Chapter 24 - Tie 'em up, or burn 'em off.
Xander noticed it before either of the other two could bring it up, "Uh, Cat?"
His wife looked over at him as she nibbled at her own Twinkie. "Urma" she asked.
"Uh, I think next time they might be better able to enjoy the sweet goodness of their pristine Twinkies if they didn't have their hands covered in grime and demon blood." Xander pointed out.
Cat's eyes widened, even as Xander closed his eyes and concentrated a bit, manifesting a bucket of clean water and a box of Handi-Wipes. Handing the bucket to the man, who took it with the hand not holding a Twinkie, he set the box of Handi-Wipes on the floor, then closed his eyes again to repeat the process for the woman who was suddenly backing away, and raising her ax once more.
"Who are you guys, or what are you?" she asked, her voice showing more threat than fear or worry in it.
Xander finished manifesting the second bucket and box of wipes and opened his eyes once more.
Cat swallowed the last of her Twinkie then answered, "I'm Cat Harris, a Goddess from the Egyptian Pantheon, most often referred to as the Daughter of Bast. This is my husband, Alexander, Protector of Mankind, and Champion of the Elder God Janus, and chosen wielder of Kusanagi."
Xander offered the pail of water to her, and nodded, "Like she said." He agreed. "Although I don't know about the chosen part, I picked Kusanagi up in hell, and haven't lost her yet, but as to whether she's chosen me or just hasn't found someone better yet, I don't know."
Alice looked once more at the couple, then down at her dirty hands, and at the still wrapped Twinkie she held. Finally she shrugged, and noting Reaper had scrubbed his hands in the water before moving on to the Handi-Wipes, she set her ax and Twinkie down, and warily emulated him, cleaning her hands and even face before retrieving the Twinkie and munching on it, realizing only then just how hungry she really was.
Reaper had finished his own Twinkie in two bites, then looked speculatively at the filthy water in the pail before looking back at the guy who'd apparently pulled it out of thin air. "Not to sound like an ingrate or anything, but do you suppose you could rustle up some clean water? I just realized how long ago my canteen went dry, and even if I'm gonna die from this demon shit soon, I wouldn't mind a drink before I pushed off."
Alice looked up and nodded her agreement, her own Twinkie having vanished as fast as had his.
Xander nodded, then closed his eyes again, picturing this time a card table, with a bag of McDonnald's burgers and fries, along with several sodas, as well as a pair of military canteens of cold, clear water on it. He felt the surge of energy, and by the time he opened his eyes he could already smell the odor of fresh french fries filling the room.
Reaper stepped back at the sudden appearance of the table, but then the odor of the food caught at his nose and he locked his eyes on the guy, or perhaps god, called 'Xander' as he asked, "Is this for us?"
Xander nodded, "Yep. I realized you both might be kinda hungry, and heh, helping when you can is good, no?"
Alice eyed the table, and as Reaper pulled a fist full of fries from the bag, followed by a burger she moved in to claim some food as well before it was all gone.
"So, who are you two, and what do you mean die from the demon shit?" Xander asked.
A noise from outside distracted him though, and before either Alice or Reaper could answer, Xander had ducked out the door. Alice looked after him, then over to his wife, Cat.
Cat looked at the door, smiled, and turned back to the two who had paused in their scarffing of the food at abrupt Xander's departure. "Just another demon. He'll be right back." She said with a grin.
There was a brief sound of a scuffle from outside, then Xander came back in, sliding his sword back into the sheath he wore over his shoulder. "Sorry about that. Apparently someone else was hungry."
Reaper swallowed his second burger, washing it down with what tasted like a Mountain Dew, and then looked back at his unusual host. "Name's John Grimm. I'm a Marine. I was called in as a part of the Joint Taskforce."
Xander nodded, "Heard about you guys. Apparently the President's given up on stopping these things with conventional forces though. He was considering going nuclear if they hadn't gotten a hold of us from what I understand."
Alice looked at the pair of newcomers before answering herself, "My name's Alice, I think. I also think I used to work here, but I don't really remember anything from before waking up in a lab here strapped to a table, surrounded by monsters. Are you really a god, as in burning bushes and stuff?"
Xander shrugged, "I once burnt a book when I tried to read it out loud, but I've never burnt a bush before. As for being a god, from what I've learned that's more a case of personal definition. I'm just Xander. But I do have some extra advantages. Like I don't really die, or if I do it doesn't stick."
Suddenly Reaper blinked, "Xander Harris? As in the Immoral Vampire from Sunnyvale California?"
Xander shook his head, "Um, not really. But yeah. Sort of. I'm from Sunnydale. I'm friends with a slayer named Buffy Summers and a girl named Willow Rosenberg who's been my best friend since kindergarten, and well, apparently the Immortal Vampire thing was just a phase or something, but I'm not the guy from that TV show, I'm from an alternate reality, and it's really hard to explain and not sound totally crazy."
Reaper looked over at Alice, who'd stopped eating. "TV show?" she asked.
Reaper nodded, "I've watched it a few times, it's not bad." Looking over at Xander he added, "You do kinda look like the guy but you're a lot skinnier."
Xander shrugged. "Like I said, he's not me, but we have a lot in common. Sort of. Plus, here, he's not real. Where I come from there isn't any TV show, and I am real. If that makes sense. Now, back to you, what was that about dying from the demon shit as you put it?"
Reaper gestured to the swollen and infected looking scratch on his chest, then indicated the cut on his hand, and another recent scratch on his cheek, "Damn things are contagious. Three of 'em got me, so sometime soon I'm gonna change into another one of 'em. I can almost feel it happening already. I was hoping Alice here, who is apparently immune to the fuckers, could lead me to the big badass, I figured if I could take him out on my way down, it might be worth it."
Xander nodded, "Ok. Well, that's why we're here, to take care of all of them. And you aren't changed yet." Xander looked at Reaper, and used a trick he'd seen from Cat to really examine him. "Although I can see the prions all through you already, damnit." Looking over at Alice, he examined her as well, and noted that she also had several prions in her bloodstream, but something seemed to be happening to them, they were being almost coated in something, Not really being destroyed, but whatever t was seemed to make them inert. "Cat?" he asked,
Cat came over and joined him, and he showed her what he'd seen in Alice. "Do you think we can do the same thing for John?"
A deep, powerful voice from the doorway growled out "Reaper? Don't bother with him. He's dead. And so are both of you. Thanks for bringing my future bride back though. Hello Alice."
Whirling around to face the door, everyone took note of the new arrival, and Alice recognized him at once. "Reaper?"
"Yeah?" Reaper asked, reaching for his chainsaw.
"That's the guy you wanted to see." She said, bending down and retrieving her own ax from the floor.
The creature crouched in the doorway was huge. It would be at least twelve feet tall if it was standing up to it's full height, and a good five feet wide. And it was all bone and muscle. His skin was a slimy gray colored, and seemed to be made of scales, like the skin of a lizard or a snake. The long forked tongue which darted out of his mouth past the huge fangs was also lizard or snake-like. As were the vertically slitted red eyes. To either side of his head was at least a 5 point rack of antlers, worthy of any deer, each branch ending in a wickedly sharp point. Finally there was a long, powerful tail visible on the ground behind the crouching figure peering in malignantly through the door.
Xander was surprised to feel the power literally rolling off the creature. It was like nothing he'd encountered before, almost like someone had taken every demon he'd ever encountered before and rolled them up into one really nasty package.
Cat didn't hesitate, releasing a blast of pure fire on the creature, which launched it back from the doorway screaming in pain, and setting the building on fire.
But even before it had landed, its burns had healed, and when it whipped up to it's feet, it's tail lashing out to first the left then the right, stabbing the air with the bony spear at it's tip, as it started moving back towards the burning building.
Xander reached out to Cat, and said, "Cat, honey, I think it might take Kusanagi to really put a dent into this thing. See what you can do for John and I'll take care of the Crocodile Man."
Cat nodded, and as the four of them exited the building by running through the blazing doorway, she led Alice and Reaper off to one side, while Xander literally leapt into the air, drawing Kusanagi as he arced back down towards the demon, flashing his blade out in a move intended to slice off the creature's tail.
The demon spun around however, snatching the tail out of range at the last second, and reached out with the long talons of its hands, batting Xander to the ground in a spray of blood.
The creature reached down and lifted Xander's suddenly limp body up, shaking it like a doll, and growled, "What did you think you could do against me? Did you not realize that I am a GOD! This world will kneel before me! At least that of it which doesn't simply die, like you have."
With that the demon cast Xander's body over his shoulder and turned his attention once more towards Alice, Cat, and Reaper.+=+
The creature which had once been known as Sergeant Stemson stalked towards the blonde which had somehow thrown the fireball at him.
Most perplexing was that he couldn't read her at all. He could easily see into the miniscule minds of both his bride to be, Alice, and her pitiful mortal companion, the fool who thought he could challenge Stemson and take him down before the changes overtook him and he joined Stemson's army of demonic servants. It was almost amusing enough to let him live long enough to learn how mistaken he was about the situation.
But the blonde and her companion, the pitiful man he had already disposed of, they had both been blanks to his mind. And that was something new in his experience.
Not that it had helped the fool when he tried to challenge Stemson.
A quick search of both his Alice's mind, and that of the fool calling himself Reaper showed him that both of them believed that these two were gods of some sort. It almost made him laugh. Apparently they had teleported onsite, then managed to materialize some water, and later food. Parlor tricks! How easily fooled mortals could be. It just went to show how small their minds really were. As though any being with the actual power of a god would concern itself with the affairs of mortals.
Alice was special, she was no longer a mere mortal, the meddling of the scientists who had used her as an experimental subject when she was first exposed to his power had made sure of that, and it had also made her somewhat immune to his power. Enough so that she would never change from the form she now held, no matter how much time or exposure to himself she experienced. And once he had learned that, he himself had wiped the remnants of her primitive mind from her, leaving a blank personality for him to mold as he so desired. That she had awoken early and sough to challenge his power had merely amused him, and he had indulged her in her attempt to thwart him and escape his presence. After all, where could she run, in the long run everyone would realize that this entire world was his to command as he chose. His influence and power grew with every mortal he brought under his control. Already he was nigh-on indestructible, able to shift his location at will wherever he chose to be, and able to mold the minds of those around as though they were made of clay.
The blonde looked up from where she was kneeling over the prone forms of both his Alice and Reaper, as she made a vain attempt to somehow shield Reaper from his fate as one of Stemson's future minions. "I killed that pesky husband of yours, 'goddess'. Now it's your turn. Kneel before me and I may spare your existence for a bit however."
Before the woman could reply however, he felt a flash of pain whip through his neck! This could not be! NOTHING could hurt him.
Whirling he found the pesky mortal had somehow revived and healed from his wounds, even his clothing somehow being restored. And the fool once more challenged him with his silly sword.
Stemson lashed out with the stinger in his tail, stabbing the man in the stomach and injecting him with enough poison to kill an army. The man cried out and fell to the ground, his eyes literally melting and flowing down his face as the venom in Stimson's sting literally liquefied the tissues of his body.
Turning back to the woman, who had the audacity to IGONORE HIM he bellowed his rage at her impudence. Did she not understand the proper relationship of such a one as herself to one as great as he?
But before he had taken another step, his backside erupted in pain as something sliced his very tail from his spine.
Whirling, Stemson once more saw the man who dared challenge him. He stood over the twitching tail, and then he raised a hand and a shimmer of heat flowed from it and into the tail. Stemson felt a flood of pain, despite the detached state of his tail as it was somehow consumed by a blast of flame.+=+
Xander was getting tired of this. This was the third time he'd had to attack the creature, and still it was standing. He'd grown used to things dying when he killed them. But somehow the demon hadn't even noticed when he'd tried to cut it's head off, the slice healing as fast as he cut, so that by the time he'd finished what should have been a decapitating blow, did nothing more than annoy the demon.
When he was stabbed for his troubles he shifted his target, if he couldn't cut the creature's head off, he could whittle it down and eliminate it piece by piece if that was what it took.
Recreating himself once more, he moved forward and attacked the closest part - the creature's tail.
By slicing with the blade at an angle and forcing the pieces apart he removed the demon's tail before it even noticed he was moving again.
And as the dismembered part writhed on the ground before him, Xander focused his power on it, using yet another technique he'd learned from his wife's mind, and incinerated it with just a touch of the power of the sun.
The demon screamed and charged at Xander, reaching out with its talloned hands.
And with another deft slice of Kusanagi's blade, the closer of the two hands fell away from its wrist. A few instants later there were two writing hands laying on the sand before him and the demon was backing away for a moment.
Xander paused again, once more focusing the power of the sun onto the hands, and the sand melted beneath them as they were converted to superheated gasses.
Xander looked up and saw that the demon was regenerating its hands, but before it had finished, Kusanagi lashed out again, and the right arm, just below the shoulder was falling away, even as Xander twisted clear around to snick the left arm off just above the elbow.
The demon screamed again as it lowered its head and charged at Xander, attempting to impale him on its antlers.
Xander however leaped into the air as the demon approached. And from his higher vantage point sliced through the left side of the creature's head, removing both the ear and the antler on that side.
As yellow blood oozed out from the greenish brain thus exposed, Xander bounced off the ground behind the demon, and even as it straightened up and bellowed in anger and pain, hacked at the other side of its head as well.
This time he missed the ear, but the top and side of the skull slid off, bouncing against the injured shoulder and landed on the ground, with the disc of sliced bone and adhering greenish brain sticking up as the antler lodged like a dead bush into the sand.
Xander stepped back and examined his foe once more. But just as he was about to launch another attack, a new monster charged across the sand, distracting him. It took Xander almost thirty seconds to dispatch the second lizard like demon, finding that his newest opponent had no real resistance to decapitation.
Looking back at his main target, Xander noted that it had regrown the elbow of its left arm, and already had a tiny hand and wrist extending from it's previously damaged appendage, while on his right there was just a large lumpy nub. The holes in the scalp had also closed, the greenish brain no longer visible, but there was not yet any sign of any new antlers.
Xander targeted the left arm, this time severing it at the shoulder as he'd done with the right. As he bounced off the ground, his impact sending up a spray of sand and gravel as he reversed direction, he targeted the legs this time.
The demon howled in frustrated anger as Kusanagi sliced across his upper thighs, and he fell to the ground, a quadriplegic amputee.
The demon shuddered on the ground, it's right arm splitting open to reveal a small replacement hand, as Xander strode over to stand above it.
Kusanagi flashed again, and the newly revealed limb flew off to the side. Another slice literally took the demon's face off, once more revealing the greenish brain matter, and releasing yet another outpouring of the yellowish blood.
Two more swipes and the head was literally in pieces on the sand, and Xander once more focused on bringing the power of the sun to bear on the writhing torso and severed cranial pieces.
Xander felt it as the pieces of the demon slowly burned, even as the sand beneath them melted into glowing pools of white hot glass.
And finally it was done. Xander could no longer feel any trace of the malignant presence he had been fighting.
Looking up, his eyes met Cat's, and she offered a smile as she bent down to help Alice to her feet.
Xander walked over to his wife, and noted that John was also rising. "Well?" he asked, "Did you fix him?"
Cat nodded. "I think so. At least, his wounds seem to be closing themselves, and his body seems to be isolating the prions, the same as hers does. I couldn't have done it without Alice as a template though, whatever they did to her seems to have made her immune to the prions, among other things."
Xander looked over at Alice and asked, "Other things?"
Cat nodded and replied, "I'm not sure, but I think she's Immortal, and if so, then now John is as well."
Xander looked between the two and asked, "Immortal as in 'There can be only one' head chopping, or as in really hard if not impossible to kill?"
Cat shrugged, "I don't think chopping off their heads would be much more permanent damage to them than I think it'd cause Zeke. It'd slow them down for sure, but eventually they'd get better. So no, they are not like Raden's children in that one dimension we visited."
Xander nodded at this, then turned to look out at the shambling shapes visable in the early morning sunlight across the desert in almost every direction.
"Ok, so we took out the main bad ass, we saved John from meeting an ugly end, now how do we dispose of the rest of the demon army?" Xander asked.
Cat smiled at her husband and replied, "Allow me."
She closed her eyes, and reached out with her mind, marking the locations of all those tainted with the demonic prions. Their minds had been somewhat freed by the destruction of their master, but the taint remained to color their actions, and she was able to spot them and mark them by that.
She noted that they were spread out around her in an almost perfect ring, most of them moving away as fast as they could now that the controlling mind which had been holding them in place had been eliminated.
Not feeling any untainted minds within that circle, other than those immediately with her, Cat began to call upon her full strength as a sun goddess, channeling the same energy Xander had used to finally dispose of Stemson, only on a vastly greater scale. She marked the outer edge of the demon's perimeter, a vast circle at which she stood at almost the exact center, and then she marked an inner edge, well away from herself, Xander, and the two fighters. And then she filled the area between with the power of the sun.+=+
People as far away as Baker California saw the momentary flash reflected off the sky as Cat unleashed her full power for the briefest instant.
Satellites pointed at the earth were blinded by the strength and power of that blast of light. Several sophisticated spy satellites which had been monitoring events in the area were ruined for good, delicate optics scorched and electronics fried by that brief overload of light and heat.
And the sand for almost 30 miles in every direction around Cat's location was melted in that instant into a giant doughnut shaped piece of perfectly smooth glass.
Of the demons and the infecting prions, the only remaining traces were the faintest of impurities in the consistency of the glass surface.
As the light faded Cat looked around, taking in the shimmering heat of the cooling glass desert and simply said, "Oops!"+=+
The guard on duty at the front of the Cheyenne Mountain facility looked up as a strange sound came from the road just outside the gate.
His heart was racing, having been informed by phone a few moments ago that what looked like a possible nuclear detonation had just occurred at Nellis in Nevada. While no more information was available at the moment, it was still more than enough to set his nerves on edge.
Looking out the window, he observed a strange disc of colored light glittering in the road just before the gate.
The guard clutched his weapon and glanced at the phone, even as four individuals emerged from the middle of the disc. There were two men and two women, both men brunettes, both women blondes. But there the similarities ended.
Two of them looked like perfectly normal civilians, people you might see in any mall of any town in any city he'd ever been in.
The other two however, both of whom appeared to be at least a few years older then their civilian companions, looked like they'd just been through hell. Literally.
The man was in the remnants of what had started as issue Marine combat fatigues. They were covered with blood and oddly colored splotches, and his clothes were torn in several areas, as though he had been on the wrong end of several fights.
The older blonde woman, apparently originally dressed in some sort of civilian security uniform, showed similar signs of abuse, the residue of blood and other unknown fluids covering her from almost head to toe, only her hands and face appearing clean.
Tightening his grip on his weapon he called out. "Halt right there, The base is under Condition Red and is closed at this time. Please depart."
The younger two glanced at one another then with a shrug came to a stop, the elder pair following their lead.
The younger man spoke up at this point, "Can you call General Hammond and ask him if he wants to come out, or he wants us to go in?"
"The mountain is closed, sir. No one is able to go in or out, not even a General. Please back away from the gate and go on your way." He ordered.
"Um, well see, we really need to see the General. And I'm pretty sure he'll want to see us too. Can you call him?" the younger man tried again.
The apparent Marine, standing behind him spoke up for the first time, "You really should get a hold of the Officer of the Day, especially if your Condition Red has anything to do with what just happened in Nevada."
"The Mountain is closed, sir. As I said, even if he wanted to not even a General could get in or out until the President orders us to secure from Condition Red." he reminded them.
"Look, we've been through al this before. Just call General Hammond and let him know we're here. If he can't come out, we'll just go in and see him on our own." The younger man said.
The guard felt a fresh surge of apprehension at the apparent threat, and warned, "Do not challenge the gate, sir. The base is sealed, and I'm authorized to use deadly force if necessary."
The young man shrugged, "From what you've said, not just the gate is closed, probably the main doors to the mountain are buttoned up as well. Doesn't matter. We'll just go straight to sublevel 14 if we have to. It's just that we promised not to open up any more portals in the General's mountain. But this is kind of important."
"Sir, even if you managed to breach the gate, the entry to the mountain is designed to withstand a direct blast from a nuclear weapon. You would not be able to force your way into the mountain. Now please depart."
The elder woman started laughing to herself at something. Finally she locked eyes on the guard and nodded to the younger blonde. "Nuclear weapon. This girl here just blew up Nevada. Then she brought us here. I don't think anything here could stop her if she got mad enough. You really should call someone."
The guard looked over the group again. "As I said before, the base is closed, and no one is getting through this gate. Please depart."
The younger man just shook his head. "Look, what if I don't go through the gate? I just want to talk to General Hammond."
"As I said before, even if we had a General Hammond inside the mountain, until the President orders us secured from the Code Red he wouldn't be able to get in or out." The guard tried to explain the situation yet again.
The young blonde spoke for the first time, "Just call someone. If they don't want to talk to us, then we'll take these two wherever they want to go and head off ourselves. But General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill asked us to deal with the problem in Nevada, and now that we have we wanted to check in with him. But if he's too busy then we'll go. Just call him, ok?"
The guard shook his head, knowing he was wasting his time but with the second reference to Nevada, as well as the names of not one, but two people who the general public shouldn't be aware even existed being named, he went ahead and placed a call back to the Officer of The Day, who he knew would be drowning in the issues related to securing the base against imminent attack.+=+
General Hammond was not having a good day.
He'd summoned Cat and Xander, despite his misgivings on dealing with those two, and sent them to help with the situation in Nevada. And less then a half an hour later, someone set off the biggest nuclear detonation ever recorded. Although now reports seemed to indicate that whatever the hell it was, it wasn't nuclear as there was no recorded radiation, other than the light and brief thermal shock, from the detonation. But an almost sixty mile section of desert, stretching from Yucca Flats in the Nevada Nuclear Test Site to where Highway 357 ran through Tikaboo valley, and almost centered on Groom Lake had been reduced to a crater of smoking glass.
Of course as soon as the explosion had been detected the mountain had secured to Condition Red, closing the blast doors and sealing the base.
He'd just gotten off the phone with the president, assuring his Commander in Chief that they had not deployed any weaponry, terrestrial or not, against the outbreak in Nevada.
He reminded the President that Cat and Xander had been onsite and speculated that perhaps they had done something.
But regardless of who had done what, the results were likely to be catastrophic. Even if there was no radiation involved, the blast itself had to have blinded several hundreds, if not thousands of people in the area trying to hold the line against the demonic creatures which had finally made it to the highway from what reports he'd received before the blast.
And how many servicemen and women, including his own Samantha Carter had been caught inside the radius of that detonation? He didn't know.
Communications with the effected area were wiped out, random radio chatter flooding the airways and all landlines in the vicinity had been destroyed.
He had one unconfirmed report that several soldiers standing at the edge of the blast were unaffected, other than temporary blindness from the intensity of the flash, but those had to be mistaken, as no one could stand at the edge of such an explosion and remain unscathed. Most likely the soldiers in question had been shielded by an outcropping of rock or something and their reported survival was simply an aberration.
On the other hand, if the blast was indeed the result of something either Cat or Xander did, then anything was technically possible.
One of the Majors coordinating communications with the folks from NORAD upstairs came rushing over, holding a note in his hand, "General, there's a guard from the front gate on the line with the OOD for NORAD, claiming that there's a party there trying to gain admittance to see you, and they are rather insistent. What's more, apparently they are claiming to be involved in whatever happened in Nevada."
General Hammond blinked. Then he closed his eyes again, even slower. He counted to three, then opened them again and took a deep breath. "Did you say there are people at the gate demanding to talk to me and claiming to have caused the blast in Nevada?"
The Major nodded with an unsure expression on his face, "Yes Sir. What should I tell them?"
General Hammond shook his head, "I'd better talk to the guard. Get him on my phone."
A few minutes later, General Hammond was talking to the guard stationed at the front gates to Cheyenne Mountain. "So the blonde is about five feet tall, if that, and the brunette is about six feet. Is he carrying a sword?"
A moment of shocked pause later the guard's voice returned, "I hadn't even noticed it before now. Yes, he is. Should I consider him dangerous?"
"Son, you should consider both of them dangerous in the extreme, but not hostile. I could be mistaken but it is entirely conceivable that those two could destroy this planet if they had a mind to do so."
"Yes Sir. One of their companions said the blonde was responsible for the detonation in Nevada, Sir."
"Companions?" General Hammond asked.
The guard paused a moment before replying, "What appears to be a Marine and a very pissed off civilian. Both appear to have experienced severe combat situations, but seem to be in surprisingly good health."
General Hammond thought back to the cause of the outbreak and the reports he'd received reguarding just how infectious the condition was, as far as he knew almost every single person exposed directly to an infected individual in combat who had survived had been infected themselves. The few exceptions were so rare that no protocol had been determined as of yet. There were even reports of individuals who came into only second or third hand contact with infected persons who had become infected.
And if there were two survivors who showed signs of combat there along with Cat and Xander, the possibility that they had been exposed was quite high.
He considered how to phrase his next orders. "Airman, listen to me very carefully. Those two individuals are to be considered potentially contagious. Under no circumstances is anyone to go near them or touch anything they have touched without the benefit of a full hazmat decontamination suit. Is that understood?"
"Yes Sir. Sir, as they are outside the gate, there is no need for concern. They have made no physical move to challenge the gate, Sir. "
"That's good to know. Now, I want you to contact security and pass my orders on to them. Also, I want you to tell Xander, that's the man with the sword to take his party to the center of the parking lot immediately before the tunnel entrance and to wait there for a team to come and secure them."
"Sir, as I said, they are outside the gate. I can not admit them even under your orders until we have secured from Condition Red, Sir."
General Hammond nodded, even thought the Airman at the gate couldn't see him. "I understand that. You don't need to admit them, just pass on my messages to both Xander and Security. Tell Security to expect them and make sure that the area is cleared and secured before you tell Xander, otherwise we may have more problems."
"Sir, I don't understand but I will follow your instructions."
"Thank you. Please have someone notify me once Xander, Cat, and their two associates are in the parking area. As soon a we can secure from Condition Red we'll have a team topside to look after them. You're doing a good job son. Keep it up."
Another aide came up, holding a message, "Sir, we have confirmation from Major Carter that there were few, if any casualties caused directly by the blast. She claims to have been only feet away from the effect herself, and only suffered from momentary blindness. She also believes that all the hostiles may have been destroyed."
General Hammond felt a huge weight lifting upon hearing that Samantha was all right. He nodded at the aide as he turned back to the console where he had a Lieutenant tasked with compiling data on the blast who was waving to get his attention.
Heading over he looked at the picture displayed on the screen. "What is this, Lieutenant?" he asked, looking at what appeared to be an unusually round rock formation.
"Sir, there seems to be an, island, sir, in the exact center of the crater. An area where there is no apparent damage at all from the blast. And Sir, the lack of radiation has been confirmed."
Hammond nodded. +=+
The guard received confirmation that Security had the area indicated by the General cleared, and understood that no one was to approach anyone there under any circumstances, then even though the orders made no sense, he turned to the group waiting just outside the gate, "Ok. That was Security. I spoke to the General and he instructed me to tell you to wait in the parking lot just before the tunnel entrance, that they would dispatch a hazmat team to decontaminate you and your associates as soon as the base could be secured from it's Code Red. But I still can't open the gate. I told him as much but he didn't seem concerned."
The man, apparently Xander nodded, "Ok. Thanks. We'll go and wait for the General's people in the parking lot in front of the tunnel."
"Sir, as I told you before, I can not allow you to enter the base. Even with the General's orders I can't admit you."
Xander shrugged, "Not a problem. We just won't go through the gate."
"Sir, I can not let you climb over or under it either." The guard reminded.
"Not an issue." Xander shrugged.
"Sir, you can not climb over the fence if that's what you are thinking. Under Code Red it is electrified, and I would have to stop you even if it weren't. There is no way on or off the base until we have secured from the Code Red."
Xander shrugged again. "That's fine. But General Hammond asked us to wait in the parking lot. I assume he had a good reason for that, so I'm willing to accommodate him on it."
"But Sir, the parking lot is almost a mile beyond the gate. And I can not let you onto the base at this time to access it. Despite the General's orders you are going to have to wait here."
Xander shook his head and closed his eyes. Suddenly another of those shimmering disks, like the one his group had first emerged from appeared floating in the air before him. "There", he said, "That should solve everything. Ok people, let's go." He called to the others. The blonde girl stepped into the disk first, followed by the elder two, then Xander waved at the guard and ducked through the disk himself, after which with a whomf sound it collapsed in on itself and vanished.
The guard looked at the empty road before his gate and relaxed. Wherever they went, they were someone else's problem. Even if they had gotten onto the base through that disk thing somehow, which he suspected to be the case, they hadn't gone through his gate. And that was all that really mattered.+=+
Jack followed Hammond out the tunnel as soon as the President lifted the alert. They both stood back however as Janet Frasier, clad in an full body decontamination suit preceded them towards the four people standing in the middle of the circle of guards and airmen who had encircled them to prevent anyone from coming into contact.
Xander spotted the General and moved past Janet to get to him, but she held up a hand stopping him. They exchanged some words, Xander gesturing at the other two and shaking his head, Cat adding something he also could not make out, then both of them seemed to flash, like a pair of strobes going off, after which Janet raised her hands and gestured behind herself, allowing Cat and Xander past while she and her team moved in on the two strangers.
Jack looked to his left at General Hammond as Cat and Xander walked up with happy grins on their faces. Jack knew the General was far from a happy mood, and he showed it with the first words out of his mouth, "What in the blue blazes did the two of you think you were doing? I have a sixty mile wide lake of melted GLASS where I once had a test range and several top secret laboratories and facilities. Worse, EVERYONE knows something happened. We asked for your help to try and keep things QUIET! If we'd wanted to nuke Nevada we could have done so ourselves. I just spent the last fifteen minutes getting my ass chewed out by the President of the United States because I let you two run off alone without a babysitter. Which is my fault, I should have insisted you take Jack with you or something. Now, what do you two have to say for yourselves?"
Cat blinked at the unexpected tirade, actually taking a step backwards, while Xander seemed to be getting angry at the General.
Cat was the one who answered though, softly saying, "Sorry?"
The General threw up his hands and complained, "Sorry?" Jack tried to interrupt the second tirade he saw coming, but he was too late, "I have a puddle of melted sand running from Yucka Flats to the edge of Tikaboo valley, and all you can say is Sorry?"
A female voice spoke up from behind them, where Janet was now leading the other two towards the General, having taken some samples and established a cordon around them of decontamination suited assistants. "Actually, I think her words were 'Oops'."
The General looked up at the woman who spoke and asked, "And whom, exactly might you be?"
"Alice, I think." She replied.
Xander broke in, his anger obvious in his voice, "They are the only two survivors of the fuckup YOUR people caused by releasing those prions AFTER the doctor here discovered them and became concerned. If you folks hadn't taken my blood then turned around and lost it in the first place, none of this crap would have happened, and we wouldn't have had to clean up your mess. And then get yelled at it for trying to help. Christ, you're worse than my parents! Anyhow, her name is Alice, and that's all she remembers, some of the wonderful people you used to employ in one of those nice labs you were complaining about used her as a guinea pig in some experiment I think to combat the prions. At least that's what it looks like to me. The quite guy over there is John Reaper, one of your soldiers who was on his way to try and fight the main demon who was in charge of the whole menagerie there. Cat saved him by using Alice as a template so his body would also resist the prions and reverse the damage they were causing."
Hammond opened his mouth but Xander cut him off again, "And as far as complaining about the melted sand, ask your doctor there about exactly how one goes about decontaminating an area infested with residual prions so as to insure no future infections occur. Yes, we overdid it. Sorry, but would you rather we did a half assed job and you had to deal with another wave of demons in a couple of years because someone ate an infected lizard or something? Because that's how tenacious the things can be. Cat, I think we're done here."
Hammond once more opened his mouth, but Cat wasn't looking at him, she was looking at Xander. And she nodded, then turned back to General Hammond, "Call on me if the Goa'uld attack, since I promised to help with that. But I have to agree I don't like your attitude much more than my husband. I'm sorry I melted your desert. I was very careful not to include anyone who hadn't been irreversibly infected when I set the boundaries of the effect though, so I can assure you there were no casualties. And I didn't 'nuke' the place, so there is no radiation to be worried about. I had intended to simply incinerate everything, leaving inert ashes behind, but I misjudged the amount of energy, and for that I apologize again. And you can tell your president whatever you want to, but tell him not to call me again unless it's about the Goa'uld."
She then reached out and took Xander's hand, and the two of them simply vanished.+=+
Faith was cruising Shady Rest Cemetery when she felt the biggest spike on her Slayer Senses in her life.
Not even that bastard Kakistos had showed up so strongly on her threat meter. And the source was just past the mausoleums. Taking a deep breath she took off after it, running as silently as she could.
Coming around the corner she could make out a pair of what looked like humans. A really short blonde chick, and a tall, skinny brunette guy. The chick was talking to the brunette. "...really think this is the right one? I mean we didn't use a portal or anything, so how can you be sure?"
"Well, I realized it was just like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, you know, just close your eyes and click your heels together three times, and say over and over, 'There's no place like home'. And if that's the truth, then who needs a portal? So I just focused on home in every aspect. And here we are!"
The blonde looked around, her eyes passing over where Faith was hiding. "A graveyard?"
The guy shrugged, "It's kinda classic Sunnydale. Only two things really could represent the place, one of the many cemeteries, or the hellmouth under the library. And since I wasn't feeling like going to School." He trailed off, as though sensing something and Faith watched as he slowly drew a wicked sword which seemed to ping on her radar just as much as he and or the blonde did. It was freaky how she couldn't narrow down the eekieness between the two, this close she should have been able to tell which was the Big Bad. But all she got was a powerful sense of danger from both of them. Then the guy turned and looked right towards her, and she saw his face in the light. A face she'd seen many times in her dreams but never before in reality. It was a face she'd seen since the first night she'd been called as a Slayer. It was the face of an enemy. Someone who he knew deep down in her core was a threat to the entire world. And the feeling of danger she got from him now made sense. Perhaps he was trying to cloud her senses, and that was why she kept feeling like she couldn't discriminate between the two. It really didn't matter. All that mattered was that he had to die. Now, before he could do something to hurt B or Jeeves., or Red, or the rest of the gang. Because she also knew somehow that he was a threat to them. She remembered dreaming about how he had killed her predecessor Kendra, leaving her to become snack food for a vampire in this very same graveyard over a year ago. She had heard that it took the enigmatic 'Missing Scoobie', some guy named 'Xander' to sacrifice himself and go to hell in order to stop the demon Kendra had become.
Faith pulled her stake and launched herself at the form even as he whirled on her with his sword. And she knew she was dead, because she saw the path of that blade. But she also saw her own path, and the placement of her stake was perfect.
She never felt the blade as it whipped through her somehow, all her concentration was focused on the tip of the stake as it drive through his chest, straight into the bastard's heart.
She wondered why she wasn't dead yet, as he fell down beneath her, grunting as he died from her blow.
Then she was flying through the air again, tossed off the man's body by the blonde, and now the feeling of danger was all from her. And it was bigger than it had been before.
Faith looked up at the glowing green eyes on the short girl, shorter even than Buffy she thought in an aside, as the woman stalked towards her, her anger and hatred literally washing off her like heat off asphalt in the middle of the summer.
But just before the woman reached her, a voice spoke. The voice of the monster she'd just killed, "Cat, no!"
The woman, perhaps named Cat whirled away from Faith, looking towards the source of the voice. Faith rolled over and shifted her weight, preparing to spring on the woman who'd foolishly looked away from her.
"Cat, she's a Slayer, like Buffy. She doesn't know who I am. And I'm fine." The voice came again.
"She killed you!" the blonde complained.
"Look, all better. And she's innocent - Kusanagi wouldn't strike her."
Faith felt a strange tingle run though her at the mention of that name. It was familiar somehow, something to do with a magic sword. She'd heard Jeeves talking about it with Red and B. And they were talking about...
"Well what should we do with her then, Xander? Tie her up and take her to your friends?"
Xander! The Missing Scooby. Who was supposed to have gotten the Magic Sword in Hell, where he met some sexbomb named, CAT! Faith wasn't sure what was going on, but she decided to chill for a moment to make sure she wasn't drawing down on a good guy by mistake somehow.
The guy who might be called Xander, who had his sword in his hand, the one which should by all reason have cut her in half was now standing behind the girl Cat, and the hideous Hawaiian shirt he was wearing was literally glowing in the dark, the light of the sunset depicted on it seeming to cast shadows in the gloom of the graveyard. And he had no holes, or even blood on or in either himself or that shirt.
"Uh, hello?" he asked with what sounded like a friendly voice.
A part of her wanted her to attack again. Not to talk to him at all. But another part was worried she'd just fucked up big time.
"Yeah?" she asked.
He smiled at her, while the blonde frowned at both of them, "Hi. My name's Xander. I take it your Kendra's replacement?"
"Faith. You know about Slayers?" she asked.
He nodded. "I've known Buffy for what seems to me like forever. Um, I suppose you attacked me because the Powers told you to or something, right?"
Faith frowned at him, "What powers? You mean that eeky feeling I'm getting off you?"
Xander frowned, then he grinned, and looked over at Cat. "Cat honey, this time I've got a new trick for you."
Cat looked confused for a moment, then she smiled as well and even as she did so the feeling of danger and power vanished like someone shutting off a light.
"Woah." Faith said, looking back and forth between the two. "What was that?"
Xander grinned and asked, "You know Buffy, I hope?"
Faith nodded and replied, "Yeah, and if you are the missing Xander, I know a bit about you. Like I know you picked up that wicked sword of yours in hell, along with some babe ya married. This Cat chick here. They were really impressed by her, which was odd, 'cause I didn't think B swung that way, though Red might."
"Might what?" Xander asked.
Faith looked over at Cat as though considering something, then she shrugged. "I wasn't really listenin, but I think B was sayin' Cat was some sorta sex goddess."
Cat snickered, then broke out in full on laughter, her previous anger at the brunette slayer forgotten.
Xander looked at her in confusion then shrugged, turning back to the now slightly scowling slayer and explaining, "Half right, I suppose. She's a goddess, Egyptian pantheon."
Faith blinked as Cat managed to get control of her laughter long enough to say, "The sex goddess is my Mom. She's like the patron goddess of Spring Break."
Xander turned and looked at his wife at this, even as Faith's scowl turned to a smirk.
"Goddess of spring break?" he asked.
"Well, it goes back to her original worshipers. Every year for her festival they would charter barges and take them up the Nile to her temple. Everyone would drink and party on the barges as they made their way, and as they passed people the women would often, flash the men and make fun of the women along the way. All the most attractive women would be allowed to join the party barges. Once they got to the temple, they would really start the party. They would drink more in that week then the entire rest of the year. They would have orgies. They would have fun. And it was the way to worship my Mom. She and Bacchus are the best known deities for parties, you know. A real party isn't a party unless they both deign to come."
Xander took this in and nodded, "Ok. That kinda makes sense. I take it you were never one of the orgy participants though?"
Cat shrugged, "Between my Mom's other reputation for protecting me, and my big brother's well known reputation for defending my honor, no one would have touched me even if I had attended. But I didn't they really weren't my thing."
Xander grinned and hugged her, then gave her a kiss. "Well, I'm glad I was your thing. And I hope I remain your thing for a long time to come, if not for ever."
Cat smiled and kissed him back, and said, "My one and only. My other half. Apparently literally."
Faith picked up on this and so she asked, "Uh, guys? Earlier before you shut it down, I was having a hard time tracking which of you I was getting that feeling was coming from. Any idea why?"
Xander shrugged and replied, "'Cause metaphysically or something we're the same being. Or so the Creator said. He said Cat's a part of me, and I'm a part of her. That in reality we're just one being."
Faith took a step back, her guard coming up because that didn't jibe with what she'd heard before. "Uh, I thought your deal was being like a male slayer or somethin'. Some sort of Champion for Jesus or someone."
"Janus. One of the Elder Gods, the Roman god of portals and new beginnings. Yeah, I'm still technically his champion, although the creator expects the Powers to really bitch about that. But he didn't say I couldn't be, and I still feel the connection, so I know I'm still his Chosen Champion."
"Then how can you be a part of Cat?" Faith asked.
Xander shrugged, "I'm not sure if I'm a part of her, or she's a part of me, really. We're distinct people, but we're the same deity somehow. But we're not just aspects of ourselves, I don't think. It's really weird. See, I started out as a normal human, just like anyone else. Then I got possessed by a Primal Hyena spirit. Willow and Giles exorcized the spirit, but apparently some of it was left behind. Then the Halloween spell came, and I got changed into my costume, which was an Immortal from Highlander. Then that Immortal got attacked, sort of, by another kid, who was changed into the vampire LaCroix from the TV show Forever Knight. At the same time, the remnants of the Hyena got mixed in somehow. The result was that the Halloween version of me became a hybrid with all the powers and strengths of both the Immortal, the Primal Spirit, and the fictional Vampire. Then, when the spell ended, Janus chose me as his champion and made all those changes real, as opposed to just temporary."
Faith looked at where her stake lay discarded on the ground, then back at the man before her, "So you saying you're a vamp?"
Xander shook his head, "No. Not really. But what I am, or rather, what I was, which is still a part of what I am, was drawn from the traits of the vamps on that show. I could fly. I was really fast. I could do basic mind control, and if I drank someone's blood like a vamp, I could literally consume their memories and skills. Turns out also their power and possibly their essence as well, but I didn't know that then. But I was and am still alive. Because I also had the Immortal part. I wasn't allergic to garlic, the sun, crosses, holy water, and I still ate and drank normally, just like everyone else."
"So not a vampire." Faith said, relaxing some.
Xander shook his head. "Not precisely. Remember I said if I drank someone's blood I could consume their memories and skills and such? Well, after I got stuck in hell I started, well, snacking on the various demons. Not that I wanted to, but there literally wasn't much else there to eat, it being hell and all. It was either the all you can stomach demon buffet, or chowing down on hapless souls, or starving and becoming a meal for someone else. After the tenth time or so of eating when being eaten, literally dying of hunger only to revive and find some monster trying to eat me and finding myself instead compelled to drain them dry, often to the point that they either dissolved into slime or poofed into dust, I started hunting, figuring if I was going to have to eat demons at least I could chose the demons I ate instead of letting them choose me. So, yeah, for a long time there I was acting all vampire like, but more like a vampire which ate demons, not innocents. Not that there are a lot of innocents in hell, but you'd be surprised."
"So you're like a demon against demons or something?" Faith asked, sort of following what he said, but finding the concept of eating demons rather disgusting.
"No. But that is a part of me. When I met Cat, I Named her, as in I am the one who first spoke her True Name, the title by which demons and gods can be manipulated, summoned, or controlled. See, there was this prophecy."
Faith shook her head, "I hate those."
"Me too." Xander agreed, "Well this one said someone would speak Cat's Name, then take her from her father and consume her and hold her forever. Sort of. You know these things are all about interpretation. Well when I Named her she became bound to me, and I to her. And when a bit later we actually got married, and then consummated the marriage, well, you know how the vows say the two become one, for us apparently it was literal on a metaphysical level somewhere. So Cat's power is my power, and my power is Cat's, and together we have like way more power than either of us did separately. But it's really one pool of power, sort of, wielded by one being, who is us. If that makes any sense."
Faith thought about it then nodded. "So like you are you, and Cat is Cat, but you're both the same being. I kill you, I have to kill Cat, otherwise it doesn't stick."
Xander shrugged, "Might be harder than that even. Remember, I have that whole psuedo Immortal thing going, so now so does Cat. But before that she was a Goddess, and deities are by nature not impossible to kill, but really hard. So now so am I. I suppose if you used Kusanagi here," he said, indicating the sword on his back, "which can kill a god, and killed us both, it MIGHT work. But I cut the head off of Lucifer himself and all it did was make smart ass remarks at us until we put it in a box."
Faith grinned at that, "You really did that? I thought B and Red were funnin' me over that."
Xander shrugged, "Yeah, we got a Lucifer Head in a box. Remind me to show it to you sometime."
Faith grinned and said, "You got a deal. So, now that you're back, what are your plans?"
Xander shrugged, "Look up the old gang, see how things are going, then make plans. Those are my plans. You know where everyone is just now?"
Faith grinned, "Should be with Jeeves at the Library. Come on, I'll take ya."
Xander smiled, "I do know where it is, you know."
Faith grinned. "Yeah, but I want to see everyone's faces when I tell 'em I captured this new big bad and then drag you in like a prisoner or something. By the way, I'm sorry I attacked you."
Xander shook his head, "Not your fault. Blame the assholes who think they own you, the so called Powers That Be, knowing them they've been sending you dreams about killing me since the day you were chosen. I understand that's why Kendra attacked me, and since I had no clue what was going on, I just fought her off and ran home. Never realized she was a Slayer or anything. Not until later when I learned she'd come to Sunnydale to stop me specifically. After getting dreams about me killing Buffy."
"Well, let's go. I wanna see their faces when I march you in." Faith said, starting to walk towards the exit closest to the school.
Xander shrugged, "Ok, but no tying me up. Only Cat gets to do that."
And with that Xander Harris and his wife Cat followed Faith towards the library and the joyful reunion with the rest of the Scoobies.
And as for what happened after that, well, that's another story.