IBYKS: A RECKLESS RETCON "Part One"

IBYKS: Here Lies Version One
"Part Two"

IBYKS: Space Opera Rerun
"Part three"

Volume 4: Split the Party

Volume 5: Happy Endings

Volume 6: Killing Time

Volume 7: Intertextuality

Volume 8: Loose Ends

 

chapter 3 header

SEASON 3: SPACE OPERA, THE RERUN

 

Prologue

Mars.

Silent and cold, as far as you can get from earthly law enforcement. What should be a vista of frozen red dust, but broken by something incongruous. Out of place for this lonely planet, but to our readers, distressingly familiar- a sleek silver spaceship.
On the ground below it, a silver suited fashionista growls to herself as she traces mysterious shapes on the ground.
“Lock me up, would they? What part of 'Space Pirate' wasn’t clear to them!? These idiots don't deserve an antagonist of my caliber!”

Finishing her arcane symbols the villain steps back and shoots her laser gun into the ground, causing the entire shape to light up in neon flickering colour. A wide circle, inscribed not in runes or magical symbols, but in plain English

 'From beyond you it creates.'

 Winds swirl up, catching the dust in rainbows of light from the words.

GET ME OUT OF THIS TWO BIT UNIVERSE!” Buffy yells and stamps her heeled boot.

In the sky above, a portal forms in the midst of a cycling vortex of clouds. Smiling, Buffy starts toward her ship, only to stop short as a bolt of lightning strikes down from the center of the portal, followed a second later by it vanishing as quickly as it appeared.

Buffy sighs and sits down on the steps leading up to her ship. "Fine. FINE." Resting her chin on her hand she surveys her circle as the dust clear and the flickers die away. But something's there that wasn't there before, something sticking out of the ground, gently smoking.
Waving away the smoke, Buffy approaches, and sees the gift she’s been given.

 A sword. Its hilt decorated with a small emblem that looks like a yak skull, and its blade wide and curved towards its extremely sharp looking edge.

This is- not what I was expecting." Buffy muses, "But I can work with it. After all, it's very cutting edge.

As she laughs at her own joke, blue lightning crackles across the sword.

 

Season 3 episode 1- Now the Thugs don't work- by Emily

Flibbage stared at the screen.

Tell Jay there will be pizza, tell Dee there will be blood, tell Beansprout not to touch swords but she’s gonna do it anyway...’
She’d finally managed to charge the Tablet using some improvised magic involving moonlight, holy water and a standard micro USB cable, and was focusing on committing the words of the prophecy to memory. They felt frustratingly familiar, like trying to recall a dream, or like Déjà vu. She was sure she'd know the meaning immediately after it would have been useful.

They were at Beansprout's parent's house, but Red and Barry were mysteriously absent. From where she sat Flibbage could see out into the garden where Beansprout, dressed in dungarees, and with her spiky hair tied back, was taking potshots at tin cans with her
Rather Pathetic and Useless Machine Gun of Can't We Just Compromise. It was entirely ineffective. Yakky, still wearing his Chelsea hat despite the warm spring weather, was providing moral support by picking up the tin cans after Sprout threw the gun itself at them.
Flibbage cracked open the kitchen window.
"Sprout?"
"WHAT."

"Says here to remind you to stay away from swords."
"WHY WOULD I NEED TO DO THAT WHEN I HAVE THIS AMAZING GUN YOU GAVE ME."
"Touche."

Flibbage turned back to the tablet as it gave a bright chirp. A new icon had appeared on the screen next to the snail with its envelope- a golden scroll had appeared, with the title underneath, quest journal.

"
Are you folking joking me, what kind of RPG nonsense is this?" muttered Flibbage to herself as she tapped the scroll, causing it to unfurl and fill the screen. Text appeared in the same handwriting as the prophecy.

Dying is so derivative,
Try not to do it again.

Flibbage sighed. "That's great advice benevolent Creatrices, I'll do my best."

For the training you'll need to face Buffy,
Follow this beacon.

With that, the screen turned into a map, with a pin dropped into the center reading "Towersey Festival". Flibbage tapped the screen to no avail, the map could not be changed or switched off, just continued to gently pulse around the beacon.

Flibbage called the other two into the kitchen and showed the Tablet to them.

"I uh, think you broke your holy relic, Flib." said Yakky, shaking it vigorously.

"I could smash it," added Beansprout, aiming at it with the butt of the gun," I mean, it could be a trap, maybe Buffy's tracking us with it."

"It's a high level Plot Device, Sprout." Flibbage quickly snatched it back from Yakky, "I don't think that's possible. Look I think we have to follow this beacon, it's the only lead we've got to finding Buffy."
 

"Why is that even our job?" Yakky asked, "I appreciate she's awful, but she's still my mum! Maybe she'll just folk off to space and leave us alone."

"Yeah maybe we can all just have tea together and she'll stop trying to murder my entire family line" Beansprout shot back.

Yakky was about to reply, when there came a sound from outside the front door, footsteps were approaching. Beansprout readied her gun and stepped in front of Yakky and Flibbage.

"Agent West. Shoot the lock off."  said an authorative voice.

"Can't we just knock, Agent Lee?" came a second.

"We don't tolerate this kind of resistance." the first insisted.

"It's a shut door."

There was a small sign and then the first said "Exactly. Guess I'll have to do this myself."

"No-" The second voice was cut off abruptly as the entire house was vaporised. Flibbage was quick enough to throw up a protective bubble this time, a spell she'd had constantly prepared because of the sheer volume of explosions that seemed to be happening lately.

The three heroes stared across the rubble at the two men standing on the doorstep. Their immaculate black suits, their shiny shades, the small silver device rather similar to the last time they'd been blown up that the older man was holding.
"Who the FOLK are you?" growled Beansprout, trying her best to look intimidating behind the useless machine gun.

"Are you Beanspout Jones, age nineteen, spiky haired sarcastic teen with a flair for defeating criminal masterminds? Plus known associates Yakky-the-yak-boy and Her Royal Highness Princess Flibbage of the Fey?" demanded the older man.

"Last time I saw someone who looked like you, they tried to kill me, so I'll ask you again, who the FOLK are you?"

The younger man grimaced apologetically, and stepped over the threshold. "I'm really sorry about my colleague, he's apparently fought in one too many space wars and needs to chill out. My name is Agent Jay West and I'm here to request your assistance in apprehending Buffy the Space Pirate on behalf of the Non-Gender-Specific-People-in-Black."

"Did you say Jay West?" Flibbage was grinning.

"Agent Jay West, yes."

"I'm so glad you're here. There's going to be pizza!"

 

Season 3 Episode 2: One Day I’ll Fly Away

You want to recruit us,” Beansprout said flatly.

Jay nodded.

You. The people in suits who blew us up.”

That wasn’t exactly-”

Don’t talk about past or ongoing operations with the civilians, Agent West,” Agent Lee said in a warning tone.

But they’re not civilians, we just told them that we wanted to recruit them…”

Look, we could spend all day talking about who blew up who,” Flibbage said, tucking the tablet under her arm, “but we really need to get going if we’re going to get this pizza. Oh, and go to the Festival.”

Festival?” Agent Lee rounded on her, glaring at her with a grim expression. As Flibbage, in her full-sized form, was easily six inches taller than him, the intimidating effect was somewhat lost. “There won’t be any time for festivals. We need to get you trained up and ready to tackle this Buffy character.”

It’s funny you should say ‘character’,” Flibbage said brightly, “because, you see-”

We haven’t agreed we’re going to work with you yet,” Beansprout interrupted. “Because of the whole blowing us up thing.

I really think-”

Plus you just dissolved my house!”

Agent Lee opened his mouth, but Jay stepped in front of him and gave Beansprout a very strained, very apologetic smile.

Look,” he said. “We know that Buffy the Space Pirate has been a big problem for you three, for a long time now.”

That is my mum you’re talking about,” Yakky said in a wounded voice.

So?”

So…okay, fine, she’s a big problem.”

And I think we can help each other,” Jay continued smoothly. “What do you say?”

Beansprout, Yakky and Flibbage looked at each other.

Flibbage turned back to Jay and smiled. “When do we leave?”

*

It’s so nice that my entire house was just vapourised,” Beansprout muttered as she climbed into the back of the sleek black car that was parked in the road. “It really saves time on packing.”

Oh, come on,” Flibbage said brightly, as she and Yakky settled in next to Beansprout. “This is going to be fun. We’re off to a festival!”

Yakky frowned. “I thought we were off to train?”

Sure. Yep. Training.” Flibbage glanced out of the window. Agents West and Lee were approaching the car, Jay in the lead and heading for the passenger door. “Put your seatbelts on, both of you.”

What? Why?”

Because seatbelts save lives.”

But we’re stationary,” Yakky protested, as Jay climbed into the passenger side of the car. Agent Lee paused, digging around in his pocket.

As Agent Lee pulled out a set of car keys, Flibbage clicked her fingers, and the car doors locked.

Horseless carts are wond’rous things

Better yet with gifts of wings,”

Flibbage said, and gave a smile and a wave to the furious Agent Lee as the car rocked, bobbed, and then lifted off the ground.

What the – oh hell no!” Jay turned around in his seat, staring frantically at Flibbage. “What did you do?”

Flibbage grinned. “Sorry, Jay. We’ve got a festival to get to.”

*

Beansprout stared out of the window, looking at the ground far below. Flying had been fun at first, even with Jay swearing, yelling, and threatening to shoot the car out of the sky. After a long explanation from Flibbage about how plot armour – whatever that was – didn’t work if you actively tried to sabotage yourself, he’d slid down in his chair and stared balefully out of the front windscreen, in one of the deepest sulks that Beansprout had ever seen.

Can we stop soon?” Yakky asked. The sky was starting to get dark, and he kept glancing nervously out of the window, at the spot where the moon would soon rise.

We’re nearly there,” Flibbage said airily, moving her hands in the air. “You know, I don’t know why everyone complains about backseat driving – this is a lot more convenient.”

Why do we need to go to this festival anyway?” Beansprout asked. “Did the tablet say anything else?”

Nope.”

So why should we listen?”

What else were we supposed to do?”

Cool secret agent training?” Jay muttered from the front seat. “It was good enough for me.

I’m sure it’s very lovely as far as a backstory goes,” Flibbage said in a soothing voice, and then moved her hands sharply in the air. Everyone else grabbed the handles in the doors as the car dipped and started speeding towards the ground.

Flibbage, what the hell?” Beansprout protested.

What? I didn’t want to miss the turning.” Flibbage pointed ahead, towards a field studded with tents and marquees. In the growing dark of the evening, Beansprout could see flashes of flame swirling in the air, tiny points of light that traced patterns in the gloom. “We’re here. Towersey Festival.”

And what are we doing here, exactly?” Beansprout asked.

There was an answering ping! from the tablet. Still holding one hand out in the air, Flibbage shoved the device over to Beansprout with her other hand.

New notification. What does it say?”

Beansprout tapped the notification on the screen. Words unfurled from a digital scroll.

Find the contact who will lead you to the Pirate Queen.

 

Season 3 Episode 3: The Platetrix -by Emily

Into a narrow space between a glamorous yurt filled with people having a midlife crisis, and some kind of children's wendy house in which 3 shivering teens were valiantly trying to get high off some "herbs" they'd bought, Flibbage brought the car to a smooth landing, and turned the engine off.

"Never do that again! Do you know how much trouble you could get me into?!" hissed Jay. "No one knows where we are, we're supposed to be reporting to the training facility. Agent Lee probably thinks you've kidnapped me!"

"Haven't we?" said Beansprout, climbing out of the door. "Seems to me I shouldn't be going anywhere with a man who thinks blowing up my ancestral home is a good conversation opener..."

"You call it your ancestral home like it isn't a dilapidated farmhouse." Yakky added, as he climbed out the other side.

"Listen, if you want to hang with us, you're going to have to accept a little... variation to your plans." Flibbage patted Jay on the shoulder, "Watch this!"With a wave of her wand, she converted the sleek black car into a sleek black... tent.

"My car..." whimpered Jay.

"Don't worry Will, I can turn it back!"

"Who's Will!?"

"Oh sorry, my apologies, Agent West." shot back Flibbage with a wink, and began to stride forward towards the main festival grounds.

***



"Flib, don't you think you should put on one of your glamours or something?" Yakky whispered to Flibbage, holding his hat on with one hand as he scrambled to catch up with her.
 "Thats the best thing about festivals!" the faery replied cheerily, and gestured to the  festival goers around them. A troupe of folk dancers in blue rags and top hats were passing by, followed by a giggling huddle of teens dressed as faeries, then some kind of steampunk dragon made out of six people in elaborate costumes. "Who's going to notice an elf in a place like this! Festivals are the best place for non-humans to hide out! Half the stall keepers here are Fey!"

Yakky, Beansprout, and Jay looked around.  Now Flibbage had mentioned it, there was a certain eccentricity about the people running the food stands and craft stalls as they entered the festival grounds. Plenty of pointed ears, wings and odd clothing choices could be seen, and there was no shortage of things for sale that defied description.

"What about those ones over there?" Beansprout said gesturing to a group of four people hanging  out round a coffee van. Their hair was so blonde it was almost white, and though the light was low, Beansprout could almost swear the girl behind the counter's eyes were yellow, as she tracked them walking past her.

"Werewolves," Flibbage grimaced, "They're not part of the Fey. They just drink coffee and mess with machinery, and make trouble for everyone."

"Seems very judgy for someone with wings who meddles in everything constantly." Yakky interjected.

Beansprout stayed rooted to the spot, eyes locked with the silver haired girl.

"Can you not get in a staring match with the non-humans?" Said Jay, "I'm in enough trouble without having to shoot anyone."

Beansprout scowled. "I'm not staring at her, she's staring at me. Whats her problem anyw-" she was cut off mid sentence as Yakky grabbed her arm.

"Stop it Sprout! We're here to get info, not start fights!" he hissed as Flibbage grabbed her other arm and the two of them marched her up and round a corner out of sight of the coffee van, followed by Jay.

"You're developing a real anger management problem, Sprout."


"You folking would too, if you had my life."

***

The sun had set fully now, and lanterns and fairy lights began to glow from wires above them as they entered to main arena- a wide grassy area surrounded by performance tents and bars. Strains of music clashed or harmonised as revellers stumbled from one venue to the next or danced together cheerfully. In the centre of the area, people were lying on cushions and blankets, chatting and drinking under the starry sky. Many of them seemed to be actual Fey, in varying qualities of disguise, but as Flibbage had said, no one seemed to much notice or care. A very drunk human man, complete with pewter tankard and unkempt beard was trying to tell one of them a joke.

"Y'see then the mouse says, he says-"

"Yes?"

"The mouse ses- wait, did I say this was in a pub?"

"You didn't, so what did the mouse say?"

"The mouse says, he- oh wait I forgot let me start again..."

"This is a bad joke." There was a brief flurry of sparks illuminating the face of the Faerie, and suddenly there were two pewter tankards lying on the ground, and no sign of the man.

"Mother." sighed Flibbage reproachfully.

"What? He'll turn back at sunrise! He was a terrible comedian!" muttered Cabbage, and sneezed. The Faerie Queen was dressed in a green gown that looked rather muddy around the hem, and her crown was at an angle that could only be described as jaunty. "Red can we please leave? The mortal realm is giving me an allergic reaction, and our daughters are here with that boy and another boy."

"Ooh good for them!" Red appeared from the midst of a pile of cushions, and sat up unsteadily, "Hello girls! Hello Yakky! Hello mysterious sharply dressed young man!"

"Uhh, where's my dad?" said Beansrpout, "I thought you guys were away for work?"

Red looked momentarily guilty. "We uh- we broke up, he was getting weird. Who dresses as Rasputin? Bit evil really..."

"WHAT? When were you going to tell me?"

Leaving Beansprout to rant about how she was the product of a broken home, and also her actual home had been blown up, Flibbage pulled out the Tablet and showed it to her mother. "We were supposed to be training with the Non Gender Specific People In Black, but this thing told us to come here and look for clues to track down Buffy. Any ideas?"

Cabbage took the tablet and shook it a little,  before tapping the screen several times. "Can't rely on a Plot Device too much darling, they're very unreliable. But no, I don't know where she is. Red?"

"I very much prefer when neither of us knows where the other is," Red replied, then seemed suddenly struck by an idea. "Oh but I do know who can train you!"

"Red no." Cabbage said suddenly.

"I mean we have very good training facilities if we're done here" sulked Jay.

"No, follow me kids, I know this great guy!" Red got up and began ushering them towards a tent at the edge of the arena.

"Noooo I forbid it, he's the worst!" Cabbage wailed.

"You're not the boss of me!" Red sang back.

***

A few minutes later  they stood outside a tent labelled 'Circus Skills'. Outside several children were trying to spin plates or throw diabolos without much success.

"What the folk is this supposed to be?" said Beansprout.

"Aha!" said Red, "That's what they always say- you think it's just circus skills, but that's how you trick Them! Oho yes…"

A fey man appeared with a flourish from behind a tent flap. "Hi, I'm Fled, the circus skills guy! Feel free to break the merchandise. Ah, the lovely  Red! And accompanied by the Queen no less, have you finally managed to persuade her to unbanish me?"

"Not folking likely," muttered the Queen darkly.

"Why is he banished?" Yakky whispered to Flibbage.

"Oh she banishes anyone who gets on her nerves, it's kind of her thing."

"He's banished because I gave him a job as palace armourer, and he seduced all my courtiers!"

"You say that like it's a bad thing, Your Majesty!" Fled replied, with mock sadness.

"It is!"

"I'm a Nymph, it's in my nature!" said Fled, and winked at Red. "Anyway, what can I do for you lovely people?"

Red stepped up, "This is my daughter and her friends, they're on a quest to defeat Buffy the Space Pirate, but they need some training!"


"A daughter you say? Why Red you old rogue, I had no idea." Fled said jovially as he looked at our spiky heroine. "Alright my dear, what's your combat class?"

Beansprout  pulled out the Slightly Useless Machine Gun of Peace. "Well, I got this from a prophecy, but it's not been a lot of good. I don't know if there's some magic word I'm supposed to use or..." she trailed off.

Fled sized her up. "That gun isn't the weapon for you. How do you feel about punching things?"

"I do like punching things." Beansprout mused.

"That's what I thought. A ranged weapon is no use to a Primary Protagonist! Tell you what, let me swap you that gun for something more suitable.."  he rummaged around in a crate. "Aha! A perfect weapon for a hero on a quest!" he cried triumphantly, and pulled out a sword.

"Uhhh, I don't know if thats a good-" Flibbage started, but Beansprout was already swinging the sword about with malicious confidence. Flibbage rubbed her temples, this was the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.

"And what about you young lady?" said Fled, breaking her train of thought.

"Stay away from my daughter..." growled the Queen, but as it wasn't her realm, she refrained from turning him into a teatray.

Flibbage looked over at Beansprout, who was now stabbing a mannequin."Um, well I already graduated from the Deadly Poets Society, and I also have this extremely Holy Plot Device, so I don't think I need-"

"Would you like a wand that shoots fireballs?"

"Folk yes!"

Next Fled turned his attention to Yakky, fixing him with a shrewd stare. "You don't actually need any help from me, do you?"

Yakky looked extremely uncomfortable. "Yeah, no, I'm a pacifist, so I don't need any weapons."

"The latter part is certainly true."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Yakky replied without hesitation, and turned on his heel and walked out the tent, muttering about getting a beer.

 "Keep your hat on mate!" called Fled after him, and laughed at his own joke.

Fled looked at Jay. Jay looked at Fled.
"I'm cool." said Jay.
"Why yes you are!" replied Fled.
"ARE WE DONE HERE?" cried Cabbage.


***


The next part of the narrative could feature a heroic training montage and music like 'I need a hero!' with scenes of Flib and Sprout battling Mannequins and  each other, and gradually improving. But a slightly more truthful version would show them dropping the weapons, falling over, and would be interspersed with cries of "Ack! My toe!!!" and "Eek! My hair is on FIRE!"
Sooner or later, who knows, they might have got better. But the thing about The Plot is that it frequently doesn't give you the time you need.

 


The sun was rising, and our heroes sat surveying the deserted arena. Even the most hardcore revellers had crawled away to sleep, and escaped pieces of rubbish blew gently across the grass as a steward gathered up the paper from the bins.

"I feel a lot more competent," Beansprout mused, "guns are for losers."

"Heeeyyyy" said J.

"we haven't found a contact who can give us any clues on where to look for Buffy though," said Flibbage. "I guess Mum was right about the Tablet being unreliable."

"Ack!" said Yakky, shattering the pre-dawn quiet as a drifting scrap of paper hit him in the face. Beansprout pulled it off and shook it out flat.

"Hah, what will they think of next," she said to herself, and began to read aloud "It says 'Introductory special offer, any pizza, buy one get one free at our newest Pizza Hut Venue! Try the Planet's best (only) dining experience when you visit our new Martian flagship restaurant.' These festival people are weird. No wonder the Fey like hanging out here."

"Of course!" Flibbage exclaimed. "No one said our contact had to be a person!"

"What are you talking about Flib?"

"Not even a space pirate can resist free Pizza! We're going to Mars!"

"I've been on mars and I can categorically tell you there's not pizza there." Jay said.

"Not until now there wasn't!"

Season 3 Episode 4 - Nightflight to Mars, by Ally

Beansprout had to admit it - Flibbage's magic was pretty impressive. Another flick of her wand (after a brief panic when she'd accidentally used the fireball wand and set one of the nearby portaloos ablaze), and the sleek black tent, which had been a sleek black car, was transformed into a sleek black space shuttle.

"I am going to get so fired," Jay said miserably.

"Of course you're not, Will," Flibbage said, patting him on the shoulder. "Or maybe you are. Plots are tricky things, and if I get too sure about how this one is going to develop, it'll pull a twist on me."

"What?"

"Never mind..."

"We're going to bring Buffy to justice," Beansprout said, pushing her new sword into its scabbard and striding towards the shuttle. "They wouldn't dare fire you after that."

Flibbage winced. "Sprout, you really shouldn't have said that, now they'll definitely fire him!"

Yakky rolled his eyes. "Are we getting pizza or not?"

*

"Right," Beansprout said as she settled into the driver's seat of the car-turned-tent-turned-shuttle. "Does anyone know how to fly this thing?"

"I do," Jay said sulkily from his place in the back. "Because of being a secret government agent who's done more space missions than you've had hot dinners. And, oh, because this is actually my car."

"I wouldn't brag about all of those space missions, Will," Flibbage said, and cracked her knuckles. “All right, space cadets, let’s go!”

*

A roaring sound cut through the folk music, and revellers looked upwards, many of them spilling their cider as they did so. A black, very car-shaped shuttle was soaring through the air above the campsite, tents collapsing in its wake, before it swooped upwards towards the night sky. Flames erupted from its exhaust pipes, and it shot away towards the stars.

Below, amongst the panicking festivalgoers, a lone blonde girl stood still. She sipped her coffee and stared up at the sky.

*

Why are so many things beeping?” Yakky said in a nervous voice. They’d broken Earth’s atmosphere a few minutes ago, and the moon was now a bright glow in their rear-view mirror.

Shh.” Flibbage waved a hand at him. “It’s fine.”

It doesn’t sound fine.” Beansprout gripped her sword, staring out of the window. Space loomed back at her, huge and dark and lit with pinpricks of stars. She’d risked a glance back at Earth as they’d left, but the sight had made her stomach churn. Now she just watched the distant stars from the window. They looked almost the same as they did when she had her feet on solid ground, and if she didn’t think about it too hard, she could pretend she was just on an ordinary night drive. At least, that was what she’d been pretending, until the beeping had started.

It’s not fine,” Jay said. He was slumped in his seat, arms folded, a furious expression on his face.

Flibbage rolled her eyes. “Oh, how would you know?”

Because, as I’ve already said a million times, this is my car! And one thing cars usually aren’t is ready for space travel!” Jay jabbed a hand towards the dashboard. “If your weird magical dials and controls are anything like real ones, we’re headed for total system failure!”

What?” Yakky yelped.

We’re not headed for total system failure,” Flibbage said, just as a large red light began blinking just to the left of the steering wheel. A low, unnerving rumble started to judder through the body of the car. “Oh, folk.”

Yakky lunged forward in his seat. “What’s going on? Are we losing air?”

We’ll lose it a lot more quickly if you panic!” Beansprout snapped.

Excuse me for being worried about our impending deaths! Again!”

 That’s it.” Jay reached into his suit pocket and brought out a small silver disc, with a dial in its centre. He twisted it a few clicks clockwise, then a few more anticlockwise.

What’s that?” Beansprout demanded.

A distress beacon! Let’s just hope there’s someone within a few light years who can help us!”

What the folk do you think you’re doing?” Flibbage turned around, making a grab for the distress beacon. “The person who’s likely to be closest is our mortal enemy!”

Better captured than dead!”

We can make it to Mars!”

Not if we miss the folking planet!” Beansprout reached over and wrenched the steering wheel. One of the glowing lights in the sky was getting bigger and redder, and she tried to swerve back towards it while Flibbage tried to snatch the distress beacon out of Jay’s hand.

Let go, you’ll break it!”

Switch it off! This is mutiny!”

You can’t mutiny in a car!”

Clearly you can!”

Mars was close, but the shuttle was shaking harder now, the windows starting to rattle. Beansprout took a deep breath, and the back of her throat burned. Her eyes widened as she tried to breathe in another lungful of air, and failed.

Stop fighting-” she began, starting to turn to the others.

A flash of light caught her eye. Beansprout looked back out of the windscreen to see a huge, gunmetal-grey shape stretch and snap into their path. A door opened in the smooth metal side, and the shuttle careened through it, bouncing off the floor until it skidded to a halt.

Beansprout gasped, and almost laughed with relief when she realised that she could breathe again. Flibbage, Jay and Yakky froze, Flibbage with her hand shoved into Jay’s face. The four of them looked around.

The door slid shut behind them. The shuttle-car was sitting in a huge, empty space that looked like an aircraft hangar. It was lit with buzzing fluorescent lights, and the walls and floor were the same smooth gunmetal colour as the outside of the spaceship. Yes, that’s right, Beansprout thought. I’m in a folking spaceship.

Suddenly, a red light blinked in the opposite wall. A line of light shone through the windscreen, scanning down the four of them, before disappearing just as quickly as it had come.

No.”

A voice rang out on a loudspeaker that echoed around the hangar. There was something about it that sounded familiar to Beansprout, but she couldn’t quite work out what.

No what?” Yakky asked in a small voice.

No. I’m sorry, but you can’t be here.”

The door in the wall behind them began to slide open again.

You can’t throw us out!” Jay held up the distress beacon. “We’re seeking help under the Galactic Convention!”

The Galactic Convention doesn’t apply to me.” The voice gave a small sigh. “I really am sorry.”

Flibbage swivelled around in her chair, peering out of the windscreen. “If you send us back out there, our ship will fall apart and we’ll all die!”

It’s a car,” Jay muttered, while Yakky exclaimed “You said it’d be fine!”

The door paused. The voice sighed again, and, slowly, the door slid closed.

You stay in the car,” the voice said. “I’ll drop you off at the nearest planet. That’s…let me see…Mars.”

Fine by us,” Flibbage said.

Beansprout narrowed her eyes. Pulling the car door open, she stepped outside and raised her sword.

Why are you so keen to get rid of us?” she shouted. “Who are you?”

There was silence for a moment. Then another door, this one on the far side of the hangar, slid open. A man stood behind it. He was wearing black leathers, and an opaque black helmet, like a particularly sinister biker.

You can call me…Bob,” said the man.

Bob?” Beansprout said. “Not Buffy, then?”

Of course not. Why on earth would I be called Buffy?”

If you’re nothing to do with Buffy, take off your helmet.”

The man flinched. “The helmet stays on.”

The folk it does,” Beansprout snarled. She shoved her sword back into its scabbard, and charged.

Season 3 Episode 5 - In Space No One Can Hear You Order Pizza

Beansprout surged forward and aimed a flying kick at 'Bob', only to land in a confused heap on the other side of the loading bay, having apparently passed straight through him.

"I knew this was a bad idea! I KNEW picking up distress calls was such a bad idea! I can't believe of all the people in the multiverse it would be YOU." Bob flickered slightly, and put his helmeted head in his hands. "Look, okay you aren't going to like this at all, and neither do I and I can't personally WAIT to get you off my ship, but my Apathy Module forbade me from letting you die out there."

"Your apathy what-?" Said Beansprout, picking herself up as she tried to place his voice, which seemed a little familiar. "You'd better start explaining, because I have a sword, and you can dodge me once but..."

'Bob' turned to face her, his masked face reflecting hers back at her. "I can dodge as many times as I want because I don't have a body. This ship is the Gene Ark Deepwater YAK.- Its mission is to follow a preplanned course through temporal and intertextual  links in order to collect and preserve examples of all forms of life. My name is YAK(ky), I am the ship's holographic A.I biocomputer. I am programmed to pilot the ship and in case of emergency, wake its crew to assist me. For your comfort and peace of mind I am programmed with Apathy protocol 3V1L which prevents me from  taking actions that that are morally ambiguous."

"I'm sorry, did you say your name is Yakky?" said Yakky, "because honestly, that's my name, and pretty much all it has going for it is uniqueness..."

"Technically its YAK(ky), but audibly that's lost on you." Said YAK(ky), "But that's part of  the bit you aren't going to like." He pushed a button on the side of his helmet and the visor slid up revealing his face.

Yakky's face.

***

"So sometime in the year, 2XXX scientists realised everything was pretty fucked up. But at least they'd invented superpowered A.I based on brain scans, time travel, space travel and cloning. Sure, half their A.I inexplicably turned out to be evil, but that's the power of tropes-"
"Excuse me-?" Interjected Flibbage suspiciously.

"Uh, I mean, who knows why half of them turn out to be evil! But luckily they also invented a cutting edge Apathy protocol that they trialled on me that means I can't be bothered being evil and am prevented from being evil through inaction."

"That sounds very convenient." said Jay.

"So they built a giant ship and sent me to pilot it. It has a series of jumps in time and space that will take it to every conceivable place in human history to sample DNA for future cloning.  Which leads me to my next point. at some point, you, Yakky must have had your brain scans and DNA logged, which is where I come from.

"Well that's weird and creepy," said Beansprout. "one of him skulking about in a hat and talking nonsense is bad enough."

"Heeeeeey" said Yakky.

"I haven't finished yet," Said YAK(ky), "Here's something you're going to like even less." He pressed a button and a door slid back. Dry ice rolled across the room dramatically, and cleared slowly, revealing...

***



"Folk." Said Beansprout.

"I need a drink" said J.

"I'm royalty, and I feel like this could probably start a war."  said Flibbage.

Through the viewing glass of the four cyrogenic pods the crew could be seen sleeping. A pale lanky human girl with dark, spiky hair, a regal looking elf, a scruffy blonde boy, and a taller man in a sharp suit.

" Allow me to introduce my crew, cloned from the DNA store and currently in cyrosleep.  I don't know how they got your DNA, or why they chose you in particular," said YAK(ky) "- They don't give me your memories or anything. now do you see why I didn't want you on my ship?"
 

"Actually out of all the people in the universe, I feel like we should be more trustworthy to you." said Flibbage.

"Can we go get pizza now? I need to sit down." said Yakky.

***

 

The  Martian Pizza Hut was enclosed in a geodesic  dome, a glittery gem in a red expanse, catching the light as Deepwater YAK descended upon it. The parking area was full of ships of different sizes and makes.

"This is the part where you tell us aliens are real." Beansprout said to Jay.

"That's a government secret." Jay muttered.

"Bit late for that mate," said Yakky, "We're about to get pizza on mars from a Pizza hut you insisted didn't exist. Who else is it gonna be there for?"

"This is as far as I'm taking you," Said YAK(ky) "I have an important mission to fulfil!"

"Come have some pizza, YAK(ky), how long has it been since you had some food?"

"Never because I'm a computer."

"Then you should start!"

"Okay fine," he sighed, "but you can't come back on my ship afterwards!"

They touched down on the ground and stepped out, followed by YAK(ky).

"Huh. we can breathe!" Said Yakky.

"You only think you need to breathe, you're fictional and oxygen is meaningless to you" said Flibbage distractedly, holding the ipad high in the air and shaking it to see if she could get a signal. without waiting for a reaction, she strode towards the doors of the dome and flung them open.

Several aliens looked up and gasped in horror as the Earthlings strode in and ordered the biggest, most elaborate pizza they could think of, along with a side of holo-fries for their A.I and then sat down in a booth.

So why are you here anyway?" YAK(ky)  asked, "What convinced you to head into space in a rickety spaceship. It couldn't be quality pizza, because this is not it."

"We have a coupon that will lead us to our arch-nemesis so we can kill her." Said Beansprout, tucking into a slice of pizza as if this was all perfectly obvious and logical.

"Our arch nemesis is my mum." Yakky added.

Flibbage kept shaking the ipad. "Stupid thing just says updating"

"Didn't your mum warn you it was an unreliable Plot Device?"

"Shut up Will."

YAK(ky), unused to the constant bickering that passed for conversation amongst our heroes, tried to make conversation. "I actually knew another biocomputer called WILL once, he's really evil, he's the reason they invented apathy modules."

"My name isn't even Will, the faerie just keeps calling me that!"  Jay answered back, already on his third slice. The pizza was pretty unremarkable and didn't have any weird alien toppings, which was probably a blessing.  Beansprout continued to survey the rest of the customers as they ate, looking for their contact.

Suddenly the ipad pinged. Flibbage looked over and saw a small message in the middle of the screen.

INCOMING.

"Huh. Must mean Incoming message..." she said, wiping her hands on a napkin. Jay, who was facing the window behind her had gone pale.

"I think it means-"

Then the roof exploded.

***

Alien figures scattered to their spaceships as the silver disc of Buffy's ship descended on the parking lot, lazer cannons blazing. Her voice boomed out into the air through a speaker system.

"Beansprout Jones we meet again! Very bold of you to come out into space, which let's face it is my turf! How would you like it if I came and invaded your planet?"

A partially demolished wall gave the heroes some cover, as her cackling laughter rang in the air around them. Jay levelled his gun at the ship looking for movement as  Beansprout gave an exasperated sigh and pulled her sword out.
"Flibbage I thought your tablet said that it would lead us to someone who knew where Buffy was, not lead her to us!"

"I don't control the plot, I just facilitate it!" Flibbage wiped dust from the screen, which luckily was undamaged.

"I'm gonna kill her." muttered Beansprout.

"Could we maybe just capture her? She's my mum." said Yakky.

Beansprout threw a small rock at him."Oh my God Yakky, can you quit with the 'she's my mum' business? She's always trying to murder me!"

"Well she is, and I don't see why we can't be the better people..." Yakky trailed off

"If we can just get to the ship, maybe we can get out of here" Jay said, as the door in Buffy's ship slid aside.

"You aren't folking getting back on my ship, I told you! I've got my own mission!" said YAK(ky)

"Ugh you're all so folking annoying! I have a sword and a pirate queen that needs stabbing." Beansprout got up and began to head out in the open.

"Wouldn't if I were you." said Jay. Without taking his eyes off the ship he grabbed her arm. Yakky growled, and Beansprout angrily shook her arm free.

"Why not?"

"Because she's got a sword too, and hers is glowing."

 

Season 3 Episode 6 – Slowly Going Forwards

Buffy raised the sword, its ethereal glow making her face look ghostly and terrifying. She smirked, and ran her thumb along the edge of the blade.

Beautiful, isn’t it?” she said. “And it goes so well with my shoes.”

Beansprout shifted her feet into a fighting stance. “And none of that means a damn thing if you don’t know how to use it.”

I am out of here,” YAK(ky) said, and flickered out of sight.

Buffy chuckled. “Oh, that’s not difficult, Beansprout. You just have to put your heart and soul into it.”

Flibbage blinked. “Hang on, what did you just-”

Less talking, more fighting!” Beansprout snapped, and sprinted forwards.

No, wait!” Flibbage scrabbled at the tablet, swiping her fingers frantically across the screen. Deepwater YAK began to make a noise like a jet plane taking off – and then sputtered and stalled.

But Beansprout couldn’t hear her. She was racing forwards, the rest of the planet fading away as her vision narrowed, until all she could see was Buffy, and the pale, strangely compelling glow of the sword.

I just asked you not to fight my mum!” Yakky ran after Beansprout, wincing as the red Martian dust kicked up by her footsteps billowed into his eyes.

Oh, for – Will, stop them!”

How?” Jay protested.

Flibbage snarled at him. “You must have some gadget that would be useful in this situation, otherwise what are you even for?

Hey!”

Beansprout was inches away from Buffy now. She feinted to the supervillain’s left, before jabbing forward to the right – but Buffy pirouetted away, and brought her own sword down in a slash that Beansprout only just managed to block.

Will you BOTH PLEASE STOP FIGHTING!” Yakky shouted, clawing at Buffy’s arm. A well-aimed kick from her boot sent him staggering backwards.

After this is over, son,” Buffy said through gritted teeth, “we really need to talk about where your loyalties lie.”

JAY!” Flibbage shouted, stabbing at the screen of the tablet. Behind her, Deepwater YAK made a sound like gears grinding, and stalled again.

All right, all right!” Jay reached into the inside pocket of his jacket, and pulled out a small device, about the size and shape of a pot of lip balm. He clicked a button in the centre and threw it towards the three fighters.

What’s that supposed to-” Flibbage began, before the breath was knocked out of her as Jay leaped forwards and tackled her to the ground.

There was a sound like someone bouncing a ball in slow-motion, and a sphere of gel exploded out from the device, engulfing Beansprout, Buffy and Yakky.

Jay!” Flibbage shoved him away and leapt to her feet. “What the hell? Can they even breathe in there?”

They don’t need to! It’s an oxygen-rich polymer network with a built-in temporal stasis matrix.”

Oh. In that case, well done,” Flibbage said. “And you probably could have chucked it a bit earlier.”

To be honest,” Jay said sheepishly, “I get given so many gadgets that I can barely remember what I have.”

When we get back to Earth and have Buffy properly in custody, you and I are going to have a little chat about equipment lists – what the…?”

Inside the large bubble of gel, Buffy’s stylish boots were beginning to glow. The light became brighter and brighter, and then, suddenly, the supervillain clicked her heels together.

The gel bubble popped. Beansprout and Yakky slammed to the ground, sending up two clouds of red dust.

Buffy, though, stayed hovering in mid-air. She looked at Jay, and a slow smile spread across her face.

Anti-stasis ankle boots,” she said. “Do you think you’re the only one with useful gadgets? I’m a space pirate, Agent. I’ve stolen more tech than you’ve had hot dinners.”

Jay gave her a steely glare. “I eat my dinners cold.”

Yakky, who was sitting up and looking rather dazed, shot him a puzzled glance. “Why?”

Because I have a lot of work and very bad time management skills – look, it doesn’t matter, I was just being cool!”

You really weren’t.”

Nyargh!” Beansprout leapt towards Buffy, but the space pirate gave a small kick and shot several feet higher in the air. She slid the sword into a scabbard on her belt, and drew a sleek, silvery ray gun.

Jay’s eyes widened. “Oh no.”

Get down here and fight me, coward!” Beansprout yelled, trying to jump up to Buffy’s level and failing miserably.

Get on the ship.” Jay grabbed Flibbage’s shoulder and shoved her towards Deepwater YAK, before flailing his arms at Beansprout and Yakky. “Get on the ship, get on the ship, GET ON THE SHIP!”

Beansprout scowled at him. “Not before I-”

GET ON THE SHIP OR THERE WON’T BE A YOU LEFT!”

Beansprout blinked as she took in the expression on Jay’s face. It was pure certainty, and pure terror.

For folk’s sake,” she muttered, grabbed Yakky’s arm, and ran towards the spaceship.

Laughing, Buffy pressed a button on her belt, and a glowing forcefield formed around her. She aimed at Beansprout, and pulled the trigger. A small black sphere zipped out of the gun, growing and growing as it spun towards them.

Beansprout felt her legs slow, like she was running in a dream. The air around her felt like it was turning to treacle. Her body was getting heavier and heavier, and Yakky felt like he was made of stone.

She looked around, and bit back a scream.

Rocks were bending towards the black sphere, warping into long, thin tendrils that swirled away into the dark. As her hair whipped behind her, Beansprout saw it stretch until it was much longer than it had ever been, and felt the pull on her roots as it started dragging her back.

It’s a black hole gun!” Jay yelled from the door of the spaceship. He and Flibbage were clinging onto the door frame, Flibbage’s knuckles white as she kept hold of the tablet. “Get to the ship! It’s the only chance we have!”

Beansprout looked at Yakky, who stared back at her, his eyes wide with fright. They locked arms, and, both gritting their teeth with the effort, hauled themselves towards the door of Deepwater YAK.

Flibbage tucked the tablet under her arm and reached out to them. Her arm stretched until it was impossibly long, and Beansprout grabbed her hand.

Jay, help me pull them in!” Flibbage started walking backwards, fighting gravity, fighting every spatial dimension as the black hole grew to the size of a tennis ball. Jay hooked an arm around her waist, and they took one step back, then another, pulling Beansprout and Yakky into the cargo hold of Deepwater YAK.

Beansprout stumbled as they crossed the threshold into the spaceship, and the pull of the black hole suddenly lessened. The sudden change in weight made Flibbage stagger back, fighting to keep her balance.

The tablet slipped out from under her arm.

No!” Flibbage yelled, as the tablet spaghettified out through the doorway and into the black hole. She took a step forwards, but Jay was already at the door, slamming his hand down on the ‘close’ button.

There was a flicker of light, and YAK(ky) appeared.

What the hell?” he snapped. “I told you you weren’t getting back on this ship, and now there’s a black hole?”

Jay narrowed his eyes at him. “Yes. There is. So you’d better get ready to do some of the best flying of your life.”

I can’t fly out of range of a black hole! No-one can!”

I know,” Jay said quietly.

Deepwater YAK lurched. The engines were silent, but the spaceship lifted off the surface of Mars, drawn towards the now basketball-sized black hole. It stretched out like gum, becoming a long, razor-thin slice of metal that spiralled into the black hole and disappeared.

Buffy calmly pulled the trigger again. The black hole whipped back towards the gun, shrinking as it went, and disappeared down the barrel. She touched down on the surface of Mars, the forcefield dissipating around her.

Apparently death wasn’t out-of-the-way enough to put you,” she said. “But try getting back from this any time soon.”

 

Episode 7 - It's Just a Step to the Left...

Slowly Beansprout opened her eyes, and found herself floating weightlessly in the air. Blinking warning lights dimly illuminated the bridge of Deepwater Yak. Through the cockpit window, stars spun lazily as the ship rolled rudderless through space.  Hanging a few feet away was Yakky, his eyes closed, a few wisps of hair escaping from under the brim of his hat which was pushed further up his forehead than usual. As he drifted towards her, she saw the reason why, there was a large cut on his forehead, and a few drops of blood  suspended in the air around him.
Concerned, Beansprout reached forward and touched his neck, feeling for a pulse. Abruptly his eyes snapped open and locked with hers.
Then they both crashed to the floor.

"Engaging life support, not that you ungrateful idiots deserve it..." intoned YAK(ky), appearing in a shimmer of static, between them.


***

"Let me look at your head."

"NO" Yakky pulled the hat down almost over his eyes.

"Yakky..." Flibbage sighed, " I can heal it in like half a second, but I have to be able to see why your head is bleeding. Unless you want your hat magically welded to your forehead?"

"ITS FINE. I'M FINE." Yakky said, backing up until he almost fell over a bulkhead.
Flibbage looked across to the main console where Jay and Beansprout were trying to fix sparking consoles under the direction of a furious YAK(ky)  and lowered her voice.

"Look, Callum already said, but we know what the hat's about, I won't tell them."

"What? No you don't!"

"Yakky. For goodness sake, you think an elf has never has to wear a hat to stay incognito?"

"I have ears and they're right on my head like everyone else's."

Flibbage sighed dramatically "Fine, keep your secrets, have concussion, let me know when you mature enough to trust your friends."  Throwing her hands in the air she walked over to the rest of the group. "So where are we? Has anyone seen my Tablet float past the window?"

"No idea and no," Jay answered, ducking out from a conduit. "The navigation array seems to be having problems."

"It's incredibly sensitive equipment, used to calibrate my position in space, time, and reality," grumbled YAK(ky), "it's not supposed to get crushed into a singularity and then spat out somewhere else in the multiverse except in very specific circumstances. Its only because of its intertextual properties that we survived at all."

"Oh that wouldn't kill me," Flibabge said, "I'm impervious to physics."

"Perhaps, but your friends aren't self aware fictional constructs. And this time round I'm not letting you steal all my clones and crash my ship. I need them for my mission!"

Flibbage paused. "Did you just say 'this time round'? Did you just use the phrase 'fictional construct'?! I knew I didn't mishear you earlier talking about tropes!"

YAK(ky)'s eyes flickered back and forth, to Jay and Beansprout bickering over which wires should be reconnected to a port, to Yakky, surreptitiously trying to look at his forehead in a reflective panel. He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Listen I know this is a rewrite- I'm a digital intelligence I have access to all previous versions of this Plot."

Flibbage's eyes lit up "That's amazing! You can tell us everything we need to do! I won't even need to get the Tablet  back!"

"No I can't! And more importantly I won't. I don't know why you're getting a second chance at this, but things keep changing from the original and I don't want to be involved." he paused, "Not that I seem to have a choice. Last time you ruined everything for me. I'll help you get back to where you belong, but then I'm gone. I already have a job, I just want to be left alone to do it."

The console next to them lit up, and Beansprout appeared out from underneath with an excited squeak. "No need to thank me, I'm a genius!"

"Actually I did most of it-" Jay started, then gave up. Yakky headed over to the group and the five of them peered over the console as the panel lit up and began calibrating the ship's location.

"Okay," YAK(ky) began, his eyes going blank as he communicated with the ship's computers, "the good news is spatially we're in the same place. Luckily Mars is at a different point in its orbit or we might have been smashed to smithereens. Time wise we've been displaced about  two Earth years forward."

"Oh great another time jump," grumbled Flibbage.

"You haven't heard the bad news yet," said YAK(ky), "we've been shifted several probabilities away from your original timeline."

"What does that mean?" asked Yakky

"It means we're in a parallel universe," said Jay, looking glum.

"Only slightly. There are trillions of probability timelines emerging from ours and converging constantly. It's not like in the movies where you meet your mirror universe evil twin- we could be in a universe where a coin toss went a different way, or a guy called Geoff chose a different parking space to park in. You probably won't notice any difference."

"Let's look on the bright side, maybe in this universe my mum is really nice, and everything's fine! Lets head back to Earth!" Yakky said brightly.

"Are you concussed? Did you listen to any of that?" Beansprout fixed him with a sardonic glare, "it's not the mirror universe, stop making up daft ideas about Buffy being a  vet or a care worker or something."

whilst the incessant bickering continued, YAK(ky) laid in a course for home, looking forward to dropping off these dangerous adventurers and getting as far away from them as possible. After all this time it couldn't be as bad as...

 

***


The year: 2020
The place: Planet Buffy (Formerly Earth)

Once, in a time known as the twenty-first century, Planet Earth was a semi-prosperous choking planet in the backwaters of the Milky Way. Unaware of its neighbour life forms, or indeed many of its own, it toiled out its miserable existence churning forth people, money and weapons of mass destruction.

Why? The average citizen didn’t know. Hell, the governments thought they knew, but they didn’t have a clue. Only a highly secretive organization knew the real reason for devoting so many billions of lives to drudgery and squalor. This organization had known the properties the universe could offer for years. They’d established mines, factories, and delicious pizza franchises on many of their surrounding planets. Their agents were well equipped and highly trained, and never asked questions. At their front was a sharply suited leader, and an elusive 'enemy', always just beyond their reach.  The most stylish, charismatic, ruthless killer history had ever seen. The perfect excuse to expand their power.
 They were nearly ready, but not quite.

Standing in their way were a group of individuals who, despite knowing nothing, had thwarted their efforts time and time again. From both sides of the grave they had struck. The ideal combination of brains, brawn, mortal and supernatural had made them impossible to get rid of. Until they’d been caught off guard. A moment of weakness had destroyed them all, and no one had seen hide nor hair of them for two years. Perhaps ‘Those Meddling Kids’ were gone for good. The Universe was free to become one giant oppressed empire, every creature its slave.

Yet still there is a glimmer of hope. Rounding the side of the moon in a spaceship that passed through a black hole and came out in one piece, four people and one reticent A.I are about to prove they aren’t just a bunch of do-gooder pushovers. It took them two years, but they’re on their way back to Earth, and they are mad. This is no time for a plan, this is a time for action.

***


"Godammit." Sighed YAK(ky).

Episode 8: Only the Clonely

 

NeoBuffania was a utopia. At least, that was what the brochures said. In reality, the city’s metal skyscrapers jabbed into the sky like needles, and the sky above them wasn’t the cloudless azure of the propaganda pictures, but a yellow-grey soup of smog. It was so thick that, when a slight shimmer in the air cut through it, no-one on the ground noticed.

Right,” said YAK(ky), setting the cloaked Deepwater Yak down on one of the few rooftops that wasn’t occupied by gangsters beating up snitches, “here’s your stop. You can all get out here, and then I’m going to get as far away from you and this nightmare planet as I possibly can.”

What is wrong with you?” Beansprout, who was waiting by the spaceship’s doors, glared at YAK(ky)’s holographic figure. “Don’t you want to help us take Buffy down?”

How many times do I have to say ‘no’ to you four before it sinks in? I HAVE A MISSION.”

You might as well stay and help.” Flibbage gave him an all-too-innocent look. “You’ve been around long enough now to be an established character. You’re probably going to end up recurring.”

Not if I can help it.”

What are you talking about?” Yakky asked irritably. The cut across his forehead had healed remarkably well – it was just a thin pink line, which was already fading.

I don’t like the look of things out there,” Jay said, scanning the door with a small penlike device. “I haven’t seen this much surveillance equipment in a city since Planet 101. We’re going to be spotted as soon as we step out of this ship.”

Beansprout scowled. “Flibbage, can’t you do anything magical?”

As a matter of fact, I can.” Flibbage cracked her knuckles, closed her eyes, and began to speak an incantation.

As we walk in hostile palces

Let us wear generic faces.”

Beansprout felt a strange numbness spreading across her skin. She looked over at Yakky, and blinked in surprise as she saw just…some guy. He looked a little like Yakky, but also a little like basically any other man she could think of.

She glanced at Jay, and sure enough, he looked the same – like everyone and no-one. She couldn’t have described him to anyone – and now she was looking away from Yakky, she couldn’t really remember what he’d looked like, either.

All right,” Flibbage said cheerfully, clapping her nondescript hands together. “No-one’s going to recognise us now.”

Great.” Beansprout tucked her new, exceedingly average hair behind her ears. “Let’s bring Buffy down.”

*

Beansprout scanned the streets as the four of them walked quickly, heading towards the tallest, shiniest tower that stood in the centre of the city. If Buffy was going to be anywhere, she’d be there.

YAK(ky) had taken off the moment they’d left the spaceship, the faint shimmer disappearing into the smog and out of sight. They’d waved their way down the seemingly neverending stairs of the skyscraper, passing people with hopeless eyes slumped in doorways or crying quietly as they sat on the steps.

I’m going to kill her for doing this to my planet,” Beansprout said, as they walked by a burned-out nursery school.

Can we please not kill my mum?” Yakky said. “Prison is fine.”

It’s going to take more than bringing Buffy to justice to fix this mess,” Jay said, looking down at a scanner he was wearing like a wristwatch. “I’ve been to planets like this before-”

It’s Earth,” Beansprout pointed out, “of course you’ve been somewhere like this before.”

-and they’re a breeding ground for all kinds of factions.” Jay tapped at the scanner. “I’m trying to get in touch with the NGSPIB, if they survived the changes they might be able to give us some intel-”

As he was speaking, they reached the plaza in front of the tallest, shiniest building, and several things happened at once.

Beansprout felt her face tingle again, and saw Jay, Flibbage and Yakky shift back into their real selves.

A siren began to blare from the tower, accompanied by a robotic voice repeating “UNDESIRABLES DETECTED.”

And a phalanx of black-clad guards in motorcycle helmets poured from the doors of the building.

Beansprout turned to Jay. “Do you have anything that can take down that many guards?”

No!”

What the hell, man, you have a gadget for everything else!”

How about we just RUN!” Yakky yelled.

But this isn’t how it’s meant to go-” Flibbage said, before Beansprout grabbed her arm and hauled her away. The four of them hared back towards the winding labyrinth of streets.

If we can just get to the sewers-” Jay shouted, staring at a map on his wrist scanner.

Before he could finish, several small black objects arced over their heads and exploded, sending out clouds of thick smoke. Beansprout staggered, coughing, and Flibbage’s arm slipped out of her grasp.

Flib?” Beansprout looked around, but she couldn’t see anything through the smoke. “Yakky? Jay?”

She was knocked off her feet by another explosion, this one a concussive blast that sent a shockwave juddering through her. Beansprout hit a wall and slid to the ground, gasping for breath. One of the black-clad figures stepped out of the smoke towards her, and then another, and another.

As one, they pressed a button on the sides of their helmets.

The visors slid open.

What the folk…?” Beansprout whispered.

The three Buffys smiled at her.

Beansprout,” said the one standing closest. “So lovely to see you again.”

 

Episode 9: Planet of Mistakes

 Yakky stumbled blindly down the alleyway. His eyes were watering from the smoke and his ears were ringing. Disoriented, he felt his way along the wall, headed towards a lighter patch in the haze until something, no, someone blocked it.

The clearing smoke revealed a tall woman, dressed in dark clothing which offset her silvery blond hair. On top of her head was a pair of wolflike ears. She dropped into an aggressive stance and bared a sharp set of perfect teeth. The ears flicked back.

Identify yourself, this isn't your territory.

 "Sorry, this whole planet isn't really my territory." Yakky coughed.

The werewolf tipped her head to one side, and slowly circled him. She smelled like coffee and copier toner. She leaned uncomfortably close to Yakky's face and took a deep breath in through her nose.

Leaning back she continued out loud- "I saw someone just like you two years ago at a festival, hanging out with faeries and humans. I saw your car go into space."

Yakky started in recognition. The girl Beansprout got into a staring match with! or at least this universe's version of her.

"Yeah that was us- it didn't work out too well to be honest, there were clones and a wormhole and now I'm here. I need to try and find them. They're almost definitely in danger."

The werewolf smiled. Yakky knew it was supposed to be friendly, but the overall effect was just that he became acutely aware of her extremely sharp teeth. "That's fine. My name is Dee, and I'm very good at finding things."

***

"Of course she's got a zillion clones of herself," said Beansprout out loud, from inside the tiny holding cell where she'd been locked "of course she folking does." She kicked a wall, it seemed disappointingly solid and well built. There were no doors or windows, just a small air vent near the top corner, much too small for her to squeeze through.
As Beansprout peered at the vent, she noticed something odd. The screws in the four corners seemed to be turning. She got up and walked closer, only for the grating to suddenly burst off and hit her in the face.

"HI-YAH!" yelled a tiny Flibbage triumphantly, zooming out of the vent.

"And where have you been?" Beansprout demanded.

"Oh just making sure I escaped long enough to come back and save your ass. Is that- is that not what you wanted? because I can leave you here." The faerie made no indication that she actually intended to go, as she smoothly returned to human size and began to investigate round the edges of the door. "Do you think Buffy found the Tablet? Because I really want it back."

"I've already looked at the lock on that," Beansprout cautioned "and I think its steel, so be c-"  but she was too late, as Flibbage jumped back, blowing on mildly singed fingers.

"Okay this calls for the big guns," she grumbled and pulled out the fireball wand. Before Beansprout could protest about personal safety she had blasted a hole right through, showing a deserted corridor beyond.

Flibbage rolled her eyes. "She never thinks about magic."

"In her defence you are kind of overpowered." Beansprout answered, stepping gingerly through the hole.

"I can't get out of jars though." said Flibbage.

"Nobody's perfect."

The two heroines headed out.

 

***

Jay had ducked down into the sewer as soon as he possibly could, and waited until the tumult above died down. If only Beansprout and her stupid friends had listened to him then this never would have happened. They could have been in a nice secure NGSPIB  conclave, training like sensible people, instead of jaunting about to festivals and pizza establishments. Thinking about it, here was his chance to get away from these three clearly deranged people. His higher ups had sent him and Agent Lee to manage them, but he'd basically been kidnapped, right? He couldn't get in trouble for that? After all, this world's version of the NGSPIB had to be out there somewhere, doing secretive things for the good of mankind.

Jay reached into one of his gadget pockets. Advanced technology meant they were considerably larger on the inside and could hold a small arsenal of bombs, guns, scanners, and widgets. Unfortunately that meant actually finding what you need was nearly impossible. After a good five minutes of casting about and trying to fit his head in there to look, he retrieved a small earpiece, and started tuning it to the NGSPIB super secret radio signal.

The deadpan voice of the operator phased in through the static.
"Attention all agents, attention all agents, as of today you will be issued new jackets. The Supreme Leader declares that after taking advice he has been made aware that black has finally gone out of fashion and from today we will be known as the Non Gender Specific People in Burgundy. Burgundy is very in."

"Burgundy!?" Jay couldn't help himself.

"Agent, switch to a private channel, and prepare to be berated for your lack of fashion sense" the operators voice continued.

Jay gulped, it was never a good idea to question the idea's of the NGSPIBs shadowy (but benign) figurehead. He switched to the private correspondence channel, and apologised to his eardrums.

"Agent West?"

"Er, yes?"

"I knew it! I knew you weren't dead!" the operators bored tone had completely evaporated, and he suddenly recognised it.

"Agent Elle?"

"Who else would be manning this stupid radio system."

Jay sighed with relief. Elle had been in his trainee unit, and had a certain disregard for protocol. Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper.

"Listen, Jay. I'm guessing you somehow got back from whatever happened on Mars. I can't say much, but burgundy is just the tip of the iceburg. Meet me at these co-ordinates, the password is 'Blue' "

the radio abruptly went dead. Pulling out his scanner, Jay found a signal leading him through the sewers ending under a tall building on the 3D map.



***


"This is Buffy Towers," said Dee, "the scent leads in here." The pair of them looked up at the imposing building.

"So uh, how do we get in?" Yakky asked

Dee barked out a laugh, "That's very funny- were you raised by humans?"

"Er, yes."

"Oh," her smile dropped. "We can't go in there, we'll die and your girlfriend is probably dead."

"She's not my girlfriend!"

"Okay but she's probably dead. There's a lot of guards and they're all terrible clone women."

Yakky considered telling her they were terrible clones of his mother, and thought better of it. "Dee I have to go in there, I have to try and rescue her."

Dee looked at him askance, "I won't go along with you, I enjoy being alive." She paused for a moment, and took a swig out of a hip flask she was carrying. An extremely strong aroma of coffee wafted out of it. "However," she nodded towards a set of electrical cables running down into a box on the outside of the building, "I can disable the alarms so you can postpone your inevitable demise until after you rescue this person who isn't your girlfriend."

"I'll take it." Yakky answered.

 

***



"Don't you think it's odd that no alarms have gone off?" Flibbage said, as they furtively made their way along a series of identical tastefully decorated corridors. They looked up at a security camera, on the ceiling, Beansprout waved.

"Let them come, I'll kill every single one of her!" Beansprout said.

"Because that's been working so far."

They peered round a doorway into an empty room. It seemed to be a trophy room of some sort- really Buffy themed trophies like "Beyonce's favourite shoes" and "skull of the Dalai Lama."

Flibbage looked around and sighed. "Well the Tablet isn't here, if she had it I'm pretty sure she'd want to show it off. Mum's gonna be so mad I lost it."

But Beansprout wasn't listening, she was drawn towards the center of the room, where a faint blue light shone down onto a sword. Its blade was curved and looked wickedly sharp, its pommel bore a small engraved yak skull. The plaque underneath read "The Sword of Slayskull- origins unknown."

"That's sword she had on Mars."

Flibbage shifted her weight uneasily from one foot to the other. "Beansprout I don't think you should-"

"I'm gonna steal it. That'll show her."

"I really don't think that's a good-"

Beansprout grabbed it. Flibbage winced, expecting alarms to suddenly start up at this narratively appropriate moment, but also remembering the prophecy about Beansprout and swords, but nothing happened. No sirens, no flashing lights, no arcane sparkles or glowing eyes. She heaved a sigh of relief.


Beansprout laughed breezily and cocked and eyebrow at her faerie godmother "come on Flib, lets's go find Buffy. What could possibly go wrong".

Flibbage rolled her eyes again, and thus missed the brief flicker of blue light up and down the edge of the blade.

***



The beacon led Jay to a manhole under the basement level of the building. tentatively he pushed the cover up, and was met by a shiny and technological looking gun about three inches away from his face.
"What's the password!?"

"Argh! I mean BLUE! Blue! Jesus get that thing out of my face!"  Jay was helped out of the sewer and into a room containing several NGSPIB agents, fronted by Agent Elle. Each one had a blue handkerchief tucked into the pocket of their standard black jackets.

"Agent West, welcome to the NGSPIB(lue)" Elle said shaking his hand warmly. I knew you'd never stand for any of this "burgundy" business."

"Well to be honest I've been back on this planet about five minutes and that was the first I heard of it. So I was kind of surprised but..." Said Jay sheepishly.
 

"Jay." Elle interrupted "Jay. BURGUNDY.  I know you haven't been around for the last two years, but burgundy was the final straw. Our secret leader has lost it. He doesn't care about galactic harmony any more, he just cares about power and fashion! He's joined forces with Buffy! She rules in the foreground whilst he makes us do her dirty work! It has to stop.
"The non-Gender-Specific People in Blue are a secret society within a secret society. Dedicated to bringing Buffy down and restoring our beautiful planet back to its normal grubby, squabbling self. We don't want global unity if it comes at the cost of everyone being miserable under the despotic rule of a space pirate!"

"And we won't wear stupid burgundy!" chimed in another agent.

"Hold on- the NGSPIB are working for Buffy?" Jay exclaimed

"Yeah! She makes us enforce her fashion rules and her clones boss us about!" another agent said.

"That's not what I signed up for! I wanted to meet cool aliens and be extremely sharply  dressed in black!" Jay was devastated. He'd been an agent since he was recruited at seventeen. The NGSPIB was his life, to see it used to further the goals of his archnemesis was enraging. He set his mouth to a thin line.

  "Do I have to change my jacket colour?"

"No, you just get a little handkerchief" said Elle.

Jay reached into his pocket and pulled out his largest and most ridiculous looking gun. "I'm in. Let's go kill a space pirate." 

The NGSPIB(lue) agents sprang into action, as they prepared to storm the tower.



***


As Yakky snuck through the building he became aware of gunfire on the floors below. He wasn't sure what the cause was, but he welcomed the distraction as he followed Beansprout and Flibbage's trail through the building.
            He found Flibbage's handiwork in the blasted through wall to the holding area, and from there, well, they weren't exactly fond of covering their tracks at the best of times. Like Dee, Yakky was pretty good at finding people.


***


The NGSPIB agents carved their way through floor after floor of cloned guards. When they all looked the same it started to feel almost like a computer game, just minion after minion, all of them with Buffy's face. How dare she corrupt his beloved agency? The NGSPIB were earth's defence force and their ambassadors to the galaxy. There was no way they'd let their illustrious leader be corrupted by burgundy.

***


Beansprout and Flibbage reached the penthouse and took up positions on either side of the door to Buffy's office. There was some kind of commotion happening below, probably the guards finally catching on that they'd escaped.

"Sprout, we should take her alive if we can." whispered Flibbage, we'll capture her, and we'll drag her to faerie. Maybe she doesn't know we're back yet."

"Flib I'm just saying if this sword should happen to slip and a particular space pirate was to happen to die the world would probably be a better place."

"That's not for us to decide."

"Fine fine. Alive if possible. For stupid Yakky."

"Oh sure, you think he's stupid and he's annoying. That's not a narrative convention that's older than time and just as  problematic."

"Can we do the faerie nonsense later?"


They nodded and burst through the doorway together. Buffy sat in a swivel chair facing out towards the windows, and dramatically swung round when she heard them enter. against all narrative odds there was a white cat on her lap.

"Well well well, if it isn't my favourite twerp and her faerie stepmom..."

"Godmother." Flibbage opened a portal behind her without breaking eye contact. "It's an ancient and powerful role of great spiritual significance actually."

Beansprout raised the sword. "You're coming with us Buffy, we've got your sword, and there's nowhere to run! Don't try any fancy gadgets this time because I'm out of patience and Yakky's not here to stop me!"

As if on cue Yakky came barrelling through the doorway.

"MOTHER FOR FOLK'S SAKE, THE ENTIRE PLANET, REALLY?"

"And here he is, the disappointment himself." Buffy yawned. "Any second now, my guards will-"

"I don't know who your guards are fighting, but they aren't doing so great." Yakky interjected. "And since they're all clones of you because you have to be so folking extra all the time I'm guessing you won't do so great either. So I suggest you do as my friends say!"

Buffy tittered and mockingly put her hands up in the air. "Oh no the Non Gender Specific People in Blue and their stupid splinter cell stormed my building and killed all my clones! Whatever will I do? I guess I better surrender to the daughter of my nemesis, her twee sparklemother and my inept feral child because it's not like I don't' have five different escape routes planned-"

But she didn't get to finish her sentence. Because at that moment Jay burst through the door, and with a yell of "YOU BURGUNDY WEARING SPACE BITCH" opened fire.

 

Episode 10: The Fork in the Road

What did you do?” Yakky asked in a quiet voice.

Beansprout stared at the thing on the ground. Thoughts jangled together in her head, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that she couldn’t quite fit together.

It was Buffy’s body. She knew that. But she couldn’t make it mean what it was supposed to mean. It seemed wrong.

It seems wrong because it wasn’t you who killed her. The thought crept into her mind, accompanied by a faint thrumming feeling in her sword hand, like she’d touched an electric wire.

Flibbage was grabbing her hair in both hands. “For folk’s sake, I was hoping we could avoid going through all this again…”

What did you DO?” Yakky swung around to face Jay. His eyes seemed to flash yellow, and his face was twisted in a snarl.

Jay lowered his gun and stared back at Yakky, a determined expression on his face, although his lip was wobbling slightly. “I’m defending my world, and the organisation that villain has been trying to ruin.”

That villain is my MOTHER!”

Yakky, calm down.” Beansprout held out her hands placatingly, although the fact that she was still holding the sword ruined the effect somewhat. “Jay made a mistake-”

I did NOT.”

-and Buffy was obviously happy for you to get hurt or killed as well as the rest of us-”

I don’t care what she was or wasn’t going to do! She was my MUM!”

Maybe stop trying to mediate,” Flibbage said to Beansprout through the side of her mouth. “I don’t think it’s helping.”

I hope you’ve still got bullets in that thing,” Yakky said, pacing towards Jay. “Because you’re going to need them.”

Beansprout moved, stepping between Jay and Yakky and bringing the sword up across her body. It felt so easy to slip into a fighting stance. The sword hummed in her hand, like a cat purring contentedly. “Yakky, stop. I’m not going to let you two fight.”

Step out of the way, Beansprout.”

No!”

Jay raised the gun again. “I’ve got no quarrel with you, Yakky, but if you try to attack any of my agents-”

I’m going to be attacking exactly one agent.”

That’s enough!” Flibbage zipped up to hover above Beansprout’s head, threw her arms out to either side, and yelled “SECTION BREAK!”

A crackling blue field of energy blossomed out from her hands, spreading until it reached each wall. Yakky and Jay stopped, staring and blinking.

Beansprout looked up at Flibbage. “Uh, what the hell is that?”

A spell to separate them into two different sections of the story,” Flibbage said through gritted teeth. “I can’t maintain it for long. Hopefully they’ll both – stop – trying to kill – each other.”

Jay shook his head, looking bewildered, and turned to the group of agents who were hovering in the doorway. He said something to them that Beansprout couldn’t hear, and the group disappeared through the doorway, back into the depths of the building.

With a small whimper, Flibbage dropped her hands, and started sinking to the ground. Beansprout caught her before she could hit the floor.

Where did he go?” Yakky growled. “What did you do, Flib?”

She stopped you making a stupid mistake,” Beansprout snapped. Her sword hand was itching. She almost wanted him to step forwards, just one step, to take the swing at her that he’d meant for Jay…

Yakky looked at her as if she’d stabbed him.

You really don’t get it, do you?” he said. He waved a hand at the body on the floor. “I know she was evil. I know what she’s done to this world. She was still my mother.”

He turned and walked away, out of the opposite door.

Beansprout lowered the sword, part of her feeling a little disappointed. She looked down at Flibbage, who was sitting up in her palm, still looking shaken. “So what do we do now, godmother?”

Flibbage shook her head slowly. “I don’t know.”

*

The two girls left the room, and, for a long while, it was still and silent at the heart of Buffy’s stronghold.

When the quiet had spread through the entire building, when every last person, friend or enemy, had left, a metal panel in the wall slid open.

Buffy stepped out, looked down at her bullet-wounded clone, and smiled.

It was good to be dead, when you were alive to make the most of it.