Title: Ten Steps to Better Living for God-Kings Through Technology
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Characters: Illyria, ensemble
Genre: Drabbles, character study, angst, future-fic
Spoilers: Season 5 Angel from 'A Hole in the World' to post-'Never Fade Away'
Warnings: Spoilers, character death(s)
Summary: The Age of the Old Ones is over and magic has given way to technology and science...
Ms. Burkle has suffered an accident in the lab.
The secretaries aren’t surprised. Just walking by the heavily guarded hall to Research Division causes the skin to prickle and the heart to beat faster in response to the hidden threat. Only the half-mad employees in white coats dare walk that hall. Entering without clearance invariably ends in a death sentence, or insanity. No one leaves the division unchanged, not even employees with clearance.
The artifact sings of destruction to Illyria while lesser beings argue over its use. They stop when she picks it up.
“Don’t let her do that,” Gunn warns.
Gun. The Shell knows what to do. Illyria presses the trigger and a burst of energy explodes from one end of the artifact. Laser, the Shell remembers.
The humans take cover as the half-breeds dive forward and claw at the weapon in her hands.
She allows them to take it, knowing she can take it back when the time is right.
The humans have captured fire and light and imprisoned them in wires wrapped in rubber.
Fire and light was once the sole province of God-Kings. Their use meant life, or death, depending on the force of Illyria’s will. Using fire and light to work destruction or miracles was once beyond the ken of mortals.
Now humans blithely control fire and light through the press of a button and the flip of a switch. Fire and light are nothing more than slaves.
The humans don’t understand what they’ve done.
Her new Qwa’ha Zahn brings her into the Research Department. His purpose for doing so is a mystery to Illyria.
She sees writing on the wall—Whiteboard, the Shell corrects—and she reaches up to touch the scribblings of evolved apes.
Theorems and proofs, the Shell whispers to her. Without context Illyria does not understand, even though the Shell knows, what it means.
The Shell sees beauty in these numbers and symbols inscribed in green and red.
Illyria shatters the whiteboard with a blow. You will learn your place.
Every weekday at 2 p.m. Spike invades the break room with Illyria in tow and switches the T.V. to Passions.
When Fred was alive, she’d watch with him. They’d sit side-by-side and debate the characters and take bets on the plot twists, like they’d been playing this game for a century.
Illyria says that watching the lives of tiny fools is not fit entertainment for a God-King, yet every weekday she follows him and every weekday she watches.
The microwave dings the announcement: dinner is served.
Once she drank the blood of her enemies and feasted on the hearts of her worshippers. She ripped the flesh from their bones and supped on the warmth of their fading lives.
Now her food is warmed dead flesh and dead vegetable matter. It is barely fit for animals.
Harmony opens the bag and pours its contents into a bowl.
Resigned to the needs of the Shell, Illyria shoves a handful into her mouth. She pretends she is crunching bones when she bites down on a popcorn kernel.
Wes updates Angel on Illyria’s progress while she watches with her unnerving watery blue eyes.
Angel’s cell phone buzzes an interruption. He holds up a finger to put Wes on pause while he pulls it from his pocket. “I’ve been waiting for this call.”
Before he can flip open the cell, Illyria strikes. She yanks it out of his hands before crushing it in her own. “The Qwa’ha Zahn is speaking. Ignore the commands from your masters and cease your incessant bleating.”
“Socialization is going well,” Angel sarcastically remarks.
The battle is over, leaving Illyria without foes to fight.
As her vampire digs through rubble seeking allies who yet live, Illyria scans the skyline one last time for forgotten enemies and sees—
—glass and steel, fire and light.
For all the destruction, the heart of the city stands defiant against the night.
She finally understands: the Age of the Old Ones over. There is no kingdom to retake, no throne to recapture. This Age belongs to the humans. New magics—Technology and Science—have emerged victorious.
Is this worth keeping? Illyria wonders.
By day three, Spike thinks he should hide the television while Illyria carries the still-wounded Angel into the latest cheap motel room.
Illyria, as usual, bogarts the remote while he makes the half-conscious Angel comfortable on the bed
They’re the only survivors from the battle to bring down Wolfram & Hart. He wishes he could say the attempt was worth the cost.
She settles on an infomercial and watches with a puzzled expression as chipper painted ladies sell cheap salad spinners.
Spike turns the key in the ignition and flips on the headlights.
“Vampire, I want to drive.”
Spike meets Illyria’s cool stare. The silence between them is broken by Angel’s half-delirious mutterings. He thinks about refusing, but decides he can’t be arsed to argue. He’s reached the point of exhaustion. Why not let someone else drive?
They swap places.
Illyria’s form shimmers into Fred’s as she slides the transmission out of park. “The Shell remembers how, Spike,” she assures him in Illyria’s voice, but with Fred’s smile.
Spike settles back, and lets the God-King choose the road into the future.