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Zeppo Among The Stars

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Future History". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A sequel to my "Zeppo In Exile" story, and a response to the TTH Challenge #1578: In Jim Baen’s Memory.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sci-Fi > Honor Harrington SeriesGreywizardFR1512,6342316,4776 Sep 106 Sep 10No
Disclaimer: They all belong to either Crack-Head Joss and ME, or David Weber and Baen Books. Deal with it. I have.

Time frame: For the Scooby-verse, this story takes place after ‘Zeppo' and before ‘Bad Girls.' For the Honorverse, it occurs after ‘The Honor of the Queen'; approximately 1904 P.D. (or approximately 4006 A.D. for those not conversant with the Honorverse dating system.)

Spoilers: None intended, but if you don't know what happened up to this point, why are you reading this story?

Character Bashing: None whatsoever. That'll be for another story. ;-)

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author's Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author's Notes 2: Additional information on the various people Xander interacts with can be found by going here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Honorverse_characters.

As usual, "word" indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

~~~

Previously, in "Zeppo In Exile":


"Xander, this is my daughter, Honor, and her treecat, Nimitz," Dr. Harrington took advantage of the brief moment of silence to introduce his visitors. "Honor, Nimitz, this is Alexander Harris, the man who saved me from something he identified as a High Gar'kongach demon.

"But he prefers to be called Xander," he heard her immediately add.

"I think you saw Nimitz when you first appeared in our back yard, but I don't recall our having taken the time for formal introductions," Dr. Harrington continued, and Xander also noted the small smile she gave him when he glanced her way at that last comment.

He took some slight bit of confidence in the fact that the smile didn't look as though she was humoring a madman when she repeated his identification for her daughter, but instead was completely serious, while at the same time, simultaneously filled with warmth and what some might call trust.

"I'm delighted to finally meet you, Xander," Honor declared as she smiled warmly at him.

"I understand you delayed this – High Gar'kongach? demon –" Honor tentatively repeated the name he'd given it, accompanied by a small frown, "from attacking my mother long enough for Nimitz to arrive and help you take it down."

"Nah, you're wrong about that. I didn't do very much at all," Xander snorted as he shook his head 'no.' "Your, ah – treecat – over there took it down all by himself. All I did was wrestle with it long enough to get my blood all over its robes."

"I beg to differ, Xander," Allison immediately disagreed, a frown on her lovely features. "If you hadn't been there to fight with that creature, I'm quite certain that it would have gutted me, and then moved on to attack anyone else it would have encountered, either in the house or the estate.

"All of us present there owe our lives to you," she declared, a no-nonsense look in her eyes that he recognized as almost identical to one that Joyce Summers gave him when she was intent on laying down the law. (He decided it had to be some sort of ‘Mom' thing that women (at least the non-alcoholic ones) were taught after they had kids.)

"Dr. Harrington is entirely correct, young man," another voice interjected itself into their discussion.

"And you will be responsible for saving a great many more lives if we are correct in our assumption as to your identity."

"Benjamin?" The surprise in Honor's voice was evident to everyone present as she turned to face the small group that was standing just outside the door.

"Honor, it's good to see you again," the dark-haired, middle-aged man with the smiling eyes at the head of the group greeted her.

"Please, excuse my rudeness, young man," the new arrival said as he then turned to address Xander directly. "I apologize for barging in here without any invitation, but once I was informed about the events at Harrington Lodge, I felt it necessary to come and verify the information given me in person.

"My name is Benjamin Mayhew," he introduced himself, "and this kind gentlemen with me, who is no doubt frowning because of my garrulousness, is Elder Julius Hanks," Mayhew said as he indicated the distinguished-looking, white-haired man standing a bit behind him."

"Benjamin is the current Protector of Grayson," Honor interrupted to expound on the rather minimal introduction they'd been given.

Seeing the puzzled look in Xander's eyes at her not-really-all-that-informative explanation, Honor elaborated. "He is also my liege lord and, in essence, ruler of the entire planet of Grayson."

Turning back to the new arrivals, she formally asked, "If I may be so bold, my Lord, may I inquire as to exactly what is of such importance that you felt the need to travel to Manticore and seek out a young man who is still not yet recovered from numerous serious injuries?"

"I am sure that you will, most likely, find this difficult to believe, my dear," Mayhew replied as he turned and looked at the still bedridden youth with an expression reminiscent, to Xander, of those normally worn by Giles as he poured over one of the innumerable ancient texts he kept stored in the locked library cage, "but it concerns a prophecy revealed to one of my forbears over a thousand years ago."

Everyone in the room all turned to stare at the dark-haired youth in amazement when they heard his reaction to the Protector's announcement.

"Oh man! Not another one of those things! Can't I ever catch a break?!"

~~~

And now beginning: "Zeppo Among the Stars"


Xander noted, somewhat distractedly, the wide-eyed expressions of surprise, confusion and disbelief at his frustrated exclamation as he let himself drop back against the elevated section of his bed while he mumbled various rather esoteric curses and descriptions concerning both the ancestry and likely personal habits of whatever Powers oversaw his life.

Luckily – or, perhaps, unluckily, depending upon your point of view – Xander's monologue was in one of the less common Sumerian dialects (not that there were really any common ones, anymore) and thus was incomprehensible to the majority of his audience, although one member was able to follow the young man's somewhat profane commentary and silently marveled to themselves at the extent of both the speaker's vocabulary and imagination.

After he'd finished his editorial comments, the man that Honor had introduced as Benjamin Mayhew grinned at the bedridden youth and said, "I'm not sure that that would actually be physically possible, young man. At least not for anyone human, that is," clearly referring to one particular comment Xander had made near the end of his rant, and the First Scooby instantly blushed with embarrassment as he realized that the older gentleman had understood at least part of his tirade.

"Uhm, sorry about that, sir," Xander mumbled self-consciously. "Most people I run into usually don't understand Sumerian – either written or spoken.

"Both Giles and Wills said that that's because most scholars disagree about whether they should be using voicing, aspiration or glottalization as far as the stop consonants articulation is concerned," he mused absently, drawing additional looks of surprise from his audience at his casual comments regarding the particulars of pronunciation of a long-dead, millennia old language.

"Not that that really excuses my using language like that, of course," he quickly added, looking a bit chagrined. "I'd, uh, I'd like to apologize for what I said in front of you, sir, and I'll try not to let it happen again."

"When you say you'll try not to let it happen again, do you mean, your not using language like that, or your not getting caught again using language like that, my boy?" Mayhew asked him with a grin, his expression making it clear that he was just teasing Xander.

"Uh, yes, sir," Xander grinned back, as he threw a quick glance over to see what sort of reaction both Alison and Honor had to his – lapse in discretion, was what he figured Giles would have called it – and was somewhat relieved to see them both smiling at him with good humor.

"Well, don't be too hard on yourself about it, Xander. I've probably heard language similar to whatever it was you just said a moment ago," Alison reassured him, with an amused expression.

"Remember – when you get past the fancy uniforms and pretty ribbons she wears, Honor's basically just a sailor, and you know what kind of language *they're* noted for using," she said, eliciting an indignant "Mother!" from Honor, and what Xander would have sworn was an honest to god, if somewhat disconcerting, laugh from the six-legged 'cat seated on her shoulder.

"Yes, well, while I greatly abhor disturbing this cheery and rather amusing topic," Mayhew interrupted the general conversation a moment later, "I must, reluctantly, redirect our discussion back to the purpose for which I have made this trip."

Glancing over at the man Honor had introduced as her 'liege lord' and who was, apparently, the equivalent of the president of an entire freakin' PLANET, Xander realized that Mayhew was looking at him with an expression that seemed to mix both anticipation and apprehension in equal parts, and he gulped nervously as he waited for the man to continue speaking.

"First off, Mr. Harris, I'd like to apologize for barging into your hospital room, unannounced and without invitation," Mayhew said politely.

Xander could not help but notice that the older man's demeanor towards him had elicited quickly hidden expressions of both surprise, concern and curiosity from Honor, and he filed that tidbit of information away for later consideration as he focused the majority of his attention on his visitor, while still keeping alert for any signs of potentially hostile presences (either demonic or mundanely human), the way any typical Sunnydale inhabitant who wanted to live to see the next day did.

"That's okay, sir," he waved away Mayhew's apologies with his free hand. "I'm used to seeing people showing up, unannounced. Heck, back home, we usually have people showing up unexpectedly at least four or five times a week.

"And more often than not, they're usually not there to say 'thanks' for whatever it is we've been doing. From what I've seen, blood-sucking fiends aren't real big on sending flowers or offering candy-grams," he shrugged nonchalantly.

Ignoring the frowns and looks of confused curiosity and/or bewilderment his answer produced for the time being, Xander refocused his attention on Protector Mayhew and asked, "So, what exactly did this prophecy you're so concerned about have to say, Mr. Mayhew?" Xander asked, deciding to get right to the point.

"And what makes you think it had something to do with me?"

"Before I begin trying to answer your last question, my boy, I think it would be best for everyone present to actually see the prophecy I spoke of, for themselves," Mayhew replied.

Turning to address one of armed, uniformed men Xander now noticed were standing in the corridor outside his room, the older man said, "Michael, could you please ensure that our conversation here will remain strictly private from any potential spectators?"

"Certainly, Your Eminence," the liveried man Benjamin had spoken to immediately nodded and stepped forward into Xander's hospital room.

Removing several small items from his jacket pockets, Michael then checked the readings displayed on one of the instruments before making adjustments to another. After repeating these actions three more times, the man nodded again, set one of the items on the nightstand next to Xander's hospital bed and said, "We're secure now, Your Eminence," before bowing to Mayhew and stepping back to the rear of the crowd again.

"All right, then," Benjamin said with a small smile, "we can finally get to discuss the reason why I decided to visit Sphinx, now.

"Now, the recording you're all about to witness was, in fact, made by my great-great-great-grandfather, Miles Alistair Mayhew the Second, some three hundred and sixty-eight years ago," the Protector of Grayson informed his attentively listening audience as he fumbled in his pocket, searching for something. "it has been passed down through over five generations of my family, and has been the topic of some extremely heated discussions over the centuries. Where is the blasted thing…

"Ah! Here it is!" Mayhew murmured to himself, after a moment's further hunt. Withdrawing another small device from his jacket pocket with a small flourish, Benjamin held it in the palm of his hand before setting it on the nightstand next to Xander's bed, flicking a small switch and then stepping back.

An instant later, a small, seemingly solid image approximately a foot and a half tall abruptly shimmered into view above the nightstand's top. The figure was of a nondescript-looking man wearing jeans, a flannel shirt and work boots and carrying a rake on his shoulder as he walked along a garden path. The man was accompanied by several women and a horde of children, some of whom were also carrying garden implements, all dressed similarly to the man, as well as several men dressed in livery similar to that of the man Mayhew had earlier called "Michael."

As the group walked forward towards whatever was recording this scene, the man at the center of the group abruptly stiffened and halted in his tracks, and his eyes turned a milky-white an instant before he began speaking in a deep, booming voice that seemed to reverberate and echo throughout the room, even as Benjamin's ancestor spoke across the centuries from the long-distant past.

"Hearken to my words, Oh Children of the Light," he announced in a deep, resonant tone, "that you shall recognize when the Time of Revelation draws nigh, when Demons shall seek to return and gain ascendancy over Man.

"The Horned Abomination, Herald of Darkness and Vanguard of the Demon Horde, shall attack the Mother of the Sword and the Paladin shall shield her with his own body, so that the Destroyer might vanquish the fiend.

"Torn from his home and tossed asunder through the Void, the Brother of the Sword shall labor diligently in his quest for wisdom and knowledge, that his loved ones be delivered from the Leviathan who dwells in the Dell of the Sun.

"The Chosen Ones, the Paladin and the Patriarch shall stand together with the Children of Gaia to hold back the hordes of Darkness and through their efforts, they shall prevail against those who would scorn the Lord by mocking the First-Born of Man.

"When the Beast appears, seeking the Opener of Locks, then shall Sineya's Chosen selflessly sacrifice themselves that victory be assured and the Mouth of Hell shall speak no more.

"Devastating shall be their losses, but in defeat, the Forces of Light shall find victory, and those fallen in the Lord's service shall rise again to lead the Faithful through the Time of Isolation to the Days of Revelation, that Hell's Spawn be thwarted in their goals.

"Then shall the Scions of the Dog Who Spoke appear again, and the Armies of Light shall come forth from their homes, that the Darkness be recognized and their stronghold upon the heights vanquished, their influence annulled with their existence revealed."

As the final words flowed from his mouth, the man in the recording – Miles Alistair Mayhew the Second – abruptly went limp and he collapsed to the ground even as the people about him all unfroze and rushed to his aid – and then, an instant later, the recording winked out of existence.

As the various people gathered in the room all glanced back and forth at each other, baffled expressions on their faces as they began mulling over what they'd just witnessed, everyone's attention was simultaneously drawn to the patient whose room they were in.

"Ah, hellmouth and damnation!" they heard the dark-haired youth loudly exclaim in annoyance as Xander irritably glared at the now-vacant spot where the hologram had appeared. "That's just freakin' great!

"Now, how the heck am I supposed to organize a research party to figure out exactly what that means and what we're supposed to do about, without any of the Scooby Gang, or even any of Giles' books, around to check?"

~~~

The End?

You have reached the end of "Zeppo Among The Stars" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 6 Sep 10.

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