Xander (and Harmony) and Africa's Super Seven
Xander (and Harmony) and Africa’s Super SevenDisclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon and Co. Africa’s Super Seven belongs to Discovery TV channel and Animal Planet™. No copyright infringement is intended.
Note: This story does not follow the video's plot line specifically - this is a cross-over after all.
It was three in the afternoon on the northern shore of the Sand River in the Mala-Mala Game Re-serve in South Africa, and seven species of big animal, co-existing together on a geographical territory the size of North America’s Manhattan Island, were finally stirring.
The cheetah was up first, awakened by her cubs. The latter pair was already almost as big as their mother, but still acting as if they were fully dependent on her for sustenance, which they actually were, but that’s beside the point: today she was going to teach them to hunt and that’s that.
The mother hyena had awakened as well: her cubs were not as old as the cheetah’s been, and still needed milk. An outcast from her old pack, she was forced to survive by herself for her own sake and for the sake of her two cubs, and consequently she needed to make successful kills (or steals) every night to feed her offspring with milk, and that wasn’t easy, what with the pride of lions not far from her.
For their own part, the lion pride, consisting of 6 lionesses and 2 lions were much more relaxed than either the cheetah or the hyena was. Standing on top of the local food chain, these apex predators felt fully relaxed, as they conserved their strength for their regular nocturnal outing, where it was going to be business as usual, and something or other caught or eaten.
The African buffalo, meanwhile, were feeling rather less upbeat about their future: they were massively powerful beasts, armed with sharply curved horns and heavy hooves, but their greatest strength was their unity: as a herd easily 100 heads strong, they were more than a match even for the lion pride.
The female rhinoceros was even bigger and heavier than the buffalo, and as such was more self-confident than they: both she and her mate were interested only in protecting their more vulnerable young and grazing in peace. As some of the biggest land mammals in the world, both goals were easily within her short-sighted reach.
The recently matured African elephant bull, however, was probably the biggest land mammal in the world, and as such, with his body pumped full of male hormones and whatnot, he probably felt on top of the world for the moment, free as the wind and just as happy.
Finally, there was the male leopard. The stealthiest of Africa’s big cats and the one most adapted to life in the tree tops, this tomcat was one big kitty, and a quite mean one as well. Though smaller and proportionally weaker than the lions, the leopard ruled the roost at night and he knew it.
As the local animalistic ‘super seven’ prepared to spend their regular daily routine – for them, three o’clock in the afternoon was the start of a regular day – someone else was coming, someone, for whom a regular day schedule had as much fluidity as theirs, and perhaps even more...
* * *
“Oh, but that monster had been a son of a bitch for sure!” Xander Harris groaned as he stopped his much-battered ATV and climbed out of it to check the damage and repair it until he reached civilization once more. “Of all the things that I’ve met here, a sabre-toothed armadillo-cat was probably the most bizarre looking one.”
Xander’s foul mood had been brewing for a long time now. It had begun in the Mala Mala airport, where he was waiting for his plane, and instead noticed a familiar face in the crowd. Unfortunately, that particular face belonged to Harmony Kendall, a known vampiress and a former minion of Wolfram & Hart, currently – or rather formerly – coming up from the African port of Durban, trailed by some really prepubescent kid, younger even than Dawn. Figuring that even an incompetent vampire like Harmony could easily inflict unnecessary harm on a child, Xander decided to step in and trailed after Harmony, only to lose her in all the commotion when a monster bigger than a hippo, albeit built like an armadillo with webbed feet and sabre-toothed head burst in into the airport from the coastal side. In a resulting hubbub, Harmony and her unwitting companion had vanished...and Xander figured that it’d be a good time to follow suit: he did not want to be caught up in the following investigation concerning the downed monster (good riddance to that!) – though the South African government had mellowed a bit since the twentieth century situation, Xander still felt the very thin ice separating it from its’ political past, and thus he had reacted... accordingly.
At any rate, as the monster got gunned down, Xander fled, or rather drove away from the airport to the local game reserve, or national park, or whatever it was called. Unfortunately, it seemed to be shaping up like a one-end field trip after all: as it was said above, Xander’s vehicle had taken a battering during the airport battle and now seemed not to be functioning properly at all.
“Oh, and oh, I am sure that someone somewhere up in the sky doesn’t like me either!” Xander continued to fiddle with his car’s motor without any success. “I mean, here I am, trapped in the middle of nowhere-“
There was a sudden stillness that followed Xander’s exclamation, the kind that is pregnant with some sort of upcoming manifestation of a disaster or a calamity – and then it came.
In guise of a herd of African wild buffalo, easily 100 head strong.
* * *
Now, a wild African buffalo can be almost two meters tall and more than three meters tall, weighing over half a ton. Despite those impressive qualifications and its’ equally impressive weapons, this distant relative of cattle tends to get spooked easily and stampede just as quickly. All it takes, really, is for a single animal to get panicked, and decide to leave in a hurry, and the herd instinct takes care of the rest. In this particular herd that single animal was a heavily pregnant buffalo cow, and once it got going, so did the rest of the herd – right in the direction of Xander’s battered vehicle, or, to be more precise, of Xander himself, so wandered a bit away from his car, and now was literally facing several tons of African buffalo going straight at him. Consequently, all that was left for him was to spit out an aborted and an abbreviated curse, and flee in the direction of the nearest bush, hoping to find escape on a tree. And needless to say, but he was so busy fleeing for his life that he never noticed his impromptu passenger escape from the vehicle and flee in the opposite direction...
* * *
For her own part, Harmony Kendall was not having the best time of her undeath either: Xander Harris, of all people, had tailed her when she was about to make a new slay-mate for her crew, and if it wasn’t for some local muscle trying to make a point, things would’ve gone downhill very quickly. Instead, Harmony managed to gain enough headway to hide... in the back of his car, figuring that the least that Xander Harris could do was to give a ride to wherever, just away from the dead monster that was attracting too much attention for her taste.
Unfortunately, however, Xander Harris may have went up in the world into becoming the Slayer’s chief male sidekick or whoever, but his cars still sucked, and this particular one decided to break down miles from any human settlement. Just wonderful. And then, when the one-eyed idiot got chased away by herd of the local wildlife, Harmony decided to make her move and promptly fled, escaping the still-strong glow of the setting sun, into the nearest refuge that she could find – namely into the local river.
* * *
Meanwhile, the leopard was surveying its domain, keeping a wary eye for bigger animals and an eager eye for prey. The mated couple of rhinos, however, weren’t either, but rather a local hazard, and seeing how the pair was acting edgy, and disturbed, and moving away from the main water hole, meant probably one thing – the elephants.
Or, rather – one specific elephant, a young bull, who’s been recently kicked out of the main herd by the matriarch, but still living in the local vicinity, because, frankly, not even a pride of lions can force the a bull elephant that is coming into his prime to do what it doesn’t want.
As a matter of fact, at this very moment, that particular bull elephant was harassing the local lion pride by his very presence: in the more confined terrain of the bush, the elephant’s position and attitude was hard to judge even via the sharp eyes of these great cats, and so the lionesses – as well as their cubs – turned to leave. And then their ears caught a new sound – the sound of a buffalo stampede...
However, it wasn’t the bull elephant that had spooked the two rhinoceroses – but rather it was Harmony. The smell of death, undetectable to the nose of humans, was much more obvious to the noses of animals, especially to ones highly dependent on their sense of smell, like the rhinoceroses... Though they outweighed Harmony by hundreds of kilos, however, they took no chances with the undead abomination and fled in orderly procession.
Yet then again, the leopard was unaware of this: Harmony was by now safely underwater, beyond his own sense of smell, and furthermore, as he moved away from the rhinoceroses’ path, he noticed something else, much more interesting to him: a herd of impala antelopes. Very slowly and carefully he began to stalk them instead...
* * *
Xander Harris was stuck in a tree and was more than a bit unhappy about this predicament of his. True, the buffalos had ran away, caught up in their process, but now a herd of elephants had moved into his personal space instead, forcing him to climb even a bit higher – the last thing he wanted was to piss-off the elephants on top of the buffalo, for that would spell the end of him, and after surviving several apocalypses, Xander did not intend to die at the trunks and feet of ordinary elephants, just because they could get funny ideas about him.
Xander was right. He could die at the trunks, and tusks, and feet of the elephants. However, he wouldn’t be considered entirely blameless, for as the time went on, he continued to smell more and more as a frightened and angry hyena – not a human.
* * *
Meanwhile, the leopard was continuing to stalk the impala herd, when he froze, as he noticed someone else moving in the same direction – the cheetah mother. The other feline too was stalking the herd, even as her cubs ignored her, and tried to harass several zebras instead, despite be-ing obviously outweighed by the herbivores... Suddenly, she sprinted across the ground and the impala fled into the bush, where the less enduring and manoeuvrable cheetah couldn’t follow, though the leopard could.... yet the latter didn’t rush at them like the cheetah had but instead followed them at the more leisurely pace, waiting for the night time.
Someone else was waiting for the night time – Harmony. The vampiress was stuck at the bottom of the pond, her temper slowly rising to a boil. As creatures of undeath, vampires have no me-tabolism of their own, the temperatures of their bodies usually matching the temperature of sur-roundings, and consequently, as of this moment Harmony’s temperature was equal to that of an African shallowish water pool in the hot African summer, and that was quite hot!
And so was her temper. Usually sufficiently mellow, by now Harmony was ready to tear Xander and anyone else into a thousand pieces and lap their blood up as it fell – and since only Xander was really around for the moment that spelled big trouble for him, as the setting sun fell ever lower towards the horizon.
The lion pride too had noticed the shift in their surroundings and prepared to hunt. They had heard the buffalo stampede, smelled the big animals’ distress and were now on their prowl, ready to kill.
Finally, the mother hyena too was ready to hunt and kill – or to steal someone else’s, instead. A lonely hunter and mother she wasn’t as risk-taking as the other local predators, but she was successful so far in surviving and rearing her two cubs. Consequently, she set off feeling reasonably confident.
And the bull elephant just went to sleep, confident in his might.
* * *
The night fell. The local owls began to hoot. A buffalo cow began to give birth. And Harmony Kendall emerged from the pool, feeling less incensed than she was hours ago, as the cooler tem-peratures of the night had cooled her and her temper as well – but she was still hungry.
Suddenly, a smell of flesh and blood reached her own keen nose (well, it was keener than the nose of an ordinary human) and she proceeded to go in that direction.
Straight to the sleeping elephant, in other words. The latter was peacefully sleeping, oblivious to any potential dangers, such as a hungry member of the undead, while not too far away from him a leopard was stalking a herd of impalas...
* * *
The pregnant buffalo cow was giving birth. It had taken her a lot of long and hard going up into the highlands, where her kind usually grazed at night, for it was relatively warmer there when the sun set and the predators, like the lions and the leopards weren’t as active either.
The lions, meanwhile, were on the hunt. As usual, the lionesses of the pride were in the lead, but this time, one of the brothers was accompanying them: as usual, the big male was letting them do all the dirty work, while joining in on the meal.
The leopard too was hunting, but this cat was going solo, unaware that the female hyena was shadowing him, intent on stealing any possible kills.
And Xander Harris... wasn’t stalking or hunting anyone or anything actually, but rather making his way across the night-time savannah back to his vehicle, hoping to contact anyone for some sort of assistance... when it all just fell apart.
* * *
It all began with Harmony, who had manoeuvred behind and above the sleeping elephant – the huge animal was sleeping on its’ side rather than on its’ feet next to several small trees – secured trustworthy hand- and foot-holds, and began to mutter under her breath, even as her face acquired the vampire’s trademark yellow-eyed and ridged feeding face – and then she bit down hard.
Immediately the elephant awoke, trumpeting as hard as he could, jumping onto his feet and ran in the dark of the African night, feeling confused, scared and angry at the same time. Harmony could only hang-on to the massive beast, for otherwise she had no chance of surviving the charg-ing beast, and feed on the elephant’s blood...
Xander Harris, as well as the animals in the vicinity closer to the angry elephant – like the leopard, the hyena and the herd of the impalas – didn’t stay around to find out what was going on, but rather fled into the night, followed by various smaller creatures, like the local owls.
Farther away in the highlands, however, things weren’t going as ‘neatly’ as back down below. The buffalo too heard the elephant’s new rampage, but were unable to determine where it was taking place...and anyways, their own limited intelligence reacted in their only true way – they stampeded.
Right in the direction of the lion pride... and the latter, faced with the several tons of charging African wild buffalo fled, abandoning their hunting trail. It was going to be a long and restless night.
* * *
“This was one crazy night!” Xander muttered, as he finally dared to get off his tree and begin to walk across the lands of the game reserve. “Somebody somewhere is truly out to get me!”
As a matter of fact, Xander was partially right. There was someone interested in him, namely Set also known as “Defiler of the dead”, “Father of jackals” and “Lord of carrion”. He had plans for Xander since a long time ago, before the old Master of vampires had burst free and perished at the stake of Buffy Summers. The plans of the old god had taken a long time to fruit, but now it was almost ready to take place...
...and it all began with the female hyena, who – after an unsuccessful night hunt – was not returning to her cubs, as usually, but rather was still out, looking for food. And she found it – remains of a dead impala, killed earlier in the morning by the female cheetah and her cubs, which by then had eaten most of her meat, but quite enough to sate a hungry hyena.
Meanwhile, Harmony was back in Xander’s car, sleeping off her last night’s meal, not bothered by Xander, who still hadn’t got back to the car, and was currently trying to skirt the lions’ territory, trying to stay as far away from them as possible.
Sadly, Xander didn’t know the exact number of the pride and thus, while he was keeping a wary eye on the resting lionesses, he didn’t know about their males, one of which was on the trail of the mother hyena, who was returning back to her cubs, behaving slightly less cautious than the usual as well...
It all seemed to have come to a climax near the edge of the lions’ territory: the male lion charged, roaring at the hyena, which instinctively fled... and ran straight into Xander, colliding with him in a rather amusing tangle... to a lion’s point of view. To Xander and the hyena female the situation was much more deadly than amusing, and things would have gone in that direction as well, for the lion was rearing for a charge, and a male African lion, weighing quarter of a tonne and possessing a full set of claws and teeth can do a whole lot of damage, especially when it feels like it.
And then... something changed. The elephant, mauled by Harmony during the night, had collapsed from blood less and lack of sleep not far from the lions’ territory, behind some bush land, and now that the winds began to blow, the pachyderm’s distress and blood loss became obvious to the keen noses of the lion pride and the great cats immediately forgot about the two hyenas (even though one of them was shaped a bit odd and was somewhat on the large side) and instead trotted off in that direction to check out the source of these interesting smells and possibly even get involved somewhat and somehow.
Left alone, the hyena got onto her feet and stared at Xander (‘course, the hyena didn’t realize that Xander was Xander – her senses, starting with her nose, implied that this was another hyena, albeit of male gender) thinking if she should attack. However, being a social animal, this particular hyena had grown quite lonely living just by herself and her cubs and thus didn’t have anything serious again company of her own kind once again. Giving her new acquaintance a friendly nip in the shoulder, she trotted off, hoping that the latter will decide to follow her.
Xander, meanwhile also got onto his feet and frowned, somewhat. Something was off. His vision, his body posture, everything was somehow off. But after a rotten day and a sleepless night, after all that wretched time, his mental processes were off as well. Following the autopilot, he followed the hyena female.
* * *
And so another day had passed in the Mala-Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. The cheetah mother was sleeping off the impala kill while her cubs were in a more playful mood, as usual.
And so was the hyena female – she was nodding off, feeding her own cubs and keeping an eye on her new acquaintance, which seemed to be of a non-aggressive and was semi-asleep himself, albeit a short distance away from her family: the female hyena did not trust him that much.
The leopard too was entertaining a member of the same species but of the opposite sex: a female leopard in heat had approached him earlier this morning, and for the next three or four days they’ll remain together, semi-oblivious to everything else.
Lions and lionesses of the local pride are together as well, but for now they’re not interested in sex, but in the elephant bull that is clearly wounded and perhaps even mortally. As a conse-quence, they’re shadowing him, keeping their distance for now, but should his condition deterio-rate further, they will start striking at him for sure!
The buffalos and rhinoceroses are aware of the elephant’s predicament but naturally prefer to stay as far away from him as possible, along with the lesser herbivores – various antelopes, ze-bras, giraffes – they do not want to be around if the elephant’s true foe is, for such a predator can make a short work of any of them as well.
And that predator, namely Harmony Kendall, was sleeping in the ruins of Xander’s car, waiting for the night’s fall to come again. She had sensed the magic of the Egyptian god and she didn’t like it – tonight she will find a new way of getting out of here, someway or somehow...
And thus the cycle of life and death (and currently undeath as well) goes on anew in the Game Reserve.