All characters mentioned in this story are property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the owners or creators of these characters. This story is strictly for entertainment purposes, and no money is being made.
I would like to open this up to anyone else to add a chapter to, about people visiting Dust in the Night. Please enjoy.
Ronon was so bored that starting a fight was looking very attractive. They had been brought back to Earth to provide updates to the IOA, and he had decided to tag along, wanting to see this home planet of most Atlanteans, and because people had mentioned an odd holiday called Halloween he wanted to experience.
So far he had seen hotel rooms, conference rooms, hotel dining rooms, and an airport. Currently, he was musing about seeing if he could hit Sheppard with the rolled up bits of paper that had previously been a meeting agenda.
Ronon growled softly, stood up, and slipped out of the room, then out of hotel. Strange place or no strange place, he had survived being a runner, he was pretty sure he could handle one holiday on earth.
It was only about 6 o’clock and not quite dark out. Wandering around he saw the many bright decorations on store fronts in orange and black; portraying a variety of figures he did not really understand. Most of them had words like “BIG SALE” or “LAST CHANCE”, and when he looked in he saw squashes with faces, lots of candy, and flimsy costumes, but none of them caught his eye until he saw a small store tucked away in between a bookstore and a fast food restaurant.
The name of the store was “Dust in the Night” and the only advertisement was a hand drawn sign saying “Don’t be captured unprepared on Halloween, but mostly don’t get captured.” Ronon grinned, that sounded like good sentiment to him, he walked inside curiously and frowned. From the outside he would have imaged the store to be not much more than a few hundred feet square, but instead it was a good thousand feet, brightly lit, with a large open area in the middle before more shelving started, and the floor in that area was a set of concentric rings of varying material, stone, marble, wood, earth, and even bone. There was no way for him to know that they were set up for spell work, summoning, rituals, etc. In different materials to facilitate different needs. Or that a certain red headed friend of the owners had been known to use it for the occasional tantric ritual, though the owner’s video camera’s never seemed to capture anything. But they were interesting to look at.
Now really curious he looked at the walls and his grin slowly got larger. Weapons of all kinds hung on the walls; axes, swords, maces, bows, crossbows, knives, and more. As he kept looking he noticed more types of guns he did not recognize, and then there was an entire area filled with books. Turning he saw the man leaning against a large solidly made wood counter watching him, shaggy black hair, a patch across one eye, and a lazy grin, that did not conceal the fact that he had at least 4 weapons within arms reach. Behind him was an apothecary’s dream. Huge cabinets with more drawers than he could count and to the side shelves filled with jars full of strange things, and even an old balance scale on the counter.
A large number of Atlantis personnel had mentioned Halloween to Ronon, and many had mentioned the candy, all different types of candy; but he saw none here, only herbs, weapons, and other items he really wasn’t sure of. He was about to go talk to the man when the axes on one wall just called to him. He wandered over, sure they would be fakes, after all most of the Earthers he had met so far wouldn’t know one end of an axe from another. But when he picked it up he knew it was real, the heft and balance implied someone very familiar with weapons had made this also. Ronon couldn’t lay it down and walked to the counter still holding the axe.
“Cort does good work.” The voice was rough as if he had screamed it raw a few times in his life, but it was a voice full of humor and something else Ronon wasn’t sure of.
‘This Cort made the axe?”
“Well she did, yeah. She always liked the sheer brutality of an axe, me I prefer a nice bastard sword any day.”
Ronon just nodded looking around. “You aren’t trying to sell stuff for this Halloween?”
The man tilted his head looking at Ronon with a piercing gaze from that single eye. “I am, but my Halloween is a bit different from most peoples. You aren’t from here are you?”
With a guilty start Ronon looked at him, “Staying in Cleveland for a conference.”
“Hmm… wonder if Willow knows dim travelers are here for a conference. No matter, you could see the place and that alone tells me a lot about you, and you don’t know anything about Halloween which tells me even more.” The man shrugged and hopped up to sit on the counter looking at Ronon swinging his legs. “Name’s Xander, figure you’ve slipped your keepers and are looking for a chance to experience Earth, how close am I?”
Ronon had been worried, he knew that he wasn’t suppose to tell anyone that he wasn’t from Earth, but this man barely blinked at the idea, so Ronon shrugged. “I’m Ronon.” Nodding to the man, “Yeah, I guess they’ll look for me eventually, but the conference was boring. Thought I’d explore and see if I could experience Halloween. What’id you mean about knowing bout me because I could see this place?”
A low laugh came from the man, “It’s warded, only beings who KNOW monsters exist and are willing to fight them can see it. I sell anything you could need to fight monsters of all shapes. Well most anything, I draw the line at nukes. It is also warded to prevent anyone with evil intent or a desire to hurt innocents from coming in. And they didn’t even flicker as you walked in.”
“Hmmm.” Ronon wasn’t sure what a ward was, but it sounded like a selective force field, which made sense, maybe set at an empathic level. “The monsters are out there, and I’ve killed many of them, Wraith are an abomination.”
“Wraith?” Xander looked thoughtful for a moment, “Doesn’t ring a bell unless you are talking Lord of the Rings. What do they feed on?”
Ronon had watched the Lord of the Rings and grinned at the association, but answered the question, idly swinging the axe. “Life force mostly, it drains you, aging you ‘til you die.”
“Ah, yet again another type of vampires, life force instead of blood or physic energy.” Xander seemed to be considering options, “Holy symbols work at all?”
Confused Ronon shook his head, “They have no religion that I know of except survival.”
“Well can’t argue with that as that tends to be my religion also. Beheading, fire, and electrical disruption kill them?”
“Yes, so does a vacuum or sequential blaster bolts.” The conversation felt normal to Ronon, after all what do warriors talk about except how to kill their enemies, and this man, who was a warrior from his scars and comfort with weapons, obviously knew about the Wraith or ones like them, as he did not even flinch at the idea. “I’m curious, most of your people that I’ve spoken to don’t speak so easily of these monsters and how to kill them, why do you?”
A wry grin flashed across the man’s face, “I’ve been fighting monsters since I fifteen, once you realize they are there, it is hard to pretend anymore, so I help those that choose to fight, like you.”
Ronon shrugged, “When they destroy everything you knew or loved, your choices are fight or die a slave.”
Both men nodded somberly, one thinking of a planet laid to waste, another of a monster wearing a friend’s face turning to dust. Xander shook himself from the memories, “Well enough of the past. It seems I have two services to offer you,” Ronon arched a brow looking at him curiously, “First is some weapons for Wraith dusting, and second exposure to American Halloween, both sides of it, besides its been a quiet night tonight. Normal extra strength and speed bonuses? So how do they suck life from you?”
Ronon grinned slowly, he liked this man, and wondered idly how he would like Atlantis. “I would enjoy both. Usually via their hands, and yes to the strength and speed.”
A snort from Xander as he walked back further into the store, “Figures, why do the bad guys always get all the bennies, you would think that occasionally the people standing in front of them would get them too, oh yeah they do, but only if they have two X chromosomes.” The tone was self mocking and more like he was talking to himself, as he reached out and grabbed a few things off the shelves and into the basket he had grabbed. “You ever have to take prisoners of these Wraithy guys?”
Ronon cocked his head as he followed this odd warrior around his store, and responded with a low rumbled answer of, “Occasionally yes, though they’re hard to contain.”
“You care about the condition they are in after?”
“No.” The answer was short and blunt and drew a smile from Xander.
“Good, that makes it much easier.” A few more minutes of grabbing things and Xander headed back to the front of the store dumping out the stuff in a pile. “Okay here is what I have. First and foremost be bloody careful with this, a VERY crazy inventor friend of mine, Sarl, came up with it, and I still don’t know what possessed him to think of it.” Xander held up a little canister with a spray nozzle. “Personal Willy Pete dispenser, aim push the button, and make DAMN sure you are up wind of it, this stuff blows back at you, you are fucked. Vacuum… probably won’t work in one, as it needs air to burn, but other than that, who knows. It’s suspended in acetone, so it will evaporate very quickly.”
Ronon just looked at him blankly, so Xander shrugged, “Has white shit in it that reacts to oxygen in the air, and burns like the blazes, you shoot this at something, it’ll barbeque it extra crispy.”
A slow wicked grin crossed Ronon’s face as he looked at the little canister with more respect. “You don’t need to light it?”
“Nope, self burning, so be very careful with it, it’s pretty safe, Sarl is a damn good mechanic to come up with this, but it is a one shot deal, made to distract while you run. Now for disabling, off the top of my head I say cut off their hands, if they can’t feed, they can’t kill. Depending on the type they are, it may kill them slowly or it might not, never fought one of these Wraiths meself.”
Xander hummed picking up the next object. “Super glue, same principal, spread it over the palms of their hands, and they won’t do anything until they get it picked off, they might starve to death before they get free.”
The grin on Ronon’s face was slowly growing, he liked this man, and more he liked the way he thought. It was Ronon’s main complaint about the former Earthers they spent too much energy not harming Wraith, Ronon was all for everything but out right torture, and even that he might be talked into for a good reason.
“Okay now for killing, these darts here will work on anything that uses iron based blood to survive.” Xander paused and looked a him, “They do use iron based, right? Cause otherwise, I got copper, sulfur, and zinc based.”
Ronon shrugged, “No idea, not much into the sciences.”
“Yeah me neither, but got this crap beat into my head by a red headed Wicca.” Xander chewed on his lip a bit, then shrugged, “Look, take one of each and then let me know which ones you need.”
“What do they do?”
“Oh yeah… well apparently they react to the primary metal in the blood and cause it to go all wonky, kinda a mix of mojo and science, just don’t ask me to explain but it does work. Kills them pretty fast, it’s not exactly painless but quick enough.”
Ronon wondered what mojoed was, but simply replied “Dead is all that matters.”
“Yep, first rule, Don’t Die.” Xander grinned at the Ronon. “You’ll need the gun that fires these darts, that one over there. But I can give you a good deal on this stuff as you are trying it out to see which works best for you. How were you gonna pay?”
Ronon frowned for a moment, then reached into his vest pulling out a plastic card. “They said this would work for money?”
“Visa huh? Sure works for me, much easier than having to weigh gold or appraise gems, give me a minute… oh did you want the axe?”
Ronon realized he had not let the axe out of his hands since he picked it up in the store. “Oh yeah… want axe,” his tone slightly possessive.
“Cool… lets see, total for everything will be $1550, the axe by itself is $800, but like I said Cort does damn good work, I’m thinking she might be branching out into mage weapons soon. And I’ll throw in a ‘don’t notice me’ charm for the axe, makes it easier to walk out of here with it.” Xander tossed him a small length of braided threads, “Just tie it on the axe somewhere, as long as it is there people will just not quite realize what you have, which can be rather handy in a battle situation. I get them cheap as they are practice items for the local coven.”
Ronon arched a brow, but did as instructed, firmly securing the charm with multiple windings beneath where the head and shaft meet, then tying securely.
“Okey, all rung up, just sign here, give me a few to close up, and I will explain what Halloween is in America.”
Ronon scratched his name onto the slip of paper that Xander had handed him, then stood there with the axe in his hands as he watched Xander get ready to lock up. First he slipped a couple wooden stakes into this jacket and up his sleeves, then a short slim sword back along his spine. Finally he was shooed out the door with Xander shutting and locking the door behind them. “Well come on, I’ll introduce you to all the aspects of this holiday, the sugar filled and non-sugary type.”
Xander drove to a quiet neighborhood with a park, and pulled over, “Come on, lets go sit, and I’ll tell you about Halloween.” Ronon followed him to the park bench as it got dark, “Ah the munchkins should start showing up soon. Wait for it.”
Frowning Ronon looked at the dark, houses with porch lights on, and squashes with carved faces and candles inside them giving light, strange figures, and skeletons on some of the front yards, and soon he heard and saw kids starting to go from house to house, ringing the doorbell and yelling in childish glee “Trick or Treat!” The people answering the door laughing and dumping handfuls of stuff into their bags, the children would then run off down to the next house and repeat the process.
“A long time ago, there was a culture that believed on All Hallow’s Eve the barriers between the spirit world and our world were very thin, so thin that monsters from the other side could break through. Well that culture thought that maybe if you dressed as a monster you would not be found by the real monsters. Add in another culture that preaches a different religion and swallows up that culture, mix it up with years of adapting native cultures practices to meet the conquering religions’ practices, and let it sit for a long time, then add in capitalism, and voila, you have what is known today a Halloween in America, and slowly spreading to other countries. Current culture let kids dress up as their favorite character, imaginary or real, run around for a few hours pretending to be that person, creature, or monster, and demand candy in tribute otherwise a trick might be played on the selfish person.” He smiled watching the kids, “I use to love Halloween, got so much candy I’d be sick for days.” A low laugh and he shook his head, “That is what most of the world sees, a day for make believe and kids O.D.’ing on sugar.”
Ronon watched for a long time seeing the laughter from the children but hearing the under text to what Xander didn’t say. “And what they don’t see?”
“Ah… well that has a couple parts, there is Samhain, celebrated by various groups as a Holy day. There is the fact that some of the monsters do exist, though Halloween is not their favorite night. But for a kid, this is their second favorite day of the year.”
Ronon rumbled softly, “And your monsters?”
“Ah them… take it you want to use your new toy on them?”
A slow grin crossed Ronon’s face, “Oh yeah.”
A matching grin crossed Xanders face, “Eh, you obviously know how to handle yourself, so… what the hell. Let’s go.”
As they turned and started walking into the park Ronon asked the question that had been puzzling him, “Why’re you being so friendly, especially to a man with an axe in his hand?”
A grin crossed Xander’s face. “A few reasons, the wards said you were not a threat unless threatened, you’re obviously not from this area, and you remind me of me. We are people who fight the darkness, the evil, because we can’t not fight. You saw the darkness and rather than hide from it, you are doing your damnedest to destroy it. I’ve got a weak spot for people like that.”
Ronon nodded slowly, he understood that, no matter everything he went through he could not walk away, not ever. “Show me your monsters.” The grin on his face was feral as he hefted the axe to his shoulders.
Xander matched with an answering grin, and turned and led him through the park, to a large graveyard in the distance. “Remember these are head removals, or this through the heart.” Xander tossed him a wooden stake, smooth and nicely weighted, Ronon simply nodded and slipped it into his belt.
They stood at the edge of the cemetery for a long moment, Xander’s head tilted, listening, then a grin crossed his face, and he motioned to the right, and they began moving silently through the area. Two figures were climbing out of the ground, brushing dirt off their funeral clothes. Ronon could hear them talking as he and Xander approached quietly.
“Smell that? Children everywhere, and candy… Halloween… sugar loaded food.”
A low hungry laugh from what once was a woman next to him, “Sounds good to me, never realized I could be this hungry.”
Xander stepped in front of them as they turned towards the residential area full of kids getting supplies for a major sugar rush. “Sorry, but I had a different idea, how ‘bout I turn you to dust?”
“Hey look honey, food delivered, one for each of us baby.” The woman lunged at Xander and the man at Ronon.
The man, well not man, even Ronon could sense something was OFF about him, moved faster than Ronon expected, but Ronon still blocked the axed with the axe, and set to fighting, and was very surprised when he cut the man, and there was no blood.
Xander in the meantime had dusted the fledging with a dart to the right, and a stake to the left, and was watching the fight. “Remember, decapitate, or slam the stake into their heart, anything else just annoys them.”
Ronon was enjoying the fight, but now was not the time to prolong it, blocking with the axe, he let his left hand hold it, and the right grabbed the stake slamming it toward the chest, and hit the stomach instead.
“Missed, now for dinner!” The vampire growled renewing the fight to get to that warm blood pulsing through Ronon’s body.
With a snort, “I don’t think so,” said Ronon as he pulled the stake out and drove it in again, this time hitting the heart, and was covered in dust.
There was a soft laugh as Xander approached, “Welcome to the club, you have officially made something go Dust in the Night.”
Ronon blinked, then got it, the play on the name of the store, and started to laugh. “I like your monsters, less intelligent, easier to clean up after.”
“Oh yeah, gotta love the dust and ooze. So you seen enough? Or do you now need a sugar high?”
A shrug from Ronon as they walked out of the cemetery, “I would like to try some of this candy I have heard about, and something called Twinkies?”
Xander whirled to look at him in horror “You’ve never had Twinkies?! Now that’s a crime! Come on!”
It was one in the morning, when Ronon stumbled back into the room he shared with McKay and Sheppard, who had both approached the worried point, and were blaming each other for not making him take a cell phone. Ronon was obviously drunk, had an axe in one hand, as well as a plastic bag full of items from a store called “Dust in the Night” and in the other hand was a case of something with “Hostess” stamped on the sides. Ronon was obviously tipsy, but that wasn’t saying much as they had never seen him past tipsy.
“Where have you BEEN!” demanded McKay stalking over to him. “Just because you aren’t necessary to these briefings doesn’t mean you can just go gallivanting all over Cleveland. Cleveland! Why in the world would Cleveland be where we have IOA meetings?”
“Been out, seeing Halloween, making things go dust, got cool weapons, and learning ‘bout Twinkies, holy sugary baked goods.” Ronon collapsed on the bed, still holding his axe, the bag, and the case of Twinkies. “I like Halloween, Xander knows the best places for drinks, and is an expert on candy. Can I come back next year?”
A moment later snoring filled the room, leaving Sheppard shrugging at McKay’s increasing in volume demands to know who Xander was, what did they dust, and where had he been.