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Posted December 29, 2009

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Fan Fiction: Surface Seeming

Title: Surface Seeming

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG.

Summary: Angel, Dresden Files. "I know who you are," the little girl said, staring at Illyria with an intent, wary expression. 600 words.

Notes: Set post-"Not Fade Away"; general Dresden Files novels spoilers, but especially "Death Masks". Because I was idly browsing the FFA list, and suddenly heard them speaking.

"I know who you are," the little girl said, staring at Illyria with an intent, wary expression.

For once, Illyria understood the emotion being displayed toward her, for it echoed her own. Before her powers had been circumscribed by the Mutari generator, she might have been a match for the being currently masquerading before her in juvenile human form; without it, she was no longer a god to gods, and therefore vulnerable to a force as old as her imprisonment in the Deeper Well.

"And I know what you are," she growled in return, automatically discarding her disguise in favor of her natural armoring. "Archive."

The girl did not bother to alter her appearance; the depth of ages echoed, unchanging, in her eyes.

The sum of all written knowledge had been laughably meagre, in Illyria's day; the perfect memory of her kind, and their reluctance to risk sharing their sources of power, had limited Its contents and thus Its utility to any but those who crawled, mewling, in the muck. But as her former inferiors had developed in her absence-- as her strength had waned-- so had Its power waxed, becoming something formidable.

"Then you know why I am here," It said, mouth pursed in a frown of outward concern.

Illyria did not trust It. Wesley would have doted upon It; but words had been the tool of choice for her guide, even when they turned in his hands and cut him to the bone. She knew better; she placed no confidence in any weapon she could not control.

"I will not recognize your authority," she replied, firmly. "Or that of the Council which sent you here."

The Archive nodded. "That is your choice," It said. "Are you sure you won't regret it?"

Illyria sneered. "I regret nothing. The very word is like offal in my mouth."

What cared she for Accords drafted millennia after her reign, or Laws written by primitives who sought to forbid what they could not control? She did not seek beyond the Outer Gates: she was beyond them, from a time predating their closure. She would not pretend to be anything Other, nor reduce herself to meet lesser beings' expectations; let them stop her, if they could. Until then, she would continue the mission of her guide by whatever means she found necessary.

The little girl nodded again, then reached to take the hand of the man who trailed after It like a menacing shadow. "I didn't think so. I mean, I do know your scriptures. But I had to ask."

Illyria frowned. In Its slight smile, she saw shades of humanity peering through-- like the fragments of Fred that yet plagued her own being. She flexed her hands in their tough red carapace, then consciously summoned the form of the shell once more, matching the innocence of its seeming to that of the one which faced her.

"Then you have completed your task," she allowed, and nodded back. "Until our next meeting."

"Until our next meeting," the Archive agreed, then smiled again, eyes darting upward. "I liked your hair before, by the way. I have a crayon that color; Cerulean Frost."

Disquieted, Illyria reformed her hair and lifted a lock to examine. Cerulean-- a shade of blue; frost-- a formation of crystalline structures. "Appropriate," she said; but when she glanced up again, the little girl was gone.

Appropriate, indeed. Perhaps, she conceded, it would be prudent to find a new base of operations as well?

Fred had never been to the Great Lakes, but she had heard they were lovely that time of year.


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