FR21 for all sorts of reasons, which will be apparent from the first paragraph onwards!
A Gory Fate
By Marcus L. Rowland
Xander did a double-take when two giant ants, four scantily-clad women, and the guy in chains and bondage gear came into the bar. Not because they were weird, he was used to that, but because they came in from the car park, not the closet. The wards weren't reacting to them, so they couldn't be too dangerous. A few weapons, some of them with weird energy signatures, but nothing that would work with the spells that Willow had cast on the bar.
"Can I get anyone anything?" asked Xander.
One of the women, a brunette wearing a sword, a holstered gizmo that looked like a Buck Rogers ray gun, and some strategically placed sheets of translucent gauze, looked him over, seemed to like what she saw, and said "Black wine, four cups, and warm honey and water for the insects. Oh, and a bowl of water." Xander couldn't recognize her accent, except to guess that it was foreign. The others took seats at an empty table, one of the women dragging bondage guy by a chain around his neck. She wasn't gentle about it.
"Don't think I have any black wine... and I'm kinda dubious about the way you're treating your friend there. Not that it's any of my business how you get your fun, but he doesn't look like he's enjoying himself."
"He deserves it. No black wine? I thought it came from this place."
"It's called coffee here," said one of the other women. Xander thought he detected a faint New York accent.
"Coffee I can do," said Xander, filling a filter and putting it onto the coffee machine. "Cream and sugar?"
"Just sugar," said the woman. Xander looked into a couple of cupboards, then said "I haven't got honey, would mead do?"
One of the women made clicking noises at the insects, who clicked back excitedly, then said "Mead will be fine."
"So..." said Xander, pouring the mead then rinsing out a bowl he usually used for pretzels and putting in some water, "I get the impression you guys are from out of town."
"Very," said the woman who seemed to be their spokesperson, carrying the mead over to the table. "As far out as you can get."
"Good try," she said, "but you would not know. It is Gor, the Counter-Earth, the world on the far side of the sun from this planet."
"Okay..." said Xander. "And your flying saucer's parked outside?"
"Exactly." Behind them Illyria left the pool table where she'd been practicing shots and went to the door, looked outside, and nodded.
"Riiiight." said Xander. He poured the coffee then went over to the window and took a look. The saucer was grey, about forty feet wide and twenty hight, and would have looked right at home in a 1950s B movie. There was the faint shimmer of a force field distorting the light around it, and he guessed that it would be difficult to see at any distance. "Neat!"
"I hope that it won't be a nuisance there," said the woman. "We tried to avoid blocking the access routes."
"That's okay," said Xander, "it's too early for there to be many cars, though I'd appreciate it if you could get it out of there by seven or so." He went back to the bar, and said "So what brings you guys to Cleveland?"
"Actually we were looking for New York," said the girl with the New York accent, a blonde wearing leathers and a belt with several knives, "it's where I come from, but the insects said that something around here was screwing up their navigation, so we had to land to check." One of the insects chittered again, and she added "Do you have a map?"
"Sure." He went into the back room and came out with a road atlas a minute later. "So... are you guys invading Earth or something?"
"Nope," said the New Yorker, gesturing at the giant ants. "These guys run Gor, operate the machines that keep it hidden from Earth. But they don't like getting their claws dirty, so they imported humans to do their dirty work. Trouble is that they really don't understand how we think, so they thought that it was okay to let the guys treat women like dirt and play sicko slave and bondage games. They even kidnapped girls on Earth and took them to Gor."
One of the insects chittered again, and she added "apparently they thought we really liked that sort of thing."
"Well, I guess with the right..." Xander faltered as he noticed hands moving towards weapons, then said "...with the right story some sick bastards might be able to get them to buy it. But I see you've changed things a little," he added, nodding towards bondage guy who was trying to lap water from the bowl and finding that the ball gag in his mouth made it rather difficult.
"Yeah, well," said the New Yorker, "a funny thing happened about four years ago."
"Would that happen to be about four years and six days ago, by any chance?" asked Xander.
"How did you know that?" she asked sharply.
"Let me guess," said Xander. "Suddenly some of the slave girls weren't quite so helpless any more. Broke a few chains and heads?" She nodded. "Same thing happened on Earth, only without the slavery, mostly. If you can stay for a couple of hours I can get someone over to explain why."
"That'd be good," said the New Yorker. "We're all dying to know. Anyway, things were grim for a while, but we're pretty sure everyone's free now. That's why we're on Earth, we want to set things up to return some of the girls home, they're missing their families."
"Everyone's free?" said Xander, nodding towards bondage guy.
"Well, we had to make sure that the guys realised they'd made a big mistake, so we kept a few of the worst offenders."
"What did you do with the ones you didn't keep?" asked Xander.
"Nothing, mostly. Oh, took a few souvenirs from some."
"Thumbs, ears, and some of them won't be having any children, like Tarl here... Don't worry, we didn't do it to anyone who didn't deserve it."
"A salutary tale," said Illyria, who'd been listening. "I trust that you kept trophies?"
"Not me personally," said the New Yorker, "but I know a girl who's made the cutest little necklace..."
Xander tried to tune out the rest of the conversation as he dialled Willow's cell. He had a feeling that she'd like to know just how far her spell had reached. He sincerely hoped that none of the visitors wanted to give him anything for the trophy wall. As he waited for Willow to pick up he wondered how well he could run the bar with his legs crossed...
Crossover with John Norman's "Gor" novels, of course. Chosen was first shown on May 20th 2003.