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In Their Shadow

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Summary: Xander's been transported to the 27th century? Can he adapt to life in the future? Can he ever return home? And more to the point, can the guy stay out of trouble for once?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sci-Fi > Night's Dawn Trilogy, TheSmegheadFR151174,52121114,43012 Jan 0412 Jan 04Yes

Arrivals, Misconceptions And Explanations

In Their Shadow
Author: Trimma <rei_ite[at]hotmail.com>

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters in this fanfiction. They all pretty much belong to Joss, Mutant enemy, and Peter F. Hamilton. No profits are being made through the creation of this story.

Summary: Crossover eventually with The Night's Dawn trilogy (Not the story but the Confederation in the aftermath of the trilogy) Xander is gone from the gang and begins to forge himself a name. Faith never went bad.

Timeline: Set after Giles owns the Magic shop but Glory hasn't reared her head yet

Warning: I'm not a big fan of Buffy. Love her work, don't like her attitude towards the gang, especially Xander. And where Buffy goes so does Willow.

ACC and Xandercentric

AN: Dedicated to the memory of Tim Knight. Via Con Dios, man.

AN2: No, the author's name is *not* a typo, nor am I posting it for him. He started the story - this is the bit that he wrote - before turning it over to me. There's also a parallel story ('City of Shadows'), which he suggested I start after I provided feedback.

AN3: There are a couple of non-standard methods of communication used in this story, represented as follows: Affinity and {Datavises}

Distribution: FF.net, Twisting the Hellmouth and XanderZone. Anywhere else, please ask first.

Feedback: Yes, please! After all, it's the only recognition a fanfic author gets...



Chapter 1

Xander circled his attacker, some street tough, and started to slot some knuckle dusters into place. His attacker smiled and pulled out a flick knife. The crowd's cheers were getting louder and louder but all Xander could hear was his own breathing. Time seemed to be slowing but he seemed to speed up. All conscious thought stopped , only emotion was felt. He was tensed, ready to spring or dodge in a millisecond.

God, the edge felt good.

The opponents circled twice more. The punk making practice swings, playing up to the crowd, Xander just tilted his head to the left and felt his stiff neck crack. Seconds later, though it seemed like hours, the tough lunged forward with a back hand slash, Xander danced back than stepped forward and got outside the follow up thrust. The punk was good, he saw it coming and struck out with the pommel in a backhand to Xander's jaw. Xander just took it. The red mist was already descending on his vision, he barely felt the blow. Fury boiling, anger rising, pain just added to it. This punk was trying to hurt him, kill him.

Adrenaline pounded through his system. He yanked on the punks extended arm and got himself behind him, then lashed out with a savage right that caught the thug in the back of the head, who staggered. Xander's boot took one foot out from under him. Gravity did the rest, putting the tough on his back. The boot then descended on the tough's hand. Bones audibly snapped, the pommel of his flick knife cracked from the impact, his arm was pinned. The thug yelled out in pain, and lashed out with his other fist. It collided with the back of Xander's knee, little power behind it, but Xander went down any way. And drove his knee into the thug's pinned elbow. Bones splintered and punctured through skin. The thug was very pale now. But death was now a big thing on the horizon so he was able to land several heavy blows to Xander's ribs, powered by sheer desperation. Xander's ferocity doubled. He grabbed hold of the tough's hair, pulled back, pushed forward. The wet crack ended the fight but it took several more wet, then mushy, cracks to sate Xander's rage. Only than did the crowd's cheers register.

Xander wiped his hands on the thugs shirt, stood up and left the pit.

*****

The pit was located under Willy's. It was an arena, no holds barred, to the death. It belonged to the underworld. The demons Buffy killed was just the head of the beer, so to speak. This was the real stuff. Demons a plenty, Sunnyhell's actual demon population. And being the Mouth of Hell and all gave the place a much larger population of demons than what the Scoobies or even Angel's crew saw. It was like a whole demon city underground.

Willy had introduced him to the fighting just after the he left the gang. Finding out what they really thought about him one night, had left him kind of suicidal. So he'd wound up at Willy's, fully intent on drowning his sorrows and getting killed. Willy had noted his mood and after two beers had steered him towards the pit. Most likely to harvest his blood after he died and to be rid of one of the white hats. Strangely though, his feeling of sorrow had turned to fury. Coupled with suicidal tendencies, he had fought with abandon and a ferocity that had ripped a newly reanimated O'Toole to pieces.

He had found a way to vent, and he liked it. Plus the prize money and artifacts were good too.

He'd had very little to do with the Scoobies after that night. Oh he still talked to Giles and Faith; they hadn't been there, ridiculing and belittling like the others had. He talked to Faith ( which he had become pretty good friends with) at the Bronze on regular occasion and was a major help to Giles now that he had ears in the demon community. Plus he wasn't one to stay down long. He'd made new friends from the demon community, non fighters - he couldn't kill a friend, but betters and dealers and such. A few were demons but most were human. They'd never be as close as the Scoobies once were but they did each other favours and hung out every now and than.

Life was looking pretty good for Xander lately as well. The money he was winning was enough for an alright apartment, and some little luxuries. Plus if he got any artifacts he sold them to Giles and the magic shop, but if he did get any cool ones he stuck them on the wall of his place as they made nice deco. He had an alright car, one much more expensive than he could afford thanks to some underground friend. Yes, life was lookin up for him.

*****

"Hey kid, you did alright tonight," Willy's weasel grin always disgusted him.

Yeah and the odds I die next time just increased

"The winnings please Willy." Xander didn't feel up to sticking around tonight.

"Sure, sure here ya go kid. It's all there to, don't let anyone tell ya old Willy's not good to ya."

"Thanks." Xander shrugged on a leather duster, than grabbed the wad of bills and small bag of trinkets. He had no doubt at all that Willy had skimmed some of the cream of his winnings but he didn't really care, as long as he got a substantial amount.

"I'll see ya next week kid?"

"Maybe."

*****

Xander got into his car and sighed. He rubbed his ribs absently. Yep, gonna be a big bruise. He grabbed the small bag of trinkets he'd won, a few rings, a couple of pendants, a funny looking disc that he reckoned Giles would want, a crucifix and a nice pair of shades that he tucked atop his head. He'd probably get a grand for it all up, not to bad. Add that to the wad of bills he'd won and he got about two and a half grand all up, that would tide him over for a couple of weeks. A stray thought about how much the thug's life was worth entered his head but was quickly quashed. He simply didn't care. He started up the car and headed for the Bronze.

*****

There wasn't a band playing at the Bronze that night so the crowd was pretty small, and the place had a casual air to it, just how Xander liked it. He wandered over to the bar, ordered a beer, then sat back and watched the crowd. He couldn't see Buffy or Willow so their shadows weren't here either, good. A good looking brunette slid into the chair next to him.

"Hey, boy-toy."

"Faith."

"Nice bruise."

Xander grinned and rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Ahh it's not so bad."

"How'd you go?"

"I won". Faith knew a little of his fighting, but not the whole story.

"Ya want a drink?" asked Xander

"Sure" Xander watched her as he pulled the large wad of cash from his pocket. Her facial expression was rather amusing.

"Did rather well for yourself tonight didn't ya?" The want in her voice was hilarious. But than again he new of Faiths living situation. She was a Scooby but they really didn't know how she lived. Unlike the others she didn't have anyone who lived here to support her.

"Ohh, not to bad." He couldn't help it, and laughed. Faith still wouldn't ask for anything, too prideful, she'd sit and drool over it but wouldn't ask for it. Still, it was a big improvement over her see, want, take period. And taking the money in the first place was a big enough blow.

"Here ya go" He chuckled as he handed her a couple of bills, he had taken to supporting her a bit until she got a job that could support her. She worked for Giles at the magic shop but she'd have to work there non-stop to keep herself supported, leaving her with no new clothes and social life. A fate worse than death for Faith.

"Thanks Xan, you know I'll pay ya back when I get I the money"

"Please!, you give me that speech every time we do this and I give you the same "don't worry about" speech. Can we cut the BS from now on ?" It was all said with a chuckle that made Faith smile.

"Sure thing suga daddy" a grin graced her face

"Oh and you can have this too, I don't think I'll be wearing it" He tossed her a silver ring he got from his trinkets.

"Pffft, please! You know I'm not one for jewellery." She smiled and slipped the ring on anyway.

"Yeah, but I know you'll find some use for it" he smiled than took a sip of his beer. "So what have you been up to lately?"

"Well the other night we had to fight..." Faith was happy to oblige in conversation

*****

Xander rocked up to the Magic Box about eleven the next morning, when he knew none of the Scoobies would be there.

"Giles! Giles! You here G-man?"

"Coming, Xander," muttered an irritated Giles coming up form the storage closet.

"Stupid arrogant teenagers...beck and call" was another muffled answer

"Oh come on, brighten up, I brought you some toys." Giles eyes brightened at that. Xander had brought him a few very rare pieces and sold them to him at an absolute bargain price.

"Oh, can I take a look?"

"Here ya go." Xander tossed him his bag of trinkets.

"So, been up to much lately G-man?" he asked as Giles looked over the stuff

"No no, just the store. Business has been pretty good lately. You heard anything I should know ?"

"Nah, with two Slayers around, everyone is keeping a low profile"

"Good, nice to have a bit of quiet time. Alright, I'll give you fifty for this ring and four hundred for the pendants, the other items are just jewellery."

" 'Kay. Hey what about this disc thingy, I woulda thought it be magical." He held up the disc in question. It was about CD size but it domed over on one side. Bits of the flat side had engravings on it and the dome side was covered in inked on mystical symbols.

"Yes, it is magical, rather powerful actually, but you need it's twin for it to be worth anything." At Xander's confused look he continued "These are Discs of Kakulash, transporters if you will. You have one to transport you somewhere and another to take you back, from the looks of this, it's a return disc. To where I don't know but without the other one it's of little use."

"Eh, no big loss, I'll just hang it on the wall at home." said Xander, not worried.

"Yes, well I'll just get your money, then."

"Take your time, I'll go chat with Faith."

"Oh she's not in today."

"Huh? Why?"

"She said she found a nest of vampires last night."

"Ohhh, do you know where?"

"Ahhh, hiding out in the Stanforth crypt. You know the one, in the cemetery on 3rd and Main," said Giles, handing Xander his money.

"Yeah, yeah, the Stanforth crypt, what fond memories I have of that place." Giles confused look spurred him to explain. "Saw Faith fight there once in a miniskirt."

Both men looked reflective for a moment. The bell on the door broke them from their fantasy worlds as a customer entered.

"Yes, well I'll see you later Xander."

"Yeah, I'll probably drop in later this week, catch ya." Xander was already half way out the door.

"Bye"

*****

The Stanforth crypt was already a-buzz with the sounds of fighting when Xander arrived. He casually walked down into the crypt to see Faith surrounded by six vamps - that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. She had positioned herself inside a square of sunlight cast into the crypt through the open door, so any vamp that got close enough to hit her would burn to a crispy critter if they weren't careful. Xander could clearly see three piles of ash on the floor and two vamps smoking and was rather content to watch at the moment.

Faith looked like she was having one of the happiest times of her life. She was beating all the vamps to bloody pulp and they couldn't even lay a hand on her. Of course all things must come to an end. It seemed a smart vampire stepped back and took stock of the situation. He stepped back and grabbed a large chunk of loose cement fallen from the ceiling and hurled it at Faith. Faith was a bit pre-occupied at the time and Xander's shouted warning came too late. The slab caught her in the shoulder and propelled her out of her safety light. The vamps were on her in a second but she wasn't going easy as one dived in it was instantly rocketed across the tomb into a conveniently placed wall. Xander didn't think. He just charged in, lined himself up and nailed the closest vampire with a kick that would put have put Maradonna to shame.

The vamp was lifted fully off the ground, than nailed straight back down with an overhead chop to the back. The stake descended a second later. The vamp exploded into dust almost in tandem with two more vamps being propelled across the room from the pile that tackled Faith. Faith herself was almost on her feet again, holding one vamp by the front of his shirt while she proceeded to punch him in the head. The other vamp grabbed her in a bear hug from behind, so she just kicked back and nailed him in the danglies. Supernatural strength or not, he went down in a crying heap, crying as in blubbering baby... well, when ever he could get air into his lungs.

Xander searched about for his next target to find it almost upon, the vamp leaped up at him in a flying kick, Xander tried to dodge but was caught in the shoulder and was sent spinning to the ground. The vamp followed up with a kick to the ribs that lifted him off the ground and flipped him over and sent him flying several feet away. Xander pushed himself up on his knees and elbows, teeth clench in fury, eyes almost white with it, this was the reason they didn't want him, this is the reason he's useless, no more. No thoughts ran through his head, just the want to maim, kill and bring pain. Instinct took over. As the vamp charged over he kicked out and caught the vamp in the knee. The vamps body continued to travel forward while the knee remained in the same place. It's body folded over it's knee. It's leg snapped and it tumbled straight over Xander. Xander stood up slowly, calmly fished out his knuckle dusters from his pocket, put them on and calmly walked over to the vamp. He then proceeded to try and break every bone in it's body and he did a pretty good job of it, breaking some bones more than once to make up for the ones he missed.

Faith finished off her last vamp than looked over to Xander. It took a lot to scare a Slayer, and Xander did it without trying. He punched down, again and again. Kicked and kicked. Every blow made a snap, flesh was pulped, jellied even, and he didn't look like letting up. Eventually one of the vamps own shattered ribs punctured it's heart and turned it to dust. Xander didn't even miss a beat as he turned to scan for what seemed to be new victims. His face scrunched up in a snarl but his eyes were emotionless, glassy. He stood up, looked at her, blinked a couple of times and then smirked.

"Hey, I heard you were up to some fun." Faith couldn't answer, she couldn't take her eyes off the blood, loose skin and hair that dripped off Xander's knuckle dusters.

Xander saw the way Faith was looking at him. He didn't care. It was the way he fought. He didn't have the skill or strength of most, but he made up for it in sheer ferocity and ruthlessness. It was always the ruthless that won in the end.

Chapter 2

Faith didn't answer. The way she was staring at him, he didn't think she would. He shrugged, wasn't his problem if she was a little squeamish.

"Come on, I'll give you a lift." It almost looked like Faith was about to back away as he stepped forward, but she caught herself and smiled. She was the Slayer, no way was she gonna be intimidated by Xander. Slayers, all alike, he could read her like a book. She started up the stairs, Xander waited a moment and appreciated the way her ass looked in those jeans. A sly grin crossed his face and he placed his shades on and followed her up.

*****

Buffy glanced at Faith again. She was off her game tonight, distracted. There were no witty remarks amongst the slaying. No idle girl talk.

"So You gonna tell me what you've been thinking about all night or am I gonna have to beat it out of you?"

"Huh? Oh, nothing much"

"Guess you want the beating then." Faith smiled at that, there was very little she could hide from her fellow slayer.

" I was just thinking about Xander, I saw him today."

"Really? How is he? Has he got a job yet or is he still bumming around his parents basement? Or were your thoughts tending towards the hot and heavy kind?" The last part was said with a smirk, but she didn't get the response she was after. Faith's look darkened. The show of how little respect they held for Xander, who was once considered a best friend made her simmer.

"He's got himself an apartment and a nice car actually."

"Oh, good for him. So where'd you see him?"

"He helped me clear out that nest in the Stanforth crypt."

"Thats why you're distracted ! He got hurt didn't he!"

"No no, he got two himself. Saved my ass actually." Buffy was at a loss for words for a second. Only a second.

"Guess you lucked out today then, huh. Xander actually did something right. Thats gotta be one in million."

Faith's glare almost caught the surrounding landscape on fire. The urge to chew Buffy out was almost overwhelming. But she somehow managed to stop herself. Don't shit where you sleep. Didn't want a little civil war where she knew she'd lack allies. Buffy was wonder girl, always right. So she settled with just walking away.

*****

Xander was back in the underground. He wasn't fighting. Just hanging. He'd have a bet, a beer, and enjoy the entertainment. Ahh Willy's, where everybody doesn't care. He looked down at the pit and cringed, but it was laced with a smile as he won a bet. That really had to hurt. He took another sip of beer and walked over to collect his winnings. A familiar face was waiting for him at his table when he returned.

"Eltisia! whats up?" The demon pimp always brought a smile to his face. He was always good company, not so pushy as a lot of the other demons, plus he had some interesting stories.

"Nothin much, just thought I'd check up on one of my few human friends."

"How kind"

"So what brings you here tonight, my friend ?"

"Just here to relax. Helped clean out the Stanforth crypt today and thought I could use a little reward"

"Good good, those disgusting half bloods had been ruining some of the human side of my business. Hope you gave 'em a right ol' slaughter"

"I had a little help"

"Ahh the dark slayer, nice piece of meat that, could make a lot of money..." Xander's glare put thoughts of profits on the back burner and brought thoughts of survival to the fore. "Or maybe not"

Xander had expected it though. After all Eltisia was a demon. And friend or no friend, finding out if he would betray the Slayer was always on the agenda. Eltisia decided to change the subject quickly. No point pushing the subject.

"You seem to be doin' pretty well tonight," he said, pointedly staring at the large roll of bills in Xander's hand

"Guess I got lucky"

"If you want, you could get real lucky. On the house, even, for cleaning out the vermin."

"Nah, I'm alright. Why don't you just have a beer with us and enjoy the show?"

"Now, I reckon I can do that."

*****

Xander collapsed on the couch. Its cool surface felt good against his alcohol warmed face.

"Now that was a good night."

Xander had gone bar hopping with Eltisia. They had some drinks down here that humans hadn't even thought of before. Than they had hit the clubs for the rest of the night. It was a great night but right now Xander was physically exhausted and not a little drunk.

Hey look at the room spin... I think I'm gonna hurl Hurling right now was out of the question. He doubted that he could make it a foot from where he was laying if he moved.

Come on, you can do it- focus on one thing. Coffee table good, good. Okay lump of bills, bad. Disc of Kakulash acting as a paper weight....woah! In Xander's drunken haze the symbols seemed to swirl and dance.

"Heh, cool" He reached over and grabbed it to have a better look. Of course, it dropped out of his grasp half way and shattered.

"Ohh" He'd clean it up in the morning, still he looked down at the damage.

It had shattered in three places, one straight down the middle and a smaller one from the side to the centre. It seemed the center of whatever the disc was made of was black, big contrast to the dirty bright yellow on the outside. Xander stared at the blackness for a second, that was really black. It seemed to suck in light. Xander's eyes widened. the crack was getting bigger. It was now part of the floor. And getting bigger. It had a diameter of about a manhole now.

I must be trippin, yeah thats it trippin Self-convinced, he just smiled and continued to watch the show.

The crack was now longer than he was - lying on the couch - and it just seemed to stop growing and just stay there, sucking up the light.

A small breeze, lighter than someone's breath stirred some of Xander's hair. The floor creaked loudly then seemed to fold into the crack, the couch went with it. Xander screamed, as he was welcomed by the darkness' loving embrace. The floor folded back up behind him. Of the Disc of Kakulash, nothing.

*****

Ione, it's happening again

Ione didn't have to ask what, she and Tranquillity were almost one being, words weren't needed to convey messages. Another ZTT jump into Tranquility. Another Kiint jump. She was accessing Tranquillity's senses instantly.

The air was starting to ripple when a point of total blackness appeared. It shakily grew to a circle with a diameter of about five metres, and it hovered about one meter off the ground.

No...I... I think it's different. Ione was puzzled. This wasn't like the Kiint's jump off Tranquility. That had happened quick, smoothly. It had been over in seconds. This wormhole was just floating there. The three quick bolts of energy that leaped around the outside of the circle only confirmed her thoughts.


Quick, send in the serjeants! Ione's affinity broadcast was laced with worry, but the fact that Tranquillity had sent the serjeants before she had even finished was reassuring. There was very little that could take down a serjeant, in this world or from the next.

*****

Xander saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was getting bigger.

Well, guess I kicked the bucket, oh well new it would happen one day. Xander was taking his death rather lightly.

Lets see what hell looks like, theres light, more light, light and...ground?

"Oooof" Xander hit very hard. He decided to lie there for just a minute until he could feel his legs again.

Yep there they are, you know the ones filled with pain, thats gotta be broken. He groaned and rolled over onto his back, very painfully. And stared up at a Tranquillity serjeant. Of course he had no idea what that was, all he could think was 'Demon'. It was a fair assumption.

Tranquility serjeants were approximately eight feet tall, covered in a hard brown carapace that did little to hide their boosted muscles. They had four arms, two of which were holding a nasty looking pistol and a rod that seemed to glow. It's head was a boney dome connected to it's shoulders, with slits in it for eyes and a mouth.

"Yep, I'm in hell alright" Unconsciousness raced up and claimed him.

Chapter 3

12 days later

Xander awoke with a jolt and tried to sit up. Silicon fibre straps over his chest and waist kept him pinned though. Something was wrong, very wrong. Why was he wearing a hospital gown, why was he strapped down, and what the hell is that green thing strapped to his leg!?

Wait a sec. Wasn't that leg broken? He looked at his now unbroken leg in confusion, a green thick skin like...thing was wrapped around a section of his leg.

As the memories of the events leading to and upon entering this... place filtered into his mind...

Shit He thumped his head on the bench he was strapped to as the situation he was in hit home.

Here I am, strapped to a bench in some demon dimension with some green thing sucking on my leg and probably waiting for some demon's "Torture: The New Art" learning workshop to begin. Things can't... He stopped himself before he did something stupid and made things worse.

He laid there for a few minutes preparing himself for his fate. Fifteen minutes later he decided he'd be here a while so started to take stock of his surroundings. Well the surroundings he could see strapped down and all.

He was lying on a hard brown surface. It was the same colour as the walls in this small room. The room must of been built from some strange substance because there were no point in the room that didn't flow seamlessly into the next. Only the door, which stood tall and black against one wall some small silver and black patches on the walls and roof stood out. The room almost looked as if it had been grown instead of built. There was no furniture in the room.

Xander tried to move in his straps but they didn't budge, or even stretch, if anything they just got tighter.

"Shit."

*****

He's awake. The affinity call caught Ione in the middle of a conference with some bankers...thankfully. "Excuse me gentlemen but a pressing matter has just been brought to my attention. I'll consider your proposal and Tranquillity will inform you of my decision" She plastered a polite smile on her face, and shook hands with each of them as left.

God, they were so boring! Thanks for getting me out of that.

Don't thank me. The thought was laced with quiet amusement. Thank our...unexpected guest

So he's awake. Her thoughts conveyed her curiosity and worry over this unexpected arrival. What do we know?

He's one hundred percent human, no geneering, no implants, identity unknown.

That doesn't surprise me. He could be an illegal birth from Earth.

Yes. Well anyway, he's reasonably healthy, fit but fair amounts of scar tissue, seems he was drunk as well when he got here. But here's were it gets interesting. When we testing his biochemistry and he came back with the same altered blood make up as a possessed victim.

There were no words to portray the shock and sadness Ione felt at that. But there was no need for them, affinity allowed feelings to be felt in the conversation

But heres a strange bit, the altered blood make up wasn't exactly like the possessed victims. He seemed to have a more altered blood chemistry and some things in it we haven't encountered before. Tranquillity's' confusion at the results piqued Ione's' curiosity.

Like what?

Well from the results it seems he wasn't possessed by something human. We haven't had or heard of an example like this through the entire confrontation. Plus the possession seems to have altered his brainwaves slightly, they've become slightly more simple, primal if you will.

Any idea of what possessed him? Ione was feeling a little nauseous. To be possessed by something non human! What it could have made him do!

We can't discern that from the results or any further testing, we need to ask him or find another example of his possession. His possession though seems to have been less harmful to him then the others. While the others produced cancerous growths to the host bodies, his seems to have done the opposite and boosted his immune system slightly.

Interesting, what about the wormhole he came through? Any results about that?

Very little I'm afraid, it seems to replicate the wormholes voidhawks and blackhawks use, but at an entirely different energy frequency. Currently all we know is that the wormhole should have collapsed in on itself.

Hmm, send all the results we have on the wormhole to the Laymil research center, they've had very little to do lately, but nothing about the guy that came through, the fewer people that know about it the better, don't want to start a panic.

Done.

So why is he awake?

We took him off the tranquilisers to study his behaviour, see if he'll try and escape and gauge his threat rating.

So far?

Tugged on the straps once or twice.

Is that all? Ione's thoughts betrayed her disbelief

Well there is one other thing. Tranquillity's reluctance shone through.

Come on.

He's been singing... badly

Ione couldn't stop her mental laugh roaring through the affinity band.

Oh, I've got to see this.

Instantly, a picture of Xander appeared in her mind. He was still strapped down but his head was nodding from side to side, as he belted out...

"Fly me to the moon, and let me play upon the starrrrsss..."

Ione couldn't help it, she burst out laughing. Real life and across the affinity band. His singing was that bad, it was comical. She didn't know what the song was, it really didn't matter.

We're keeping this guy locked up, why?

If it were up to me, I wouldn't be wasting the time and fuseodollars testing him; he obviously isn't a threat. But the Kulu Navy wants him checked out thoroughly. They still haven't replied to all the information I've sent them.

Can I talk to him?

I'll send a serjeant in now with a processor block. Tranquillity knew what was going to happen next.

No, in person, said like it was the most obvious answer.

I strongly advise against it, we're still not sure about him. Even though Tranquillity itself had said he posed no danger, it still worried about Ione. They shared a bond so close, Ione was like her daughter. She had grown in her.

Oh come on, look at him, he can barely move in those straps, he's got no weapon, and the test showed he has no implants. I'll even take some serjeants.

Saying no won't stop you, will it?

You know me so well.

*****

"Sixty seven bottles of beer on the wall sixt...." Xander was cut out by the door clunking open. He looked over and saw one on the demons standing in the doorway. Each of it's four hands holding a weapon, two stubby pistol like weapons, a blunt dull gray cylinder, but what worried Xander the most was the large glowing knife it held. He snarled at the creature as it entered the room.

Here it is, here comes the torture. Here comes the pure agony. Here comes... pretty lady

Xander's surprise must have showed on his face because the tall beautiful woman, who entered just after the demon, covered her mouth and gave a small laugh, her eyes lighting up with humour.

Xander let a mask cover his face. She was here with the demons. She's probably here to seduce me or some such crap, don't let her do it. Don't trust her.

*****

Ione watched as the mans face went blank and begun to stare at the ceiling. She frowned. That's not good.

"Hello" Not even a blink. "My names Ione, How are you?" Not even a twitch.

Is there anything in the nanonic patch to make him more... trusting?

I could feed him some mild tranquilisers and painkillers, but that might just make him distracted and drowsy.

Okay leave it for now... Take away the serjeants, just outside the door.

Are you sure? Tranquillity's worry was evident.

Look at him, he doesn't trust me! Would you if you were tied to a bench while hulking four armed creatures ,armed to the teeth stood over you?

Tranquillity didn't answer, but it's concern and worry were evident. The serjeants left the room one by one and closed the door behind them.

"Sorry about them, they can be a bit... intimidating." His eyes were following her now.

"So how did you end up on Tranquillity, I must tell you it's got our scientists a bit baffled"

*****

Scientists? Since when do demons need scientists? And since when do they name their place Tranquility? Xander was getting a bit confused about things. Not a good thing.

She was undoing his straps now.

"Sorry about the straps, but we have to be careful. It's not every day we get some coming in through their own personal wormhole"

Big mistake.

"So whats your name?" Very sweet this one.

Xander sprung up and spun the girl around, then wrapped an arm around her throat, and the other around her waist, pinning her arms to her side.

*****

Ione didn't know anyone who wasn't boosted could move that fast, but even as fast as he was the serjeants were just as quick and one was through the door just as he had hold of her.

The serjeants were raising their weapons when the man lent in...

"What do you want with me?" The fierce whisper was so full of hate and fear, that Ione felt instantly sorry and guilty for what they had done to this man. He was so full of confusion and they had imprisoned him, strapped him to a bench, scared the shit out of him, treated him like an animal, and he had done nothing.

The serjeants tightened their grips on their trigger in preparation to firing. They wouldn't miss.

Tranquilise him.

*****

Xander's eyes rolled up in his head.

Wha...

Chapter 4

Xander awoke in a bed this time. A bed in a very sparsely furnished room but still it was better than last time.

To his surprise he found he wasn't strapped down. Confusion reigned.

Okay, maybe they killed me and this is heaven... in that case heaven sucks. What the hell is happening?!? He was getting very frustrated, he had no control, no power, he was helpless. And he DIDN'T LIKE IT.

He sat up in bed and took in his new room. Single bed, white sheets, white blanket. It faced the door. There was a small table with chair to the right of his room, with an empty plate and cup on it. Xander's stomach rumbled at just the reminder of food.

A light, almost polite, cough from a darkened corner of the room startled him and he leapt out of bed. He hadn't noticed his room's other occupant.

She was about five foot nine, very dark brown skin, black hair so short it bordered on non-existant, and a body to die for. Unfortunately she didn't look too friendly.

"Um... hi?" It seemed like the right thing to do, it wasn't. Evident by the way she scowled at him.

"Who are you?" It was direct, harsh.

"Ahhh... Xander... Xander Harris" he was a bit put off by her behaviour. Why question him? surely they knew what the deal was? didn't they?

"Why are you here?" Brutal.

"Cause you guys put me here?" It was the obvious answer.

Her scowled deepened.

"Listen shithead! You are very lucky to be alive right now..." Well that answered one of Xander's questions "... and if I'd had my way you wouldn't be! So stop the fucking smart arse answers before my implant SLIPS "

Implant? What the fuck?

To say she was calming Xander down would be wrong. To say she was riling him up would be right, lucky for her he didn't hit girls.

"You ever tried anger management?"

She moved faster than a vamp. His natural reaction, burnt into his subconscious from years of Hellmouth sitting, was to step out of the way.

*****

Narish was surprised when he stepped out of her path so quickly. Didn't stop her though. Boosted muscles put her back on line. She thumped him on one shoulder, spinning him round. He landed on his stomach on the bed and bounced slightly, momentum and combat program from her nanonics enabled her to grab his arms before he hit the bed again and pin them behind his back. Painfully.

"Listen you waster fuck! When you jump into tranquility and assault IONE SALDANA I tend to get rather PISSED!"

"You sure it ain't PMS?" Oh, low blow.

*Pop* *AAAAAAAGH*

"I'm sorry, what was that? I couldn't hear over your shoulder dislocating" The sickly sweet tone of her voice tone of her voice showed how much she liked doing this. She didn't get to interrogate this way most of the time. Criminals usually knew they'd tell her whatever she wanted to know. One way or another.

*****

"You fucking BITCH!" Xander thrashed about in her grip, trying to get to grips with her, to make her hurt, make her bleed. She was a girl, you don't hit girls. Xander didn't care anymore, he'd kick the shit out of her. But her grip was stronger than a slayers, stronger than most demons. He was getting anywhere and he eventually saw the futility of it through his rage and calmed. She just held him there no trouble the entire time.

"Whats the matter? Can't beat little old me? Can't beat a girl? Sure I may have boosted muscles but that doesn't mean a thing." He hated her with a vengeance. She had to ridicule him. His shoulder throbbed agony.

"Now... Why are you here?" Smug bitch

"I didn't come here on purpose" Xander's response came through gritted teeth.

"How did you get here?"

" I don't know" She didn't believe him. The yank on his dislocated shoulder proved that.

"How Did You Get Here?"

"I don't know" his response was a bit more desperate this time. Another tug on his shoulder. Okay this is getting old.

"HOW DID YOU GET HERE?"

She didn't receive an answer straight away. Instead Xander arched his back, gritted his teeth and violently twisted to the side. *aaoaugh!*

*****

When she didn't get an answer straight away, Narish new he'd try something so she tightened her grip. She didn't expect him to pop his shoulder back in.

"I ..*Pant*..DON'T..*Pant*..KNOW!"

She wouldn't get anything this way. She sighed and datavised the medical team outside to come in a implant the nanonics.

*****

Kyle received the datavise and nodded to his partner. They always gave them a chance to explain before they resorted to implanting the nanonics. But this one must be a tough one to crack.

They stepped through the door and Kyle noticed the way the prisoner's shoulder was swelling. Sometimes Narish could take it too far. He sent her a disapproving look. She just shrugged.

*****

Xander heard the door open and twisted his head as far as the bitch would let him. To lab coats entered. on carrying a small box the other a small bag that he was currently going through. He pulled out another one of those skin things and walked over to Xander .

Fuck that. He prepared for another struggle and tensed up. The guy must of seen this.

"Hold still... this will help your shoulder" Xander was didn't believe him but wasn't in a real position to do anything about it when the bitch knelt on his back and held him down.

It felt like he got pins and needles in his shoulder for just a second as he put the patch on, than his shoulder went a comfortable numb.

The other guy spoke up in a professional tone.

"Hold him still." Not what Xander wanted to hear.

The first guy added his weight to Xander's back and held his head still. Xander couldn't have struggled if he wanted. He couldn't see anything except uncomfortable mattress.

Xander suddenly felt pins and needles at the base of his skull then everything went black.

*****

Kyle sighed in relief as the guy slumped unconscious, it was always harder if they struggled. He guessed he was lucky though, they didn't usually have Narish to help hold them down. Johnno, his partner passed his the nanonic package and he removed it from it medical seal. Currently the neural nanonic was packaged in it's small pill packaging but soon it would be placed in this poor guys head, microscopic filaments would spread out from the base of his skull and invade all the memory centres of the brain, access all the memories and datavise it all to a specially built mainframe in the Confederation Navy's interrogation ward for analysis. All in all they'd know everything he does. It was all very invasive.

Oh well, he probably deserves it.

With that he pushed the nanonic package into the medical nanonics and into Xander's head.

Chapter 5

The Confederation's interrogation ward was very high tech. It combined the pinnacle of neural nanonic technology with a combination of bitek thought interfaces. The nanonic technology received raw data from the debrief nanonic set placed in the captives brain, refined and coded it, than arranged them in viewable files, unfortunately though, technology was still no where near able to simulate human emotions. That's where the bitek came in. A specially designed bitek brain, non-sentient of course, was fed the raw neuron impulse data. It than ran through the data, simulating the data in a way that the basic feelings were deciphered. They were than transferred back into the mainframe where they were displayed on screen as a coloured tint to the image. The brain also transferred the refined data into affinity for any Edenists.

The debrief nanonics in Xander's head were no less advanced. A super computer made up of sub-atomic particles, programmed to interface with the human brain, they were one of mankind's greatest achievements. While they weren't built with all the commercial add- ons and accessories, their ability to retrieve perfect memories from a subject's brain were unrivalled. They stimulated the brain with artificial impulses to retrieve the memories and were even able to retrieve suppressed memories and info from the subconscious. All raw impulse data that was memory was then datavised to the Interrogation wards mainframe.

*****

Kegs liked his job. The interrogation ward of the Confederation Navy located at Tranquillity got very little work, thanks to Tranquillity's all-encompassing presence. For this, Kegs was grateful. He found the process all very disturbing. A person would relive their entire living memories nearly all at once as the debrief nanonics triggered all their memories in a series of impulses, and everything else they as well. It gave him the creeps. God knew he had a few things he wouldn't want to relive. Oh well, he needed the fuseodollars; his black market neural nanonic stimulant programs weren't cheap.

As he sat down to the wards newest occupants file, sipping his coke, he frowned.

That ain't right. He was now accessing the file on the boy's subconscious. No that's right but why would a boys subconscious be holding that much data? It almost equalled the amount of data held by the rest of his brain. He accessed some of the data received from the boy's subconscious. It was the rough equivalent of 5 years data. He accessed the earliest subconscious memory, it wasn't video, just a sound and smell file, his holo screen flashed yellow, black and small amounts of grey as a smell that the system easily distinguished as alcohol and a voice shouted. The shout wasn't a word, just a voice and a tone. The yellow and black symbolised what the boy was feeling at the time, fear and depression and even a little bit of guilt. He pulled up relevant data and discovered the voice to be his fathers and the memory to have come from middle childhood.

He pulled up the next file, than the next. All seemed to be normal in a weird kind of way. Boredom was as feeling to be felt at school. But there isn't any school any more, just day clubs. Than flashes of street names, a paper route, a job as a child. But there weren't any paper routes anymore, not with the net. The newspaper became extinct when rover reporters started dumping news sensevises into the net. They were all alike, the next then the next one, then the next...

"Mother of God..."

A demonic visage on a person, ridged forehead, multitude of sharp fangs, hideous yellow eyes, eyes that showed only joy as it ripped out the throat of a young girl.

And an overlying colour of fear covered the image, the same colour as those eyes.

Kegs had accessed reporter sensevises on the possessed, seen the horror the possessed had caused. How they had tortured and maimed until a victim gave in and was possessed themselves, seen the atrocities they had committed to stay in their captive bodies.

This inspired no less terror.

*****

All the while as Kegs was accessing the data received from Xander's brain, so was Tranquillity. It had unlimited processing power in its neural cells, and it was done before Kegs was finished with the first file. It knew why the boy's memories were so strange, why he had so many memories, why he was so confused. This boy was from the past, from the Hellmouth, as it saw the nightmares this boy lived through, what these things were capable of, how they made Laton look like a child throwing a tantrum, how the whole possessed war was merely a warm up. For the first time in it's existence, it's fear overwhelmed it...

*****

Ione awoke screaming.

*****

Voidhawks and blackhawks on Tranquillity's docking ledges shuddered, as a wave of fear passed over them, than tried to calm their captains as they awoke screaming, or crouched in corners in fear, fighting the urge to wet themselves.

*****

To those with affinity, Tranquillity's wave of fear was all encompassing.

*****

Xander lay unconscious in his cell. The nanonics installed in his brain constantly intercepting and transmitting signals to keep him under. They did not, however, stop him from remembering.

*****

Ione rushed to Katlyn's room. Her fear pushed down as maternal instincts kicked in and she responded to her almost three year old's desperate crying. The child was tucked up in the foetal position wailing loudly. Ione reached out and pulled her into her arms cooing softly. Katlyn quickly wrapped her arms around her mum and buried her face into her shoulder and kept on crying. Ione rocked her slowly, rubbing her back, whispering how everything is all right and how nothing's going to hurt her. Katlyn was shaking badly, not being quite old enough to understand what happened. Ione was old enough, and it scared her even more.

What was that? It was snappish, as Ione tried to mask her fear with anger.

I... I... I just experienced fear... It spilled out... I'm sorry. There was a strange sense of horror in the affinity call, mixed with just a taint of curiosity. I didn't like it.

Ione was shocked. Never was there a time when a habitat had experienced fear great enough that it's mastery of affinity had slipped, most thought them beyond it. They had the most rational minds in existence. This obviously wasn't rational.

Why? Ione's fear was welling up. She gripped her daughter just a little tighter, taking comfort from the contact, as well as expressing it.

Even though she was aware of Tranquillity's affinity broadcast of love and safety to her and Katlyn, as well as quite a few with the affinity gene. She still felt like crying, the fear that she had felt...

I wish Joshua was here

We have a problem... Xander's story was told.

*****

There was never a time in Ione Saldana's public rule, or un-public for that matter, when she had visited a facility at one am habitat standard time. So when she entered CNIS headquarters, they weren't expecting her.

"I want to see him" The night staff weren't ready for this. Hell, they were the night staff for a reason. All they could do was fall back into procedure, and since she was the head of the republic they were currently in...

"Yes ma'am" The current guard gave thanks to neural nanonics, and their ability to make you say what you needed to, when you needed to.

He snapped a brief salute, which was given a slightly stern look from Ione, before he signalled to three other guards who took up flanking positions around her, as they escorted her to their only current captive. A message had been datavised to the branch's senior officer who was on his way there before Ione was through the door.

*****

Ione stared at this man-child through the viewing window, which was currently set to one way. A hidden holographic projector inside the cell projected a seamless dull wall. Captives never even knew the window was there unless they felt around the entire room.

Xander was lying awkwardly over the bed in what looked to be a very uncomfortable position. She looked at him with mixed emotions, but mostly wonder, awe, worry and pity.

He had helped save the Earth... on several occasions. She didn't think many people could measure up to that. Maybe Joshua, but he had saved the human race. But at the time so had this boy. But how he had been treated, how he had been hurt... How she had treated this... this... hero.

*Flashback*

Buffy fired her crossbow at the charging trio of Tilnrak' demons. The bolt flew true but the demons thick, slimy, armoured hide stopped it from penetrating his heart. The bolt stood out on it's chest and quivered. The demon didn't even slow down.

Buffy didn't have much of a choice; she counter-charged, swinging the heavy steel butt of the crossbow towards the nearest demons head, there was a wet crunch, and the demon collapsed but even as it did one grabbed from behind while the other ripped the crossbow out of her hands and thumped her in the stomach with the butt. Buffy doubled over, and was promptly thrown fifteen feet away into a tree. She lay there groggily, legs too weak to hold herself up.

The demons let out a rumbling roar. Then one ripped the crossbow out of the others hands, then the bolt out of it chest, which earned it a low warning growl in response. It then proceeded to load the crossbow before it aimed it at the fallen slayer. It seemed that the demons had a sense of irony, killing the slayer with her own weapon. How many demons could say...or growl that! It would have succeeded too, if it wasn't for Xander charging in and barrelling over the two demons. The shot went wide and embedded itself in the tree, two inches from Buffy's head.

Xander new this was stupid, he was gonna lose this fight, and he really didn't want to die, but if it saved Buffy it was worth it, and right now it looked like she definitely needed saving.

Xander was right when he thought he was going to lose the fight, as the demons were quicker to recover. One rose and kicked him in the head as he was trying to stand, Xander tried to roll with the blow but landed at the feet of the other demon, his face almost immediately starting to bruise and swell.

The other demon grabbed Xander's wrists in one of its beefy claws and lifted him off the ground. Xander was in no position to do anything but dangle there, eyes wide in pain but vision blurry. The demon just looked at him with contempt and twisted his arm. Xander's wrist snapped as did his arm in a loud crack. The pain brought Xander back into the fully lucid world long enough to scream.

The demon gave a throaty kind of laugh and was about to throw Xander back to his partner, when he notice that the slayer was standing next to his partner, a crossbow bolt in her hand and impaled through his neck.

Xander saw Buffy's mouth moving in a pun towards the remaining demon but couldn't hear her, his ears were ringing.

The demon dropped him and charged the slayer winding up for a haymaker, unfortunately for it even Xander could have dodged that, well not in this state but healthy Xander could have.

Buffy had no trouble, she ducked to one side and nailed it in the gut with a knee, it would have cut Xander in half, but this demons heavily armoured form saved it. It folded over however. Buffy spun around and dropped it with an axe kick to the back of the head. The demon dropped onto it's stomach. Buffy didn't give it a chance to recover and stomped down on the back of it neck... repeatedly. It died.

Buffy dusted herself off, wiped some green blood off her shoes in to the grass. Than looked over to Xander and sighed, rolling her eyes.

"Xander...Xander! What are you doing here?" She was standing over Xander's body; he had managed to get to his knees using his one good arm.

"Saving you," he managed to croak out past the swelling in his face.

"Gee it sure looks like it." The tone was sarcastic, but the Slayer's mood darkened a little.

"You were going to die Xander, even if you think you were helping, you weren't, you cant, you're too weak, and you would have died if it wasn't for me. I don't wont someone's death on my conscience even if they seem to be looking for it... just stay out of it Xander," she sighed. She had talked to him like he was a child.

With that she just left, no good bye, no thank you, and no medical attention. She just up and went leaving Xander kneeling there, staring at the ground, broken arm held against his chest, eyes glassy.

*End Flashback*

And that wasn't the only time he had been treated like that by his 'friends'... no wonder he gave up on caring

She was interrupted from her thoughts as the head of Facility rushed in. He was rather untidy, and slightly out of breath.

He was rather tall for an Adamist, around 6 foot five, with broad soldiers, a flat stomach and a full head of light brown hair that was only just beginning to grey. With his geneering he would live to about 125 years old, he was currently 73. His ruffled uniform depicted him as a colonel.

He got here quick.

He rushed. Ione smiled

"Miss Saldana, to what do we owe the pleasure?"

"Remove the nanonics, wake him up."

"The analysis team have yet to file a report on him and..."

"Tranquillity has. Fleks are already on their way to the Confederation Assembly, Navy, Security branches and every major system. Now release him."

"We would like to hold him a while longer for more interrogat..."

Ione had expected this but it still angered her somewhat. She knew she shouldn't be angry, they didn't know what she knew.

"Do you think I'm stupid, Colonel?" She paused just to let it sink in. "I know what those nanonics did, they downloaded EVERYTHING he knows. You cant get any more out of him!"

"We still have to hold on that assault charge."

"I just dropped it. Now, unless you'd like to spend the rest of your miserable career as a marine private, which you just might for lack of speed in this matter, you'll do as I ask RIGHT NOW."

The colonel's shoulders slumped slightly in defeat and he nodded to an operator at a console. The operator closed his eyes as he started accessing programs in his neural nanonics and Xander's.

Ione hadn't liked what she'd done to the colonel. He was probably very good at his job, but her feelings of fear had left anger in its wake. And it was one am in the morning so she wasn't in the best of moods. But she knew humiliating him in front of his men was wrong. So she looked away, trying not to look at him.

It's done. Tranquillity had been monitoring the operator's progress.

Ione watched intently as Xander slowly opened his eyes and rolled onto his back. He looked around slowly, frowned and sighed. He than sat up and checked his shoulder, making practice movements, all the while staring at it in confusion.

*****

Xander stared at his arm. Why had they healed him? And why had it healed so quickly?

He shook his head slightly, trying to clear his head of its grogginess and all the memories floating around. That was weird; he'd had this weird dream about his entire life in fast forward. He absently wondered if he'd had a near death experience while he was under.

He scratched the back of his head idly. He could already feel small scab.

How long have I been under?

A quick buzz brought his head spinning around. One of his cell walls was quickly dissolving into a window. The people behind it slowly grew in definition. He only recognised one of them, the good-looking woman he had 'met' during his earlier consciousness. But he recognised what the other people were. All were soldiers of some description. He saw a few privates, a couple of captains and a colonel. He suddenly had a very large urge to salute.

No joy, I've become a lab rat.

The woman stepped forward.

"Xander Harris, welcome to the year 2614."

Chapter 6

It took a moment for the words to sink in. All those watching saw realization dawn on Xander's face. He seemed to be at a loss for words at first, mouth opening slightly as he looked about. But only for a moment.

The future? Xander stared about in disbelief.

It couldn't... They're lying... even as he thought it, he knew they were telling the truth. As he looked about it suddenly became obvious.

The group looking at him, military personnel, a supposed head of state, the technicians, and all the flash looking tech and computers positioned behind them. They all fitted in. Like thats the way it's supposed to be.

Ideas of demons flew out the window.

Xander suddenly felt very different, very lonely.

Wha? How?

His thoughts began to gain speed, jumping in different directions.

How did I get here... whats going to happen to me... how did my arm heal so fast... did they still have Taco Bell... what about my life in the past... how did they know I was from the past... why the FUCK does my life keep getting screwed over?!

That last thought steered his emotions towards anger. His jaw clenched perceptively as did his fists at his side.

Why did it always happen to him? WHY? Who hates him so much up there to do this to him?!

He let out an angry yell of confusion and frustration than lashed out. He grabbed hold of his bed and tried to flip it. His anger grew as he found it bolted to the ground and he had to settle with throwing the mattress. Nothing else in the room looked not bolted down.

He punched at a wall

*Thud*

My life was just starting to recover.

Again

*Crack*

Close to becoming good even.

Again

*Crack*

Why did they take it away?

"Noo..." The moan was full of helplessness and only barley grated past his lips

Again

*Thud*

Both fists were slick now with his own blood

"No.... noo...." helplessness settled on his thoughts as his punches began to slow and he felt his knees begin to quiver. He finally gave up punching and fell to his knees. Head slowly tilting forward until it touched the wall and rested there. His body sat there in a parody of prayer, the only words heard were "no" and it killed anybody watching just to hear it.

All through this Xander never shed one tear. If he had been taught anything at all by his father, it was that real men don't cry.

*****

Ione felt dirty. She felt horrible. She felt disgusted with herself. She felt perverse.

All because she stood there and watched this man break down. It was like killing someone's mother while they were watching and then waiting around to watch them cry. Only he didn't cry.

"No... noo" Stabs of guilt in her chest. She'd caused this. Staring around she saw the guilt on the others faces. A dark skinned soldier, her hair cropped short, Narish printed on the front, was staring, wide eyed terror, hand over her mouth, as her tears spilt down her face.

It not your fault... really. Tranquillity's emotional support and her broadcast of love and warmth at Ione didn't make her feel any better even though she knew Tranquility was right.

That doesn't make it feel any different.

Ione cried for Xander.

*****

What am I going to do? Ione hugged her sleeping daughter slightly tighter. She was currently lying on her bed next to her daughter in her apartment. Katlyn had a small nanonic patch on the back of her head repairing her neural symbionts from the damage Tranquillity's outburst caused. Ione would have been the same if it wasn't for Tranquillity's last minute shielding from the worst of it. As it was she still had a headache.

It was several hours after she had seen Xander. He was currently in zero tau. Ione had made them wait until Xander had exhausted himself and fallen to sleep before they could enter his cell. They'd put medical nanonics on both hands to set and the heal broken bones, and the meds had kept him under while they had placed him in zero tau.

Zero-tau was a term for stasis. The zero-tau pod was basically slightly larger than a coffin with no lid. When the subject was placed in the pod and the pod was activated, a black oily like substance covered the opening of the pod. The person in the pod didn't feel, hear, think, taste, breath, dream, smell or see anything until the pod opened again. To the person, it seemed only like the pod closed than opened again a split second later. No aging occurred.

Xander wasn't awake when they placed him in their, he wouldn't be awake when they pulled him out. He wouldn't even know he'd been in one. Ione preferred to place him in zero tau, than for him to wake up in another cell.

You could just leave him in zero-tau Tranquillity advised. Ione hadn't realized she was leaking into the band.

Ione felt slightly appalled at the suggestion, even though she knew Tranquillity had mentioned it for her benefit. According to Tranquillity, Ione was not to bothered, upset or harmed if it could be avoided.

Ione knew. She'd used Tranquillity's soft spot to get out of some meetings with bankers before.

No. Thats... inhumane.

Sorry.

It's alright, I know why you said it. What are we going to do?

We could send him to a psychiatrist.

Why? So they put him through a battery of drug treatment. You know what shrinks are like now days. He doesn't trust us now. What do you think he'll do after we send him to one of them? She snapped it out over the affinity band.

That was one of the biggest failures in the aftermath of the possession conflict. Billions of people who had been de-possesed needed counselling. There just wasn't enough shrinks. In an effort to cope, they just palmed away the non suicidal with a bottle of uppers or a tranq program. As a result it had become a habit to the psychiatrists. Over half those treated became addicted.

No need to get snippy.

Sorry, but you saw how he reacted. His entire life was ruined, destroyed. It's a huge culture shock, and he's got no one go to for support.

How about implanting him with affinity symbionts?

Not without his permission. How would you like to wake up with a voice in your head?

I already do.

HA you don't sleep

So?

Point taken. Ione was getting frustrated. Affinity was actually a good idea. The Edenist mentality and emotional support could really help Xander. But becoming an Edenist was a huge thing, it was like giving up part of your self to the whole, and never being alone again. It wasn't something you forced on someone.

And if she tried to explain it to Xander? Would he even understand? The whole six hundred years of technological advances, The culture shock would be too much. He needed to be eased into today's society and culture. Heck he needed to be eased into todays date. He needed somewhere less threatening to be brought up to speed. Somewhere more like what he was used to, somewhere low tech, somewhere like... Norfolk.

And I know just who to look after him.

*****

Joshua strode into the manners kitchen wiping sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand. The last crop of wheat before winter was just a week away from being harvested, and he was busy around the clock with preparations.

Sometimes he really damned Norfolk's low tech constitution. The massive amount of work needed doing all year round, by people, most of which could be done by machines and cloning vats, sometimes threatened to throw him off the deep end. But than again he had this planet to thank for his lovely wife, who he was currently wrapping his arms around from behind.

Plus cloning vats had nothing on natural steaks, cloned steaks just tasted bland in comparison.

"Afternoon dear" he whispered huskily into Louise's ear, while moving one arm to cross just below her breasts and the other crossing slightly below her waist. Any one watching could see nothing wrong, thanks to the frilly dress Louise was wearing.

Louise just grinned wryly and turned up to kiss her husband, before he started to nibble her ear.

Kitchen staff just smiled to each other as they turned away from the scene.

Louise would have to talk to Joshua about these scenes in front of the servants, not that she didn't like them, more that she liked a more private showing of his affection.

"Guess what?" Joshua questioned after breaking off the kiss.

"Yes?" Louise handed him a large glass of cider

"We're going to have a visitor" Joshua managed to disentangle himself from his wife long enough to take a swig of the drink.

"Really? Who?" Louise hoped it was one of Joshua's friends. His pilot friends were so much more interesting than the dull aristocrats she was used to visiting.

Joshua's face scrunched up. Damn that cider's bitter.

"Someone named Xander Harris. Ione's' sending him to us, actually she said she might pop in for a while to explain, something about the bloke. Said there's something we should hear." he said in a hushed tone.

Joshua placed his hand over his wives mouth.

"And she doesn't want the entire county knowing" that was said with a smile.

Louise turned and gave him a mock glare before giving him the "who me?" look.

"Why didn't you datavise me earlier?"

"Grant was there. You know he doesn't like me doing it"

Louise nodded knowingly. Her father had almost blown a gasket when he'd found out she had neural nanonics.

"We'll than, when are they arriving? I'll have the maids prepare two bedrooms, or is it one?" she gave him a sly grin, remembering some of the stories Joshua had told her about Ione.

"Two you filthy girl!" he returned the sly grin with a chuckle.

Chapter 7

Ione wandered towards the boarding vehicle, hoping along in the reduced gravity of the counter-rotating space dock. A baggage train trundled along behind her, piled high with suitcases, most of them were clothes, some for her, some for Xander, and a few presents for Joshua, Louise and their child.

She'd managed to get a few things made up for Xander before they left for Norfolk. She may be leaving him with Joshua for a while but that didn't mean she was going to dump him there with just the clothes on his back. Plus if he needed anything else he could use his credit disc.

Yes five million should cover him until he's up on his feet. she thought with a grin.

After her last visit to Xander's cell, She'd decided - while in a rather guilty mood - that a rather hefty reward for Xander's invaluable information and a little compensation for his ill-gotten stay at the navies interrogation ward. Plus it wasn't like she couldn't spare it.

Most habitats are extremely wealthy, due to the precious minerals they ground out of the asteroids they fed on. But independent habitats tend to be extremely wealthy. Individually anyway, they couldn't compare to the habitats the Edenists germinated in financial backing, but were better off than some planets. Tranquility was probably the richest of the independent habitats. With its 2% annual tax rate, multi-million and multi-billion fuseodollar companies tended to flock there, 2% of anything they make is still gonna be a lot. Plus sales of Helium-3 to Adamist traders and such, tended to make Tranquility one of the biggest earners in the universe. Yes, Ione had cash to throw around.

Xander was still in zero-tau, she'd wake him up when they got to Norfolk, it'd just be easier that way.

She sighed. This man had thrown her life into such a disarray. She barely ever left Tranquility, hell, she never had . And now she was leaving her daughter with Dominique, god alone knows how spoilt she'll be when she got back, and travelling half way across inhabited space for this one boy! Well... yeah, inhabited space isn't all that big now, but it's the principle of the thing.

Stupid conscience

Tranquillity's chuckle floated around the background of her thoughts.

You know, I'm almost glad to get away from you for a few days.

Tranquillity gave Ione the equivalent of poking her tongue at her in affinity.

Hmmph.

She climbed into boarding vehicle as a Tranquillity serjeant loaded her things into the luggage compartment.

Ione sat in silence as she headed towards her ride. The Alkazzor was a blackhawk, with it's distinct teardrop shape, and blackish purple hull, horseshoe-shaped life support modules snug with the ship.

You know I'll miss you, don't you?

And I you.

Look after Katlyn.

*****

3 days later

Alcazzor emerged smack bang in the middle of Norfolk's emergence zone, transmitting it's transponder signal even before the black infinity it came through closed up behind. Then headed for a parking orbit.

Ione smiled. From the look on the captains face, he and the blackhawk were congratulating each other on that last jump.

Not long now. An awkwardness had settled on her thoughts. The source. Joshua.

She didn't know what was making her feel this way. She saw old lovers all the time at Tranquility, and it never made a twinge on her emotion meter. But this was Joshua. Father to two of her children, she had loved him, she still did. And now he was married to another woman, with another child. She couldn't help but feel a little jealous. But it was his choice, and it's not like there wouldn't be others in the next century and a half of her life.

She was missing Tranquillity's emotional support and she new it. She wasn't use to being alone.

*****

Alkazzor's spaceplane began to aerobrake over a large stretch of ocean, several sonic booms marking it's arrival. Ione watched it all flash by out the small window. The side of the planet she was currently on was experiencing Duchess's light, so everything was a dark vermilion.

One of Norfolk's little quirks, it had two suns. The red dwarf sun 'Duchess' two hundred million kilometers away gave off a rosy glow while 'Duke' the K2 primary shone a strong yellowish light from one hundred and seventy three million kilometers away . It gave Norfolk pretty much 24 hours of sunlight most of the year round, except for certain solstices where a small sliver of true night passed around Norfolk.

Suddenly land flashed under the space plane and Ione had glimpses of rolling pasture, crops and vineyards of Norfolk's famous weeping roses.

Norfolk Tears was Norfolk's claim to fame. The hugely expensive and sought after alcohol, could only be created on Norfolk. It was derived from a flower, a flower that was unique to Norfolk. Towards the end of summer, flowers on all the crops of tears began to droop, to face the ground, and ever so slowly, began to drip, drip the tears of Norfolk, until the flower has dried up and it begins to shrivel up. Of course the people have developed a means of collecting the tears in special conical cups. The resulting fluid is bottled than left over winter before being shipped out the next summer at a rather large sum. People have tried to grow it elsewhere, but even with todays technology it just wouldn't grow anywhere else. Cornering the market gave Norfolk a rather healthy infrastructure, and most were well off ( the land owning class at least ).

Ever so slowly pastures, crops, vineyards and large singular estates gave way to small cottages, to small towns, etc until Boston appeared on the horizon. Boston was the capital of the island/continent they were currently flying over, Kesteven.

Howie, the Alkazzor's spaceplane pilot steered well clear of the city on his course to the aerodrome. Aircraft - besides spaceplanes and a small flying doctors service - were banned on Norfolk. Midsummer, when the Tears were being sold, was the only time the planet saw spaceplanes, as such they were a little skittish at 25 tonne objects flying over their rooftops during late autumn.

There were only two other spaceplanes on the grassy aerodrome fields, so Howie was able to park the space plane close to the cluster of buildings that housed the control tower and administration building.

Ione climbed down the space planes stairs into Norfolk's cool, dry and slightly dusty air as the cargo bay of the space plane coolly slid open. Howie started loading Ione and Xander's luggage onto trolleys. Zeek and Tom, the Alkazzor's communication and weapons specialists gently loaded Xander's Zero tau pod onto a separate trolley. Holly, their medic stepped up next to Ione.

"Sleepy isn't it?" the sarcasm was evident. Holly didn't think much of Norfolk.

Norfolk was founded by Govcentral's English state as a Christian, English-ethnic population. It had a strict low technology constitution and based it's social structure on the idealised version of sixteenth-century Britain. It even had a royal family, The Mountbattens, said to be descended from the actual royal Windsor Monarchy.

To most people visiting from off planet, the place seemed as backwards as they come, Holly one of them. I mean come on! Who ever heard of using a telephone?

"I think it's rather quaint" Ione shot back.

"Just don't let the locals here you call it that"

A tired looking lad was making his way over to them now, a small dog followed on his heels, tail wagging tiredly. The boy was dressed in long cord pants, belted at his waist, with a thick cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He had his hands in his pockets as he yawned at the ground. As he came closer he seemed to scan the group, looking for someone, probably the captain, but didn't find what he was looking for so he headed towards Ione and Holly.

"Evening Ma'ams.." he bobbed his head slightly at Ione and Holly, "Andrew Unwin, acting passport manager at this late hour," He grinned at them than yawned, covering his mouth with a fist.

Must have dragged him out of bed. What time is it anyway? Ione thought

"The aerodrome manager sends his regrets at being not able to meet you, he is otherwise..... he's unavailable"

"Asleep you mean" Ione added it with a rogue smile and earned a toothy grin and a chuckle from Andrew.

"Yep, sent me instead. I wont hold you up very long, you most likely want to find a warm bed yourselves, how many are staying?"

"Only me and my ahh... friend" Ione said pointedly nodding towards the zero-tau pod. Andrew didn't stare too long. They got the rare zero-tau pod down from the starships. She passed their, her and Xander's, passport fleks to the boy who slipped them into an ancient looking processor block, while adding, "You wouldn't have anywhere we could wake him up do you?". Ione had made up a passport for Xander and a false one for herself, no one on this planet would be able to tell it was a fake and she really didn't want to be recognised.

"Sure, I'll unlock the med bay for you" he said while handing back the fleks. "Follow me" he started fumbling round in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys as he led them towards one the smaller buildings on the strip.

The building consisted of one long room partitioned off with curtains. Each are had a small medical block and a plain white bed with a small set of drawer to one side with equipment. Beds were set up under large windows, vermilion light spilling in enough that the lights weren't needed.

"Just call me if you need anything" Said Andrew as he motioned in with a wave of his hand before settling against the wall and started rolling himself up some weed.

Howie stayed outside with Ione's luggage as the others followed the pod in. They wheeled it up to the foot of a bed.

Ione took a deep breath than told her bitek processor to shut off the pod. The black surface snapped away with a small buzz. Xander laid there apparently in peaceful sleep, arms by his sides with small medical nanonic patches over his hands. Tom and Zeek hauled him up into the bed, and Holly was already accessing his medical nanonics with neural nanonics. Her distant stare gave her away.

"The patch on his left hand will be able to come off in a couple of days, but his right hand will need a week, maybe a week and a half, to heal fully. Do you want me to wake him up?"

She'd have to do it eventually

"Wake him"

*****

Consciousness slowly dawned on Xander, leaving him slightly groggy. Memories slowly drifted back of his previous excursions to the waking world, feelings of depression, embarrassment and even disgust at the way he acted pressed themselves against him as he slowly took in his surroundings. He had an audience, again, but he only recognised one of them, the other three looked professional though, in matching blue synthetic jumpsuits.

He singled out Ione.

"Sorry"

*****

"Sorry"

It shocked her. She really hadn't expected that.

"You have nothing to be sorry for Xander!" she said in her gentlest yet most passionate voice, "If anything it's me who should be apologising. For locking you up, for putting you in the hands of people who hurt you, it wasn't you fault, and I am sorry."

The crew seemed to wander over to the entrance and talk among themselves but were no doubt still listening. Tom the weapons specialist kept slightly closer incase Xander got violent.

Xander stared at her for a moment, not saying anything. He nodded slightly, accepting her apology wordlessly. He looked down at his hands and saw the medical patches, his eyed widened slightly and he gave them a light scratch feeling the area surrounding them. He pulled one leg up to him and rested his chin on his knee. A slight frown on his face. His eyes incredibly sad as he stared at the white sheet on the bed.

"I really am in the future aren't I?". Ione gave him a small nod. Xander gave himself a small nod confirming it to himself as he thought about it.

"Where am I?"

"You're on Norfolk... another planet. A lot of things have changed since your time, I thought I'd bring you here, help you adjust. The planet's slightly lower tech to what you're used to but I've a friend here, he's going to help you." The words seemed to spill out of Ione in a quiet voice.

Xander simply nodded, not looking at her.

"So.... whats your name anyway?" his voice was full of resignation, and hidden determination, as if he'd admitted to himself that he was in this situation, and was already going to do something about it

"Ione Saldana, pleased to meet you" she stuck out her hand timidly, with a bright smile, trying to lighten up the mood. Her smile turns into a small frown as he stares at her hand for a moment, not making any effort to shake it. She was about to pull her hand back when he reached out and took it in a soft grip and gave it a single shake, it seemed full of importance, as if he was binding himself to her.

And with that shake Xander seemed to come out of his shell and actually pay attention to his surroundings. He looks down noticing the simple grey jumpsuit he had gained in his cell.

"Hey do you have my clothes anywhere around here?"he said looking around as he sat up on the edge of the bed. His voice was no longer the same monotone of depression now.

"Sure, and a few other outfits I got for you, plus a few other necessary items" she said as she got up and headed towards the door and their luggage.

"You didn't need to do that" slight shock in his voice, Xander really hadn't expected this much out of Ione. Well not after the treatment he'd received since arriving in this timeline. He also felt kinda put off that they thought that he couldn't fend for himself.

"It's all right, I wanted to do it. Plus what could you have done, you couldn't stay in the same pair of clothes for the rest of your time here, plus you really had no way of earning money. All the skills you learnt in your time are pretty much useless here... eh... I mean now, though God knows that if the skills you have could be useful anywhere it would be here on Norfolk." she passed him a suitcase. "Press your thumb on that little screen there" she said indicating the lock.

"I could fight, earn stuff that way" he said opening up the suitcase and peering at the clothes she got him. There were a pile of smart looking clothes. Shirts, pants, jackets, hell even a tie, plus there were a couple of comfortable looking T-shirts and shorts, hell there were even a nice pair of shoes tossed in, and they were all made out of a material Xander didn't recognise but it all felt incredibly comfortable and tough. Next to those were the clothes he arrived in. His black leather jacket, a tight T-shirt with a Goth band on it, Jerk or some such band, he didn't really care, and a pair of dark baggy jeans with a belt. His knuckle dusters, wallet and boots were tucked in next to them. Several pairs of black boxers and socks were tucked in were ever room could be found.

He pulled out his old clothes.

"You wouldn't really have a chance against most fighters these days. Implants make them almost six times stronger, and three times faster than a vampire" She stated trying to relate boosted fighters to something from his time.

Xander flashed round and gave her a hard stare.

"How do you know about vampires?"the question came out sharply and harsh. Tom shifted his stance in the door way.

Ahhh, whoops.

"Do you remember when they placed one of those green patches on the back of your head?" Xander nodded slowly, rubbing the spot on his head, feeling a small scab. "Well that patch kind of downloaded your memory" she said sheepishly.

Xander gave her a hard stare.

"So they downloaded my memory... thats how they know everything." Xander didn't know what to feel. Invaded, that they'd done that to him, that they knew every little thing about him? Hopeful that he could share things with Ione? That she could help him? Fear, they knew his dark secrets?

He held his tongue, and turned to walk down the room, pulling a curtain closed and got dressed. He didn't know what to do, he just wanted to get back to his time, to his life. He'd let them lead him for a while, until he decided what to do, until he learnt enough. Until he'd had enough.

*****

Ione saw him wander back tucking his knuckle dusters into his pocket and checking his wallet.

"That money wont do you much good here, now" he looked up at her quizzically.

"The American currency was faded out centuries ago for a world wide currency, but even thats useless here, Norfolk have a currency called the guinea"

"As in the pig?"

"Lame. Anyway we'll have to look into getting some currency changed for you tomorrow."

"But I thought you said I didn't have any currency to change?" Ione just smiled at him and flipped him a disc, it kind of looked like a CD..

"Whats this?"

"That is your Jovian Bank credit disc, simply press your thumb on the little black area to start it up"

Xander flipped the disc over and found the little black square and pressed his thumb on it. Green holographic bars sprung up from the top of the disc, and various other data sprung to life around them, but what caught Xander's eye was the bit that said five million fuseodollars. His jaw swung in the breeze like a rusty gate.

"I thought you could use a bit of a reward for all the information we got from your memories. Thanks to you, the paranormal is now government knowledge and authorities all over the galaxy are now moving to combat the threats. Oh, and the fuseodollar is the best currency in the Confederation"

Xander was still staring at the disc, though a part of his brain was still taking in everything Ione said. He'd think on it later. The rest of his brain was going along the lines of 'five mill... five... million...million... mine... five.

Ione cleared her throat bringing Xander back to the world of the 'non money drooling idiots'

"Well come on, I want to get a hotel before morning"
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