It took a surprisingly short amount of time-- although, Xander thought, that was the U.S. military for you-- but before Xander knew it he found himself out of the land of chopsticks and being taken to someplace in Manhattan called the Baxter Building.
Xander was more than a little concerned about this, not the least because of the constant military presence he’d had since China. He knew stuff. Stuff like how the government was working on teleportation. This was small potatoes however, considering the fact that the process had somehow given him super-powers, something he had no doubt that the government would be absolutely thrilled to get their hands on, regardless of the annoying little things like his constitutional rights.
But it wasn’t like he had any options. He had been in China, halfway around the world from his home without any kind of papers that said he was even allowed to be there. The U.S. Army, horrifying though it may be, were his best bet of getting out of the country without spending the next several years in a Chinese prison. Frankly, the only other organization he might be able to call for help would be the Watchers Council, and even if they /would/ help him-- let alone /could/-- after the way they treated Buffy and Faith he was pretty sure he’d be better off with the government.
Arriving at the Baxter Building, Xander had been bustled through the building until he had been dumped inside a very large room that reminded him of a holo-deck, that was empty except for a blonde kid, maybe a bit younger than him, dressed in a blue jumpsuit identical to the one he’d been given.
“Who’s he?” Blondie called out.
“Johnny,” a voice came over the speaker, “It’s alright, this is Xander, he got caught up in the accident as well.”
“You mean you were affected too?” Johnny asked Xander, who nodded, “Cool.”
“Yeah,” Xander agreed half-heartedly, looking around the holo-deck in search of answers, “So what are we doing in here anyway?”
“Mr Harris, this is Dr. Franklin Storm,” the voice introduced himself, “With you is my son, Johnny. Both of you seem to have been affected by the teleportation process, and until you can control your new abilities, I’m afraid you’re both too dangerous for us to allow to walk around.”
Xander nodded, expecting something similar, but Johnny started to panic.
“What?” He shouted, not noticing as smoke began to rise from his body, “You mean I’m stuck in here?”
As he finished his sentence, Johnny’s form erupted into flames, giving Xander a brief flashback to Buffy’s cheerleader tryouts and Catherine Madison’s particular brand of insanity. Meanwhile, as Johnny continued to burn, he began to scream, until he found an off-switch in the phrase ‘Flame Off!’
Xander was amazed as Johnny began to test his powers, repeating the words ‘Flame On!’ and ‘Flame Off!’ with his powers activating and deactivating at his command. It was incredible.
Eventually, when Johnny’s act started to get a little stale, Xander turned his attention to his own arms, and tried to get a spark.
“Lightning On?” He tried, without success, “Pikachu?”
Xander tried a small number of other phrases, hoping that each would be the magic one necessary to control his abilities, but eventually gave up on that tactic, and instead tried to reclaim the feeling he had had in the hospital. Remembering the feeling of panic, he struck gold, when a spark jumped from his fingertips.
Emboldened by his success, Xander recalled various memories concerning him in life or death situations, the adrenaline fueling his powers. Soon, he was surrounded by a flickering blue aura of electricity that arced around his body, dissipating into the air and ground around him.
“Sweet,” Johnny grinned, not too far away from him, as he observed Xander display.
Now that his abilities had been classified as ‘under control’, Xander was allowed out of the holo-deck, as was Johnny, although Xander was still followed by an armed guard due to his criminal status. Apparently the army had a hard time forgiving things like knocking out two of their personnel. Sheesh.
Xander was introduced to Dr. Storm in person, as well as Dr. Richards and Ben Grimm, two others who were caught up in the accident. Richards, or Reed as he preferred, had created the experiment, with the help of another who was still missing, and could now manipulate his body as though it were liquid. Ben, meanwhile, had been a bystander-- like Xander himself, except Ben had been legally allowed to be there-- and was transformed into a monstrous golem made from solid stone, and seemed more than a little upset about it. Frankly, Xander couldn’t blame him.
“So, you do know how to change us back, yeah?” Xander asked hopefully.
Reed looked away from the younger man, unable to answer.
“Okay...” Xander felt his panic rising, “But you at least know where to start?”
“No,” he answered solemnly, “But I’ll figure it out. As soon as we find Victor and Sue, I’ll fix us.”
“Who?” Xander turned to Johnny, who stood next to him, for answers.
“My sister,” he answered, “And Reed’s jerk-off partner/rival with the teleportation thingamajig.”
“And they were also teleported across the globe and could now be anywhere, in any condition?” Xander clarified.
“Not your fault,” Ben grumbled, with a pointed look at Reed, who flinched.
“That reminds me, Xander,” Reed said, “How exactly did you end up getting caught in the N-Zone experiment?”
“The what? Oh, the teleportation thing? Complete accident,” Xander answered, “I had a slight disagreement with General Ross over the legality of me being anywhere near the base, so I kinda ran and hid--”
“-- After taking out two of my buddies,” Xander’s guard muttered angrily from the doorway.
Xander continued as though he hadn’t heard him, “--by the pyramid. When that light hit me, I managed to end up in China. Sparking everything around me like a human bug zapper.”
“Better than lighting them on fire,” Johnny commented.
“Possibly,” Xander admitted.
“Hey, so, about the hair...” Johnny began, somewhat awkwardly, “Is that like, a part of your powers?”
Xander’s hand immediately reached to his head, brushing through his now bright blue locks. It had been a shock, back at the hospital, when he looked in the mirror to find his hair had, ironically, turned electric blue.
“Yeah. Unless the Chinese are dyeing people’s hair in their sleep now.”
Meanwhile, Dr Storm and Reed had started discussing the situation in language that nobody without at least two doctorates could understand, causing Xander to tune them out, similarly to the way he did to Willow back home, as he got the general story from Johnny and Ben. Until, that is, everything was halted when the sound of an explosion, followed by the roar of a twenty ton monster that caught the attention of everyone within a twelve block radius.
Faces filled the windows as everyone tried to get a look at the creature that had burst from the ground. It was huge, looking like a cross between Godzilla (the ’98 G.I.N.O version, as Xander would later insist rather forcefully) and Wilkins’ ascended form.
“Whoa,” Johnny breathed, leaning heavily against the glass, transfixed by the sight and ignorant of the heat he was generating, even as the window began to melt.
“Johnny!” Dr. Storm yelled, as he noticed what was happening, but it was too late. A hole had been formed in the glass, one just big enough for Johnny to fall through.
“Aaahhhh!” Johnny screamed, as he fell through the air, desperately searching for a way to survive, he tried “Flame On?”
Xander watched, amazed, as Johnny’s body was engulfed in flames mid-fall, and he rocketed away from the ground, now flying under his own power.
“What’s he doing?” Dr. Storm breathed, as Johnny began flying around the monster’s head, causing Reed to misunderstand and automatically supply a scientific explanation for Johnny even being capable of flight. Neither Xander nor Ben were listening though, as Ben stood up to the window.
“Ben, what are you doing?” Reed asked, as his stony friend batted away the remaining glass.
“Well,” he replied simply, with the calm of one who has accepted that his life has gone down the tubes, “I figure I’ve gone nuts, and this is all some kinda dream. So I might as well be the hero of it.”
With that, Ben leapt from the room, falling twenty floors to the street below and landing without a scratch, the same could not be said, however, for the street.
Meanwhile, Xander turned away from the scene below him, and looked at his guard, “Well, unlike my friends out there, I don’t think I can survive a fall like that, so hows about you just let me go down the stairs?”
The guard didn’t look too thrilled at the idea, but when Reed started to morph himself into a giant bouncy ball his attention was diverted, and Xander ran forward.
He crashed past the soldier, throwing him into a wall as he passed, and continued down the halls, looking for the stairs. He didn’t notice as he ran, that he was sparking with electricity. He didn’t notice as light bulbs cracked and dimmed as he ran by. And he also didn’t notice, when he passed various other soldiers and personnel, that they seemed to be moving incredibly slowly, and they didn’t react to his passing until after he was already gone.
And so it was something of a shock to him when he burst through the ground floor of the Baxter Building just in time to see Reed’s spherical form hit the ground, and bounce into the air like the streets were made of rubber. Had he really been going that fast?
Looking around, he also noticed scorch marks behind him, where his electrified feet had touched the ground.
“Alright,” Xander muttered, somewhat awed by his newfound speed, as he gazed at his still sparking hands, “This I can work with.”
He looked over to his left, where he spotted Ben, climbing out of the hole he had made on impact.
“Okay,” he grumbled, “Really didn’t think that through”
“No, you didn’t,” Xander agreed as he ran over to him.
“How’d you get down here?” Ben asked, surprise evident in his voice.
“Super-speed,” he replied easily, “Any ideas on how to take this thing?”
“I was gonna go with ‘hit it ‘till it stops moving’.”
“Always a good plan,” Xander agreed, as he watched Reed unfurl himself from his ball, mid-air, and begin to wrap his body around the creature’s mouth, effectively muzzling it, as he simultaneously screamed something at Johnny, “Certainly better than the Humus Offensive at least. After you?”
Ben jumped, leaving an imprint in the tarmac, colliding full force with the creature’s head as he put his plan into action.
“Now,” Xander murmured, “What the hell am I going to do?”
A glint of light caught his eye, dragging his attention to a small metal pipe that had shown up in the debris. Xander took another look at his hands and the electricity that continued to spark around him. He had an idea.
Reed was troubled. He was troubled because he was an intellectual-- always had been-- someone who avoided physical confrontations when he could because he was smart enough to know that he’d lose, badly. And yet here he was, fighting a gigantic monster that didn’t even match any of the animal kingdoms he’d studied, like he was one of the goddamned Ultimates or something equally insane.
It was not going particularly well either. His use of his own body as a muzzle wasn’t going to last forever, the creature’s jaw was straining and Reed didn’t know how much longer he could hold on. Johnny’s powers weren’t of much use, as he seemed to lack the ability to project his flames, and could only serve as a distraction, when he briefly captured the creature’s attention with his dazzling incandescence.
Ben was-- to nobody’s great surprise-- having the most success. His strength was incredible, even seeming to match that of the gigantic beast’s, but so far it didn’t seem to be enough.
A blur of blue light caught his eye, and he saw what seemed to be a bolt of lightning climb up the creature’s body, moving up from the tail, along the spine, all the way to the head before it stopped, coming into focus, and Reed was able to recognize Xander, one of the other victims of the teleporter accident.
“What...? How...?” Reed stuttered, this was one of the rare occasions when he had been dumbstruck.
“Turns out I move faster than Grease Lightning,” Xander told him over the wind, crouching down next to Reed’s elongated form and grabbing onto the creature’s scales for purchase. “I’ve got an idea, but you might not want to be holding on when it hits!”
“What?” Reed yelled, unsure of what he’d been told.
“Let go!” Xander hollered back, turning away from him and hitting the mental switch that activated his powers.
Electricity coursed through his body. Running down his arms and into the metal pipe he had brought with him. He ran down the side of the creature’s face, until he came to the eye.
“Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a lightning rod in the giant monster’s eye,” Xander rhymed as he stabbed downwards. Plunging the pipe into the golden orb and, allowing it to transfer all of the lightning within Xander’s body directly into the creature.
The monster let out an unholy screech as it’s body convulsed, flinging Xander from his purchase. As Xander’s flight seemed destined to a very sudden stop against the asphalt, he quietly made his peace with God, whilst simultaneously cursing both the monster and his own stupidity with a rather impressive selection of obscenities.
“Gotcha!” Johnny yelled triumphantly, as he caught Xander’s flailing hand with his own, arresting his flight.
“Holy Shit!!” Xander yelled, relief flooding him as he swore to never again do something so insane.
The two watched in mid-air, as the creature swayed, sparks of electricity occasionally jumping from various parts of its’ body, until Ben leapt up again, and delivered a final punch, causing it to fall back into the pit from whence it came.
“You can put me down now!” Xander yelled, as Johnny carefully began to lower the pair, still as unsure of his flight as Xander was.
It was an awkward landing, but a successful one-- in that neither the passenger nor the pilot (unless Johnny were to be considered his own aircraft that is) were injured-- and Johnny carefully set them down alongside Ben and Reed, at the lip of the seemingly bottomless pit.
“Well it’s been nice to have a little breath of reality after all this sci-fi insanity,” Xander idly commented as he crouched down and peered into the inky blackness, inciting three incredulous expressions from the others.
“Dude, what the hell do you do if you think that thing was normal?” Johnny asked.
Xander never got a chance to avoid that question, as the voice of a terrified man on a megaphone filled the streets.
“Freeze, Mutants! This is NYPD! Release the humans, and nobody gets hurt!”
“What the...?” Xander muttered, as Ben stepped forwards, arms raised in surrender.
“Hey, I know this is hard to believe, but I’m the GOOD monster!”
Ben’s statement did not have the intended effect, as the police, startled by Ben’s ability to speak, fired a hail of bullets.
The four victims of the teleporter accident all flinched away from the gunfire, though they needn’t have bothered. The entire volley had been aimed at Ben, who had taken it all in the chest.
“Hell of a way to find out I’m bullet-proof!” He exclaimed in shock, as he pawed the holes in his impact suit, touching the unmarked stone that served as his skin, while the New York Police Department watched on in fear.
“Lay down your arms!” General Ross had appeared screaming from the Baxter Building, “Cease fire! You have just fired on MILITARY PERSONNEL!”
With General Ross now laying into the police, the boys were free to take another look at the pit.
“So, what was that anyway?” Johnny asked.
“I really hope it wasn’t Sue,” Reed seemed to pray.
“He means, Matchstick,” Ben answered gruffly, “If /I’m/ a monster /boy/, maybe /that/, was a monster /girl/.”
“Yikes,” Johnny muttered, paling a little.
“Whatever,” Ben said, as he stepped up to the edge of the hole, preparing to jump.
“Ben, what are you doing,” Reed halted him.
“I don’t know about you,” he replied, “But I’ve got a lot more anger to deal with. And that thing’s providing me with an outlet.”
As he was about to jump, Xander laid a hand on his back, running enough of a charge through the limb to attach himself to the stone man’s impact suit through static cling.
“Count me in for some of that action. With all this craziness going on I need something to remind me of home. Watching you beat it up should be pretty darn cathartic, and then I can zap it again ‘till I feel all better.”
Ben nodded slightly, though was puzzled somewhat by Xander’s comment, and allowed Xander to climb up into a more comfortable position on his back before he jumped, disappearing into the darkness as Xander’s electric aura provided them with some form of lighting.
“I’m going with them,” Johnny said to Reed, before shouting, ‘Flame On!’ and flying after the duo.
Reed sighed, wondering how his life had come to this, but stretched out an arm, getting a strong grip on an exposed bit of piping, before he too jumped down into the darkness, repelling slowly down into the cavern.