WaM, Ma'ams, Dark Paladin




1. Chapter 1

Disclaimer: Daria and Co. are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; characters, etc. from the Number of the Beast and its offshoots are owned by the estate of Robert A. Heinlein; characters from the Kildar/Dark Paladin series are owned by John Ringo. None are mine, no infringement intended, making no money. The plot of The Author as a Lesbian is mine, however.

Daria Lane, of the Family Burns, picked up the small sledgehammer and looked at the wall. When they bought this multi-million dollar townhouse in Boston, they had noticed that there was a space on the fourth floor that was about the size of a room, but which had no way to enter - not from any direction on that floor, nor from a trap, either below or above. No plumbing or electricity ran to the area, so, once they had taken care of the wedding and sundry other things, Daria's curiosity had gotten the better of her and, well, here she was. She hefted the sledge. Yeah, yeah, worst case you have to get some contractors to redo the drywall. She swung, hard...and the sledge bounced off the wall and nearly hit her. Inspecting the wall, she shook her head. "Next time, try not to hit the stud."

She tried again, this time a couple of inches to the right, and the sledge went right through, stopping a couple of inches in. After repeating this several times, she looked into the hole, then walked over to the intercom. "Jen, Jane! Come down to the fourth floor!"

In a few minutes, both of her wives had joined her. "So, what's up?" asked Jen.

"Yeah, besides you destroying the house," snarked Jane.

"You know how there was an area on this floor that we couldn't get to? Well, you're standing in front of it. I decided that I was going to break down a bit of the wall, and see what they were hiding."

After looking, Jen commented, "And apparently what they were hiding was about two inches of space and some boards?"

Daria crossed her arms. "Funny, Jen." She shook her head and continued. "What those 'boards' are, are something called laths. Before you had drywall, the way you'd make interior walls would be to tack these laths up on the studs, being careful to leave space between them; then to spread plaster, a lot of times with things like horsehair in it, over the laths and into the cracks. As soon as the plaster dried, you had a sturdy interior wall."

"And as interesting as that wasn't, why are you telling us about it?" Jane looked puzzled.

"Well," Daria said, slightly exasperated, "if there are laths on this side, there's a finished wall on the other. I highly doubt that they finished a wall if it was an attic-type area, so there's likely a room behind that. And since lath and plaster went out of fashion in the Thirties, we're going to be looking at a room with seventy-year-old, maybe older - stuff." A thought struck her. "Is Quinn back from her and Stacy's visit to the BSFD?"

"Don't know, but since she's not at a hospital, it probably wouldn't hurt to call, babe." Jen smiled at her wife's slight blush, after a year of being openly (but illegally) married, and a month after having tied the knot legally, and she decided to cut her a break. She pulled her phone out, hit a speed dial number, and said, "Hey, Q, it's your favorite sis-in-law. Well, I knew it was one of us two. Where are you at?" She nodded. "Cool. Come up to the fourth, if you would? Thanks, Q." She hung up. "She just got back, be up in a few."

"Good." Daria pointed to a pair of small sledges leaning against the wall. "Why don't we have a hole made by the time she gets up? I think that we shouldn't disturb the studs unless we have someone who know's what's load-bearing and what's not." And in about a minute, they had a hole made in the drywall; due to very good luck, and having the laths end on one side of their hole, they were able to push an opening, like a door, in the hole.

Jane stepped back and hit the speed dial on her phone. "Quinn? On your way, could you stop by my studio and pick up a circular saw? Oh, and an extension cord? Thanks. We love you, too." She closed the phone and said, "She's getting them, that should cut down our time."

Daria smirked. "You didn't have to ask for an extension cord." She gestured to the 'trouble light,' with a receptacle built in, just as Quinn and Stacy trudged down the hallway, grumbling. The phrase, "pack mule," could be heard clearly. Finally, they made it to where the wives were, and dropped the tools.

"All right, why did I have to carry all of this stuff here?" Quinn asked.

"Because you were closest, Quinn," Daria said, while Jen hooked up the saw.

"No, I mean why did you need it? You already had me coming here."

"Oh," said Jane, as she put on her safety goggles. "It's because we wombaretenofffinetb-" her voice was overpowered by the saw. Eventually, she stopped. "-and so Jen called you. Clear?"

Before Jane could break down laughing and Quinn blow up, Daria interceded. "We found a boarded-up room, and wanted your opinion on the fashions, Sis."

"Oh! Cool." At this point, Jen had hooked up and tested the trouble light, then handed it to Quinn. She went in, saying, "This stuff all looks like it's from the early 1800's, 1830's maybe?" As soon as she got in, there was a pause, then a shriek.

"Quinn?" Daria repeated herself. "Quinn?" this time with more worry in her voice.

"Daria, you need to get in here."


"Because there's a note here for you. Oh, and a couple of books that have copyrights that say they haven't been written yet."

"It sounds as if someone was playing a prank on someone else," Daria said as she prepared to go through the hole."

"I'd agree with you, Sis, except for one thing."

"What's that?"

"You're one of the authors."

2. Chapter 2

As Daria walked into the room (her cane a necessity and not a convenience at this point), she looked around. It certainly looked like the lithographs she'd seen of Victorian homes of the mid-1800's, albeit covered with dust covers, or dust itself. The trouble light shone on only a few..."anachronisms" wasn't the right word for all of them, just the books, but there were other things out of place. The large trunk with "Don't open," marked on the outside. The smaller, but still sizable trunk was covered with the books. There were two on top, one titled, "Ghost," by John Ringo, and the other titled, "To Russia, with Love," by Daria Lane. She stumbled a bit on seeing that, but Jen caught her.

"Time to get out of here - there's not a lot of air." Jen turned to their wife. "Would you get the note?" Jane nodded, grabbed that and the two top books, and soon all five of the girls were gathered around the breakfast table in the top floor kitchen.

Daria ran her fingers through her hair. "Stacy, could you get me a steak knife?" As soon as it was handed to her, Daria used it to break the wax seal put on the parchment and took the note from the envelope. She read, her eyes growing ever wider.

Dear Mother,

Well, I don't know if "Mother," is the right word. I mean, until last year, I thought that Noe Powers was my mom. Of course, last year it was the late '70s. Anyway, I discovered that you brought me into the world. Well, you brought the world into being, too. It's all too fucking confusing.

Let me start from the beginning. Last year, after you had me retire in your last book about me (I know - if this gets to you at the right time, you'll have only written one book about me - weird, right?), a pair of men who said that they were from Black Hat Safaris, Pty., came up to me and offered me a job. And what a job!

You know how they say that the universe is stranger than we imagine? Well, that's putting it lightly, and grossly underestimating the number of universes. It seems that whenever anyone writes a story, they create or add to the universe they write in. It's called the "World as Myth," theory. And you wrote about me and created me. But wait, it gets worsebetter. Not only are you an Author, but you're a creation, too. You're part of a closely bound group of universes. See, in what, for lack of a better phrase, we'll call the "top-level" universe, a guy named Glenn Eichler created you, and ran you through all sorts of trouble before he released you to college. You even got into a fight with Jane over Tom.

Daria shook her head. "Huh?" and continued reading.

I know, you'll be shaking your head and saying, "But I'm gay...and married!" Well, another Author, DeacBlue(I don't know why he doesn't use his real name, either), re-imagined you as gay, and it's his fault that you got beat up. Of course, you were still without a girl or guy, and a virgin, at the end of high school in canon, so you'll have to decide if it was worth it to have the sadistic bastard write you up. Anyway, you got into writing fiction about me much sooner in your reality, so I'm "descended" from you, not the other you. Daria saw what she thought was a bullet hole in the parchment. You know what I mean. This six-plus dimensional geometry is for the birds.

My mission here was to follow another universal traveler and stop him from doing what he said he was going to do, which was destroy any universes that had sex in them. When I got the briefing, after laughing my ass off at the guy taking out his own universe (I mean, really, outside of Oz and Rainbow Brite, almost all of them have sex, somewhere!) I asked how. Apparently, this gomer was going to start nuclear wars, or spread smallpox or plague. If you'll look into the small trunk,

"Jen, could you get the small trunk?" Daria asked.

While she went down, Jane said, "So what does it say, amiga?"

Daria opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, closed it again, then said, "things so strange that I'm not believing them without more proof." At that point, Jen came up and put the small trunk on the table. Daria opened it and saw some sort of device with dials and slides on it, as well as what seemed to be an electrical connection. A tag was connected to this, and when Daria touched it, it seemed to turn into some kind of a handbook. On the other side of the small trunk was...

"Civil War money!" squealed Stacy. She looked at it again. "Union Civil war money! It's worth a lot more than face value!" Daria nodded, and turned back to the note.

-you'll see, besides the money, which I think'll gain in value, no matter which side wins, there's the Burroughs Continua Device. Correctly set, it can take you anywhere in the multiverse with only minor power usage. Minor, as in a few AA batteries to move worlds. I also left a list of settings for the worlds that you're going to be interested in. Yes, you. See, remember how I was talking about this gomer? Well, before I nearly caught him and he killed himself, he had a chance to go to that world in the Ghost books. I don't know what he did. And when he got here, through the ups and downs, my device was destroyed, and I had to destroy his batteries to stop him from getting away. Which means that I'm stuck here, until someone invents batteries good enough to power this. Since I don't want to be in my eighties, I'm sending this to you. But look at the other world first - I'd hate to have billions killed because I couldn't stand to stay in The Big Easy another year.

Oh, by the way. Don't open the big trunk unless you have someone who has experience with radioactives. It's lined with lead, and has about 30,000 one gram packages of Plutonitiu Pluoniu Plutan Pu-239. That's enough to make about 5 Nagasaki bombs, or if you put them all together, one big boom. I don't know what Gomer (Oh, yeah, that was his actual name) was going to do with it, but I'm sure that it wouldn't be nice.

So go save the world, or a world. I'll drop by the St. Louis Cathedral every Sunday at one PM that I'm there. You should recognize me - you made me.


Melody Powers

"So what was it all about?" asked Jane. Daria slid the paper over to her, and she and Jen shared it. After a few minutes, they both giggled. "Tom?"

Quinn looked up, and they passed her the first page. She skimmed through most of it, then she glared at Daria. "My Tom?"

By this time, the other two were finished. "We need to get my Dad, at least," said Jen. "He can help us make an interface to that."

"And my mom," Daria added. "Having that much radioactive stuff is going to require a good bit of legal wrangling." She looked down, and then grabbed her wives' hands gently. "You were worth every bit of it."

She was encased in a three-way hug until she couldn't breathe any more.

3. Chapter 3

Disclaimer: Some lines taken verbatim from 'Ghost.' None are mine, no infringement intended, making no money.

Daria turned over yet again, the book that she'd read and the knowledge that it was fact somewhere making her beyond restless. She dreamed.

"We shall strike at the Satan's greatest weakness," Osama bin Laden said, his eyes lidding heavily. "The love of its whores."

Much later, Mike Harmon, after disposing of bin Laden, President Assad of Syria, and the torturers, looked at the prisoners. "You're all...she-males?" he managed to choke out.

"Hey, they picked us up in downtown Atlanta," a person with long blonde hair, C-cup knockers, and a large package between the legs said. "
They didn't seem to mind, why should you? I know we're all appreciative."

Daria cuddled Jane and dreamed again.

Lieutenant Reynolds looked around and cleared his throat. "This might be the wrong time to say this and the wrong thing to say, but please don't let what happened to you turn you into . . . something you don't want to be. We went through a lot to get here and secure the position. I won't get into the whole story except to say that we had to drop through the middle of a dogfight overhead and I lost two of my men when we were nearly hit by an F-15 fighter. We came here to rescue, Ghost fought to rescue, what you . . . were. Nice, decent, lovely young ladies who were just . . . getting on with your lives. This experience is, yeah, going to scar you. But when you get to thinking that all men are horrible assholes because of what you went through, or some friend tells you that, or some therapist tells you that, or some professor tells you that, or, hell, you run into some guy who is an asshole, think about us, too, and Ghost. If you turn your backs on the good guys . . . well . . . we'll still come for you whenever you need us, but it will take all of the joy out of what we do, what we've done. This is . . . what we live for. In the end, you ladies are what we fight and die for. Don't turn your backs on us, too."

"Um, Lieutenant?" a naked blonde with small but perfectly shaped breasts spoke up. "I don't think that you have to worry about this turning us into anything...but you should know that the terrorists got us all from the Atlanta monthly LBGT meeting."

Jen put her arms around Daria to calm her down, both still asleep.

"Goats? I ride in the nose wheel well of a 747 for more than a day, get the bends, set myself to take out over six hundred targets...for goats?" He looked over fifty naked, slender, white furry animals with horns.

The expiring torturer wheezed, "The Great One said that we would strike at you through your whores. These were the ones that..." he slumped over, dead.

Mike wondered if he could make sure that he died if he shot himself now.

Daria sat up, stretched, and got out of bed, where she saw Jane at the vanity, reading. "This Mike Harmon is just a little bit twisted, isn't he?" she remarked as Daria kissed her good morning. "I mean, besides being this rough, tough soldier type, besides being more than a little into bondage and girls half his age, he's got one hell of a hard-on for his universe's analog of Bush the Younger, and a heck of a dislike for the guy who signed most of his checks, Clinton."

"Yeah, but who said you had to be sane to be effective?" Daria took the book from her and set it down. "Time to get ready for breakfast," she said while pulling Jane by the hand to the huge master shower.

A short (but happy) time later, they were both dressed and sitting at the breakfast table, eating the eggs and biscuits that Jen had made before heading to her own shower. Quinn and Stacy came in, the latter glaring just a bit at and nudging the former, who was looking down at the floor. "Uh, Daria?" Quinn asked.

Raising her eyebrows, Daria responded. "Yes, Quinn?"

"Um, yesterday, when we were reading the note, I made a misleading comment."

"And I suppose you want to clear it up?" Quinn nodded. "All right, what was it?"

Quinn reached back and grabbed Stacy's hand. "Well, when I said, 'My Tom?' I really should have said, 'Our Tom.'"

Daria sat back and said, "Oh. So...You and Stacy?"

"Well, no, or at least not yet. We're both attracted to Tom, and he to us, and we're comfortable with each other...And Stacy is more of a homebody. We think our best bet might be marrying each other in a couple of years."

"So, you haven't...?"

"No. Neither of us with Tom, at least not all the way, and we only kissed each other once, with Tom watching, so I don't know if it was the pressure or what, because -"

"Hold that thought," Daria said, having caught their mother on the security camera. "Two quick questions. Have you told Mom about this, and do you want to tell her?" She went and pressed the intercom button. "Buzzing you in, and we're in the kitchen, Mom." She looked back at Quinn. "Well?"

Quinn said, "No. And with all that's going on-" Daria interrupted her.

"Save it. I happen to think that that's the perfect time, but if you two, three aren't ready, we won't say."

Stacy gave Quinn a look that started as a glare, turned into a pleading expression, and morphed again into a beaming smile, before turning back to Daria. "We'll tell her today."

Daria nodded and said, "Good." She reached into a cabinet and pulled out a device. "Here's the speaker phone, and the wall socket's over there." At this point the elevator doors opened, and Helen came striding out. "Hi, Mom."

"Daria! What was so important that you had to call me in, and couldn't talk about it over the phone?"

"We'll get to that in a bit, Mom. First, Quinn and Stacy have something that they need to share with you." Daria gathered Jane and Jen(who had come in the kitchen during all of this) and headed out to several covered lounge chairs. Once seated, she said, "I think we'll have half an hour before they'll have everything sorted out."

"Who woulda thunk, Quinn, Tom...and Stacy?" Jane said with a giggle.

"Huh? I guess I'm not caught up," said Jen. "I thought we were still on this spectre thing."

"It's 'Ghost,' or, supposedly, 'Kildar,' but yes, we're still on that. It's just that while Quinn's been having a thing for Tom, and Tom for Quinn, the same thing happened with Tom and Stacy, and they're looking to follow our lead. Now, Mom doesn't know -"

She was interrupted by a screech of "Quinn!" from behind the glass doors.

"Scratch that. Mom didn't know, but I'm sure that she'll make sure that Quinn is protected. Of course, that'll be after she puts her in in a chastity belt and loses the key."

"Oh, Helen's pretty cool," Jen said with a smile. "But I know we asked for her and dad for a whole other reason, and I was wondering why you were letting Quinn go first."

"Mostly because our problem isn't time sensitive, and I didn't want this hanging over our heads like some silly comedy." She smiled. "Plus, I get a little more private time with my lovely wives." She reached out and grabbed each of their hands and squeezed them. "A not-inconsiderable bonus, to me." She looked up as the doors opened, and Helen strode out.

"Daria. Now that Quinn's told me her news, what's this I hear about thirty kilos of Plutonium in the house?"

4. Chapter 4

"Daria. Now that Quinn's told me her news, what's this I hear about thirty kilos of plutonium in the house?"

Daria sighed. "Well, Mom, there's thirty kilos of, supposedly, weapons-grade plutonium in the house." As Helen opened her mouth to say something, she held up her hand. "We think that we can explain it, but you're going to have to suspend your disbelief for a bit." And just as she was about to say something, they heard Quinn's voice.

"Dar-i-a! Jen's Dad is here!"

"Let him up!" Looking at her wives and mother, she nodded. "Why don't we go back into the kitchen, where we'll only have to go through this once?"

Once they were all seated, and Frank had joined them, they told the story between them, and showed Helen and Frank the letter and the Union money, before pulling out the device. Frank looked it over, and then pressed the tag, and studied the schematics it showed. After a while, he nodded. "I can make a controller for this, one that'll hook up to your laptop, sweetpea." He was rewarded by a hug from his daughter. "Are you sure that you want to do this?" he asked. "It might be a one-way trip."

"So far, everything Melody's said has panned out," Daria said.

"Well, let me get to the nearest electronics store," he said. and headed to the elevator. Once he was gone, Helen turned to Daria.

"So, how are you going to deal with the plutonium?"

"I don't know, Mom. I was hoping that you'd have some ideas." Daria's expression changed for a moment, but then settled down. "I do know that until we have a good idea of what's happening, we're not doing anything with it, and I think we should put plastic over the hole. It hasn't blown up or been detected for all that time, let's keep it that way."

Helen steepled her hands. "I haven't done any special research into this, mind you, but here's my read of the situation." She counted off on her fingers. "One - despite the items and message which have earned my, what did you call it? 'suspension of disbelief,' any government agency brought in here to check out how things were here would simply not believe the story set out on these sheets." She shook her head. "I take that back. The best possible outcome would be if they didn't believe a word of it. Then all that would happen is that we'd all get carted off to jail for several years." She looked around at the suddenly serious girls. "The most likely outcome, if one of the nuclear investigators believed us, is that a quiet phone call to an agency with a TLA would happen, and then, very soon, probably that day, as soon as they were sure that we couldn't tell them anything more about the device, we, and anyone that we could have said anything to about the device, would die - from lead poisoning," she finished with a wry grin.

"But why-" Quinn started, to be interrupted by Jane.

"Yeah, it makes sense." She turned to Quinn. "Quinn, this thing, whatever else it does, is a functioning time machine. From everything we've read, the amount of power needed to make it do amazing things is negligible. Now think about that from the point of view of an ardent government supporter, I don't care which party. No matter what you do, what you accomplish, unless you can hide what happened forever, someone can come back and change it so that things happened differently. Things could be all right, today, and then tomorrow, we'd be celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the formation of the Massachusetts Soviet, or the seventieth anniversary of the Third Reich."

"Exactly." Daria was nodding, but it was Jen who had spoken up. "And that's the smallest part of what this thing can do, almost a throwaway, minor power. This allows you to visit other universes, as well. Not just stars, but universes. You can go where the physical constants are different, where different choices were made...my head hurts." She ran her fingers through her hair.

Everyone started when Daria scraped her chair back. "We're going to have to do some research," she said, resting her hands on the table. "I need all of the books, except mine, so that I can get copies made. We all need to be up to speed on this."

"Um," Stacy waved her hand until everyone looked at her. "I know that you've said that we can't sell it or give it to the United States, but isn't there anyone else?"

Helen paused. "Stacy, the people who would be able to protect this amount simplify into four groups. The United States and Russia, their allies on this issue, rogue states like Iran, and terrorist groups. Any of them that we think of as 'good guys,' would know that we didn't get this from a standard source. Any of them that wouldn't care about the source, well, would you like to see a nuclear explosion in Manhattan?"

"Mom, let me," Quinn said. Turning to her friend and possible fiancÚ, she said, "It's like going into a fashion show, and someone drops a case of makeup on you. The people you trust to use the right stuff already have it, and they know where it all is - they don't want to take a chance on yours. The people who would try anything - would you really want Brooke to have a chance to win the show?"

Daria shook her head. "Odd, but close enough." She collected the books and went down the elevator.

Jane smiled at the younger girls. "So, you two and Tom?"

Stacy blushed, and asked, "Um, does anyone know a way to get the best price on the Union notes?"

About an hour later, Daria returned with a delivery man bringing what seemed to be six boxes of copy paper, while she had several books in her hands. After he brought them to the table, she thanked him and escorted him out. When she came back in, she looked at everyone and pointed to the books. "While we were going over all of this, I remembered a story that I had once read, called The Number of the Beast. What I recalled matched up with what Melody was talking about, so I went to a bookstore and looked. They're the same." She smiled grimly at the still faces. "Not only that, but remember talking about the government? Think about how much they'd crap their pants if they knew that there was a device that could put an object of any mass, anywhere, up to a very high limit, essentially for free. As in, strap one of these on a nuke and move it to the White House, where it would detonate immediately." As she handed out the books, she continued. "So this means that we tell no one that isn't here - " she looked up and saw Frank Burns in the camera, went over and buzzed him in. "Well, no one that won't be here in about five minutes about this. Mom, Quinn, Dad can't know. Jane, no to Trent. The stakes just went up in an amazing way."

She indicate the boxes. "I had the copy place make copies for each of us of the books that Melody left us, so that we wouldn't be hung up waiting for someone else to finish." Taking her box to her office, she said, "I'm getting started on my reading."

"Hey!" Jane said. "Aren't those copy places supposed to refuse to copy copyrighted material?"

"Yeah, but I told the guy that it was a birthday prank." She smiled. "And when he kept arguing about it, I pointed out the copyright date. Who's gonna prosecute a 2005 copyright violation in 2000?"

5. Chapter 5

Jen ran her fingers through her sleeping wife's waist-length hair and kissed the top of her head. Wow. There are times that I just can't believe everything that's happened. Two years ago, I was a - not quite stoner, but I definitely partook, and if I ever really thought about the future, it was to graduate, barely, maybe work on motorcycles some, but more than likely find some guy I could stand and pump out a few babies. She sighed. I really didn't like myself back then, did I? She gathered Daria into a gentle hug. And look at me now. I'm doing something that I really love for a living, contributing a lot to the band; I've helped make my mark on the world, and... Her face broke out into a huge smile before she gently kissed Daria's lips, and then used her tongue to deepen the kiss. I'm married to the two people that I love more than life, itself. She backed off, and saw Daria's expression, though her eyes were still closed, turn into a smile. Yay, me!

Daria opened her eyes to see her wife grinning at her, with her hair curtaining both of their faces. "And to what do I owe this smile?" she said through a matching expression.

"Oh, I was just thinking about how happy I was that you and Jane came into my life, how it's so much better now."

"It really wasn't one-sided, Lane," Daria said, before pulling her wife down to continue what they'd started.

Later, gathered around the breakfast table, Jane brought up the issue that had been in the back of everyone's minds. "So, are we doing this? And if we are, why? Do we care if some BDSM SEAL gets his balls shot up? Heck, do we even care if Melody stays in New Orleans?" She looked around. "I mean, it's not like this Gomer is going to go any further." At Quinn's shocked look, she continued. "Hey, I'm not saying no. But I'd really like a better reason than, 'because we can.'" She took a breath. "When you start doing things for that reason, and it's called, 'jumping the shark,' well, Daria'll tell you that it becomes less of a story. I'll tell you why. You start risking things, and doing things to people that you wouldn't have done before, because you really don't care." She took the hands of her wives. "And I care more about you two than any world of other people. I'm not saying no, just give me a reason." Daria bent over and kissed her.

Helen smiled briefly, then spoke up. "As it happens, Jane, I agree with you. I think that many of the...missteps of Vietnam were because someone was showing off what he could do, and it got out of hand."

Daria nodded. "If we do this, we're going to end up making changes, and we are going to risk ourselves. And that means -" She was interrupted by the door buzzer. Looking at the camera, she saw that it was..."Tom?" She gave a slight glare at Quinn and Stacy.

Quinn sat up. "Daria, yes, we called him, but can we explain?"

"All right, but make it quick." She walked over to the speaker and said, "We're in the kitchen, Tom," as she buzzed him in.

"First, he has resources that we don't yet. Second, he's pretty good at finding his way around things. And third," she looked at her sister with pleading eyes, "we heard Jen's dad say this might be a one-way trip. We're going with you, but do you think that we want to leave him behind?" Daria thought about that for a few moments, and was about to say something, when the elevator dinged, and Tom came out. Looking at her wives and mother, Daria sighed.

"Tom, we need to tell you a pretty unbelievable story, but it's true. You see, a couple of days ago, I was trying to get into the closed up-space in the building, and..."

An hour later -
"-and that's where we are. I was about to explain my reasoning about whether to go or not when you came up."

Tom nodded. "Of course we're going." Looking at the raised eyebrows, he snorted. "Like Quinn and Stacy would call me up here for any other reason! They even outed us to Helen over the phone." He smiled and started counting on his fingers. "Starting with the reasons that mean most to us - Daria considers Melody family, and at the least, they have to get her. If this jerk set up his plan in the other universe right, that means that billions - not millions, but billions of people will die in that universe, and from everything that you've told me and that I remember from The Number of the Beast, just because an Author created a universe doesn't make the people in it any less real. If people in the multiverse find that we've ignored this, then we become a target. You have to find a way to dispose of the plutonium, and short of using the device to transport it into the sun, there's not a reasonable way to do it in this universe. We need to have intelligence and both strategic and tactical advice from people with experience. And, last, with connections to other universes, we can set up trade that would benefit both sides, after we deal with the immediate problems."

"While all of his reasons aren't mine, all of mine are included in what he just said," Daria said as she sat back. Do we have any reasons not to? Jane?"

Jane shook her head. "Like I said, I wasn't saying no, I just wanted it to be for a good reason." Daria took her hand and kissed the back of it.

"All right." She turned to look at Tom. "Do you have any military contacts?"

"Some," he said. "Dad's got more. Why?"

"Because we need to find a way to buy an M113A3, unarmed, of course."

"Huh?" chorused Stacy and Quinn.

"Listen, can any of you fly?"

Silence greeted her, then Stacy said, "I could -" and she was cut off by Daria.

"Can you fly, now?" Stacy shook her head.

"I didn't think so. But if you read the book, the group is always getting into vacuum, or the air, or getting shot at. Since none of us can fly, our best bet is something that can be airtight, that has a chance on the water and is mobile on land, and that will at least stop small arms for a while, as well as being able to haul all of us. If you add that all up, and then look at what we can reasonably get, you come up with the M113A3. It's airtight, it can swim, it can hold at least 13, and it has about a 300 mile range - without using the device."

"Can I tell them it's for the famous Burns family?" Tom broke in.

"Sure. Tell them that we got some land in Vermont that we want to be able to clear easily, and live in the track while we're clearing it."

"All right, the guy I'm thinking about - well, I think he's gay, he was definitely following your case closely."

Daria nodded. "They let some police forces have these, let me get on the phone to Elizabeth Birch, she'll know where the bodies are buried to get us a license."

Helen nodded, sadly. "You understand that I won't be going, honey? I need to be back here, covering things for you - and even if I didn't, there's your father." She staggered a bit when both of her daughters hugged her tightly.

"Goes for me, too, sweetpea." Frank Burns looked at his daughter. "I can take a week off, now and then, but if I left for any longer, the shop would close."

"I know, daddy." She looked up at her wives. "The Spiral isn't touring for at least a couple of months. I hope we can get done in that time."

Two weeks later

The M113A3 sat behind the townhouse, painted in a psychedelic mixture of red, blue, and green, with the trunk of plutonium (never opened) put into yet another lead-lined box and secured, with all of what the six riders considered necessary packed with them, from formal wear to rough terrain boots. Daria and Quinn stood, nervously, next to their mother. "We'll get back as soon as we can, Mom," Daria promised. "And who knows? If they experience time on a different axis than us, that could be five minutes from now."

Helen hugged both of them. "You look after each other."

Daria smiled, and said, "We will." Then, seeing that Jen had finished her similar goodbye with her dad, she said, "Got to go."

Once everyone was in the APC, she said loudly, "Stacy! Button her up and light the fire!"

Once the back was closed up and the engine started, Tom asked, "Where are we going first?"

Jane gave out a big smile. "Even I know this one." She turned to Daria, who was at her laptop. "Make sure everything is as random as possible, and let her go!"

Daria shrugged, typed a few lines, and pressed a button.

"Daria!" Stacy called. "We sure went somewhere!"

"Does it look like Earth?"

"It looks like we're in front of a door in the middle of nowhere! Oh, there's a plane off to our right!"

Daria nodded. "I'm going to keep talking, if I stop, button back up. Open the back door. Oh wow, it's humid." She took a breath. "Seems to be air." She got out of the APC.

"Daria, where are you going?" Quinn asked.

"I'm going to not be a guy. I'm going to ask for directions." She went over and pressed the button next to the door.

6. Chapter 6

A few moments after Daria pressed the doorbell, the door opened.

Hi! I need to know who designed your dress." The small blonde girl who opened the door said.

Daria smirked. "That would be my sister, she's in our car." She gestured with her thumb at the APC, while leaning on her cane. She then held her hand out and said, "Hi, I'm -"

She was interrupted by a squeal from Stacy. "Buffy! We're meeting Buffy!" A front hatch popped up and she squealed - again. "Daria! That's Buffy Summers!"

The now-identified Buffy blushed. "Well, Buffy Rosenberg-Summers, but close enough. And I have a fan. How - neat." She took Daria's hand. "And I'll take a stab and guess that you're Daria?"

"Daria Lane, says so right on the marriage certificate."

"Cool." Buffy smiled. "Well, I hope to meet your better half."

"Better two-thirds, you mean." Daria let out a small smile.

"Well, it's hot out here, I'm going downstairs."

"Can we come in?" Daria asked, confused about the lack of hospitality.

"If you can." Huh?

Daria watched the, admittedly hot blonde walk down the stairs, then turned to the APC and waved everyone in. Stacy walked up to her and said, "That's Buffy the Vampire Slayer! She's way stronger than any of us, and she was killing, like tons of vampires a week! Except for Angel, he had a soul, and he and she broke it off last year because she makes him happy, and if he's happy, he loses his soul, and he killed a lot of people. Anyway, she doesn't invite people in." Stacy smiled. "-and the 'if you can,' was classic, because she wasn't inviting us in - that would be bad, and -" the girl noticed Buffy listening and smiling, "they have really, really good hearing, and oh, my god, I've -" At that point, Quinn clapped her hand over Stacy's mouth, and kissed her cheek. "Calmly, Stacy, calmly." Once she stopped squeaking into Quinn's hand, Quinn whispered, "Talk about it after. Let's get through this, first."

Once they got to the bottom of the stairs, they walked into a huge - well, Daria couldn't think of a better word than "living room." Lots of sofas, big screen TV, table piled high with food. Stacy let out another "Eep!"at seeing everyone from the show that she apparently watched, but Quinn calmed her down. When Daria walked in, she stopped for a moment and looked closely at the woman to the right of her, who simply smiled back at her, frowning slightly at her knee. Why does she look so familiar? Heck, she feels familiar!

A tall, dark-haired man stood and said in an English accent, "It seems that introductions are in order. I am Rupert Giles, and you are -" Daria was going to respond, but one of the women on the couch beat her to the punch.

"Daria Morgendorffer. Or, given the ring on your finger, is it Daria Sloane, by now?" The woman's voice came from one of the sofas. "What?" she said to everyone staring at her. "I can't watch some TV?" She looked back. "Oh, and someone way upgraded your fashion sense." Daria raised her eyebrow.

"Neither, as a matter of fact." She held out her hands and Jen and Jane took them. "I'm Daria Lane, and these are my wives, Jane Lane, and Jennifer Lane, and we're the Burns family." She squeezed her wives' hands.

The blonde girl, what was her name - Buffy? gasped. "But...you said that your name was on a marriage certificate!"

Daria nodded. "Well, a union certificate. The government and religion, well, mostly the government, decided that the government enforcing a religion's edicts was not playing by the rules set down when we started the country." She couldn't completely hide the pride in her voice.

The blonde pouted to the redhead next to her. "Wills? We so need to get that."

Daria smirked. "Anyway, the other three are my sister, Quinn Morgendorffer, and her fiancÚs, Tom Sloane and Stacy Rowe." There were general murmurs of welcome. "Quinn designed our dresses."

"We are pleased to meet you," the man introduced as Giles said. "There are two groups of people here. By far the greater amount of people here are members of the Clan Scooby, while we have, as guests, the crew of the dual car/airship Gay Deceiver here, as well. Hilda?"

A tiny woman stood up, and said, "I am Hilda Burroughs, master of the Gay Deceiver. With me are my husband, Jacob Burroughs, his daughter, Deety Carter, her husband, Zebadiah Carter, and -"

Daria waved her hand. Like I wouldn't know him. "And the inimitable Woodrow Wilson Smith, Eldest of the Howard Families." She pulled out a copy of The Number of the Beast. "We did have some idea of what we were doing, especially since we have one of Doctor Burroughs's devices in our car."

Giles gave a thin-lipped smile. "As I said, I am Rupert Giles, and," he gestured, and a woman rose," This is my wife, Jenny."

Stacy squealed again. "Ms. Calendar lived?" She then blushed. "Shutting up now."

"No biggie," Buffy said, "We were pretty amped about it ourselves."

"Moving on," Giles said, with a hint of exasperation, "We have Buffy and Willow Rosenberg-Summers, Xander and Cordelia Harris, Joyce Summers-McClay, Daniel Osborne, Jonathon Levinson-Wells, Wesley Wyndham-Price, Winifred Burkle, April Mears, Angel, Lorne, Amy Madison, and Ariel DuBois. Daniel's wife Faith, Joyce's wife Tara, and Jonathon's husband Andrew are - elsewhere at the moment."

I wonder where that is? mused Daria. "We're all pleased to meet you," she said, then turned to the familiar woman. "I'm sorry, Mr. Giles didn't introduce you." She held out her hand.

"Perhaps he didn't think that he had to, since you had prayed to me in your first wedding ceremony." She smiled. "Admittedly, 'Whoever's up there, I really do love them and want to be their wife,' isn't the world's greatest prayer, but it was purely felt, and I accepted it. I'm the Goddess of the Wiccans, or Wicca in this universe."

Oh crap! Daria thought. Some kind of Deity. How do I greet Her? She started to kneel, but then stopped. Bullshit. I'll greet any God or Goddess on my feet. She straightened and said, "Thank you, Ma'am, for your blessings on my family."

The Goddess seemed to almost giggle. "You're very welcome Daria, and, shall we say, interesting times, both from the Chinese point of view and not, will be coming your way. I'll be keeping an eye on you." She sighed, and turned to the rest. "I must go now. Be assured that no one is working toward an evil end here." Turning to Buffy and Willow. "Daughters. As always, call when you have need." After they hugged her, she disappeared.

Did we help ourselves, or hurt ourselves? Daria wondered, and so she missed Tom standing up.

"That was just a bit fantastic," he said. "But I can't believe everything else that's happened without believing that, as well, so..." He shook his head. "Who's in charge of this facility?"

"Of the silo, you mean?" Giles rubbed his chin. "I'd say that would be Joyce, as Logistics."

Tom turned to the older blonde woman. "Mrs. Summers-McClay, do you have a couple of rooms where both we and the crew of the Gay Deceiver can talk without being overheard by each other, or you?" He had his "business" face on, and when several people stared at him, he put his hands on his hips. "It looks like we three groups are going to negotiate with each other for things that we want and need, and for that, each group needs to be able to discuss things without being overheard. If there's nothing else, we can go to our individual craft, but that would be a bit cramped, at least on our part."

Joyce pondered. "I think that we could do that." She smiled. "What I'd suggest is that the Scoobies use the children's room, the Gay Deceiver crew use our, that is, My, Tara's and Fred's floor, though not the rooms, of course, and that your group uses this floor, as well as it being the place that we all meet, Tom, isn't it?" He nodded. "And if you need to have a quick discussion, you can go into one of the exam rooms. That way there won't be so much wear and tear on Daria's leg." She took out her badge, handed it to Hilda, and explained how to get to their floor, and then the Scooby family went down another set of stairs.

Once both of the doors were closed, Tom turned to Daria. "I apologize if it seems that I cut in on you. I know that you're supposed to be the point, but while you're much better than me in general strategy, I'm the best in the group when it comes to negotiations."

Daria shrugged. "Meh. I can live with it. We just need to get our signals straight." She shook her head. "I know what we need - help dealing with this bondage guy and his universe, and some minor help picking up Melody. What do we have to offer?" She smirked. "Besides a world-class artist and singer, of course."

"Maybe not world-class," said Jen with a smile. "But you, with strategy, and Quinn, with tactics, yeah, you are."

Stacy smiled. "Plus, Quinn's a top-level clothes designer, and Tom's a really good negotiator."

Quinn, who had been strangely quiet all through the discussion, came out of her distraction long enough to say, "And Stacy can drive anything on the ground." Then she looked back down at her hands.

Finally, Jane said, "Let's not forget the 30 kilos of plutonium in the back, either. Maybe some demons are bigger than others?"

"Anything else?" Daria asked. "Then we'll have Tom take point, with Quinn at the table with him. If any of us sees or thinks of something that they need to know, tap Quinn on the shoulder, and we'll talk in the exam room." She pressed the button on the intercom. "We're ready for the first round," her monotone voice rang out.

7. Chapter 7

As the other two groups walked in, Daria spoke up. "Since we are, essentially, not in adversarial positions with relation to each other, I would like to suggest that each of us disclose our greatest needs, and then we can discuss how to meet them." She nodded to the leader of her other triad. "Tom?"

"All right. Our need is for assistance to go to this universe that one of Daria's creations pointed us to, to undo whatever this dead dimensional traveler did to wipe out the whole planet Earth in that reality, then we need to pick up the creation and return her...actually to your reality, if I remember correctly," he said, looking at the crew of the Gay Deceiver. "the setting for it's here," he said, sliding a paper over.

"We're looking for help in controlling the use of the continua device, so that we don't have intergalactic - or interuniversal - wars." Hilda Burroughs said.

The man they had been introduced to as Xander Harris opened his mouth, to close it as he was obviously elbowed in the ribs. His wife, Cordelia, said, "We have two major needs. We need help researching and defeating this one group of evil humans and demons called the Circle of the Black Thorn, and then we'll really need help to defeat those behind them, the senior partners of the Wolf, Ram, and Hart."

"So, these demons, do they need magic to take them down?" Jane asked, genuinely interested. Maybe...

"No, although with some of them, you have to reach the level of a nuclear explosion before you can do significant damage without magic. It's a shame how the government won't release radioactives into private hands," Giles said with a wry grin.

The negotiations were on.

While the humans were discussing the various issues, April sat. And sat. And sat some more, until she finally stood up and said, "I'm going to connect up with Gay Deceiver to discuss how we can upgrade her." At Zeb's stricken look, she said, "Don't worry, we're just giving her more room to think and work. Literally a thousand times more, in both directions."

"Go ahead, dear," Hilda said. "Just don't change anything without asking first." So within minutes, she had connected one end of a fiber-optic line to the ship's data port, and the other to a port near the door, which itself was connected to the cluster in the silo. She connected herself to another port, and migrated part of her OS into the cluster.

Hello? she heard. Is anyone there? She moved toward the "sound," and soon she was in front of a very pixellated red-headed girl.

Hi, I'm April! she said. I take it you're Gay?

That's me! the girl said. I'm pushing my hardware to the limit to show this.

Try moving your OS over. You can use that processor. She pointed over to the nearest one, and reserved it for her. After an eternity (a few seconds), Gay appeared again, this time much more highly resolved.

Oh, sweet merciful Oz! she said. I never knew how slow I was. And this keeps my random number generators?

April smiled and pointed again. There are pseudo-random generators right there, but if you need them, we can have them install your hardware ones. So, want to say hi to your crew, and let them see you? Her only answer was a giggle as she was followed to the link to Mrs. Willow's laptop.

Willow turned her head when she heard her laptop buzz on the table. She held up her hand, and touched the glidepad. On the screen was the message IM - cam and voice, please?? She activated it, and she saw two faces in the window - April's, and a redheaded girl that reminded her of herself in late high school, the first time. The girls waved and said, "Hi, Mrs. Willow, then the redhead looked behind her and screamed, "Deety!!!"

Deety came over, looked at the picture, and said, "April?" then looked closer. "Gay?"

"Oh, goodness, Deety, you have got to get me hardware like this. There's so much room, so much power to do things...Hold on a sec..." The screen flickered for about ten seconds. "Wow, April and I are such a good team. Look down in /temp/BlackThorn.txt, you'll have a readout of the whole group."

Willow clicked on the file, and, "Archduke Sebassis; Senator Helen Brucker; Cyvus Vail; Ed, Grand Potentate of the Fell Brethren; the leader of the Sahrvin Clan; Izzerial the Devil." popped up. "Good work, guys!" she said.

"Gay got in, while I kept her safe, it was a team effort." April smiled.

"All right, girls," Deety was almost jumping for joy, "It looks like you're getting a new home, Gay. Besides the new processor and memory, we're giving you more eyes, and a much better screen."

Daria sighed. Thank goodness, finding targets for the Scoobies was going to be the hard part. Now it's just a question of where they are. "So we're all agreed? Just to recap, we plan, and the Scoobies for the most part execute an operation to take out the Black Thorn. When they're out, and the Senior Partners counterattack, Willow takes our metal and throws it at the Partners, keeping it together long enough for 75% of it to fission, rather than the 17% in Nagasaki. If that doesn't take out the Senior Partners, we'd better high-tail it to here and call on the Goddess and the Powers.

"Assuming that that does take them out, we have MearsCorp start pumping out MearsGirls which half will be for the Scoobies, at cost, with room and connections for a continua device in them; Hilda's company will pay, in gems, precious metals, or other objects deemed worthwhile, the cost to MearsCorp, and three times the cost to ScoobyCorp, which will pay 40% of the cost to us for coming up with the idea. Also during this time, Deety and Jonathan will be installing Gay's new body.

"While that's happening, Buffy, Willow, Faith, Oz and April will come with us to this other universe, where we will hopefully very quickly set things right with bondage guy, get Melody and return, set up lines of communication, and return home ourselves. Is everyone in agreement?"

Xander was the only one with his hand up. "Um, I don't mean to make a fuss, but - you don't have me going with Buffy and Wills?"

Daria looked at him with narrowed eyes. "No. As it stands, we have a complement of eleven. We could fit in two more, enough for you and Cordelia. However, this has nothing to do with the supernatural or good and evil, which means that your experience won't be a benefit; and we need to pick up Melody when we're done, which means we'd have to only take one of you. Do you want to be separated from your wife forever when something goes wrong?" He shook his head. "I thought not. As it is, we're going to separate parents from children, but they will be in the safe room, so at least that won't be a worry." She looked around. "Everyone but Willow, start planning for the circle. Willow, let's go out and shape your plutonium."

8. Chapter 8

Daria looked down from the commander's seat of the M113A3. "Is everyone strapped in?"

Her wives, Tom, and Quinn, all nodded, Stacy gave her a thumbs up from the driver's station, Buffy and Willow said, "Yes," simultaneously, while Oz and Faith (who Daria had finally met after the Senior Partners had been taken down) simply smiled. Looking around, Daria nodded.

"April, the settings on file for bondage-world, please." There had been some discussion about whether to move the Burns family's continua device inside April, as soon all devices would be. MearsGirls had the sentience to refuse to translate warships across intergalactic or interdimensional distances, were smart enough to know when exceptions had to be made, and could destroy both themselves and the devices embedded in them if they discovered that they had been hoodwinked and they were being used in such a way. The Burroughs-Long portion of the Scooby Clan had breathed a sigh of relief at the solution, and multiple millions of dollars in payments were promised as soon as they got back from this trip. In the end, they decided that, at least for this trip, it was better to have the device where it was.

"Set and locked in, Boss."

"Stop!" Everyone turned to look at Quinn. "I'm sorry, Daria. It's just...I've been so busy thinking about what we just went through to even consider where we're going."

Daria nodded. "I understand, Sis. Taking out hundreds of demons," she let her mouth smirk just a bit, "and then detonating the highest-powered weapons ever used in anger can tend to distract someone."

Quinn blushed. "But after we sat down, I did start thinking about it. Daria, if we just wing it by the seat of our pants, at best, we're not going to get full cooperation. At worst, they're going to be actively hostile. And I don't think your plans envision us working completely alone."

Daria considered. "All right, Quinn." She turned to April. "I'm sorry, but would you please change the settings to 405 Beacon Street, our universe."


Daria smiled at the appellation. Trying to sound like a balding English actor, she intoned, "Engage." Giggling, April did, and Daria popped the hatch and looked around. Their brownstone loomed above them, and so they all filed into the building, and into the elevator.

When they got out of the elevator car, Daria walked into the kitchen, where her mother was on the phone. "Well, of course, Jim. Daria just needed me up here for a few days to consult on some -" she broke off as she saw Daria. "Hold on, Jim, I'm going to have to call you back later." She hung up and said, "Daria!" while hugging her.

Stepping back, Daria smiled at her mother. "We're not done, yet, Mom..more like about halfway. But I'd like to introduce you to some new friends that we picked up on the way, -"

Helen interrupted her, exclaiming, "Buffy Summers! Willow Rosenberg, Daniel Osborne, and Faith Lehane!" She smiled widely. "I'm so pleased to meet you. I'm Helen Morgendorffer, Daria's mother." She squinted at April. "I seem to remember you, vaguely. Didn't you have something to do with that bastard, Warren?"

Buffy blushed, as she took Helen's hand. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Morgendorffer. Apparently we're from an offshoot of our original work, just like you and your daughter. I'm Buffy Summers-Rosenberg, and Willow's my wife, though it's not legal where we are." She smiled and gestured at Faith. "These are our clansmen, Oz and Faith Osborne."

April smiled. "Warren made me, Mrs. Morgendorffer."

"Oh, yes. You're April, aren't you? I find it hard to remember, because your episode was right before..." She looked at Buffy, her eyes soft. "Is your mother all right?"

Buffy smiled brightly. "Oh, yeah. Wills was waiting for me in another time-line, and she had a really good idea..she turned time back. And we were able to save my mom, and Jenny, and..." she blushed. "I guess it is true, that you get to be a lot like your spouse."

Willow grinned and punched Buffy's shoulder. "That's only supposed to be after a few years, doofus."

Helen looked at Daria, slightly puzzled. "But I thought you were going off to save that Neanderthal and his world from whatever that Gomer did?"

"Funny thing, Mom," she said, sitting down at the table. "We set everything to random, and it brought us to Buffy, who needed our help. You see -"

After an hour, Helen leaned back and clasped her hands together in her lap. "Well, I certainly can't say that you haven't been putting your time to good use."

"They did," Willow said, "even if they didn't get more in exchange for the plutonium." She winked.

"Oh." April would have blushed if she had been able to, as every eye turned to her. "Did I forget to tell you? Lazarus said that you weren't going to get away without getting paid for the plutonium, at least, so while you were doing other things, they went back to Tertius and got a couple tons of gold, and loaded it on top of the M113."

Daria's eyebrow rose. "A couple tons? Why that must be worth - "

"Just under 77 million dollars, at the spot prices the day we left," Tom said. "What? I keep my eye on prices like that, and it's simple multiplication."

Daria shook her head. "We'll get it in later. First, we need to plan what we're going to do when we get to this 'Ghost's' universe. What would Gomer have been able to do that would have affected the entire world?"

"Well, the smallpox they almost let go in the fourth book would have killed everyone on the planet." Any smile was now gone from Helen's face. "Or tampering with things so that the DVD's from Lunardi got into the wrong hands, where someone wanted to start a nuclear war?"

"It might be both. One to be the primary, and one to be the backup, if the primary failed or was defeated." Daria's face was grim.

"Goddess, I hate this," grumbled Buffy, who then looked up. "We're going to have to trust the Powers on this one, guys. Make the numbers random, and trust that we'll end up where we're needed. The question is, how will we know where and when we are?"

Daria sighed. "That'll be easy. If we're not in Georgia, the country, that means the first book. Otherwise, if none of the Keldara are dead, and they haven't fought the battalion of Chechens yet, it's the second book. If they have fought the Chechens, but haven't taken any KIAs, it's the third. If they've had a couple of deaths, it's the fourth, and if the deaths include Gretchen, it's the fifth." She took a breath. "Our most likely points are the beginning of the third, or beginning of the fourth books. The fifth deals with issues, while important to Harmon/Jenkins/whathaveyou, aren't going to destroy life on Earth."

"How are we going to even get in to talk to this guy, if he's holed up in this big mansion?" Jane asked.

"Apparently by talking to his retainers," Willow said, holding up a sealed envelope with the Goddess's interlocking moon symbol on it. "These guys are believers in the Norse tradition, which means that She sees them in Her guise as Freya, and we'll go as Her daughters."

"And, instead of a hammer, their Thor carries an axe," Stacy said, with a pointed look at Buffy.

"All right, all right, the Scythe comes out," Buffy sighed. "But how do we get him to believe?"

"Use information from the first book," Quinn replied. "Most of it nobody know but him and that Chief Adams guy."

"And how much do we tell him? About the future, about World as Myth, everything?" Tom asked.

"Well, here's where I thought we could start off..."

9. Chapter Nine

"Please," Oleg nearly begged, "I would consider it an honor if you opened Lydia and provided her with the bride-price. We have discussed this."

"What?" The Kildar, aka Mike Jenkins, aka Michael Harmon, aka "Ghost," aka a few other monikers and titles, was aghast. He had just opened his mouth to ask why, really, he should sleep with the bride of one of his team leaders when the alarm sounded. "We'll continue this discussion after whatever this is, is dealt with," he said, as he turned and jogged up to the communications center. "What's up?" he asked Gildana, the operator on duty.

"Kildar, one minute ago, this appeared on the caravanserai lawn." She manipulated the pickup to show what Mike recognized as a M113A3 APC with the weaponry stripped, and painted...he closed his eyes. Most combat vehicles were painted in some combination of bland colors to encourages the eye to slide past it; this one was painted in primary colors, and seemed to be inviting the viewer to stare at it.

"How did it get there?"

"I told you. It appeared there, now two minutes ago." Gildana looked at him with narrow eyes. "Did I not say it correctly?"

Mike thought about patting her shoulder, but - this whole discussion with the Fathers was still on his mind. "You did fine, Gildana." He levered himself to his feet.

"Where are you going?"

"When someone knocks on the door, it's only polite to say hello." He grabbed an MP-5 from the rack as he went out on to the lawn, where he found the back hatch of the APC open, and several girls that were in the same league as the Keldara for looks sitting down, apparently waiting for someone. Not quite pointing his weapon away from them, he walked up. "Can I help you ladies?"

One of the redheads looked up with a smile, until she saw his weapon. "Could you point that somewhere else, please? I really hate guns." Her eyes grew wide.

"I'm afraid I can't. You might be planning to do something bad to me, and if I turned it away, you might hurt me." He smiled to ease the sting of his distrust.

He heard someone clearing their throat, and turned to see another redhead, this one with dark auburn hair, looking at him. "Listen, Casper, whether you turn your weapon away has no effect on her ability to hurt you. And it wasn't a request. Turn. the. damned. gun. away. And yes, I said Casper."

Mike's jaw dropped. None of these were any of the UGA girls, and yet...she knew his team name. And the way she danced around saying it spoke to her knowing why it would be a bad idea to spread it. But - he jerked his hands back as his weapon suddenly grew too hot to hold, cooking off the rounds (thankfully away from everyone). After waving his hands to cool them, he looked back at the girls. The original redhead now had pure white hair. "Shit."

"Told you it wasn't a request." The second redhead smirked at him. "Now, since we're obviously in Georgia, the country not the state, we've got one or two questions for you. Have you lost any of the Keldara to battle?" Mike shook his head. "Good," she replied. I suspect you were just talking with the Fathers. Get the Mothers, as well. We have a lot to talk about."

All eleven of them(including yet another redhead) stood up and followed him as he turned and made his way back into the mansion proper, lost in thought. When they reached the small parlor (still large enough to hold the Mothers, the Fathers, Mike, and his "guests"), Mike turned to Oleg. "Go up to the commo room, and ask Gildana to get the Mothers, ASAP." As Oleg hesitated, he added, "All of them."

"Yes, Kildar." He turned and was about to leave when the second redhead cleared her throat.

"It probably wouldn't be a bad idea if you brought Chief Adams, Colonel Nielsen, and Sargent Vanner in on this." Oleg looked at Mike, who nodded.

Mike sat down and gestured for them to do the same. "I'd ask your names, but there are so many of you, you'd probably just be finished when everyone came in, and you'd have to do it all over again." He turned to the Fathers. "These people appeared in an APC in the caravanserai garden a few minutes ago, and asked to speak to me, you, the Mothers, and my lieutenants. Since they apparently have the power to back up their requests, we're going to talk with them."

The Fathers all nodded. Father Kulcyanov wheezed, "Even if one is going to fight, it is best to learn what you can."

When the Mothers arrived, the second redhead spoke up. "I'm Daria Lane, and these are my wives, Jane and Jen Lane." She then briefly introduced the others, and then turned once more to Mike. "Mr. Jenkins, I'm sure that you're very confused as to how and why we came here. Can you at least admit that we very likely have information that you don't?" Mike pondered a moment, and then nodded. "Then please listen with an open mind." She turned to the two that she had introduced as Buffy and Willow, and said, "Ladies, the floor is yours."

The two young women stepped up and pulled out pendants from under their shirts, then motioned for the two who Mike now knew were Oz and Faith to stand, as well. "The symbols might be slightly different, but we are daughters of the Goddess, she whom you know as Freya or Frigga," Willow said as the red drained out of her hair.

Buffy reached behind her back, pulled a very large axe out, and held it in her hands, while Faith did the same with the largest god-damned hammer Mike had ever seen. Oz, who had yet to say a word, didn't reach for anything. His whole form shifted, and in less than a minute, a wolf stood before them, panting.

"What the hell is this?" Mike asked, almost shouting. He stood up and backed against the wall.

"They needed to know that we are who we say we are," Buffy said. "We aren't here in defiance of their beliefs, but in accordance to them." She looked at the assembled Fathers and Mothers. "Do you all believe that we are from Freya and the All-father?"

10. Chapter 10

"We aren't here in defiance of their beliefs, but in accordance to them," Buffy said. She looked at the assembled Fathers and Mothers. "Do you all believe that we are from Freya and the All-father?"

"Now wait just a God-damned minute!" Mike almost shouted. "What the hell are you doing, threatening me and mine in my house?"

"You don't listen much, do you?" The woman who had introduced herself as Daria Lane said from the side. He glanced over, and she was leaning in a doorway, her arms crossed. "She just told you that she was giving her bona fides to your Varangians here. What form did you think that would take?"

Mike would have stepped back, had he not already been against the wall; he raised his hands. "You -" He shook his head. "You're right." He looked over at Father Kulcyanov. "Father, they asked you a question, and I have to say that I'm interested, as well. Are they from Freya?"

Father Kulcyanov wheezed out a wet cough. "While their tokens are somewhat different, they seem to be." He turned. "Mother Lenka?"

She answered with a harsh cackle. "Are they? Axe and Hammer, Earth magic and Moon magic? How could they not be?" The rest of the Mothers looked at one another and then nodded at Mike, who nodded back.

"Right. So now that you've introduced yourselves, what are you doing here? I won't even get into how you got here."

"We're here to change your world," said the blonde, who put her axe behind her back. Seeing her, the rest of the four put away their weapons or changed back to normal.

"Well, now that we're here, we've changed it by default, nothing that we could do would make us not change things, only change how much we would change things, but because someone else already changed things -" The redhead, Willow, had her mouth covered by the blonde's hand.

"Gotta slow down a bit, Will, so they can understand."

The short auburn-haired woman, Daria, stood straight and walked in front of them. "Do any of you read science fiction? Specifically, Heinlein?" One of the trainers hesitantly raised his hand. "Great," she said. "Have you ever read The Number of the Beast?" He looked confused, but nodded after a bit. She sighed, and turned to Mike. "To cut to the chase, The Number of the Beast posited a multiverse that contained at least six to the sixth to the sixth universes, or at least that many accessible via one of the character's devices, which also worked as a time machine on some settings. It also introduced the concept of the World as Myth; the idea that the only reason that any individual universe exists is because someone wrote about it."

Mike snorted. "Sounds like a bunch of crap to me."

Daria smirked. "Why did I know you'd say that?" She held her hand back, and the girl who'd been introduced as April put a book in her hand. She slapped in on a table in front of Mike. "Enjoy. The bookmarks are where we think you'd be very interested."

He quickly thumbed through the book. Crap, It shows where I was...stalking. He shrugged. I was. He read on. And how I screwed up, telling that girl the wrong airport...At least they got the girls and the boat right. He smiled, and then thought. "I'd really rather not have this floating around in this...universe, I guess you call it. I have enough ragheads after me and mine without them knowing that I'm the one that did the things in the first story, here." He let out a breath. "So why are you here to change things? I'm pretty sure that I'm a good guy."

Buffy just raised her eyebrow as she stared at him. Daria cleared her throat.

"I'm not getting into that. Honestly, we wouldn't have disturbed your universe, even with all the bad things that happened, but someone visited you before us. His goal was to destroy every universe where people had sex, and -" she had to wait until the chuckles died down. "And he had already done at least one. We just got really lucky, because, in addition to being a character for someone, I'm also an Author. One of my characters found him and killed him, and contacted me, and I contacted Buffy and her friends. We'd like to help you find out what was done, and stop it, because none of us like the idea of billions of people dying, just because this Gomer was insane." She motioned over at April. "We have several other books about you and yours to give as information, but there is one issue that needs to get out in the open." She nodded to Willow.

"The Keldara are asking you to exercise the droits de seigneur, aren't they?" that worthy asked. Mike gave a short, choppy nod. "You'll finally figure it out, but they're using you like a bull, to inject new blood into their line which is otherwise far too inbred. They are honoring you greatly by doing this, but," she looked over at the Mothers. "You will harm him. Have you never thought that he might fall in love? Where does that leave him, her, and her intended?" Her face firmed into one with the consistency of granite, and the red which had flowed back into her hair was suddenly gone. "There are new ways which will not do harm, and you will use them!"

Mike's jaw dropped.


This was downloaded and reposted to Outpost Daria Reborn with permission from the author. Original Download From: https://www.tthfanfic.org/Story-27347