Thanks: To Rob and Sam for their help with their parts, and *huge* thanks to John and Cabil.

Where is everyone? 

Anya and Alex: Still resolving some issues in the Library 

Kirbyclause: In Search Of...those mice of his 

Stone Cold, MeK, TJ, Joel, and Windrider: Trying to think up a Plan to rescue their peers from the Bronze, not knowing that they've already been sprung courtesy of John 

Violator: Wandering around in the back alleys of the Bronze area, wishing that he'd taken the opportunity that God gave him and gotten rid of Angel. 

Mediancat: Still at the doubtful mercy of Xander and Herr Synder. 

Jeanie, Robyn, and John: Dealing with some rather unforseen afteraffects of magic in the computer lab. 

But why stop there? 

Spike and Dru: This is PG-14, so we're *not* going to look in on what they're doing. 

Angel: Looking for Buffy to let her know that he's back and that as soon as he broods for a few weeks they can get back to that kissyface stuff. 

Buffy and Willow: Having left the warehouse, they are now searching for TJ, planning something unpleasant for him. 

Giles and Oz: Still at the Bronze cleaning up (one nice thing about vamps, all you really need is a good Dustbuster). 

Cordelia: Cruising on back to the Bronze in the Cordymobile. 

Xander and Snyder: Continuing to cause bodily harm to Mediancat. 

And now, the story... 

{lights dim, cheesy theme song plays} 

Mediancat woke up suddenly, and immediately wished that he hadn't. He felt as though someone had been dropping him repeatedly onto a concrete floor. Which actually wasn't that far off the truth. He was seriously considering passing out again when a kick to the stomach convinced him otherwise. He looked up to see a *very* pissed off Giles looking down at him. Oz and Xander stood behind him, and both looked vaguely envious of Giles. Snyder was talking into a cellphone in the corner. 

As Giles drew back for another kick, Mediancat managed to gasp out, "Why?". He didn't recall having done anything spectacularly awful to Giles lately. 

Apparently, though, Giles did. Grabbing Mediancat by his shirt collar, he yanked him up and hissed in his face, "Two words. The. Nail." 

With that, he dropped Mediancat, causing him to bounce slightly on the concrete floor of the Bronze. Wincing slightly, he winced again when he recalled some of the more memorable incidants from his most recent story, "The Nail". 

Giles paused again in mid-kick when Cordelia walked in. "Well, I lost the whale-boy. And may I say that-" she stopped suddenly when she noticed that the only prisoner left was Mediancat, who was trying to inch away from Giles. "Um, where did everyone go?" 

"It's a long story," said Xander, "to give you the cliff-notes version, everyone got away except for this one. Buffy, Willow, and all the vamps are out after them." 

Mediancat blinked away the tempting state of unconciousness yet again, and managed to throw himself at Cordelia's feet, grovelling pitifully. "Please! Cordelia! Beautiful, sexy Cordelia! I've never done anything to hurt you! Have mercy, please!" 

Cordelia softened. She was always a sucker for someone praising her good looks. "Xander, maybe we should --" 

"Hold on a sec." He leaned over and whispered something into her ear. Her expression changed immediately from compassionate to enraged. 

"MARRIED?!!" she shrieked, and kicked Mediancat in the head. "Xander, go find some broken glass to shove under this -- this -- PERVERT'S fingernails!" with that, Cordelia began to rain punches down upon the helpless fanficer. 

Ducking a punch aimed for his nose, Mediancat looked up at the only other person within pleading range. "Please," he begged, "Mercy..." 

Principal Snyder looked down and laughed uproariously. "Mercy? Me?" he turned to the assembly. "Take note, people. HERE'S someone with a good sense of humor." Checking his pager, he then quickly exited through the back entrance of the Bronze. 

Mediancat groaned and tried futiley to curl up in a ball as Cordelia continued to beat him. 



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Woo hoo!" yelled a jubilant TJ, "Now what's the Plan?" 

"It's.." began Stone Cold, than stopped. "I forgot." 

"Damn!" yelled his rather fed-up peers. 

For lack of any other ideas, they decided to drive around until an idea struck someone and stuck. 

Unfortunately, in Sunnydale you can only drive so far before hitting the woods (a bad place) the warehouse district (an even worse place) or the waterfront (a bad place for completely mundane reasons). After passing the sole Starbucks for the third time, Windrider realized that there had to be something more useful that they could do, and Joel was starting to worry about how much gas they were getting to the mile. 

The Starbucks, fortunately, had some well-lit outside tables, and the group huddled around one. The Starbucks hadn't been featured in any episodes or fanfics, and had been just mentioned in one episode, so they figured that they were somewhat safe. 

It was time for an extrememly clever plan, or perhaps even a merely serviceable one. 

Joel and MeK were writting down the fanfic ideas that they had come up with, and Windrider and TJ were getting coffee. So that left Stone Cold to come up with a Plan. Any plan. 

Like they teach you in any 'You are so screwed and have just barely begun to suspect it' seminar, Stone Cold did the only thing possible, since he didn't have any other ideas, and that was to inventory his belongings, hoping that something would spark a plan. 

There was his own wallet, filled with a few coins and other goods that did not bear examination in polite company. But buried in the bottom of the pocket was a crumbled, slightly moist piece of paper that the writer had given to all of them, and he started to smooth it out. It was a list of emergency numbers! But how could there be a number for when you have no clue what to do? 

Fortunately, right below the number for the Coast Guard, there was one that said, "Call for when you don't have a clue otherwise." It seemed like an appropriate description of the situation. Lcukily, next to the Starbcuks was a lone phone booth. 

The phone number had about 5 extra digits, but after several tries it finally began to ring. 

"Hiya, The CaBil. Knuckles O'Leary speaking." 

"Umm, I got this number from..." 

"Bil is out doing some research for that very project sir, and he'll get the first draft in on time. Anything else I can help you with?" 

"Bil as in the person that has far too much reference material, and knows far too much about the supernatural and occult to probably be very sane on the Posting Board?" 

"You're not George, are you?" 

"No. I was given the number by Robyn to call when in trouble. And we are in it. Deeply." 

"A consult, okay, no problem, let me find that number. Sorry, but a couple of his projects are getting close to due, and his editors are getting antsy. Let me try to patch you through, he always gets a little carried away while doing research." 

It was starting to feel a little cold out. Not in the way that the weather seemed cold, but cold as in you're in deeper trouble than you thought, and now you have to put up with much worse. 

The ringing was replaced wit a sudden blast of noise, somewhere between a *vroot* of a Star Wars blaster, and the *boom* of a conventional firearm, and there were a lot of them. 

"George! I'm almost done with it, really! Once I finish this last interview, Sub Rosa will be done! Well, mostly..." 

"I'm not George." Stone Cold was getting tired of constantly saying that. 

"Oookay. If you are not going to demand a manuscript out of me, why are you calling me?" 

"I already went through this with Knuckles, the number was given to me by Robyn. It's about the trip to the Bronze..." He wasn't completely sure if the message had gotten through, since he heard what sounded like a brick wall collapsing in the background. 

"Now I'm there. Right, Robyn mentioned that today was the trip. How is it going?" 

"Not well..." Stone Cold's voice trailed off. He wasn't particularly liking the look that two guys sitting inside the restaurant were giving him through the window, but he could clearly see their reflections in bar-like mirror behind them. Could they be teachers from the school? The thought that some of the teachers that had been the random victims of various fanfics could be around was an unpleasant thought. Bil's voice interrupted his thoutghts. 

"Well, you didn't just show up, right?" 

"Actually..." 

"Didn't attempt to create a more favorable environment before showing up? Write a couple of happy fics beforehand?" 

"Hey, in one of mine Buffy falls in love with Xander." 

"Which I am sure got you into his good graces, by the same token he isn't the one who can shatter your bones, and she wouldn't appreciate your generosity as much as Xander would." 

"Point taken." Stone Cold said with a gulp. 

"You could've at least written an ingratiating personality for yourself, so people would spare you for no good reason." 

"No, we just walked into the Bronze, sat down, and waited for our doom." 

"Okay, I think I can help you out. But first I need to finish this interview. Give me a second?" 

"Do I even want to know who?" 

"Umm, no. Saying the name has been known to spread conceptual viruses, wiping out whole symbolic icon blocks from the human consciousness. Be right back." 

Later, Stone Cold was able to pick out the individual sounds, but at the time there was merely an indistinct roar, with the sound of a modem screech, which turned into a brief whooshing followed by a thin whistling, all in a period of a few brief seconds. 

"Problem solved. Now we have five minutes to solve yours." 

"While I am on a scedule here, it's not that tight." Pointed out Stone Cold. 

"Well, you see, in order to escape the all-too-typical massive esplosion at the end of the batt...er..interview, I had to make a jump. My best guess is that at my currant rate of descent, I have around seven minutes until impact. I reserve those last two minutes to figure out a way out of this mess." 

"Gahh! Are you sure that the whole jumping thing was wise?" 

"Considering that the explosion is going to be easily visible on Earth in seventeen years, I think it was an extrememly wise choice to vacate the area post-haste." 

"Well, you have four minutes left. Dazzle me." 

"Did you know that the founder of FEDEX when he first wrote up the idea for it as a paper in business school, he was given a B+, since while the paper conformed ot the standards of the school, the professor marked it down since the idea itself was unfeasible, in his own mind." 

"Wha?" 

"In many of the Possible Nows, because of that grade FEDEX was never founded. It became merely a stillborn Idea, festering in the meta-collective unconscious of reality." 

"And you are telling me this because...?" 

"Look behind you." 

Stone Cold turned uneasily around, to be startled by a ghostly after-image of a FEDEX delivery man mere inches from him. 

Bil continued almost conversationally. "You see, Ideas are not limited by time or space. All can share in them, but htey cannot reach those that are ignorant of them. Ergo, the need for the short history lesson. Just hold out your hands." 

Stone Cold shifted the phone to the crook of his houlder, and carefully extended his hands, and the FEDEX Idea guy dropped a shipping box into his hands, it solidifying as it dropped, so it made a satisfying *thwap* when it reached his hands. With that, the Idea of FEDEX merely tipped his hat, precisely like in a hokey TV commercial, and faded away. Emblazoned on the side of the box was the cheery logo 'I*FEDEX When it has to be there anyTIME!'. 

"So what's in it?" 

"A copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, and a bone necklace." 

"I'm not seeing the connection here." 

"This is a copy from one of the middling print runs of the Manual of Style, which had exactly fourteen grammatical errors. The bone necklace is made of finger bones of the writting hand of Daniel Defoe, writer of Robinson Carusoe and creator of modern novel, Edgar Allen Poe, creator of the short story, adn a finger bone from an otherwise unremarkable person from California who just happened to post the very first fafnic story on a newsgroup in the late eighties. Just try hcanting the books starting from the page marked in the Mathematics in Type chapter. The combination of definitional math, grammer, and the essences of their primal creators should ward and protect you from most fictional creations. It *should* work, unless Robyn violated all of the transdimensional strictures getting you all there, rather than just the important ones." 

"Why am I not filled with confidence?" 

"Because you are in a situation charitably defined as 'screwed', the best thing I could get you on short notice may or may not work, and I have just a minute or so left before I have to hang up and get mildly concerned about my soon ot be two-dimensional state?" 

"That covers it. Anything else you can give me?" 

"The zone of protection is going to be centered on whomever is wearing the necklace, though as long as everyone sticks close to the person wearing it, and keeps chanting, it should extend the coverage. And listen very carefully, I may have something that could help you with Buffy at least." 

His eyes widening, Stone Cold carefully listened, and then stared at the phone with equal measures of amazement and disgust. "How the hell do you know all this sort of stuff?" 

A weary sigh almost oozed out of the phone. "A combination of a prodigious collection of reference materials, a near perfect memory of the obscure, a touch of the Cliff Claven gene of useless knowledge, and, because, quite simply it's part of what I do. It depresses me also. Now, I need you to do me a favor, just dial this number," and he rattled off a number several digits too long to be a phone number, "and hang up." 

"Is that going to be your way out?" 

"Nope. Just faxing the first draft to that George person. I told him it would be ready after this last piece of research. Getting out of this is going to require a little more creativity. Just return the stuff to Robyn, I'll pick it up. Laters." 

Stone Cold carefully hung up the phone after keying the numbers, as instructed, adn looked inside the shipping package. The necklace was a shiny white that bone rarely achieved, and the book was dog-eared, though it had a post-it note poking out saying, "Chant here." The odd thing was the post-it note said underneath it "Set 2 of 3." 

"I hate to see what Bil would consider a situation that needs creativity." 

*         *             *

As Violator crept back to the Bronze in hopes of rescuing the rest of the group, he mournfully reflected on his earlier decision. 

"I should've shot the undead jerk. Multiple times. He deserves pain for merely existing." 

As he neared the entrance, he ducked into the shadows. Listening carefully, he heard the unmistakable sounds of someone getting the tar beaten out of them. Peeking around the corner, he was surprised to see Cordelia take one last kick at the crumpled form of Mediancat. Turning to the others (who were snacking on some Twinkies) she said, "Okay, your turn Giles. Oh, and I ran over a nail with my car, so I need someone to help me change the tire." 

Oz and Xander rose from the table. "That means we'll be changing it for you, doesn't it?" Xander asked wryly as they followed her out the back. 

Seeing the great opportunity, Violator crept out and hit Giles over the head with the butt of one of his guns. Seeing Giles hit the floor, he quickly tucked the gun back into his coat pocket and started to pick up Mediancat. He dropped him when Giles (who apparently could really take a hit) got up and hit him. Looking up, he saw Giles' surprised look of recognition. 

"You!" he said angrily, "You're that sadistic bugger who wrote me into 'Too Little, Too Late'!" 

"Ah, lighten up." retorted Violator, "All you were to begin with was comic relief/deux ex machina. Oh no, some obscure info needs to be found! Let's go find book-man! But no, some girls decided that you were shagadelic, so you get a woman, a life, and a dark history. You, my friend, are corporate intervention in actio-" 

This enlightening diatribe was cut off when Giles decked him again. 

Rubbing his jaw ruefully, Violator noted, "Ok, teach me to lecture when I should be defending." Grabbing a nearby chairleg (broken in the earlier barfight between himself and Kirby) he smacked it over Giles' head, this time making good and sure that he was knocked out. Quickly patting the older man down, he 'borrowed' Giles' keys. Picking Mediancat up in a fireman's hold, he carried him out to the front sidewalk, where he settled him into the passenger seat of Giles' car, and then drove off in the direction of the Sunnydale Hospital. 


*       *       *
In the computer lab of the high school... 

"Um," said skunk-John, "I just remembered someplace I need to be." Ignoring the annoyed buzzing of the tortoise-fly and the questioning look of the bunny, the skunk climbed agiley up the radiater and scampered lightly through an open window. 


*       *       *
"We'll never find him together," stated Buffy. "Let's split up and look for those twerps. I just remembered some of that stuff in "Interesting Times" and I plan to skin me a skunk!" 

"That's fine by me, but *I* want to get a nice, sharp, *large* knife, find that TJ, and give him a demo of what *slash* really means!" growled Willow. 

The two girls split up and went their seperate ways to wreak awful and bloody vengence upon the fanficers. 


*       *       *
Walking back to the Bronze, Buffy was delighted to catch sight of Kirbyclause. Unfortunetly, he happened to look over his shoulder and catch sight of her. The look of sheer terror that passed over his face was testiment to the fact that he was suddenly recalling some of the more colorful incidants that he had put Buffy through in his latest story, "Pinky the Vampire Slayer: The Revenge of Catherine the Great". 

Being the intelligent person that he was, he gave a shriek of panic and bolted. 

Buffy, who had read that particular story, gave chase. 


*       *       *
Willow was still muttering in fury when a somewhat squeaky voice spoke from the bushes. "I'm guessing that that's your resolve face." 

Willow spun at the sound. Glaring in the direction that it had come from, she answered, "Actually, this is my beat-the-everloving-crap-out-of-the-fanfic-authors face." she brandished the rather large knife that she had picked up somewhere along the way and started toward the bushes. 

A black and white striped tail poked up from the bushes. "Don't come any closer. I've got scent glands and I'm not afraid to use 'em!" 

Willow looked at the little animal in amazement, her considerable anger overcome by her even more considerable natural curiosity. "What happened to *you*?" 

"Spell backlash, of a kind. Some of us decided to work the soul-restoration spell on Angelus in hopes of distracting Buffy and removing Angelus from the hunt. I think the soul part of it worked, but there were certain unforseen sideffects." 

"How did you get the spell?" she asked. "Ms. Calender said that it had been lost!" 

"You forget, the authors are from ouside of this reality. We have full knowledge of many secrets here. Not all, of course, but a few juicy ones. That was one of them. Just a second, I want to try something." 

Willow gripped the knife just-in-case and watched in amazement as the skunk transformed into a young, slightly overweight man clad in jeans and a striped shirt. On his face he wore glasses with metal rims. 

"How did you do that?" asked Willow. 

"I simply no longer wished to be a skunk, so I'm not." John sighed. "I understand your reasons for getting Robyn to bring us here, but it was a foolish and dangerous move. Things are about to get *very* unpredictable. And how *did* you get Robyn to bring us here?" 

Willow answered absently, "A case of Sprite and a minor spell courtesy of Ethan. And what are you talking about?" 

"I'm talking about will. Let me ask you something, you know we come from another world where we are relatively normal, if a bit weird, unpowered people. We certainly wouldn't cause the Slayer any problems here. In that normal world, do you think that Kirbyclause walks around with cartoon mice in a cage, or that Violator carries enough weaponry to outfit a third-world army?" 

"No, I guess not." 

"Do you think that *I* am a lockpick or a sorcerer, that I could cast a complicated spell with that little effort? You haven't heard about our escape from the Bronze yet, but you're a student of science. Do you honestly believe that I could incinerate two vampires just by lighting a fart?" 

"Probably not." Willow said, then really thought about what he had just said. "Eeewww!" 

John continued. "Those things worked because in the moment, I *wanted* them to work and this world responded. We're *authors*. We create and change and manipulate the environment of our chosen medium to tell the stories we want to tell. This whole *place* is our chosen medium!" 

Willow's eyes widened as John continued. 

"I don't think the others have quite grasped it yet. I've had more experiance in Babylon5's "Convergence". In that one, the authors showed up on the station and quickly threw everything into havoc. They could create whatever they wanted and did so, granting themselves god-like powers and pushing the main B5 characters into the background while the 'gods' played their power games." 

"Let's sit." John gestured and a park bench appeared from thin air on the sidewalk. "It gets easier with practice." he assured her. 

Willow swallowed, looking at the bench. "What now?" she asked, a little afraid. 

"I'm not going to hurt you or your friends. Fiction aside, I'm not like that. But we still have a significant problem. Once the authors figure out what they can do, they'll begin using their powers gleefully. Our only fortunancy is that Robyn is the focus and is a rather kindhearted person. I doubt that there will be any deaths, but this town will become quite interesting to live in while we're here. I'd suggest finding Giles and explaining this to him and let him explain this to Buffy. I doubt that she's all that fond of me right now." 

"That's the understatement of the century after what you put her through in "Interesting Times", But how will we know when the other authors figure this out?" asked Willow. 

A rumbling in the sky drew their attention. An echoing voice yelled across the sky, "Christian still kills people right? So wouldn't Buffy be forced to slay him, or try to? Wouldn't this create some friction between Buffy and Willow? Huh?" 

Craning their necks, they caught sight of the speaker. Biohaz was hovering in the air and yelling at Anya, who was seated on a cloud. 

Anya launched a thunderbolt at Biohaz. The missle deflected off of his forceshield and ricocheted into the street below. The resulting explosion sent a gout of flame and pavement into the air. 

"Oh, I think we'll find out rather quickly when they figure it out." said John wryly. 
Part Seven