AN: And now for evils from another series. Be warned, this part will switch back and forth between places and realities.
Xander looked around the park through his visor and resisted the urge to scratch the point between his back that he could only barely reach anymore – he had the deepest suspicion that he was being followed, but none of his sensors or scans were showing anything out of the ordinary. Tsunami’s warning had stayed with him all day and though a dose of paranoia was healthy, right now he was drowning in it and almost jumping at shadows, as he couldn’t shoot at them while in stealth mode, “Calm down, Harris – you aren’t getting anywhere by acting like a bouncing bunny of fear.”
It was at that point that his scanner picked up a small blip and he turned, scanning as he did, holding back a gasp as the computer brought up a file he’d gotten in his last data dump from Washu – Zergling; it was a vicious little bastard that often hunted in packs, so if he was picking up one, there were more and they were close. In the back of his mind, even as he went to the nearest tree and leapt up to the nearest supporting branch, he was wondering just how in the hell the Zerg had gotten to the Hellmouth - their own dimension was a computer game in his world, and in reality was actually on the far end of the Multi-verse from his own, so that bespoke of someone who was meddling, but whom?
It was about three and a half feet tall, covered in a mottled brown and black exoskeleton, with two powerful legs and several claws, about a dozen teeth on two lower mandibles and uglier than homemade sin, and it was sniffing around the air like a frigging bloodhound! Even as he disengaged his armor’s cloaking device and tapped the blaster to full power, he made a mental note to selectively disintegrate the internal organs of the person or people responsible for the Zerg being on the Hellmouth – there was a general rule about asking for trouble and this broke it several ways from Sunday! A single Zerg like a Zergling wasn’t that much of a problem, in the grand scheme of things, but if a Drone had somehow managed to get there and find a place to set down roots, that could turn into some serious problems that would involve destroying a good chunk of Sunnydale real estate in the process, and even as he raised his cannon and targeted the thing, he knew that wasn’t going to go over easily.
The first shot he sent at the ‘bug’ hit it dead on and blew off the lower mandibles of it’s mouth, and the following two shots took off the left side of the thing’s body, leaving the legs and the right side, but he didn’t stop as he switched from h is Power Beam to Ice Beam and froze the thing solid and charged up one final regular shot, shattering the thing to Hell and back, all of this taking just under ten seconds. Sadly, though, it wasn’t quick enough as his radar began to show more sensor blips and all of them converging on his position, which made him kick himself in the ass – Zerg were of a hive mind, and when you attack one, they ALL KNOW IT, “This just isn’t my fucking week.”
“What were you thinking, brother?” The male Oracle turned in time to see his sister’s palm coming at him and connect with his cheek, spinning him around just enough for his toga to come off of his shoulder, “Bringing the ZERG, of all things, to the Hellmouth? Have you gone mad?”
“Harris needs to be eliminated, and this is the most expedient way to do so.” He raised his palm and rubbed his cheek, “That hurt.”
She glared at him, “Do you realize how much trouble you are in? HE forbade the Zerg to ever enter a dimension that houses a Hellmouth, active or otherwise, for a very specific reason. Please tell me that you were not foolish enough to put Drones in our realm.”
He glared at her, “Though I may be occasionally dense, I am not feeble – no, I did not allow Drones to enter this realm, and I am searching to just to make sure.”
She glared right back at him even as she stepped back, “Be this on your head – if the plan is torn asunder due to your ignorant tactics, no place will be safe for you from HIM.”
“Hello?” Giles picked up the phone and jerked it away immediately, “Xander? Do not yell at me. What is wrong?” Willow felt her stomach tighten even as Buffy and Faith both perked up, Jenny arched and eyebrow, Cordelia frowned and then Giles blanched, “Are you sure?” Giles proceeded to blush a deep scarlet, which made herself and Jenny snicker even as the others looked on in confusion, “Right. I will keep them here.”
Even as Giles hung up the phone and shook his head, Jenny spoke up, “What’s wrong, Rupert?”
“Xander just called from his armor – there are things out tonight, non-demonic in nature, that are after him and he wants us to all stay indoors. As he put it, they are things that would give DEMONS nightmares, so I fully intend to keep you all here.” There was a growl from the book cage and Giles turned to a wolfed-out Oz, “Oh, do be quiet, Oz. Take a nap or something.”
“But Xander could be hurt, Giles.” Willow had spoken to Buffy several times that day and she could tell the blonde Slayer was having trouble with the fact that Xander was a killer, they all were on some level or another, but Buffy more than anyone.
“Yes, he could, but he also said that it took four shots from his cannon to stop this thing, and that they were coming after him specifically, so he wasn’t about to lead them to us. Quite nice of him, actually.”
“But what if he gets killed?”
“Then he is dead and there is nothing that we can do about it, Buffy.” Willow turned to Jenny with a somewhat betrayed look, but the Gypsy woman went on, “That is a risk that we all run every night, but if what Xander said is true, tha these things would give demons nightmares, then I say that we stay here. In fact,” Jenny went on quickly, her hand glowing in power as the doors and windows of the room began to glow slightly, “I quite insist on that fact.”
(Later - Sunnydale Park)
The Zerglings may have been an annoyance at first, but the fuckers that were throwing spikes at him were starting to be a real pain in the ass; they were tall, about six feet or so, with bodies like that of a snake, a hooded top, two arms that had claws and a tail that had spines that would shoot out when flipped at you – Hydralisk, in his computer, had a very special and underlined note next to it in that it had ground and air attack capability, and like the Zergling it could burrow underground, making it much harder to see. He’d been hit twice already by the spines of the thing and, while they didn’t take that much out of his Energy supply, they left behind a residue that seemed to allow for the things to track him, which was exactly what they were doing as he jumped from tree to tree, popping off shots where he could at them.
Another annoying fact about the Zerg was that, when left alone, they were able to regenerate any damage that they had done to them over time, like many biological entities – this premise worked well when shot with Power Beams and even the odd Wave Beam, but Ice Beams and missiles were another critter all together in that the former would severely slow and injure the creature through frost bite and muscle damage while the latter caused massive trauma to it’s body. Sadly, though, the effects of the Ice beam were shrugged off after about five minutes and the missile issue was such that he’d used two already and had a very finite number to work with, something that the little voice in the back of his mind told him to rectify when he got the chance … if he got the chance.
Even as he popped out from behind one of the larger oak trees and came face to face with a Hydralisk, he didn’t hesitate to fire off a handful of regular shots into it’s face, hollowing out it’s skull in no time and causing it’s body to detonate in such a way that not only was he partially covered in the muck, but so was the tree, and it was at that point that he began to notice the tree beginning to smoke as the blood ate away at it. He checked his armor and saw that, indeed, it too was being eaten away at, but at a much slower rate of speed, but he still snarled out an oath of sheer anger as he armed his missile cannon and targeted a pair of lone Zerglings, “I’m going to find out who did this and have his balls hanging on my wall by breakfast, my promise to God.”
“This is not good.” Giles rubbed his eyes even as Willow brought up several web pages on the things that he had been told by Xander were out there – Zerg. If what he was reading was right, not only were they difficult to combat, but also that they were of a hive mind and relentless.
“No, it isn’t, which is why we need to be out there helping Xander!” Buffy, now strapped into a chair by Jenny with some magical bindings, had been quite vocal and against the fact that they were not going to be helping Xander, “He could be hurt.”
“B, chill for a second and think – if these things are anything like they are in the game, then stud’s got enough on his plate without having to worry about us. I mean, if he’s fighting these things like G said he was, then that means he’s using those missiles of his – think about what one of those would do to us if it hit? Can you say, Slayer, extra-chunky style?”
“Yes, quite right, Faith.” Giles sighed as his mind pulled up several pictures of just what a human body that had been detonated looked like and tried to not become sick at it, at least outwardly, “We need to find out where these things came from and, more importantly, how to send them back.” With that, he and Jenny set to work, Willow still pouring over the computer with Cordelia helping her, and Faith keeping an eye on Buffy, Oz having curled up into a ball by the back corner of the cage about five minutes ago and softly snoring as his feet occasionally twitched.
“Well, this sucks.” Washu had received a call over her ID link to Xander about ten minutes ago, marked ‘URGENT – OPEN RIGHT THE FUCK NOW, WASHU’, but she had been in the middle of trying to get her royalties out of those guys in Xander’s universe and didn’t pay it too much attention until her computer scenario showed that she’d still come up with nothing. When she opened it, she’d actually read through it halfway before it registered just what he was talking about and she began to take things seriously – she’d studied the Zerg a few centuries before her imprisonment, and she’d sworn on her son’s life that she’d never deal with those things like she had with other species. They were twisted, evil things that needed to be stopped, at any costs.
“That is one way to put it, sister.” She turned and saw Tsunami standing next to her, her face drawn into a mask of worry, “Is there anything you can do, Washu-chan?”
Washu sighed, “No, not at this point – if I had time, I could create a new armor for him, one that has expanded abilities, but to do that I’d have to map his entire neuro system and I haven’t actually gotten around to that.” Never had she kicked herself more than she was right now, “Add to that I can receive his messages, but I can’t seem to send anything through to him.”
Tsunami nodded at that, “Yes, I find myself cut off from him as well, which begs the question of just who it is that is cutting us off.”
“I’m working on it, just keep those two out of my lab.” Washu waved her hand off towards Ayeka and Ryoko, whom had both stormed into the lab with Tenchi between them, “Tenchi as well.”
Tsunami nodded and the trio vanished – from her receivers outside, though, Washu could hear three howls of indignation and one very loud splash as they were dropped into the lake.
(Later - Sunnydale Park)
“Damn it.” Xander limped along a small grove a trees even as his armor smoked slightly from the corrosive agents working on it, his leg throbbing and his computer systems showing him damage reports. He’d been ambushed, while on his way back to his lab, by about two dozen Zerglings and half as many Hydralisks, but now a new element was tossed into the mix as well – Guardians, which appeared to be giant floating crabs about ten feet in width and six feet in length, but the acid globs they spat out at him were as deadly as they came. They did have one disadvantage, though – they were air-to-ground assault only, so if he got level with them they were duck soup, but they were also traveling with more Hydralisks at the time and had met up with the pack of Zerglings, which made for a rather difficult escape, one in which he did make but only barely so. His energy levels were low, his armor was moderately damaged and apparently he couldn’t get anything through to Washu, so he was effectively screwed.
Even as he approached his base of operations, his mind began to whirl about how he was going to fight these things that were coming after him – he had a small cache of arms he and Washu had developed just in case his base came under attack, but nothing on the level that would be needed to fight those things, and even if he set his armor to recharge and repair, it would be over an hour before it would be ready, which was time he didn’t have. Sighing, he turned and fired off one of his few remaining missiles at an approaching Guardian, something that it seemed to shrug off at first but it then fell out of the sky and landed on one of the large dumpsters in the area, flattening it completely before dissolving into an ooze, “Got ya, fucker.” Not wasting the chance he was granted by luck, he dropped into his lab via an emergency access hatch he’d put in a few months earlier and stifled out a shout of pain as his leg began to give him more problems – he’d have to work through it.
She watched in her own private viewing area as the White Knight tried desperately to hold back the Zerg offensive while his armor was off-line, recharging and being repaired – she had not figured her brother to go to such extremes as he had, let alone so soon, and found herself quite unprepared for what had happened. It was true that she had a soft spot for this particular mortal, but then again she couldn’t help it in that she’d watched him since the moment of his conception, a brutal act in and of itself, and she marveled at the fact that someone surrounded by so much violence, anger and evil was capable of staying so … true. By no means was he an angel, or even a special player in the grand scheme of things, but all of that had changed once he split the Slayer line in an act of both love and friendship, bringing back Slayer Summers from the abyss; this had altered their plans greatly and what they had been forced to come up with so far wasn’t ideal for either humanity or for the Slayer line, but it was the best they could do to replace a plan that had been ten millennia in the making.
She winced in sympathy as his body began to counteract the poison that was invading it, the Water of Life that Tsunami had given him, even if he didn’t have the first idea what it truly was, activating his regenerative and immune systems, and made a decision that would most likely damn her existence – she turned and looked at the one-way barrier that had been erected between realities to keep help from coming into this realm, and then back at the White Knight. If nobody else would help him, she would.
The micro missile launcher that had been so faithful to him over the past two minutes clicked dry and buzzed at him an electronic raspberry even as Washu’s voice came from it, saying ‘you’re out of ammo, loser’, which made him drop it even as he felt the dizziness that had been assaulting him for almost ten minutes fade and the pain in his leg lessen. The Zerg had taken up a holding pattern around the building that housed his lab, just out of easy targeting range, and it had only taken most of their forces to figure it out, but he figured that they had reinforcements on the way and he slumped down against the wall, knowing that his armor would be ready for him in about twenty five minutes or so.
He felt his body begin to grow lighter as the minutes passed, his mind slipping back to some of his talks in months past with Willow and some of the things that had gone on with them – she wasn’t a fan of Angel at all, but when she had woken up and learned of what had happened, she wanted his blood not just for the fact that he had lied to Buffy about the soul spell, but also for the fact that he had done this and she wasn’t able to get at Angelus for the beating she had taken in order to put her into the coma she had been in. She had started to show her edge after Halloween, showing that beneath that meek exterior there was a fire that burned hotter than those of hell, but also that there was a vindictive person there that didn’t forgive very easily, and even if she did, she never forgot, which had led to her explosion at him when he got back – he’d been a little confused at first, whether she was mad at him for lying to Buffy or for not waiting, but once he explained there wasn’t time to wait, she seemed to accept it and then turned to Buffy and let the blonde Slayer have it with both barrels, as it were. Oh, yeah, that had been a fun month – it had taken him about that long to get Buffy to speak to him and not try and take his head off, for Willow to not snipe at Buffy, Faith to not try and kill him and, of course, the crowning achievement, was to keep all three of them and Jenny out of his love life with Mihoshi.
Yeah, his body was definitely feeling lighter than before, and now he actually had enough energy to look around, but he saw nothing that could have made him feel that way – it was like he was being fed energy, and lots of it, from an unseen source, but it wasn’t one that he was familiar with; he’d seen Ryoko and Ayeka level entire trees with their energy blasts, he’d felt Tsunami’s power, and even Tenchi’s from when he had deployed the Lighthawk Wings, but this felt different from all of them as he stood up and flexed his fingers. Something most definitely wasn’t right, “What’s this?”
As if someone had plugged an entire sound system in around him without his knowledge, a single voice spoke to him, well, more like whispered to him, “A gift, and an apology.” With that, the voice was gone and he had an inkling of an idea of what had gone one in that moment even as he turned and pointed his hand at one of the walls the Zerglings had hidden behind, a surge of power rushing out of his hand and he could also feel the drain on his body as well.
Like a micro thunderstorm, a type of lightning crackled around that point in space and he could hear the enraged screams of both surprise and agony from the Zerg behind the wall, before seeing an explosion of chunklets. While it wasn’t exactly a missile he’d been granted, it would do as he pivoted and pointed his hand at another part of the wall, where he somehow knew some of the Zerg Hydralisks were hiding but not burrowed.
She fell back, her cheek aflame with pain as her brother approached her, his eyes flaring with both anger and betrayal, but she stood up and against him, “I will not let you kill him in this fashion, brother.”
“You ignorant … lower being. Do you have any idea how many problems he is going to cause us? What kind of problems we will have if Tsunami is allowed to get her hands on The Key?” His flowery speech and decorum were gone, his anger robbing him of his mask, “How about what will happen to US if The Key is allowed out of our domain?”
She stood firm, the pain in her cheek becoming more and more numb by the second, “I know what is to come with this act, brother, and I must say that of all of the possible scenarios, this is the best – the First Evil will not enter this domain, Glorificus cannot alter the reality any more than she already has and, for the first time in eons, we may have to actually work for our place in the hierarchy. I have gone on with your plans for long enough, brother, and I draw the line here – I will not allow you to manipulate the mortals and Champions as you see fit.”
He sneered at her, “You were always too soft-hearted for this job, sister, and now I see what must be done in order for our ultimate plan to come to fruition.” He raised a hand at her, a hand that was blazing with pure power, “Goodbye, sister.”
She closed her eyes, awaiting the blast that would end her life, but that blast never came as a power washed over her and the entire area – it was a power of both benevolence and of wisdom, but also of anger and divine range. Daddy was home, and he didn’t feel very happy.
Tsunami and Washu both jerked their heads in the direction of the dimensional door that led to Xander’s lab, both knowing that the barrier was still there, but both knew that the energy that were both feeling was that of the Creator; if HE was getting involved, then something was most definitely up … or had gone wrong.
Red flopped onto the bench that Faith had found herself on and groaned, “Did you feel that, too?”
Faith nodded, holding her temples even as B came back around and English helped Ms. C back on her feet – they’d been leveled by a feeling of pure power not more than five minutes ago, something that had come from not only inside the building, but had felt like it had come from everywhere, “Yeah. Any clue who did that?”
Red shook her head and massaged her temples, “Not really. So, can we talk?”
“Xander.” Faith stiffened even as Red went on, “Look, I know you like him and all, and … and I want to say I wish you luck.” She turned and looked at her, her face very serious, “I know it seems kinda obvious about how much of a thing I used to have for him, but hear me out – I love him, but I know that he and I wouldn’t work out, and while I’m not thrilled at some of the choices he’s made in the past, I know that he’s trying to do good, and so are you.”
“Oh … kay.”
Red nodded, “That aside, I get the feeling that something big is about to happen around here, and if we all survive, there’s going to be a decision made that we might not like.”
Faith arched an eyebrow at her, “You saying we’re gonna buy the farm or something?”
This got an emphatic shake of Red’s head, “No! I’m just saying … enjoy it while you can.”
Faith looked at her like she’d gone crazy, but the nodded – she and Xander weren’t going to grow old together, have kids, and shit like that because she was the Slayer and probably wouldn’t live that long, but at least while she had him, she resolved that she was going to have fun with him, that much was for sure … and then another wave hit them and all she knew was darkness.
He was hopping around, literally, from one foot to another as he fried Zerg after Zerg, making them blow up nice and big even as he felt the drain on himself begin to take it’s toll – he knew that someone had done something to him to give him this kind of power, and he was going to use it for whatever it was worth even as his armor neared completion of it’s repair, recharge and rearmament cycle (he’d have to remember to thank Washu for lending him those power storage units, which allowed him to store enough energy to recharge his tanks and make a full load of missiles before they were drained – maybe she’d like a potted plant or something).
Naturally, that is when he felt the power begin to slip away from him and felt as if his body had become a creation of lead – immobile, completely unmanageable and lacking anything resembling energy as he slumped to the ground; oh yeah, he was definitely hitting a down time and it was going to be a doozy.
That, of course, was when a wave of power hit him and knocked him out, cold.
“Now, I leave you two in charge of this realm for only a few millennia and in that short amount of time, you manage to twist around what I want and almost destroy it?” He walked in front of his two ‘children’, pausing long enough to heal the female from her brother’s attack, and then resumed pacing, “I mean, what would have happened if I hadn’t decided to come back and check on you two?”
“It’s all her fault, Father! She’s too soft-hearted to rule over human.”
“It’s his fault, Father! He’s too pig-headed and has delusions of grandeur over ruling humans.”
He looked at the pair of them and sighed – they were both right in some respects, but also very wrong in others, “You, son, are right that she is a bit of a soft touch, but she also knows that you cannot RULE an entire race of beings that have Free Will. You, daughter, are right that he’s gotten a big head over this entire thing, but you also need to learn that while you must allow them a chance to grow, you must guide the humans with a firm hand.”
Both of them looked down and sighed,” Yes, Father.”
“Good. Now, son, would you mind explaining to me exactly WHY you let the ZERG into this realm? I’m quite curious to know why you’ve ignored one of my first rules of this domain.”
“The White … Alexander Harris has messed with the plan for this realm far too much already, Father, and if he is successful in his defection to Lady Tsunami, then we shall lose The Key.”
He rolled his eyes, “Is that all? Son, I know that boy rather well – souls like him don’t come along every day, and if I recall correctly, he was NEVER loyal to you in the first place, so he cannot ‘defect’ to anyone.” He frowned for a second, though, “I must say, though, that the issue of The Key is a tad worrisome, so I will take care of it personally.”
His ‘son’ nodded, “Very well, Father. Now, what of my sister’s involvement in this? She leant him some of her power in order to destroy the Zerg, another clear violation of your standing orders.”
“True. Well, daughter? What have you to say for yourself?”
She looked him straight in the eye, her own eyes full of love, fear and even a touch of steel, “I did what I believed was right, Father. My brother was about to destroy a balance that we have long since tried to achieve, while I was trying to salvage at least some of it.”
“And how would saving the life of one mere human do that, sister?” He sighed as his ‘son’ began to glare at his sister, “His life is insignificant compared to our own survival.”
“Stop being so short-sighted, brother. There is no life that is ‘insignificant’, and in case you’ve forgotten, there are a grand total of four entities that are capable of harming us and one of them is in the room with us!” To be honest, the female Oracle had never exactly been one to stand up to her brother, but with the way things were going, she was going to lay him out, which is probably what he needed, “Father, The First Evil and The Source are far more dangerous to us than Alexander is, and if we follow your plan, then The Source will be allowed to breach it’s dimension and The First Evil will wreak havoc for the rest of eternity in ALL dimensions!” He watched as she drew her arm back and slapped her brother, who spun around several times before righting himself, “Face it, I’m right, you’re wrong, and deal with it!”
“Children? Might I have a word for a moment?” Both Oracles shut up instantly and looked more than a little embarrassed, but there was a healthy dose of anger in the male’s look as well as some smugness in the female’s, “Now, son, your sister has a very good point – no life is insignificant, and I believe that you have lost sight of that, so I’m going to see that you relearn that lesson. You, daughter, also need to learn a few things, so I am banishing you both to the mortal realm for a time. So let it be written, so let it be done.” With a flash, both Oracles were gone from his sight and he had to smile at his parting shot to them – it had been one of his favorite movies, after all.
Harold Meers, no relation to Warren Meers, was a doctor in a slum and ran a free clinic – his funding came from several benefactors that watched the survival rate of his patients, so if that went down due to his non due diligence, his funding was cut, or rather, his pay was cut and someone else’s was raised.
Diana Weems was sentenced to an Anger Management course to help her with her problem with bottling up her anger and allowing it to explode out at inopportune times – she was always a touch on the ‘too nice’ side and, with help, she could learn how to be m ore assertive.
Sometimes, it was good to be HIM, but this wasn’t one of them as He had to find someone else to run the place while his ‘kids’ were downstairs and nobody was stepping up to want to do the job, even from within his most trusted council of friends, “I tell ya, I get no respect.”
“Ow.” He felt someone shaking his shoulder even as his head hammered, “If you aren’t an insanely beautiful GP officer, a dark-haired Slayer, a blue-haired goddess or her chibi, I’m going to be seriously angry at you.” He cracked his eyes open and, after the initial discomfort, his vision cleared to show not only Tsunami, but Sasami, Mihoshi and Faith as well, which made him blink again, but soon all but Tsunami were gone, “Hi.”
She smiled at him, “Hello – how are you feeling?”
“Like hammered cabbit dung.” He sat up and grimaced as his body protested royally at the movement he was forcing it to do, “What happened?”
“A spat between the Oracles, who were masking as The Powers That Be – what you’re feeling right now is the aftereffects of having been granted some power from the female Oracle for a short time.”
His eyes narrowed, “The Zerg?”
“An idea of the male’s to get rid of you.” She smirked at him slightly and he figured that his personality and humor were starting to rub off on her, “Apparently you’ve been enough of a pain in his side to want to get rid of.”
“I’m flattered.” He got to his feet and stretched out, yawning as he did, but then took note of something, “Tsunami, why are you wearing pajamas with little Ryo-ohkis and carrots all over them?”
She blushed lightly and held her face high, “Even a goddess needs her sleep on occasion.”
“Oh, so you sleep about a second a day?”
She smiled at him, “Be careful with that flirting of yours, Xander – I may start to take you seriously about it. Still, thank you for the compliment.” She helped him down to his lab and it was there that he sat down heavily next to his armor, “Now, how are you feeling?”
“Aside from sore, I feel okay. I do have a question for you, though – what was in that water you gave me?” Xander felt his brows draw together even as Tsunami blushed again – this was going to be interesting.
AN: Sorry about the choppiness of this chapter, but I promise the next one, when I get around to it, will be better. Happy Holidays, and R&R, AR.