Author’s Note: This is a one-shot, but it’s also the lead-in to a concept I’ve been thinking about for some time. I love Xander-centric Marvel and DC crossovers, but there’s way too much backstory for me to write one convincingly. So I thought, what would be a more comic-book plot than for a whole bunch of people to gain super-powers through a magical accident, which then changes the world. I threw in other crossovers because, well, I like them. This is not a Marvel or DC crossover, although inspiration for super powers, of course, comes from them and the various super-hero role-playing games I’ve leafed through. Possibly the lead-in to a series that would start right after Halloween, but would probably not be so much a prequel to this as a separate exploration of the concept.
I always thought it would be cool to be a super-hero. I grew up breathing comics. Marvel, DC, it didn’t matter. I was enthralled by the stories, the powers, and, of course, the action. These characters were larger than life, dealing with issues so far beyond me that I could only read in awe.
I never thought about the flip side. The weight of responsibility, the duty that drives you until it has consumed your life. The guilt, the pain, the gradual withdrawal from everything you ever thought of as normal.
Perhaps it would have happened anyway. I was part of a vampire-hunting team when I was still in high school. Jumped at the chance to emulate my childhood heroes. Maybe if it had stayed that way, I would have been tugged along this path anyway. Maybe I would have lost all contact with normal life, with the average, mundane reality most people live in even if I’d dressed as a soldier for Halloween.
My name is Xander Harris, codename Phoenix, and I am the leader of the Guardians. I’ve been a super-hero for ten years now, and the only reason I haven’t stopped is because the need hasn’t lessened.
Thus, I find myself sitting on my office in our California base, still known as Sunnydale, when Tara Maclay walked in. I looked up and sighed.
The look on her face didn’t bode well. Tara was our resident witch and the Guardian’s Magical Coordinator. She was also our liason to the Charmed Ones. Handy girl, really. And one of the most talented magical practitioners I’ve ever seen, even if she isn’t as powerful as some.
“What can I do for you, Tara?” I tried, really, to keep the weariness out of my voice. I don’t know that I did that well, since she shot me a concerned look, but continued anyway.
“We’ve got a Code S-1, Xander.” Tara had gotten more confident over the years, and had lost the stutter and adorable shyness she had when I’d met her, but she was still a soft-voiced and gentle person, which made me really, really wish I’d simply misheard her.
“What?” Not eloquent, but I hate Code S situations. They always give me a headache. A Code S is a super-villian. Not something we had to worry about back when I was a kid, but a startling occurrence these days. Even worse, a Code S-1 is a super-villain with a Sunnydale Connection, which is the shorthand for those in the know for people who gained powers from Ethan Rayne’s damned Grand Experiment in Sunnydale, California, on Halloween 1997.
She smiled briefly. “It’s confirmed. Cordelia sent me the file earlier. James Vaughn, also known as Jimmy the Great, was a senior at Sunnydale High in 1997.”
I sighed. “Dammit. What’s his knack?” Maybe it’ll be something fairly easy to beat in combat, like Cordelia’s ability to change the color of anything at will. Don’t get me wrong, Cordy is great, and her power makes her awesome as our Intelligence Officer, but she’s not gonna beat me down in a fight with it. Unless she makes my clothes completely transparent in public. Again. Don’t ask.
“Cordelia reports that he possesses superhuman persuasion abilities and some other mild mind control tricks.” Tara smirked. Or rather, she did that half-smirk-half-smile thing, which is the closest thing Tara can come to a full-out smirking appreciation of the complete ridiculousness of life. “He’s been known to refer to it as his ‘Hypno-Voice’ in public.”
I laughed. “Where’s he been hiding for ten years? I thought we’d already rounded up most of the S-1s by now. He isn’t part of Rayne’s Chaos Bringers, is he?” I really hoped not. The Chaos Bringers (Ethan is even worse at making up names than he is at passing ethics exams) were Rayne’s little collection of S-1s that he formed into his own personal X-Men. We’ve had all sorts of problems with them, especially since they have no rhyme or reason for their strikes except to cause chaos. They call themselves ‘cosmic entertainers.’ I call them terrorists.
I hate chaos, I really do. It only makes me stressed. The problem with S-1s is that there’s no guessing what their power is gonna be. I’ve seen everything from water-breathing to causing earthquakes.
Ethan calls it his Grand Experiment. He personally created a whole shop full of super-hero costumes that went by the basic Marvel and DC styles, but didn’t correlate to specific heroes. So when he cast his little spell, and released the forces of Chaos onto a population of students and kids who lived their lives on an inter-dimensional portal, everyone became a completely new hero or villain, depending on their basic personal outlook. Chaos doesn’t play favorites, so everyone became their own personal avatar with super-powers. And when the spell ended, we kept them.
Tara shook her head. “It looks like he’s been building a power-base as a crime lord in Miami. He runs some underground drug operations up and down the East Coast. He probably wouldn’t have popped up on the radar for another couple of years except that Cordelia walked by him in a mall.”
I grinned wryly. Cordelia’s other power was to instinctively sense the presence of people ‘touched by Chaos,’ which is a poetic way of saying S-1s and X-1s, which are the flip side to S-1s, like me.
“So, who’s available to take him out?” I really should know this, but I’ve been locked in this damn office for three days trying to figure out logistics for the new base.
Fortunately, Cordy and Tara are damn good at their jobs. And taking up the slack in mine. “Willow is still helping Jonathon construct the infrastructure for the Orbital Office.”
Hey, it worked for the Justice League. Willow is sort like our Jean Grey. Telepathic, telekinetic, and really, really smart, with some kind of intuitive understanding of machines. Jon can transmute matter, making it stronger, more conductive to electricity, or creating new alloys, etc.
“Buffy, Tara continued, “is currently on an operation in South America, investigating a resurgence of the Black Thorn.” Buffy is our Supergirl. She’s got the invulnerability, flight, strength, speed, etc. on top of her normal Slayer powers. No heat vision or blizzard-breath or anything like that, but she can take down anyone this side of Rayne himself.
“The Animorphs are off-world, on loan to the SGC.” Jake and his team are great. We found them not far from LA, fighting a Goa’uld foothold with alien technology that allows them to take the shape of any animal they touch. If they ever find that damn blue box again, I’m gonna have to get in line for the boost. Maybe the Andalites will make contact again. They can’t be that damn far away.
I sighed. “And Marcy, Gwen, Groo, Oz, and everyone else are on assignment elsewhere. It’ll have to be me.” Despite my show, I’m actually sort of psyched up. I haven’t gotten out in the field in a while.
Tara smiles at me. She was always a perceptive girl. She knows I’d love to be out there doing something. “I thought you might volunteer.”
I grin at her. “Well, it gets me away from Dave’s requests for more funding for his damn power armor scheme.”
She laughs softly at me, before walking out, shaking her head. Oh, yeah. Tara knows me.
Before I really realize it, I’m standing on the roof of the Guardian HQ. There’s a helicopter landing pad up here, but I don’t need it.
I concentrate, and feel the familiar rush, before being enveloped by the glowing energy field. My power is so cool.
To anyone watching, they would have seen the energy field shape itself into a giant, glowing, gold eagle, which promptly takes off.
My energy field is totemic, which basically means that it’s always been an eagle, but it has some really cool bits. Technically, I’m riding inside the energy construct, but my consciousness is spread throughout the manifestation, so it’s like a thrilling combination of flying a jet fighter and being
the jet fighter. And I can fly really, really fast.
I accelerate from a dead stop to over Mach One in four seconds, which creates a sonic boom as I depart. Good thing our offices are shielded against sonic vibrations. And energy burns. Since my energy field is, well, energy, even if it’s basically solidified, it still singes and burns anything it touches. But it also acts a lot like a force-field, making me stronger, faster, and gives me really good vision. Not bad at all, if I do say so myself.
With the speed I’m flying, it doesn’t take all that long to get to Miami. I look down on the city, basking in the summer sun, and grin behind my totem.
It’s time to get my hands dirty.