Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Joss. Halo belongs to... Bungie, I think. Metroid belongs to Nintendo.
AN: I've never actually played Halo. Everything mentioned here comes from my brother. Bear with me.
November 1st, Around 1 AM
Xander groaned as he pulled into consciousness. He felt strange. Bulky. As if he’d had his entire body weight added onto him again. He looked down. Nothing looked
any bigger. He was nicely Xander-shaped, still. He looked around, trying to gain his bearings.
Angel was unconscious, the same as Buffy and Willow both. Well, Xander assumed they were unconscious. It was impossible to tell when they were still in the costumes. He tried to roll Willow over, but found her to be too heavy. It didn’t register with him that the armor she wore was still made of metal.
With a sigh, he went over to try with Buffy. He got a different result this time, though it still wasn’t the one he wanted. As soon as he touched Buffy’s armor, he winked out of existence. He found himself in a plane of ones and zeros. He panicked at first, but a small part of his mind began to recognize patterns in the numbers.
Xander reached out, and pressed on a wall of them. A display came up, showing him health stats, and an HUD. Whoever was being monitored seemed to be healthy, if unconscious. The HUD showed that the shields (Holy crap, shields!) were at full power, and the visual display was filled with darkness.
Xander gave a heavy sigh. “Come on, whoever you are. Wake up. I need new scenery.”
A voice rang out in the vastness. “Ugh… Xander? Where are you?” The display changed. The view shifted, looking from one side to another. “I can’t see you. Are you trying to be funny? Cause I gotta say, it’s not working.”
Xander let out a gulp. “Uh… No, Buff. Not trying to be funny. No hilarity here. I think we have a problem…”
Ethan’s Costume Shop
Buffy tore herself away from the Noblewoman outfit. It was true that Angel might love to see her in it, but if she wanted to have a relationship with him, it wouldn’t do to base it on what he couldn’t actually have. With a sigh, she moved on.
There weren’t a great many costumes to choose from in her size. It galled her a bit that she could actually wear the larger children’s sizes, and none of those would do, anyway.
As she was looking, one of the costumes caught her eye. It was camouflage green, with a funny looking helmet, a strange sword, and a machine gun. The package read “MJOLNIR II Battle Armor.” Buffy snorted at the name. Just as she was about to move on, she heard Xander’s voice. “I dare you to wear that.”
She turned to face him. “What?”
He grinned at her. “Come on! It’ll be fun. You can be Master Chief, and I’ll be one of the marines he hangs around with.”
“Okay, I’m having an issue with one of the key words in that sentence. ‘He’?”
Xander shrugged. “Yeah. Master Chief is a guy. But, you know, I think you could pull it off.”
She slapped him in the shoulder. “Thanks a lot!”
Xander rubbed the newly sore spot. “Owwwww! It was a compliment,
Buff! And I stand by my dare.” He gave her the puppy-dog eyes. “Pleeeeease?”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Fine… But if I’m going to wear this, you’re going as a girl.”
“Well, slight problem there. I’ve only got enough for this.” He held up the plastic gun. “I’m not exactly rolling in it here.”
“Oh.” Buffy quickly counted how much money she had with her. “No problem. I’ll spring for it.”
“Have we made a choice?”
Buffy and Xander both jumped as someone came up silently behind them. “Don’t do that!”
“Terribly sorry. My name is Ethan, and I own this establishment. How can I be of assistance?”
Buffy jerked her thumb at the Master Chief costume. “Is there a girl costume that goes with this? One that’ll fit him?” She pointed at Xander.
Ethan looked surprised at first, then chuckled. ’These two are into role reversal, eh? Let’s see what I can do.’
“I’m certain I can find something. In fact, I believe there was
something in the back that I can let you have at a discount. One moment.” He slinked away.
Willow, meanwhile, walked up to her friends holding her traditional ghost costume. “Hey, guys! Found anything good?” She asked, smiling.
“Actually, Xander dared me to wear this.” Buffy brandished her costume. “And I tricked him into dressing like a girl.” She added with a smirk.
“Hey!” Xander cried in mock offense. “I’ll have you know that dressing in drag is a time honored profession!” He sobered when he saw Willow’s costume. “Oh, come on, Wills! A ghost? Again?
If Buffy can go as a Super Soldier, and I can go as a girl, you can do better than that!”
Willow blushed. “But, it’s a tradition! Ghosts and Halloween go together like… peas and carrots!”
Xander laughed. “Okay, Wills. No more Tom Hanks movies for you. And seriously, here.” He pulled a costume off the rack. “How about this? It’s even all concealing. No one will recognize you.”
Willow sighed, and looked at the costume. It would indeed keep anyone from knowing who she was, and it was only a little bit more expensive. “Alright. But you owe me one, mister.”
Xander merely smiled. “Of course, dear lady.”
Ethan chose that moment to reappear. “Here we are.” He smiled as the three of them jumped nearly out of their skins. “I believe this will fit the bill nicely.”
Xander looked at the costume. “Hey. That’s not bad. Thanks!”
Ethan nodded, and rang the three of them up. ’Oh, this is going to be delicious. Just imagine the Chaos these three will bring!
Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 shook his head as a wave of disorientation hit him. “Whoa. What just happened?” He looked around, and realized his surroundings had changed drastically. “What the hell? Cortana, where are we?” He paused. “And why do I sound like a woman?”
“You’re not the only one with gender identity issues, Chief.” A male voice came over the comm. “And as far as I can tell, we’re on Earth. The GPS puts us in the town of Sunnydale, California. Of course, I’ve never heard
of Sunnydale. And there’s also the fact that all the records I can access put us in the late 20th century.”
John was silent for a moment. The 20th century? Earth? An unknown location? “Okay. I can deal with this. How’d you get all this info so quickly?”
Cortana laughed. “Are you kidding? The computers here are embarrassingly simple. I can tell you where the leaders of every major country are down to the inch. Now, for the important question: Are you packing?”
John checked all his holsters. “One standard pistol, one assault rifle, and one of those swords the covenant likes. Looks like I’ve got a full compliment of grenades as well. I don’t exactly have everything I’d like, but this’ll do.”
“Good. Because I’m picking up movement all around us. We’re hidden from sight where we are, but there are a lot of other things here. Some of them could almost be grunts, but I don’t see any Elites. It’d be impossible for the grunts to operate without them. I think we should proceed with caution. Don’t fire on them unless they attack you.”
With a sigh, John nodded. “Fine. I promise not to kill any of the short people.” He moved out from the cover of the house he was next to, watching as every damn thing he could imagine ran around like… Actually, like Grunts without an Elite. “Are we sure they aren’t a new breed of Grunts?”
“Almost positive, Chief. Aside from a few cosmetic differences, they read as human. Don’t ask me to explain that, it’s beyond me.” There was a bleep on the HUD. A red dot was moving toward them. “Hello. This is a new signal. It registers a lot like yours.”
This caught John’s attention “What do you mean? Are there more Spartans here? Actually, a better question would be, are there more Spartans? I didn’t know anyone else was still around. They were all listed as MIA.”
“I know, Chief. And I’m not sure that it’s a Spartan. It’s similar, but not the same. Turn to your left, and you’ll spot… whoever it is.”
With a shrug, John complied. Coming down the street, he could see… a rolling ball. “Cortana. I’m going to ask this once. What. The. Fuck?”
“Um… That’s an excellent question. That’s definitely the source of the signal…” Cortana dropped off as the ball stopped in front of them. It… morphed, for lack of a better term, into a humanoid figure. “Well, that explains a little bit.”
“You’re not kidding. Not to mention, if she can curl like that, she must be a tiger in the sack.” Using the outward speakers, he said. “Hi there. Name’s John. Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 of the United Nations Space Command.”
The figure regarded him for a moment, then nodded. A crisp female voice came out of the helmet. “Samus Aran. Bounty hunter. I don’t suppose you have any idea where we are? This looks a lot like Earth, but I’ve never seen this place before.”
“As far as I know, this is
Earth. 20th Century Earth, to be exact. I don’t know how I managed to jump back in time almost 500 years, but there you are.”
“500 years?” Samus sounded both impressed and nervous. “What year is it?”
“1997, according to my Intel.” Cortana looked at the date, and fed him the information. “In fact, it’s October 31st. Halloween. It might explain why all these strange little things are running around.”
“1997?” Samus’ voice was now laced with confusion. “But, that’s not 500 years in the past. It’s only 20X5, according to the Cosmic Calendar. What year did you come from?”
“2552. And I need to get back. We’re at war with a group of alien races called the Covenant, and I was on a very important mission. Do you have any idea what happened to bring us here?”
Samus shook her head. “No. I don’t like the look of this. Perhaps we should move for shelter? I don’t think staying out here with all these… things, will be conducive to our good health. What are they, anyway?”
“According to my scanners, human.” John just shrugged. “Don’t ask me what happened to them. And I like that suggestion. If I can’t shoot them, I don’t know how to deal with them.”
With a shared nod, the two of them began moving briskly down the road. “If you don’t mind my asking,” Samus broke the silence, “Since when is John a girl’s name? There has to be an interesting story there.”
John chuckled. “You have no idea. I’m not sure how I got changed, but I’m not usually a woman. Not that this doesn’t have it’s advantages, mind you. The armor seems to fit a little better, particularly in the codpiece. Although, it’s a bit tight across the chest, I have to admit.”
Samus was about to reply, when a loud scream tore through the night. Both of them instinctively moved toward it, coming across a young brunette woman being attacked by a vaguely canine creature. John ran forward, and punched it at the base of it’s skull. It went down quickly. “Too easy.”
“Aw, dammit!” The brunette exclaimed, looking at her outfit. “Jo Jo the dog faced boy just ruined
my outfit! There’s no way I’m getting my deposit back!” She looked up at John. “Thanks for the save, I guess. It would’ve been better if you’d shown up a few seconds sooner, but…”
Samus rolled her eyes as she caught up with her companion. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” She said. “You’re still alive, aren’t you?” The bounty hunter looked up and down the street. There were plenty of other monsters to cause trouble. “I don’t suppose you know of a safe haven we can use until this madness is over?”
“Sure. I was headed for one.” The brunette nodded at the white house nearby. “Buffy Summers lives there. She’s like, this insanely strong fighter. We can hide in there. Come on.” She led them up to the house, searching for a hidden key. “I’m Cordelia, by the way. Aha!” She found the key on the doorframe, and went inside.
The two armored beings followed her. “You can call me Master Chief. Most do. That’s Samus Aran.” Reaching up, John removed his helmet. He gave Cordelia a flirtatious look. “Although, if you feel the need, just call me John. I won’t mind.”
Cordelia looked back at him, and her face went from surprised to disgusted and back to surprised. “Buffy! What are you doing in that armor? And why are you flirting with me?! Cause, ewww!”
John looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “You’re not one for pulling your punches, are you?” He looked at Samus, who had removed her own helmet as well. “What about you? Are you going to verbally slap me if I hit on you? If so, I think I’ll take the monsters outside.”
Samus shook her hair out, and looked at her companion. With a shrug, she answered, “I don’t really care. I don’t date a lot, and if all you’re interested in is sex…” She smirked. “We’ll get along just fine.” She walked into the living room, catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror. “What the hell?” She pulled at her hair. “When did my hair turn red? And… when did I get cosmetic surgery? That isn’t my face.”
John moved next to her, examining his own appearance. He snorted. “At least you got to keep your gender. I’m a woman.” He paused. “No, scratch that. I’m a girl
. A teenager.” He sighed. “Ah, well. It could have been worse. For both of us. We could have ended up ugly.”
Cordelia eyed the two of them. “What the hell is wrong with you guys?! And where’s dweeb boy? He’s always with you.” Both displaced warriors turned to stare at her blankly. She huffed. “Oh, come on! You’ve got to know what’s going on! That’s why I came here!”
John shrugged. “Sorry. No clue. I was on Halo, fighting the Covenant forces. For once, things were actually going according to plan, and then all of a sudden I’m here. Here, and a woman. If I knew what was going on, I’d fix it, and fast.” He looked back at the now closed door. “Speaking of, why aren’t the local police forces dealing with this?”
Cordelia grimaced. “Oh, please. If the Sunnydale Police Department actually managed to do their job, I’d die of shock, come back, and die again. They just let whatever happens around here happen. I’ve heard that Harris’ parents beat him almost daily, but no one does anything. It’s just the way things are here.”
Samus’ face twisted into a snarl. “That’s not right.”
Cordelia just shrugged. “What can you do about it? It’s not like he
ever complains. He just takes it. And shouldn’t you know this? I mean, I get Buffy not knowing. She hasn’t known him since kindergarten.”
Samus gave a heavy sigh. “Listen to me. We. Are. Not. Who. You. Think. We. Are. My name is Samus Aran. My companion, despite his appearance, is Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. We have both been displaced from our homes, and apparently shoved into these new bodies. We don’t know how it happened, and all we want is to go home.”
Cordelia shrugged again. “Fine. Whatever. It was probably you guys screwing up a spell or something. In fact, Giles is probably trying to fix it right now.”
John was about to ask who Giles was, when he heard something. Someone was coming in through the back of the house. He put his helmet back on, and activated his cloaking device, ignoring the shocked squeak this earned from Cordelia. Samus just shook her head. “Damn. Wish I had one of those.” She replaced her helmet as well, and switched her arm cannon over to ice beam. She pressed herself up against the wall. Whoever was coming wasn’t going out of their way to keep quiet. Finally, the intruder walked into the room. Samus aimed her cannon at his head. “Don’t. Move.”
The man blinked in surprise. “Who are you?” He asked. “Why are you in Buffy’s house?” His handsome features were twisted in confusion. Samus didn’t answer him. She switched her visor over to heat vision in order to get a bead on John, and was shocked when her target disappeared from view! She switched back, and he was still there.
“What are you? Why don’t you have a body temperature?” She switched back to heat vision. “And why isn’t your heart beating?”
“All excellent questions.” John appeared behind the man, holding his sword against the intruder’s neck. “I’d suggest answering them quickly. No telling what might happen if you don’t…” Samus could almost hear the smirk in his voice.
The man nodded. “Fine. My name is Angel. And I can answer the last two questions at once. I’m a vampire.” John pressed the sword into Angel’s neck. “I’m telling the truth! I don’t feed on humans because I have a soul!”
John looked over Angel’s shoulder to address Samus. “What do you think? Kill him, or let him go? The way I see it, he’s a nut and needs to be put out of his misery.”
Cordelia ran over. “Okay! That’s enough! Angel’s telling the truth, both about being a vampire, and having a soul! Just… calm down.” She sighed. “It’s a sad day when I’m the one saving people.” She muttered.
John shrugged, and released the vampire. Samus lowered her weapon as well. Angel backed away from them slowly, and stood next to Cordelia. “So… what’s going on? It’s madness out there, and I’m guessing it’s not much better in here.”
Cordelia sighed, and proceeded to explain everything that had happened. By the time she was finished, Angel had actually managed to get paler. “And you don’t know where Xander went?” She shook her head.
“Excuse me.” Cortana’s voice crackled over John’s speakers. “I think I can answer that.” Everyone, even Samus, looked at the Spartan strangely. John just shrugged again, deciding to let Cortana explain.
“My name is Cortana. I am an AI construct living inside the armor Master Chief is currently wearing. As far as I can tell, everyone in this town, with the curious exception of Cordelia, has turned into whatever they dressed as for Halloween. Now, it doesn’t fool my sensors, as they still read as human, so I have to assume this is all temporary.
“Cordelia.” The brunette almost snapped to attention. “Are there any differences between the costume you wore tonight, and the outfits your friends chose?”
Cordy thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah. I got mine at Party Town. You two went with Xander to that new place. It starts with an E… Evan’s… Erin’s… Ethan’s!”
“What’s your point, Cortana?” John asked his AI. “Are you saying… We aren’t really here? We’re just some kind of illusion, or hallucination these kids are having?”
“I don’t know, Chief. It’s possible. It’s also possible our minds were pulled out of our bodies and placed here. Hell, for all we know, this is a giant training sim and only one of us is real. The only way to find out is to end it.”
John grunted in response. With practiced ease, he fed a fresh clip into his pistol, and checked the magazine in his rifle. His sword flashed to life, and he headed for the door. “Alright. Ready when you are, Cor.”
Cordy scoffed. “Why would I…” She trailed off under the stares of the others. “Ohhhhhh. You meant Cortana. Never mind… I’ll just be over here.” She sat down in the living room.
Samus followed after John, muttering, “Vampires, magic, giant dogs… It’s amazing she hasn’t been killed yet.”
The Next World Up
Janus watched the chaos unfolding on the Hellmouth. This was truly impressive. He had expected the Harris boy to be the best of the townspeople, but those expectations had been shattered buy Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg.
The two armored warriors had already began to alienate the Slayer’s vampire, not to mention the humility they were beginning to impress on the cheerleader. That particular point was slow going, but Janus could be patient.
His entertainment was interrupted by a thunderous voice. “JANUS!” Janus winced as the king of the Greek Pantheon approached him. The Mighty Zeus had come calling. “IS THAT YOUR DOING?”
“No, mighty Zeus. One of my followers crafted and cast the spell. I only supplied the power, as I would do for any of them. The fact that he was stupid enough to perform the spell on a Hellmouth, with a Slayer
no less, had nothing to do with me.”
Zeus eyed the lesser god for a moment, then nodded. “VERY WELL.” Zeus turned to go. “OH, YOU MIGHT WANT TO GIVE THE SLAYER A LITTLE DIRECTION. IT ISN’T NECESSARY FOR HER TO ACTUALLY GO INSIDE, IS IT?”
Janus grinned like a madman. “Why, no it isn’t, Mighty Zeus. Thank you for the advice.”
John and the others approached the store. The Spartan halted, turned to Samus, and asked, “Can you detect anything inside? I don’t want to go in their blind.”
Samus ran through the spectrum of visual modes. “No. Nothing out of the ordinary.” She paused for a moment. “I don’t recommend going in there. We know this is the source of everything that’s going on, but we can’t see anything. We should attack from out here.”
Even as John was nodding his assent, Angel spoke up. “Hold on a minute! There could be a human in there!”
John and Samus both turned slowly to look at him. Even with their faceplates blocking the view, he knew they were looking at him like an idiot. “Just what the hell is your point?” The Master Chief asked him.
“We don’t kill humans. Demons, vampires, fine. But humans are off limits. Those aren’t my rules, they’re Buffy’s.”
John snorted. “Well, this Buffy needs a big fuckin’ wake up call. Humans die. It happens. Maybe it shouldn’t. It’s sad, but it’s a fact of life. Get over it, or I’ll shove a plasma grenade so far up your ass your head’ll explode first. Get me?” Without another word, John threw one of the aforementioned grenades into the store with the full force of his cybernetic arm.
The window it had been aimed at shattered… Followed quickly by the rest of the store. This, of course, destroyed the bust, and would have ended the spell, if chaos magic and plasma energy hadn’t just happened to be perfectly compatible. There was an extra burst of energy that shot out 100 feet in all directions, warping the spell on any of the costumes caught in that radius.
Janus was aware, of course, that the Slayer would have retained everything from her costume simply because of what she was. But, not even a chaos god could deny the need for companionship. Therefore, he had arranged for ‘Samus Aran’ to receive something similar.
What he hadn’t counted on, however, was Xander Harris. Xander had dressed as Cortana, a purely digital being. The extra boost of power left him less, and at the same time more, than he was.
Buffy stood up, and looked herself over. She was still in the armor. That didn’t worry her so much as the fact that it was still
armor! As one, the Slayer and her best friend summed up the situation nicely.