Who said TV Wasn’t Useful?
Chapter 2 – Who said TV Wasn’t Useful?
(How to be a Superhero in a single, easy step)
Rupert Giles had, as of five minutes ago, received a package from England. While this was nothing unusual, what the package contained and the letter that came with it made the entire ordeal something that made him prepare a large pot of strong tea and sit down heavily, while he read it again and again, hoping that the contents would change by miracle.Dear Rupert, It has been a fairly long time since we spoke. I hope this letter finds you well, and that your Slayer is still making us proud (or at least myself).
Giles sighed. Since the mess with Acathla, Buffy had disappeared to parts unknown, and they had been holding the fort with just the rest of the ‘Scoobies’, and luck was still holding for the time being, but once the so called ‘summer lull’ ended, they would be in serious trouble. He feared reporting it to the Council, and Travers’ actions if he learned of a ‘lost’ Slayer.I would like to say that this letter is just and old and sentimental friend missing another, however it pains me to say it isn’t the case. Since you were the only one to believe in me and the words of my ancestor, I come to you with the force of Destiny hanging at my back. You read the words of the Nameless One the same way that I did, and the Prophecy she uttered before passing away. And I believe the time is coming, my friend. I Saw it.
Giles shook his head. Michael had a vice for certain theatricals, but he wasn’t prone to exaggerations or lies. Besides, as far as he knew, the old Watcher wasn’t a Seer.You might be asking yourself if this isn’t the ramblings of an old man wishing for something he studied his whole life to become real before he passed away. I tell you again, my friend, it is not. I went to the Coven and asked the Matriarch for confirmation of my findings, and I hoped she would say I was finally getting mad. However, one of her own Seers came to us and sat with me. Below is a transcript of her vision.‘Shards of Steel, Brother and Sister, Split through the Gateway to the Heavens.Dust is the destiny of History true, A shadow but remains in the hearts of the young.Blood shall awaken one, Belief shall awaken the other.What is closed shall once again be opened, What was hidden will be sought.The Guardian of It All awakens, Heaven amidst the Wars.Kin Warriors, Power and Honor Shall again Light the Way.If only for eternity, If only for a moment.’While I hoped to see the swords together again, the stanzas of this prophecy scare me greatly, and I believe you as well. Now I can’t trust the Council to do what’s best with the sword, that’s why I’m sending it to you, my friend. It was what my vision, the only one I had my entire life, told me to do. I’ve managed to hide the disappearance of it quite thoroughly, but somebody is bound to figure something out if the Heirs end up resurfacing. I’ll try to cover things at my end, and I hope you can find whomever this sword belongs to. I sent word to your niece, she is aware of the situation that is brewing, however I didn’t enter in too many details with her.Keep yourself safe, my friend, and me posted with details.Forever your friend,Michael.
Giles finally put the letter to a side. So far he had kept the wooden box closed, but it was time to face the truth. He turned the latches towards him, and with a quick uttered spell, they both popped open. It was far better than a common padlock, and no first, second or third-rate airport lockpicker would be able to pop them. Inside, securely held in a foam cutout rested what the Watchers had dubbed the Sword of the Heir. The Englishman hadn’t seen it in a long time, and he still remembered the lessons Michael had given him about it.
It was magical, even a man with a speck of magical sensitivity could feel it, however, the ‘field of effect’ the sword had was quite small for something allegedly so powerful. Aside from that, they had tested the blade against several different materials, and it cut *everything* it had be put against like the proverbial hot knife through butter. They couldn’t remove a sample for analysis, and every attempt of checking it microscopically caused some hidden ward to be tripped, and the sword would somehow block the attempt. A common microscope had its lenses cracked, and so did seven others used. An electronic microscope had its inner workings burned to a crisp, and so did every single piece of technology used after that, no matter how small or large, shielded or not.
“Nice sword, G-Man. Can I see it?”
The usually controlled Watcher jumped from the chair, and by luck he didn’t find himself splattered on the ground. He turned around, murder in his eyes, to see a smirking Xander, waiting patiently behind him. The boy was a blessing sometimes, with his well-timed humor to lift the worse of the moods, but most of the time, his notion of ‘humor’ left much to be desired.
“No, you may not,” Giles said, closing the box. “Aside from wishing for a slow and most painful death, what can I do for you today, Xander?”
Xander walked around the older man and sat on a chair, grinning slightly. “Tell me, G-Man, are you any good in interpreting dreams?” he asked.
That caught Giles’ attention. “Well,” he said, entering into the ‘scholar’ mode, “Watchers are trained to interpret them, because of the Slayers’ rather particular form of foresight. However, dreams are usually convoluted and bizarre, so their inner meanings are difficult to behold in most situations.”
The brunette teen sighed. “A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would be enough, G. So?”
The Watcher pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes, Xander, I can. Why?”
The brunette turned serious. “I don’t know if you ever saw a cartoon in your life, Giles, or at least this particular cartoon. Since this is more to my age bracket than yours, I believe a little explanation should come first.”
“You want me to interpret a dream you had regarding a cartoon?” the Watcher asked, growing even more annoyed.
“If it was that simple, even I wouldn’t be so dumb to come to you, G-Man. It might not look like it, but I do have my limits, especially on times like these. Back to topic, there is an old cartoon called He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Basically, it tells a story of a planet, called Eternia, and a place, a castle named Grayskull. Grayskull was like a Hellmouth of cosmic proportions, however it seems like instead of being a convergence of badness, it was a convergence of everythingness, good and bad and in-between. I think good prevailed by a large margin, but that is just my interpretation nowadays. Such power, as you might as well guess, was coveted by the Big Bad, in the cartoon’s case a dumbass called Skeletor. He was a gods be damned powerhouse, but his plans…” the teen shook his head.
“Bad?” Giles asked, sitting down, interest growing.
“Sometimes, sometimes poorly executed…you can blame writers for kiddies on that one, after all good always win in the end,” Xander replied, and muttered to himself. “I still can’t believe JMS wrote a few of them and ended up writing Babylon 5.”
Giles shook his head, missing the last and nearly silent rant. “Ah, yes, the old American motto,” he grumbled.
Xander nodded. “Got it in one. He got minions, dumb ones almost exactly like the ones we have around here. But that is not what’s interesting, Giles. The good guys had a sort of leader, the hero of the show, a prince called Adam. Adam was chosen somehow – they never told why – to be the bearer of parts of the Power of Grayskull. He had a magical sword, and he would lift it to the skies, and after screaming ‘By the Power of Grayskull’, he would be transformed into He-Man, the ‘most powerful Man in the Universe’,” he said, making the signs with his hands.
The Watcher heard the tale, but when Xander spoke about ‘chosen’ and ‘magical sword’, he blanched. Couldn’t be so obvious, could it?
The teenager, while usually a goof, was quite observant, and the older man’s reaction was seen and, while not understood, was held in his thought processes for future investigation. “Now it’s when things get interesting. For the past five or so weeks, I’ve been having those dreams, Giles. I think they’re mostly parts of memories, sometimes of battles, sometimes of happy days, but they’re disjointed and mostly out of order. Their common thread is someone, a male, fighting other beings, holding a sword. It’s always the same sword, G, and while I haven’t seen their faces, I know that every time it was a different person, sometimes not even human. It’s like what Buffy told me once about her Calling and her dream of other Slayers.”
“I-I don’t think…” Giles started, thinking the tale ended.
“It’s not the end, Giles, and that is why I came to you. I didn’t tell you all the details about the cartoon, but I think you’ll understand. I fell asleep last night after patrolling and…”
Xander appeared in a plain somewhere, the high grass up to his mid-thighs, while the strange stone-like ring behind him shut down. This was quite different from the ‘battles’ he had been involved in the past weeks, and for the first time he wasn’t holding the sword while battling some people out of He-Man’s cartoons or Lovecraft’s deranged mind. Looking around, he noticed he was surrounded by forest, but something was pulling him to go in a specific direction. While not having instincts as developed as Buffy’s, they had never failed him before, so he decided to go with the flow, and started walking. His trek to and through the forest had been amazingly short, thanks to the weird rules set in the dreamworld. He was standing on the bottom of an incline on the terrain, and looking to the sides he noticed there was a small trail circling the edge of the forest, and right after a huge chasm. He moved to the right, following the trail, and as soon as he cleared the obstruction the incline provided, he saw it.
It looked different than the cartoon, true, but he figured the artists had to have some artistic license to draw it, since this puppy standing in front of him looked more like a castle fit for a demon lord from Hell than a place worth defending by the forces of good. The castle was dormant, and from the looks of it, for quite a long time. Vines had dominated most of the structure, to a point that Xander believed the drawbridge wouldn’t be able to lower. He kept walking the trail, until he found himself right in front of the point where the bridge would sit when lowered. Something caught his attention on the ground, and instead of crouching, he walked two steps back to see it better.
It was a skeleton, the grass and dirt covering most of it. Xander then remembered a trip he had made to a museum a long time ago with Willow, and his brain finally identified what kind it was. Even being mostly buried, a good part of the skull was visible. It was a feline, and if the lumps around the ground were from the skeleton, it was a *huge* one. Would it be the final resting place of Battle Cat? Shaking his head, Xander turned to the castle at a distance.
“Now what? If I say ‘By the Power of Grayskull, I order the bridge to lower’ will it…lower?” he asked to no one, but the ancient castle apparently heard the order, and decided to obey it. Like some ancient beast, the massive jaw that served as the only entry point to it broke the vines that covered most of its surface, and in a few moments it was landing with a heavy thud in the other side of the chasm, allowing the teen entrance.
“I don’t believe it. I don’t freaking believe it!” he said, looking to the darkened entrance, a shiver of fear mixed with deep curiosity traveling up and down his spine. Curiosity won, and he started walking down the bridge, not looking back. As it had happened previously to another one, he didn’t see a spectral blonde giant of a man, with a huge tiger with green and yellow stripes and battle armor following his movement until he entered the castle and the bridge closed. The giant man smiled, and disappeared into eternity, the tiger following a moment behind.
The bridge closed behind him, and instead of the fear growing into a panic, it went away like a candle snuffed in a soft wind. Speaking of candles, row after row of torches lighted up magically. Xander started walking, following the lighted path, going deeper and deeper into the castle. After what felt like hours, even dream-time, Xander was standing in front of a set of massive double doors. He was supposed to be here, he didn’t know why, and at this particular moment, he wasn’t caring, even with all the Hellmouth had taught him. Several runes lighted the entire door’s structure, and in a particular order, they went out, one by one. Once the last one finished, they opened to an immense chamber. At the end of it, he could see a blue-ish crystal, glowing with some sort of inner light. Inside it, a woman, or perhaps some sort of angel, since she had wings folded around her own body. Her arms were crossed in front of her, and her entire clothing ensemble reminded Xander of some sort of Egyptian goddess. However, the hawk-based motif made clear who the woman was.
He approached carefully, and he noticed that the crystal was part of a greater structure, made of a strange metal. He walked around the base, and in each side of the crystal, on its frame, there was some sort of lock. Under the rightmost, a glyph that Xander *knew* meant Power, and the leftmost, another one meaning Honor. At the very foot of the crystal, a blue crystal blinked and to its side a green one was steadily lighted. He touched the blue one and felt like he had his hand in a pulse point. It was probably some sort of indicator of the Sorceress’ health, and its strength probably meant the woman was all right in her sleep. The green one, however, did something unexpected. Behind the teen a column of light appeared, and in the middle of it a hologram of the Sorceress appeared. She spoke, voice clear and strong.
“Belief shall bring One Need shall bring the OtherOne Bound by Power One Bound by HonorSouls Kin to Others Fighters among the StarsTo find the Power And to awaken the SleeperFor the Sleeper they fight For the Universe they fightFor themselves, nothing”
“…and that’s when I woke up, Giles. Worse of it all, I remember everything as if I was awake to see it.”
The Watcher was speechless, his cleaning of his glasses halted in surprise, hands trembling. By the Almighty and all the gods and goddesses, it was so utterly unbelievable that it boggled the mind. He took a deep breath, trying to put things in order.
“Giles, anything wrong?” Xander asked, concern clear in his voice.
“N-no…no, nothing’s wrong, Xander. Could you wait a minute while I make a phone call? I’ll be back in a moment,” the Watcher said, and without waiting for an answer, entered into his office to call his niece, since Michael would probably be at the Council right now. He was so distraught that he forgot to pick up the letter and lock the sword’s box.
Xander had never seen Giles so wigged, except when it was dire and Hellmouth-related, and he now knew it was related to his dream. But what in Heavens a dream related to a cartoon could leave the G-Man like that? And he didn’t even blink, or asked if it wasn’t something that he Xander had concocted to prank him. Then Destiny decided to push things a little bit, and a small wind blew through the library, making the letter resting atop the table fall to the ground.
The teen picked up, and a small hint of curiosity made him read the first paragraph. Since it mentioned Buffy in a favored light and it also hinted at some sort of danger, he read the rest of the letter. A minute and a half later, after three more readings, he dropped it, and turned to the closed box, wonder in his eyes.
He opened it, and almost wept. It was the Sword of Power, exactly as he remembered from his dreams.
It was his Sword.
Reverently, he touched the pommel and felt a tingle of energy go up his arm.
The Bond was formed, quicker than it had expected.
He lifted it from the box, it was lighter than he expected and it almost slipped from his hand, which trembled slightly. He managed to catch it, but in the end, he nicked his palm in the razor sharp blade.
The Price was paid.
Xander didn’t even bother with the small cut and the slight bleeding. Something primal, even more so than when he was possessed by the Hyena was present here, and his dreams and the letter only served to prove this to him.
Belief shone like a supernova. Need was out of the equation, since he was the Heir. All that remained was Knowledge, but the Heir was guided in what to do, it was part of the Deal.
Smiling like a schoolboy that he was, he started murmuring something that he heard several times during his childhood.
“I am Adam, Prince of Eternia, defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said…”
“Xander, what are you…” the Watcher tried to interrupt, but it was already too late.
“BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL!!”
There is a planet, in the center of the Milky Way. Its name has been forgotten by many, if not all of the ancient races. Some because of fear, others because the need of secrecy was too great. On it, in its *exact* cosmological center, lies a nexus of power unlike anything else in the galaxy. Some called it the ‘Birthplace of the Gods’, others the ‘Nexus’, one called it ‘home’, but most of them named it for the fortification built around it. In the old language of Earth, it would be called Fiedn’or Grip’Thahak.
In modern day English, it would come close to translate as Castle Grayskull.
On Earth, several thousand light years away, a young man evoked the call to the Powers hidden within the unbelievably old construction. The castle, even being dormant for ages, heard it, and the Power sought the mystic equivalent of a shortcut to create a way to deliver it to its rightful owner.
Close to the castle laid a Stargate, placed there by the Ancients when this particular planet was already deserted. The Power *knew* what the gate was capable of, and it had taken measures to forbid access to the planet if not using a specific set of rules. Incoming gates were blocked even before forming, however *outgoing* ones were child’s play to create. Grayskull could have used its own powers to find the Heir, however it first needed to ‘fix’ its Bond to do so. So far away, it meant something could go wrong if not aided. If the Sorceress was awake, she could act as the mind behind the Bond, and nothing of this subterfuge would be needed.
The wormhole formed in a mere moment, all of the chevrons engaging at the same time, with a specific destination, and destiny, coded upon them.
Inside Cheyenne Mountain, deep down in the mountain, Earth’s most guarded military secret engaged with a speed that surprised everyone who had worked with it before. One moment it was deactivated, the next the wormhole was already forming, the chevrons lighting as one. Another interesting thing was that there was no backlash from the wormhole, it simply formed without the event horizon vortex phenomenon, or as the soldiers joked among them, the inverted toilet flush.
“Incoming worm…” the technician started screaming in the microphone in front of him while his hand hit the red alert button.
The horn didn’t even start sounding when a massive electrical discharge surrounded the Gate and exploded outwards. It discharged to the ground in seconds, but in the process it blew most of the circuit breakers built in the system, leaving the base with a massive blackout.
The Gate disengaged one second after.
Giles heard Xander’s scream and didn’t understand a thing, except for the fact that the teen was playing with a mystical weapon of unknown origin and properties.
“Xander, what in the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked to an even more surprised teen.
“It didn’t work, why the hell it didn’t work?” the brunette asked, ignoring the Watcher while looking to the sword in his hands.
“What didn’t …”
The small dialogue happened in the seconds between Xander’s evocation and the Power finding its way to him. Once it did lock on his aura and the Sword of Power’s magical signature, it climbed to the heavens above them and then discharged itself as a massive magical bolt right on the tip of the sword.
The initial backlash threw Giles quite a few feet away, and it would have done the same to Xander if he wasn’t holding the sword firmly with both hands. The energy engulfed and locked him in a protective cocoon for the time being. Inside it, the spell first did a scan of his mind in the blink of an eye, both to know *how* to do what needed to be done and to be certain he was indeed worthy of the Power. The quasi-sentience deemed him so, so it went to the next step and scanned his biology and before it started pouring on the Power, it healed the body to near-perfection, removing wounds old and new, gained from both his rather nasty family life and his willingness into helping Buffy. It then searched into his subconscious for a fitting armor design, and if it had any real conscience it would have smiled with the memory of its own representation, based on this planet’s culture, and how the Heir saw himself using it. It wasn’t bad, but it needed some adaptation to be worthy. Having collected all the data it needed, the Power started building up.
And Xander started screaming with joy.
He grew. And grew. And grew a bit more. And then some. His muscles - already hardened from the constant night-fight – turned into thick bands of corded diamond, strong beyond what physics and biology would deem possible. His hair went past his shoulders, his skin gained an olive hue of someone living day after day under the sun. His eyes turned into an electric blue color, his face gained deeper lines, thus changing his appearance enough for him not to be identified easily. His clothes vanished before they were torn into a million pieces, being replaced by pants of some kind of strong leather, boots resembling a biker, arm and forearm bracers of some sort of metal. In his chest, the Power created a breastplate similar to the one it saw on his memories, however offering quite a deal more of protection. To finish with his armor, it created a clasp to hold the hair out of the way.
Once this part was finished, it grabbed all the fighting knowledge it had assembled from all of its users and started pouring onto his brain. However, it found something else there, two other facets of minor power gained during the Heir’s brief lifetime. Instead of fighting for dominance, the Power offered a chance of integrating them to the whole, and both facets accepted easily. Thus, Xander’s eyes turned from electric blue to a deep green, and he gained a lot of knowledge of modern Earth firearms and military techniques. Aside from that, the Power saw an opportunity to use something that was generally reserved to the other facet of itself, and the Heir gained the knowledge of how to speak with animals. His senses, already sharpened but still within what humans would call normal, took a flying leap into ‘impossible’ levels.
The process was almost finished, the Gestalt merging into the whole when Xander Harris, Heir to Power, screamed again. “I HAVE THE POWER!!!”
And then it was ended.
Across the Galaxy, a few beings looked to the sky, some with joy, some with hatred. The message was clear for those sensitive and knowledgeable enough.
Grayskull had awakened once again.