AN: Yes, there are games out there, put out by ID software (they are a touch hard to miss, so go to the game store and ask the gurus there – if they are any kind of guru, they’ll be able to give you a dissertation about the game) and a series of books, written by Dafydd ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver, four of them if I remember correctly, put out by Pocket Books in the mid-late 90’s.
AN2: Sorry about the confusion in the previous chapter – I flat forgot about the second moon for some reason, and I meant to say that in Xander’s world there were no moons around Mars. Again, I am sorry for the confusion.
Giles watched as both Buffy and Willow gaped in horror at Xander, who was now returning from the weapons cage, where Xander had gone to store his assault shotgun, his very REAL assault shotgun, and he did his best to compose himself – while the boy had been known to annoy him to no end, if only a tenth of what he had said about this ‘Soldier’ were true, Xander’s mental state … would be shaky, at best, “Xander … I don’t mean to imply that you may be blowing these memories out of proportion, but can you give me some kind of description about this … place your Soldier was, and whom he was, as well?”
Xander nodded, “Okay, fair enough – Flynn Taggart joined the Marines just out of high school and was put into Light Drop Infantry, Fox Company not long after that; he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the fastest, or the most coordinated, but he was persistent, according to his Gunny, and never gave up. He and Fox Company were posted out in one of the Stans,” Xander went on, squinting his eyes slightly, “one I’m not going to even attempt to pronounce, but it’s part of the old USSR, and his prick of an LT gave an order to wax a whole bunch of non-combatants – Fly disobeyed and knocked the officer down, but not out, so he was put up on charges as soon as the corpses were ‘misplaced’ and sent to the UAC Mars base.
“Fly was there for a while, doing his best to stay out of trouble in the brig, and then the radios started going apeshit – someone had opened some kind of Gate that allowed demons to come from somewhere and start to take the place over.” Xander closed his eyes a shivered violently this time, “The Marines and civvies there didn’t stand a fucking chance and were slaughtered – lucky ones were killed, outright … the ones that weren’t were re-worked into Zombies.”
Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them, at a loss for words as Xander went on, his voice becoming cold with anger, hatred and loathing as the memories now flowed through his mind unbidden, “Fly … he did what he could, but there was only one other person on Mars and it’s moons, Phobos and Demons, that was still alive, and that was Arlene, and after the two of them fired a lot of rounds, killed a lot of demons and damned near got killed a thousand times, they got to the transit area … but there was a problem that had caused the air to start leaking out of the atmosphere and into space. They built a rocket out of a message tube and, eventually, got back to Earth, found the Mormons out in Salt Lake City and eventually started to take back what was taken from them, or given away by some fucking pussies in DC.”
“I say, Xander, watch your bloody language right now! There are ladies present,” Giles snapped at him.
Xander just snorted, “Trust me, it gets worse, and I now know more ways and usages of the word ‘Fuck’ than you three could possible imagine – did you know it can be used as a verb, pronoun, noun and adjective?” Giles shot him a glare and he went on while both Buffy and Willow tried to out-blush each other, “Well, long and short of it was that Arlene got married to Big Al, Jill seemed to have some kind of hero-worship thing with us, Arlene and I got shot off into space with some nut-fuck Captain that went back with Al and … oh, four hundred some-odd years later, I … Fly is promoted to Lieutenant by the Citizens of State in order to get into the new Salt Lake City … or rather, where it used to be.”
“So, those things made it to Earth?” He looked over at Buffy and she was still a touch pink around the ears, “How bad was it?”
He thought back to the briefings that Fly and Arlene had been given back on Hawaii, “Well, long and the short of it is that they had captured at least 80% of the major cities and countries, or just blew them to hell and back, and some jag-off scientists and researchers on Hawaii Base were trying to figure out what made them tick … and got a lot of people killed in the process.”
“That … that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, Xander,” Willow said to him, still blushing. “If they could find a way to stop them …”
Xander shook his head, “No, they had no idea what they were doing, Willow, no idea of security or what it took to stop these things – Scientists and researchers studying demons will only get a whole bunch of people very dead who don’t need to be, in both my and Fly’s opinions.” Xander leaned back in his seat and sighed slightly, “And the worst part about the entire thing … it’s plausible, the whole demon infestation thing, on a level that nobody will ever really understand. Sure, different demons, different theater of action … but it’s going to end up with the same result – total destruction.”
Silence reigned for several minutes, silence that Buffy broke while she watched Giles study the armor that’d been given to him for research, “Giles, can I try that on? I sorta remember what it did last night to those vampires and Angel …” her breathing hitched slightly at the mention of the now-dust vampire with a soul, but she went on, “and I want to see if I can get it to do that again.”
Giles opened his mouth but was cut off by Xander, his tone flat and firm, “Not a good idea, Buffy.”
“But made light! It dusted vampires, so it must be of the good,” she whined.
Xander stood firm, “No – think about it, Buff; what if something goes wrong? What if it doesn’t work for you? What if it reacts with your whole Slayer thing? Do you want to risk it?”
Buffy opened her mouth once and then closed it, opened it again but closed it again before sighing, “Xander, don’t use logic on me – you know I don’t like it.” She then turned to Giles, who was putting his glasses back on his face, “Giles? Please? Can I wear it?”
“No, Buffy, Xander is quite right this time.” Xander perked up at the magic words even as Giles looked at him, “Yes, Xander, I said you were right – until we know what this armor does, nobody will use it, regardless of how much whining you do, Buffy.”
“Giles!” She was shocked at that he had called her on her whining, something he’d never done before.
He shook his head, “I’m sorry, Buffy, its just that I’m doing my best to get over what I found last night at Ethan’s shop, not to mention what happened to Principal Snyder.”
Willow perked up, though a touch sickly, “What happened?”
“Ethan was executed,” came the response, but not from Giles. Xander’s face was quite pale at this time as he went on, “I’m not sure you remember, Buffy, but when Fly went off to get some more ammo last night…”
Fly shook his head even as he exited the sporting goods store – he had seen some weird shit before in his life, but this one ranked right up there, “Only in California could I get younger and still be in as much danger from demons.” He’d run out of ammo for his assault shotgun after unloading two drums of ammo on some Mars demon wannabes that’d attacked him, and while he wasn’t completely unarmed due to his pistol, he much liked the idea of his 12 gauge being primed and ready to go in case they ran across something bigger and meaner than a Pinky.
He smirked lightly, “Never thought I’d miss those bastards – at least I could shoot them.” The annoying redhead, who also happened to be a ghost at this point, not to mention the best friend of the body he happened to be in, had raised nine different kinds of verbal hell at him for accidentally plugging some guy in a bad suit with over-sized ears that had changed them, yelling, but after that she’d been on his case about what he could and could not shoot. Even so, he’d still run out of ammo and had just resupplied his stock via slightly-illegal means and his now-loaded shotgun was now at his side, ready for action.
He humped it back to where he’d left the ghost and the simpering noblewoman, whom had called him a lout, a cad, an oaf and all sorts of things that, if Arlene had been there, would have had his buddy on her ass, howling in laughter, but stopped short when he came across a shop that was glowing slightly in the windows. Inside, a man was cackling while a stone head was glowing a sickly green, “Hey! What the hell’s going on in here?”
The man, a thin, sickly-looking older guy, looked over and promptly dismissed him, “Go away, boy – I have much more chaos to get to tonight. This will be my,” by this point, he shut up when he noticed that Fly’d leveled the shotgun at his chest.
“I would suggest you MAK time to talk to me, old man, and start making with some answers. What. The. HELL. Is. Going. On. Here?”
Xander shivered at the memories as they replayed over, and over, and over again, the shot, the smell, all of it, “He didn’t make with the answer and then said that he wondered how well Arlene was doing – that pissed Fly off enough to shoot the guy.”
Giles growled at him slightly, “Xander, if you … he … had not done that, I may have been able to end the spell quicker. As it stood, it took more than an hour for me to figure it out.”
Xander shrugged his shoulders, “Sorry, Giles, but growling at me about it now won’t bring anyone back from the dead – cold as a witch’s tit, but it’s the truth.” Xander then sighed, “I’m going to have to work with this – Fly’s vocabulary was … profane, to say the least.”
While both Willow and Giles researched the armor and the pictures on it, called Runes, according to Giles, Buffy amused herself with the practice dummy and thoughts of who was going to replace Snyder – there had been a big blow up about it when it was revealed that Xander had not only killed Ethan, but Snyder as well (though while the first wasn’t Chaos Mage wasn’t an accident, ‘Quark’, as Principal Snyder had gone as, was), about guns, how dangerous they were and how he was NOT going to use them, followed by a huge listing of how Xander WAS going to use the guns because A) he wasn’t a Slayer, B) he didn’t like the idea of not using every weapon they had at their disposal, and C) she wasn’t in any position to give him any orders after how she had acted last night. She remembered every insult she’d thrown at him and Willow, calling him a cur and Willow a harlot, a strumpet, and worse to the point that Willow wasn’t exactly talking with her after she’d finished mother hen-ing Xander to death.
She looked over at said male and saw him with his feet propped up on one chair to where they were elevated slightly as he did push ups in a slow, rhythmic pattern that didn’t stop but once or twice every half hour; he’d muttered a few things about getting into shape and ‘damned military protocol’, but after that he’d started stretching out and then working out. He wasn’t trying to impress her, either, as he hadn’t even looked over at her once to see if she was checking him out, and that was exactly what she was doing in a non-romantic way – he’d changed, she could tell, from the previous day in that he was more forceful, less goofy, and hadn’t rolled over for her when she wanted to wear the armor. In fact, she wasn’t sure why, but he even looked a little different when he walked and even sat – less slumped, more … rigid, as if he were tense, at attention, and right now he was looking at her quizzically.
“Something wrong, Buff?”
She blinked and then blushed lightly, “Ah, no, Xand, nothing wrong, just thinking.” He quirked his lips and opened his mouth, bus she shot him a glare, “And don’t you dare tell me to not hurt myself.”
Xander shook his head, going back to pushing himself up and down, “Wasn’t going to say that.”
She narrowed her eyes, “What were you going to say then?”
“I was going to ask if they were worth the penny I was going to offer for them.”
She shrugged and walked over, taking a seat not five feet from him, “Well, I was just going to ask you how bad your memories were, about that place, Doom or whatever it’s called.”
“Mars, Phobos and Demons, Buffy,” he said somewhat stiffly as he pressed himself up one last time before shifting feet and rolling forwards into a crouch that was turned to where he was on his back, ready to do sit ups, “and … they’re bad.”
She arched an eyebrow at him as she knelt down and held his feet, “How bad?”
He sat up smoothly and looked her right in the eye, allowing her to see the haunted look in his chocolate depths, “Let me put it to you this way – I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, Buffy, alive or undead.” He went back down and then came back up, but never said another thing for the rest of the hour.
AN: Okay, here’s part two – group reactions will go on later, but I think that this is a good start to them. What do you boys and girls think? Reviews, please.