First off: Congrats to all of us for being nominated! These were all fan-nominated and to be honest, it was an honor to be noticed. There are a lot of high-quality BtVS and AtS fanfic being produced, so being in a select group of nominees felt good.
Secondly: I tied with the fabulous huzzlewhat for the best story in the Xander category. Huzzlewhat? You are a very classy lady and I'm honored that Whisper tied with the beautiful Seeing Africa.
Thirdly: I especially want to hug all of the Xander authors in the category. We really put on a good showing and all the stories nominated were consistently excellent. To be considered in the same category as all of you made me feel fantastic.
Finally: Last but not least, special thanks to hpchick for nominating Whisper. A thousand hugs and thank you.
For a complete list of winners, check it out here.
Also, before I forget, I want to congradulate everyone on my FList who also got their own pretty award in their respective categories:
booster17 for the funny and heart-breaking I Don't Like Mondays (Angel)
annakovsky for the stunning Umad Learns Sumerian (Dawn)
jennyo for All the World and Sunset Besides and Revenant (Fred, Villans)
And last but defintely not least nwhepcat for her fabulous This Little Light (Original Character)
See? I was planning on signing on to rant that of course a treecat has now adopted Hamish Alexander in War of Honor, even though it went completely against canon and Weber knows it went against canon and tried to unsuccessfully write his way out of it by presenting the world's most convoluted explanation on how this "special event" could possibly happen.
If Shannon Foraker gets herself a treecat, I will positively scream my head off. I'm with ffutures: Time to employ bioweapons to wipe the little rat-bastad treecats out.
Aren't you glad I got good news before I zipped over here?
Ohhhhh, and the real reason I signed on...more Living History. You know the drill.</p>
Previous parts up to 54 are here
Continued from here
“Well?” Catherine pushed.
“I’m translating as fast as I can,” J’Nal snapped. “The interruptions aren’t helping.”
Catherine scanned the cavern, half-afraid that more trouble was lurking in the shadows. This was not going according to plan. Not the plan laid down in the strategy sessions. Not the plan laid down in the house meeting session. Not the plan laid down in Alexander’s journal.
What if we really did screw up the timeline? Then all of this is for nothing. The Watcher Honoria shivered at the very idea.
Charlie nervously fidgeted next to her as he fiddled with his medical scanner. “I don’t get it,” he mumbled. “Nothing’s happening to J’Nal. All his brain functions are normal.”
“Which seems to support the idea that we’re immune, but people from this time period aren’t,” Catherine said. “Wish that thing could get readings off inanimate mystical objects.”
“That’s why we got J’Nal,” Charlie pointed out.
“Not that J’Nal knows what’s going on, either,” the witch said as he peered into the cup of the Grail.
“You two!” Catherine shouted at Dawn and Andrew. “How’s it going over there?”
“Slowly!” Dawn shouted back. “And before you ask, neither one of us is feeling weird or anything, so whatever affected Willow isn’t affecting us.”
“Maybe it’s not broadcasting,” Tikri said as she crowded in close. “Maybe touching it triggers…”
“That much is pretty clear,” Charlie interrupted.
“Let’s be sure before we jump to conclusions,” Catherine said. “The way things are going…”
J’Nal looked up, his mouth twisting comically, as he thumped the Grail down on the raised platform. “I don’t believe it,” he said.
“Oh crap!” Dawn shouted. “Hey guys? I think we found out what the problem is.”
“Let me guess,” J’Nal shouted back, “no one from Tara is allowed to touch the Grail?”
“If Tara is this wonderful blue marble that is known as earth? Yeah,” Andrew answered as Dawn began to mutter a string of profanities. “We found something that looks like a warning.”
“Which I bet is the warning echoed inside the lip of the Grail,” J’Nal agreed.
Catherine took a deep breath, held it, counted to 10, and then let it slide out of her nose. “So what you’re saying is we could’ve avoided this mess if we just waited.”
“Looks like it,” J’Nal said.
Catherine rubbed her temples in irritation. “You know? We’re don’t usually act like such rank amateurs. That’s why we’re still alive. Can someone tell me how the hada we let this situation get out of control? Especially since we could’ve avoided this whole thing if we let Dawn, Andrew, and J’Nal finish translating.”
“I vote fear,” Tikri said. “Fear is a very big motivator behind stupidity. Ask any politico.”
“No excuse,” Catherine snapped. “We’re supposed to be professionals here, people. If I were Alexander and Faith, I’d be pretty futching sure that the all-knowing people of the future were idiots who undergo ritualistic shaving of the intelligence on a daily basis. Do you realize what we’ve done? We let Willow get hurt, maybe even grievously so. If history is at all even close to accurate about the depth of her relationship with Alexander, we’ve just made ourselves an enemy. And if we’ve made him an enemy, you can bet we’re in for a rough ride if it turns out that we can’t leave.”
“But…” Charlie began.
“Ooooh, don’t worry,” Catherine snarled, “I’ve been as bad as the rest of you. But that stops. Right. Now. J’Nal!”
“Yes?” the witch said softly. He knew better than to even try placating her when she was in full temper.
“Tell me what the Grail says. And make sure your translation is accurate,” Catherine warned with a glare.
“In essence, the engraving on the Grail says that this object is to be used ‘beyond the time that is this time and in a place beyond this world,’” J’Nal quickly answered.
“Which means?” Catherine prompted.
“It’s a Prima riddle tradition. In short, it’s not meant for anyone here and now,” J’Nal explained. “It adds a warning that if anyone here and now ‘brushes the golden promise of power, the mind shall outgrow the mortal shell rooted in this time and place.’”
“Sounds like what happened,” Catherine nodded. “Dawn! Did you hear him?”
“I caught a word here and there. The acoustics royally suck the big one,” Dawn answered, keeping her voice at not-quite-a-yell. “But what I did hear is seems to track with what we just read. Pretty straightforward warning, well, as straightforward as stuff like this gets anyway.”
“Let’s hear it,” Catherine ordered.
“‘As the gods have hidden the Grail here for those who are yet-to-be, yea even as they stand in wonder at our works, they shall not have come to pass,’ which I guess would totally describe you guys, since, like, you don’t actually exist for real since none of you are actually born yet,” Dawn said. “It goes on, ‘those who are and who walk in this world shall reach out, but they shall be rebuffed’--which is pretty obvious given what happened to Willow--‘and they shall find their minds wandering in worlds yet to come,’ whatever that means.”
“How sure are you about that translation?” Catherine pressed.
“Pretty sure. Not 100 percent, more like 80 percent,” Dawn said.
“I’d say 90 percent,” Andrew argued.
“We are not rolling a D-4 to see who’s right, Andrew,” Dawn grumped.
“Well, on the face of it, it looks like the two warnings coincide, so let’s assume that no one from this time period can touch the Grail without big trouble paying a visit,” Catherine decided. “Now, I want options on how we can keep that thing from posing a potential threat.”
“Easy, don’t let anyone touch it,” Tikri shrugged. “Seems straightforward to me.”
“Ahhhh, good intentions. We can play keep away all we’d like, but we still have to get it out of here and that means an increased chance of someone touching it who shouldn’t,” Catherine said.
“Can we go with better safe than sorry?” Dawn asked as she jogged over to the group with Andrew in tow. “I mean you are dealing with the Scooby Gang and a bunch of junior Scoobies-in-training.”
“I don’t follow,” Catherine said.
“That means that if there’s a way to make their lives even more difficult, they’ll make it happen,” Dawn replied. “Trust me. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.”
J’Nal began rubbing his jaw thoughtfully. “So what you’re saying is that a mystical entropomorphic event surrounds your friends and family…”
“A mystical what-a-what?” Dawn asked.
“It’s like a force field,” Andrew snorted, “everyone knows that.”
…thereby causing all best laid plans to go awry? Interesting,” J’Nal continued as if he hadn’t heard the exchange.
“I say you use that as your excuse when you file your report,” Tikri said. “I know I will when I report this story.”
“Works for me!” Charlie announced, uncharacteristically agreeing with the witnesser.
“That. Is. Insane,” Catherine gritted. She thought about it. “But just in case, J’Nal, is there a way to somehow block the Grail from harming someone from this time period if they happen to touch it?”
J’Nal thoughtfully studied the Grail a moment before rendering a judgment. “Yes and no. I can’t prevent someone from actually touching the Grail and I can’t prevent the Grail from engaging its mystical defenses in response.”
“That sounded very much like a no,” Catherine argued.
“What I can do is put a repel around the Grail,” J’Nal said. “In essence, people are going to want to avoid touching it.”
“Now that could work,” Dawn interrupted. “Willow mentioned to me that she thought there was a Xander-shaped repel spell on this cavern because she and Faith couldn’t convince him to even think of walking in here. So if you can lay a general whammy on the Grail, along with lots and lots of verbal warnings, I think you might be able to avoid trouble.”
“Maybe,” Andrew amended. “Depends on whether or not anyone is immune to Jedi mind tricks.”
Catherine shook her head. “You think someone deliberately cast a spell to keep Alexander away from this place?”
“Willow thinks that,” Dawn corrected. “It’s just as likely that Xander thought he should stay with Robin and the other Slayers and Willow jumped to conclusions because as far as she’s concerned magic can explain almost anything. It’s a little bit of a blind spot with her.”
“Either way, for the best probably,” Catherine sighed.
“Preach it,” Dawn agreed. “If Xander was here when Willow got whammied by the Grail, I guarantee he would’ve gone totally ape.”
“They’re that close?” Tikri asked, practically licking her chops.
“Xander would’ve been upset no matter who got hurt,” Andrew puffed out his chest, “because he’s just like that. He truly cares what happens to all of us because of his tender, tender heart. Which is still badly shattered because of…”
“Andrew,” Dawn interrupted with a painful wince. “Yeah, Xander wouldn’t’ve been happy no matter who got hurt, but Willow is part of a select group.”
“Select group?” Catherine felt her heart sink.
“Yeah. People on the list get hurt? Xander pulls out the stops and no one wants to see that happen,” Dawn shivered.
Catherine blinked at Dawn a moment before stating, “Just to let you know, if you meant that as comfort? I’m not feeling comfort.”
Dawn stifled a grin. “Then I suggest you come up with a plan so you don’t find out what a totally ape Xander will do to you if you don’t fix Willow.”
“Chivalry,” Andrew sighed. “Xander’s one of the few that truly does believe in the creed of the paladin hero.”
“More like if you hurt his friends you’re on his shit list for life, but okay, have it your way,” Dawn patted Andrew’s shoulder.
“And no one holds a grudge like your family,” Charlie commented.
“Ohhh, yah. Definitely feeling not too good right now,” Catherine admitted. “Well, we have a plan, so, J’nal, get to work on that repel spell.”
“Stand back just in case,” J’nal warned.
“I plan to stand very back,” Charlie said. “Catherine? You really don’t need me around for this, so I think I better try and catch up with Faith.”
“Why?” Catherine asked.
“Willow is spouting snippets from the future. She’s already stumbled across bits that apply directly to people in this household. Maybe someone from her future should take over babysitting duty from a certain present-day Slayer before that Slayer starts building a timeline?” Charlie asked.
“Fine. Go,” Catherine agreed. As the medic turned to head for the opening still under Ruda’s watchful guard, she added, “But if you don’t see Faith or Willow when you poke your head out there, come back here on the double. I don’t want you to get lost in these tunnels.”
“Will do,” Charlie agreed.
“Wait! I think we should go with,” Andrew said.
“I think we should stay put,” Dawn huffed with crossed arms.
“But why? Our job is done here. We’ve already saved the day. Now it’s time for us to rest on our laurels and start composing Klingon operas about our deeds,” Andrew said.
“How can I put this?” Dawn thoughtfully tapped her chin with a forefinger, “We can go out there with only a doctor and his medical scanner for protection, maybe running into whatever Xander and Robin are fighting, while we try to find Faith and Willow, neither of whom are exactly what you’d call sane on their best of days. Or,” Dawn held up her finger, “we could stay put and be protected by Catherine, the expert fighter, Ruda, the Slayer, and J’nal, the powerful witch.”
“When you put it that way…” Andrew sickly said.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too,” Dawn nodded.
“I’ll ummm, go stand by Ruda. The Slayer,” Andrew quickly said as he retreated.
“You could have gone with Charlie, you know,” Catherine said to Dawn.
“No thanks,” Dawn said firmly. “Given the way things are going? I’d rather take my chances with you guys. My name is Dawn, not Dumb.”