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Repo Man

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Empowered". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: A response to TTH challenge 938 - In a hole in the ground... (Crossover with 'The Hobbit')

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Xander-CenteredGreywizardFR1512,6841148,22220 Jun 0520 Jun 05Yes
Title: Repo Man

Author: Greywizard

E-Mail: grey.wizard@verizon.net

Rating: Minor violence and language concerns. Not much at all, actually, if you watch cable or have teenage children, I suppose.

Disclaimer: The Buffy characters all belong to Crack-Head Joss and ME. Deal with it. I have. Bilbo, Thorin and any other characters that resemble anything having to do with 'The Hobbit' belong to J. R. R. Tolkien's estate and heirs and whoever they might have licensed to use them.

Category: response to TTH challenge 938 - In a hole in the ground... (Crossover with 'The Hobbit'), which reads as follows:

{ There are loads of BtVS / LoTR crossovers, but I don't think I've ever seen a BtVS / Hobbit crossover. Maybe it's because there's never been a good film, but it seems a shame. Another problem I've noticed in LoTR crossovers is that authors rarely change the plot decisively.

The challenge is to write a BtVS / Hobbit crossover that changes the course of events so decisively that NONE of the plot of The Lord of the Rings happens. Maybe Willow gets the One Ring and takes out Sauron (not to speak of Gandalf and everyone else who gets in her way), maybe the Scythe can cut the Ring in two, maybe Warren brings the Ring back to our world and uses it for evil. Whatever, the challenge is to screw things up so drastically that NOTHING in LoTR can happen },

and,

a response to djhardim's story "Empowerment" (Message 89701 on the XanderZone), which has the following premise: Some of Xander Harris' memories were stolen at the beginning of season four by an agent of the Powers That Be and given to someone else. The story concludes with the following challenge:

{ If Xander's memories were restored and he began to remember what really happened to him during Summer 1999, what effect would this have on the PTB's new champion, and how will they respond? If anyone wants to do more with this, be my guest. }

Time frames: for BtVS, immediately following season 6, episode 8, 'Tabula Rasa'; for 'The Hobbit': shortly after Bilbo began his journey.

Spoilers: Spoilers for 'Tabula Rasa'; none, really, for 'The Hobbit.'

Character Bashing: Nope.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: If you want to archive this, just let me know where, please.

~~~

He couldn't sleep, so he was keeping himself busy, making a pot of coffee to drink for when he started sorting things through, later, so that he wouldn't be thinking about - other things.

Things too uncomfortable to really think about, because if he did start thinking about them, he'd either start crying from the injustice of it all, or maybe consider going postal and start killing people and other non-people things indiscriminately.

The strange dreams were back again, for the fifth night in a row, and he was completely convinced now, beyond any shadow of any possible doubt, that they really weren't dreams. They felt ... different... real in a way that he couldn't quite describe.

They'd started the night following the day that Willow had somehow screwed up that 'Tabula Rasa' spell and managed to erase the memories of everyone in the Scooby Gang, and Spike, too.

His accidentally breaking the crystal had returned all of their memories and made everyone aware of exactly what Willow had done, thus leading to her current status as persona non grata with all of the Scoobies and also, inadvertently leading to his current state of involuntary bachelorhood. Not that he was feeling very bachelor-like, what with Tara sleeping on his hide-a-bed couch.

He didn't know exactly what had happened between Anya and Giles during that little amnesia session everyone had suffered, but whatever it was, it had made her decide to cancel their engagement, at least temporarily, and move back into her own apartment.

"Xander, I do care about you," she'd told him as she was walking out, "but I need time to think over a number of things."

Sure, she cared about him.

But she still left.

Just like everyone else in his life seemed to be doing, lately.

There had been other collateral damage resulting from breaking the spell, too.

He had to laugh at that thought. Collateral damage was a term drawn from the Soldier Guy memories he'd received during Halloween junior year.

Memories he'd used with such effective expertise when they'd built the bomb to take out Hizzoner during Graduation.

Memories he hadn't even realized he'd once possessed until the past few nights, when they'd started coming back, in jagged bits and pieces.

And along with the Soldier Guy memories came the other fragmentary memories of the martial arts training he'd taken over the years and the memories from the Hyena possession.

All of them, memories that had been stolen from him.

Stolen, if his visitor was to be believed, by the same group that Buffy and Angel worked for: the Powers That Be.

Shorthand name: the Powers, or the PTB.

Or, as Xander had started calling them in his mind, those Pricks and Total Bastards.

He hadn't wanted to believe it, not at first, that beings that were supposed to be so deeply concerned about the fate of the human race would do something as despicable as steal the abilities he'd so painfully and laboriously learned so that he could protect his friends and the innocents living here around the Mouth of Hell, but after he thought back about the clearly cavalier way the so-called Powers had treated their champions over the past few years, it became more and more evident that everything he'd been told was true.

And if the so-called Powers operated that way, they really weren't much better than the enemies he and his friends had been fighting against since he'd first learned about what really happened around here at night.

"Bastards," he muttered to himself as he sat waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. "Just a bunch of bastards sitting around and playing around with our lives like we were chess pieces."

It was exceedingly easy to sacrifice a pawn here, or a queen there, when you don't care about what actually happens to the poor shmuck.

Live or die; as long as the Powers' goals were accomplished, they just didn't give a shit.

It wasn't a question now of whether or not he'd go, he now realized; it was just a question of when Primary would show up, so that he could begin his retrieval mission.

That was how those fragmentary parts of his military memories that he had recovered had referred to his quest. If he wanted the rest of those memories back, along with the other skills he'd spent so much time and sweat acquiring, he had to go find this thingamabob that Primary had lost and bring it back.

Funny how there were certain rules and restrictions that even the Powers and the other players on their level had to abide by. As long as you kept to the letter of the rules, there wasn't anything they could do about it, no matter how badly it messed up their plans.

Once he had this artifact, this ring that Primary was so interested in, in his possession, he'd be able to use it to retrieve what was rightfully his, and those Pricks and Total Bastards wouldn't be able to do squat about it.

"So, my young friend, have you made a decision yet?"

Turning around slowly (he was pretty much used to weird things happening, and weirder people making them happen), he wasn't at all surprised to see Primary standing in the center of his living room, or that Tara was able to sleep through his appearance.

White haired, with a long, neatly trimmed, matching beard and blue eyes that made you think of a kindly grandfather, the insubstantial figure was smiling benevolently at him as though he were Ed MacMahan and he was there to present him with the Publishers Clearing House Millionaire Sweepstakes winning check. Even if he hadn't grown far more cynical over the past five and a half years, seeing a smile that bright and cheerful would have put him on his most watchful and paranoid guard.

Despite the harmless and loveable image, he trusted this guy about as much as he did the thrice-damned Powers. He didn't have any idea what this clown's game really was, but he knew beyond any possible doubt that Primary was looking to use him in whatever arcane, multi-leveled game of conspiracy and one-upmanship the bastard was involved in with the Powers and god knows how many other players.

"Yeah, I have," he answered his visitor's question with a weary nod. Weary from five and a half years of fighting, weary of the way he was being treated by his friends, who were constantly trying to keep him out of the Slaying 'for his own good,' and just plain weary from the realization that there was never going to be an end to the fighting they were involved in. No matter how many Big Bads they put down, there was always going to be another one trudging on the last one's heels, trying to take the place of their predecessor.

"I'll do it. Give me a couple minutes to change and use the bathroom, and I'll be ready to go and grab this ring you're looking for," he smiled his own version of a politician's smile back at the incorporeal being.

~~~

"All right then, my boy, you just follow this tunnel and it will eventually bring you to the cavern holding the ring. It's currently under a foot or so of water in the stream you'll some across, since the creature who most recently possessed it hasn't realized that the ring slipped out of its pouch when it was traveling through it," Primary informed him as he waited by the faintly glowing portal that opened onto a dark and dank looking cave. "The stone you're holding will begin throbbing once you come within a hundred feet of the ring, and the throbbing will grow stronger, the closer you get to it.

"Once you've found the ring, call for me and I'll be able to reopen the portal and get you out of there right away," the semi-phantom assured him. "If I take you any closer to its location, we risk calling the attention of some of the other forces searching for it, to its location. And if any of them find it, we might as well just give up right now."

"No sweat, big guy," he told his temporary 'ally.' "I'll go find your bauble, call for a pickup, and once I'm done with it, we'll both be able to go home and sleep the sleep of the just."

He picked up his knapsack with the three days worth of emergency supplies he'd brought along with him, just in case things didn't go as smoothly as Primary said they would, slung it onto his back atop the machete already hung there, gave the still sleeping Tara a kiss on the forehead and stepped through, flicking on his flashlight to guide him along the darkened path.

~~~

"Well now, what do we have here?" he asked himself rhetorically as he bent down and lifted the faintly glimmering ring from the stream's rock and silt covered bottom. It was a plain gold band, completely devoid of any markings, and looked as though it were hardly worth enough to offer to a pawnbroker.

The faintest whisper of movement from behind him gave him sufficient warning that he managed to duck, grab an arm and throw his assailant off his back as it attacked and into the deeper areas of the stream, allowing him to begin backing away.

"Mine!" a hunched-over, wizened, skeletal-looking creature screamed at him as it immediately resumed its attack. "My Precious! Mine! Give it to me! My Precious!!!"

Despite its seemingly negligible size, the creature wasn't something to be ignored (After all, Buffy, although quite easy on the eyes, didn't look all that physically imposing, either) since it was surprisingly fast and its nails had grown into quite formidable and nasty looking claws, he noticed as he dodged an attempt to disembowel him and a subsequent effort to claw out his eyes.

"Back off, asshole," he barked, even as he reached for his machete.

"Back off or I'll turn you into rat food," he advised as he held the heavy blade up warningly.

The creature ignored him entirely, still screaming for its 'Precious' as it leaped at him. After going up against creatures four or more times faster and stronger than your average human being, though, this scrawny looking knockoff of one of Glory's scabrous minions wasn't nearly good enough to take him down.

The machete swung downward and the screeching stopped in mid-threat.

After positioning his back against one of the stone walls to prevent any more attacks from the rear and wiping the blade clean on a spare rag he kept for just that purpose, he took a moment to more closely examine his find. A second examination provided no new insights or information, and he was just opening his mouth to call out to his self-styled benefactor when he decided to make sure that he regained those things he had come in search of, just in case Primary decided to renegotiate the terms of their agreement at the last moment.

Slipping the ring onto his right ring finger, he focused his thoughts on the memories, skills and any residual physical traces of the Hyena that had been stolen from him and willed for them to be returned to him.

Mystical forces swirled around the ring for a moment, searching for what its wielder desired, and then ethereal tendrils shot forth to do as commanded.

~~~

Several dimensions off to one metaphysical side, the guy who had accepted an offer of empowerment from a badly dressed individual reminiscent of a 70's pimp tripping on acid suddenly found himself racked with almost intolerable pain as arcane forces began ripping away the skills and abilities he had really had no right to accept.

The pain faded quickly, though, as the Kaliff demon he was battling took advantage of his momentary inattention and ripped out his throat.

~~~

Warmth and a feeling of completeness suffused his body an instant after he expressed his desire, and he took a moment to revel in the reclaimed memories and skills.

When he opened his eyes again, he looked down at the ring and used the newly restored arcane sensitivity the Hyena Spirit had left behind to truly view the thin band encircling his finger.

Most likely as a result of the fact that the magic of his universe differed in several minor ways from the magic permeating this dimension, he could easily perceive the Power flowing into and around the artifact he now wore. And what was more, the Knowledge that had been embodied in the Ring when it was first forged now flowed into him.

Blinking his now-golden-yellow eyes with their blood-red irises, he smiled and gestured, and a portal unfolded to allow him entry.

Smiling as he contemplated his upcoming meeting with the unsuspecting Pricks and Total Bastards, he stepped through to embrace his destiny.

~~~

A thousand miles away, as the portal closed, Sauron and Mount Doom both roared in protest and anguish as the eldritch bonds connecting them to the ring were finally and irrevocably severed. The Dark Lord screamed in agony as he felt his power ripped away, tearing his essence to pieces, and the mountain exploded, rivers of lava pouring forth to engulf and then incinerate those forces of Mordor that had somehow managed to survive the initial explosion.

At nine locations across the face of the world, loud, anguish-filled screams of pain were abruptly cut short, simultaneous with mysterious implosions of arcane energy.

Throughout Mordor and its environs, creatures allied with the Dark Lord felt an abrupt cessation of his presence, leaving them wondering what happened with growing horror, doubt and fear, while to the West, any being with any degree of arcane sensitivity turned and gazed in bafflement at the ruddy glow now illuminating the distant horizon.

"Well now, I think we should be getting a move on, shouldn't we?" Bilbo asked as he finished cleaning up their noon meal's remains while Thorin and the other dwarves muttered to themselves about the possible portents the far-off atmospheric display might offer for their journey.



FIN

The End

You have reached the end of "Repo Man". This story is complete.

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