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I've Never Been All That Religious, But…

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Summary: Xander joined his cousin on an archeological expedition after Graduation instead of heading to Oxnard and the Fabulous Ladies Nightclub, which has led to some significant changes to Xander's life. For one thing, he's now employed by the Air Force as a ci

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-CenteredGreywizardFR1837,30246926,00513 Jul 1125 Aug 14No

Chapter Three

This is entry #25 in the August 2014 Fic-A-Day challenge.

Author's Note 1: As usual, "word" indicates speech, [[ word ]] indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author's Note 2: Any and all crossovers I might throw in will have their canon timelines rearranged (or quite possibly, completely ignored) as dictated by my muse's whims, so if you have any problems with that happening, I suggest you go read a different story.

~/~/~

The interior of a recently discovered pyramid
The country of Kahndaq
Northeastern Africa

A moment immediately following the previous chapter


"Okay," Xander released a long sigh of resignation upon hearing his unseen host's last comment. "Exactly what hoops do I need to jump through, so that I can have at least the *slightest* chance of actually getting out of here – wherever 'here' might be," he added parenthetically, "alive?"

[[ Your assumption is mistaken. There is no hoop-jumping of any type involved, whatsoever, [[ the voice replied, along with the impression of someone smirking at him as they took his words at literal face value.

[[ Teth-Adam's Amulet lies waiting for its next bearer in its case atop the altar at the end of the room farthest from you, ]] the unseen speaker continued, and the lighting at the other end of the chamber brightened enough for Xander to see the altar referred to.

As the voice spoke, an annoyed expression crossed Harris' face as his question was ignored, as though it were completely unimportant. It wasn't like Xander *believed* what he was 'hearing', after all.

[[ All you need to do is take the amulet and put it on, and you will then be transported to a location elsewhere within the temple from which you will be able to easily make your way back to safety, ]] the voice concluded its instructions.

"Okay. Yeah, sure," Harris nodded at the directions given him, his tone of voice indicating he was clearly unconvinced by the simplicity of the instructions.

"So, can we cut the bullshit now? I mean, what's the catch here, big guy?" Xander then demanded. "What am I gonna have to do, once I pick up that amulet and put it on?

"C'mon, now – I've read too many legends and heard too many myths, not to mention seeing all the Laura Croft movies, to think that there's not gonna be any hidden 'gotchas' or debts involved with getting a trinket like that," Xander scoffed, his skepticism obvious to anyone listening.

"Especially after hearing you say something about how long it's been since someone came looking for this Amulet doohickey, right after I stumbled in here," he pointed out. "Plus, I wanna know – exactly who are you, and why are you offering me a chance at this amulet you keep talking about?"

[[ Those are very good questions, lad, ]] the voice acknowledged after a moment's pause, with what sounded like mixed amusement and approval in its tone.

[[ My true name is not something you need concern yourself with yet. Know, however, that I am the spokesperson for a group of beings who have an interest in preserving this world from various forces which seek its ruin, ]] the unseen speaker stated.

[[ And to best address those concerns, ]] the voice went on, [[ we have each contributed a portion of our power to an amulet that would be utilized by a suitable champion, that they be able to act as our avatar, to protect the world from the threats we have perceived approaching. ;:

Xander's danger sense, well-honed from three years of surviving on an active Hellmouth (not that he always paid proper attention to its warnings), instantly began screaming an alarm upon hearing those words.

{ Uh-oh. Now *that* sounds like these people are looking for a patsy that they can con into doing whatever dirty work they think needs to be done, } the isolated Scooby decided.

"Uh, well, not trying to rude or anything," Harris immediately replied – even though he actually was doing exactly that – "but like I asked a minute ago, exactly who are you guys? And what, exactly, is it gonna cost me if I do decide to pick up this amulet you mentioned and use it?

"'Cause one thing I do know for sure, is that power *always* comes with a price," the teen added firmly, with his skepticism obvious in his voice and on his face. "Nothing comes free. Especially, when it involves power of any kind.

"So, before I even *consider* picking that thing up and using it, like you obviously want me to, I need to know what it does, who you and your buddies are, and what using it's gonna cost me," he finished up, a determined expression on his face.

"Otherwise, well – I'm just gonna sit here and either wait for my friends to find me, or for the air to eventually give out and I'll just fall asleep and just never wake up," he said.

[[ You expect me to believe you would rather die, than save yourself by accepting the power the amulet offers? ]] the voice responded, the entity's disbelief in Xander's response obvious in its voice. [[ You would never do that! ]]

"Wouldn't I? Heh. Like Bugs Bunny says, you don't know me very well, do you?" Xander sniped back in a fair imitation of the cartoon rabbit's voice. A sharp-edged grin creased his face as he answered his unseen pseudo-host, all the while imagining the puzzled expression on the speaker's face at his reference to a pop culture icon.

[[ I do not understand. Why would you choose such a course of action? ]]

"Because I've seen what getting a shitload of power can do to people, back in the 'Dale," Harris replied, "and I'd rather die than risk me becoming a danger to the people I care about. I don't know what it was like for you way back when in Gilgamesh's day, or whenever it was, but nowadays? There's a saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So unless you and your buddies cough up with the info I want, you may as well pretend I'm not even here."

Having said that much, Xander then simply allowed himself to slump to the floor of the chamber and let a long sigh of exhaustion and weariness to slip from his lips.

Propping himself up in a semi-reclining position against the smooth tiled wall closest to him, the expatriate Scooby tilted his hat forward to partially cover his face, closed his eyes and tried to relax.

Either his gambit would succeed, and the unseen 'spokesperson' would concede to answering his questions about the amulet – or it wouldn't, and he was stuck here, until either his friends found him, or some future archaeological expedition found his mummified remains years or decades or even centuries from now.

Whichever way it worked out, the one thing he could be sure of was, that he wasn't going to inadvertently become a menace to the people he loved.

Xander wasn't exactly sure how long it took, since he hadn't glanced at his watch prior to settling down, but he was eventually was startled out of a light doze when he heard the voice calling to him, [[ Wake up, mortal! ]]

"Uh, why? I mean, what do you want now?" the youth asked as he unsuccessfully tried to stifle a yawn.

[[ I have spoken with the others, and even though it is unprecedented, we will accede to your demands. ]]

"Well, now we're getting somewhere! Now, first off, who are you? What's your name?" Xander demanded.

[[ I am Shu, and the other members of the group which I mentioned to you earlier consist of, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton and Mehen, ]] the still unseen speaker informed Harris as the trapped youth sat up and stretched.

Evidently, after waiting however many years for someone to come along and possibly take up this amulet they'd charged up, these guys didn't want to wait and see how long it would take for *another* visitor to drop by. But even as Xander thought that, another thought started chasing on its heels...

{ Oh, crap. Those guys were – and probably still are – part of the Egyptian pantheon, } Xander thought to himself, as he focused his attention on the information he was now being given.

{ Uh, if I remember right, Shu was the god of air; Heru – I'm thinking he was that falcon-headed god who was in charge of the sky, pharaohs, war and protection; and Amon was supposed to be one of the creator deities, } Xander thought as he quickly began recalling whatever he could from the various sources the Scoobies had researched over the years, while they were trying to figure out how to defeat whichever Big Bad was currently menacing them.

{ And Zehuti, he was the god of knowledge and wisdom; Aton was a sun god; and Mehen – he was some kinda snake god, who protected Ra during his journey through the night? I think so, anyway, } the currently stranded Scooby remembered from his readings.

{ All of them were pretty much on the side of the good guys, } Xander decided, as he considered his situation. { So maybe, just maybe, they're not out to screw me over completely. Of course, I could always be wrong... }

[[ We and all of the other pantheons who watched over mankind's development are now bound by millennia-old agreements to refrain from any active, or overt, participation in mortal affairs, ]] Shu confirmed Xander's earlier thoughts.

[[ Thus, in order to continue to work through a Champion of sorts, we each of us transferred a part of our power into the amulet; in the hope that a suitable representative of ours would be able to carry out our will in defending the mortal world from the various forces which threaten it. ]]

"Well, okay, I'll admit that I'm kinda fond of the way the world is right now, " Xander conceded with a nod of his head, "so I'll tell you up front, that if all this isn't a bunch of crap, then, I'm not completely opposed to maybe wearing this amulet you're mentioned earlier.

"But let's get down to the nitty-gritty. What is it you'd want me to do for you, if I do decide to use this amulet of yours?" he asked.

[[ There are six tasks which need to be accomplished prior to the next major ontological convergence, if the world is to avoid the dark paths which currently lay before it. If you do not succeed, the world will inevitably spiral into an epistemological vortex, and consign all existence to the realm of the dead, ]] the air deity informed him.

"Go on," Xander nodded, not really getting any of that except the whole 'six tasks' and 'realm of the dead' thing. { Typical higher being crap, I guess, they can never use simple language! }

[[ First, you must recover the Sacred Jewels of the Sun and return them to their rightful owner, ]] Shu stated.

"Uh-huh. Rightful owner, whoever that is.""

[[ Following that, you must help the Star Walkers defeat the Celestial Thief and return that which he stole to their source, ]] he went on.

"Gotcha. Star Walkers. Retrieve stolen property. What else?"

[[ You must aid The Right Hand of Doom in freeing the Living Flame from her imprisonment, that Armageddon be averted, ]] the pantheon's spokes-being continued listing his mission briefing.

"Living Flame. Trapped. And Right Hand of Doom. Catchy name! Okay, what else?" Xander asked.

[[ Fourth, you must return the Impossible Child, Quor-Toth's Legacy, to his father, and ensure that the plans of She Would Destroy the World With Love are thwarted; ]]

"Impossible Child. She Would Destroy the World With Love. Well, that's a *different* way to bring about the apocalypse, I'll admit! Next?"

[[ After that, you must Reconcile the Siblings Who Embody Ma'at's and Sekhmet's Blessings, That The Spirit of the Hunter Be Reunited; ]]

"Ma'at. Sekhmet. Spirit of the Hunter. Check. And, finally…?" Xander drawled.

[[ And finally, you must save the Daybreak of Creation from the Beast seeking to destroy the Cosmic Balance, ]] Shu concluded the list of feats Harris needed to accomplish, if he accepted the amulet which would save his life.

"Daybreak of Creation, right. Well, I gotta tell you, uh... " Xander paused, collecting his thoughts.

"While all of that stuff you just rattled off sounds like they're majorly of the bad," Xander replied after a moment's consideration, "I gotta tell ya, right up front, I've got absolutely no idea what any of that actually means.

"Can you maybe break it down into just a couple sets of simple directions?" Xander asked, without a great deal of hope.

"Y'know, something like – at 2:15 p.m. on August 27 this year, you need to be at the corner of Broad and Patterson Streets, so you can do insert task number one, two, three, etc. all the way up to six," he offered an example of what he meant. "Something that's a lot easier on the brain than what you just said."

[[ Despite your ongoing denials and self-effacement, young one, ]] Shu's voice echoed in Xander's head, [[ you already possess sufficient wisdom and knowledge to discern what you need to do. ]]

[[ You also know that you cannot let this responsibility pass you by, for you would not forgive yourself if the evils we have foreseen do come to pass, ]] Shu told him. [[ You are simply not built like that, ]]

[[ Now go, take up the amulet and accept your new vocation, Protector of Humanity, ]] the voice directed him.

As the self-identified deity spoke, the light illuminating the altar grew much brighter, as though to focus his attention on the ebony-trimmed gold amulet lying there.

Letting out a long sigh of both acknowledgment of what Shu had just said about his feelings of responsibility, and resignation to the way it seemed that Fate was once again screwing with his life, Xander reluctantly nodded his head as he pushed himself to his feet and then headed over to the altar.

"I don't know who thought this was a good idea, but when I do find out, we're gonna have words," Xander murmured to himself as he picked up the scarab-shaped talisman.

Reflexively tensing as he slipped the talisman's chain over his head, the expatriate Scooby waited for whatever was about to happen to materialize – and then opened his eyes in surprise when nothing happened at all.

[[ You must speak aloud the trigger word, in order to gain our empowerment, Protector, ]] Xander heard Shu say, the deity's voice most definitely tinged with what seemed like amusement at his reaction and he could swear he hear laughter in the background.

"And that would be what?" Harris asked, somewhat annoyed at what seemed like juvenile behavior from a millennia-old deity.

{ On the other hand, I'm not really noted for always behaving in the most mature manner, either, } Xander then chided himself.

[[ It is an acronym composed of the first letter from each of our names; you can pronounce it as SHAZAM, ]] Shu informed him.

[[ And I will caution you that the empowerment will produce certain – side-effects, ]] Xander heard the deity add.

{ What *kind* of side effects is he talking about? } the teen asked himself, as he grew hesitant once more. Then he shrugged as he steeled himself for a moment before then saying, "SHAZAM!"

Thunder boomed through the small chamber and centuries' accumulation of dust swirled around as a lightning bolt briefly illuminated the room.

Gasping in surprise at the unexpected meteorological display – and then coughing as he inhaled the disturbed dust – Xander stared as he found himself unexpectedly attired in a closefitting black coverall and boots.

Judging by the fact that the altar in front of him seemed to be a touch smaller and he seemed to be looking at it from a slightly different perspective, Xander surmised that he had grown a couple of inches in height and had apparently added a commensurate amount of muscle mass, too

The gold trim running down the sides of the pant legs reminded him of the Corellian blood stripe on Han Solo's pants in the original Star Wars Movie, while the wider matching gold bands circling the cuffs of his sleeves added a bit of color he was quite certain that Cordy and Buffy would both have approved of.

But he wasn't quite as certain about whether the thick gold belt with the various small compartments on it and the large golden lightning bolt which arced down the center of his chest should be considered as proper adornments or deemed to be garish and ostentatious bling by Buffy, Cordy *and* Willow. It appeared that even the gods didn't like his normal dress style.

{ Well, whatever the girls decide, I'm sure that all of them will be giving me their opinions as soon as they see me. Whether I want it or not, } Harris reminded himself as he finished his personal evaluation of his new – work clothes, he decided would be the best description of the outfit.

Xander was unsurprised when he again heard Shu's voice in his mind.

[[ This is how you will appear in your fully-grown adult state, Protector, ]] Shu advised him.

[[ Our empowerment will greatly enhance all of your capabilities, as well as providing you with additional proficiencies and powers, ]] Harris heard him saying. [[ In this form, you no longer require either sustenance or air to breathe, and you will be able to withstand attacks which would inflict lethal damage to your mortal form. ]]

"So, you're saying that I've been upgrade to, like, Slayer-level strength and speed and all that other good stuff?" Xander asked his unseen benefactor. "I can go out and kick demon ass, just like the Buffster does?"

[[Do not think of yourself at such a small level. You have been empowered to levels far beyond those of any other mortal man or woman, Protector, ]] Shu replied.

[[ But know also, that the enemies you will face are similarly empowered, ]] the deity cautioned the now-superpowered Scooby. [[ All we have done is ensure that you will have an equal chance of success when you face the enemy in battle. Success or failure will hinge on the efforts you exert. More than that, we are forbidden to do. ]]

"Huh," Xander responded, a thoughtful expression on his face as he considered what he'd just been told. "Well, that's a lot more help than we've gotten in the past.

"And now I know that we've at least got a chance to beat these creepazoids you've been telling me about," he said, nodding approvingly. "So, thanks for telling me that much."

[[ Indeed, Protector, ]] Shu replied. [[ You are as prepared as we are allowed to provide. You must discover for yourself what additional powers and abilities you now hold, so it is time for you to rejoin your friends. ]]

[[ To leave this chamber, you need simply lift the stone blocking the rear entrance behind the altar, ]] Shu directed him, and Xander now noticed that he could see minute, virtually undetectable differences in the stone indicated from those around it.

"Okay, then, I guess I better be going," Xander Harris said as he moved around the altar and took a grip on the massive stone block.

"And no offense meant, buddy," he said as he surprised himself by effortlessly lifting the multi-ton slab out of place, "but I hope I never have to talk to you, again."

[[ If he only knew… ]]

~/~/~

The End?

You have reached the end of "I've Never Been All That Religious, But…" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 25 Aug 14.

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