Authors note – last year I wrote a rough draft of the start of a BTVS story inspired by the same XKCD cartoon as the first chapter, http://xkcd.com/695/
- when I took another look at it I found that it wasn’t very close to the ideas in the first chapter, but I’ve hastily adapted parts to be a sequel, and hope that others will be able to continue the story. See first chapter for disclaimers.
Warning – swearing ahead…Alternative Three
Marcus L. Rowland
A week later there was a meeting at the Council’s new headquarters, Giles’ family’s estate in the country near Bath.
“Our mystery Slayer is on Mars,” said Willow, “I’ve run the spell a dozen times now, there’s no doubt about it. And there’s definitely something going on, NASA is playing it very cagy, but word is that one of the planetary probes has found something big, so big that they’re not sure how to handle it. I’ve tried hacking them, but I don’t think it’s been put onto any computer I can access.”
“ET?” asked Xander. “Could an alien become a Slayer?”
“Maybe. Or maybe someone set up a Mars colony secretly and they’ve just found out about it.”
“Not likely. The resources that would take would be pretty hard to hide. Aliens might actually be more likely.”
Giles polished his glasses. “This reminds me of something that happened in the seventies. There was a television programme called Alternative Three
which claimed that Mars had already been colonised jointly by America and Russia, with the goal of setting up a self-sustaining colony to survive an environmental collapse on Earth.”
“I knew it!” said Andrew. “It explains everything!”
“What a load of bollocks,” said Spike. “I was in Britain then, saw it the night it aired. Alternative Three was a hoax. They were originally going to show it on April Fools Day, but it got postponed. A lot of people took it seriously, but you could see that the scientists they had on the show were actors.”
“That’s exactly right,” said Giles. “But what if they made it to divert attention from a real secret space programme? Vast amounts of money were poured into it, but the Russians didn’t even get to the moon. You have to wonder.”
“So our new Slayer would be a kid born in a secret Martian colony?” asked Buffy.
“Not very likely,” said Willow. “I’ve been hacking government computers since the nineties and I’ve never seen anything like that. A conspiracy like that would involve tens of thousands of people, are you really saying that all of them would keep quiet for decades? That just isn’t plausible.”
“Cough – the Initiative – cough,” said Xander.
“The Initiative was about fifty million dollars and lasted five years or so; The Demon Research Initiative went back to the second world war, but that was a much smaller operation. A viable Mars colony would be more like hundreds of billions, kept completely hidden for about fifty years.”
“If they got there with rockets,” said Andrew. “What if they used magic?”
“That makes a little more sense,” said Willow. “I could probably do that with the right spells and some sort of physical focus at the destination, something big enough to be used as a portal.”
“One of the early space probes?” asked Xander.
“Could be. A portal could be as simple as a metal disk with a few runes engraved on it. Something like the heat shield from a Mars lander would work pretty well.”
“But why a Slayer?” asked Kennedy. “If I’ve got the theory right, Slayers appear where they’re needed. It kinda implies vampires or demons on Mars.”
“Oh bollocks,” said Spike. “Maybe that’s what the Initiative was really about, cheap strong slave labour for Mars. Get a few vampires, stick chips in their heads so that they can’t attack humans, and teleport them out there to build your bases. Humans would need endless supplies; loads of air, food, and water, even with magic it would be difficult to keep them supplied. All a vampire would need is a little blood, and something like a space suit to keep it from drying out completely.”
“Your chip lasted about three years,” said Willow. “Under Martian conditions, and sealed inside a space suit so it couldn’t get at humans anyway, it might be a lot longer. And if the vampire didn’t have to walk around in public they could mount the control unit externally and make it a lot more complicated and rugged.”
“Cyborg vampires in SPAAAAACE!” said Xander.
“We’re making a lot of assumptions,” said Giles, “but maybe there’s something in it. When was the first successful landing? Some time in the eighties?”
“Seventy-one,” said Willow, checking Wikipedia on her iPad. “The Russians got a lander down, but it failed a few seconds later. There was another in seventy-four, then the Viking missions starting in the eighties. Loads more landings from the late nineties onward.”
“If you can pin down the location at all…”
“I’m way ahead of you. At that sort of range it’s difficult to be sure, but I think our Slayer is somewhere near the Spirit rover. It landed in oh-four, if there was a portal aboard they could have built a fair-sized colony by now.”
“Which has just acquired a Slayer.”
“Whoever she is,” said Buffy, “she won’t have any idea what’s going on, why she’s suddenly so strong. She’d be scared, and a danger to herself and everyone around her. We need to get out there and talk to her, figure out what’s going on.”
“Could we do that?” asked Xander. “Could we get out there?”
“Easily,” said Willow, “if we can get access to their portal. But if this thing is as secret as I think it is I’m not sure I’d want to ask. They might want to lock us up and throw away the key. I think we may need to make our own.”
“Difficult,” said Giles. “We don’t have a focus to open a portal on Mars.”
“Fred was the real expert; she could make a portal without a focus, just a PDA and the right equation. I’m not in her league, but I think it’s do-able.”
“Okay,” said Buffy. “Willow, maybe you could start working on the magic. Ask Dawn to give you a hand, but no using her blood! Andrew, start looking into space suits. And I mean real space suits, not movie props. Faith, Kennedy, Xander, find out if any of the other Slayers and Watchers know anything useful about this stuff. Giles, you’ve got all those weird government contacts, see if you can find out any more. And Spike, I’ll need you to do me a big favour…”
“I need you to track down Illyria and see if she remembers much about Fred’s work on portals, preferably without her deciding to rip out our spines.”
“And what will you be doing?” asked Giles.
“Trying to figure out what the hell we say to this Slayer when we find her.”TBC (I hope)
This is about as far as I got with my story. I hope that someone else can continue.Alternative Three
really existed – it was intended as an April Fools hoax but there are still people who take it seriously. For details of the original program see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_three
Video can be downloaded from several sites, follow links from the Wikipedia article.
landed successfully about thirty minutes after I posted this!