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Summary: On Halloween, Xander didn't dress as a soldier: he dressed as a Ghost ...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > ActionGladiusFR18716,4082213138,06426 Mar 1214 Jun 13No

Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Neither Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Paladin of the Shadows series belong to me, but to Joss and John respectively. I'm just playing.

Michael Harmon, AKA 'Ghost', AKA Michael Duncan, AKA Mike Jenkins, AKA 'The Kildar', drained the last of his beer and smiled as Tinata, she of the increadible breasts, took the empty bottle from his hand. "Thanks, Tina." The girl smiled back brightly, and flounced off, long red hair and pleated skirt swishing from the motion.

Colonel Nielson, the Kildar's operations manager, nursed his coffee as he watched the girl go. "You know, Kildar, there are times I envy you," he said, somewhat wistfully as the wreckage of dinner was competently removed from the table by the other harem girls, their Catholic schoolgirl attire and their youth clashing with their practiced movements.

Across the table, the crew-cut head of Sergeant Vanner likewise followed the form of the girl who removed his plate ... until his gaze met the lovely redhead sitting next to him, and he had the decency to blush. Mike hid a smile at the exchange: his intel chief's marriage was so new the rings still squeaked, but the obvious affection between Vanner and Greznya tugged at even his battle-scarred soul.

Okay, no more moping. "Alright, gentlemen and ladies," he said, nodding to Grez and Captains Kacey Bathlick and Tamara Wilson. Wordlessly he touched Anastasia's hand where the blond sat next to him, and she smiled gently. "We've had a good few months. The teams are performin well, the Chechens haven't recovered yet, and the Presidant hasn't been screaming at me for a while. All in all, I'm waiting for the next shoe to drop."

The dining hall was filled by chuckles and titters, but there was an undercurrent of seriousness: Mike had a point. Things never stayed good for long.

"Oleg, now that everyone's recovered from the Samnen festival, winter's coming up. Anything you guys need this year?"

The tall, powerfully built blond shifted slightly in his seat. The leader of Team Oleg, Mike's right hand in the Keldara militia, and heir to the Kulcyanov family, was not quite used to sitting at the Kildar's table, and looked like he would have preferred to be out with the teams guarding the roads and patrolling for insurgents.

The young man, barely in his twenties, looked like he was an extra in a Viking epic, ignoring the modern jeans and polo shirt he was wearing, and the impression wasn't completely baseless. The Keldara, an isolated tribe hailing from the mountains of Georgia were, as far as anyone could tell, the descendants of a group of Scots-Irish and Norse warriors, sent to protect an outpost of the Byzantine Empire fifteen hundred years before. The Empire fell, but the Kedara remained, six hundred souls that represented the final remnents of the famed Varangian Guard, and despite centuries masquerading as farmers, the blood of some of the fiercest warriors in history still flowed in their veins.

Diluted slightly, of course, by the hundreds of foreign mercenaries and adventurers who had held the position of Kildar over the centuries, Mike reflected. One of the many odd things about the Keldara was the surreptitious breeding program that the Mothers of the Families had been quietly working on over the generations. The women of the Keldara were famously beautiful, and traditionally the Kildar was expected to, ahem, sample the wares. Careful management of menstrual cycles and the occasional 'removal' of unsuitable Kildars, had led to the introduction of fresh blood to the isolated tribe, and ensured that it was the blood of famed warriors and leaders.

And it's hard to argue with the results. The Keldara had gone from subsistence farmers to as good a company of commandos as there were outside of the Special Forces of first world nations, and the young women had gone from normal being unable to read to being experts in electronics, communications, intelligence and even burglary, in one case. The Keldara had risen to every challenge put in front of them, and performed with a stoic pride that Mike couldn't help and share.

"Little enough, Kildar," rumbled the young team leader. "With the money from the brewery," he said, smiling slightly at the thought - Mountain Tiger Beer was proving a hit in America and Europe, despite being of the lowest quality that the Keldara Mothers would admit to brewing, which amused the Keldara no end - "and the extra fields we have been able to harvest, stores are well being laid in for the winter. More of a concern is how to spend the long nights until spring," he commented to chuckles about the table. "Some are already starting their preperations for the Balar festival: I am looking forward to the competitions," he added, blue eyes twinkling.

"Oh, hell no," groaned Mike. "I am not competing in the Ondah games this year," he announced, referring to the Highland Games-like competitions held each year to discover the Ondah, the recognised best man in the Families. During his first year as Kildar, Mike had accidently won the games, and only some fancy negotiations had avoided stealing a title that Oleg had coveted since he could walk. "With everything you guys have learned since I arrived, you'd kill me in the Test of Man," he complained, only half joking. The no-holds-barred fight that finished the Tests was brutal enough, and he had only won the first time by superior skill winning over the young Keldara's strength and enthusiasm. Now he was older, his joints were complaining more than in previous years, and Oleg was, even with one leg stolen by mortar fire and replaced by fiberglass and aluminium, more dangerous than ever.

Still, I could - he squelched down the inner SEAL who craved the glory of competition. Better to quit while I'm ahead.

"Right," he ground out, to another round of chuckles and whispered conversation, with those who knew the story sharing with those who didn't, "Moving right along: Kacey, you and Tammy had something you wanted to discuss about ground crews for the Hinds ..."

*** *** ***

The drive from Buffy's house to the school was a quiet one. Cordy and Xander were both breathing heavily, mostly because they had just escaped Bug Man, and the adrenaline was starting to wear off.

And we're not going to talk about the other reason Cordy's cheeks are flushed, apparently, thought Xander. He had to admit, though, that their breif embrace had had an effect on him too. At least that confirms that, possession aside, I'm not just a mini-Mike, he mused, pointedly staring out the window rather than at the driver. The Kildar has a thing for blonds - brunettes seem to be more my thing. Ampata, 'Miss French', he barely suppressed a shudder at the thought of Bug Lady. And now Cordelia Chase. Who, other than being a fox and an amazing kisser, is the last person on earth I would have imagined myself making out with.

Adrenaline. Gotta be.

*** *** ***

Walking into the library, Xander noted that Buffy, Willow and Giles were tense, and a pretty black girl was standing nearby, looking very intense. "Hey, guys, what's with the riot at career fair? Were we sponsored by the British Soccer fans association this year?"

Giles moved over to the table and piced up a tome. "We had a rather unfortunate visit by another assassin."

Okay, Giles talking about the Bad Guys when New Girl is around - I guess she's in the know. Reinforcements from the Council? About damned time: are we getting logistical support too?

And what was I
just thinking about not being Mike's clone?

"Oh, you are not the only ones. Glad you weren't home, Buff, we kinda ran into a nasty at your place." He smiled his most disarming smile at the new girl. "Hi there. And this lovely lady is ..."

The girl shifted from Alpha to Omega in a transformation that shocked him a little. "Oh, yes, of course," interjected Giles, gesturing with his glasses. "Kendra, this is Xander and Cordelia. Um, it's rather complicated, but, uh, Kendra is also a Slayer."

That stopped Xander in his tracks for a moment. He was used to imagining Buffy as a sole bearer of that particular burden. But how did ... oh, crap.

"Hi," said Cordelia breezily, walking past Kendra to sit down, and took out a compact to check her makeup. Well, I guess her priorities remain constant.

"So, a Slayer?" He threw a smirk at Buffy, who seemed to be a little wigged about the whole thing. "Ha! I knew that 'only girl in the world' schtick was just an attention getter!"

The blond slayer sighed. "Just say hello, Xander."

Shrugging, he turned back to Kendra. "Hi, I'm Xander, part of the local Slayer support team. She's the teeth," he jerked a thumb at Buffy, "and we're the tail. Welcome to Sunnydale."

The black girl shifted uncomfortably under his gaze, and he felt a chill run over him as she cast her eyes down, refusing to meet his gaze. "Uh ... I hope ... I tank you ... I mean, sir, um ... I will be of service."

Reflexively, he slammed down hard on that little piece of Mike's id that was salivating at the thought of this lovely girl 'serving' him. What the hell? Buffy's got enough aggression for a SEAL platoon, or two or three Keldara. Why the hell is this girl acting like a sub afraid of being punished? Glancing over at Giles, he said, "Hey, don't worry. You and Buff? You guys have the hard jobs. Giles, Wills, me? We're just here to make your job easier." Smiling in a manner he hoped was reassuring, he nodded to her and walked over to Giles. "So the assassin at Buffy's place."

"Hm? Oh, yes, your assassin. Could you tell me what he looks like? I might be able to find a reference if I had a description."

Cordelia, meanwhile, found something in her hair, and plucked it out ... then realised what she was holding and screamed. Flinging the offending creature away, she stalked off, shivering in revulsion. "Ahh! Uhh! Omigod, I'm showering!"

Glancing at her, Xander turned back to Giles, and nodded at the table, where the bug from Cordelia's hair had landed. "Pretty much like that."

Buffy smiled. "You and bug people, Xander? What's up with that?"

*** *** ***

Post dinner meeting, Patrick Vanner walked his wife to the small quarters they shared, not too far from the inteligance section they both worked at beneath the caravanseri. Only married a few months, the former Marine was still amazed that this beautiful, brilliant girl had agreed to marry him. And boss, much as I respect and fear you, this is one Keldara girl you're never getting your hands on, 'cause I'm never letting her go.

"Hey, babe," he said, closing the door to their room, as she wrapped her arms around him from behind, "Have you noticed anything different about the Kildar lately?"

"Hmm," she said, kissing his shoulder. "He seems happier, I think. Lighter. But something is worrying him."

Turning around, Vanner took his bride in his arms and kissed her forehead. "So it's not just me, right? You think it could have something to do with that fall he took around Halloween?"

She shivered. "That night ... among the Keldara, that day is considered ... unsafe. Little work is done, people remain close to their homes. Children especially are kept close. You have told me of how your people celebrate it, your children wander around dressed as monsters and ghouls ... Patrick, I love you, and honor what you and the Kildar have done for us all, but America is still a very strange place to me."

He chuckled, and held her closer. "Hey, it's weird to us too, we're just a little more used to it. But hey, don't worry: this is home, now. You, the guys, the teams, hell, even the boss. I'm home, right now, and that's all that matters. Sure, I'd like to show you the US sometime, at least the better parts. Bring you home to the family, show you off," he smiled at her blush. "But when that's over, we'll come back here, and raise our kids, grow old together. Other than visits and missions, the only way I'm leaving this vally is feet first."

Her bright eyes shined as she smiled up at him. "And then we shall be reunited in the Halls, escorted by the souls of our slain enemies, to feast and celebrate and love until the end of this world!"

He just kissed her. As much as I love this woman, and respect her people, he thought, starting to work at the fasteners of their clothes, sometimes I get reminded of the fact that they're just not American ... and more than a little weird.

Somehow, I just don't fucking care!
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