Straight On Till Morning or Ultramundane
By Ananda

Title: Straight On Till Morning or Ultramundane
Author: Ananda,
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything except the stories concept, and possibly not even that. The idea of twin ships was first used, as far as I know, by Anne MacCafrey.
Dedication: To Lynne for sleeping on my floor for a week and not minding when I switched the lights on a four in the morning to write this.

Notes: Ultramundane translates as Out of This World :-)

Buffy stared up at the vast reaches of space open above her. The gentle midnight black of unoccupied space contrasting with the pinprick bright sparkles of stars, like the Christmas lights she remembered as a child, before Core Prime had been built, before she and Giles had been merged, welcomed into the brotherhood of the Dyad pilots.

There hadn’t been any Christmas lights for a long time, no Christmas either come to that. Just a rapid expansion of humanity out into the stars that surrounded them. First the Moon, Mars, Venus and Pluto all had colonies opened on them. They failed. Lack of infrastructure, support and necessities destroyed the first colonies, killing thousands of colonists. So humanity looked further afield, to Alpha Centuri, the Andromeda galaxy and beyond, to Core Prime.

Today earth was outdated, outmoded and alone, a backwater. Core Prime, home to billions, controlled the galaxy, as wave after wave of Dyad ships were sent out into the universe to find new planets to colonize.

It was the skies above Core Prime that Buffy watched. Leaning back against the pale blue grasses of the temperate planet, and against the strong supple chest of her mate, her lover, her husband, to use an old archaic word.

They had been the first of the Dyad pilots, volunteering for the suicide mission when they found themselves unable to function in a world devoid of the supernatural. Unable to bear life alone, the only ones who knew about the Great Sacrifice. The world would never again be as they knew it. The annihilation of vampires, demons and all forms of magic and the chaotic population explosion, which had followed, had necessitated inspirational leaps of science which would have been impossible previously. Humanity had reached out into space, and the world had changed again.

One of these leaps had been the Dyad ships. Manned by a crew of two, partnered in every way, they were deep survey ships, searching desperately for new homes for humanity. Buffy and Giles had volunteered to be the first. They made the flight which revolutionized a crumbling society and sent it careering out among the stars instead of dying in one grand quihotic gesture of self justification – a rising birth rate.

Together they had journeyed the galaxy, searching for new worlds to house the population explosions of the early twenties. They had journeyed alone. Willow and Xander, Cordelia, Angel, Wesley even Oz and Amy were all long gone. Lost to the final battles on the Hellmouth and the sweeping destruction, which followed them. In the fragmented, undernourished society which survived the flames Giles and Buffy had left the Hellmouth, fleeing the ghosts which surrounded them. They had ended up in Houston, fallen in with the remnants Space Program there and then fled some more.

Today, eleven thousand years after Point Zero, the day the bubble had burst and Hell had invaded Sunnydale, they were still running. It had led them to Core Prime, one their own discoveries, and to themselves. Clutching at each other in the cold darkness of space. Even now, years after the ghosts had faded and the faces of their friends had been forgotten they kept to their own company. Legends among the society they had guided and created they continued to survey for new homes. Planet fall just wasn’t the same anymore.

They had built Core Prime itself. They had found the gentle mild pale blue planet, so like earth, but so different, and suggested it for colonization. They had watched it grow, watched the domes go up, the canals dug, the houses and public buildings built. They had watched for eleven thousand years.

Buffy sighed gently, almost content among the grasses. These days she was more comfortable in the ship that on land. The gentle vibrations of the engine served to reassure her that life was functioning normally, in a way that the still solidity of planetary crust did not. However if she was happy on a planet then it was here and now. In the arms of her lover staring up at space, planning where to go next.

A gentle chiming ran through the air around London Park, twelve o’clock shift change. Giles stretched and pushing Buffy away from him gently, stood up.

"Time to go, love." He smiled down at her.

"Go where?" she asked staring up at him lazily.

"Beyond the fields we know?" He suggested. Buffy shook her head.

"I prefer straight on till morning." He laughed and nodded.

Buffy jumped up, her arms going instinctively round his waist. It was strange, she thought, how similar he looked to when she’d first met him. She still remembered that moment, even after so much else had shifted and dropped out of sight in her memory.

He hadn’t really changed that much, the same haircut, the same eye colour, no tweed any more of course, and no glasses but essentially he was still the same man she’d fallen in love with, long before Point Zero had been reached. She frowned momentarily, was she still the same?

They made their way through the gently twisting streets of Horizon city. Their ship, "The First", had been built millennia ago but constant improvements meant it was still one of the most up to date ships in the fleet. It was waiting, parked as always in their spot in Horizon’s space-port, easily accessible. It wasn’t locked, there was no point, it would function for them alone.

As Giles gained clearance to depart from the officials, Buffy stared out at Horizon, once again. The sprawling city reminded her so much of LA. It should, she had designed it to be like that. Today, uncaring and unfeeling officials could only complain about it’s old-fashioned and inconvenient infrastructure, the difficulties of housing, providing clean water, food and transport to the billions who lived there, above and below the surface. But Buffy found it comforting, a gentle reminder of a time when life had been more certain. When she had had a destiny to follow and a task to perform instead of today when all she did was fly and wait to die. It had been a long wait. She turned and Giles waved to her, happy to be travelling again. She smiled at his boyish eagerness. He could still find enthusiasm for the life they led, so perhaps that was a reason for surviving after all.

She relaxed the muscles she hadn’t realized she’d tightened in tension, as they entered the familiar ship and eased into the departure routine. Giles activated the computers. He’d got over his dislike of them eventually and these days they talked back when he insulted them, and locked himself into the pilot’s seat. He spun round to look at her.

"Ready?" He queried.

"As always." Buffy laughed.

Still smiling she walked over the niche just behind him and sat in the chair provided. Then, sweeping her hair from the back of her neck, she opened the Interface Node situated where Ethan Rayne had once tattooed Eyghon’s mark on her.

"Initiate Dyad coupling." She instructed.

Giles nodded.

Gradually the chair was pulled back into the niche, her metallic body absorbed into the interior of the ship, the CPU of her brain taking charge from the automatic computerized systems. She was home again, flying free in Intrinsic Space.

Her image appeared on the screen in front of Giles as he initiated his own coupling to join her inside. Once again they were complete. Locked securely in Dyad mode, two metallic beings, inseparable in life and death, working in perfect synchronization within the metal core of their ship. They swept out away from Core Prime, flying straight on till morning, beyond the worlds they knew.