This chapter has been rewritten
Xander grimaced, a dull ache pulsing through his mind. Damn, he must have been right on the edge for that new polymorph. A new form was always a fun thing, but each successive one required greater skills to wield and it seemed he had called his skill level a little tight for this one. Still, it was worth it…
He cast; his nanopool draining slowly as he laboriously cast the nano-program. The glow of active nano-programs surrounded him for just a moment, then he was gone, a blue fading halo of dead nanites marking where his body used to be, before being scattered away by the wind.
He was… alive. It was the only way to describe it, the ground flashing beneath his clawed feet, flitting side to side to avoid trees and telephone poles, the rush over air across his wings…
It was life and exhilaration, that was the only way Xander could describe it, flying around as a green and red bird, a reet, a native of Rubi’ka. He could see how some adventurers could get addicted to this; to lose there minds in the morph.
A feeling twigged at his senses, like darkness and evil and Xander sighed, flicking a mental switch in his head. This wasn’t the time for fun now, his perception was telling him that a Vampire was in the area.
It was time to hunt.
Alert now, he flitted across the roof tops to the bronze, the most likely location for the bloodsucker that was setting his senses off, and began peering into the darkness between the buildings, glad that he had equipped his night vision goggles before morphing himself into his new form.
Not one of them, two, following some hot chick whose dark outfit just screamed attitude. Swiftly, silently he took a look around, checking for other vamps or demons that might become a threat, there was none, but he could see the team running up in the distance. Well, they would be a little late for this show but it was always nice to know backup was on its way even if you didn’t need it, and with just two vampires below, Xander certainly didn’t need help.
Fltting to the edge of the bronze, he dived off into the dark, cancelling the polymorph that had shifted him into the bird form as he dived into the blackness. In an instant, he was human again. With a flick, the Sol Fire Executioners, his faithful swords appeared in his hands as he dived, his eyes firmly on the back of his target.
Xander blinked, and then muttered ‘oh shit’ as his target dusted and his nice soft cushion abruptly disappeared. He rolled, trying to shift to take the landing on his feet but wasn’t fast enough, with a crack of breaking bones he crashed into the ground.
He glanced up, his hands instinctively pulling a first aid kit from his inventory just in time to see the second Vampire burst into dust, a stake held firmly in the hands of the brunette who was now looking at him somewhat warily.
“So” Oz’s winded voice sounded nearby as Xander groaned, reaching for a full Treatment Kit for his injuries, “I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s a new slayer in town…”
“What, you tripping me?”
Xander shock his head, grinning wryly, “No, I’m not… ‘tripping’ you”
“Perhaps,” Giles commented, “a demonstration might be in order”
Xander shrugged, and began casting Playful Cub.
Faith shot backwards in her seat, more then a little shocked as the young man turned into a two headed dog right in front of her eyes. The creature took a step towards her and a crash filled the room as her seat bounced off the floor, Faith still in it.
Muffled chuckles filled the room, and Faith glared around, angry and embarrassed as the two-headed dog disappeared, Xander in his more normal, i.e. human form reappearing in front of her eyes.
“What, you saying I might be able to do that?”
Xander nodded, “yes, but it all depends on which profession the nano-controller, that’s the piece of kit which stores and enables you to use this technology, thinks you are best suited for. Polymorphs, shape shifting is a purely adventurer thing, only me and Oz can do it. Buffy pulled martial artist which as she is a Slayer is pretty reasonable, Giles pulled bureaucrat…” Xander shrugged “and so on”
Faith nodded, “cool… this mean I can kick arse better?”
Buffy grinned, “oh yes, oh very yes”
Faith glanced around, her smile growing larger at the very enthusiastic agreement with the other Scooby’s, well all bar one of them.
“What, you don’t agree C?”
Cordelia shook her head, almost smiling, “I pulled Doctor, which means if you get injured in a fight I’m the one that will be shoving the largest needle I can find where the sun doesn’t shine if you don’t get back into the fight and finish the job…”
Faith’s eyes widened, then she shuddered, not that she minded a little S&M occasionally, but Still…
“So, all I have to do is team up, let you guys bee my friends and all?” Faith tried to hide a hopeful grin at the word friends, but it didn’t work, both Giles and Xander noticed and memorised the look for future investigation, “Cool, where do I sign up?”
Xander grinned, picking the Blackmanes Belt Willow had first used off the table, “just put this one for a start, and don’t worry, it will automatically blend into whatever you are wearing”
Faith glanced at it doubtfully, but did as she was told.
“Huh” the muttered exclamation drew Oz a few looks, with a shrug, he nodded at Faith, “Enforcer”
Xander glanced across, then nodded, “true”
He hid a smirk as, perfectly on cue, Buffy asked, “I’m missing something aren’t I?”
“Well” Giles spoke and Xander waited for the glasses to come off, which they did quite quickly, “I had assumed that, like you, Faith would be a Martial Artist”
“What? Disappoint you did I?”
Xander snapped his head up, glaring fiercely into Faiths somewhat hurt eyes, “No!”
He sighed a little at the shocked look on Faiths face as she backed off, “Geez, X, take a chill pill”
“Enforcers” he held Faith’s gaze firmly as he spoke, hoping to impress upon her how seriously he meant what he was saying. “Are the front line of any team, fast and brutal in a melee, the ability of an Enforcer to take and deal damage is matched only by a soldier.
Enforcers are often first into the fight, using their superior ability to take damage to help keep the team safe, their superior ability to deal damage to keep the enemies attention on themselves, relying on the other members to heal them”
“What? Is that all I am to you? A meatshield?”
“No! You want me to put this bluntly, fine. Your needed, your wanted, as an enforcer you are an essential part of the team and beyond that I hope we… can… become…” He frowned, and then sighed, his tone switching from forceful to conversational, “and your taking the piss aren’t you?”
A muffled snort sounded behind him, and Xander shot Giles a dirty look.
“He noticed” Xander glanced at his lifelong friend and groaned at the faux-proud look that was being sent his way.
“Quick too... who did you let him go red?”
“What is this? Pick on Xander day?”
“You date Cordelia”
Xander glanced, a little startled at Oz at the apparent sudden shift in the conversation, then grimaced as it sunk in, “everyday is pick on Xander day when dating Cordy, got it”
He ignored the muffled chuckles, pretending the joke was beneath him, but no-one missed the glow that lit his eyes at seeing his friend’s happy, carefree if only for a moment.
“Well, that was fun” Buffy dryly commented, brushing vampire dust off her clothes, “where did all these extra vampires come from anyways?”
Willow nodded, pausing her healing of her fighting pet, “they seemed a little too intelligent to have been around the hellmouth that long”
Faith winced, her new friends were going to hate her for this, ah well, it was nice having friends for once even if she was going to lose them right now, like as soon as she opened her mouth…..
“They’re after me,” Faith looked Xander defiantly in the eyes, “followed me from Boston, Kaskistos is their Master, he’s been trying to kill me for months”
“You trained a master vampire on us? Faith how could you?” he held his heart, his entire manner screaming he had been wounded. Even Faith couldn’t mistake that for anything other then the piss being taken.
“Aw, can it X” she shook her head, somewhat surprised at his response; he was acting as if he felt they were still friends. Could he really mean to still be her friend after tthis? After the trouble he had brought into town?
“Yes, do ‘can it’ Xander. Kaskistos is a very real threat and we will need to deal with him carefully
“I was thinking napalm…”
“Not exactly subtle Buffy, besides what if they have a few ready meals on hand? Wouldn’t want to kill the unlucky civilians too…”
“X has a point their Buff, whole point is to keep people alive and in case you didn’t notice fire spreads and lots of wooden buildings in town” Faith at this point was trying, and failing to hide a smile, they didn’t even seem to care, they were acting like it was just another day in the job, she would still have her friends!
“Okay, okay point taken; I’ll remember to run subtlety in my NCU, okay?”
“You have such a program Buffy?”
“Oh, zinged by the watcher for twenty points! Way to go Gilester” Faith smiled, shaking her head.
“Excuse me for asking” Xander held his hand up, as if wanting to ask the teacher a question, “but Faith, what does an Enforcer know about subtlety?”
“Enough that I don’t have to look it up in one of Giles books…”
“That’s a Ten” Xander smiled at Oz, as Giles tried to get the group back under control.
“Yes, well back on subject…”
“Same as always? Frontal assault?”
Xander glanced across at Buffy, shrugging, “fine by me”
“Five by five here”
“Jenny, Giles, Willow, you’re the brains, find us a time and a place and we’ll go a hunting” Buffy said, kicking herself off the table in the centre of the Library.
“Right, Xander, Oz, recon the usual haunts, we’ll see what we can dig up from here”
“Xander, may I have the bird please”
Xander grinned as Oz suddenly blinked, having been presented with raised middle fingers from most of the people in the room.
“I think maybe I could have phrased that better”
Xander chuckled, shaking his head slightly, “sorry, only have the Self version of that nano running at the moment, and getting that loaded was a struggle”
Oz nodded, “playful cub it is…”
Xander had to admit that tracking down the latest big bad was a breeze nowadays, you just put word out about who was in your shit list and the bulk of Sunnydale’s demonic population suddenly found their survival urges kicking in, resulting in a swarm of messages by phone, note and… other methods about where the latest target was.
It was helpful, but somewhat surreal, but if they wanted to live on the hellmouth, the resident population had quickly learned that the ‘law’ in Sunnydale had teeth (literally) and wasn’t above clamping them down on somebody, or rather, something’s head. It made for a wonderfully fearful cooperation that helped keep the residents safe. Of course, some never learned but their numbers were dwindling swiftly.
That left him in his current interesting position, in his bird form gazing through the skylights of a warehouse waiting for the gang to arrive, gazing down at what was, even for a vampire master, a rather high level monster.
Damn, he was glad no-one was going into face that alone. He was high enough level himself now that, in theory, he had a chance in a one on one fight, but with the minions around too? No, this called for the team to deal out an arse-kicking.
He closed his eyes; firmly screwing them shut, and then opened them again.
He pinched himself, just to check that he was actually awake.
Then ran, cursing into the warehouse as if he had just seen a large group of large, black pelted sabre-toothed monsters charging towards him…
Kaskistos glanced up angrily as the door to his warehouse was rather unnecessarily, considering it hadn’t been locked, blown off its hinges and into the forms of the three vampire guards who had been standing behind it.
He raised an eyebrow in slight surprise, and then glanced at the dust pile that was once Mr Trick, “my apologies… it appears there were sabre-toothed cats charging towards the warehouse,” he thought for a moment, contemplating the dust pile, “well, I wont be misjudging anything you say again it seems”
Shrugging, the aged misshapen master Vampire headed off to destroy the interlopers, hoping for a chance to try the blood of the sabretooths, they were new to him, and he had tried many animals over the years, few of which compared to humans…
“Damn, this is cool, when do I get to do this?”
“Sorry faith,” Xander managed to spit out, as his claws decapitated another vampire, “adventurers only….”
“Damn, can I swap?”
Xander rolled his eyes, no pausing in the slaughter of the hapless vampires, “nope”
“Guys? Help here?”
Xander glanced over at Cordys annoyed screech and blanched, oh bugger, Kaskistos was hitting on her… His mind shut down, overloaded by the disturbing images his slip of the tongue had caused, Kaskistos was hitting her, hitting her, not on her.
Damn it, she wasn’t going to let him forget in a hurry that he had totally missed Kaskistos sneaking past to attack their doc. Well, he thought philosophically as he manoeuvred into position behind Kaskistos, seems he wouldn’t be doing any jumping into closets with Cordy for a while, shame.
He reared back, shifting all his weight to his back legs and waited a tic as Cordy shot him an annoyed look and dived off to one side. Then, he sprang, aiming to place his 250 pounds of sabretoothed tiger directly onto the master vampires back.
He grunted satisfied as Kaskistos’s head hit the ground with a satisfying crack. He knew that wouldn’t put the vampire down, but he sure as hell would feel it.
“Oh shit” was the next thing Xander found himself saying as Kaskistos reared up, throwing Xander off his back with all the force the ancient master vampire could muster. It was a lot of force, and Xander blacked out as his head hit the walls on the other side of the warehouse.
“Ow… what hit me?”
Xander resisted the urge to groan as Cordeilia’s voice assaulted his ears, damn but he loved her, but she wouldn’t know what a bedside manner was if it danced in front of her wearing a neon green blazer with Bedside Manner emblazed in neon yellow…
He thought for a moment, no she would most likely faint out of sheer fashion horror at the thought…
“The wall, about twenty vampires who decided that an unconscious Xander was a far nicer prospect then fighting any of the rest of the team, most of the force of the area effect nano Jenny sent to ‘encourage’ those vamps to bother someone else and the floor about twenty times. We had a devil of a time getting you back from the warehouse”
“Geez… sugar-coat it for me why don’t you Cordy?”
“I did… otherwise you would know what we dropped you into by accident a few times on the way back. Your clothes are being burned by the way”
“Dropped me into…” Xander groaned, closing his eyes to save his aching head from the bright light above his head, “no, I don’t want to know”
“Good thing too… aren’t dog owners supposed to clean up after their animals? And that warden coming along asking us to clean up after you… it wasn’t even your…”
Xander’s hands instinctively rose in defence of his sanity, blocking Cordelia’s next words, “I really don’t want to know”
“Probably a good thing” Cordelia replied once Xanders hand was gone, she walked, grinning to the door, “you don’t want to know what it took to get you out of the pound either…”