the stench of burned flesh, strange, sticky black goo on the floor and slowly soaking into the carpet. Multiple tribbles were on the floor, making bubbles as they tried to breathe through the mess. They tried to move about, only smearing the black substance in random lines if they moved at all. Dawn, Zathras and Andrew were covered in the gunk, trying to get out of it, and a person on the couch was not moving and covered in the muck. It seemed to have the consistency and adhesiveness of heavy crude oil, and when Bastet sniffed it, she sneezed and backed away, making faces at the muck.
"Zathras does not like this!" The fuzzy alien spat and wiped at his eyes, yelping as the gunk got into them.
"What the Hell is that?" Buffy asked, wrinkling her nose at the smell.
"It's… I think it might be tar," Giles said, polishing his glasses.
"Tar doesn't usually smell like something burning, does it? And it doesn't usually set off the fire alarms." Dawn tried to step out of the expanding puddle of black goo, and the suction caused her to trip and fall face first in the mess.
"Ick!" she complained, spitting out a gob of the mess. "It tastes like tar!"
"Dawn!" Buffy protested. "How do you know what tar tastes like?"
"Er… Never mind?" Dawn tried. Buffy glared at her. "Okay, okay! I tripped in the La Brea tar pits when we were last in LA."
"How is that possible?" Andrew asked, trying unsuccessfully to work his own way out of the muck. "I look like the Creature from the Black Lagoon!"
"Don't ask," Dawn replied, crawling her way out of the sticky gunk. "Ugh! I am so getting some new clothes!" She staggered to her feet, finding that the mess was adhesive enough to make her movements difficult and energy-consuming.
"What… happened?" Umbra-Letum asked, out of breath. Beryl was supporting her, and she was glaring around the room.
"I don't know. This just… happened. A bright greenish light came in the room, and the tar exploded all over with… whoever that is on the couch." By now, someone had disconnected the fire alarm, which gave the group some much needed peace and quiet.
"Who is that?" Beryl asked.
"Doesn't matter," Umbra-Letum said. She straightened up, forming a flying platform with a physical chair attached to it.
"Umbra-Letum," Beryl said cautiously, "Don't strain yourself."
"I'm not… likely to," she replied, out of breath again.
"I'll support your platform."
"Thanks… Beryl," she gasped. Umbra-Letum was propelled across the tar to the humanoid figure laying on the couch. "Beryl! A hand… with Organelles… please," she said.
"Certainly." The old Narn floated himself over to the comatose person, putting his own organelles into the humanoid's body. Umbra-Letum helped, and used her crystal to scatter the Healing nanobots everywhere in the person's body.
"Look!" Andrew cried. A fresh wave of tar squelched out of the body and onto the floor with a disgusting sound like an object being pulled out of a viscous pool of thick glutinous mud. A few Slayers squealed with revulsion, skittering back like jittery foals. Slowly, the black goo stopped seeping from the prone body, and it cleared up. A bone-crest resolved on the back of the head, revealing the body to be a Minbari. The three spikes on the back of the crest identified him as a male and of the Warrior Caste. The alien rolled over and vomited up more tar, hacking it from his lungs, and when he opened his eyes, they were covered with the nasty substance. Umbra-Letum used her Wicca Magyk to force the tar from his body, removing every last atom of it.
"Who the Hell…?" Faith stammered, seeing the alien.
"More like what," another Slayer said.
"A Minbari," Xander put in. "They're aliens. He's male, and probably of the Warrior Caste from his bone crest." Finally, Umbra-Letum and Beryl managed to clear the Warrior's body of the viscous tar. Umbra-Letum gasped.
Celebwen Telcontar: Well, what do you think?
Celebwen Telcontar: Well, what do you think?
Balrog: You're completely insane. First pulling Willow through this trans-temporal story, now you drag Neroon! What's next, a Smilodon?
Celebwen Telcontar: No… (Looks at Balrog strangely) Anyways, please review people!