Disclaimer: None of them belong to me. Deal with it. I have.
Dimension Kinari Minor Mark Four One Two
"Bingo! We found him, guys!"
Buffy’s exultant voice rang down the hallway from the ritual room she and Dru were currently using while they searched for Xander, and it seemed as though Faith, Willow and all eighteen members of Bravo Platoon had somehow managed to have teleported to the doorway, so quickly did they respond to the petite blonde’s exclamation, where they all remained, standing by the doorjamb and staring inside, waiting for an indication that it would be safe to enter.
After all, everyone present had at least a modicum of magical ability, and *every* member of the Initiative – even those without any arcane talent at all – knew better than to storm into any location where rituals of any sort were taking place, without a *much* more urgent reason than a simple summons.
"Okay, people, it’s safe to come in," Buffy informed the audience clustered outside as she released Dru’s hands and the two of them climbed back to their feet.
"Faith, Dru’s holding the coordinates of the spot where Xand got pulled to," Buffy noted as she accepted the bottle of fortified high-energy juice Willow handed to each of the two seekers.
"It’s a fair distance down one of the larger Theta branchings from here, guys, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be *too* different from home here," Buffy added after draining the bottle and reaching out to accept the equipment harness her co-wife was holding for her.
"If I had to guess, I’d say we’re probably gonna find the same general levels as far as magic and technology are concerned, but I wouldn’t want to lay any bets as to who we’re gonna find with regard to people," she gave a general warning as she shrugged on the harness and reflexively began checking her equipment.
Buffy's zat’n’ktel was riding in its usual place on her left hip, while the subcompact Glock Model 29 pistol she, Faith and Willow all favored for personal use (Hey, was it their fault that their hands were smaller and much more delicate than the first baseman’s mitt-sized appendages most of the apes – excuse her, the guys – on the base here owned?) since it used the same 10 mm AP-1 ammo as the standard Glock 20s, and she smiled with satisfaction as she adjusted the sheath for her sword so that the hilt projected above her right shoulder.
They knew with absolute certainty which dimension their husband had been shifted to now, so it was just a matter of Faith's opening up a portal and their going through it, figuring out where exactly, physical location-wise, Xander was and then going there and getting him back.
And then, whichever pantheon of gods whose responsibility it was to watch over fools and idiots was gonna have their hands pretty damn full picking up the pieces, because she and Faith sure as hell weren't going to be walking up to whoever was in charge and asking, pretty please could they have their husband back?
Hell no!! Whoever had grabbed Xander like this was going to be as sorry as hell that they'd screwed around that way, because she and Faith were gonna make damned sure that, once they were done, there wasn't gonna be anything left that would allow the people responsible for this cluster-fuck to ever even consider doing something like that again!
"You ready, B?" she heard Faith asking her, and she smirked to herself as she picked up one of the latest field prototypes that Jack O'Neill had had his weapon geeks collaborating on with the Initiative's techno-mages.
Sam Carter might still have some problems accepting that magic existed – although she had been working with Willow over the past several months trying to develop a theory that would incorporate magic into the current hypothesis which most theoretical physicists had determined was an adequate description of the universe as they understood it – but O'Neill was a much more practical type of guy.
In point of fact, he couldn't care less how or why something worked, just as long as it let him blow stuff up with a big enough 'boom!' And if magic could give him a weapon that let him take out a Ha'tak by himself, and that he didn't have to reload more than once or twice during a firefight with several divisions of Jaffa troops, then, what the hell – he was more than willing to accept it.
Buffy couldn't wait to see the expression on Jack's face (not to mention their super-Star Wars geek friend, Teal'c) when he finally saw the light sabre Willow had built for Xander for Christmas – and the expression on Sam's face when he started whining to her, asking when she could make one for him.
Come to think of it, Teal’c would probably ask for one first…
Dimension Prox Nine Ninety Eight
San Francisco, CA
"So, one more time, who are you and what are you doing here?"
The expression on the face of the soldier was one of fatigue, anger and loss, mixed with stubbornness and quiet determination, Xander decided as he patiently sat in the chair he’d been shown to in the commanding officer’s office, once things had finally settled down sufficiently following his assault on the demons attacking the Initiative’s local base.
"I’ve already told you, I’m Alexander L. Harris and I’m here to help you fight off this demon invasion you’ve got going on here," he repeated the answer he’d given his interrogator when he first demanded his identity.
"No, you’re not," the other man, who had introduced himself as Lieutenant Graham Miller, shook his head in disagreement. "Alexander Lavelle Harris is a resident of Sunnydale and is currently listed as a missing person, along with the vast majority of the town’s population, as a result of the town’s seizure by whatever demon forces have been attacking us," he went on.
"So why don’t you tell us who you really are, and save us all a lot of trouble?" Graham demanded.
"Well, as I also told you when I first identified myself, I never said that I was *your* Alexander Harris," Xander reminded his interrogator with an exasperated sigh, trying not to roll his eyes in irritation. "I also told you that I was kidnapped from my own dimension and transported here by some unknown force, evidently to help you guys fight off these invaders you’re talking about.
"At least, that’s what I *think* happened – ’cause if no one really intended to bring me here, and I just happened to get dumped into this world by accident, well, then the multiverse is even more screwed up than I thought it was," Xander commented musingly.
"And as far as whether I’m really one of the good guys is concerned, I was the one who pretty much single-handedly eliminated that demon army that was attacking your people here, remember?" he pointed out.
"Yeah, you did," Miller agreed with a nod of his head and a cynical expression, "but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on our side. For all I know, you could be part of a different faction of this demonic invasion than the one who originally attacked us, and the only reason you're helping us is because you've realized that humanity's forces are going to eventually win, and you want to get into our good graces so you can make sure that, once this invasion has been defeated, you come out in a better position than whichever one of your opponents started this whole thing.
"Of course, it's also quite possible that everything you've told me is completely true, and you really were here sent here to help us," he noted, "which is why you're not currently sitting in a cell in the basement in manacles and irons."
"Well, normally I'd say you’re being excessively paranoid, man," Xander replied, "but given what I've seen of the situation since I got here, I'd have to say you're only being minimally paranoid.
"I'd also say, given what I've seen, that you can probably expect that you’re going to have even more unwelcome visitors showing up in the relatively near future, once whoever's in charge realizes that the forces it sent out for this little 'meet and greet' we just had hasn't reported back in," he went on.
"Excuse me, sir, but Commander Finn's online and requesting an update on our situation," the corpsman manning the communications console said as he turned his head to address Miller, as one of the larger monitors mounted on the far wall shifted to a view of the local version of Riley Finn.
As Miller turned to begin his report, Xander let his eyes drift over the crowd filling the background behind the officer in the background, and he let out a small groan of annoyance and aggravation.
"Oh, son of a – crap, scheisse, merde!" Harris vehemently cursed in a number of languages as he saw a black leather duster-wearing doppelganger of himself sitting on one of the chairs and grinning at him through the camera, as well as a dark-haired, hulking, semi-familiar-looking near-giant, with the hilt of a what looked to be a freakin', *huge* sword visible over one shoulder, leaning against the back wall, who wore a near-identical grin to the leather-clad man he'd noted.
"If what I think might be going on really *is* happening," Xander swore furiously to himself in a low-pitched voice, "and that guy there with Riley really is a Deadboy version of me, like I think he is, then we're in really deep shit – and Fate is an even meaner and nastier little bitch than I've ever given her credit for!"
Dimension Prox Nine Ninety Eight
Somewhere south of the Presidio
San Francisco, CA
Despite both Slayers' rather vocal protests, Forrest had followed standard patrol procedure and sent one of his fire teams to scout through the portal Faith had created before allowing them and the other two teams to follow.
"Yeah, Buffy, I know exactly just how good you two are," he had noted in response to the tiny blonde's bitching about not being allowed to go through the portal first, while everyone checked out their surroundings.
"I've seen both of you in action damn near every night for the past three years, remember?" he reminded her as the entire squad evaluated what looked like it might be some sort of local park or residential glen of sorts.
"In fact, I'm –"
Whatever it was Forrest was going to tell her went unsaid as a woman's vehement curses shattered the prevailing quiet blanketing the area, and everyone instantly broke into a run, heading towards the now-clearly heard sounds of battle emanating from just a short distance away.
Outdistancing the other members of their team, Buffy and Faith broke free of the trees and found themselves at the top of a small hill overlooking a scene that seemed to be ripped from a Grade-B horror movie.
A beautiful, dark-haired woman in her early twenties was standing in the partially-enclosed front entryway of a residential split-level home on the other side of the street below them, slashing away with a fair degree of expertise at the handful of Bringers surrounding her who had sufficient access and room to move to try to stab her with their knives. Mixing a variety of what Buffy recognized as arcane gestures and what were most likely low-voiced incantations in with her sword work, the woman was keeping her attackers sufficiently off-balanced that they were unable to carry out a coordinated assault against her, which explained why she was still relatively unscathed despite the numerical superiority of her foes.
Another dark-haired woman was standing, partially obscured, behind the first one, and with every gesture she made, another Bringer was blown backwards to slam against cars, trees or the walls of the neighboring houses. Unfortunately, however, the sheer number of enemy combatants crowding the front lawn, apparently patiently waiting for their own opportunity to attack, made both women's eventual fate a near certainty.
Unless, of course, someone intervened.
"Melee weapons only against these parasites," Forrest ordered after an instant's evaluation of the situation. The armor piercing incendiary rounds in their rifles would cut through the demons like a hot knife through butter – not the kind of thing you want happening with possible friendlies behind your targets.
"Team three, on overwatch,” he also ordered, to ensure they were not attacked from behind. Drawing his own sword, he and the other two fire-teams followed Buffy and Faith, who had sprinted ahead to begin attacking the rearmost line of Bringers.
A dozen swords, maces and war hammers, wielded by supernaturally-enhanced soldiers who harbored an unmistakable abhorrence for the foes assembled together before them, quickly made short work of the demonic forces swarming around the house.
One of the demons, who stood several inches taller and looked to be much larger than the others, had turned to face the newcomers an instant after the outermost line of Bringers began falling under the squad's attack.
Upon recognizing their presence, the apparent leader had just grasped a medallion hanging round its neck, apparently to report their appearance, when one of Faith's throwing knives seemed to suddenly sprout from its forehead and it dropped bonelessly to the grass.
It took less than two additional minutes to dispose of the remainder of the demonic cannon fodder gathered around the house, and then it was time for introductions.
"Hi there," Buffy smiled as reassuringly as she could at the brunette who was staring at her team with a mixture of hope and uncertainty, with a bit of confusion thrown in for good measure, too.
"My name's Buffy Harris, and I'm hoping you might be able to help us get a few things straightened out, here," she elaborated as she casually wiped a Bringer's ichor off her sword's blade and returned it to its sheath over her shoulder.
"I'm Paige Matthews," the brunette reflexively responded to Buffy's greeting, even as her eyes flickered over Faith and the rest of the squad. Half-turning to gesture to the woman standing behind her, she said, "And this is my sister, Phoebe Kent."
Seeing the second woman clearly for the first time since they'd arrived and recognizing the careful and deliberate manner in which the woman moved from her own recent experience, Buffy smiled as reassuringly as she could as she offered her hand to the two women while the rest of her team waited quietly to see how the two women reacted to their unexpected, but providential, appearance.
"I'm glad to meet you, Paige. You, too, Phoebe," Buffy said. "If you want to come with us, I promise you, we’ll do our best to keep you and your baby as safe as we can."
The slight narrowing of their eyes and the almost imperceptible stiffening of both women's spines at hearing her words made Buffy hold out a cautionary hand to her own teammates.
"My son, Jesse, turned three months old this past Thursday, so trust me, I can recognize the signs," she said as reassuringly as she could, her other hand still held out towards the two clearly frightened and apprehensive women.
"And the only reason I'm here, instead of back home holding him, is because my husband, his father, was kidnapped from our home dimension and brought here – and I'm guessing, it was probably by the same people or beings who are responsible for your being on the run from those Bringers we just took care of," Buffy explained as simply as she could manage.
"So I'm hoping you might be able to help us figure out who's responsible for this mess our family and friends have gotten dragged into, and you can point us in the direction of the people responsible, so we can go stomp their asses into the ground, get my son's father back, and then we can all go home, once things get back to normal," she smiled at the two sisters, while letting a bit of her seething emotions show in both her voice and her eyes.
"'Cause I'm thinking you guys probably aren't gonna be all that upset if the beings that have been chasing you are turned into goo and get flushed down the toilet, where they belong, right?" Buffy concluded with a somewhat feral smile.
"You know, Buffy," Phoebe Kent smiled back with an expression just as fierce and unforgiving as the one the tiny blonde was wearing, as she made her way down the porch steps to grasp the other woman's outstretched hand, "to quote one of my husband's favorite movies –
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."