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The Astronomer of Java

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This story is No. 53 in the series "Life (And Unlife) In Sunnydale". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: It’s strange how a mere middle name caused Xander Harris to prove himself to be the hero who ultimately saved the day during the events of ‘Chosen’ instead of that bastard Spike, but this is life in Sunnydale.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sci-Fi > Author: H. G. Wells(Current Donor)ManchesterFR1323,270184,43712 Feb 1412 Feb 14Yes

Chapter One

Disclaimer: All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters belong to their proper owners. A further disclaimer is given in the following chapter for the quoted novel which inspired this story.

His face grim, Xander walked down the deserted Sunnydale High School hallway towards a specific spot after separating a few moments ago from Buffy and Willow. The young man felt his head throb at each step, with the maximum agony during every footfall centered at the cavity under his eyepatch where he was still recovering from the serious wound there which Caleb had inflicted on him just a short while before. The pain pills he’d been issued by the hospital during his short stay there had run out yesterday, and Xander hadn’t yet had a chance to get more what with everybody in the city but the Scooby Gang and their allies hastily leaving town. With no other recourse, Xander just gritted his teeth and tried not to pass out on the way to his destination.

At last stopping at the section of corridor wall lockers he’d been heading towards, Xander took a moment to lean against one particular locker and recover for now. Eventually getting his strength back, Xander straightened up, took a step back, and reached into his front pants pocket. Pulling out the spare master key to the lockers (which he’d kept when helping rebuild those same vertical steel cupboards along with the rest of the new building after the Mayor’s defeat had destroyed the former school), Xander inserted the key into the necessary hole and twisted it to open the locker door.

After fully swinging ajar the door, Xander paused to examine the faded picture taped to the back side of the locker panel. He sadly smiled at the trio of children crammed inside a mall photo booth and grinning in unison at the camera taking their picture during the summer before Willow Rosenberg, Jesse McNally, and Xander Harris started junior high. Knowing he had to get moving, Xander tore himself away from his memories and reached with both hands to grab hold of the rectangular object in there wrapped in a blanket and filling up every inch of the locker space.

Even after it’d been stripped down to all but essential parts a little over a century before, the machine was still very heavy. Xander grunted once while pulling it out of the locker and then shifting it into a more comfortable position cradled in his arms. Turning in a half-circle, Xander stuck out an elbow and used this part of his body to push on the edge of the locker door, causing it to swing shut with a soft metallic “click!” sound.

Once more striding down the hallway, Xander ignored the intense stabbing pains that had also started again at his face. Instead, he concentrated on the correct methods of putting back what he was carrying into good working order so that his family heirloom could finally accomplish its proper purpose. Still deep in thought, Xander didn’t bother with one last glance over his shoulder at the new locker. This storage container stood in the exact same place where Jesse’s old locker had been, back when it’d been just the three of them in their sophomore year and Xander with his skateboard had wryly confessed to a sniggering best bud about how he just made a total idiot of himself in front of a hot new girl.

Sometime later, this same girl heard from behind a commanding yell, “Move left, Buffy!

Acting instantly on this familiar voice, Buffy did as she’d been told. When the Turok-Han vampire whose quick lunge which just failed to end up with her being stabbed in the back otherwise brought it within axe range, the Slayer decapitated her latest enemy with the Scythe. Even before this vampire’s ashes fell to the floor of the immense nexus under the high school, Buffy tossed her mystical weapon to Faith who then put it to good use. The older Slayer took the opportunity in the middle of their battle to disbelievingly gape at where Xander was running her way while carrying some sort of weirdly-shaped box in his hands.

Adroitly dodging past all the other fighters consisting of the new Slayers created by Willow’s spell and the ubervamps, a panting Xander skidded to a halt at where Buffy was about to scream at him for not staying up at the school with Dawn and the others. The sudden appearance from out of thin air at their location of someone Buffy barely remembered cut the Slayer’s words even before they were spoken.

In its present form of a long-dead teenager, the First Evil smirked at where Xander was glaring at this unholy desecration of Jesse’s image. That intangible monster than gleefully said to Xander, “Hey, bro! Come to join all your friends in getting killed?” This was followed by the First Evil waving a hand in Buffy’s direction while adding just as nastily, “Too bad you never had a chance to nail this stupid bitch, isn’t it? There were so many times you could’ve, remember? But no, our little Buffy here prefers to spread her legs for walking corpses so maybe it’s a good thing you never stuck it in her, anyway.”

Xander simply kept on holding onto his burden while regarding the First Evil with total loathing. This only made that malevolent creature laugh, “Oh, don’t be like that! How about this, after everyone but you and her die, we see how many of my Turok-Han she can take on at one time? Though, if you really want, I don’t mind turning you and then you can be the very first of them all!”

After hearing this last, the man’s fingers squeezed onto the organic curves of the object he was still pointing directly at a guffawing Jesse, strongly enough to turn these digits white. A flicker of pain then flashed over Xander’s face, but he next snarled at the First Evil, “Listen, asshole, I’m glad you turned up looking like Jesse! You want to know why? Well, since you know everything that other dead people know, I suggest you think about something I showed him once in our attic! Here’s a clue: it had to do with my mom’s great-grandpa!”

For once, the First Evil was taken aback. It stared at Xander with genuine bafflement, which was shared not only by Buffy but Faith too plus Spike and a good many of the other Slayers and most of the Turok-Han vampires who’d ceased in their own conflicts to listen and watch such an odd confrontation. Even some of the bloodthirsty demons at the edge of the crowd which had been about to climb up wall crevices to make their own attacks on the school defenders paused in this to wait to see what’d come of their master being told such a bizarre piece of information.

Suspiciously regarding Xander, the First Evil next sent a startled look which matched the astonished expression on several other faces there at the sudden sound emitting from the box. It was a loud, otherworldly, droning noise, which made those humans there have the hairs at the backs of their necks prickle upright.

In the next instant, the First Evil did something which nobody had thought possible. It flinched away, still in its Jesse form, to then contort that young man’s face in actual fear intermixed with dumbfounded hurt. Right after, this monster shrieked in abrupt anguish while its entire body glowed white and then flared up into eye-searing brilliance. A moment later, while those present were still blinking away afterimages, they saw an empty spot at the cavern location where the First Evil had previously been before it’d somehow come to utter destruction.

Xander himself was whooping at the top of his lungs, “YEAH! I wasn’t sure it’d work on you, but it’ll damn well take care of the rest of your buddies!” He promptly pointed the still-humming box at the nearest Turok-Han, who was frozen with astonishment at what had occurred. Before that vampire could move the slightest, it also burst into flame and was immediately reduced to ashes.

Seeing their peril, the rest of the fanged fiends surged forward, towards that little human who endangered them all. It was to no avail. Even with all their demonic speed, the vampires had to cover too much ground before Xander swung his strange weapon into their direction. They all burned throughout the entire cavern, even those who frantically tried to escape by climbing the walls. A maniacal grin on his scarred face, Xander sent his arms in great arcs until he was absolutely sure the cavern was completely cleansed of the Turok-Han as far as he could see. Regardless, Xander kept his box aimed at the furthest extend the massive underground space, until his weapon’s sound slowly changed upwards in pitch from a low drone into a higher, more painful screech.

Glancing down with newfound alarm, Xander’s expression turned into real fear sent at what he was carrying in his hands. Abruptly crouching down on his heels, Xander put down the box on the rocky cavern floor to next make an unusual withdrawing jerk of his fingers from the sides of the weapon. Bouncing up while whirling around to face the crowd one and all gawking at him, Xander yelled at them, “Get the hell outta here! That thing’s gonna blow! Move it, move it! We have to clear the whole school and stay at least a mile away!”

From where she was standing among the others, a dazed Buffy saw Xander rush towards and then past herself without even looking back, towards the upper entrance of the cavern which led to the school. Caught up in the sense of panic Xander was bringing along with him, the rest of the crowd stampeded after this departing man. Only Buffy and Spike were left, sending each other mystified looks.

Hearing the increasing noise coming from the box begin creeping into frequencies usually noticed only by canines, Buffy shot a worried glance at this object. She saw on the side nearest to her a double set of needle-pointed protrusions daubed with red liquid dripping off--

Ignoring that for now, Buffy shouted after the last of the crowd disappearing up the cavern shaft, “It’s daylight out there! What about Spike?”

Out of sight on the edge of the hole at the school floor, where he was helping the new Slayers out with the occasional wince as they grabbed his hands, Xander sarcastically yelled back down the shaft, “What about Spike?”

An hour later, the whole house (save for a sulking Buffy and a thoroughly scorched Spike together in the basement) were crammed into the living room of the Revello home. Even now, several of the girls there who just this morning had been Potentials were occasionally working their jaws and rapping the heels of their hands against the sides of their heads to have their ears stop ringing. These young women waited in their chairs or sat on the floor to finally find out how they’d won today against the First Evil.

In the center of the crowd, Xander smiled at Dawn who’d finished bandaging the puncture wounds in the plams of his hands. Smiling back, this Summers sister then gave Xander a quick kiss on one cheek.

In one corner, Anya glowered at the pair seated next to each other on the couch. Grumpily acknowledging she had no further claim on the man there despite how he’d left her at the altar, Anya decided that once explanations had been made, she’d leave Sunnydale and strike out on her own. Even though the atmosphere of dread permeating the California city which had driven away the other unaware humans was now as gone as the First Evil itself, Anya had no real reason to stay around any more.

Feeling a bit better at this decision, the former vengeance demon turned her attention back to where Xander was fielding a flood of questions. This was held in check by him pointing at Giles while saying, “Look, it’s been a whole hundred years! So, it’s not likely anyone’s ever gonna connect the dots about how the school got taken out and how the exact same thing happened at where was it…Ealing, right?”

“Yes, but just however did your past ancestor gain possession of an actual Martian Heat-Ray from the 1898 invasion?” Rupert Giles anxiously asked. “Not even the Council ever managed to do this!”

Xander simply shrugged. “Beats me, Giles. There were only a couple stories Mom could remember and tell me about the trunk in our attic, and that was when I was a little kid. She, uh, never talked about it later on, which turned out to be a pretty good thing. You can be damn sure Tony would’ve pawned it for ten bucks and a case of beer if he ever found out what her great-grandfather got invited to study all the way from Java to England back then.”

“What made ya figger out it took blood ta get that li’l toy workin’?” contributed an interested Faith sitting in Robin Wood’s lap on the other side of the living room.

Bringing up his hands to show the white dressings encircling his palms, Xander smirked to the room at large. “Hey, this is Sunnydale. It’s always about the blood, okay?”

From where Kennedy and Willow were cozily sharing their own armchair, the witch now said in a thoughtful tone, “Xander…”

“Yeah, Wils?”

Now a bit uncertain at how everyone was looking at her, Willow rallied to continue the question she’d just thought. “It’s nothing big, just something I came across once while looking up your birth certificate.”

Xander L. Harris cringed at what was about to happen, but he knew there was no point in trying to wiggle out of this. In his most resigned tone, the Sunnydale native said, “Don’t bother. Yeah, Mom’s maiden name and my middle name are LaVelle, with a capital ‘Vee’, and my astronomer relative who saw the Martians launch from their planet was just Lavelle, with no capital for that same letter. We don’t know why. Best guess is, it got accidentally changed on the citizenship papers when her grandpa immigrated to America.”

Author’s Note: Came across this opportunity for a very obscure crossover and couldn’t resist writing this story. See the next chapter for what’s presented in the H.G. Wells novel.
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