Xander looked first at the articles in front of him, and then up at the ‘legendary mad scientist’ Washu Habiki, and then back down at the table, “Washu … what the hell have you done to my armor?”
“Made it more portable and accessible to you if you ever find yourself needing it,” the scientist fired back immediately, though the response was muffled – that, though, was expected, especially when the upper half of her child-like body was stuffed into a machine. “I took a few ideas from some mangas Tenchi loaned to me a while back and came up with this.”
‘This’ was actually six pieces of a semi-flexible armor that bore only a little resemblance to his Power Suit, save for the coloration – the boots, which came up to his mid-shin, were solid and metallic in nature, but that wasn’t to be expected, while the gauntlets were nearly three quarters the length of his forearm and looked to be made out of a leather-like substance that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be named, though the cannon arm gauntlet was a touch thicker than the other gauntlet. There was a belt, a thick, black and gray segmented, belt that was cocked off to one side, like an old gun-slinger’s belt, and at it’s side was what Xander thought to be the business end of his power beam cannon, some sort of hand cannon with a pistol grip on it, and with that belt came the last piece of the pie, as it were, the torso armor – it was large, almost like Class III body armor, but while it had the coverage of the Kevlar armor, it wasn’t nearly as heavy, in fact if it weighed more than fifteen pounds, he’d eat Ryoko’s cooking, “Wow.”
“Darn tootin’,” Washu said, shimmying out of the machine she was in. “Now, the torso armor is … conspicuous, at best, so I made another piece to go with it, to help with its disguise.”
Xander looked at the item she produced and scowled, “Washu, I’m a body guard, not Batman – lose the cape and cowl.”
Washu sniffed at this, taking away the monstrosity with the pointed bat ears, “Fine, but I say you have no sense of dramatic flair.” She threw the cowl and cape into a subspace pocket and shut it before another opened, spitting out a lump of black material, “Try this.”
It was long, black and surprisingly heavy for cloth, but it also looked a touch too much like something Deadboy would wear – the duster itself was a more traditional three-quarter length cut with flared cuffs on the wrists to allow for movement of his gauntlets, but instead of the cool ‘kick ass’ aura it would give off on the consummate bad boy in any action flick he could name, this one gave off a more … sinister … feel to him even as he slipped on the armor and then the duster. More importantly, it fit perfectly, “Washu, what’s this stuff made of?”
“Well, Xander, I took some pointers from those fan fiction sites you led me to in your world and I came up with this duster – it’s made of normal woven cloth but between two lairs of said cloth is a really neat refractive compound I came up with years ago that not only disperses energy rounds from the wearer harmlessly, but it directs that energy into small condenser units I have built into the hem of the garment.” She reached into a subspace pocket again and pulled out several large lumps of crystal, “Now, these are what were produced when Ryoko and Ayeka both went full-force on that very garment, and as you can probably guess, neither of them were sparing anything. Now, as I was saying, you get hit with an energy round, the energy is dispersed into the fabric and then into the condenser units, which will then produce these crystals at various intervals.”
Xander plucked the gem out of her hand and held it up to the light, “Quartz?”
Washu snickered, “No! Kiddo that is a Solarian fire gem, reproduced by your jacket – the real deal is made in the core of the Solarian gas giant and mined, or they try and mine them. Most of the ones they get are flung out of the giant by the gas storms and generally punch holes in the sides of the mining snips that are there – gets a little hairy sometimes, but it’s worth Yukonojo’s weight in carrots to a cabbit.”
Xander blanched at this and then took the duster off, “Alright, but what’s this mean for my armor? How do I activate it?”
“Simple enough,” Washu said, walking over and smiled. “Just yodel at the top of your lungs and you’re all set.” Crickets greeted her joke with their lonely calls, “Geez, tough room. Check your armor, towards you navel, and you’ll find a button – heat sensitive, pressure sensitive, and coded to your DNA, so only you can activate it.” With that, she took and step back as he found the button and pressed it.
He wasn’t sure how to describe the feeling of his clothes vanishing, his armor segments expanding and reforming to their proper sizes and shapes, but in less than ten seconds he was in his armor and Washu was videotaping it all, “Huh? How…?”
Washu wolf-whistled at him, “I’ll let ya watch, but you might want to wear something more than those boxers when you transform, honey, unless ya wanna make the boys feel very inferior and kill themselves.” Even as she put the camcorder down, he blushed inside of his armor, “Now, don’t worry – that only happens the first time, so from now on you should just go right into the armor, no problems.”
“Should? And how do I get this to go back?”
“Same thing, only now you press the center stud on your belt.” Washu went off to do her own thing for a few minutes while Xander reverted back to his normal clothes and armor, the process of which was exactly the opposite of the feeling he had felt beforehand with the armor going on – it was actually kinda cool to, one second, be looking at himself in a black duster and body armor and then to go into his Power Armor, but that feeling soon wore off as it hit him that this wasn’t a game anymore, that there were no demons for him to slay, that he was going to, if necessary, lay down his life in order to protect Sasami. Even as this sunk in, his mind went back to when she had formally asked him to be her bodyguard…
(Flashback – 2 days previous, Jurian Royal Palace Gardens)
“You summoned me, Sam?” He walked up towards her at a stately pace, dressed in a pair of slacks, a white t-shirt and with one of his ritualistic Hawaiian shirts over it – already, he had heard, there was a rush to get out several patterns of it due to the fact that A) he had been seen hanging around the Second Crowned Princess almost all day and B) she had actually worn said shirt when lightly doused by Ryo-Ohki, who was playing in a near-by fountain, and that was seen by several people who wanted to get into her good graces. Apparently, Ayeka was horrified at the outcome, as she personally detested said shirts, but Ryoko was crowing at it, saying that ‘we’re finally going to get some style around here’ – personally, Xander could have cared less.
She turned and smiled at him, as if completely at ease with the fact that he was under guard by a half-dozen of her mother’s best body guards; despite the fact that he had his Battle Suit with him at all times, Queens Misaki and Funhao didn’t want him to be harmed due to the fact that his Power Armor was in Washu’s care while she did something to it, hence the bodyguards, “Thank you, gentlemen. Xander, follow me, please … alone.”
They walked together for a few minutes in silence, a rare thing these days, given that someone was always calling Sasami for either a marriage proposal or to help reign in Dawn, who was fighting her coronation as a princess kicking a screaming. Finally, though, as they approached the center of the little garden, which was marked with a tiny sapling of a tree, Sasami spoke, “Do you know why I called you here, Xander?”
“As you well know, Tsunami’s charged you with being my bodyguard, my protector, and her champion – that’s fine, but to do it, you’d normally need to enter the military, as you well know.”
“’Normally’? Do I detect the fact that you’ve thought of another way, Sasami?”
She looked up at him and smiled, a gesture that filled him with a surge of joy, yet it also held an odd note of sadness, “Yes – as Princess, I can appoint anyone I see fit to bodyguard.” She turned to him fully and squared her shoulders, “Alexander Harris of Earth, do you accept this appointment to be my bodyguard? Do you agree to perform all services that said position would entail, which include taking orders from none other than myself, protecting my body from harm and to never leave my side when it serves your best interest of survival?”
Xander didn’t miss a beat – he took a step back and sank to one knee, lowering his head and speaking seriously, “Second Princess Sasami of the Royal House of Jurai – I accept this charge, this appointment, willingly. My sword, as it was once said, is yours to command.”
For several seconds Sasami said nothing, but Xander then felt a light touch on his shoulder that then moved up to his cheek, “Rise, Xander – we’ve got work to do.”
“You alright, Xander?”
“Yes, Washu-chan,” he answer blandly, ignoring the shot of adrenaline that shot through his system as he realized that’s she’d snuck up on him, something that he couldn’t let happen again. “Just thinking, that’s all.”
“Ah, okay, that explains why you’ve been looking in the mirror for over an hour, then.” He looked up at her, first, and then down at his chronometer, which Washu had given him.
“Crap! Bye, Washu!” He’d promised to meet Sasami in her chambers in ten minutes, and her chambers were a good fifteen minutes away at a dead run.
*Why run when you can fly?* Tsunami’s voice sounded vaguely amused even as he transformed into his battle uniform on instinct and took to the sky, *You need to be more on the ball if you’re going to survive as both my champion and Sasami’s bodyguard, Xander, let alone boot camp.*
“Yes, Mistress Tsunami,” Xander rasped semi-playfully in his best ‘Igor’ voice while he mentally berated himself for letting that simple solution get right past him. She was right – he’d have to be more on the ball to keep Sasami alive, if she were ever attacked.
*Stop berating yourself, Xander – it was a rookie mistake.*
*One that Sasami may not have survived if she were in trouble, Tsunami. This is an entirely different ballgame here, and I need to get my head into it.*
The Goddess Tree had no comeback for that, so she stayed silent as he cut through the air like a knife towards Sasami’s room.
She smiled as Xander made his way towards her room and repressed a giggle as she watched him do his best to not crash and burn on his landing, something that he had been admittedly been working on since his arrival into their world nearly two weeks before. By no means were his actions graceful, but rather they were enough to keep himself and anyone else he was carrying from getting killed, and he was getting better with each landing, “Hi, Xander.”
“Princess,” Xander greets her, even as he transformed back to his clothes, which had taken on a radical new look, and a more pleasing one in Sasami’s eyes. “What do you think? Is it me?” With that, he pushed a part on his armor and in a flash he was in his Power Armor, looking quite deadly and ready to protect her body from all forms of harm that he could (but sadly, not Royal training – that was one thing that not ever Xander could keep her out of).
“Very much so,” she said with a grin, at which point he flashed back to his normal clothes and walked over to where she was seated, which was actually nothing more than a divan that she had commandeered from one of the halls because it was *SO* comfortable to sit on. “So, have you thought about what I’ve asked you to do?”
Xander nodded, “Yes, and I agree – I need to attend this boot camp to not only learn what kind of things I may be coming up against at some point or another, but to introduce me to some of the more exotic members of the Jurian Empire and it’s allies.” She could see it in his eyes, though, as he spoke again, “But how am I going to be able to protect you if I’m on some gods-forsaken planet halfway across the galaxy? And how am I getting there?”
“Well, for the first one, mom’s lending me some of her guards,” Sasami soothed some of his ruffled feathers, but then got up, her face drawing into a pensive frown, “but for the other one, we need to visit Washu – she’s the scientist, I’m just the cute chef / princess.”
“Well, it’s not all that difficult, Sasami-chan,” Washu said, popping out of nowhere as she always did, but this time dressed to the hilt as a professor. Sasami found herself and Xander both crammed into too-small desks as a ton of charts and Washu pointing at them.
“Now, with normal faster-than-light space travel, a bubble is created within the fabric of space and enters a realm known as sub-space before being propelled through said subspace at speeds beyond that of light. However, that takes far too much power for the average ship to generate, so the other way is to achieve a speed as near to FTL as possible and to then slow down while on course – in the space of hours you cover the same amount of distance as you would in days, as time itself is warped around you, and you get to where you are going without ever breaking the barrier of light. Everyone clear? GOOD!” With that, Washu flashed away and Sasami found herself sitting next to Xander, on the floor.
Silence reigned for a few moments before Xander spoke, “That wasn’t as odd to me as it would have been a month ago, Sasami – am I wrong in thinking that?”
“No, you aren’t – Washu’s nothing if not unpredictable.” Truth be told, Sasami wasn’t surprised at all about the sudden intrusion of the ‘Legendary Mad Scientist’ – it had been, in fact, a Washu cue (1).
Xander nodded and got to his feet, helping her up as well, “Alright, so how long before I ship out to this boot camp?”
Sasami thought about it, “A few days yet, which is good – mom wants to talk to you.” She saw him wince and smiled in a way that had a hint of a smirk, “Does she really scare you that much, Xander?”
He just whimpered and hung his head, which she found hilarious and laughed at.
(Later – Department of Military Affairs, office of Queens Misaki and Funhao)
“You rang, majesties?” Misaki smiled as Xander walked into the door and had an apprehensive look on his face, but then noticed his new armor … or rather, his old armor, in a new form. It was darker than what he normally wore, but no less effective in sending a slight chill down her spine.
“Yes, we did, Xander. Please, come in,” her sister Queen said smoothly, not bothering to look up as she read over some reports from their (finally) clean desks. Honestly, every morning they showed up and there was a small mountain of overly tedious paperwork that they needed to go through before they got to the real work. Xander ghosted to the chairs in front of their desks and took up position behind one of them in an ‘at ease’ position. After a few moments, Funhao looked up, “How are you acclimating to our world, Xander?”
“Fairly well, ma’am – not having allergies to pollen helps,” Xander stated with a slight smile that Misaki smiled at as well, but Funhao didn’t, as she had been subject to horrible allergies when she had first come to Jurai. “Is there a problem, Majesties?”
“No, Xander,” Misaki assured him quickly, “we’re just making sure you’re okay … and we want to ask you about your armor, well, rather, an aspect of it.” She and Funhao had been intrigued by the possibilities of his Power Armor from the first time they had seen it but, sadly, he had told them ‘no’ each time they came to him with an offer for it outright. After some rather careful thinking, they had come up with a rather round-about way of getting it.
“We do not want all of your armor, Xander,” her sister said to halt his protests, “all we want is to study your life support systems. From what we can get out of Little Washu, it is on a separate basis from our own … rather antiquated systems, and it could allow for better survival of our people in the field.”
Xander closed his mouth and Misaki could see the wheels turning in his brain even as his eyes narrowed, “Oh? And what aspects of the life support system, precisely?”
“The energy shielding concept is rather nice, but I’d personally feel better if I had the filtering systems on my side,” Funhao said somewhat blandly, but Misaki held back a wince – her sister was capable of many things, but putting something blandly and making it seem real wasn’t one of them.
Xander’s mouth curled into a slight grin, “Really? What if I told you that your newest generation of filtration systems was superior to my own?”
Misaki narrowed her eyes, “How would you know that?” The latest NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) filter systems for personal use were still classified so much that only the two of them and the creator knew the exact specifications on them, so how did Xander know that?
“Because Washu tested them – she and I have spoken about letting some of the armor technology that is in my possession out and we’ve agreed on a few things.” He reached into his pockets and removed several small slips of paper, “Now, on these slips of paper are several aspects of my armor, ranging from the shielding systems and computer to the armor’s energy matrix design and Power Beam weapons systems themselves. Choose one.”
Misaki looked over at Funhao, who looked rather shocked, proven by her dropped jaw, but she withheld a smile as she looked back at Xander, “Really? What’s the catch?”
Xander gave her an almost perfect imitation of Sasami’s own look of ‘pure innocence’, which didn’t fool her for a second as she narrowed her eyes into her own ‘mother’ look, which he caved to in a few seconds, “Well, it depends on the system that you pick – first of all, this is a one-time deal, all the freebies you’re getting from me, understood?” She nodded and figured that Funhao was doing the same thing off to her side, so Xander went on, “Now, while I have no personal compunction against giving you the armor itself, I’m not blind – your ruling party is filled with people who would use the armor itself for unspeakable things and, frankly, I have enough problems sleeping at night without adding that amount of guilt on top.” His rather level tone told her that he wasn’t kidding, that he knew that, eventually, one noble or another would get too far ahead of themselves and use the armor to attack and try and take over.
Misaki stopped looking at him and looked over at Funhao, who had a rather contemplative look on her face, “Well, sister? How do we choose this … freebie?”
“Carefully, sister; what else is there, Xander – you said ‘first’.”
Xander nodded, “That is correct – if you happen to pull the Power Beam, you’re only going to get the technology to make it work, not the hardware or any of the specifics on anything else. When I think that you’re ready, I’ll tell you one way or another how you’re doing, but not give you anything specific – it’s the only fair way to keep this out of the wrong hands.”
Misaki nodded at once, “And if we wanted to buy the others from you? If I recall, we offered you the Terra-level planet of Capsaicin, known galaxy-wide for its pungent spices and … lack of formal wear.” Misaki held back a blush, remember the first time she had gone there and had been promptly told to strip out of her clothes, as they were worn only by prisoners. The Capsaicin people were not a ‘normal’ society and were quite free with both their wares and … personal favors, a thought that brought another, even deeper blush to Misaki’s cheeks and an elbow from her sister to her ribs.
“Mind out of the gutter, sister,” Funhao groused as Xander looked at her curiously, as if he wanted to know what the reason for her blush was. “Is there _anything_ we can offer you to consider selling us your armor, Xander?” Misaki held back a smirk at the amount of emphasis that her sister had put on ‘anything’.
Xander didn’t even bat an eyelash, “No, and I’ll tell you why I’ll never accept any offer you make – I let this armor and some of the technology out of my control, then your lives, Tenchi’s life, and the entire Royal Family’s lives will be in perpetual danger, if it were ever leaked to the wrong person or people. I hate to tell you, but on a whole, I trust your government about as far as I can throw ‘the grand carrot’.” Misaki smirked at the unofficial name of the GP ship ‘Yukinojo’ and with how cabbits across the galaxy were known to follow it unless firmly in the grip of their owner.
Funhao sighed a defeated sigh, “Fine – we’ll choose.” She turned to her and held up a fist, which she copied, and then they counted, “Jan, Ken, PON!”
Misaki smiled happily as she saw her rock beat her sister’s scissors, and then turned to Xander, “Let’s see paper number two, Xander – I feel lucky today.” He handed her the appropriate piece of paper and she smiled before opening it, and that smile slipped away, “You’re kidding.”
Xander gave her a grin, “Nope.”
“WASTE DISPOSAL?!” She glared up at Xander, who wore a rather cheesy grin as his hand came out with another piece of paper, “This had better be a joke, or I’m putting on KP for a decade … without any help.” She reached out and took the next piece of paper, what was written on it made her glare drop … as did her jaw, “Oh, Goddess…”
Misaki felt her sister take the paper from her slack fingers as her mind began to process what was on the paper; Xander spoke up at this point, “Good luck with the shielding systems, ladies – trust me, they sound good, but they are going to be a genuine pain in the ass to get to work correctly.” With that said, Xander got up and walked out of their office.
“I do hope that Sasami takes him up before some other noble gets their hands on him, sister,” Funhao stated mildly.
Her sister smiled at her, “Because it’s been a LONG time since any man made you yell THAT loud, our husband included – he’s talented, so say the least, unlike Asuza.”
Misaki shot her sister a sour look, “Leave our husband’s shortcomings out of this, sister – we have other things to argue about.” With that, Misaki began to rifle through her files and find out who her best shield technicians were – they were about to have their biggest dreams and worst nightmares come and visit them.
(Elsewhere - Later)
“We should tell him, Tsunami, because if he finds out any other way, he’s not going to be happy.”
Tsunami looked back at Sasami, who had been looking into the mirror at the time, and she smiled sadly, nodding, “I know, but honestly I am not sure how to tell him that we’re merging, and soon. Xander has never really taken bad news well, and this … I shudder to think how badly he’ll take this.” She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that her guardian and champion loved them both, though on vastly different levels – he saw Sasami as a beautiful young woman who would make some man very happy one day and as a ‘little sister’, much as he saw both Buffy and Willow (and, if forced to admit it, even the mad scientist Dawn), but she knew that Xander thought that she (Tsunami herself) was ‘hot’ and ‘yummy’, something that brought a blush to her cheeks at the mere thought of it. Of course, he loved Mihoshi and Kiyone as well, but he admitted to both of them and everyone that fact, which didn’t faze either of the GP officers at all, “But rest assured we will tell him.”
Sasami gave her an uncharacteristically dark look, “When? When I grow a foot and a half, put on two and a half cup sizes and my marks change? For Goddess’ … your sake, Tsunami, we don’t even know if I’ll even exist after this!”
Thus the crux of their dilemma – neither she nor Sasami knew who would exist after their merging, and while neither were exactly thrilled about the fact that one of them had the distinct possibility of ceasing to exist, there was also the outside possibility that they would both cease to exist and a new personality would take their places, “I know, Sasami – I don’t like it any more than you do.” While she was several billion years old, Tsunami had only recently started to enjoy life, even if at first it was vicariously through Sasami and then with her interaction with Xander – she didn’t WANT it to end, but she had no real say in the matter over it.
Their debate ended, though, as the doors to Sasami’s room opened and Xander himself walked in, a slightly self-satisfied smile on his lips as he nearly-swaggered towards them, taking note of her reflection in the mirror without so much as a blink, “Ladies, good to see ya. How’re tricks?”
“For kids,” Tsunami said in time with Sasami, both of them starting to show some of Xander’s own rather warped sense of humor. He gave them both a slightly startled look but that look soon passed as he walked over and planted first a kiss between Sasami’s pigtails, an act that got a massive blush out of the princess and then he planted a kiss on her ‘forehead’, which was actually a mirror, which made her blush as well.
“So, are we ready for my informal going away party? I hear that Ryo-Ohki is even going to forego her carrots to attend in her new form, whatever that happens to be.” She smiled slightly as Xander looked at the both of them, but stopped smiling as he frowned, “What’s wrong?”
Sasami first looked at her, and then at Xander, who’s hand as creeping towards a button on his armored vest, “It’s nothing violent in nature, Xander but … we need to talk.” With that, Sasami began to tell Xander the entire ordeal between them and the possibilities that were to come, an act that took all of three minutes – it was the next seven minutes of dead silence from the man in question that scared Tsunami more than she cared to admit, to anyone, ever. Her own connection with Xander often made her privy to his inner most thoughts and feelings, but as it stood, she couldn’t feel ANYTHING from him outside of pure, numbing shock.
Finally, though she felt something, and not what she was expecting – she had anticipated him to blow up, to be so furious that even Ryoko at her worst would have paled in comparison, but instead she felt an overwhelming flood of pure sadness and heartache as he moved and sat down next to Sasami, pulling her into a hug. The Princess allowed him to do so, her pink eyes filling with tears, and for not the first time Tsunami bore witness to the pair of them crying their eyes out to each other, one clinging to the other for dear emotional stability and life, though this time it was Xander clinging to Sasami instead of the reverse. Tsunami watched the pair of them stay that way as the seconds turned to minutes and the minutes turned into hours, the tears trickling to an end, eventually, and the wracking sobs slowing to a stop, but neither Xander nor Sasami letting go of the other – for not the first time, Tsunami cursed herself for allowing herself to feel what they could feel … and cherished the fact that she could feel what they could feel, as she felt the pair grow closer as the sun began it’s descent into the sky and night fell upon the planet Jurai.
(1) Washu Cue: much like an Odie Cue from the cartoon Garfield, it is an act or statement that beg, no, DEMANDS the presence or appearance of said individual.
AN: Okay, enough with the glares – no, this is not going to become a Second Princess of Jurai Sasami / Alexander Harris fic, but I needed a good spot to end it on because, as of this posting, this fic is going on hiatus for a long while (honestly, it’s probably going to be after summer before I get back to it). I have other fics to work on and, quite frankly, I’m out of ideas to work on this one, so if you could read and review this one, I’m going to take all comers and ideas and, hopefully, get more inspiration for this one while I next work on Of Family and Q 2. Thanks, and peace (and if you forgot, R&R) – Nick.