Alexander MacClintock, On Sunnydale’s Plains…
Disclaimer: The ATS and BTVS stuff is owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy; Dave Weber and John Ringo own ‘March Upcountry’ and its sequels and characters. All I did was merge some ideas and this happened. I’ve been sitting on this for a year, and decided to post it unbeta-ed. Had I posted it, it would have been my second fanfic attempt.
Dedicated to… the readers … and to Drake the Archer, whose Alexander Harrington fanfic, Knight of the Sword, inspired me to finally get around and posting a different Weber crossover. So blame him…LOL
In the future… on a Different World…
“Crap, not another portal…” Alexander laughed, “I guess I’m supposed to head home, Roger. Or somewhere else I can make a bit of difference.”
Sunnydale, Three Local Years Earlier
Xander Harris sighed as the real love of his life, Buffy Summers, exchanged blows with Angelus, who had made their lives hell these last few months and had killed Daniel Osbourne and put Jenny Calendar into a coma on Valentine’s Day. Having gotten Giles to the car, Xander pulled out a few items from his trip to the armory back in January, and headed back in, knives and personal weapons strapped on, and M-16 at the ready.
Xander watched as William the Bloody and his crazy paramour watched Angelus fight, minions held back for amusement’s sake. Xander simply opened up on the minions, going for a buzz saw effect on legs and feet. The young man knew he rally didn’t have the full set of skills or ability of the soldier guy, but he couldn’t let Buffy die or the world end without being there trying his best. Alarmed by the sudden incapacitation of the minions in the warehouse, Spike grabbed Drusilla and made toward the back exit as Xander continued firing, reloaded twice. The armed youth was half-way through his final magazine when the minions were dust and a smirking Angelus prepared to swing his sword down on Buffy’s neck.
Xander fired a few rounds as he noticed the vampire’s eyes flash; the vampire dropped to his knees in front of an open portal, Buffy blocking Xander’s view. Afraid of hurting her, Xander ran forward, kicked the swords into the portal. Angel half-heartedly batted away the barrel of the gun; Xander remembered Giles’ words for closing the portal, and so kicked Angel hard in the chest. Slinging the gun over his shoulder, he grabbed the vampire and picked him. The vampire grabbed him, more just to keep from falling.
Xander heard Buffy, “Xander be careful…”
The young man then stumbled as he pushed Angel toward the portal, but couldn’t free himself, so as the two spun into the now-closing portal, he called out, “Love you Buffy…”
And then they were gone, and the blonde Slayer wept…
The Empire of Man, Eight Years Earlier
They could never be quite certain as to the real culprit behind the attack, though the Empress suspected Kellerman merely wishing to test her patience on top of her security. The throne room was not usually the scene for assassination attempts, especially not with most of her family present, but somehow three cabinet ministers were suddenly taking out her guardsmen at the door, slapping electronic devices to the main data access points on the armor, then tossing stun grenades from those soldiers into the crowd.
The Empress watched as a strange swirling effect erupted in the side area of the room, emptied of conscious resistance and not yet noticed by the killers. A young man, bloodied, gear and a sword strapped to his back, large sword and archaic projectile weapon in the arm, barely landed on his feet, the smell of sulfur rushing into the room, staggering those still conscious. Two toot-zombies, cyber-overridden guardsmen now forced to fire into their comrades and wards, started to turn back as the three cabinet members turned assassin spread to cover the room
The young man saw the guardsmen fire towards children and fired point-blank into their helmetless skulls from behind. The Empress herself had been near the children rather than the throne itself when everything went to hell. That spoiled son of hers ran out from beside her at the same time she saw the cabinet ministers turn and fire at her.
Xander Harris had been in Hell for fifteen minutes, or fifteen hours, it was hard to tell between the sword fighting and the running away from REALLY big demons. He was glad that Deadboy seemed the focus of the first group of demons of any intelligence; it allowed him make good a temporary escape, dodging bug-demons. He paused only long enough to gather up his stuff and leap for what looked to be another portal that seemed to open around the bugs, and hoped for the best.
‘It can’t be much worse than this,’ he thought, then came out into what looked like a sci-fi firefight with bad guys shooting at unarmed civilians, mainly kids. ‘but bad enough.’
He quickly fired at the would-be kid-killers, ending them and turning to assess the situation when a teen his age ran from cover. Xander saw the remaining assassins move in for the kill, and pushed the brave boy out of the path of the weapons, firing the M-16 empty as his body ensured the lives of Roger and Alexandra.
Xander was quite disoriented for the first moments of regaining consciousness, and awoke to find himself strapped down in a hospital bed, a nurse trying to calm him.
“Where, how?” he asked as his mind caught up with an important fact, “I’m alive? And not in Hell any more…”
He heard a light chuckling, and voices in the background sounding like they were calling someone. He opened his eyes to see a young man his own age.
“Y-you’re the one from the shooting place…” he half-muttered, “Are you and the lady okay?”
The boy smiled, “Thanks to you, I didn’t die bravely.”
“It’s not bad doing what’s right,” Xander said, with help of the young man and nurse being helped to a sitting position, “Um, I feel my body…does that mean everything works?”
“It should, you’ve received the best care in the Empire.”
“I said you’ve received the best care in the Empire.”
“Oh, so when I came out of the portal thingy I DID pick the good guys?”
A firm female voice from the doorway answered the question, “I would say so, Alexander Harris. And you have Our Thanks.”
“Whoa! I’m slow sometimes, but I heard some Capital Letters…and how do you know my name…my head’s so fuzzy *I* can barely remember it.”
The woman allowed a very small smile as four bodyguards ‘unobtrusively’ positioned themselves in the room, “You had archaic identification on you when they brought you here. WE have a few questions.”
“Um, can I get a glass of water, please? And please use small words, I’m still a little confused, here.”
The woman waited for the boy to drink, and showed slight amazement that her son Roger poured it for him and didn’t leave the room when she came in.
“Okay, um, can I ask a question first?” Xander asked, and received a nod in return as s man in his early forties entered and sat down next to the woman, “Um, where and when am I in this world?”
“You’re in the capital city, and it’s the 23rd of May.”
“Um, I’m gonna guess this isn’t the year 1998 in this world, huh?”
“Alexander, please tell us your full story, and we’ll then provide you with information.”
“Okay, here goes…” and while he dryly gave them details of pre-Buffy life, after that he decided to go for broke and tell them everything. A technician in a military uniform that sat off to the side seemed to be checking an instrument panel as the story progressed. Xander answered questions, gave explanations and after three hours finished with his time in Hell and arrival here. Alexandra and the man next to her left the room to confer for the moment, Roger leaning in.
“That was really the truth?”
“Yeah, but you don’t believe me, huh?”
“Actually I do, because it sounds like you’re from a different dimension nearly two thousand years ago. And since you could have helped murder the Royal Family, just let it happen, or save us…I believe you, Alexander.”
“Call me Xander…even if they decide to dump me in a dark hole, it’d be nice to have made one friend before they do.”
“I won’t let them…”
“Won’t let us do what, Roger?” the returning woman asked directly.
“I won’t let you disappear him; we owe him.” Softer but looking his mother and brother in the eye, “*I* owe him.”
The woman sighed, about to say something, when the man next to her gently placed his hand on her forearm, “Mother, you have your solution right there. Roger vouches for his *friend* who happened to be there and using … hallucinogenic gas, slowed the attackers and bought the loyal guardsmen time to terminate the threat.”
Roger and Alexander looked at the man, and together, “What?”
The two glanced at each in then turned to see Alexandra nod, “That will work for now, John. Alexander, having seen you come out of that thing, and smell like the Hell you claim, I can’t entirely dissuade myself from feeling indebted to you. But I cannot take the risk of having you around my whole family; you are too much of an unknown…”
Roger and Alexander both look disheartened, Xander speaking up, “I understand, ma’am…”
The woman held up her hand to stop him from continuing, instead speaking, “So you will become Roger’s responsibility and shadow. What he does, you do, and what he learns, you learn. And if you can’t keep up, he will have to make up the difference until he can get you to that level. Roger…do you accept?”
Roger drew himself up, and stared back at his mother, then nodded, “Yes, mother, though I ask that Xander be provided with whatever is needed to keep up.”
“He prefers it to Alexander.”
She smiled slightly with what could be mistaken for approval, turning to Xander, “You have our thanks, but I cannot give anyone Our Trust. John, determine would is necessary, and see to allocating whatever is needed for Roger’s Shadow.”
That had become the beginning of the most amazing life imaginable to Xander, though at times he knew that some light sabers might have increased the coolness factor just a bit. He’d been terrified and queasy when he’d awakened with what turned out to be the latest and greatest of toots, cybernetic interface and storage systems designed to maximize and multiply the potential and effectiveness of military, Guard and Imperial personnel to whom they were implanted. This in addition to the Imperial-level nanite package
Without really appreciating what that meant, Xander had agreed at the urging of his friend, who would soon if not immediately be undergoing a full upgrade of the same. But no one could really appreciate the effects of the prior Hyena possession, or the implantation of soldier memories would mean to the boy when everything ‘fired up.’
And at the time, Xander hadn’t been in the frame of mind to differentiate. The interesting thing that many doctors can tell you about memory, is that it is pretty much always there once formed. So for Xander, possession by the Primal Hyena and by the Soldier, meant that even though access had rapidly faded, it was all still there.
And with the very efficient cybernetic enhancement, it all came back to him, though luckily both previous ‘incarnations’ had manifested as versions of himself. And the nanites received instructions from his expanded mind and altered to meet the input-gathering criteria.
The technicians watched in awe as over the next week his body took in and processed two hundred pounds of nutrients, proteins, minerals and medical fluids. Muscles formed rapidly, bones strengthened to keep up with the musculature, and whenever they sought to add painkillers or sedatives, the body and nanites reacted as tough invaded. So the boy screamed in agony, and to the amazement of most, Prince Roger remained encamped in the young man’s room the entire time.
Her Majesty and the leading technologists and xeno-biologists had gathered to discuss the situation, ad after four days Xander bean to level out and simply maximize upon what he had. That was when Roger, who’d carefully listened in to the speculations and discourse (for once), stepped forward and volunteered to undergo similar procedures, with nannites and downloads taken from Xander over the last four days. His brother John and his mother the Empress, looked at him in stunned disbelief, John responding first.
“Why, Roger, you barely know the boy?”
“I owe him. And I’ve heard the scientists say that the blood work had properties that are starting to fade. I also noticed that I have the same blood type, and am the only one here that would not be considered a great loss. And if the benefits of this can be tapped, it should be by MacClintocks.”
Roger was surprised when his mother disagreed, so used to her ambivalence if not outright avoidance.
“No Roger, we’ll just see if it can be duplicated in the future; from what the specialists convey, it might be a subtle variant of his being from a different dimension. There isn’t a good reason to risk anyone without long-term study.”
Xander awoke in exhaustion, but no pain…always of the good. The smells and sounds then began in earnest, but after a while he was able to control it. Next to him, in another comfortable bed, awoke Prince Roger, and as the medical staff released both of them, Xander shook off the vestiges of sleepiness and uncertainty.
“Whoa…I didn’t really expect it to make super-Xander,” the seventeen-year-old sighed, “Hey, Roger-Dodger, you really should have warned me about that.”
“No one knew the treatment would do that, Xander,” the sixteen-year-old Prince chuckled with an eye-roll, then shooed the staff out with a wave of the hand so they could dress and talk in peace. “We think that from your screaming and physical development, that you must have still had the possessions in you that you told us about.”
Xander was about to protest or scream ‘what the f---’ but his mind quickly affirmed his friend’s statement, instinctual memories of the Primal, and the analysis of the soldier manifesting themselves instantly at his mind’s pursuit.
“Oh? I guess that sums it up. Any way, I decided that since you seemed to be surviving it, I’d get my full upgrades done while waiting. Put the black ensemble on, I believe it suits you better.”
“I have the feeling I’m going to have to dress fashionably from now on?” Xander sighed, but not missing his Hawaiian shirts *too* much.
“Yes, but I remember you liked colors, so we’ll just make sure that yours won’t cause anyone’s eyes to scream unless I hate them.”
The two shared a laugh, the first genuine for both in quite a while. Things were looking up.
Six Years Later
The polite dinner aboard the Charles DeGlopper saw a slightly fidgety Prince Roger barely fulfill his role as gracious guest, providing minimum interaction to Captain Krasnitsky. Xander smiled, recalling that only by attending dinner would Roger be shown the experimental ammunition and specs for the big game weapons they both used on Roger’s enthusiastic hunting sojourns.
Alexander smiled to himself as he remembered once again the odd turn of events that had given him a ‘brother’ and a purpose. Six years in which he and Roger had learned almost everything about each other, only certain deep-seeded family stuff Not Discussed. Six years in which Xander had become a unwilling but very gifted clothes aficionado and Roger a capable archaic weapons expert in case a portal opened that might spew forth demons. Xander with an obvious eye-roll participated in, or at least acquiesced in Roger’s sporadic efforts to annoy his family.
The two were inseparable, by choice as well as Her Majesty’s previous orders, and Xander insisted several times on at least publicly dating beautiful social climbers to dissuade the occasional rumor of homosexuality; The Xan-Man might not have a problem with others, but he definitely only had a thing for girls. In particular a blonde woman who by now might either have died fighting some vamp; hopefully she was still alive and had found a nice *human* guy to be happy with.
Such thoughts, and similar hopes for his Willow, kept Xander steady during the intensive education, the training at the Academy and the truly frightening forays during leave when Roger went on shopping instead of hunting expeditions. The young man smiled at the latter, still believing some of that enthusiasm *must* be in retaliation of Xander insisting on Marine as well as Roger’s basic Naval course of study at the Academy. Longer hours, more strenuous physical and weapons work, both pressing the other to do better had been capitalized upon by the instructors. The teachers and trainers rolled their eyes at the pair of off-duty dandies, but used the obsessive ‘Pack’ bond between the two to great effect.
Xander smiled at how the dichotomy of dandy and achiever seemed to hold a ‘Sunnydale Effect’ in how others viewed the Prince, and himself by extension. In spite of the fact that after graduation, in response to a snippy remark he’d overheard by a just-retired member of ‘Gold’ battalion that he was sure that with such a clueless effete Prince, ‘Bronze’ had the toughest job. Dressed in simple Marine fatigues without rank, as Xander sometimes did just to relax as he took walks, he’d told the man that he’d overheard the Prince and his sidekick talking about going through the course themselves.
The sergeant had looked shocked, and then slightly dismissive, and it had led to Xander attracting a little attention and placing a wager equal to a months’ pay for the sergeant, at fifty to one. The man’s friends, drinking and enjoying his retirement bash, got into it as well.
Four months later, Xander dressed in a multi-colored spider silk brocade and vest, had happily collected from the Gold members just before coming aboard the DeGlopper
Krasnitsky smiled, and addressed the young companion as Roger exchanged pleasantries with Captain Pahner, “So, I’ve heard you’re a game hunter, um, Mr. Harris.”
“Lieutenant Harris,” Roger corrected, causing Xander to roll his eyes so slightly only Pahner might have noticed.
“That’s alright Your Highness,” Xander smiled and used the address appropriate for formal situations, “He after all is bringing up a subject we like to talk about.”
Roger smiled freely for the first time that evening, “True enough, Xander, my apologies, Captain.”
The officer was somewhat unsure of how to respond to an apology *from* Royalty, but Xander saved him.
“So Captain, please call me Xander, when people actually use my commissioned rank I look for my drill instructors and ready myself for another 20-km run.”
That remarked actually earned a few chuckles from those of military service as Roger feigned great woe, “And whenever He did something wrong, Mother’s orders were to include *me* in the correction as well. I swear, if we ever did have a situation, Captain Pahner even suited up would have to call in Fleet support to catch up with us if it happens at OH-FIVE-HUNDRED, because Xander and I would have covered the first 20 klicks before we even woke up.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Xander smirked, then teased, “But at least when the local constabulary arrests us in the meantime for indecent exposure, I rest assured that your one free comm.-call will not be to a lawyer, but to have Kostas bring us clothing suitable for rescue.” Even the Bronze personnel were hard-pressed to suppress smiles, and Xander continued, “I at least will call Eleanor to fit it into your schedule as a planned appearance so we don’t look *too* stupid. My firm consolation is she’s smarter than we are and might actually let Captain Pahner know where to look first. God forbid, we have to stay there long enough to be dressed in prison attire…solid orange is SO not our color.”
Captain Pahner remained intrigued and confused by the Prince’s Companion, and considered again how both of them could achieve honestly excellent marks in the important things, but remain apparent and aware dandies; at least only the Prince was a brat. Lieutenant Harris, though, remained a paradox. And while intriguing, he hated uncertainty.
He watched as again the two young men, after discussing the new lighter but equally powerful rounds for their Parker and Spencer hunting rifles. HE himself was amazed at their detailed knowledge, and listened as Xander explained how the new rounds while the same overall volume and bullet payload, in truth were about half the weight of the original rounds.
Roger smiled, “So this was the surprise you mentioned when you kept me from complaining TOO loudly about this trip when Mother dumped it on us?”
“She dumped it on you; other than blowing all my winnings as ‘rental’ on those new prototype third-weight models of armor with stealth, *I* have a bunch of regular-mass rounds that can be used for shooting those big shark-things that keep eater the netters.”
“Just how powerful?” Roger smiled almost in embarrassment, he should have known his ‘brother’ was up to something by the amused look when Mother had sprung her mission.
“Effectively four times the punch.”
“My gods,” Pahner choked, frowning in contemplation from where he’d been finishing up his exercise routine. Roger chuckled.
“Xander, I think you broke him,” the Prince faux-whined, “Mother will kill me; that’s the fourth Captain you’ve broken this month.”
Pahner shot him a look caught between amusement and frustration, causing Roger to continue, “Nope, he’s back.”
Xander verbally stepped in, “Our apologies, sir, right O’ Master of the Gun?”
Roger looked at him, zinged yet again, and shook his head, leaning toward the commander of his company of babysitters in a conspiratorial manner, “He followed me home, and Mother’s made me take care of him ever since; his only virtue is … wait! He has no virtues!”
Pahner shook his head, never before actually seeing this side of the Prince, almost a human, though still acting like an entry-level Academy Cadet. And was further surprised, “Captain, you DO have my apology in this; Xander’s right. But I order you not to reveal to anyone I occasionally have an intelligent thought in my head or the remotest sense of consideration.”
Xander interrupted, “Not only would they disbelieve you, but you might be locked in a psych ward so great a delusion from reality.”
The officer wisely remained quiet and decided for the moment that repression of this whole trip might be a good idea.
Captain Pahner had been amazed again, that in spite of Roger’s expected behavior, the Prince and the Shadow, as Xander was sometimes nicknamed, had actually contributed to the chances of the company’s survival on Marduk, the barbarous super-swampy world they would have to march across to save the Prince and have a hope at reaching the Empire again once the Saints finished destroying the DeGlopper.
The two had surprised him when he found out that with the exception of clothing and their specific projectile weaponry, almost all gear was in the form of multi-tools with settings that made sense from the points of view, of big game hunters, Marines and bodyguards. And even the valet and chief of staff had been forced to comply with the obsession with the prospect of Roger having another hunt on this trip.
Pahner had to admit that from a hauling around perspective it would make dealing with the Prince’s idiosynchrocies a bit easier, as instead of a hundred and twenty kilos of stuff he’d be forced to fight the Prince over, he could let pass thirty kilograms of things that might prove useful. And it had led to suggestions for quickly reprogramming the two personal settings on others’ multi-tools for ones that would be geared toward maintenance of gear, or development of resources on the march.
The next shock was the fact that Roger after much complaining had attended the meeting in the more-form-fitting and lighter armor, as had the ‘Shadow,’ and on them both during the discussions the group had been amazed to find that much of the extra gear was spread out over the two men, weapons, multi-tools and all. ‘Proto-type, hell, when we get back it’s going to become standard for the company.’ Pahner considered, ‘The only things they aren’t carrying are their shared loads and those smoke-poles they insist on.’
And the second meeting with the Prince, regarding the Royal wardrobe…
"But what am I going to wear?" the prince asked. He pulled at the uniform he'd recently changed into. "You can't expect me to go through each and every day in this? . . . Can you?"
"Your Highness, Prince Roger," Pahner said calmly, keeping himself physically under control, "Each of the military personnel will be carrying on his own back six spare pairs of socks, a spare uniform, personal hygiene equipment, five kilos of proteins and vitamin supplements, rations, additional ammunition and power packs for their weapons, additional ammunition for squad and company level weaponry, a bivy tent, his multi-tool, a rucksack fluid pouch with six kilos of water, and up to ten kilos of personal gear. The load will total out at between fifty and sixty kilos. In addition, the entire Company will be switching off carrying powered armor and additional trade goods, ammunition, and power packs."
Pahner regarded his nominal commander steadily, and had to say something.
"If you order the Company, in addition to all these necessities, to carry your spare pajamas, morning clothes, evening clothes, and a dress uniform in case there's a parade, they will." The company commander smiled thinly. "But I find the idea extremely . . . ill advised."
Xander interjected himself before this could get much worse, “Roger, who do we have to impress on this swamp world? And between the stilsuits we had made for us, O’Casey and Kostas, that’ll compensate for a lot. Plus you have the same features as the liner for the armor you’re wearing.”
“Stilsuits, Sha—” Pahner began, then caught himself as Xander smiled.
“Et tu, Capitan?” Xander smirked, “Shadow is not the worst thing I’ve been called, and yes, stilsuits. On the world I come from, they had bodysuits that were designed for being insanely miserly about water in the open desert. His Highness and I have used them on our hunts, as they are less bulky than regular armor, while being made of much the same materials as a chameleon suit. Except for minimal loss when not wearing headgear, they’re about ninety-five percent effective, and with headgear, not really advisable in the wetter climate, the efficiency approaches a hundred percent. I’m hoping to market them on our return.”
Intrigued, Pahner gestured for him to continue, even though he recognized the well-timed intervention as a move to defuse the situation.
“They weigh about four percent of a person’s mass, which in His Highness’ case means just four kilos, and allows a reduction of two kilos of water as the system is designed to, um, recycle body water, and um, with nanites, necessary minerals leeched from the body. It includes complete coverage including the very back of the head and in the front up to the chin, and the gloves and headband are included in the mass figures. The rucksack mass covers the rest of the mass differential. The Prince merely forgot how absolutely magnificently barbarian-prince he looks in it, especially since he can use his pad to have the chameleon aspects take on whatever color-scheme he feels appropriate to the occasion. For overall mass, this should also result in Kostas and Eleanor being able to experience a small mass savings as well as helping their survival likelihood.”
“Your point, Lieutenant Harris?”
“Between Roger, myself, Kostas and Eleanor, we could each manage *one* uniform each, right Your Highness?”
“Um, yes, thank you Xander, that was far more detailed and long-winded but I guess far-better explained than I planned.”
Xander spoke up, “Though I *do* have a five kilo reload set I’m hoping His Highness will agree to carry for our rifles, since I can probably manage *some* use of local materials for replacements if needed.”
Captain Pahner looked at the Shadow, “You don’t seem to rely on anything electronic, do you? What about your…stilsuits?”
“For the most part, solely operated on body heat and the mechanical power of human body movement. I don’t want to die on a hunt because I forgot to change the batteries.”
Roger sighed, finding himself overruled by logic that benefited him far too much to complain about, “Alright, alright. I’ll carry the reloads, but nothing more.”
The Captain nevertheless considered it a victory, even with the damn reload kit Shadow Harris slipped in. And those *swords* they carried…
Marduk had been a cock-up and a half; months of continuous travel, incessant negotiation only broken up by the never-ending fight against the flora, fauna and enemy-of-the-day. But through it all, somehow, standing on the bridge of the captured Saints’ vessel made it worth it even though the company had been reduced to a mere forty souls. Roger had become a MacClintock Prince in fact as well as name, and they all had the scars physical and mental to show for it.
Xander, who’d shown an amazing ability to sense danger and carry out the black ops requirements with amazing effect, had earned his nickname as one of professional respect rather than derisive association. Between the two young men and their less-than-modern arsenal, the company had watched an impressive swath of death performed skillfully and with frightening grace.
Pahner contemplated the months of warfare, something beyond the imagination of vid producers, and how many heart attacks the pair had put him through. And when Lt. Harris blew apart the Saint Captain for merely twitching, he’d nearly reamed him a good one until the deadly device slipped harmlessly from the enemy’s hand to reveal what would have happened.
Her Majesty gathered them all together, the Empire was whole if badly strained, but now-Colonel Harris’ team achieving a direct and personal elimination of Prince Jackson of Kellerman led quickly to the ensuing collapse of disloyal Fleet units and the resultant pursuit of a handful of traitors on their personal vessels toward Saints territory.
Prince Roger had as much as possible been bringing together the government and making sure the rot was excised legally from the system, while Xander had been used to quietly ensure many of the worst would never make it to a cell. As both men knew, the fragile state of the Empire of Man might not survive too many hits.
And with Her Majesty’s mind slipping between her true and slave personae…one could only wonder why they’d all been called to formally Dress and Attend. So in his full armor with appropriate flourishes and decoration of rank, he and the others were amazed when Alexandra announced she would be abdicating as soon as the meeting was over, with Roger assuming the throne.
Xander was happy for his friend, but hoped the Empress would be able to fully regain herself some day. The family needed to heal. The Empress thanked everyone, and bestowed honors appropriate to their deeds. She was approaching Xander when the portal manifested itself.
“Crap, not another portal…” Alexander laughed, “I guess I’m supposed to head home, Roger. Or somewhere else I can make a bit of difference.”
Alexandra approached him, “Are you sure, Alexander? You have a home here.”
“Thanks Your Majesty, but I still have family and duty elsewhere as well. Maybe I was always supposed to be here and help out.”
“In that case,” she considered, “Everyone! Load him up with full kit and whatever valuables he can carry! He may leave us, but he will leave prepared and with our thanks!”
Roger came forward and hugged his brother as Alexandra continued speaking and directing. The brothers made eye contact and just nodded. Her Majesty came over.
“Alexander, for what it’s worth, I name you Alexander MacClintock, Duke of New Madrid and Prince of Kellerman, and again thank you.” The Guard and Veterans in only a few minutes had put together a big ‘care package’ and he smiled.
“Thank you, and just to make his life Hell, I name Armand Pahner as my son, regent and heir, effective immediately, with Nimashet and Kosutic as his daughters of our recognition. So there, Nimashet! You’re now a fairy-tale princess! Just be yourself and be Roger’s Heart more than anything else.
He smiled as the others showed surprise, “Roger, Alexandra… Be family. Be true to each other. Alexandra, you might not be Empress, but that doesn’t mean behind Family doors you can’t give him your counsel. As mother and as a monarch.”
He smiled at them all, loaded up the backpack, dew the Acathla sword, and nicking his cheek slightly for blood, hit the camouflage button and leapt…
Things were not going well for the Scooby Gang. Jonathan, Amy and Tara lay unconscious and badly injured on the ground; Dawn was up on the poorly-erected tower, Buffy though she had managed to kill Doc, still had to worry about Glory once Willow, Spike and the others could no longer delay the vengeful hell goddess.
Buffy saw only one way to close the portal, again according to Giles it required blood. So cutting her hand, she bade Dawn good bye and leapt into the portal.
‘My turn, Xander…’ she thought as her hand brushed against the portal. But she was extremely surprised when a large ‘space knight’ blurring against the vortex background, came out of the swirl and caught her in one arm, a big sword in the other as they lifted slightly and landed at the edge of the structure. Noticing how his mass was effecting the steel, he picked up both Summers women and ‘gently’ tossed them toward the main section of the tower, just in time for the arm to give. He seemed lightning fast as he sheathed his sword and clamped his dangling helmet around his head just before crashing down into the back of an empty dump truck.
The Knight recovered after a moment, which as Glory noticed the rapidly closing portal filed her with uncontrollable rage. The hell goddess charged as Xander recovered and dropped down to the ground. His scanners showed her to be clearly nonhuman and radiating a LOT of power. He stepped aside as her first then made contact with and dented the truck. He drew out the Acathla sword again, watching as a vampre charged behind her in full game-face.
The young ‘knight’ quipped at the anger of the hell goddess, “That’s gonna bruise.”
The hell goddess, enraged, stepped forward, exhaustion starting to show, and from lower right to upper left, spinning as fast and hard as the armor would allow, he sliced open Glorificus, and with momentum swung backwards to cleanly decapitate the vampire and halfway through the neck of Glory-turning-into-Ben from lack of cohesive energy. The transformation not yet complete, the body combusted in the manner of vampires, but with a great burst of heat and sparkles that drove Xander to a kneeling position. The ground around him showed scorch marks.
Xander sighed, checked his suit readings, and released the helmet again, pulling his butt-length braided hair out and down his right front.
“Two in one blow! Not giants or flies, but that has to be a record,” he smiled to himself. He watched as somewhat familiar figures approached. He checked on two young women, injecting them with regen-drugs that seemed to be bringing them around, “Have to ration these, don’t have that many.”
The group warily and wearily stepped toward him as he moved toward the short dark-haired man still moaning on the ground. He heard with a smile the redhead babble to the blonde he’d just injected, the group he could sense easing up since it seemed he was definitely friend instead of foe. Sighing for a moment as he watched his last patient begin to stir, he sat on a backhoe bucket, cleaned his sword, and shook his head.
“What? Twice I half to deal with portals and save the day, and still no hug? No justice for the Xan-Man, I tell ya…”
Buffy, who’d thought she’d soon be following him in death in a hell dimension, was the first to catch on first, and started to run forward, “Xander?!”
She jumped into the air, the others amazed that he didn’t do more than sway a little as they embraced. Face against the chest piece of his armor, head tucked under his chin, she could feel him smile as he spoke.
“Hey Buff, guess the armor is resistant to Slayer-hugs?”
Buffy quickly sobbed, letting out joy, grief, sadness, and everything, “I missed you, Xander. Oh god, I missed you.”
She repeated it several times, the man rocking her slightly as he reveled in the scent of her hair, as a big part of his dreams of his youth were fulfilled, “Not much better than Buffy hugs, Buff.”
A red blur detached from its blonde girlfriend and joined the embrace, causing to smile and muse aloud, “Unless of course it’s a Buffy and Willow hug.”
The remaining group, exhausted though they were, helped Jonathan, Amy and Tara to their vehicles. Xander guides his two friends behind them.
“Guess I’m back again…so what’s been happening these last eight years? Anything interesting? You gals finally graduate from college?”
“Eight years?!” Willow asked in surprise, “It’s only been three here…eww! Is that Glory’s blood all over you?”
“Yeah, and that vamp’s dust, I guess,” he remarked, looking at it. “I see we all have some catching up to do. Is there any place I can clean up and change out of the armor while you get your injured checked at the hospital?”
Willow considered the matter, “Um, Dawn and I’ll take Giles and Jonathan, Jenny’ll drive Tara and Amy…” The computer teacher looking quite tired, seemed to have been gathering up weapons from the scene.
“Xander and I will walk back to the house,” Buffy decided, “and meet you guys there later.”
“Good call, my armor and gear would probably break those two compact cars.
After moving all evidence to the vehicles, Buffy and Xander walked in companionable silence, though close together until she spoke first.
“Eight years, huh?”
“Yeah, only three? What happened after I … left?”
“Yeah, um, about three months later, Angel returned from Hell, he had his soul.”
“Guessed that while we tumbled to the other side.”
“But he left about a month later; Giles threatened to stake him if he came back without being called to help with an apocalypse.”
“Good for him.”
“And being Sunnydale there were just a couple…”
The two shared a smiling chuckle, and she continued, “Let’s see, oh, so he went to LA and started this whole Rescuer Guy thing. Another Slayer, Faith, showed up with an old vamp a lot like the Master but not as much personality on her tail, but we helped her and she dusted him. A couple of apocalypses later, and the Mayor tried to become a Big Demon at Graduation, but luckily Giles and Angel caused a big gas explosion that took the school and the demon up with it. I dated a soldier guy in college for about a year but it didn’t work out. Jonathan joined us after a Cyborg-Frankenstein Guy started trying to create a demon-cyborg army. Willow’s dating the blonde girl with her, Tara, then before Mom died Dawn—”
“Whoa…Buffy, I’m so sorry,” Xander told her, shocked by the passing of Joyce Summers.
“Aak, Xander, Robo-Cop strength, here…”
“Oops, sorry, Buffy.”
“Any way, Glory, the hell goddess you killed, ‘s been trying to find Dawn for the last few months, and we were losing when you came out of nowhere and saved the day; saved me.”
He side-hugged her, gently this time, “That’s why I’m here, Buff…so who’s Dawn that this Glory would want to kill her.”
“Your mom adopted? Wow?”
“No,” Buffy sighed, then explained the whole Monk and Glory show.
The two reunited friends reach the Summers residence and head into the backyard, then hose him off. Xander after so many years simply begins to remove the armor and strips his stilsuit off in front of her. Immodestly hosing himself out, he accepts a couple of kitchen towels from the blushing but somewhat appreciative young woman. Trying unsuccessfully not to peek, she notices his very well-musceld physique as he pulls out very tight black pants, a snug black silk tunic with v-neck, black ‘socks’ and knee-high black ‘leather’ boots. He looks at the black gloves, but repacks them.
“Like the outfit?” he asks with a smile as he uses a multi-tool set on ‘big pocking bag’ to contain his armor and gear, “It’s only a month out of style but it’s a practical ensemble.”
“Yeah, wow! And I never thought I’d ever heat Xander Harris talk style…”
He smiled devilishly as he kissed her hand, “Well, actually, it’s now Alexander MacClintock, Duke of New Madrid, and Prince of Kellerman. At your service, good woman.”
“I’ve been busy…” he smiled as they entered her kitchen, catching her eye with a twinkle in his own. He watches as she makes a pot of coffee, a small sigh escaping at being able to enjoy ‘normalcy’ again.
“What? You’re smiling, Xander.”
“Just thinking, if I were to take you out to dinner, and put a few pounds on you, you’d be even more beautiful than the first time I saw you in high school.”
Buffy blushes, then mock-glares, “So you’re saying I’m unattractive?”
“I could never think of you in any way but stunning, Buffy. But I like the idea of feeding you.”
“I missed you,” she told him as this time she hugged an unarmored Xander, “I, I thought it was my turn tonight…and hoped I’d see you again. Don’t ever leave me again.”
“Buffy, with you here in my arms, why would I want to be anywhere else.”
He could feel her smile as she responded, “So you really want to take me out to dinner?”
“Yeah, I’d like that a lot.”
After a moment, they sat holding each other quietly on the couch, sipping coffee until they fell asleep that way.
The turning of the key in the lock of the front door, slowly brought the two on the couch slowly and comfortably awake, but they didn’t really move as in walked Giles, Willow, Dawn, Tara, Amy, Jonathan, and Jenny.
Giles shook his head and smiled as the two began to sit up, “Good Lord, it wasn’t an hallucination…”
“G-Man, you don’t know how good it is to hear *your* British intonation,” Xander smiled as he got up and exchanged a manly embrace with his former mentor.
“As opposed to?”
“The former Prince Jackson of Kellerman; that bastard’s clique at Court would just go on and on. I’m just glad I got to be the one to silence him in the end.”
Dawn spoke up, looking confused, “Court? Were you on trial somewhere?”
“Not exactly…Dawn, right?” he smiled at the girl, “Buffy’s let me in on the secret; I hope we can become friends like she says everyone’s memories show. Well, Dawn, I meant at the Imperial Court, where I was the friend and brother in arms of the Empress’ son Roger. Kellerman launched a coup, and I led the detachment that ran him to ground in time to prevent a large-scale civil war.”
“Wow, and we thought you were in Hell…”
“Hell wasn’t nice. I was there for just a while, and barely avoided being dead before another portal caused by some kind of bug demon seemed to open. Didn’t think I could be worse off, so I jumped through and spent the last eight years in a different Earth.”
Giles considered this in obvious fascination, “A-and did you pass through another Hell dimension on the way back?”
“No, not at all, I just hoped that when I decided to leap, I’d actually come back here.”
“You got to choose?”
“Well, I had five or so minutes in which to get ready. It wasn’t like it was trying to suck the world into it, and since things had just squared themselves. I figured I could just nick myself and it would close. Anyway, I had time for some quick good-byes and I leapt, caught the Buffster. I think that was the right choice?”
Buffy smiled and returned his side hug, “I’m not complaining.”
The young man enjoyed the closeness for a moment, then reached for a pouch on his belt, tossing it to Giles, “I didn’t have time to get much, so my friends took up a collection; think you could convert that into real money, Ripper?”
Giles looked at the contents in shock, and slowly emptied the pouch onto the coffee table, revealing many large and magnificently cut gemstones, pieces of jewelry, gold and platinum ingots.
“The guys scraped it together so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch in an unknown situation.”
“Good Lord, Xander, there’s easily a million quid if not more here.”
“It’s been a while, Rupert. In American dollars?”
“Oh, um, maybe 1-1/2 to 2 millions.” The girls looked more shocked than before as Xander nodded and continued.
“Much more than I could hope for since I doubt there’re too many jobs around California for big-game hunter, mercenary leader or Imperial Guardsman. Hey, is real estate still cheap around here?”
He received a chorus of nods, before the questions began.
Dawn, “Big game hunter?’
Willow, “Mercenary leader?”
Jonathan, “Imperial Guardsman?”
Xander chuckled, loving his opportunity, “Roger liked pitting himself against the biggest and nastiest predators in Known Space; some worlds have species like half-sized T-Rex or double-sized velociraptors that still threaten human and nonhuman Imperial settlements.” He smiled at Buffy, “And after a while I started to understand the combination of hunt and protect of the Slayer mentality a little better. And since I was with him everywhere, we went for the worst of the worst. It became an interesting cooption of local responsibility, but they didn’t mind as the folks being threatened liked ‘distant royalty’ showing up to save the day.”
Willow considered for a moment, then frowned, “Wait a minute…Known Space? Worlds? And mercenary leader?”
“The Empire of Man in that dimension is a couple millenia in the future, and occupies a big section of two spiral arms of the galaxy. And only the royal family holds it tenuously together.”
“Especially you using the world tenuous…”
“Hey!” he smiled, easing a bit, “As for the mercenary remark, when the coup took place, we crash-landed on Marduk to escape our enemies. Think of a world with 90% humidity and fifty standard degrees.”
“Brr, sounds cold…” Dawn said.
“Huh? Oh, not Fahrenheit, um that would be…120 degrees?”
“Yeah, imagine if you will, a hundred and twenty of the best soldiers possible marching from Singapore to Moscow to Gibraltar, invent the sailing ship, sail to Bermuda but land near New Orleans, only to march overland to Montana… in nine months.”
“And I am so titled, but on top of the transportation we fight the Turks, the Mongols, and the Aztecs just so things aren’t too easy.”
Jenny looked at his dark eyes and whimsical smile, “How many did you lose?”
“None of us should have made it, but forty of us, plus a few hundred that swore into Roger’s service, survived the trek and the storming of both spaceport and Special Forces space ship. Then all we had to do was sneak back to the Imperial capital, then launch a counter-coup against a millions-strong military.”
The group was in silence; after all, what could one say after that…
Giles cleared his throat, “Um, would it be too early to ask what plans you may have?”
Xander sighed in contemplation, “I don’t know; I never expected to return…but probably use the experience and funds I have to settle in, set up a technology company, marry, have lots of kids and use technologies developed to end all undead within my lifetime.”
“A laudable but ambitious goal”
“An achievable one, Giles; from my perspective I can think of a few different vectors, but the easiest would create too much of an economic problem. But yeah..every vampire gone within thirty years.”
Willow spoke up, giving him a pointed look, “Every vampire, Xander?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“What about Angel?”
“The clock’s ticking; I don’t know or care how he’s changed…but I remember a cryptic, unhelpful coward that stuck to the shadows and turned into a murderous nut case that killed dozens. So he has a few decades to earn redemption, but the only way to prevent vampires, is to eliminate all vampires.”
“That’s kind of cold, he’s helped us.”
“Maybe since I … left, but one vampire to get rid of all of them? Much better than even one more living person dying, Wills. And if he’s half the *person* you think he is, he’ll be willing to make the same kind of sacrifice I made.”
“But you came back…”
“I went to Hell to save you guys; I didn’t expect once there that I’d be coming back. The rest was a *very* happy change of travel plans. So I’m not singling out your fangy friend, Wills. If I were, I’d just go dust it.”
“Well…okay, but I wasn’t thinking of me…” she replied, making a point of looking at a quiet Buffy listening with serious consideration. Xander notices.
“You understand that, right? I’m not *planning* to dust your ex?”
“Well, if the soul goes bye-bye, he’s dust…though I *am* planning to head down and pound on him for a while just to get it out of my system.”
“But why? It was so long ago…especially for you. And he was in hell for a hundred years.”
“Let’s just say that jumping back through the portal brought back a bunch of issues.”
“I’d really like it if you wouldn’t…”
“I know, but he’s all my unresolved issues wrapped up in one undead package.”
“This isn’t about us…I hope you realize that this about payback…about fairness, justice and vengeance.”
“Hey, I won’t be using the armor, and it isn’t anything that fangy won’t recover from, okay?”
“I’m going with you, then…”
‘Not something you should see…”
“I’m going with you, Xan.”
“You’ll wait in the car—”
Giles sighed, “Then we’ll all go, Xander, and I’ll go inside with you to make sure you both survive, and to keep the others from interfering.”
“Rupert!” Jenny Giles admonished, “Why?”
“For what he did to you and others, there should be *some* payback. I, I’m sorry Buffy, but rest assured I won’t let Xander kill Angel.”
Xander nodded, “Tomorrow? Might as well clear the slate as early as possible. Any chance of you loaning me a few thousand until you can cash in for me?”
“Of course, for anything in particular?”
“Well, I’ll need to buy a decent wardrobe, a computer and Net connection, and find myself furnished lodgings.”
“You can stay with me for now, sve the expense until you’ve acclimated yourself again.”
“Okay, we’ll plan on shopping, then visit the vamp, so a little first aid on me if I need it, maybe dinner, then come back?”
“I’d suggest as late as it is, we not start this in a few hours, but rather toward the late afternoon. That way, my body can enjoy painkillers and the Jacuzzi in recovering from the day’s events.”
“Fair enough, Giles. I guess I could use the sleep, too.”
Alexander MacClintock and Rupert Giles entered the Hyperion Hotel lobby to find no one around even after a few minutes of searching.
“Giles, I’m going to snoop in his office while we wait to see if anybody’s here,” he smirked to the friend with whom he’d established a fairly solid rapport since returning the night before.
Xander found a pair of loaded crossbow pistols in the office, and walked out when he heard many people laughing. He stepped out of the office and into the lobby as the Fang Gang (Angel, Cordelia, Doyle, Faith, Gunn, Alonna, Wesley, Lorne and Fred) controlled their laugher and walked over to Giles sipping tea poured from a thermos.
“These are interesting,” Xander commented as he came out of the office, shocking Angel and Cordelia, the latter who shrieked in surprise, causing Xander to wince and pull the triggers, bolts flying.
Angel only had enough time to grimace, “Xander?!” before he took a shot to the groin and a glancing blow along the top of the forehead, knocking the vampire unconscious.
Gunn moved immediately in front of Cordelia, Fred and Alonna to protect them from the expected attack, Wesley began to ready a crossbow, Lorne intelligently moved so Giles was in front of him, and Faith leapt to stand over Angel in a defensive position.
Rupert Giles began to laugh, then stepped forward to keep Faith and Xander from coming to blows, “I know *I* feel much better, Xander. Need you continue?”
“I haven’t decided yet, Giles. I didn’t intend to do that, but the rsult is better and more embarrassing than I expected.”
Cordelia stepped around Gunn as way in the back members of the Scooby Gang started to filter in, “Giles?! What’s going on? When did Xander get back from Hell and are both of you evil now?”
Xander smiles at Cordelia, then smirks at Giles, as Angel began to regain consciousness, “Always with the warm welcomes wherever I go. Cordelia, I got back last night, I only spent a short time in Hell, and we’re not evil, I just owe the scumbag. Giles is here because I promised my girlfriend I wouldn’t dust him.”
Xander looked Angel in the eye, “Buffy.”
Angel’s eyes rolled back into his head, paling more than usual for a vampire as he hit his head on the floor, causing Xander to smile, “Okay, that was worth it; Giles, one more thing and we can go.”
Xander drew the Acathla sword and smirked at Angel’s body; he noticed Buffy on the steps as Faith confronted him.
“I can’t let you f--- him up. I don’t know what your beef with Fang is…”
“I went to Hell because he couldn’t keep it in his pants with a seventeen year old girl which led to his murdering dozens of people I’d known all my life”
“That was Angelus—”
“The killing was…but lurker guy owes me for the inaction that led to a brother’s death.”
“You already shot him in the head and, well, other head…”
Giles interrupted, “Xander, What re you going to do with the Acathla sword?”
“Good Lord,” Wesley Wyndham-Price remarked.
Ignoring the other Brit, Xander continued, “I’m planning to cut off most of his hair and put him in that nasty Hawaiian shirt I dug out of Willow’s closet.”
“That’s agreeable, Xander,” Giles smirked nastily, “Stand aside, Faith. Xander’s agreed to substitute a nasty prank instead of actual harm.”
“Because in one swipe with the bloody sword last night, Alexander beheaded both William the Bloody and the hell goddess Glorificus in a single swipe.”
“Good Lord, Faith, stand down. It’s only poofy hair and an ugly shirt.”
“Are you serious Wes?”
Xander deadpanned, “I have non-permanent clown tattoos as well. Don’t force me to use them.”
Faith sighed, realized aloud that Angel was a bit behind on the payroll, “Bozo?”
"Faith!" Cordelia shouted, causing Faith to smile.
"Come on, any Slayer can take down a centuries-old Master Vampire... how many can say they pranked one!"
And with that agreement, after two long months in which a certain Dark Avenger wore a series of big floppy hats and kept to the sewers, a stronger and more capable alliance of heroes formed and prospered.
[Okay guys, that’s it, long and unbeta-ed, and without a climactic ending…but hell, if I sat on this any longer I’d never post the thing. As I said at the beginning, I’ve sat on this one for over a year, and after a quick look through it, here it is. Not planning a sequel.]