First of all just let me say, thanks to Methos for inspiring me with his fic and challenge. Tales from the Barman. I only just discovered it like yesterday so excuse me for jumping in late in the game, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity to play with such a broad and muse friendly concept. And yes I know more then half of you who read this probably won't know the characters at all, that's to be expected since I'm crossing over with another fanfic of my own creation currently only posted on a different fan fiction sight. Still I hope you'll enjoy it anyway.WARNING
This is really just one big Dialogue heavy scene, so if you'd prefer a little more meat on your bones sorry look elsewhere. Maybe I'll do a followup to this at another time.Disclaimer:
The Nights concept originated with Methos, I'm sure tons of people have heard of it before me and perhaps tons more afterwards. Thanks alot Methos again for creating such an interesting and enriching concept, that damn fic drew me in like nobodies business and I still haven't read every chapter. Which is a good thing.
Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel. Marvel Comics owns the rights to Tigra, Warbird, Roma the Omniversal Guardian and the basic premise of the Omniverse I'm working with at the moment. Harbinger, Jennifer, Allan, Candace and anyone else I forget to mention are products of my imagination. I own them and I torment them on a daily basis, if you wish to join. Gotta ask nicely first and it helps to know the characters backstory.
And finally, anything Star Trek belongs to Paramount. Ares the Greek God of war mentioned form the Xena/Herculese verse belongs to... Well I'm not sure 100%, but I wanna say Sam Raimi. I know he had a lot to do with the series. The box sets say Universal Television, so we'll go with that too, Harry Potter and the rest are J. K. Rowling and the Hobbits belong to J. R. R. Tolkien. Don't own anyone other then my characters, please no legalities.
As the saying often goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. No words could be truer then now, with the entire universe dubbed Earth Seven Ninety-Nine crumbling around them. As luck would have it the team would manage to escape through sheer fluke on the design of Fates’ whimsy, rushing to the rendezvous point for Roma’s exit portal they passed through a door, a door that took them from Deaths’ grip into a rather cramped and dimly lit broom closet.
“Get your arm out of my crotch.”
“That’s not my arm Carol.”
“Primus this is worse then the time… I can’t think of it, but it has to be worse then something I’ve experienced.”
“Husband, turn knob, exit tight space.”
“Like I couldn’t figure that out, just one problem I think Warbird’s trapped my arm against her bosom and my left is kind of stuck at an odd angle.”
“You have more then just two limbs lover.”
As one the quintet of heroes comprising reality hopping team Salvation tumbled out of the broom closet in a tangled mess of limbs and a few weapons, landing in a heap on the floor of a bar, of all places.
“Slag it all Jennifer, now I’m getting cramped.” A muffled voice from the bottom of the pile complained, managing to untangle themselves the group quickly reclaimed their footing. The lone male amongst them twisting his arm from the broken and most likely painful angle it had wound up in, instantly it healed.
“Cramped?” A leggy dirty blonde repeated with a slight smirk.
“Ok.” The lone male relented with a sigh. “My katana was digging into my chest and this busted arm didn’t help.” He admitted sheathing the weapon in question into a scabbard strapped onto his back. Behind the bar the owner of the establishment took in this eclectic looking group, the lone male was a tall one reaching six foot three wearing a predominantly black uniform with silver trim along the outside of the gloves, boots, the inner legs, outer arms and chest. The symbol of a cobra poised to strike centered on his chest in blood red, although the symbol was pretty much just the head of the serpent, obvious red flags to anyone who knew of the Cobra terrorist organization.
A long duster made of matching black leather ran down past his ankles almost sweeping the floor, across his eyes was a thin black mask with a scaled motif, in fact the pattern of scales covered everything except the duster.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but that was not the rendezvous point.” The easily recognized super heroine known as Tigra commented, shaking his head the man eyed the broom closet suspiciously holding up his gloved wrist and pulling the end back just slightly to reveal an ordinary looking wristwatch.
“Some kind of natural doorway between realities.” He surmised after a quick glance at the watch face. “To quote a Vulcan I wish I’d met, fascinating.” He added raising his left brow in mimicry of Spock.
“Hello.” A voice called out from the busy bar, turning the group took note of a one eyed brunette man wiping a glass, a large smile gracing his lips. “Welcome to Nights, names Xander and I’ll be your barman for the evening.”
“Drinks?” Tigra asked the man, aside from her and Warbird, AKA Carol Danvers formerly Mrs. Marvel Xander, the man behind the bar. Didn’t recognize most of their little group, but he’d seen stranger in his time as owner and manager of a bar with a dimensional gateway in the broom closet.
“Considering we just royally fucked up our mission and lost Harbinger in the process I guess it couldn’t hurt.” He sighed searching the semi-crowded room for a table, today was Monday and it was actually busy for a change.
“I take it you lost the good fight this time.” Xander remarked understanding in his tone; he had a unique perspective considering his current profession and his past one.
“Understatement of the year.” The light blonde woman on the end returned tucking her weapon away in a pouch at her side; Xander actually took note of that considering the weapon in question had been a nine foot long bladed quarterstaff. She was dressed in your typical super hero outfit, tight as all hell green bodice and skirt with blue fishnet stockings covering her otherwise bare legs and knee high forest green stiletto heeled boots, she reminded Xander of Black Canary without sleeves.
“Don’t know if it means anything, but when you go back you’ll return to the exact moment you left.” Xander informed, the snake themed man laughed a short barking laugh and flopped at a table nearby.
“We’re not going back through there, Earth seven nine nine and its corresponding Universe just got wiped out of existence to be replaced by the new Earth seven nine nine.” He stated callously, a hint of bitterness creeping into his tone. “Whatever that’s like, probably another new DC Comics Earth now, they’re always suffering some stupid Infinite Crisis and then having random new realities pop up to start it all over again.” Half the patrons in the bar stared horrified at the five person group, the leggy dirty blonde in the skintight possibly spandex ruby colored cat-suit placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“It happens Serpens; we’re not the only ones who fail look at the Exiles or heck the X-Men.” She pointed out softly; Serpens as Xander now knew him by nodded a sad sigh escaping his lips.
“I know Jen, but I didn’t think we’d mess up this time.” He admitted the light blonde in green and scantly clad Tigra joined him at the table both offering a brief touch of support.
“Don’t think like that.” Tigra chastised. “We did all we could, Harbinger was just too clever this time.
“You’ll feel better when we get home and you kick somebody around a little, like Loki.” The light blonde added smirking a little Serpens reached up to clasp the womans’ hand.
“I doubt Thor or Odin would be pleased about that, besides I’d rather just hang out with the family.”
“So drinks, what are we all having?” Warbird asked sensing the mood had lightened somewhat, the patrons all returned to their own problems or activities leaving Xander to come over and serve his latest curious guests.
“Scotch and soda for me.” The light blonde announced.
“Candace.” The dirty blonde mock gasped.
“What, I’m not driving besides I’m sick of Synthol.” She pouted rather childishly eliciting a laugh from the dirty blonde, Serpens had called her Jennifer. So now Xander had a name for each of the faces, but he still didn’t know the whole story or recognize the three of them. Obviously they came from some reality based on Marvel’s comic books, but Synthol was a Federation creation and he highly doubted that this Serpens had the kind of strength to take on a God. Then again maybe they had a story to tell and ever since he opened up this place he’d developed an interest in good stories.
“I’ll have a Martini, dry.” Warbird ordered.
“Gin and tonic.” Tigra requested taking a seat. “Damn girlfriend of yours got me hooked.” She jokingly complained addressing Candace.
“Fiancée now.” She corrected.
“And you two?” Xander asked turning to the man and woman who were now sitting pretty close, Serpens was wearing gloves, but Jennifer was not and he caught a glimpse of what might have been gold on her ring finger.
“White whine I guess, doesn’t really matter what brand I don’t really taste the stuff anymore anyways.” She replied with a wistful sigh.
“Zippo for me.” Serpens informed. “Never developed a taste for casual drinking.” He added by way of explanation, memorizing the orders Xander returned behind the bar to mix their drinks while the team of five settled into their seats eyes roaming the room and taking in the eclectic group of patrons. He wasn’t surprised that Serpens’ gaze found the trophy wall first, or the awe as it lingered on the Ivanhoe hanging prominently there.
“Is that Harry Potter?” Xander heard Candace ask, years behind the bar had gotten him to perfect his hearing range plus it didn’t help that some of the Hyena possession left him with a little bit wider range when it came to listening in.
“Yes and he’s drinking with Meriadoc Brandybuck and Pippin apparently.” Serpens noted smirking slightly. “Almost reminds me of the House of Mouse.”
“House of what?” A red headed boy at the next table blurted his mousy haired companion frowning at his obvious rudeness.
“Ron, you’re supposed to be paying attention to me. This is our first date remember.” She accused.
“House of Mouse.” Serpens repeated in a drab almost monotone voice ignoring the girls’ words. “A club created by Mickey Mouse and friends where all the Disney Stars get together to eat, watch cartoons and generally have a good time. I modified it slightly on my personal Holodeck so that every companies cartoon characters could be present, my daughters love it.”
“Ruddy touched this one is ‘Mione.” The boy muttered turning back to his date and nearly getting socked in the eye for his troubles.
“Respect your elders Ronald Weasley.” Jennifer chastised with a smirk.
“Cor, I’ll never get used to people knowing about us.” Ron exclaimed before taking a sip of his butterbeer. Xander returned with the four drinks and presented them to each customer, he was dieing to know about these five. Especially the three he still didn’t recognize, from what he’d heard so far they sounded pretty intriguing and he’d love to add some of their stories to his collection.
“So.” He began offering his best charming smile. “You five must have had some wild adventures together. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of my customers. At least the more unusual ones have presented me with something to remember them by, and if they can’t pay they tell me their story or one of them to go along with it.” Xander paused wondering if he needed to pry further, even though he disliked it immensely sometimes you just had to be nosy to find out the answers to some questions.
“Got a year, our story’s complicated, convoluted and just plain nuts at times.” Serpens commented with a light chuckle looking out of place with nothing to drink, his wife punched him playfully in the arm.
“Touché.” Xander observed knowing how the other man felt. “But surely you can at least tell me who you are, I’ll admit to being a bit of a comic geek, but I’ve never seen three of you before in anything Marvel’s produced.” He admitted taking the sixth seat; Jennifer shot him a winning smile and pulled her matching red mask off revealing her full and charming facial features as well as green eyes they seemed to pull him in. She was perfect, and not just super model or actress perfect but every part of her body was perfectly designed asymmetrically and complimented a particular feature from her eyelashes to the length of her hair almost reaching down to her backside.
“Fair enough.” She said.
“Candace Carlisle though I’m not officially married yet, code name Jinx. I was born on one of the Earth Primes’ but relocated to Earth Nine Twenty-Nine with Jen and Al around two thousand forty-five. Partially because we didn’t want to be separated from our friends, mostly because we’d lived out our usefulness there.” She introduced holding out her hand to which Xander politely shook it.
“Wow.” He could only say to that, most of his customers barely talked to him about which reality they came from. More then half probably didn’t even know what designation it had. “You don’t look that old.” He complimented lacking anything else to say.
“Yes well that’s part of the longer story.” Serpens quipped with a roll of his eyes. “Let’s just leave it at perpetually ageless after twenty-nine, or twenty-five and longer then average lifespan for a human.”
“That explains the wards detecting nanoprobes in your blood.” Xander commented thoughtfully. “I take it you’ve run into the Borg and Starfleet too if you have your own Holodeck, and not just a replica Danger Room.”
“And transporters, replicators, heck I’m thinking of building my own Starship. Already got a replica X-Wing, Back to the Future style Delorean and a couple other things I couldn’t pass up making once I had the replicators.” Serpens elaborated with a self-styled shit eating grin spreading across his face.
“Fanboy.” Xander stated recognizing the glint in the other mans eyes despite the mask.
“But my Fanboy.” Jennifer informed revealing the wedding band on her finger so that all could see; Xander politely took a moment to look at it and then had to take another look.
“Asteroid Metal.” Serpens informed.
“Oh well… I don’t swing that way.” He returned deciding he didn’t want to ask.
“Neither do I.” Serpens commented softly a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he shot the four women a knowing look. “A few counterparts I’ve encountered though… Well let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that kind of crap as regularly as Wolverine or Spider-Man.”
“Super heroes obviously have abilities, care to share yours?” A rather rude man demanded from the next table, Xander didn’t recognize this one either.
“Jen built me a device that shorts out anything technological, Earth or Alien excluding a few sciences from the twenty-sixth century considering Al got all of his stuff from the twenty-fourth. I’m also trained in several forms of martial arts, but could never master or blend Klingon, Vulcan and Jujitsu like these two.” Candace recited smiling as she eyed her friends.
“I think you meant Karate, and the Vulcans really don’t have much in the way of aggressive moves.” Jen pointed out.
“Honey you do realize we know so many forms they kind of blend after awhile.” Serpens interjected. Xander grinned, now he could see it. The woman, Jennifer was sitting so close to Serpens that at first it wasn’t as noticeable. But the young looking mans’ glove was on the table and, somehow he’d slipped his bare hand underneath the cat-suit as he’d snaked is arm around her waist and was rubbing her stomach in a gesture of affection. It was nice to see a married couple who loved each other so well, especially if they’d lived as long as he figured in his head.
“I guess so.” She conceded. “My code name’s Scepter, but you can call me Jennifer, Jennifer Rutherford. I just use these beauties and my natural martial arts skills.” She elaborated indicating a pair of Sai tucked into her belt, Xander nodded absorbing the info to him this was just as fascinating as if he were being told an adventure story, getting to meet brand new never been in print before super heroes was a nice change from the ones he knew.
“Allan Pendragon Rutherford, no sense in getting into all the aliases so Serpens is fine.” Al stated taking off his mask to reveal deep blue eyes, if Xander was a girl he might actually go for him. Though the bulky suit hid it well he could see that he was well muscled and in excellent physical shape, his facial features matched the ideal man. Firm jaw line smooth hard cheeks, not a hint of fat or blubber; the perfect male specimen to match Jennifer’s perfect female specimen and he surprisingly didn’t seem to have any stubble. “I’m wearing several variable sized replicators of my own design, the curse of a high IQ, I use them in this persona to create technological or technorganic snakes of any species and control them via mind link. Plus I use the Katana of course. Genuine Olympian forged steel or iron or whatever Hephaestus uses a gift from the God of the Forge.”
“So then you three aren’t from Marvel?” The same strange man wondered. Al shook his head eyeing the man suspiciously.
“Earth Prime, at least the one we came from had no super heroes, no vampire slayers, nothing really like you’ve probably ever seen in Fiction.” He explained. “Just a race of demons that were beauty incarnate back in the day. I used to be Gods’ champion ‘til I won that war, restored the balance and gave up the powers.”
“Hmmmm, sounds like something out of a fan fiction piece.” Xander commented. Al smirked glancing to his wife who briefly shot a gaze heavenwards as if saying, what are you going to do?
“Maybe it is.” Candace supplied. “We don’t care.”
“Personally I’d rather believe my life is one big destiny thing then simple pen to paper entertainment.” Al commented with a serious expression.
“Gotta agree with you on that.” Xander glanced around the room slightly as if taking stock of the current situation and then turned back to Al.
“So, how are you getting home?” He wondered. “And what was that mission you guys were on anyway?”
“The answer to the second question is complicated.” Warbird spoke up for the first time.
“As for the first, I’m sure Q or Ares or someone will show up eventually to pick us up we can’t very well go back through that interdimensional doorway to make our rendezvous point if the Universe we used to get here was totally destroyed… Probably get picked up before closing time too I’d wager.” Jen remarked with a casual shrug of dismissal.
“At least that trip was better then most of our others, always falling flat on our face and hey I only broke one bone this time.” Al added under his breath sarcastically. “I highly doubt Roma wouldn’t be aware of a place like this.” He spoke aloud though not so loud as to be heard by everyone in the bar.
“Omniversal Guardian Roma?” Andrew asked suddenly appearing as if out of nowhere, rolling her eyes Jen simply nodded.
“We operate as one of her personal teams of heroes on call for any emergency, when the Captain Brittan Corps can’t handle it or if it’s a reality other then Marvel Comics born we or a team similar to ours is called in on the job.” Tigra stated a text book speech.
“Serpens started it; see she’s always been keen to convince one of Earth Primes’ heroes to work for her. Something about their unique perspective on things, so Al decided to sign up.” Warbird added with what might have been a lust filled stare aimed at the man in question.
“The paycheck being offered was just a bonus.” Al added with a smirk not seeming to care that Warbird was starting to act like a love struck teenager now that she’d gotten a little drunk, this was her third glass already though Xander didn’t recall serving her past the first one.
“Better not tell Buffy about that. She’s still sore at the fact the old Council didn’t pay her for saving the world.” Xander commented.
“Tell her to ask Roma if she needs a Slayer, trust me the pay is more then I could imagine. Something about all destroyed universes financial resources falling under her jurisdiction and needing to be spread out otherwise the balance of the Omniverse might go crazy.” Al advised with a wide smile.
“Anyway.” Candace cut in getting back to the exposition. “Salvation started off with just Jennifer, Al, my girlfriend now fiancée Christine and I.”
“Basically we go to other universes and help solve whatever crisis their facing if it’s Omniversal in origin.” Jen added.
“You’re like the Exiles?” Andrew blurted a glimmer in his eyes. “I’ve waited for this day forever; pick me to join your universe saving team. Oh please, oh please, oh please.” He begged. Chuckling Al shook his head, the others were all smirking as well and Xander suddenly had a flash of insight, really a no-brainer considering the names of his team roster and the fact he happened to be the one who sees.
“Andrew I don’t think you’re what this team looks for in a super hero.” He stated with certainty.
“What, why? I may not have powers, but… Well I’m a pretty mean cook if I do say so myself.” The ex-villain bragged, shaking his head Serpens pulled a wallet out of his back pocket. Sliding a photograph out he laid it on the table, Andrew and Xander both glanced at it curiously. A group of heroes, some of them Xander even knew from Marvel comics stood or sat around a swimming pool while Al barbequed. What was most apparent was the fact Al was the only one not wearing a bikini.
“One of God’s little cosmic jokes of irony.” Was all he had to say on the matter.
“Not that you’ve ever complained since we started experimenting.” Tigra blurted in a slurred tone of voice, Al blushed crimson at the innuendo and Candace burst into gay laughter.
“I could get a sex change.” Andrew blurted desperate to become a super hero. Xander had to hide his smile at the thought of Andrew becoming Andrea, rolling his eyes Al turned back to Xander and ignored the whining of the resident nerd.
“Salvation was sent to stop one of Warrens’ mistakes; some time ago I was fighting this demon overlord who decided he’d get a kick out of saving Mears from Darth Willow. Turned him into a Demon hybrid Superman wannabe for the dark side and he’s been Salvations’ primary antagonist for a while now.” The man paused a grimace of disgust on his face. “Anyway, he created this demon by accident while he was recruiting for his super villain team. Harbinger it’s called, it’s been destroying universes trying to find Warren to kill him. Bad blood or something, so Roma sent us in again to try and contain the spawn of a bitch.”
“Problem is Jennifer wasn’t able to come this time because of a case she’s working on, she and Warbird are about the only two that can actually hurt him because they’re the closest to mystically empowered we got.” Tigra spoke up frowning slightly as she finally seemed to realize she’d finished her latest drink and no one was offering to refill her glass.
“I can see where that would be a problem.” Xander agreed sympathetically, since Jennifer was sitting next to Al and since he’d seen the picture he correctly assumed she meant Jennifer Walters the She-Hulk.
“How are you going to stop him?” Andrew wondered having lost his nerdgasm as it were once learning there was a Warren still alive out there with the powers akin to the Man of Steel.
“Not our problem at the moment.” Candace sighed stretching to get the kinks out of her shoulders.
“Let the Captain Britain Corps figure it out, personally I’d just as soon feed him to Unicron.” Al grumbled stifling a yawn. “I need a good long shower and a rest; my systems are almost in stasis lock.” Quirking an eyebrow at the odd terminology Xander chalked it up to Al’s exhaustion, climbing to his feet he smiled.
“Well that little tale covers the cost of your drinks.” He began.
“Wouldn’t call it much in the way of a story.” Al cut in softly a smirk spreading across his lips.
“Maybe not.” Xander agreed. “But I’m sure you’ll come by again then maybe you can share more about your adventures, the ones you’ve won.” He added. Al inclined his head in a sort of bow of acknowledgement. “Do you think you have something you could contribute to the wall?” Eyeing it thoughtfully the leader of Salvation smirked, raising his arm above the tabletop a tiny flash went off under his sleeve and a hissing, spitting mechanical looking garden snake slithered out.
“Consider this on retainer.” He stated. “I’ll get Q to send you something more appropriate when we get back home.” He promised.
“You sure throw his name around a lot, what’s the deal with you and Q being so palsy?” Andrew asked jealously, laughing out loud the man turned in his seat and leaned closer to Andrew.
“If ye won’t be needed for a while I’ll tell ye the tale.” He began his voice changing in pitch mimicking Captain Barbossa. “A tale about a champion of God and an alien queen and the omnipotent nuisance that introduced the two of them, much to her majesties’ regret.” He added twin tendrils, so thin and fine as to almost appear invisible in the dimness of the room slid out of the mans’ wrist and waved about the air almost as though caught in a breeze.
“If you’re telling another story lover then we want another refill.” Jen cut in eyeing Xander, with a smile and a wink the bartender collected their glasses and headed back to the bar the writhing garden snake tucked under one arm. Part of him curious to know what Al might send him in exchange for the snake and what he would consider more appropriate for his wall. The End