FIC: A Halloween Universe (5/?)
“So this is the warehouse you bought?” Xander queried as he looked at the dingy one-storey warehouse in the rough part of town, its walls covered with profane graffiti and its windows either boarded up or filthy and covered in grime. “Classy.”
“Yes, yes,” Giles nodded at the doubt he heard in Xander’s tone. “I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s roomy, enough room to build in. Moreover, I only intend it as a temporary gap-stop.”
“What now?” that came from Jesse.
“At this moment in time, we only have a limited amount of funds to play with, once we have my super-computer built that will change,” Giles grimaced. “But until then we need somewhere we can secure to work privately.”
“But later?” Faith queried.
“Later?” Giles chuckled before glancing at the youngsters in their group. “I’m sure the comic-book geeks amongst are familiar with such phrases as ‘the Bat-Cave’, ‘Fortress of Solitude’, and ‘Avengers Mansion’.”
“I always knew Giles was cooler than he acted.”
“I’m glad you approve, I’ll need your feedback on just how to build it.” Giles grinned at Jesse’s mutter. “Now, I’ve given you all lists of the equipment I need you to buy. Please be back by nightfall.”
Giles whistled cheerfully as he made his way home, mind racing at one thousand miles an hour. By tonight, his students would be back with the equipment he’d asked them to buy, and by tomorrow he’d have finished building his new ultra beyond cutting-edge computer. And then finally he could move against the Council and Wolfram & Hart as well as putting a hundred ideas into action that would lead to the betterment of manki-.
He halted, the enhanced senses that came with being a time lord alerting him to a quartet following him. Giles turned, not overly concerned given the day’s brightness and strode towards the foursome, noting their age, early-twenties and general uniform appearance, their crew-cuts and heavy boots. “And how may I assist four of US’ finest?”
The group’s leader, a tall brown-haired youth with blue eyes, stopped. “You recognise us?”
“Observation happens to be a skill of mine,” Giles replied. “What I’m not sure of is why exactly I’ve developed a fan club.” Giles’ smile widened. “Not that I’m not flattered of course.”
The quartet exchanged looks before the apparent leader spoke again. “We’re aware of certain rumours about this town, but we never really believed them until we were changed by Halloween.” The young man stopped. “These rumours say you’re one of the reasons this town is different.”
“The rumours you’ve heard are slightly wrong, yes this town is different,” Giles nodded. “And yes I am involved in these differences, not causing them as such, rather attempting to police them so they harm as few people as possible.”
“Great work on Halloween by the way,” spat another white youth, this one slightly shorter but even more thickly muscled than the first.
Giles grinned. “Yes, that was beyond my control. However given the consequences, I’m not about to complain. If I might ask, who did you become and why are you here?”
The group’s solitary female, a tall, athletically built and quite pretty young woman, was first to speak. “I’m Sam, and I went as the Black Widow, Russia’s super-spy in the Marvel Comics.” The young woman smiled. “I’m way better at martial arts, shooting, and gymnastics.”
The group’s solitary black was next. “I’m Forrest, I went as Battlestar. I guess I’m about capable of pressing ten tons now, and my durability, reflexes, and co-ordination are likewise enhanced.”
Next was the second white youth. “I’m Graham, I went as U.S. Agent. I guess I’m about on a par with Forrest in my strength and abilities.”
Finally it was the group’s leader. “I’m Riley and as you can probably guess, we went as a theme, super-soldiers, and I went as Captain America.”
“Ah, and you want me to remove your powers?” Giles shook his head. “I’m afraid I’m unable to do so, my group’s investigations as to just who caused this or why has dead-ended. But what we do know is that whatever warped reality on such a scale it’ll have to be a higher power, a god or demon lord. Far beyond the magical abilities of anybody in my cadre.”
“Those sort of things exist?” Graham croaked.
“Can you argue with the results, with the changes?” Giles demanded as he stared at the quartet. “Now the question is what you wish to do with these changes?”
“What do you mean?” Sam queried.
“As you almost guessed I have an organisation dealing with the supernatural, and your talents would come in very useful indeed.” Giles paused. “A way to serve and protect, at considerably higher rates of pay than you’ll be receiving at this moment in time.”
The quartet exchanged looks. “We are worried about these changes being noticed by the military, so staying isn’t an option,” Riley commented. “However getting out can take quite some time.”
Giles smiled. “Oh I can make you getting out of the army very simple indeed. I have a certain talent with computers.”
“This is the place,” Larry announced as he pulled up outside a radio shop in San Diego. “Have you got the list?”
“The list?” Scott nodded slowly. “Sure.” Scott licked his lips. “How do you feel about all these changes?”
Larry turned to his boyfriend and stroked a hand down his face. “I know it’s strange Button, but on the other hand I feel so great, healthier than I ever did before. I mean I was a good, state level athlete before this happened, but now, the gap between that and what I am now, a world-class athlete.” He shook his head. “It’s like night and day.”
Scott chuckled. “One thing ‘s for sure, the football team are going to have to find somebody else to haze from now on.”
Larry laughed softly. “Ain’t that the truth.”
“I don’t see why we’re here!” complained Harmony as she peered around the fluorescent-lit store. “I do not colour well under these lights!”
Cordelia had had just about as much of her ‘best friend’s’ wheedling as she would take. Cordy spun to face the shorter girl and glared down at her. “We’re shopping, I thought you liked shopping?”
“Well duh,” Harmony pouted. “But for shoes, make-up, and clothes, not for electronics!”
“Ha,” Aura grinned. “I’ve seen your sound system.”
“That was a birthday present,” Harmony defended. “And my dad bought it.”
“Yeah okay,” Cordy hissed as she grabbed several top of the range modems and threw them in the shopping cart being pushed by Winifred, “so shopping here isn’t my ideal day out either, but don’t you ever wish you were doing more?”
“Doing more?” Harmony looked at her like she was a particularly difficult algebra problem. Or in Harmony’s case a relatively simple one.
“Doing more than parties, boys, and status,” Cordelia replied. “Say whatever you want about the librarian and his gang, what they do matters!”
Harmony pouted. “I just want -.”
“I just want to be able to look at myself in the mirror in decades’ time and know that when I had the chance to do something that matters I didn’t turn away. When I could help people and,” Cordelia smiled, “look fantastic doing it, I did. I’m tired of these meaningless vapid popularity games. I want more! I want excitement!”
“It would be a waste of our powers to do otherwise,” Nina agreed as she danced light from one hand to the other.
Gunn pursed his lips as he watched his sister and the other potentials hurrying into the supermarket. His heart was tight in his chest, but for once the pain wasn’t caused by sorrow but by relief. He’d raged against the world ever since he’d found his sister was a Potential.
Ever since his father had run off ten years ago he’d known the world was unfair, a lesson further ingrained with the death of his mother six years ago, forcing them to move in with his gran. But his sister being a Potential, that had been an injustice too far. He’d forced his way into the Watcher’s organisation, insisting that be involved in the vain hope that if she was ever Called he could maybe just maybe by whatever necessary sacrifice extend her life by a week, a month.
But now, maybe now things could really be different. Maybe their group was no longer doomed to bloody painful deaths, maybe now they could live long lives.
“And what do you be thinkin’ of our new allies, lassie?”
Harri smiled fondly. She knew her husband well and he often put on his Irish accent whenever her hubby was trying to roguishly charming or whenever he was trying to broach a sensitive subject. “They’re certainly an unique bunch.”
“Heh, we’re not exactly common-place ourselves,” Doyle chuckled as he reversed his car into a space at the parking lot. Not that they ever truly had been. Heck, as a full human but now Jedi he was probably more commonplace than he had been as a half-Brachen. “But seriously, how do you really feel?”
Harri shrugged. “It’s a lot more involved than I ever thought we’d ever get with demons. But we have these gifts, gifts that’ll make everyday living easier, it would be amoral not to use them to help people. If we don’t want to help this group then maybe we could join a police force and use our powers clandestinely or something.”
Doyle shook his head and grinned. “My wife, the social worker.”
Harri nudged him in the ribs. “I prefer, my wife the beautiful genius.”
Doyle’s grin widened. “As always, darlin’, I stand corrected.” Her hubby’s expression sobered. “Let’s get the Englishman’s shopping list.”
Rows and rows of flashing computers were fixed to the rear wall with wires upon wires leading from the racked components and into the backs of close to a dozen tower cases, the wires from those in turn leading to a massive flat screen sat on a gleamingly new desk with a microphone and a pair of speakers before it.
“This is the world’s first yottaflop supercomputer. It runs on four terabytes of RAM and has a petabyte of hard disc, it has sixteen viginti processors running in conjunction, and can download 32 GBs per second. It is voice-activated and controlled with an artificial intelligence that is probably somewhere in the region of sixty years ahead of the curve.”
“Huh,” Xander raised a hand, “I only understood one word in ten.”
Giles pouted, the part of him that was the Doctor hating being unable to completely show off his creation. “With late twentieth century tech I’ve built a computer that we probably won’t see until the twenty-second century.”
“Not bad,” Warren whistled. “What have you got it doing?”
At least there were some amongst their number that would understand what he was doing. “It’s currently searching out think-tanks and scientific companies we can anonymously send prototypes, designs, and chemical formulas to in a number of fields including pharmaceuticals, alternative energy sources, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, neurosciences, and environmental sciences. In addition, it’s also hacking the accounts of the world’s 100 most notorious organised criminals and arms dealers.” Giles paused and looked at the computer. “How much money do we currently have?”
“We currently have eighty billion dollars from three hundred and twenty-five accounts at fifty-eight different banks in twelve different countries,” a tuneless voice replied. “I estimate we should have in the region of ninety-two billion dollars once I’ve finished cleaning and moving the money.”
“Thank you Future-Com,” Giles replied, an inelegant name for an amazingly powered computer. It was about time those who took took were forced to give give. “Future-Com is also simultaneously hacking W&H systems world-wide, searching for dirt on them as I discussed earlier. Once that task is completed, Future-Com will split the information into relevant nations and anonymously deliver the information to the relevant law enforcement agencies. In addition, Future-Com is searching the world web for potential problems and solutions to them. It’s already discovered a Professor Walsh whose been given a clandestine contract by the DoD to investigate the demon world and the potential for creating super-soldiers-.”
“Good lord,” Wesley interrupted, his face aghast. “That’s idiocy of the highest order.”
“Don’t worry,” Giles smirked. “Future-Com has discovered some rather glaring ethics violations in her past, and has sent the evidence of them to the National Security Advisor, Department of Defence, the FBI, and Joint Chiefs of Staff. The potential embarrassment from such discoveries being made public is such that Future-Com is 85% certain that the contracts will be cancelled. Future-Com is also searching for and indexing hunters across the world that we can potentially recruit, sort of a self-sustainable group of hunters, as well as a database of the whereabouts and owners of potentially dangerous occult artefacts and books. Finally, Future-Com is comparing the satellite profiles of each nation to find out which satellites have gone dead and can be co-opted into our own network, while simultaneously writing instructions on how to rewire and reprogram each one.”
“Whoa,” Jonathan whistled. “It can run all those programs at once?”
“It’s a little slower than one at a time, but not by much,” Giles forced himself not to preen at the younger man’s awe.
“I can hardly understand half of what Giles said but,” Xander grinned apishly and gave him a double thumbs-up, “money, big, good.”
“Yes Xander,” Giles shook his head. “And we’ll be sure to buy you a dictionary and a thesaurus.”
Xander shook his head and pouted. “Books, bad.”