We were excavating the cave where Spike found the Gem of Amara. Giles said that he didn’t want any other powerful magical artifacts that could be there to be lost to some random demon, so we mounted up and went exploring in the caves. We found a lot of cool stuff, jewelry and statues and idols, most of them gold, and a couple of books that had the G-man drooling. I was kinda just wandering around, looking for something to break the boredom.
A flash of light caught my eye, ‘Ooh, shiny,’ hello boredom breaker. Pulling the metallic bracer onto my forearm, I took a closer look at it. It was silver, tight, but comfortably so, with some weird symbols etched into the back. Reaching out with my finger to trace the main one, I jumped when the thing started to move!
I started panicking as the metal on the bracer seemed to melt into my flesh, spreading up my arm, turning it silver. By the time I had gotten everyones attention, the metal had spread throughout my entire body, leaving me sparkling copy of the Tin-man.
“Giles!” I yelled, “Get it off!”
“Dear Lord, Xander!” He exclaimed, taking in my transformation.
I shook my head, “Nuh-uh, no ‘Dear Lord’s, no Good God’s, and if you say the words ‘oh no’ I will flush your scotch stash,” I finished, slamming my fist against the table, I didn’t notice as it collapsed, “Change me back!”
“Xander, it’ll be okay,” Willow said reassuringly, “Just calm down and will figure out a way to turn you back to normal.”
I looked at Willow and saw the worry and fear in her eyes. I stopped, I can’t have her scared of me. I took a deep breathe, and waited for Giles to tell me what to do.
“I don’t know what everyone is so worried about,” Anya interjected from her position studying the various jewels, “Just touch the symbol from the bracer and your usual, less shiny, form should come back.”
I stare at her dumbstruck, I sometimes forget that she’s a thousand years old with more magical knowledge then Willow and Giles put together. Reaching to my forearm, and seeing that the symbol was, in fact, still there, I tentatively poked it, and was thankful when my body slowly turned back into flesh and bone, the bracer itself reappearing on my arm.
“What the hell is this thing?” I asked, trying futilely to pull it off.
“It won’t come off,” Anya told me simply, “It’s bonded to you now, you can’t remove it until you die.”
“Why not?” I asked, panicking again, “It’s not going to kill me is it?”
“No,” Giles said, “I believe that this is the bracer once used by the Colossus of Rhodes, yes?” He looked to Ahn for conformation.
“Uh-huh,” she nodded, not turning away from the ruby encrusted ring she had just found, “Turns its bearer into an indestructible colossus to protect his homeland.”
“Remarkable,” he breathed, gazing intently at my forearm, “I have heard legends of this, but the Council was never able to find it.”
“Giles!” I said, snapping him out of ‘study mode’, “What. Is. It?”
“In Ancient Greece there was an island that frequently fell under attacks from outside forces,” great, now he’s in lecture mode, “In order to combat the threat, a great blacksmith, with incredible magical ability, forged this bracer and gave it to their greatest warrior. In times of violence, the bracer would transform the man into an indestructible Goliath known throughout the ancient world as the Colossus of Rhodes. When the warrior finally passed on, the bracer was set aside for another, worthy of its power. To my knowledge it has had a number of bearers over the centuries, but it disappeared from the records some five hundred years ago.”
Still trying to pull the stupid thing off of me, I snarked, “Yeah, it's fabulous, but what does that mean in Xander terms?”
Sighing, he pulled off his glasses to polish them in annoyance, “It means, that the bracer has chosen you to use its power. You can't take it off so stop trying. You will be changed into that metallic form whenever you touch the symbol on your bracer, when you do so you will be incredibly strong and indestructible. Don’t do anything stupid.”
So, now I had under gone the change from Zeppo to Colossus, and after I had some time to adjust to the idea, I have to say it was pretty fun. Demons couldn’t hurt me on patrols, and only the strongest species were any match against my strength. Unfortunately I had a bad habit of letting my guard drop, and one night, after I turned back into my normal self, I was shot in the back with some kind of taser.
I woke up in a cell, three walls of white and one made out of glass to let me see outside, or to let others see in. I could see some kind of demon in the cell opposite me, and what I hope were vampires in the cells on either side of him, (or her, I couldn’t really tell). I shifted into my metal skinned form and punched the glass, only to receive a huge electrical shock. Metal conducts electricity, I should really remember that.
I figured it must have been the commandos who’d neutered Spike about a week ago, but if they were hunting demons, then why would they come after...? Looking at the bracer on my arm, I remembered. Of course, they think I’m a demon.
After about five minutes of what I like to call ‘psychological warfare’, (I sang ‘the song that never ends’), I was surprised to see a middle aged woman in a lab coat, I was more surprised that I recognized her.
“Hello, Hostile 24,” she greeted me, “I'm warning you now to cease that prattle, or I will allow the guards to shoot you as they see fit.”
“Professor Walsh, right?” I asked, “What the hell is a psychology lecturer doing with a government demon hunting group?”
“I have multiple degrees,” she replied offhandedly, “Now, if you would be so kind as to explain how your body transforms into organic steel you may be able to avoid dissection.”
Holding up the bracer, I told her, “Magic.”
“Magic does not exist,” she replied sternly.
“Yeah it does, how else do you explain those two creatures over there who turn to dust if you shove a piece of wood through their hearts?”
“Biochemical reactions that we have yet to understand.”
“Magic,” I sing-songed.
“If you're not going to answer me seriously, then we will have to proceed with the dissection,” she told me, turning to the guard at the side of the cell she said, “Release the gas.”
As the colorless mist was injected into the room I had a sudden flash of inspiration that would make Willow proud. I shifted into my metal form. During Willow and Giles’s tests we had discovered that I didn’t need to breathe when I was like this. So I just played possum as the soldier guys tried to lift me onto a gurney. I considered attacking them then and there, but I decided to let them struggle for a bit first.
When it seemed like they were about to give up, I jumped into action. Knocking the first two to the side, I grabbed the second two, one in each hand, and threw them at Walsh before making my great escape. Running through the halls the alarms started to blare, doors started to close but I managed to just punch my way through those. I barreled through soldiers, shrugged off bullets and eventually made my way to the surface and to Giles’ place.
I was able to tell them exactly where the base was, though Buffy wasn’t too happy with the idea of the latest possible ‘big bad’ being in charge of grading her papers. Willow too, wasn’t particularly thrilled, as she had the rather firm belief (even despite Snyder’s influence) that educators were honest and good people.
Unfortunately, Buffy wouldn’t let us stake Spike now that he was helpless, even though I now had all of the information he was using to barter with. Buffy said that he was perfectly willing provide information on the supernatural underground so long as we kept giving him blood and letting him get his daily dose of violence on patrols. Personally I think that she was just trying to replace Angel or something as the ‘good vampire’ in her life, even Willow agreed.
Things with 'the Initiative', as the commandos were called, culminated a couple of months later. They had built a new ‘Super-Soldier’ by taking parts from different demons, added some human, and polished the whole thing off with an unhealthy dose of cybernetics. The Frankenstein’s monster, called ADAM, had gone rogue, and was planning something big.
Buffy had ran into him once before, and gotten her ass thoroughly kicked, so our next plan pretty much consisted of sending me in and hoping that it couldn’t hurt me. I didn’t like the plan and made my objections known. Loudly. I even threatened to sing ‘the song that never ends’ until they came up with a less suicidal plan, but Willow canned that idea by promising to cast a silencing spell on me.
We went down into the depths of the Initiative base, where ADAM planned to release all of the captive demons and use the resulting carnage to build a new race in his image. Willow hacked one of their computers to find out where exactly he was holed up while Buffy and Giles went to help the soldiers control the demons.
“Hostile 24,” ADAM greeted me, as I entered his lab, (he actually had a secret lab),“I’ve been expecting you.”
Shifting to my metallic, battle-ready, form I replied, “Really? All this for little old me?”
“Your humor is ill-placed Hostile 24,” he said in his toneless voice, gesturing towards the captivated Riley Finn and the demonically robotic Forrest Gates, “Join me, as they have. Allow me to examine your strength, and we will share it with the others.”
“Very well,” he accepted, raising his right hand, only for it to turn into a freaking gun! “Then you will die.” He opened fire.
I flinched instinctively, feeling each bullets impact, these were so not standard issue and they hurt like a bitch, but they didn’t pierce my steel skin. Charging forward I punched him I the jaw, knocking him down. I prepared to smash him with a double hammer punch when Forrest jumped on my back.
Struggling with him for a few seconds, he couldn’t cut through my skin with his claws and my strength vastly outmatched his, I threw him against the far wall, it cracked on impact and he didn’t get back up.
Turning back to the once again standing ADAM, we fought. I struggled with him, our strength was almost matched, and parts of his body were as tough as my own. Eventually, I got the upper hand when Riley somehow managed to escape his bonds and hit ADAM from behind with a fire extinguisher. Distracted momentarily by dispatching Riley, I was able to get the drop on ADAM, grabbing his head and pulling with all my strength, wrenching it from his body and finally killing the bastard son of science and magic.
I helped Riley to his feet, and we went off to offer what help we could to the others. The fight was like something out of an action movie, monsters running around, explosions everywhere and the heroes killing anything that comes near them. Later on we were debriefed by government suits, we were told to sign an NDA, agreeing not to mention what happened to anyone, but in exchange we weren’t arrested for ‘trespassing and damaging government property’.
Things worked out. The Initiative officially disbanded, but Riley decided to stick around with Buffy. Willow and Oz broke up earlier this year, but now she’s seeing a girl named Tara, which was a pretty big shock for me. Cause, y’know, in all our years as best friends, I never once imagined that we’d have the same taste in women. Anya and I have actually started getting serious, moving passed the crazy monkey sex stage (though we do still enjoy that) and into a deep and meaningful relationship.
Life on the Hellmouth, where you can transform from Zeppo to Colossus one day, and fight Cyber-Demon Hybrids the next. At the very least, its never boring.