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Short version: Good, if slightly rushed.

I'll start off with the bad, since there are only a couple of criticisms. I've seen some comments that criticized Riordan for using all 7 POVs. But frankly, I think that that wasn't his big mistake. I think the big mistake was not making The House of Hades significantly longer. The reason is that unlike every prior book in the Heroes of Olympus series, as well as those in the Percy Jackson series and The Kane Chronicles, this book had two major, separate plot threads. I would have written it that way. The parts set in the mortal world should have been as long as The Mark of Athena. In fact, I think it might have worked well if Riordan had clumped all of Percy and Annabeth's chapters together, probably near the very end. The vision of Reyna and Octavian meeting with Rachel and Grover would have had even more impact that way, and there would be tension as we waited for any information. Then we'd get the Percy/Annabeth stuff all at once, and I don't think anyone would have minded. Of course, this might have taken longer to write, which might be why he didn't do it. Frankly, I'd have preferred another couple of months of waiting if it meant a much better book. On reflection, I don't think the book would have been much improved by removing any POVs.

That said, while the structure of the book is rushed, the individual bits are still very good. While all of the seven got POVs, the parts set in the mortal world did focus more on the Romans than the Greeks, as they should have after The Mark of Athena being so Greek-centered. Hazel got a totally unexpected subplot with Hecate that was very intriguing. Frank stepping up to the plate and leading the legion of the dead against the monsters was probably the single most awesome thing in the entire book. And Jason actually got a good friendship subplot with Nico, which I very much liked. Piper only got the one POV section, but she did defeat a GODDESS, so extra points there. And Leo... well, I figured that Leo would eventually fall for Calypso after he arrived on her island (and her for him), but when he swore on the Styx to come back for her, it still warmed my heart. Not only is Leo not alone, but neither is Calypso.

The Percy/Annabeth stuff in the Styx was good. Riordan did an awesome job of showing just how dangerous that place is. Even as powerful as they are, Annabeth and Percy only got through with the aid of a Titan and a giant, and they mostly did it through running and hiding rather than plowing through a pack of monsters. And on top of that, we got lots more little Percabeth moments. I do think Riordan could have done a little more with Tartarus. For instance, he could have made use of the whole "time working differently" and had Percy and Annabeth spend weeks or even months in Tartarus. Of course, at that point, he might as well have written two books, one set in the mortal world and one set in Tartarus.

Now I predict that the number one point of discussion about this book will be the revelation of Nico's sexuality. I did not see that coming. And in retrospect, I think Riordan may have actually planned this one from the beginning. Nico's actions in The Titan's Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth make plenty sense if he started off with a crush on Percy, only to find out that his sister had died, and therefore turn against the guy he had feelings for.

One minor point is that Riordan has more or less stated that after this is all over, Percy and Annabeth will stay at Camp Jupiter, while Jason and Piper will stay at Camp Half-Blood. He hinted at it in The Mark of Athena, but now it's pretty explicit with Jason stepping down as praetor and Percy and Annabeth planning for a date in New Rome. There have long been hints that Riordan will be doing a mega-crossover series in the future involving both Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. If so, I predict that at the start of the crossover series, Percy and Annabeth will be attending college in New Rome. Annabeth will have joined the 12th Legion.

In conclusion, I very much enjoyed this one, even if it had several flaws. And for once, Riordan didn't end on a massive cliffhanger, which makes waiting for The Blood of Olympus that much easier.
 
 
09 February 2012 @ 04:00 am
If you could invite four people-living or dead- to a dinner party, who would they be?
While I'm sorely tempted to invite people who wouldn't get along (such as Adolf Hitler and Moshe Dayan), I think that would result in a very unpleasant dinner party. I think I might go with great scientists and philosophers. Aristotle, Carl Sagan, Leonardo da Vinci, and Charles Darwin would make for fascinating conversation. Although I imagine I'll need to bring a lot of wine for Aristotle, as he's not going to like finding out how wrong he was about everything.
 
 
09 December 2009 @ 03:58 pm
A/N: Inspired by a much lighter fic, and my general hatred for FOX.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Rampage
It had started with the pundits. The world had been shocked by the horrific murders of Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly. FOX’s ratings had peaked, but their replacements weren’t nearly as good. FOX lost its status as the most viewed news channel in America.

Hugh Laurie was next. The star of “House” had vanished while out jogging. Nobody suspected that there was any link to the Beck/O’Reilly murders, until three days later.

Hugh Laurie had appeared on American Idol as a guest judge, stunning everyone. At first he claimed it was a publicity stunt. People were relieved that he was alive.

Then Angelus came on. He and Hugh Laurie had killed over two hundred people that night, wiping out the ratings juggernaut. Many of those people were turned, and vampires became reality. The final explanation came when authorities discovered the body of Joss Whedon in his home. He had somehow summoned Angelus into this world, as vengeance against FOX.

The Buffy fans mobilized. The 76th Independent Battalion, formerly an organization of Firefly cosplayers, deployed to Los Angeles, armed with crossbows, stakes, and crosses. The Supreme Court ruled within days that ensouled vampires were not people. The vampire epidemic was stopped, but they almost certainly missed some.

Meanwhile, Angelus’ campaign against FOX continued unabated. Gordon Ramsey and Kiefer Sutherland were turned. The Wall Street Journal was burned to the ground. Showrunners, actors, and reporters alike were murdered. The only shows that weren’t attacked were Bones and Family Guy. David Boreanaz had been conscripted by the 76th, and Seth Green ordered Family Guy’s cancellation the same day that Angelus revealed himself.

Six months after Angelus’ arrival, News Corp shut down, after the last executive went insane.

In the end, only one person could stop Angelus – Buffy. The Mutant Enemy staff worked for a month to get the Dollhouse imprinting technology working while Marti Noxon reconstructed the ritual to create a Slayer. And they brought in the one person who could do it.

Angelus was slain by Sarah Michelle Gellar eight months and four days after arriving on Earth. The death toll was 24,591.
 
 
04 December 2009 @ 03:57 pm
Well, we have a few retcons. Matt's survival resulted in guns losing a kill. Also, we now know that Joseph was killed by Samuel, so that sends Danko back to two. Samuel, meanwhile, is now the third-greatest killer on Heroes with 14 kills.

As the show is going on hiatus, I thought that I'd post the current kill counts:

44 kills - Gabriel Sylar
18 kills - Maya Herrara
14 kills - Samuel
13 kills - Tracy Strauss
10 kills - Niki/Jessica Sanders
5 kills - Matt Parkman
4 kills - Adam Monroe, Noah Bennet
3 kills - James Martin, Jeremy Greer, Knox
2 kills - Arthur Petrelli, Edgar, Emile Danko, Flint
1 kill - Angela Petrelli, Becky Taylor, Brody Mitchum, Claire Bennet, D.L. Hawkins, Daniel Linderman, Elle Bishop, Eric Doyle, Evil Cop (the guy who killed Jeremy Greer), Hiro Nakamura, Isaac Mendez, Luke Campbell, Mohinder Suresh, Peter Petrelli, Samson Gray, Stephen Canfield, Ted Sprague

Also, a few words about my methodology. A character coming back to life does not negate the kill (except for Sylar killing Charlie, which was undone by Hiro). If we don't know how many people were killed by someone, I make an estimate of each incident. I tend to err on the low side, so a single incident in which a lot of people die doesn't put someone ahead too much. Finally, I am ignoring the online comics.
 
 
12 November 2009 @ 11:15 am

So, I've been keeping a "killboard" of Heroes for ages, tracking both killers and methods, and I thought I'd post updates on it.

Spoiler alert!

So far:

Sylar has long dominated the killboard, although he did slip behind Maya Herrara at the end of Volume Two. He currently has killed 44 people onscreen, although he has also had one of his kills undone (Charlie). Maya is still holding in second with 18 kills, with Tracy Strauss and Samuel tied for third with 13. 106 people have been killed with powers, while only 41 have been killed with weapons.

This episode:

Noah Bennet has finally noticed that for Heroes' reigning badass, he's ranked fairly low. The flashback killing of Becky Taylor's dad brings him up to four, but that isn't enough to overcome the fact that Matt Parkman has killed five people on the show (he turned all those commandos against each other with telepathy in "Trust & Blood".

Danko's reported killing of Joseph brings him up to three. I'm holding off on assigning a killer to Mohinder until we actually see the death or it is described.

Hank was an odd case, but I've given that kill to Sylar, given that it was Sylar's mind, even if it was Matt's body. This is also the second time Sylar has killed someone named Hank - there was a Company doctor back in Season One, who also posed as Claire's biological father.

Finally, guns have finally outstripped poison emission as the second most common cause of death (19 vs. 18), though telekinesis still rules at 31.
 
 
 
12 November 2009 @ 11:12 am
Which character from any film, television show, or book would you most like to take on a date and why?

Willow Rosenberg from Buffy, specifically from the first or second season. Mostly because "nerdy Jewish girl" is pretty much my dream girl. Suffice to say that if I had attended Sunnydale High, I probably would have asked her out.
 
 
11 May 2009 @ 07:17 pm

“Hi, Mom,” Buffy greeted her mother, relieving Angel of the obligation to make the first statement. In 200 years, he had never been quite this scared before.

“Uh, can I come in, Mrs. Summers?” Angel asked.

“Oh, yes,” Joyce replied hesitantly. “May I take your jacket?”

“Thank you,” Angel removed his jacket and handed it to Joyce, who placed it on a coat hook near the door.

Angel sized up Joyce and Ted. He had met Joyce briefly before, the night he and Buffy fought the Three. She was wearing a nice red blouse and a frown on her face. He smelled a hint of fear off of her – probably nothing more than extreme anxiety over meeting him. From what Buffy had told him about her, she was a very loving woman.

Ted was different. He was a big man, as tall as Angel, if somewhat wider. He wore a collared shirt and nice pants, probably the same clothes he wore at work. He wasn’t afraid, but he did smell… off. Angel couldn’t place it, but something was wrong about him.

Figuring it out could wait. Right now, Angel needed to make a good impression on Joyce.

“Nice to see you again, Mrs. Summers.”

“Ted Buchanan,” Ted extended his hand.

“Angel,” Angel shook it. They had decided to use as much of Angel’s actual life as possible in creating his fake background. The name change was part of it.

“Buffy’s told us absolutely nothing about you,” Ted joked.

“Well, I hope I can rectify that tonight,” Angel replied.

“I think that was the entire point of Angel coming for dinner,” Buffy added.

“Well,” Joyce said after a significant pause, “dinner’s on the table.”

 

Giles moved slowly through the cemetery, keeping an eye out for any signs of vampire activity.

It was the first time he had actually done this – gone on patrol to cover for Buffy. Buffy had explained the critical importance of her having dinner with her mother tonight, and Giles actually agreed. It would be much easier to keep up appearances if Buffy had a believable excuse for her late night outings and absences from school.

There was the possibility that Joyce might not like Angel and forbid Buffy to date him, but that wouldn’t stop Buffy from seeing Angel. She was completely in love with him, and while Angel’s vampiric nature and the 224-year age gap gave Giles some pause, he knew that Angel was equally in love with her – that he would, in fact, die for her. Giles wasn’t Buffy’s father, but for what it was worth, he approved of Angel.

He heard a branch snap behind him. He spun around, holding out a cross to ward off… Jenny.

“I get that reaction from men all the time,” Jenny smiled wryly.

“Jenny! What are you doing here?” Giles needed to get her out of here. Hunting vampires was dangerous at best, and without a Slayer present…

“I saw your car back there. I wanted to apologize.”

“I don’t think this is a good time to –“

“Please, let me get this out,” she cut him off. “I was very harsh the other day. I know how bad you feel about putting me in danger…”

Giles spotted a vampire behind her.

“Imagine how I must feel now…”

 

They all sat down at the table. Angel and Buffy sat on one side, Joyce and Ted on the other. Angel was quick to start on his chicken – he had assured Buffy that he could eat solid food, it simply didn’t do him any good.

After a few bites, Joyce asked the inevitable question:

“So, how did you two meet?”

“At the Bronze,” Buffy answered. “We started talking, he mentioned he was a history major, so I asked him if he could help me with my studies.”

“You’re at UC Sunnydale?” Ted asked.

“Was,” Angel corrected. “I graduated last spring.” There was the issue that the first time they had met, Buffy had introduced Angel as a freshman at community college, but they were banking on Joyce not remembering. There was also the fact that Ted might be able to find out that he didn’t attend any nearby college if he tried.

“Very nice,” Joyce seemed to approve of that. “And what do you do now?”

“Tutor kids in history. Sorta like Buffy, only they pay me.” Picking Angel’s “job” had taken a while. They had settled on professional tutor, since it fit with his “major” – and, more importantly, there was no way Ted could check on it.

“So you’re from around here?” Joyce inquired.

“Hardly.” Angel smiled. “I was actually born in Galway, Ireland.”

“Ireland?” Both Joyce and Ted were surprised by that.

“I moved to New York when I was 10.” Actually, Angel had been 140 when he had come to New York. “I’m an American citizen now.”

“Well, why come all the way out to Sunnydale for college?” Joyce pressed.

“Long story.” And completely made up.

“Well, you’ll have to tell us sometime,” Joyce smiled. Angel was relieved that he wouldn’t have to cover that particular lie tonight.

 

The vampire leapt past Giles, knocking him to the ground. He managed to avert a biting with his cross, but the vampire wouldn’t let go. Jenny looked around for a weapon.

“My bag!”

Of course. Jenny opened up the bag and pulled out a crossbow. She clumsily tried to load it – fortunately, it had several bolts already attached.

By now, Giles had broken free of the vampire. He pulled out a stake, but the vamp knocked it away. As they fought, Jenny tried to take aim…

 

“I have to ask,” Ted took over the inquiries, “what kind of a name is ‘Angel’? I’m guessing you weren’t born with it.”

“No,” Angel shook his head. “I was born Liam Reilly. Thing is, I never really liked that name. A girl I met once said I had a face like an angel, so I changed my name to Angel.”

The truth was a little more complicated. Angel didn’t have any real problem with the name Liam Reilly, except that it was given to him by his father. He had also left out the part where he had gone by Angelus for a while, and changed it to Angel after he had gotten his soul.

“Interesting,” Ted said.

 “I like it,” Buffy put in. “And you do have a face like an angel.” She took Angel’s hand, and they just gazed at each other for about a minute. Angel meant every moment of it, but it was also important to show how much he cared about Buffy. Nothing would win Joyce over more than obvious signs that he cared about Buffy.

That part, he didn’t have to lie about at all.

 

Giles finally got the vampire turned around so Jenny had a clear line of shot to his back. She fired – just as the vampire pulled Giles around. The bolt buried itself in Giles’ side. He doubled over in pain.

Joyce couldn’t believe it. She had shot Giles. She had just shot her boyfriend!

“Nice shot, lady!” the vampire laughed – a second before Giles pulled the bolt out of his side, and plunged it into the vampire’s heart.

 

The rest of the dinner went well. The topic of conversation shifted away from Angel and onto Ted.

As everyone finished up, Joyce turned to Buffy.

“Buffy, can you help me clear the table?”

Angel got up quickly. “I’ll help you, Mrs. Summers.”

Somehow, Joyce wasn’t entirely surprised. She smiled at Angel as he collected plates and brought them into the kitchen. Joyce followed. As she began washing, she turned to Angel.

“Angel –“

He cut her off. “You want to know why I’m dating someone Buffy’s age.”

“Actually, I was going to ask you to pass the soap, but an explanation will do.”

He handed over the dishwashing soap, then began explaining.

“I wasn’t looking to date someone her age. But after a few tutoring sessions with her, I realized I couldn’t stop thinking about her. One night – the night after you and I first met, actually – I started babbling, and I just told her that I wanted to kiss her.”

Joyce’s eyebrows went up. “And?”

“And then she leaned in, and we kissed.”

“Oh.”

“I’m in love with your daughter, Mrs. Summers. She’s the most important thing in the world to me. And I want you to understand that.”

 

Jenny rushed to Giles’ side.

“Oh, god, I’m so sorry…”

“I think I’m all right,” Giles groaned.

“You’re just in shock.”

“No, really, it didn’t go in too deep. The advantages of layers of tweed – better than Kevlar!”

“We’ve still got to get you to a hospital.”

“Yes…”

They got up. As they started walking, Jenny started laughing.

“What is it?” Giles asked.

“Some night, huh? You sure know how to woo a girl back, don’t you?”

Giles started laughing too. “Heh heh – oww.”

“Hospital.”

 

“It was very nice meeting you,” Ted shook Angel’s hand.

“We’ll have to do this again sometime,” Angel replied.

“Maybe you can come over for Buffy’s birthday on Friday?” Joyce suggested.

“Absolutely,” Buffy agreed. “Mom, would it be OK if I walked Angel home?”

“Well…” Joyce looked to Ted.

“Oh, it’s not far,” Buffy assured her mother. “There are some things I want to talk to him about.”

Her mother finally relented.

“Be back by 10:00.”

 

“Well, I think that went pretty well,” Buffy said.

“I think the obviously-being-in-love helped my case,” Angel replied.

“Then what’s up?” Buffy could tell that something was bothering Angel.

“It’s Ted.”

“What, you don’t like him? Join the club.”

“No, I mean, I’m not entirely sure that he’s human.”

“Yeah, well -” the meaning of Angel’s words fully sunk in. Buffy turned to face him. “What?”

“I’m not entirely sure that he’s human. He didn’t smell quite right.”

“You think he’s a demon?”

“No, I’d have noticed something like that. Maybe he’s possessed.”

This was not good. If Ted was possessed, then Mom was in danger.

“I’d better get back to the house – I don’t want to leave Mom alone with Ted.”

“You go on home,” Angel said gently. He kissed her quickly, then let go. “I’ll call Giles.”

“Good night, Angel.”

“Good night, Buffy.”

 
 
28 April 2009 @ 06:08 am

New fanfic, this one a Doctor Who/Buffy crossover.

I want to talk about the genesis of this idea. It started as a concept for an original story, whereby aliens invade Earth, and are repulsed when all the dormant mythical creatures (notably dragons, thunderbirds, and vampires) rise and decide that they don't like the aliens. Over time, the idea focused more and more on magic being the key to victory. Eventually, I inserted Willow into the story, followed by the rest of the Buffy cast, and the concept of magic weapons I borrowed from "I Am What I Am". Finally, after watching the first season of the new Doctor Who series, I cast the Daleks as the invading aliens. This story actually takes place after the invasion of Earth.

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or any of its characters. They belong to the BBC. Nor do I own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or any of their characters. They belong to the First Evil (aka Joss Whedon).
The concept of magical weapons as seen in this story is borrowed from M. McGregor's excellent Buffy fic, "I Am What I Am", which can be found at http://parrot.moments-lost.org/earchive/viewstory.php?sid=3370.
Note: This story effectively replaces the Doctor Who episodes "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways", and can be considered an alternate finale for Season One of the new series. It is also a post-Chosen fic.

“So, where are we going?” Captain Jack Harkness asked.

“Andammarin V, 2021,” the Doctor explained. “The Goreshal.” Off Rose’ expression: “A legendary interstellar cultural fair, about as famous as Woodstock on Earth.”

“Is it any good?” Rose inquired.

“I dunno. Never been before.” He adjusted the TARDIS controls, before finally announcing, “And here we are.”

“Won’t we stand out?” Rose said as she approached the door. “I mean, we’ll be the only humans there.”

“Don’t worry,” Jack assured her. “Supposedly, every intelligent species in the galaxy attended the Goreshal. We’re just representing the humans.”

“And the Time Lords,” the Doctor added. “Don’t forget the Time Lords.”

Rose opened the door.

The scene outside the TARDIS was one of chaos. Aliens of all shapes, sizes, and colors ran around in what was clearly a state of panic. Amidst the screams, she heard explosions in the distance.

“Doctor?”

The Doctor emerged from the TARDIS, followed by Jack.

“Well, this is not good.”

 

“Excuse me?”

“Get out of the way!” An alien about the size and shape of a rugby player pushed past Rose, ignoring her question. The Doctor and Jack weren’t having much better luck finding out what was going on.

Rose found an alien that resembled a fifty-centimeter tall squid with three legs, and picked it up.

“What’s going on?” she yelled into its face.

“Lady, put me down!”

“Not until you tell me what’s going on!” The Doctor and Jack joined her.

“We’re evacuating, obviously! This spaceport is one of the last parts of the planet they haven’t overrun! Now put me down! I need to get to a transport!”

“Who?”

The alien squirmed out of Rose’s grasp. It fell to the ground and scurried away, following the crowd.

“OK, something’s wrong,” she commented.

“Very wrong. Clearly, the planet is under attack. But by whom?” the Doctor wondered aloud.

“Um, you might want to see this!” Jack was standing by a window. Rose and the Doctor joined him.

Outside, Rose could clearly see an army of Daleks approaching the spaceport. Saucer-shaped ships hovered in the air, firing missiles at the surface.

“That’s impossible!” Jack declared. “Those ships were destroyed!”

“There’s only one explanation for this,” the Doctor said evenly. “An alternate reality.”

“Those Daleks will be here any minute,” Rose pointed out, her voice trembling with fear.

“We need to get out of here!” Jack shouted. “Back to our reality!”

“We can’t,” the Doctor shook his head. “The TARDIS can’t draw that kind of power from an alternate reality. We’ll need to get onto a transport.”

“Good luck with that,” a passing alien said. “There’s barely enough transports for everyone here. Besides, the Daleks have us pinned down, so the ships can’t get out anyway. Unless the Gaians get here in time, we’re all gonna die.”

“Gaians?” Jack turned to them.

On cue, there was a sound of thunder from above. They all looked up to see a flash of black lightning and smoke. When it faded, Rose saw the last thing she expected to see here.

She seemed human, no older than Rose herself. She had long red hair, and wore a simple green jacket and red pants. As she descended to the ground, Rose noticed that her eyes were completely black.

The aliens gaped in awe. Rose heard them whisper her name – “Willow”. More than a few knelt to the ground. Rose had seen the Queen given less respect.

Willow – it seemed like it would be the best thing to call her for now – waved her hands and uttered a few words, which the TARDIS translated as “Open the path.” Eleven other humans appeared around her. Five of them were young women in leather jackets, and carried archaic weapons. The other six were of mixed genders, and wore green jackets similar to Willow’s. One – a black male in his thirties – looked familiar somehow. But Rose was too confused to place him.

“Attention!” Willow called out. Her accent was American. “I am General Willow Rosenberg of the Champions of Gaia. Proceed with the evacuation. I will hold off the Daleks, and the Tara will provide cover for your ships.” Everyone kept staring at her. “Now, people!”

That got them moving.

 

“I have an idea!” the Doctor said. “We can’t just jump to our reality, but if the TARDIS can still translate for us, it should have enough power to fly out of here at sublight!”

They raced for the TARDIS. But apparently, Willow had overheard them. She appeared right between them and the TARDIS door.

“Can you explain to me what you are doing here?” she asked, cocking her head to one side.

“We’re getting out of here,” the Doctor explained. “This is our spaceship.”

“It looks like a police box to me.”

“It’s bigger on the inside,” Rose said. “Look.” She opened the door. Willow peered inside.

“Interesting,” she said. “Well, if this is a spaceship, then you can help with the evacuation effort.” She called out loud: “Lieutenant Smith!”

The man whom Rose had found familiar came over.

“This is apparently a spaceship of some sort. As you can see,” she gestured towards the open door, “it’s bigger on the inside. Take command, collect as many people as you can fit on board, and bring it to the Tara.”

“Yes, ma’am!” He turned to Rose, Jack, and the Doctor. “You’re the crew?”

“Yes. I’m the Doctor. This is my ship. These are my companions,” the Doctor explained.

“Get on board and start her up. I’ll gather some evacuees.”

Lieutenant Smith ventured into the crowd and started collecting aliens. Soon, the ship was packed tight with more aliens than Rose had ever seen before – including the little squid that she had interrogated earlier.

“How long before you can go?” Smith asked the Doctor.

“I need about three minutes! The power source has been drained!”

“EXTERMINATE!”

Rose looked outside the TARDIS. She saw Daleks – at least twenty of them – entering the facility.

“Lieutenant!” she called.

Smith came over.

“Don’t worry. We’ll handle them. Can you show outside video in here?”

“Sure.” It was one of the few features Rose knew how to operate. “Why?”

“Because I want everyone in here to have a chance to see some of the best Champions in action.”

As Smith closed the door, Rose activated the video screens. She stared as Willow and the leather-clad girls prepared to take on the Daleks.

The Daleks fired their death-rays in unison at Willow. She waved her hand, and a yellowish barrier appeared, protecting her from harm. She then fired a bolt of black lightning from her hand, blasting five Daleks into twisted metal.

The other girls weren’t quite as destructive, but they were equally amazing. They bounded forward with incredible speed, dodging the Dalek death-rays. An Asian girl wielding a Japanese sword sliced one Dalek in two. A dark-haired girl with a red axe hacked off another Dalek’s eyestalk, before driving the other end – which was apparently pointy – straight through its body.

“How is that possible?” she asked Smith. “I’ve seen a Dalek before. Bullets can’t harm them, how can swords and axes?”

“Magic, of course,” he replied. “Those are magical weapons, and that’s magic Willow is using.”

The Daleks were dead now. But more started pouring in.

“Doctor, where’s the power source?” Smith asked.

“Right here,” the Doctor pointed to the heart of the TARDIS, where he was working.

A bolt of electricity lept from Smith’s hand into the machinery. Finally, the TARDIS started up.

“We were out of time,” Smith explained.
 

The Doctor flew the TARDIS out of there, keeping up with the last of the transport ships.

Rose continued to observe the video screens. She saw that the spaceport was burning. Soon, it was consumed in flames. But rather than burning out, the flames spread outwards, destroying everything in their path (mostly Daleks). The flames in the spaceport died, leaving a ring of fire that expanded at an increasing rate.

“What’s happening?”

“She’s burning the planet,” the squid explained. “Whenever a planet falls to the Daleks, they bring in Willow. She brings forth some sort of Gaian relic –“

“The Effigy of Proserpexa,” another alien clarified.

“Right. Anyway, she then channels the planet’s life force through the effigy, and burns the planet to a cinder – killing every Dalek on the planet at the time.”

Rose was shocked beyond words.

“Legend says that she tried to do it to Earth once. Her lover was killed, so in her grief, she tried to destroy the planet, to put an end to all the pain.”

“What… what is she?” Jack Harkness asked.

“What do you mean, what is she?” Smith answered. “She’s a witch.”
 

 
 
21 April 2009 @ 03:16 pm

“The dreaded five-par cuckoo clock,” Xander spoke with dramatic flair. “So many have come. So few have conquered.”

Ted chose that moment to ask one of those perfectly normal questions that Buffy couldn’t answer truthfully.

“So, Buffy, I’m sure boys are lined up around the block trying to get a date with you.”

“Not really,” she answered. Buffy had been on enough dates with Angel at the Bronze that most of the school knew she was not single. There was plenty of gossip about who Angel was, none of it even close to the truth.

Willow tried to cover as she took her shot. “Oh, they are, but she’s only interested in… uh… her studies. Book-cracker Buffy, it’s kind of her nickname.”

Ted lined up his shot. “Glad to hear that. I bet that means your grades will be picking up soon.”

“My grades?” She moved next to her mom. “How does he know about my grades?”

“I told him. He wants to know all about you. He’s concerned, that’s a good thing.” She saw Ted shoot. “Nice shot, Ted!”

“Thanks, Joycee,” he replied. Joyce lined up her shot, and Ted held her arms from behind.

“Steady swing, lead to the right.”

They hit it together.

“Perfect,” Ted commented.

“Thanks to you,” Joyce smiled.

Ted chuckled.

Buffy lined up her shot next.

“Eye on the ball… watch those elbows…” Ted instructed.

Buffy applied a little too much Slayer strength (which might have been an advantage in regular golf), and sent her ball into the bushes.

“Bad luck, little lady,” Ted commented.

“We won’t count it,” Joyce shook her head.

“We won’t?” Ted looked at her.

“Well, it’s just miniature golf.”

Ted got a serious expression on his face.

“It is, but the rules are the rules. What we teach her is what she takes out into the world when we’re not there, whether it’s at school or an unchaperoned party…”

He smiled at Buffy.

“I don’t mean to overstep my bounds, this is between you and your mother. I just think right is right.”

Buffy looked at her mother for support.

“He has a point…” Joyce said.

Not what she wanted to hear.

“Yah, I’ll just go hit from the rough.” She disappeared into the bushes and retrieved her ball. Looking around and not seeing anyone, she dropped the ball near the hole and kicked it in.

“Hey, how ‘bout that, I got a hole in two!” she called back over her shoulder.

“Beg to differ,” Ted said from right next to her.

Okay, how did he get that close without her noticing? He was like Angel – well, aside from not being a vampire, incredibly hot, or nice to her.

“Okay, so fine my score or whatever…” Buffy tried the “total admission of guilt” method.

“I think you’re missing the point here, little lady. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Why don’t people see that?”

“It’s just a game.”

“Right. It’s just a game. Do your own thing. Well I’m not wired that way. I’m here to tell you it is not a game, it does count, and I don’t stand for that kind of malarkey in my house.”

He was seriously creeping her out.

“Then I guess it’s a good thing I’m not in your house,” she retorted.

“Do you want me to slap that smartass mouth of yours?”

Buffy’s adrenaline spiked. She gripped the golf club tighter. If he laid a hand on her, she intended to show him the error of his ways.

Joyce, Willow, and Xander came into view. Ted instantly reverted to his friendly self. The rest of the game went fine, but Buffy was permanently wigged out.

She needed to do something about Ted.

 

Angel answered the knock at his door, and was greeted with the not unwelcome, if slightly unexpected, sight of his girlfriend.

“Buffy?”

“Angel.” Buffy came in, and sat down on the couch. She had a sour expression on her face, and Angel had a guess as to what it was.

“Problems with Ted?”

“We went mini-golfing today. Xander, Willow, Mom, Ted, and me.”

“And?”

“Ted threatened to slap my face after I kicked my ball in.”

This got Angel’s attention.

“I don’t get why everyone else likes him so much. He’s a total control freak, and Mom’s been completely different since he’s been around.”

“OK, but why did you come by at 3:00 in the morning to talk about it?”

Buffy looked down.

“I had a dream – could be a Slayer vision. I was coming back from patrolling, and Ted was in my room.”

“Buffy…” Angel took her in his arms.

“I’m just… I’m worried that he’s going to find out about me going out at night – or worse, about the slaying itself.”

“Don’t worry.” Angel kissed her on the cheek. “We’ll work it out. You and me. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

They simply lay there for a while, until Buffy got up suddenly.

“I have an idea.”

“What?”

“What if, I told Mom and Ted about us – not the whole ‘you’re a vampire’ part, but about us dating. That way, if Ted ever catches me going out at night, I can always say I was with you.”

Angel smiled. “So, I’m your cover story.”

She nodded. “I mean, half the time, I’ll be telling the truth anyway.”

“Only half?”

She smiled back, and kissed him.

 

Joyce was humming to herself when Buffy came down the stairs.

“Good morning, sunshine,” she greeted Buffy. “I’ve got juice, I’ve got sticky buns. Don’t they smell good?”

“Hi,” Buffy took a bun.

“Ted made them.”

Buffy immediately replaced the sticky bun.

“What?” Joyce put her hands on her hips.

“I’d just like to eat something around here that Ted didn’t make.”

“What kind of an attitude is that?”

“Look, Mom, I know you think he’s great and all but –“

Joyce didn’t even let her finish the sentence. She was frustrated with how her daughter was acting towards her boyfriend.

“He’s gone out of his way to be nice to you, and you couldn’t find two words to say to him on Saturday. Now I don’t expect you to love him right away like I do, but I do expect you to treat him decently.”

Buffy pounced on her mother’s choice of words. “You… love him?”

Oops. “I don’t know, that kind of slipped out… but I guess… it’s not exactly like men beat down the door when you’re a…”

“…single parent,” Buffy finished.

Joyce composed herself before continuing. “I would never have anything to do with anyone who didn’t care about you. But he does, I don’t understand why you can’t see that.”

“He threatened me,” Buffy deadpanned.

“What?” Ted would never do such a thing.

“He said he was going to slap my face,” Buffy explained.

Joyce smiled. “He never said any such thing. Ted told me what happened. He caught you cheating, didn’t he?”

Buffy got a guilty expression on her face. “Yes, I kicked my ball in, so put me in jail, but he wigged –“

“And he didn’t say anything about it in front of the others, did he?”

“No, but –“ Buffy stammered.

“I think that was pretty decent of him.”

She began eating pieces of the sticky bun, swallowing before continuing.

“Ted says we're just going to have to give you time to come around. Speaking of which, he's  making dinner for us tonight, please be here promptly at six.”

Buffy was quiet for a minute. “Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”

Uh-oh. “What is it?”

“You remember Angel?”

“Angel…” she tried to remember. “Uh, the college boy who was tutoring you in history?”

“Right. Well, he’s… and I’m…”

Please don’t tell me you’re pregnant.

“We’ve been dating for the past three months.”

Phew.

“Oh.” Beat. “And, you kept this from me because…”

“Well, I wasn’t sure you’d approve. He is older than me.”

“Too old, if you ask my opinion,” Joyce replied. “Why are you telling me now?”

“Fairness?” Buffy replied. “I walked in on you making out with your boyfriend, it’s time I told you about mine.”

“Well, can he come to dinner tonight?” Joyce asked. It would be easier to deal with this with Ted there.

“Sure.”

 

 

 

After school, Buffy went over to Angel’s.

“Buffy?”

“Hi.” She gave him a quick kiss. “OK, here’s the sitch. Ted’s making dinner tonight, and you’re coming.”

“Tonight?”

“Well, I told Mom about us this morning, and she’s pretty insistent that you come to dinner.”

Angel took it in stride. “So, what should I do?”

“First, you need to wear something nice. I’d prefer you make a decent impression on my Mom, and possibly Ted.”

Angel opened his closet, and pulled out a red silk shirt.

“Good. Next, we need to work out a cover story for you.”

“A cover story?”

“Look. Mom’s going to be asking all kinds of questions about you, and most of our answers will have to be lies. For instance, we can’t tell her your real age.”

“Obviously.”

“So, we’ll make that up.” She hesitated before asking the next question. “How old were you – when you were turned?”

“About 22.”

“Great. We’ll use that. Next, she’ll want to know your full name…”

 

Joyce was rather agitated at the moment. She had planned this as a simple dinner with her boyfriend and daughter. Now, Buffy was bringing home her boyfriend, a boy Joyce had only met briefly, and almost a year ago at that.

All Joyce could remember about Angel was that he was a college student, he had tutored Buffy in history, and he was significantly older than Buffy. Admittedly, none of Buffy’s previous boyfriends had been much, but at least they were her age.

To make matters worse, Buffy hadn’t come home yet. She had called to say that she and Angel would be there at six o’clock. Which meant that the next time Joyce saw her daughter, she would be with her boyfriend.

At 5:59, the door opened. Buffy was there, wearing her favorite leather jacket. Standing next to her was an older boy – or perhaps man was the better word – wearing a red silk shirt and a black jacket on top of that.

He dressed nicely, Joyce had to give him that.


 
 
21 April 2009 @ 05:38 am

Buffy leaned against the refrigerator as she talked with her mom.

“So, all these late nights at the gallery, I gather you were cataloguing more than art.”

Joyce smiled. “Well… I've been looking for the right moment to introduce you two. He's a wonderful man.”

Buffy did not return the smile. “How’d you meet?”

“Oh, he sells computer software. He revamped my entire system at the gallery. Freed up a lot of my free time.”

“To meet new people. And smooch them in my kitchen.”

“You weren’t supposed to see that.”

Buffy considered the irony of the situation. She had been carrying on a relationship with Angel for three months now, all without her mother knowing. She always worried that her mother would eventually find out about her and Angel – if not the vampire part, then at least the kissing part.

But apparently, her mother had been carrying on with Ted for a while, all without Buffy knowing. And of the two hidden boyfriends, it had been Ted who had been found out about first, not Angel.

“How long have you been seeing each other?” Buffy asked.

“Oh…” Joyce looked up as she tried to remember “…about two months.”

Not as long as Buffy and Angel, than. So Buffy was better at keeping her boyfriend a secret than her mom.

“Buffy, we’re leaving,” Willow announced. She and Xander went to the door.

“See you!” Buffy called to her friends.

“I’ll have your upgrades by Monday!” Ted waved goodbye.

Buffy closed the door. She turned to Ted.

 “Upgrades?”

“For Willow’s computer.”

“Ah.” Buffy wasn’t as technologically-deficient as, say, Giles, but stuff like upgrades went right over her head.

“Buffy,” Ted started, “I want to apologize. That wasn't how I wanted us to met. I wanted it to be... perfect. I'm very fond of your mother, I guess that's pretty obvious...”

He looked at the refrigerator, focusing on a picture of Buffy and her mom.

“…I know that you’re the most important thing in her life and, well, gosh, that makes you pretty important to me too.”

“I really want you to be okay with this,” Joyce added.

“I beg to differ.” Ted wrapped his arm around Joyce. “We really want you to be OK with this.”

“I’m okay,” Buffy insisted.

“You are?” Joyce asked.

“I am.”

A vampire smashed into a picnic table. Buffy didn’t let up her assault. Picking up a trash can lid, she whacked him hard in the head. There was no method to her attack, just pure fury.

The vampire wasn’t actually putting up that much of a fight, Angel observed. Buffy was clearly working out some personal issues, and this vampire was simply on the receiving end. Which was why Angel was sitting on a bench and not interfering. It was better than how he had worked out such issues when he was Angelus – a spat with Darla could claim twenty lives.

Still, he almost had to feel sorry for the poor vamp.

After Buffy finally staked him, she came over to Angel.

“Any more?” she asked.

“Well, for their sakes, I certainly hope not.” In truth, Angel didn’t smell any vampires nearby.

“What? I kill vampires, it’s my job.”

“True, though you don’t usually beat them to such a bloody pulp beforehand.” Angel shrugged, as his girlfriend sat down beside him. “Is everything all right at home?”

“What are you talking about?” Buffy asked.

“Well, when you wail on a vamp like that, it tends to be the result of domestic issues.”

Buffy sighed. “It’s Ted.”

“Ted?”

“This guy, sells computer software. Apparently, Mom’s been seeing him for a while now. I walked into their makeout session about an hour ago.”

“And, how is that different from you dating a vampire?” Angel replied.

Buffy gave him the “You’re right, and I don’t like it” look. “It’s just, I have so much to deal with, I don't need some new guy in my life right now.”

“No, but maybe your mom does.”

Another look, this one more sheepish. “Oh, sure, if you’re gonna use wisdom…”

Angel smiled at her. “Loneliness is about the scariest thing there is.”

Buffy sighed. “OK, fine, Mom needs a guy. Does it have to be Ted?”

“You have somebody else in mind? There a guy out there who would satisfy you?”

“Well… Dad… Okay, that’s not going to happen. Fine, fine, I’ll give Ted a chance. I’ll smile and curtsey and be the dutiful daughter.” She smirked. “Does it mean I have to like him?”

“Kiss me,” Angel replied.

“Finally something I want to do.” Buffy leaned over, and the best part of any encounter between the two began.

 

“Willow, if you say one more word about it, things will become dire,” Buffy warned.

“You don’t like him,” Willow observed. She had been geeking out over the upgrades Ted had promised her, and Buffy was not happy about it.

“I don’t know him.” She scowled. “I mean, so far all I see is someone who apparently has a good job, seems nice and polite, my mom really likes him…”

“What kind of a monster is he?” Xander said in a dramatic voice. Buffy glared at him before continuing.

“I’m telling you, there’s just something a little too clean about this clown.”

“He’s a clean clown!” Willow squealed. At their looks: “I have my own fun…”

“Buff, you’re lacking evidence,” Xander returned to a more serious tone. “I think we’re getting into Sigmund Freud territory.”

“He has a point,” Willow jumped on this new tack. “Separation anxiety, the mother figure being taken away, conflict with the father figure…”

“He is not my father figure!” Buffy fired back. In truth, Willow knew that Giles was much more of a father figure to Buffy than Ted – or even her actual father.

“Having issues much?” Xander replied.

“I am not!”

Xander pointed and did a little dance: “You’re having parental issues, you’re having parental issues…” he stopped after seeing their looks. “What? Freud would have said the exact same thing. Except he might not have done that little dance.”

Buffy stopped to get a drink from the soda machine. “I admit it’s weird – seeing my mother Frenching a guy is definitely a ticket to therapyland. But it’s more than that. I’m pretty good at sensing what’s going on around me…”

Willow noticed Ted out of the corner of her eye, coming up behind Buffy.

“…and I know that something’s wrong with this Ted.”

“Ted!” Xander called.

“Of course, Ted. Who did you think I was talking about?” Buffy was confused.

“Hi, Ted! Ted who’s here,” Xander pointed out. Buffy spun around, shocked to see her mother’s boyfriend at her school.

“Hi, kids!” Ted greeted them.

“What are you doing here?” Buffy asked.

“I’m updating the software in the guidance office, which reminds me…” He pulled a disc out of his shirt and handed it to Willow.

“…your upgrades.”

The next minute or so was a blur. Willow heard something about going miniature golfing at the new course on Sunday, but she was so overjoyed to get the upgrades that she didn’t hear the details. She was in geek heaven.

 

Jenny was cleaning up in the computer lab when she saw Rupert standing in the door.

“Hi, Jenny.”

“Rupert. Hi.”

He gestured behind him. “A couple crates of your textbooks were dropped off at the library. Do you want me to hold on to them?”

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll send the kids by to pick them up.”

“Right. Good.” He started to turn away. Jenny didn’t give him a chance to get away.

“That was a pretty flimsy excuse for coming to see me.”

He stopped. “You should have heard the ones I threw out.” He came back in.

“I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“I’m doing pretty good, actually.” She shelved a set of manuals. “I’ve stayed out of mortal danger for a month and a half. I could get used to it. Still don’t sleep too well, though.”

“Of course. Well, you need time.”

“Or possibly space.” Jenny came closer. “Rupert, I know you’re concerned, but having you constantly poking around making puppy dog eyes at me and wondering if I'm okay... you make me feel bad that I don't feel better. I don't want that responsibility.”

“I’m sorry,” Giles replied. “I certainly don’t mean to make dog eyes at you. I’m just –“

“Worried. I know.”

“I shouldn’t have bothered you.”

He left. Jenny looked after him.