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Deus ex Machina

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This story is No. 27 in the series "Oh, The Places He Goes!". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When someone tells you you're in danger, LISTEN.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > Time BanditsphoukaFR1514,1881108,5612 Sep 072 Sep 07Yes
Disclaimer: Xander Harris and all other characters, settings, and elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are property of 20th Century Fox, Mutant Enemy, and Joss Whedon. The Supreme Being, various oddly named dwarves, Evil, and anyone turned into a pig are the property of Terry Gilliam and Handmade Films. We promise not to make any profit off them.

Not the Author's Note: My brother, the one who wrote this and all the other chapters of "Oh, The Places He'll Go," is now referring to this series as "the story that wouldn't die". I think that's rather fortunate, as now I won't have to torture him into writing more chapters. Apparently, he has a few more under consideration.

Deus Ex Machina

Xander Harris wandered through the headquarters of the Watcher's Council Chicago branch. He glanced through each room looking in vain for something to do. He reached the TV room and plopped down on the couch. Grabbing the remote, he turned on the TV and quickly began running through the channels. “Five hundred eighty-six channels and nothing on,” he muttered.

The sound of the door opening brought Xander's head up. He jumped up and ran to the front door nearly knocking over Buffy and Dawn Summers.

“You're back! Great!” he greeted them. “How are you two on this fine morning?”

“Hey, Xander,” Buffy said.

Dawn came through the door and kissed Xander on the cheek. “Hey, sweetie. What's up?”

“Just looking forward to spending the day with my two favorite girls in the world,” he said with a hopeful smile on his face. “So, what're our plans for the day?”

Buffy and Dawn glanced at each other. “Um, Buffy and I were going to spend the day doing sister stuff. Shoe shopping, hair appointment, clothes shopping, manicure, purse shopping.”

As Xander listened, his smile became pained. “Wow... that's just... swell. I guess I can tag along to-”

“You want to go shoe shopping with us?” Buffy asked in disbelief. “How bored are you right now?”

“I am sooooo bored,” Xander answered, falling back onto a chair. “There is nothing to do here. I even tried write up some reports for Giles this morning. I've been reduced to paperwork for god's sake!”

“How'd that go?” Dawn asked.

“Reg already filled them out,” he said, hanging his head in defeat. “Who could have foreseen it?”

“Well you always get him to do it. You keep leaving all the forms on his desk,” Buffy pointed out. “And you forward all of Giles's e-mails to him to handle. And when he asked about taking time off for a trip to London, you said you were swamped by paperwork and couldn't approve anything until it was done.”

“Well I didn't know he would actually do all of it!” Xander ranted. “Who the hell actually wants to do paperwork?”

“You, apparently,” Dawn said. “If you're so bored, why don't you hang out with Reg then?”

“He.. went on a trip to London for the week.” Xander mumbled.

“Oh, the cruel irony.”

“Tell me about it. He took K-9 with him to download all the Council files into his memory. Rona and Violet in New York for Fleet Week. And Gobo has gone home for a visit,” he explained. “So here I am, reduced to asking to go shoe shopping with you because there is absolutely nothing going on. If only something interesting could happen I would be happy. Even-”

“Xander!” Buffy cut him off. “What the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to jinx us? It's been nice and peaceful for the past three weeks, and you're going to ruin it all.”

“Yeah, right,” Xander waved off her protests. “I'm going to magically cause something bad to occur just by saying the magic words 'If only something interesting would happen.' With that kind of power, I must be some kind of sorcerer. Beware my wrath! Or else I will bring down the most horrible fate upon -”

A black void opened up above Xander and six small figured fell out of it, landing on top of him and rolled off. Xander scrambled away from them, and Buffy pulled him to his feet. He looked at her and opened his mouth to speak, but shut it when he saw her glare.

“You just had to push it,” she told him. She turned to the figures now getting up from the floor. “Hey what are you... dwarfs doing here?”

The six diminutive figures looked around the room, dusting themselves off. The leader took a step back and spoke up. “Right, everyone okay? Sound off. Fidget?”

“Here,” one of the dwarfs said.

“Strutter?”

“'Course I'm here, Randall,” an older bearded dwarf grumbled. “I'm only four bloody feet away from you. You can see me plain as day.”

“Quiet,” Randall told him. “Og?” Another one of the dwarfs grunted in reply. Randall nodded to him. “Vermin? Vermin? Vermin, stop eating the lamp. Now, Wally?”

“I'm here,” the last dwarf said. “Can we just stop wasting time and get on with it?”

Randall nodded and turned to Xander, Buffy, and Dawn. “Right, um.... Look, you're all in terrible danger. You need to get out of here.”

“O......kay,” Buffy said. “You fell through a portal in the sky to tell us that?"

“It's wasn't our idea, ma'am,” Wally said. “The boss wanted us here right away, before anything bad happened.”

“Wait, your boss? Who's your boss? What are you doing here?” Xander asked.

“We're on a mission from God,” Randall said. “We're here to protect you from a terrible danger. You must listen to us.”

Xander and the two Summers sisters stared at Randall and the others. After a few seconds, Dawn spoke up. “Is this a prank? Willow sent you guys, didn't she?”

“No, this isn't a prank! You must believe me, you're all in great peril! It's coming for you right now!” Randall shouted. He waited for the three to react, but they just stood there, studying him. “DANGER!”

Xander stepped up to the self appointed leader of the strange newcomers. “No, seriously. Who sent you?” he asked. “Was it Faith? This doesn't seem like Giles's style.”

“Xander,” Buffy said in a concerned tone. “I think they may be serious. We could be in danger.”

“Exactly! You're in grave danger! It's coming!” Randall warned them.

“I don't know. Okay, I admit the whole falling from a hole in the sky is weird. But don't warnings of imminent danger usually come from a prophetic dream or ancient tome? I just don't buy that we're in any danger,” Xander said.

A series of booms echoed through the building, catching everyone's attention. “Quiet,!” Buffy warned. The series of booms continued as Buffy cocked her head trying to listen for the source of the sounds. “It's coming from the front door. Someone's trying to bash it in.”

Buffy and Xander ran towards the front door with Randall following close behind. They arrived just in time to see it splinter apart. An angry crowd of attackers jostled against each other to force their way into the building.

Buffy turned to Xander in exasperation, “Jesus, you just had to push it, didn't you? Just shut put before you jinx us even worse.”

“The training room. It's got weapons and strengthened walls and doors. It's the best place to mount a defense,” Xander told them. He yelled to the others, “Everyone to the training room!”

The others caught up to Xander, Buffy, and Randall at the foot of the stairs, and they sprinted up to sanctuary. As they piled into the training room, Buffy and Xander headed for the weapons cabinet while Dawn shut the door and began to barricade it. As Buffy hefted an axe, she turned to Randall. “Okay, we believe you. What's going on and how do we stop them?”

“They're the minions of Evil. They're here for the Key,” Randall shouted as he grabbed a crossbow

“WHAT? They're after me?” Dawn asked.

“They're after the Key,” Randall repeated. He handed off a pile of short swords to his companions. “Og, you and Strutter help watch the front door.”

“Uh, I know I shouldn't talk anymore, but I caught a glimpse of those attackers. They had their eyes sewn shut,” Xander said.

“Bringers?” Dawn asked.

“Yeah. That means we're dealing with the First Evil,” he told them.

“I already told you that! It wants to use the Key to open up the dimensional barriers and unleash Hell on Earth,” Randall continued to issue orders. “Wally, you watch Fidget while he handles the Fragment. Vermin.... just.... bite them if they get too close.”

The door to the room began to splinter as the Bringers outside hacked at it. Buffy and Xander continued to pile whatever they could in front of it. “We've dealt with the First Evil before and barely got out of it. It'll just keep sending Bringers to attack us. You said you were sent here to help us, so please tell me you know how to stop it,” Xander said.

“We do,” Strutter told them. “Evil used to have a physical form. But it was destroyed the last time we saw it. Unfortunately we didn't get all the pieces for proper disposal. It was able to appear in an incorporeal state, but even then Evil can cause trouble.”

“We know,” Buffy said as she jabbed at a Bringer trying to crawl through a hole in the door. “How do we stop it?”

“We tracked down the last piece of Evil,” Strutter said as Fidget held up a cast iron jar. “When Evil appears, It'll be sucked into the last piece. You just have to hold off It's minions until It arrives.”

“Dawn, stay back with them while we hold off the Bringers,” Buffy ordered her sister.

“Buffy! I'm not a little girl anymore. I can help fight them off,” Dawn said.

“Buffy's right,” Xander told them. “The Bringers are targeting you specifically. The smart move is for you to keep back until these guys spring their trap.”

Strutter yelped as a Bringer crawling through a hole at the bottom of the door grabbed his ankle. He fell down as the Bringer began pulling him towards the hole. Og grasped Strutter's hand and began trying to pull him back. Xander ran over to help Og. Together they managed to pull Strutter fully back into the room, dragging the Bringer with him. Randall heaved a sword and brought it down on the Bringer's neck, killing it.

“We can't keep holding them off. They're going to break through soon!” Buffy yelled. “Your plan better kick in soon!”

“Everyone! Grab a crossbow and fall back. Form three lines, when they break through the door, the first line fires. They fall back and reload while the second line fires. Then the third line. Let's go!” Xander ordered.

The group quickly grabbed their weapons and lined up. “Wait until my order to fire. I don't want anyone wasting a shot,” Xander told them. The banging on the door got louder and louder as it began to splinter and fall apart.

“Wait for it...” he said. The door broke into several pieces, and the figures outside jammed themselves in the doorway, trying to scramble inside the room. The first few Bringers fell inside and slowly rose. “FIRE!”

The first line of Buffy, Wally, and Vermin fired. Buffy's shot hit the lead Bringer directly in its empty left eyesocket. Wally's shot hit the second Bringer in the chest, while Vermin's shot hit it in the foot.

“Fall back, second line FIRE!” Xander yelled. He, Randall, and Fidget fired their crossbows with mixed results. “Fall back. Third line, FIRE!”

Dawn's, Og's, and Strutter's shots all hit the front Bringer, killing it instantly. But the rest of the horde closed in on the group. “Switch to swords!” Xander ordered. “Dawn and Fidget, get to the back!”

Dawn began to move back, but three different Bringers grabbed at her. She pulled against their grasp and fell over in the struggle. Fidget tripped over her, dropping the jar containing the last fragment of Evil. The jar shattered on the floor, releasing the fragment. A black smoke arose from the piece, swirling around higher and higher.

“It's here!” Randall yelled.

Dawn scrambled, trying to escape from the grasp of the Bringers, but they pulled her away from the main group. Xander and Buffy rushed for her, but were met by a mass of Bringers, blocking them. The fragment of Evil floated up a few feet into the air, as the black smoke whirled faster and faster around it, compressing in on the center. A thundering boom echoed in the room, deafening all who heard it. The lasts wisps of smoke dissipated, leaving an imposing figure dressed in red robes and a black leather and bone headdress.

Evil had returned.

A quiet chuckle emanated from the central figure in the room. “The old fool actually thought I was gone,” Evil said. “But none can destroy Evil. Even without my physical form I still nearly brought down ruin on this world. And now with the aid of my ever loyal servants I have returned.”

“Looks like we need a new plan,” Xander said. He turned to Strutter. “How did you guys defeat him before?”

“NO ONE DEFEATED ME!” Evil yelled. “I merely allowed my enemies to think me vanquished. Now my final plan is coming to fruition. My minions have lured these little mongrels here where I could regain my form. And they have also captured the Key.”

“Let me go!” Dawn screamed. Two Bringers hauled her up before Evil.

“Now with the Key, I will collapse the dimensional walls that – DON'T TOUCH ME, YOU FILTHY LITTLE PROLES!” Evil spun on the group of Bringers that crowded around him.

He waved his hand, and all the Bringers in the room exploded in a blinding flash of light. Evil let out a contented sigh. “Ah, I missed doing that. Now, where was I?” He raised his hand and lightly caressed Dawn's cheek. “Oh, yes. The mass genocide of all life on this world. Once I bleed you dry, Hell on Earth will begin.”

“GET HIM!” Xander yelled.

Everyone rushed at Evil. Xander jumped in front of him, grabbing at his wrists. Buffy pulled Dawn away and towards the other end of the room. Wally had jumped on Evil's back and began hitting him, while Vermin bit his ankles. Evil struggled to throw them off, wildly shooting blasts from his hands. Fidget ducked as a blast exploded just above his head. Og took a blast squarely in the chest. When the smoke around him cleared, a fully grown pig stood in his place.

“Enough!” Evil roared. He threw Wally and Vermin off and closed his hand around Xander's neck. He lifted Xander off the ground, slowly choking him. “I do so tire of you lowly mortals thinking you can dare oppose me.”

“Yeah... well....” Xander squirmed in the air, desperately clawing at Evil's grip on his neck. “...you...really.... suck...” he gasped.

The corners of Evil's mouth flickered in a smile. “Goodbye,” he said and closed his grip. Xander's neck snapped and his body went slack. Evil flung the limp body across the room.

“Xander! No!” Dawn screamed, oblivious to anything else. She pulled herself free from Buffy's grasp and ran to Xander's fallen form. Kneeling down, she cradled his head in her lap.

Evil swatted Buffy and Randall away as he strode towards Dawn. “Take comfort in the thought that you will soon be joining him.”

He picked up one of the Bringer's blade from the floor, and approached Dawn's crying figure. He raised the blade, then paused as a wind buffeted the room. White fog rolled in through the door, lit up by a bright light. A booming voice echoed in the heads of each person present.

YOUR TIME IN THIS WORLD IS OVER.

The white fog filled the room and enveloped Evil. He screamed in fury as the power drained from his form. A radiant figure stepped out of the fog and raised his hands high. Rays of blinding light shot from his hands and burned up Evil's cringing form. A small piece of charcoal fell to the ground where Evil once stood.

“Who is that?” Buffy asked in awe.

“It's the Supreme Being,” Randall said. “Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality. The Alpha and Omega of Existence.”

“Hey, Boss,” Fidget waved.

The radiance died down, and Buffy took her first look at the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence. He stood just under six feet tall with a white head of hair and was dressed in a conservative, dark tweed suit. His posture and expression reminded Buffy of Giles and the surviving members of the old Council.

The Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence looked around the wreckage of the room with the still living members huddled together, and the bodies of the dead strewn about.

“Tsk. A bit of a mess in here. I don't suppose any of you bothered to tidy the place up.”

“Sorry about that one, Chief,” Randall said. “We had a bit of trouble with the plan. We got the last fragment and brought it here. But when the attack started, things went a bit pear shaped.”

“Hmm? Oh, that. In truth, you were never supposed to destroy It. You were just here to lure It into taking physical form again,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence said. “No, you did as well as could be expected. Might have been a little tidier about it, though.”

“Wait a minute. You mean all this time, you could have stopped the First Evil? Why did you wait until it attacked us? Why even let it loose in the first place?” Buffy asked the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence.

“Ah, all very good questions. Let me see... now...” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence paused as he saw the full grown pig hiding in the corner of the room. “That's not right.”

A thunderclap boomed as the pig vanished, and Og returned to his normal form.

“Not again,” he muttered.

“Hmmm. I see we have a few loose ends to tie up,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence said.

He waved a hand, and the remains of the Bringers vanished in a puff of smoke. He snapped his fingers, and Xander gasped as his eyes opened.

“Oh, yes. Your question, Miss Summers. Something about the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. I think there's a bit on Mankind's fulfillment of its destiny by overcoming the Dark and embracing the Light. I've got it all...written down...somewhere.”

He patted at his vest and jacket pockets, absentmindedly.

Buffy stood in amazement as she watched Dawn hug Xander to her.

“You were dead. I thought I'd lost you,” Dawn sobbed.

“Excuse me,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence interrupted.

He hand Xander a legal form and pen. “If I could just get you sign at the bottom.”

“What is this?” Xander asked, speaking for the first time since his resurrection.

“Just some paperwork. Must cross all the 'T's and dot all the 'I's, mustn't we. It just states that you were witness to and a participant in a celestial conflict, and that while you may have been injured or worse, you are now restored to the same condition you were in just prior to said conflict,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence explained to Xander.

“And initial there... and there. All done. Now, I'll just take custody of the Key and -”

“What? No! You're not taking Dawn!” Buffy yelled.

He looked askance at her. "It's quite necessary. Dimensional walls crashing down, all life on Earth snuffed out? It's a wonder no one's misused the Key already. It's for the best."

“Buffy's right. Dawn's human,” Xander said, getting up from the floor. “She lives, she breathes. She feels, she loves” He looked into Dawn's eyes. “And she is loved in return.”

The Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence sighed.

“Oh, of course, we couldn't keep it simple, could we? Monks and their anthropomorphizing of ancient forms of energy. If they weren't all quite dead, I'd send a sharp note their way. Well, I suppose we can come to some kind of arrangement.”

He pulled out an old briefcase, opened it, and began rummaging through it. “Special dispensation form... I suppose we can waive the subclauses.... Ah, here it is.”



Hours later, the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence finished reading the multi-paged document in his hand.

“'.... and as such the party of the first part, fully aware of all disclosures in the contract as well as any and all other circumstances does hereby and of her own freewill forfeit any claim to properties of the Key (see subsection 5 – 13 for full description and definition of 'Key') to the party of the second part, in understanding of the continued operation of the party of the first party in the current state of form now occupied (see attachment F 'Dawn Summers') as witnessed on this day' I'll just fill in the date. Now if you'll just sign.”

He handed the pen to Dawn.

Once she signed, he passed the pen to Xander, then Buffy.

“And print your name and date, then initial. Good.”

The Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence snapped his fingers, and a glowing ball of energy emerged from Dawn's mouth. It gently floated into the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence's open palm. He closed his hand around it and put it in his pocket.

“We'll be on our way then.”

“So, the First Evil is really gone then?” Buffy asked.

“Indeed, miss,” Strutter said. “We just need to dispose of the final piece, and It will trouble us no more.”

“A little behind schedule on that front,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence added in a sharp tone.

Randall grimaced at that.

“Sorry, Chief.”

Randall turned to Buffy. “We were actually supposed to wrap this up a few years ago. But we pushed it off onto the Archangels, then they delegated it down to the Powers That Be. They shoved it off to the Balance Demon, and he had a word with Wolfram and Hart. They picked out a bauble and handed it to the ensouled vampire, who pawned it off to you. You gave it to the other souled vampire, and Bob's your uncle. Truth be told, we thought that was the end of it, but best laid plans and all that.”

“So, if Evil is destroyed, does that mean they'll be no more demons? No more war? No sin or crime?” Dawn asked.

“While the personification of Evil is no more, there will still be suffering and injustice while there is life,” the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence answered. “Free will and all that. Well, it has been...a lark.”

A white fog spilled into the room, rolling towards the Supreme Being, Giver of Life, Creator of the Universe, Architect of All Reality, the Alpha and Omega of Existence, gathering around him and rising to the ceiling. Randall and the others ran into the fog and disappeared in its thickness. The four along the ground rolled into the funnel, swirling faster and faster, then vanished in a clap. Buffy, Xander, and Dawn stood alone in the room.

“Huh,” Xander said. “That was odd.”

“Wow, this is freaky. Xander, you actually died and came back,” Buffy noted.

“You died to protect me,” Dawn said, hugging him closely.

“Totally worth it,” he told her.

Turning to Buffy, he added, “Hey, you're not the only one who's died and come back anymore.”

“Welcome to the club. Dues are twenty bucks,” Buffy turned to Dawn. “How are you holding up? You okay with no longer being the Key?”

“I can honestly say, I don't miss it,” Dawn said. “All it ever got me was watching people I love die to protect me. I'd rather give it up than go through that again.”

“You are extraordinary,” Xander told her.

“That's what I've heard.”

A smile broke out on Xander's face, and he let out a small laugh.

“What is it?” Buffy asked.

“We just met God. And he's an old English white guy. Willow is going to be so pissed.”

The End

You have reached the end of "Deus ex Machina". This story is complete.

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