Written for the spring contest over at the crossoveroff community on livejournal. Unfortunately the judges backed out, so the contest was never completed, but the challenge was to write a crossover of Tin Man and anything else of my choice. I chose Alice in Wonderland. The fic was completed on April 1st, and I apologize for the late posting here.
Summary: The Witch of the O.Z. wasn't the only one with dreams of power. The Queen of Hearts has kidnapped Azkadellia in an attempt to take over the world above. Now DG, Cain, Glitch, Raw, and Jeb are going into Wonderland to rescue her.
Pairings: Hints of Cain/Glitch, very light Azkadellia/Alice, and both some slight Jeb/DG and slight Raw/DG. None of it is really beyond subtext though.
There are some fairly vague references made to the Wizard of Oz canon outside of just Tin Man, though it's nothing huge, and it doesn't really follow the canon of the books. But the character of "Princess Langwidere of Ev" is from the Oz stories, and I just appropriated her for my own use.
The title was a last minute addition, when I suddenly realized that I didn't have one. "Adventures Underground" is the title that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland originally went by.
And kudos to anyone that recognizes the random quotes I used throughout. Mostly there are just lines from movies, songs, or books that I liked and wanted to fit in. It's not important that you recognize them, but I had fun putting them in.
I don't own Tin Man, Alice in Wonderland, or The Wizard of Oz stories. There are quotes used throughout that I can't lay claim to either. The plot however does belong to me.
Feedback is greatly appreciated!
Many thanks to Ryuichi of Ryuichi-Tohma for letting me talk to her at all hours of the night/morning to see if my ideas made sense, and to Zeva for not throwing things at me when I asked questions like "what kind of flower would be the most conceited?"
"Az!" DG screamed, running across the empty floor.
Cain bit back a curse and ran after, determined to protect her. Jeb followed close behind him.
The elder sister's eyes were wide with fear, though the hand over her mouth kept her from screaming.
The woman behind Azkadellia grinned wickedly at the group in front of her. Following one quick gesture, red light swept in an arc in front of them. From the trail of light on the floor, giant metal guards appeared. They were like giant playing cards the size of a man, but they were certainly more dangerous than paper; their edges looked sharp, and they were carrying spears.
Cain's gun was in his hand immediately and he tried to shoot at the woman holding Az, but the cards blocked the shots.
DG swept her arm out in a counter to the woman's gesture, and green-tinted light hit the card-soldiers in their middles. It made them stop and even shift backwards, but they didn't disappear.
The woman stepped forward. She was dressed almost entirely in red, with a suggestion of a heart on the bodice of her dress. A gold crown glimmered on her head, and a large cabochon ruby hung at her throat.
The card-soldiers shifted backwards so that they were flanking her. They made a disturbing sound of blades slicing against each other as they moved.
The woman sneered at them all and grabbed Azkadellia close. Then she snapped her fingers, and she, the soldiers, and Az all disappeared.
"Az!" DG yelled again, racing to where her sister had been.
All that was left there was a letter, written in flourished ornate script. The red ink stood out disturbingly like blood. DG's hands were shaking it as she picked it up and began to read it. The others looked over her shoulders.
The Queen of Hearts invites you to meet her Formally in Wonderland at Her Castle. It is suggested that you bring with you Emeralds of Great Value and Power to Trade for your princess's Life. Failure to bring Emeralds for Her Highness will result in the subsequent Beheading of your beloved princess. Send a party of five or fewer in the next Three Days and be ready to bow before your New Queen.
"Jeb. Go get the king and queen. Now." Cain's voice was low, but it was obvious that he was anything but calm.
Jeb ran out of the hall, leaving Cain and DG staring at the letter.
"The Queen of Hearts…" DG whispered. "What does she want?"
"Emeralds, it seems," Cain answered, looking around the ballroom warily. His gun was still drawn.
"She wants power," the queen answered from the door before she rushed to DG and hugged her tightly.
Ahamo was right behind her, and paused next to his wife. "You know how powerful the emerald of the eclipse was. Any of the emeralds from the O.Z. have some power to them."
Glitch added from behind them, "Too bad all that power faded so long ago." He paused then, and looked around, apparently unsure of where that statement had been going.
"Oh, my poor daughter…" the queen shook her head.
"No. No, we're going to go get Az back, and we're going to do it now," DG said, pulling back slightly from her mother's hug. "We have to. We can't just leave her with some… some insane queen from God only knows where."
Ahamo walked up to them and held out his hand. "Let me see the letter."
"Sure." She handed it over.
All of them stood while he read it out loud.
"So… send five people to walk in to their death?" Jeb asked.
"I know it's a trap, but we've got to go. There's no way to even try to rescue Az if we don't." DG nodded firmly.
"Who would we send, though?" The queen asked. "We can't just send a company of Tin Men, not even if they'd be willing to go. Not into a situation like that."
"Well, I'll go," DG offered.
"You can't, kid," Cain told her. "We lost one princess, we're not jeopardizing the other one."
"Excuse me? I don't think you're stopping me, Tin Man. I'm not a stranger to being in dangerous situations, if you don't recall."
"Please, love, don't make me lose both my daughters again," the queen begged, her lips pressed thin.
"Mother, please. You won't lose either of us; I'm the one with the best chance of finding her. She's my sister."
The king nodded slowly. "If someone can find her, it will be you." It was obvious that he was reluctant to agree, but he had to.
"Then I'm going with you," Cain said. "You need protection."
"Head of the guard would be the appropriate choice for that." The queen nodded.
"Not to dampen the 'enthusiasm' you're all showing, but where are we even going?" Jeb asked, looking back at the paper Ahamo was still holding.
"How do you get to Wonderland…" Glitch asked, trailing off.
A few moments of silence passed, and it became obvious that none of them had the slightest idea.
"I bet Raw could tell us," DG said, "If he touched the letter."
"I know where he is, Princess. I'll go get him," Jeb said, running out of the hall without waiting for an answer.
Hours later, the six of them were seated at a large table in one of the council chambers.
Jeb had found Raw, and the queen had suggested that further discussion should take place somewhere more private than the open hall.
Raw had been able to View off of the letter, but what he could say about it was still fairly limited. Most of what he Saw revolved on what would be in Wonderland, not how to get there. Not that even his glimpses of the place made much sense; the whole place seemed completely nonsensical. He said he Saw mushrooms the size of houses, talking animals, chess pieces and playing cards walking on their own. After seeing the metal card soldiers, no one doubted that his Viewing was perfectly accurate.
Still, he had been left with two very specific impressions that were not shrouded in confusion; that the queen was incredibly dangerous and deadly serious when she said she'd kill Azkadellia, and that to get to Wonderland they would have to go underground.
The hours that had now passed had consisted of argument after argument over who would go, assuming they could find their way. DG had remained adamant that she was going, and while her parents were still unhappy with the idea, they had eventually agreed. Everyone had agreed that Cain had to go, to continue acting as her bodyguard. The queen had nominated Glitch as well, since he was their friend, and despite his 'glitches' he was still an advisor, and would likely be a help to them. DG asked Raw to come, partially to keep him from being left out, but also because his abilities would potentially be very useful to them. A few names of promising soldiers were mentioned for a fifth, but it was Jeb who raised his voice and declared that he was going too. The king and queen agreed without hesitation, and while Cain obviously wanted to object, he kept quiet.
The conversation had now turned back to how they were even going to find Wonderland, only knowing that it was underground.
"Don't you know where it is? You lived underground for a long time, dad," DG asked.
"The Realm of the Unwanted is self-contained. The only reference to "Wonderland" I remember was in relation to an extremely potent form of the witch's vapors that was sold on shadier-than-average street corners. As in the drugs would 'take you to Wonderland,' but I somehow doubt they meant literally." Ahamo sighed.
"So many of the court records were destroyed," the queen sighed. "Otherwise I'd suggest we search there."
"It'd take too long anyway," DG said. "We have to find out how to get there and go now. Before Az gets hurt."
"Just as important," Cain said, "is what are we going to do once we are there? She wants a ransom of emeralds, and she'll probably kill us on sight if we don't have them."
"But father, like Glitch said, the emeralds don't have the power they supposedly once had. The emerald of the eclipse was the last one of real magic, wasn't it?" Jeb asked.
"It's said that the emeralds used to provide all of the O.Z. with its power, but as time wore on, we didn't need them anymore. Once upon a time magic ran the cities, and the emeralds provided the power for it. That was why for a time Central City was known as the Emerald City. But then fewer people with strong magic were born, and so the magic was replaced with machines. Now only the royal family has true strong magic, and occasionally rare others. But as people lost their magic, so did the stones, until they were no longer powerful, but just lumps of green rock," the queen said, as if she were reciting something she'd read many times before. "That's one reason we took care to hide the Emerald of the Eclipse; we were afraid that the power would leave it. Most emeralds barely react anymore, and even then, only if they are around someone with very strong magic."
"But would the Queen of Hearts know it?" DG asked. "If we show her that we have Emeralds for her, maybe she'll let us close enough to do… I don't know. Something."
"There are plenty of emeralds in the palace. The witch collected enough of them while searching…"
"It's a shame we can't just go through the Nome Mines. They were abandoned forever ago and they lead just about everywhere underground you could imagine. And whoever imagined Wonderland had quite an imagination," Glitch nodded.
"Hey, now that's not a bad idea. Could that work?" Ahamo asked.
"What?" Glitch asked.
"The mines. Could they be the way to get there?"
"It could be," Jeb said slowly. "The vapors contained the witch's magic spell, but our agents told us they were also made from something found underground, sometimes in the abandoned mines. The witch seemed to only be interested in the mines that would give her what she needed for her machine-"
"Moritanium, number 216." Glitch interrupted.
"Yeah, that." Jeb nodded. "And so the older mines in the mountains were largely ignored. But she was occasionally getting some ingredient for her vapors from the other mines. If that same drug was said to 'take you to Wonderland'… maybe that's where the mines lead."
"It's more of a lead than we had before." Ahamo shrugged. "I'd say it's worth a try. We know how to find the Nome Mines, don't we?"
Cain nodded. "The only entrance I know of is another of the mines in the Black Mountains, in the east. We should be able to find it without any real problem. Assuming it is really the way."
"We have to at least try," DG said.
They were in the Black Mountains the day after that.
Preparations had been quick, especially at DG's insistence, though no one had wanted to delay the rescue.
It helped time-wise that there wasn't much any of them could do to prepare. No one knew what they were doing, so all they could do was bring food and clothing, the emeralds for the ransom, and hope they would be able to face whatever came in Wonderland.
A truck ride got them to Central City by nightfall; they spend the night there, and in the morning set out with a small company of Tin Men on horseback to find the mine.
And they did find it. And it was obvious that someone had been using it more recently than most had believed. The undergrowth was all cut away from around it, and some steep, narrow, but hopefully reasonably sturdy stairs led down into the blackness.
Cain insisted on going first. Glitch followed him, with DG after him. Raw was behind her, and Jeb brought up the rear.
The stairs could barely qualify as such. They were so steep that half the climb down had to be made facing the wall and using their hands as well, but it wasn't quite vertical enough to count as a ladder either.
DG lost count of how long the climb took. Her back was aching from the awkward position, and they couldn't even see the light of the entrance anymore. Cain and Jeb both had flashlights that were lighting the way now. Shadows loomed eerily around them on every side, and since they couldn't see the bottom of this hole either, a sudden slip seemed ever more terrifying.
"I can see the bottom," Cain finally called, his voice echoing up the tunnel.
After a few more minutes, they were down in the maze of tunnels.
Cain and Jeb both shone their lights around, but there was no clue as to which way to go. The tunnels already branched here, and doubtless would many more times farther on.
DG borrowed Cain's flashlight and walked back and forth between the pathways, trying to judge which was more well used, or anything else that would tell them which way to go.
"Hey, what's that?" she asked, aiming the light down one passage.
"Looks like… a mushroom," Jeb answered.
"I think we should go this way," DG said.
"Based on fungi?" Glitch asked. "Can you use magic or something a bit more reliable that the growth patterns of subterranean decomposers?
"I can't use magic if I don't know what I'm looking for. And especially if we do get to the Queen of Hearts' realm, I don't think I should use magic if I can avoid it. I don't know if that would make us easier to find. And, well, why not follow the mushroom? It's not like there are posted signs; 'This way to magical and impossible realms hidden underground.' That'd be helpful though," DG said, starting off.
Everyone else followed. A mushroom may have been an arbitrary reason to choose a path, but it was a reason.
Following the mushroom passage, they found more of the fungi growing along the walls and the floor. They continued to provide them with direction, because even when the tunnels branched the mushrooms only grew one way. Some of them even gave off a very faint glow.
"How are all of these even growing down here?" DG asked. "They have no light, and nothing to be growing on but rocks."
"Does it really matter, Princess? They are, and as far as we can tell, they're marking some kind of path. I just hope they aren't leading us into some kind of a trap," Cain said.
DG shrugged and pushed back in front of him. "That's silly though. Who'd set a trap down he –" Her question ended in a scream as she fell.
The hole hadn't even been visible where they were, as it had been completely concealed by shadows on the tunnel floor.
"DG!" Raw and Cain were first to the edge of the pit, though Jeb and Glitch weren't far behind.
"No, it's okay!" she called back up. Her voice was faint.
Cain and Jeb both aimed their lights downward, but the light didn't reach the bottom.
"Are you okay?" Jeb asked. "How deep is it?"
"Um… I'm still falling. But… slow," came the reply. Her voice sounded a little farther away than before, but not much.
"What?" Cain yelled.
"I think this is the way we have to go! Jump down!" she yelled.
"I'm not jumping down there!" Glitch immediately protested.
"Have to. Follow DG." Raw nodded, standing at the edge of the hole, staring down.
"Remember the cliff when we were running from the Papé?" Cain asked, securing his pack on his back. "Just like that. We have to. We can't leave DG, and she says it seems to be safe."
"She says she hasn't reached the bottom. What if there isn't a bottom?" Glitch asked.
"You know that's not possible," said Jeb, grabbing Glitch's arm. "Let's go."
Raw leapt down without hesitating. Jeb lingered a second longer, until Cain grabbed Glitch's other arm.
Cain and Jeb jumped together, pulling Glitch with them.
Azkadellia woke up on a cold floor. Her disorientation only lasted for a second as she got to her feet.
The woman who'd kidnapped her, DG and the others running toward her, those card things…
Now she was in a cell. A pretty typical one, as far as she could judge these things. Completely stone and metal, only vaguely lit by some undefined light source. There was a bench on the left wall, but that was all.
"Gods. To think I ever put people in places like this," she said, reflexively rubbing her arms and looking around. It wasn't really cold, but it felt like it should be.
"Excuse me," came a voice from the dark area off to her right.
Azkadellia jumped and spun to face the direction the voice had come from.
There was a girl standing at the bars of the cell. She was probably a little younger than Azkadellia, with long blonde hair.
"Who are you?" Azkadellia asked.
"My name is Alice. Excuse me, but are there any mushrooms growing in that cell?"
"What?" Az looked around. "No, I don't think there are."
"Drat." Alice sighed. "I hoped there would be some over there."
"Why?" Az asked, walking closer.
"Well, if they made us shrink we could get through the bars, and if they made us grow, we might become strong enough to break out."
"Oh, you're new to Wonderland, aren't you?"
"Well, yes, I am."
"Where are you from then?"
"My name is Azkadellia, and I'm from the O.Z. I think I've been kidnapped…"
"The O.Z.? I don't think I know it. But the woman who kidnapped you was the Queen of Hearts. I assumed that you'd just made her angry, and she tossed you in here to await beheading." The girl sounded all too comfortable with that.
"The Queen of Hearts?"
"Oh, yes. She rules Wonderland now. She used to just rule part of it, but a while ago something happened and she took the rest over. And then I ended up trapped here too, even though I should be able to leave whenever I want, if it is really a dream."
"I don't think you're dreaming."
"You know, I'm beginning to think the same thing? I'm afraid my imagination may have really run away with me this time."
"I don't think you're imagining it either. It feels pretty real to me."
"Does it? It feels real to me too. I thought I just made Wonderland up. I wonder if it is a real place?"
"I don't think I understand."
"The last time I was here, I was very young, and then I left when I woke up. Wonderland was just a dream, my family said, and I figured they were right, and I'd made it up. But I've been here so long; I should have woken up by now."
"So you aren't from Wonderland either? Where are you from?"
"I'm from England. Or Earth, I guess, to be less specific, since I don't believe the O.Z. is there."
"Hey, my father is from there. Not England, I don't think, but he's from Earth. My little sister lived there too. I wonder if they're coming after me…"
"I hope so. Because if you don't get out of here soon, the queen might lose her temper, and that never ends well."