Chapter Two - Dark Angel
I'd actually forgot I tried writing this train wreck. Read and feel better about your writing skills.
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy or Dark Angel.
Xander was in a good mood as he walked to Giles’ early for the Scooby meeting. It was a week after his high school graduation and the subsequent death of the big bad of the year, Mayor Wilkins himself. The battle had gone well for the most part with very few casualties and he was about to head off on his summer trip.
He opened the door, shouting, “Heeeere’s Xander!” in a passable imitation of Jack Nicholson. Xander dropped himself into a chair across from Giles. “What’s the what G-man?”
Giles sighed. “How many time’s must I ask you not to call me that?” Before Xander could respond he continued, “I received an interesting piece of mail yesterday; it was to you, courtesy of myself. Now normally I wouldn’t mind if it was through the school, but since this was mailed to my home, could you possibly explain why I am receiving your mail?”
Xander had stopped listening after hearing the letter was for him. There were a total of eleven possible people who would contact him through Giles, likely even less. And if they were contacting him through Giles, the news had absolutely no possibility of being good, for the sender or for him.
It was the part of his life he had never shared with the gang and would never share if he had a say in the matter. His secret could easily ruin the lives of his friends, and the last thing they needed was his problems crashing down on them on top of their own supernatural issues. Xander had thought many times about simply tossing caution to the wind and telling his friends, but there never seemed to be a good time to sit down and tell his best friends that he wasn’t completely human. He was mostly human, but the technical term was a chimera: a fusion of multiple species. In his case, he was mostly human, with a small amount of animal DNA. He was what was designated as an X5, a series of supersoldier created by Manticore to be the perfect soldier; and he was until he and eleven others escaped back when he was nine. He had then fled south, ending up in Sunnydale as the adopted child of two alcoholics who saw him as little more than a tax break.
Other than the one meeting with Zach, his CO back in Manticore during sophomore year, he had managed to keep his past life completely separate from his life in Sunnydale up until this point. Clamping down on the sudden nervousness that had risen up, Xander gestured for the letter, which he was promptly handed. “I told my family, at least the parts I was close to, that if they ever needed to get a hold of me for an emergency or something that they should send it to you rather than my parents. I’d be sure to get it this way. But if they sent something to you…” He trailed off as he tore open the letter and quickly began to read it.
Syl and I have some issues with some people who don’t know when to stay down. Three man job though. Zach gave us your contact info when he checked in on us. Thursday night, dusk, Duncan Park, Austin. Wear something that stands out.
Xander suppressed a wince. Normally, gang issues wouldn’t be a problem for an X5, especially not for two, but if anyone managed to get a description to local authorities of someone with a barcode tattoo and not exactly human capabilities, the shit could hit the fan extremely quickly on the scale of a small military invasion. Even though they had been out for ten years, Manticore was still actively hunting for the ’89 escapees.
“Sorry Giles, my cousin had a fire burnt down his apartment complex in Texas and he’s calling in the family in the region to help get everything sorted and moved into his new apartment. Looks like I’ll just be leaving a couple days early for the road trip I was planning and taking a more southerly route, not too big of deal.”
It wasn’t that he enjoyed lying to Giles, but it just was better for everyone involved.
Giles gave Xander a look, almost as if he was contemplating asking for more information, but decided to let it go. “Alright then, but I’m going to let you explain that to the girls.”
Xander plastered a smile on his face, “Will do G-man, but I’m going to go home and pack first. Since Buffy’s usually late anyway, I should have some time to get everything ready before they show up. I’ll swing by and let them know before I head out.” He had about an hour before he had to leave if he wanted to make it to Austin by nightfall. As he was shutting the door on his way out of Giles’ house he stopped and stuck his head back inside. “Hey G-man? Does this shirt stand out?”
Giles looked at his yellow and orange Hawaiian shirt and gave a rather uncultured snort.
Xander snuck quietly back into his room, careful not to alert his adoptive parents that he had returned so early. They would be drunk, but not yet to the point where they had passed out. While the hits his father inflicted didn’t do all that much damage due to his X5 nature, they were something he had no wish to deal with at this particular time. He grabbed the army issue duffel bag from under his bed and began loading his secret hunting gear, a pair of K-Bar kukri machete’s, stakes to share, some smaller knives, and an illegally silenced and double stacked Glock 17 that he had ‘liberated’ from some of Sunnydale’s more human underworld. The gear was well used, but well maintained. It was one of their first lessons in Manticore: you take care of your equipment. Simple, but punished brutally if forgotten, often with more time spent in the tank.
The tank was a training tool that was normally used as punishment for the X5s in Gillette, Wyoming consisting of a water tank in which the X5s were chained to the bottom for a prolonged period of time, often approaching five or more minutes. It was one of the aspects of Manticore that continued to plague Xander in his nightmares, the struggling underwater, all the while knowing that you could only be released by the trainers who often believed that they were nothing more than tools. Or worse run by Lydecker, the personal Satan for all of the X5 trainees at Manticore. Xander had literally seen hell (or at least hell dimensions) here in Sunnydale, but what he had lived back at Manticore was as close to the actual Hell as one could ever be, made worse by the fact that the others in his unit, his family were being subjected to the same punishments without him being able to do anything.
Xander shook off the dark memories as he tossed his hunting clothing into the duffel: a pair of black jeans, a dark green shirt, a black leather jacket, and combat boots. His hunting clothing was of a much higher quality than the normal clothes he wore on a daily basis as it had to withstand use multiple times a week whenever he decided to go hunting while Buffy was off patrolling by herself or with someone else. He tried to hunt every night unless he was scheduled to work with Buffy or was suffering from the major flaw of the X5 design, a serotonin deficiency. Whereas the other members of his unit suffered from seizures when their serotonin levels got low, all Xander ever suffered was a massive migraine, probably due to the substitution of hyena DNA into his ‘cocktail,’ which was only slightly different from the rest of his unit. His migraines had led to several situations that the gang often liked to rehash whenever they wanted to remove him from the slaying for his safety. He could still fight with the migraines, but they did impair his abilities quite a bit as well as his mental capacity. It’s rather difficult to be the perfect super soldier while you have the equivalent of several jackhammers going to town in one’s head.
Xander slung the duffel bag over his shoulder and snuck back out of his room after grabbing his stash of money he had made from various means over the years. He had no idea how long he would be in Texas with Krit and Syl, and he planned to continue his trip afterwards anyway. He quickly grabbed the Southeastern United States map out of his uncle’s car and plotted a course to Duncan Park before he put the old ’59 into gear and drove in the direction of Giles’ place to inform the girls of his early departure.
As Xander made his way towards Texas and his family, his thoughts returned to the hastily written letter he had received, specifically the “don’t know when to stay down” part. It practically screamed vampire to him, almost as loud as “gang members on PCP” would have. He had looked into the city on one of the school’s computers before he had left and found no reference to the supernatural – none of the animal attack claims or the bar-b-que fork accidents normally connected to a vampire attack. Even so, he had cross and enough stakes for everyone when he got there plus a good amount of holy water.
Just because he didn’t see the signs didn’t mean they weren’t there and “be prepared” happened to be more than just a saying.
He sighed. “Nothing I can do about it ‘til I get there,” he muttered. It wasn’t like Zack trusted anyone with anyone else’s phone number. All he had was the emergency voicemail number that he could use to contact Zack. Give others his number, sure! But give him anyone else’s? Nah. Thanks a bunch Zack, you’re the one always spouting off about how we’re always soldiers and should follow our training, but you don’t give us a way to keep in touch with friendlies or to gather info, thanks a bunch bro.
Xander turned up the music to drown out his inner rant; it was neither the time nor the place. Of course the middle of the freeway wasn’t really the place for much except a hitch-hiking scene in a B-level horror movie. And just like that, the dark mood he had settled into was gone. That had always been one of his strengths or weaknesses depending on how you looked at it. He never seemed to be able to stand a seriously depressing mood for long, which had led to his constant joking. After the escape, he had taken to lightening the mood because he knew for a fact that life could be worse; there was no reason to dwell on the bad stuff. Buffy was the only person he had met since Manticore who he could say had a tough life. Nightly fighting tended to do that to anyone, and while she had some combat training from Giles, she had nothing to prepare her for the psychological aspect of constantly fighting. So he tried to do what he could, a laugh here, smile there, anything to make her life easier. And he would continue to do so because she needed it and he was good at it, end of story.
Several hours and a couple states later, Xander found himself on a bench in Duncan Park, in the middle of Austin, Texas. It was dusk, it was hot, and Xander couldn’t care less. Not much else matters when you’re about to see your family who you haven’t seen in more than ten years. And so he sat, on a bench in a bright Hawaiian shirt waiting for two late teenagers who could be any one of the many couples taking a romantic stroll through the park. Maybe it would have been a bit easier if Krit had given him a way to recognize Syl and himself. But protocol said otherwise; you arrange a meet in a public place where there are witnesses and opportunities to scout the area out before hand.
Xander snorted. Manticore. They’d been out for ten years and still they ran their life around the training they had been force-fed. As the saying went, you can take the transgenic out of Manticore, but not Manticore out of the transgenic. Even subconsciously, he had been constantly evaluating those around him for a threat. It was almost pathetic, but it had been ingrained into him at an early age and it had
saved his life out on patrol back in Sunnyhell. Go figure.
A passing jogger paused, looking at Xander. “Well, that definitely stands out. Of course it makes me want to claw my eyeballs out too.” He was a younger man, dark hair, and packing at least a couple knives, from what Xander could tell.
“Well, family wanted loud for our reunion, and you don’t say no to family.” Xander had started off wary, but judging by the way the man had relaxed while Xander was responding, he had a pretty good idea of who the man in front of him was. “How’s it going Krit?” He stood up, shaking his brother’s hand and pulling into a hug. Krit froze for a moment before slapping him on the back in a friendly manner.
As Xander backed up to take in his little brother, he could tell the smile was forced. Oh, the mouth had the standard upturned corners, but the eyes were stressed and worn out.
“Syl’s gone.” Krit seemed to unconsciously slip back into the Manticore style of reporting. “At 2100 hours last night she returned to a bar we had been staking out. Upon her entrance, she was jumped by at least three large men. She fought back, but they managed to subdue her, handcuff her and place her in the back of a van. I should have gotten there faster, but I was across the street on lookout. She was in the van behind the bar before I could cross the street. It was that fast.” As he finished, Krit began to break away from his discipline. “We need to get her back Alex. She went for medical help for less when we were back at Mant- back there.”
“We will, you know we will.” Xander hated this. He could tell a joke or lighten the mood easily, but motivational speaking just wasn’t his thing. “Tell me what you saw. Height, weight, clothing, equipment, you know the drill. Anything helps.” He paused, “any chance they were wearing yellow contacts?” Xander didn’t know what answer he was hoping for, a yes and he would have to introduce his family to yet another war, but a no would leave him with little information and almost nowhere to begin his search.
“No, no contacts. They were tall, 6 foot plus at least. The accent sounded South African. They just took everything she could dish out and kept going.”
Xander let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding. Not vampires. Still could be something supernatural, but if they had accents it wasn’t all that likely. Yes, demons had accents, but normally the violent ones didn’t stay in one place long enough to pick up the local accent. “Alright, let’s go back to that bar and see what we can find out.” He gave a rueful grin, “Inspector Xander is on the case.”
“Ok, two questions. One: Seriously? That was bad, even for you. And two: Xander?”
“It was not that bad. And a friend of mine couldn’t pronounce Alexander so it got shortened.”
Krit half chuckled, “Only you, Alex, only you. And I’m still calling you Alex. Xander sounds kinda wimpy.”
Xander rolled his eyes, “Whatever.” He made a wide sweeping gesture with his arm, “Lead the way.”
“Well, we know where they’re holing up at. But what the hell was that back with the bartender? You were against the whole ‘Smack the informant’ thing back when Zack did it that one time.” Krit kept glancing at Xander with a questioning look on his face as they walked out of the local library with several printouts in hand.
“Eh, we got a bartender back at home who keeps track of the local trouble. Introducing his face to the bar always seemed to work for Buf- a friend of mine. Figured I’d give it a shot. Besides, he’ll be fine in the morning; I didn’t even give him a concussion.”
“That’s the Alex we know and love, can’t keep your ass out of trouble can you?” Krit was smirking now and the two were back to the teasing and joking around they had usually shared back at Manticore. There was still the serious undercurrent, but most of the tension had left. They had a target, a warehouse, and now it was back to the basics they had been drilled on for the first decade or so of their lives. The information gathering was the worst part; back in the day it had been done by their handlers, but now they had to figure it out on their own. Thankfully, Xander had participated in more than a few research sessions and was well practiced in looking up information. Just in this case it was an address and blueprints rather than demons and how to kill them. Same basic principle.
The two entered the Apartment that Krit had been sharing with Syl and set the blueprints of the suspected warehouse on the table. Before they could seriously begin planning their assault, Xander stopped Krit. “So I’ve gotta ask. You and Syl?”
“Yeah, for a couple years now.”
“Cool.” The two had been nearly inseparable back at good ‘ole Manticore, and after they had paired off in the escape, Xander had figured it would happen at some point. When you haven’t seen family in years, you tend to imagine what they were doing with their lives. And it wasn’t like they were family
family. The DNA of the X-series were so varied that their unit would be unlikely to have inbreeding problems for several generations at the minimum. It’s what you get when you have, literally, the best of everyone in you. One of the few things Manticore got right.
The happy moment had passed. “What are the cops like around here? The ones back home wouldn’t care if there was a running gunfight or an explosion or two.” Let alone care about many of the other things that went on at night back in Sunnydale. Before the Mayor had met his explosive ending, they were more likely to help the nightlife than stop it. It would be interesting to see how the law enforcement changed, if it did, now that the mayor was buried under what remained of the high school.
“In the main area of town, they would respond almost instantly. Out on the edge of the city where this warehouse is, we’re looking at a five to ten minute response time. Gotta love them police budget cuts.” Neither realized it, but they were again reverting to their Manticore personas, mission planning with Xander heading the planning process. Xander was a lower alpha male or a high beta, they could never determine which. In ranking, he was third behind Zack and Zane. Krit was somewhere behind him. Transgenics, it seemed, could instinctually determine who was ‘more alpha’ than them, but needed to be together in order to determine ranking. While their instinctive ranking had always been present, it seemed that it had grown in strength since their escape – puberty most likely. Normal boys got zits while the X5s got instincts and occasional anger issues. Yay Manticore.
“Okay, “ Xander gestured to the blueprints spread out before them on the table. “Our best bet is Blitzkrieg assault, go for speed rather than stealth. I say we plant a breaching charge here, on the wall as a distraction. It should be large enough to take out the internal supports and take out a good portion of the wall. You’ll be outside, across the street from the warehouse providing sniper cover for the initial entrance, taking out targets of opportunity, then come in through the whole once you cleared out what you can. I’ll be entering from this side, so do me a favor and don’t shoot me. If Syl’s not in the main area where we enter, we go room to room through the offices.”
Krit nodded, then paused, thoughtful. “Sounds good, but a breaching charge? We hadn’t started explosives when we ran. You know what you’re doing, right?” It was a legitimate question, and one that needed to be asked. It wouldn’t end all that well if the explosion managed to shred Syl while she was sitting inside the warehouse. Use too big of a charge, you get a collapsed building and shrapnel, too small and it’s ineffective for what they needed.
“Yeah. Let’s just say I managed to pick up some training since we got out and leave it at that.” His tone brooked no questions. Halloween wasn’t his favorite topic, and discussing magic to someone who was literally a walking science experiment would be almost an impossible task.
Xander had, in a moment of morbid humor, decided to dress up as himself at Manticore for Halloween, minus the military buzz cut. When Ethan Rayne had done his magic, turning everyone into their costumes, Xander had been changed into someone who didn’t exactly exist – himself, X5-648, but how he would have been had he stayed in Manticore rather than running. X5-648 had spent the night attempting to determine his mission and objectives and had tagged along with Willow and Lady Useless in the hopes of gaining more intel on the situation. When the spell ended and everything that wasn’t them ended, Xander had ended up with the training and memories of X5-648 because it was
him. Not only did the memory dump include explosives training as well as more training in his recon specialty, it had included another six or so years of torture, abuse, and more psychological pain than Xander had believed possible. From what he gathered, their first nine years had been tough, and it had only gotten harder after they had left. He tried to convince himself the extra knowledge and fighting skills made the memories worth it, but there was only so much lying he could do to himself.
Needless to say, Halloween was not a happy point for Xander.
“Anyway, “ Xander continued, ignoring the questions he knew were running through Krit’s mind, “What do you have in the way of gear?”
Krit gave the lopsided smile he had learned from Xander and motioned him over to the stove. Pulling on the storage space underneath, he revealed several handguns and a wide array of knives as well as some moldable plastic explosives and a couple of fragmentation grenades. “See anything you like?”
Xander gave Krit an approving nod. “I’ve got my own kit, but I may end up needing your supplier for those grenades. I’ve had a few moments where a grenade would have made my life a whole lot easier.” He walked over to where he had set his duffle and removed his Glock, his kukris, and his own collection of knives and daggers and laid them out on the table along with a couple stakes.
Krit raised an eyebrow at the carved wooden stakes laying next to the very well maintained weaponry. At his look, Xander volunteered the information with a shrug, “It gets past metal detectors.” He could have told Krit, but there were several things holding him back. First, Krit was already in a fight for survival daily with his running from Manticore. Secondly, his unit’s lives were already horribly screwed up. If he had the choice (which he did) he wouldn’t get them involved in an aspect of the world just as horrible as the one they had escaped from. If they found it on their own he would help, but he wasn’t going to dump it on them. It had its risks, but they were extremely well trained super soldiers who could easily handle several vampires on their own. The vampires may be stronger, but the X5s were just as fast and had been trained since they were born; it wasn’t much of a challenge.
“Moving on, it’s about midnight now, so I’m going to grab a cat nap before we go. Driving all day does not get you ready for a night assault and you know it. I call couch!” And with cat-like agility, Xander vaulted over the back of the couch, laid out in the air, and landed perfectly on the low quality couch. “Wake me in two hours, sleep if you can.”
Krit just shook his head at his older brother’s antics and headed towards the bedroom in hopes of grabbing a nap of his own. As he entered the bedroom he stuck his head back out, “Alex, cat DNA or not, that pun was horrible.”
Xander was already out.
“I mark one guard outside the warehouse – east side. The area’s pretty quiet.” Krit’s report came quietly over Xander’s earpiece as they waited to begin their assault on the warehouse where they had determined Syl was being kept.
Xander had been awoken by Krit for their rescue operation in the middle of a nightmare slash flashback to their first kill back at age five. They had been ordered to hunt down a convict, but what stuck out was the sheer joy the X5s had felt when they had killed the man, the blood, the look on the man’s face, and the rush
. It wasn’t the kill that plagued Xander’s nightmares, it was the feeling afterword; the happiness they had at a successful mission and the joy they felt at Colonel Lydecker’s approval. Once he had escaped, Xander had done his absolute best to not be forced into a position to take another human life, which had been made infinitely easier by Buffy and Giles’ “we don’t kill humans” philosophy. It’s wasn’t that he thought the soul gave everyone a get out free card; his entire life up until his escape would make a vampire shudder. His lifestyle was more atonement for what he had been forced to do. It made sense to him. And now he was likely to have to break that lifestyle for the first time in ten years.
“- ALEX!” Krit’s voice snapped Xander out of his internal moral conflict. He shook his head, as if to clear it. This was Syl, and Syl was family. Xander would do nearly anything for his friends, and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for family. If saving his sister caused him some emotional turmoil, so be it.
“Just waiting for you, what’s taking so long?” Xander’s response was joking, but with a serious undertone that Krit easily picked up on.
“Making sure you’re ready, we haven’t done this in years. Blowing the charge on three.”
As the charge blew in the wall, Krit’s covering fire could be heard amidst the panicking of the gang inside. Xander had snuck in the front door and knocked out the guard inside the entrance with a single blow to the head. He could have done it with more finesse, but there wasn’t the time. Even with super soldiers, two against a warehouse wasn’t exactly good odds, and they needed to milk the elements of speed and surprise as much as they could. He entered the main area of the warehouse with his silenced Glock leading the way.
Xander quickly scanned the large room, noting the two bodies from Krit’s gunfire, and the one man that had been standing too close to the wall when the explosion was set off. So far their luck had been neither good nor bad. On one hand, Syl hadn’t been harmed by the distraction, but that meant they had to go room to room through the offices, which meant their surprise attack was no longer a surprise.
Krit joined Xander inside and the two silently made their way over to the offices, senses pealed for any hint which room Syl was being held in. Out of the four offices, one had its door open, so that one was obviously out. From the last room in the hall, a small scuffle was heard, a whispered “Shut her up”, and the sound of flesh hitting flesh. The two X5s shared a glance and, with Xander in the lead, burst through the door. The two gang members inside were halfway to cover behind the couch in the room, with Syl restrained in a chair off to the side – easy targets with no chance to hit the hostage. Xander leveled his gun and placed two silenced shots into the first man, while Krit did the same less than half a second later to the other.
Krit moved to unclasp Syl’s hands, while Xander began to work on her legs. It seemed that the men that had kidnapped had gotten lucky when they had used handcuffs rather than rope to secure her. The X5’s could get out of rope rather easily, but tightly clasped handcuffs were another story. As she was released, Syl hugged Krit tightly while also trying to hold her soldier façade in place. Xander couldn’t help it, he chuckled. It was the same look he would expect to see on his face if he walked in on Faith with a teddy bear (before the whole evil-coma-thing). It was that 'I’m a badass, but I’m really glad to see you – please hold me' sort of contradiction that couldn’t be replicated no matter how hard you tried. So sue him, it was kinda funny.
Syl turned away from Krit and punched Xander in the shoulder. “Be nice Alex, I haven’t seen you in years and you’re laughing at me before you even say hi.” The smile she had as she reprimanded him told him her true feelings, she was glad for the rescue and even happier to see her brother. As they left through the gaping hole in the warehouse wall, she turned to Xander again. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but why are you here?”
Xander nodded towards Krit. “I got a letter through Zack’s emergency channel two days ago saying the two of you needed help only to show up and find you managed to get yourself kidnapped.”
Syl rounded on Krit, “You know we had it handled.”
Krit just looked at her.
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound all that convincing with the whole rescue thing, does it?”
Xander smiled. He was back with his family, even if it was just two of them and he had to rescue one of them in order to visit.
One hectic week later, Xander found himself in Mexico, just outside of the US. After their little debacle back in Austin, Krit and Syl had decided to relocate in case some of the kidnappers were still out there and were to mention superhuman abilities or a barcode tattoo to the wrong person. While highly unlikely, Zack had beat the concept of constant moving and the importance of their secrecy into their heads before they had split up. It had only been reinforced when he had come to check in with them. So Xander had found himself helping his siblings pack up what they had and moving to Mexico. It wasn’t like he was going to complain though, he was happy to be with his unit.
And he was happy, truly happy. Of course there were the worries about Sunnydale, the constant fear of Lydecker and Manticore catching one of his siblings, but he was finally reunited with a part of his family. They had had only each other to rely on back in Manticore, and were extremely close with each other. Being reunited wasn’t something that anyone not raised in that environment could relate to; it was almost as if a missing part of his life had been recovered. With his life and safety constantly under threat, Xander was more than happy to be able to relax, if even for a somewhat short time, while out from under the majority of possible threats. Thinking on it, Xander decided that they weren’t really a unit, pack was more the right word with all their animal traits and instincts.
He stayed with Krit and Syl for a couple of months, occasionally training, but mostly catching up and simply enjoying life. But as summer came to an end, he knew it was time to head back to Sunnyhell. School had started, and, even though he wasn’t enrolled in Sunnydale U. like the girls, the vampires would be back en masse. So he said his goodbyes and left the two X5s with some parting advice.
“Guys, if you happen to come across something that just doesn’t want to die, take its head off or burn it. Does the trick with almost everything.” They weren’t all that likely to encounter many vampires or demons this far from the Hellmouth, but better safe than sorry. They gave him an odd look, but seemed to accept it. They had seen far too much not to, and you trusted your pack.
Xander opened the door to The Bronze for the first time in months, looking around for the friends he had left to go to Texas. While he had kept in touch for the most part, it wasn’t all that much beyond a simple “Yeah, we’re alive and no one’s hurt” conversation as Xander tried to keep the conversations short in order to keep from lying to his friends as much as possible.
So, while it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Buffy and Willow in their normal booth, he was rather confused by the sight of another man in the booth with them.
“Hey guys! Fancy seeing y’all here,” Xander drawled in a horrible attempt at a southern accent. “You gonna introduce me?” Xander slid into the booth next to Willow and nodded a greeting to the new guy sitting next to Buffy. Needless to say he was cautious to start any sort of conversation without knowing the new guy’s stance on the whole supernatural-vampire-deal. It had nothing to do with his training, it was common sense.
“This is Riley,” Buffy oh-so-helpfully informed him. Didn’t answer the unasked question of whether he knew about the night life in Sunnydale, but the way Buffy leaned into him as she answered left no room for questioning his reasoning for being there. And it stayed that way for the rest of the night, with Xander’s question being left unanswered. He knew that Riley was military of some time, but wrote it off to the Sunnydale ROTC detachment. So when he left for the night to begin his nightly hunt, he was under the assumption that it was just him and Buffy as the vampire hunters. As he normally did up until he had left, Xander took care to avoid Buffy’s slaying route for the night, which he had managed to get out of Willow as they left the Bronze.
In a spectacular display of proof that Harris luck was not genetic, but rather came with the name, Xander happened to be along the same route that Riley’s Initiative team was taking on their nightly patrol. Now normally, Xander would have taken notice of the commandos long before they would have seen him, night vision or not, but it was rather difficult to concentrate beyond the combat area when he was fighting for his life against a group of ten or so vampires.
“Is that the Slayer’s friend?” asked Forrest as they waited on the edge of the clearing from where Xander was methodically dusting the vampires as they came near him with his kukris. He had seen pictures of the group when he had been invited over to the girls’ dorm with Riley and Graham, but they had been lead to believe that Harris was the normal member of the group.
“Who cares, man? That is definitely HST material right there, I’ve never seen anyone move that fast other than Buffy or a demon. I’m sure Walsh would love to find out where he got that training.” So as Xander finished the last two vampires and his senses disengaged themselves from the fight, he found himself surrounded by a group of six men in combat fatigues wielding large black weapons.
‘Shit, Manticore’ was Xander’s first thought, and, ignoring the ankle sprain he had received during the fight, he immediately jumped towards one of the soldiers, hoping to break through the perimeter they had set up and make a break for freedom. As he impacted shoulder first with the soldier, he felt multiple impacts across his back and a jarring shock from multiple occasions. Body armor and transgenic toughness met upgraded tazers meant to take out demons, and tazers won. Xander slipped off into blackness, never knowing that he had been captured by the very man he had sat with all night at the Bronze.
When he woke up, Xander found himself in a bright white room, with his arms literally clamped to a table. Which was odd. When he had passed out, he expected his next view to be either Lydecker’s face or a laser ready to begin the reindoctrination process. From what he remembered, Manticore was grey and the atmosphere was just different. Mainly the air; this air seemed to be recycled, and the lack of windows lead him to believe he was underground. Probably not Manticore then. As he twisted to look behind him, the door opened, revealing a woman with a nametag reading Walsh. She only furthered Xander’s beliefs that he was not in Manticore. They people they would have sent were only there to administer pain, but this woman seemed intrigued. She had at least one emotion beyond anger, which was more than anyone at Manticore. Definitely not Manticore.
“You were seen fighting eleven vampires single handedly and managed to destroy all of them without serious injury. Also, our retrieval team registered an injury to the ankle when they brought you in, but you seem to have nothing of the sort. Mr. Harris, what are you?” She now stood before him with a clipboard, almost as if she was conducting a routine checkup with a patient.
“What is this, no pain, no drugs, just questions?” Xander was really confused now. Even when he had been kidnapped by vampires they began any questioning sessions with some sort of abuse, and Manticore had some of the biggest sadists worldwide on its payroll. This Dr. Walsh was definitely new to the whole interrogation thing. “First time, is it?”
“We know you have a human like intelligence, Mr. Harris, though I do believe you prefer Xander, do you not?” Without waiting for him to respond, she continued, “I thought you might have felt in the mood to share before we began the dissection portion of the evening.”
Xander snorted softly. She definitely had no idea what he was, or if she did, she hadn’t recognized it yet. Anyone with any knowledge of the X5 program would do their best to keep damage to an X5 to a minimum if found as their bodies, even dead, were worth millions. “Human here. Do I look like I have horns to you?” It was his standard Xander/Manticore mix of responding to questions about himself. He would give them nothing and look for a way to escape, per his training, but he would annoy the hell out of the questioner on the way.
“Ma’am? We have the HST you’ve been waiting for in the next cell.” Another doctor had stuck his head into Xander’s holding cell.
“Ahh, yes, finally. Doctor, prepare this one for examination, I’ll be with him in a few minutes.” With that, she left the room, although in a much greater rush than she had displayed upon her entrance to Xander’s.
No matter how he struggled, nothing Xander could do kept the second doctor from injecting him with some substance that immediately ceased his struggling, all the while keeping him awake. It seemed as if they were going to dissect him under only a paralytic. While terrifying, it gave him hope. His body worked through drugs at least twice as fast as a normal body did, and hopefully the drug would be worn off by the time he was ready to be cut up.
And just for kicks.
Alex’s (X5-648) Manticore File:
DNA Contributors: Puma concolor (cougar/puma) – strength, agility, reflexes, stamina; Crocuta crocuta (spotted hyena) – healing factor, durability, sense of smell; Buteo jamaicensis (Red-tailed Hawk) – eyesight
Super-human Capabilities: Increased strength, speed, coordination, and reflexes. Borderline eidetic memory, genius level IQ. Enhanced senses and healing. Advanced immune system.
Note: Subject has neurological disorder that has plagued X5 series. Subject has fewer seizures and requires fewer supplements than the rest of the series due to Hyena DNA, but suffers from slightly slower healing, also due to Hyena DNA. Will be tested on regenerative capabilities.
Date of Birth:
Facility: Gillette, Wyoming
Twin: 330145728649, died at birth
Placement in Unit: Strong Beta Male (or weaker Alpha; unknown. Not recommended for leadership, but capable if need be) , 3rd in command
Training: Normal education for series, martial arts training in Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Secondary Specialties: Demolitions/Explosive Ordinance Disposal
Additional Notes: Subject made first termination at age 6 at 3 minutes 21 seconds after release. Subject displays makings of good leader, but due to beta status is relegated behind alpha males. Subject’s firearm scores are passable, but mid-range in unit; while still highly accurate, subject will not be placed into sniper training. Recommend that subject is utilized in infiltration roles where abilities in CQC can negate need for extremely accurate weapons fire.