"Lost Soldiers, Dark Deals, Lawful Justice Denied" By Shadow Master

(BtVS/Crysis/Halo/Ghost in the Shell:tSAC/Metal Gear/Terminator:tSCC/SG1)

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the copyrighted material contained herein. They are the rightful property of their respective creators and associated companies. I make no profit off of this fanfic whatsoever and have no intention of changing this in the future. I write because it's fun and because there are those who enjoy reading my work. Therefore I would appreciate it if the people possessing the copyrights/licenses/etc for these shows/games/anime would refrain from taking legal action against me. I can promise them that whatever legal action they take against me won't get them enough to cover even a fifth of their legal fees.

Note 1: This takes place primarily in the merged reality of Stargate SG-1 and BtVS. It occurs in the year 2008 five years after the end of BtVS season 7 and one year after the events of season 10 of Stargate SG-1. As for the other elements mentioned above they will all be utilized in whatever way will best serve the storyline.

Note 2: Aside from a few elements/variables/attributes I will be completely ignoring BtVS season 8 and its plot. I've heard enough about its plot and how the various characters have changed since season 7 and I am not impressed.

Note 3: As always anyone who despises/hates/cannot-STAND deviations from canon in any way whatsoever should press the back button on their web browser immediately. While I will do my best to stay as close to canon as possible I will not let canon get in the way of telling the story that I want to tell PERIOD.

Lost Soldiers, Dark Deals, Lawful Justice Denied

Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics R&D Facility, Supposedly Abandoned

Northern Tip of the Rocky Mountains, British Columbia, Canada

Doctor Clark Drago's POV

I'm gonna die. He waited for the elevator to reach ground level. It's just that simple. Even with all of the Goa'uld technology and other off world acquisitions, I haven't produced anything substantial in over a year. She's gonna kill me!

It wasn't an easy thing being an employee of Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics, especially after the capture of their boss Ba'al at the hands of the SGC and the law-abiding NID. Since then their new boss, the Goa'uld Athena, had been extra careful to keep her whereabouts on a need to know basis and relocated some of the more important assets to facilities that were off the grid. However the woman had made it clear in her bimonthly division vid-conferences that she wanted 'impressive' advancements from all departments within the next five years. No one bothered to ask the question of what'd happen to them if they didn't because, even before Ba'al's former second in command became their employer, it was common knowledge that no one quit; they had their employment 'terminated', with many suspecting their lives as well.

So no one even mentioned that they wanted to 'resign' or anything about not being able to do what'd been asked of them since both would get them buried in unmarked graves. Whether they'd be dead when they were put in those unmarked graves was a thought he didn't want to contemplate in the least.

The task that he'd been given was to develop new cybernetic implants that could be put into soldiers, allowing them to become superior to anything the current global super powers had available. He'd been given full access to every scrap of data and tech that the company had, with new stuff coming in every so often so that in the beginning he'd been sure that he could come up with something. He'd tried using the crystal tech found in Goa'uld hardware to completely replaces microchips and the liquid naquadah used in most staff weapons as power sources. Initially it'd been promising when he'd started with simply creating advanced prosthetic arms or legs that could replace limbs lost by civilians, allowing them to resume normal lives. However, when he tried to increase what the implants could do to superhuman levels, he began to encounter difficulties. The more he tried to make them do, the thicker he needed the overall skeleton and frame to be in order to keep from being turned to junk after the first blow. Eventually it'd gotten to the point where it'd be impossible to disguise them as ordinary human limbs, thus eliminating them from consideration for undercover operations.

When he'd initially implied this to Athena during one of the conferences, she'd made it clear this was NOT acceptable and to find a way. The only thing that'd given him hope was that she hadn't completely rejected the larger limbs, making him think they'd be employed when the time for subtlety was at an end.

As a result he had worked tirelessly to find a way to keep the prosthetics proportional to the rest of the human body but still capable of doing more. He'd looked everywhere for inspiration, anywhere in which strength was achieved through means other than making things thicker, but sadly he was quickly reaching the end of his list of possibilities. There was always some flaw, some shortcoming, that rendered the ideas born of moments of epiphany useless and, unless he was really lucky, today might be the day his luck ran out. Athena had contacted the facility's administrator two hours ago to say that she was coming for an inspection and so he'd been chosen to be the 'guide' to show her around.

He wasn't fooled.

The director didn't assign him this task out of the goodness of his heard but rather to be the fall guy if Athena wasn't satisfied with what she saw. While not as certain, the Goa'uld definitely went to the Darth Vader school of employee management, wherein failure was all too often punishable by immediate death. It was all about providing people with incentive to work harder and knowing that you could be the next person to become Athena's visual aid to the rest of the staff did indeed work wonders.

Except for Thompson, who, after hitting a mind block on his soldier enhancement serum, committed suicide before Athena could do anything horrible to him.

The morbidly funny part of it all was that his latest formula actually did wind up boosting the test subject's physical abilities by fifteen percent, even if that was only for ten minutes.

In his case, though, he didn't have anything even close to being 'interesting' or 'promising' in his lab so he was pretty sure he was going to be dead before the day was out. Most people would be trying to escape at this point or thinking up ways to shift the blame for a lack of results to someone else, but he was oddly calmer than he should've been. He supposed that he was calmer because there was little hope and he knew it. It was the concept, the belief, that there was some way out of certain death that caused a lot of people to freak out but, thanks to past failures on the part of his colleagues, he knew there was no way out.

That didn't mean he wanted to die, so that'd explain why he wasn't completely calm.

As the doors to the elevator opened, he strode towards the front doors of the main building of the facility, peripherally aware as they opened automatically, then looked up to see Athena's personal helicopter descending towards the helipad. Taking a moment to straighten his clothes and take on the appearance of someone NOT expecting to be executed in less than a day, he walked up as soon as the propeller started to slow down. Seeing the side door to the craft slide open, he immediately saw the blonde haired woman known to the public at large as Charlotte Mayfield but who in reality was merely the host for the symbiote Athena. Getting out next to her was her loyal bodyguards Smith and Wesker, neither of who were human in his opinion but who could kill someone in a single lightning fast move. More often then not they were the ones who made examples of the employees who failed Athena but, when she was especially displeased, she did the job herself.

It was debatable which executioner was preferable.

"Mistress Athena," he said as he went down on one knee before her. "I trust your trip was comfortable?"

Yes he knew that scientifically the Goa'uld symbiote wasn't a god and that rationally he shouldn't be treating her like she was but in his opinion, if it kept him alive for five minutes longer, he'd lick her crap-covered shoes.

"As much as could be expected given that I am forced to HIDE from the rest of the world," Athena said in the odd dual voice that all Goa'uld preferred to use when inside a host. "Fortunately I have discovered a means to expedite the end of my seclusion."

Looking up in interest at his employer's statement, he noticed someone else step out of the chopper and he did not look like one of Athena's usual employees. With black hair that had some silver on the sides was a man who looked both amused by his current circumstances and at the same time worried. With a red dress shirt and cargo pants, the unknown man reached back into the chopper to pick up a sizeable looking crate that looked moderately heavy. He wondered why one of the bodyguards didn't carry it if the man was Athena's guest but dismissed such thoughts since it was ultimately none of his business.

"Escort Mister Rayne to Doctor MacDonald's former lab, Wesker," Athena ordered with an imperious tone. "Make sure he makes himself at home."

"Yes, mistress," Wesker said with a rigid nod before looking at the newcomer Rayne from behind his dark sunglasses.

Seeing the fear spike in Rayne's eyes, he'd bet good money that he'd been shown a very potent reason why defiance would not be tolerated.

Whether or not he'd see any hint of it on the news was debatable.

Standing back up, he gestured for his employer to precede him back into the facility since he'd seen what'd happened to those who tried to go ahead of her.

It had taken janitorial _weeks_ to clean all of the mess up.

"How fairs your cybernetics research, Doctor Drago?" Athena asked like a queen would inquire of her subject after they'd entered the elevator.

"I… I wish I had better news, mistress, but even with all that you have so graciously provided, I am having difficulty producing a prototype that meets your requirements," he replied, deciding that if he was going to die it'd be an honest death. "If a new metal alloy could be developed that possessed the strength of titanium at a fifth of accepted thickness, I could do much. However with what I have… I fear it may be some time before I can make what you ask of me."

When a smile blossomed on her face rather than a scowl of discontent, his fear spiked since it could only mean that the end she planned for him would amuse her greatly.

"Normally I would punish such unsatisfactory results, doctor, but fortunately for you Mister Rayne may soon provide you with all that you require." Athena said as the doors opened to the sublevel containing the first of her special projects. "However first he will require some… materials… and their procurement will require weaponry above what is readily available to the mercenaries of this world. Let us see if Doctor Emerson has succeeded to my satisfaction."

There is a god and he must like me! He thought with great joy. I won't be killed!

Not yet, at least.

Approaching the Former Lab of the Late Doctor MacDonald, Two Hours Later, Athena's POV

Ahhhh! There is just something so relaxing about randomly killing an underling! she thought as she finished using her handkerchief to wipe off the speck of blood on her blazer. I'll miss it when I'm ruler of this world.

True, she was actually quite pleased with the results her employees at this facility had managed to accomplish since the last meeting, especially Doctor Emerson, but praising them would only rob them of the motivation that produced such progress. They would need that motivation should the human Ethan Rayne succeed in delivering what he promised for they would then have access to technology that at the moment existed only in fiction.

Watching as her bodyguard Smith pushed open the doors to the lab, she entered to find Rayne unpacking the crate of supplies he'd insisted on acquiring before departing for this facility. Wesker, of course, was keeping a close eye on the man in order to ensure there were no slight of hand escapes or suspicious incantations.

At first she had been as dismissive of the existence of demons and magic as the rest of the Tauri but her encounter with a creature that fit the description of a vampire changed all that. That had been a year ago and since then she'd spent her time in hiding, more constructively investigating the new side of the world. It baffled her why none of the other System Lords had ever mentioned this side of Earth before since many of the so-called demons could have proven quite useful in their conquest of the galaxy. She could only presume that Ra or another powerful system lord had already tried to utilize them, failed and gone to great lengths to discourage any further experimentation.

It was during the course of her investigations that she heard a tale of a chaos mage who'd used his abilities to cast a spell over an entire town causing all who clad themselves in clothes he provided to become what they pretended to be. Powers, knowledge and personality were all thrust into unsuspecting host bodies, resulting in several hours of unrestrained chaos. If the tale was to be believed then it mattered not how powerful the fictional being was in the end and the only shortcoming was the fact that the spell was designed to end at dawn. Her host had numerous memories of the various fictional characters and creatures that had been spawned from the minds of Earth's citizens, all of which made her mind boggle at the possibilities if they were made real. Thus she had devoted considerable resources to the locating and apprehension of the man responsible for the spell but with special instructions that he was not to be harmed.

It complicated things a bit when she discovered he'd been imprisoned but fortunately there were always people who did stupid things that could be held against them, thus forcing them to do what she wanted.

It'd been with some gratification that she smiled when vid-conference window opened up on her computer screen showing both the unlucky guard and Mister Rayne. With years of experience in making deals through her host she approached him with a deal: cast the spell again but make the changes more permanent and she would make him fifty million dollars richer. She'd expected him to agree immediately since greed truly was universal and on Earth fifty million dollars could go a long way, but instead he had the gall to decline her offer. Oh, he'd been polite about it and had tried to part company with her on amiable terms but she was not a being that took 'NO' for an answer.

Fortunately the guard she'd blackmailed into releasing Rayne was concerned enough about what she could do to him and those he cared for that 'educating' the prisoner was preferable to the alternative.

The chaos mage proved to be quite a bit more reasonable after that demonstration.

After that they'd had to do some travelling to various locations around the world in order to gather the necessary ingredients for what she wanted done. Ethan had made it clear that in order to make the changes more permanent they would need higher quality components than what he'd used the last time AND they'd have to persuade Janus to increase his energy contribution. She hadn't been and still wasn't worried about that. If this true god Janus was anything like a Goa'uld, then it would be all too easy to use his own appetites against him in order to serve her needs. Indeed if he fed off chaos like Rayne suggested, then helping her would provide him with an ongoing supply of sustenance. The being would be foolish to withhold his aid.

"I trust the lab is to your liking, Mister Rayne?" she asked as cordially as she cared to.

"Well, it is a step up from the shop I cast the spell in last time," Rayne replied as he finished unpacking the things he would need. "It's fortunate that you chose to enlist my services so close to Halloween, my dear. While Janus could technically empower this spell at any time, All Hallows Eve allows for much greater flexibility and potential where he is concerned."

"I thought as much. How long before you can begin?"

"I will be able to begin preliminary preparations immediately but the spell itself requires that I stick to a specific schedule to achieve maximum effect. Once the ingredients are properly mixed, they tend to go bad within a day or two." He glanced at the various bottles and containers sitting on a nearby table, "I would suggest that we acquire the materials I mentioned earlier, as well as a few other things first. Once they are safely secured here everything should run smoothly from then on."

"That should be easy enough," she said, recalling what Doctor Emerson showed her. "My weapons R&D head showed me some rather impressive hardware earlier. It should be more than enough to acquire what you seek."

"While normally I would never dream to naysay a lady such as yourself, Miss Mayfield, I would recommend against underestimating the targets. Many before you have thought them little challenge and… let's just say they're a head shorter at the moment," he said, trying to convey warning without provoking.

"Your concern is noted, Mister Rayne," she said only mildly, taking his words seriously. "I shall make sure to pass it along to the operatives I assign to the task of procuring the materials. Provided the information you provided about them is accurate, they will have little if any time to retaliate."

"I assure you that I have given you all that I know about them and their methods," he said with surprisingly genuine honesty. "As for the other things I mentioned, here's a list. I chose them both because they should suit your needs nicely and because it will provide you with a means of controlling your new soldiers afterwards. Each has an Achilles heel that only you will be able to help them with, provided your scientists can successfully reverse engineer the technology I will provide them with."

"Thanks to the efforts of my predecessor and myself, Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics has some of the most brilliant and ethically flexible minds on the planet, Mister Rayne. They also know well the price of failure. Reverse engineering what you will be providing will be well within their abilities."

"Well then I guess we have some busy days ahead of us," he said with a cooperative smile. "Now if you'll excuse me, I must get to work if all is to be ready by the thirty-first."

"Of course. Wesker will see to any needs you may have during your stay and will allow you to contact me should the need arise," she said, implying that he would be watched constantly. "Good day, Mister Rayne."

Once they were out of the lab and down the hall, she dropped the polite employer façade and brought forth her true self; the one that would bring about the rebirth of the Goa'uld System Lords, with her as the supreme ruler!

"Inform security that Rayne's every movement is to be closely monitored AT ALL TIMES," she ordered Smith as they walked down the hall. "Every person who knew of him indicated that he is cunning, self-serving and deceitful. I care not what happens to him after he completes his task but I will not have him deserting beforehand."

"You do not believe the cash incentive you provided will be enough?" Smith asked with his professional tone.

"For most it would be but I suspect Rayne is the sort who refuses to bow down to anyone," she replied without looking at her bodyguard. "So long as he believes he is in the superior position, he will do as asked. However if he believes he is a prisoner or, worse, a slave, he will attempt to prove otherwise in as showy a way as possible."

"Understood," Smith said before taking out his cell phone to contact security.

That's what I like about Wesker and Smith. So long as I let them indulge in their appetites from time to time, they are more loyal than any Jaffa I've ever had. More effective as well, given their demonic abilities.

Whether she would keep them around once the new 'prototypes' were finished all depended on how well they faired during the test trials. If her new soldiers proved to be superior enough, she would have to re-evaluate Wesker and Smith's employment status. After all, why keep last years models around if the new and improved versions turned out to be vastly superior in every relevant way possible?

Time would tell.

Two Days Before Halloween

High Above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Transall C-160

"Alright. You've been briefed on the target and her abilities. We have an accurate account of all persons within the building and the defenses of that building," the Team Leader said as they prepped for H.A.L.O. insertion. "We're not here to start a war and excess collateral damage will not be tolerated. We get in, acquire the package and get out with no one the wiser. You've got tranq rounds specifically brewed to put everyone inside the building, including the target, to sleep for a minimum of forty-eight hours. Use them. Any one of you gets too freaky with the live rounds and you'll answer to HER."

No member of the team was stupid enough to get HER mad at them if they could avoid it.

The team had done enough jobs for HER to know that not only was she not to be fucked with but also paid well for quality work. With that in mind all of them checked their gear to make sure that everything was as it should be just before the green light switched on. That meant that they were three minutes from their drop point so they lined up in front of the rear hatch while the team leader pressed the button to open it. All of them were clad in standard HALO gear but their weapons looked decidedly more high tech than what most soldiers would be equipped with. However those weapons were options of last resort if a surgical extraction proved impossible and the only way to accomplish the mission was to terminate the opposition. While their employer hadn't been all that caring before when it came to a body count, this time was different. It'd been implied that if they made too big a stink it would cause the organization the target belonged to go aggressively on the offensive, thus complicating phases two through four of the mission. They didn't ask for details but rather simply factored that into the mission plan and preparations to maximize the odds of success.

The second the green light began to blink off and on they dove one by one off the edge of the hatch, streamlining their bodies just like they'd done hundreds of times before. Thanks to the tech their employer provided, a HUD popped up on their visors showing the LZ as well as the coverage area for the building's external security set up. It was pretty impressive for a non-government compound but it still wouldn't be enough to keep them out or provide advance notice to the target. With only a little adjustment to make sure all of them were inside the drop corridor, they waited until they reached twenty-five hundred before pulling the cord on their parachutes, causing their black chutes to deploy. Blending in perfectly with the night sky they descended until the HUD switched automatically to thermal vision, letting them see the sentries patrolling the perimeter as well as the roof of the building.

With a double tap of the communications device by the team leader, all brought their specially designed tranq guns that were capable of single shot, bursts and full auto up. Choosing single shot, they took careful aim at each sentry with direct line of sight to the LZ and fired, dropping each one like clockwork.

The second they touched down they stripped off their HALO gear and proceeded to the part of the house intel said the target would be at this time of night. Fortunately it was on the top floor so it would make entry easier than it would've been getting to the ground then getting inside. Once they were above the correct room, the second in command took a piece of tech out that looked like a manhole cover sized version of what they normally used to cut through glass. Placing it precisely on the ground, all it took was the press of a button to cause the points of contact to go bright red before spinning twice. With expert timing the cover was removed and the rest of the team dropped through the hole one after another, quickly spotting their target in bed with a young woman mentioned in the briefing file. Not that it particularly mattered as all but one of the team fired their tranq guns at both women with the intent of putting them to sleep.

Unlike the others, though, the team leader had been given an extra piece of information about the target and knew that mere darts would be ineffective. Instead he activated a device hooked on his belt that began to emit a sonic frequency completely inaudible to human ears but designed to force whoever was within range into a deep REM state. The team's communications equipment possessed the means to protect them from the device but only them. As a result, while the target used some unusual ability to stop the darts in mid-air, she was blindsided by the sonic attack, resulting in unconsciousness.

As soon as they were certain that the target was asleep, a sedative was administered in order to keep her that way for the desired forty-eight hours. After suitable bindings were employed, the team leader threw the target over her shoulder while his team formed a protective ring around him. As one they moved to the window with the two team members in front crashing through the window and securing the immediate area around the ground so that the others could follow. They all knew that the sound of shattering glass would alert the sentries that hadn't been put to sleep so they immediately moved towards the outer wall with the one furthest in front, tossing a demo pack at it.

With a hole blown in the wall, they had little problem getting to the street beyond and then, just like clockwork, their getaway vehicle came tearing around the corner so fast their tires screeched. As it came to a stop the side door opened and, while the package was placed inside, the rest of the team began to lay down cover fire as the sentries arrived on the scene. While the defenders were increasingly shocked at the speed and agility of the sentries, they had the benefit of knowing where they'd be coming from. With the narrow opening in the wall all they had to do was fill it with darts and the opposition remained pinned down. As for those that leapt over the wall somehow, they made a poor choice since, once a person was airborne, dodging ceases to be an option. A single tranq dart for each one that tried and there was another sleeping person on the sidewalk.

One by one they got into the vehicle and, with the last one in tossing a steel gray sphere with white lines criss-crossing it, the job was done. The sphere unleashed a combination of sonics and bright lights that put every flash bang grenade to shame, causing those within range to drop like puppets that'd had their strings cut. All in all it was a pretty smooth operation with zero casualties on both sides, as well as a clear shot to the local airport where their client had a private jet prepped and ready for take off.

Within the hour they'd be airborne and in the clear.

If teams Beta, Delta and Echo experienced the same luck, then they'd definitely be getting a bonus at the end of this job.

Indeed the other teams that made up the mercenary group experienced much the same luck as the first one did. Whether it was because their targets were used to fighting enemies more primitive in nature or simply because they'd never considered that a well equipped team of soldiers could take them down, each target was successfully acquired.

In Rome the target and her sister were acquired coming out of a nightclub with gas rigged to be released from every storm drain, vent and manhole cover within a two block radius of the club. It was determined that conventional means of acquiring the target would not work since the subject was the most experienced combatant of the organization she was a part of. Therefore a carpet bomb method using knockout gas to saturate the entire area with a formula designed to not only be breathed in but capable of being absorbed through the skin. Even with the speed the subject was capable of, it'd be impossible to escape getting the required amount into her system. Proceeding with caution, they approached the last known position of their target and thankfully they didn't have to sift through a pile of bystanders to do it. Once both were in restraints they slipped into a fairly forgettable looking van and drove off before the police even got halfway to the club.

In England, Delta team was surprised and a bit impressed by the target given that the man was old enough to be someone's grandfather. Whether it was due to experience or luck, the old man managed to put up something of a fight before they managed to take him down with some sort of hi-tech tazer gun. They'd been a bit worried that given the guy's age he might've been killed but, after checking his vitals, they found that he was still alive with minimal damage. Two members of the team had to shake their heads in respect and compare the guy to their drill instructors back in basic, given how tough the guy was.

The final target was harder to find than the others since he was apparently always on the move, going from location to location, but fortunately there was a way to make the target come to them. All they had to do was put out rumors of a teenage girl with superhuman abilities and he came right into their trap. The twenty-something young man had come with two escorts but they proved to be little help against four trained snipers with accuracy ratings that made it clear they earned their paychecks. Three trigger pulls later and all three were down, making it easy for them to put their target in restraints, load him into their VTOL and set course for the drop off point.

It all went like clockwork with each operation being executed at the exact same time at each location, thus making it impossible for any warnings to successfully reach their targets. If the info in their mission briefing was to be believed, it'd be at least twelve hours before the organization that connected the targets together would even have a clue where to look.

Their employer would be pleased.

Rocky Mountain Facility, Two Days Later, Xander's POV

"Ooohhh… definitely gonna kick the ass of whoever knocked me out," he mumbled as he regained consciousness.

His mind and his body were still sluggish due to whatever had been used to knock him out and there was a bad taste in his mouth that reminded him of some of his more serious hospital stays. It meant that whatever they'd used on him had been damn potent and possibly meant more for the Slayers he'd brought with him to find the new Awakened. Some would say the fact that he and his entire team had been taken down meant that it'd been a trap and therefore, while it was likely that there had never been an Awakened in the first place, he wasn't so quick to discount the alternative. It was entirely possible that there had been a new Slayer in that area and whoever knocked him and his team out simply got there first then set up the trap. Either way he saw much butt kicking in the future and, depending on the state of his girls, it might be very bloody indeed.

"Feel free to try, lad, but I doubt you'll want to once all is said and done," came the voice of someone he hadn't seen in many years.

Opening his eye, he immediately found something amiss as someone had put some kind of red glass visor over his eyes and, after he focused hard enough, he could tell that the visor was a part of a mask or helmet. Moving his head left and then right took quite a bit of effort but eventually he found who he sought in the center of the room setting something up that he couldn't quite see.

"Ethan Rayne. Certainly didn't expect you to be the one behind this," he said as he tried to see all that he could see. "You don't usually bother with tranq darts and forced conscription like this. Too planned out."

"Oh, this isn't my little game, young man," Ethan said, standing up from what he'd been working on. "I'm merely a hired hand being asked to do a job and being paid rather handsomely for it at the same time. True, it was I that suggested possible 'volunteers' for the project so I guess your being here is partially my doing. I so do LOVE sequels!"

Testing his limbs to see how much free reign he'd been given, he unfortunately found himself quite pinned down at the ankles, wrists, neck and waist, so at least the mastermind wasn't taking him lightly. Not that he focused on that alone, though, since he could feel that whatever chair he was in was molded specifically to follow the contours of the human body roughly. It wasn't specifically tailored to him, of course, but it only had enough material to support the torso, the limbs and the head.

"You do realize that sequels need to be bigger and badder than the original movie, right? Giles said he beat you bloody during your little bit of fun in Sunnydale," he said, figuring this had to be a repeat of the Halloween spell. "This time around you'd better hope that Buffy or Willow come along to hold him back or I'm seeing a visit to the ICU in your future."

When the chaos-loving Brit started to chuckle, he knew that was not a good sign because either it meant that the old man had a sure fire escape plan or did not believe in the least that the Scoobies would be able to make good on punishing him. Rayne was a slippery asshole so it was entirely possible that he had an effective means of getting away, so he'd have to keep his eyes and ears peeled. If Ethan was cocky then he'd get careless and that would be when he'd get what he needed in order to either turn the tables or allow the gang to catch up with the bastard.

"Oh, I imagine they'll be arriving sooner than you think!" Ethan said, sounding quite amused. "Though you may find them to be less than helpful."

Definitely has an ace up his sleeve or whoever hired him managed to impress him somehow.

"So… is there a point to all this?" he asked, deciding to keep the conversation going. "According to Giles' research, this spell turns itself off at sunrise and, aside from me getting a smattering of military know how, there were no lasting side effects."

"True. The standard spell I used all those years ago is relatively short in duration and harmless to those involved," Ethan said before walking out of his field of vision. "This variation, however—"

Before the Brit could say more the door to the room opened and thankfully it was within his field of vision. Three people entered the room and, based on what he saw, it was the blonde woman in the center wearing an expensive business suit who was in charge. The men on either side of her were obvious bodyguards given their stern expressions and large muscled size but he'd have to wait to see what weapons they were packing before determining a threat level.

"I'll take it from here, Mister Rayne," the woman said with a superior, smarmy tone of voice. "YOU focus on finishing your preparations. The curtain must go up on schedule."

"Of course, my dear! Of course," Rayne said, sounding like he was doing a favor for an old friend.

"Allow me to introduce myself, Mister Harris. My name is Charlotte Mayfield, C.E.O of Farrow-Marshall Aeronautics, and to finish Mister Rayne's statement this variation of the spell you experienced so many Halloweens ago is decidedly more permanent," Charlotte said, sounding like she thought spilling the beans was a kindness on her part. "Oh, the fake personality that will take up residence in your body will only be there temporarily. All I require from the spell is the equipment of your costumed self, the hardware if you will, and an imprint of the skills necessary to utilize it since anything more than that would only complicate matters for me."

Damn. A smart baddie! These guys are nothing but trouble. he thought as he realized that the woman wouldn't be as easy to overcome as some of the more cocky demon lords.

"So… what? You're a closet otaku and wanted a robo-soldier of your very own?" he asked, seeing if insulting the woman could make her mad enough to slip up.

"While on the whole I find such things to be mediocre, there are a handful of interesting ideas that intrigue me," Mayfield replied, not sounding angry in the least. "Then again should Mister Rayne's efforts prove fruitful, I will be able to see how they perform in the realm of reality rather than fiction."

For a moment he pictured Saiyan thugs, fire breathing mages and giant ray gun wielding robots trashing everything in sight. Great. I'll never look at the stuff the same way again!

"For now, though, a few test subjects will be needed to verify that Mister Rayne can deliver and, fortunately, he was only too happy to submit some names for consideration." Miss Mayfield said with a smile better suited to the face of a demon.

"Names?" he asked not seeing any other captives in the room besides him.

"Yes. Four more in addition to yourself," she replied, sounding pleased at his concern. "They're still with wardrobe and make up at the moment though. Creating the new them is taking some time."

"Indeed. I can't wait to see the finished products." Ethan said with amusement, as though there was some hidden joke involved.

"What happened? Company going down the drain or something?" he said, wanting to get more info on the master plan so it could be derailed down the line.

"Hardly. I'm just planning a little… expansion and having a few potent enforcers on the payroll would be quite helpful in dealing with any troublemakers." Charlotte said with a bit of annoyance at the 'drain' comment.

"What makes you think I'll dance to your tune, Miss Moneybags?" he asked in a way that made it clear he wouldn't be cooperative at all.

"You'll obey my commands because you won't have a choice in the matter." Mayfield replied with a chilly matter of fact tone.

He was about to say more when the doors to the room opened wide revealing a convoy of people laying unconscious on high tech gurneys, looking just as thoroughly restrained as he felt. However what caught his attention immediately and held it were the faces of those who were being set up in a circle around the center of the room.

Giles.

Willow.

Buffy.

Dawn.

"Ah! Here are the four volunteers now." Charlotte Mayfield said, sounding quite pleased. "Perfect timing. You see, Mister Harris, you won't have any say in the matter because I'll be holding the only means by which your friends can go on living. Allow me to educate you:

"First is your dear childhood friend Willow Rosenberg. Quite the prodigy according to her academic records but even that pales in comparison to her achievements in matters of sorcery. The woman who managed to awaken every Slayer on the planet when she was barely into her twenties and has only grown stronger since then," she said, sounding quite interested. "Unfortunately her powers of sorcery would prove problematic so instead I've chosen to enhance the qualities of her mind. Indeed her mind will be the only thing biological left to her after she is transformed into Major Makoto Kusanagi of Public Security Section Nine. Mister Rayne informs me that ones magical talent is often dependant on the presence of living tissue so the changes should reduce her back to the level of a novice.

"Buffy Summers is next and has proven herself to be quite the able warrior with an impressive list of defeated adversaries. Granted, I only had their reputations to go by but, if even half of what I've been told is true, it was no small feat that the oldest living Slayer managed to best them." She still sounded like she had plans. "Unfortunately she also has a reputation for being uncontrollable and rebellious but the changes she will undergo should reign her in nicely. She will become a female version of the cyborg Raiden from the latest 'Metal Gear Solid' game, thus requiring that her new white blood be externally dialyzed with equipment only I will possess in order to avoid autotoxemia. In short she can either do as she's told or die a rather unpleasant death.

"Your dear mentor Giles will also be receiving an upgrade in the form of Master Chief John-117. Clad in armor consistent with the third installment of the game, I wouldn't be surprised if he actually thanked me for the improvements that will be made," she said, sounding like she actually believed what she was saying while watching her bodyguard put the helmet of the armor on Giles and securing it properly. "After all he was getting up there in age but, if all goes well, he'll be better off physically than men half his age. As for his 'incentive' to behave, that was something Mister Rayne suggested but, once he explained the idea to me, I couldn't help but agree. It will be a most effective means of keeping the Watcher under control.

"Last but certainly not least would be the young miss Dawn Summers. Granted, I had not initially intended to involve her but in this case the initiative of the team sent to capture her older sister turned out to be a good move." A particularly nasty smile appeared on her face, "As for what changes she will undergo… suffice it to say she will be my most loyal and obedient operative once all is said and done. Indeed it will not even occur to her to that she has the OPTION to defy me."

"What about me?" he asked angrily at the woman who was behind the entire scam. "You seem to have a collar for my friends but not me."

"Ah, but I haven't, Mister Harris." She never lost her nasty smile, "Every one of the 'volunteers' have their personality quirks but if there was one thing that came through loud and clear when I asked about you was one word: loyalty. You are loyal to a fault to those you consider your friends and you are willing to do much in order to assure their happiness, as well as their safety. You won't abandon them to save yourself and you're too suspicious of me not to stick close so you can keep an eye out for trouble. In short, your loyalty to them and suspicions about me are your collar."

I really, REALLY, hate smart baddies.

"Now, as much as I'd enjoy rubbing the hopelessness of your situation in your face, I am a busy woman," C.E.O Mayfield said as she turned to leave the room. "I will be back in twelve hours, Mister Rayne. I expect them to be transformed and still very much restrained when I return."

"Do not worry, Miss Mayfield," Ethan said as he came back into the field of vision with a prankster's smile on his face. "You'll get your money's worth."

Why do I not like the sound of that? he thought with dread forming in his stomach.

Ethan Rayne's POV

I was a bit concerned about doing a job for miss corporate exec but now… now I think this might be my best offering to Janus yet! he thought as he put on the necessary ceremonial robe for the spell.

He'd been stuck in military custody for years thanks to dear old Ripper and his little group of charges, but then something happened that he hadn't anticipated. A guard had come along outside his cell but decidedly earlier than the schedule he'd mentally calculated as a means of passing the time and planning an escape. Naturally he'd employed his dry wit and skill with mind games to try to plant the seeds of his later liberation but, in an unexpected move, the guard actually stopped in front of his cell and unlocked it. When the door to his cell was pulled open he was noticeably wary of this supposed glimpse of freedom and it was only made worse when another prisoner walked into view with something that looked decidedly explosive in his arms. It hadn't been until he noticed that the new prisoner was roughly the same build, age and hair color as him that he clued into what the intended plan was. He'd realized right then and there that someone was going to a lot of trouble to not only break him out but also make sure no one realized he was free.

This had intrigued him enough to play along and so he'd walked out of his cell, heard it clang shut and then followed his liberator out of the compound to where a suspicious black van waited for them both. Once inside, the guard opened a laptop and, after a little typing, a video screen popped up with a rather stunning blonde in an expensive looking business suit. She then explained to him that she knew who he was, what he could do and had a job for him that she'd pay fifty million dollars for the successful completion of. It'd been an interesting offer, even if it called for an enhanced repeat of his old Halloween gag, but he made it a personal rule never to work for people willing to pay in the millions. In his experience, people with that much money to throw around for a single job tended to value the almighty bloody dollar more than people and would do anything to keep that money. So, as graciously as he could, he declined her offer and asked to be let out at the nearest bus stop since he'd long ago made a point of placing caches of funds in the major cities. After all, mother had repeatedly told him how unwise it was to put all of ones eggs in one basket and eventually he'd listened to her when it came to valuables, possessions and cash. The number of times it'd paid off had made it worth the bother and, based on the scenery outside the prison complex he was confident, they were near one of his caches.

In response the woman merely looked at the guard and told him to do as she'd instructed should he decline her offer.

He had thought at the time that the guard would attempt to rough him up in order to force his compliance but what actually happened turned out to be quite different. He'd been completely unprepared to see the man stick himself with the syringe but that'd merely been the prologue to a sight that would make him shiver for years to come. Within seconds of being injected the man began screaming in terrible agony as smoke began to rise out of his mouth, nose, ears and even his eyes with ever increasing volume. Eventually it'd gotten so bad that he'd have opened the door to let out the smoke if he could recall where it was but sadly he did not so he'd been forced to wait until the smoke abated. When it had the guard was no longer in agony but, then again, it was rather difficult to be in pain when you've been reduced to an eyeless, shriveled up husk fit for a pharaoh's sarcophagus.

That'd been when his prospective employer had informed him that if he was certain he did not wish to take her offer, he would share her former accomplice's fate.

Naturally self-preservation kicked in and he'd reconsidered her proposal.

"Uuuhhhh…" came a muffled groan that pulled him from his recollecting.

Turning his head he was pleased to see that it was the occupant of the Mjolnir mark six armor that had made the sound of awakening that he'd heard.

"Ah, Ripper! You're just in time for the show." He walked over to his heavily restrained friend, "Truth be told, I'd thought your Slayer would've been among the first to awaken but it appears they gave her a rather ample dose of sedative. No worries, though! I'm told adrenaline does wonders for getting such things out of the average person's system."

"Ethan… if you release all of us now, I promise to only hit you once," Rupert said in a tone that, had the man been free to move, might've been intimidating.

"Sorry, old boy, but the fine lady bankrolling this little venture is rather set on getting what she asked for. Trust me when I say you do NOT wish to see how she deals with uncooperative employees. It isn't pleasant. It might even be enough to make a fyarl turn up its nose in disgust."

Considering the fact that fyarl's weren't bright enough to be picky and used snot as a weapon, it'd take something pretty nasty to disgust them.

"Besides which, she's willing to pay me fifty million dollars if I succeed and there is a tropical island that I've had my eye on..." he said as he moved to get the show on the road. "I suggest you be quiet, brace yourself and hope that Janus is in a generous mood. It's going to take quite a bit of his power to execute this variation of the Halloween spell."

In actuality, though, he was fairly certain that his patron god would be only too willing to contribute the needed power for the spell to have the desired effect. After all, while the old spell did provide a reasonable meal for the Roman deity, five constant sources of chaos would provide a steady source of sustenance until they died or someone figured out a way to get them back to normal. It'd probably take a couple of years since it was never an easy thing to undo chaos magic but that would give him plenty of time to find someplace to hide. He had a feeling that, as soon as they were free from Miss Mayfield's control, they'd likely come after him either to force him to undo his work or exact revenge. Neither possibility was very appealing so he'd be sure to find someplace to hide out for a few years where Ripper would never think to look and where even the best scrying spells would be useless. Not too many of those that were still pleasant to live in but he'd tough it out since it'd be preferable to staring Ripper and his Slayer in the face should they find him.

Looking at the table upon which he'd placed all the components of the spell, he wondered if Miss Mayfield knew that he'd actually asked for more than he really needed. Indeed, some of the items he'd only asked for because they were incredibly rare and he planned on leaving with them once his business here was finished. They'd be useful for keeping Ripper off his back, as well as making him a small fortune to comfort him during his years on the lam. If the woman had any idea how much he'd ripped her off for, he'd likely be pushed to the limits of his sneaking, evading and hiding abilities given how displeased she'd likely be. Fortunately for him she appeared to be something of a novice in the area of sorcery and the arcane despite how well informed she seemed about the various players on the supernatural side of things. Unless she wound up speaking with someone more knowledgeable about the supernatural than her, it'd likely be years before she figured out that she'd been taken for a financial ride.

Once he was prepared he began utilizing the various ingredients, both the mixed and unmixed, to prepare the metaphorical path that the arcane energies would need to take to achieve the desired effect. It was not easy since the patterns and the symbols were easily five times more complex than what he'd used all those years ago in Sunnydale. Back then he'd just been interested in a bit of fun but this time what he was doing required considerably more effort. Had he nothing more than his own desire for the fun of chaos, he would never have gone to such lengths but, with what he had to work with as well as a fifty million dollar paycheck waiting for him, he found it easy to give it his all. One by one he emptied a bottle of ingredients where they needed to go and made sure that everything was drawn precisely like it had to be to keep things from going pear shaped. Some of the stuff went on the floor, some on Ripper and his charges and some on himself in order ensure he would be able to retain control of the spell.

When the time came he knelt before the bust of Janus and began to chant the words this variation of the spell required, channeling all of his considerable power as a chaos mage into every word. Feeling the power descend from the dimension where Janus resided, he almost lost his focus due to the sheer amount being sent his way but firmed his resolve to counter this. Like tendrils from some great sea beast, energy began to manifest above the bust growing in both thickness as well as length as they stretched outwards to the intended recipients of the spell's effects. When contact was made, the changes were both dramatic as well as quite painful if the screams from the white hats were any indication. Flesh was molded and minds were overrun as what was became what they were being forced to be with little chance of resistance.

Or at least he thought so up until Ripper's little redheaded protégé showed that, even under the effects of sedation and the spell, she was capable of impressive feats of sorcery. She was actually managing to force the tendril connected to her to withdraw almost to the point of losing contact with her entirely. Doubling the strength he was putting into the spell, he managed to almost get it all the way back to where it needed to be but the little bint was making him work for it. As he'd anticipated, the adrenaline from the pain was neutralizing the sedatives AND waking her up in a big hurry, allowing her to counter the spell through sheer force of will. Fortunately, even for all her prowess and potential, there were just some things you couldn't do at a moment's notice no matter how good you were. As such she might be able to keep him from completely negating her efforts but at most this might mean that she will lack some memories or knowledge once the spell was concluded.

Nothing that would dissatisfy Miss Mayfield since she seemed to be more concerned with the hardware passing muster than something like full retention of the costume personae's memories.

He was beginning to feel some strain as he passed the halfway point of the spell, though whether it was due to fighting Red or simply managing the sheer amount of power being employed he didn't know. Whatever the reason he'd bet good odds that once all was said and done he'd be sleeping for ten hours straight and waking up positively famished. Modern gym workouts had nothing on potent chaos spells when it came to burning calories, so he'd need to replenish his reserves when he had the chance or else he'd be of no use to anyone.

As the spell reached its' end, point he decided to give forcing Red's tendril all the way back one more go while at the same time putting the last of his expendable energy into the chanting of the words belonging to the spell. He smiled as the tendril slid right back into place and he could only surmise that the bird must have not thought him capable of such a final push. In any case it was with a final crack of energy that the spell concluded, leaving him bracing himself up against the stand upon which the Janus bust rested since the sudden lack of arcane energy caused what support it provided to vanish as well. Once enough strength had returned to him, he got to his feet and moved to do one more thing in order to ensure everything didn't go tits up on him. Reaching into his pocket, he went around to each restrained being an placed a single symbol carved out of metal on them, watching with satisfaction as they stuck like a magnet before causing the high tech gurneys or chairs to glow briefly.

Don't want these heroes to break free and run amok now, do we?

Each symbol would increase the strength of the gurneys and the restraints by a factor of ten and that would hopefully be enough to withstand even the superhuman strength the 'volunteers' possessed. So long as Miss Mayfield followed his instructions regarding eliminating all wireless or external interface ports on the gurneys, neither the costume personalities or Ripper's group would be able to break free.

Walking over to the wall, he pressed a button to activate the intercom.

"The spell is in full effect. Wait at least five hours before shattering the bust to terminate it and then I would recommend allowing them at least four hours of recuperation before you begin your examination," he said once he was sure he wouldn't come off as a gasping weakling. "They will need time to recover, biological or not, if you want them to survive long enough to learn anything of use."

"Understood. A guard will be along to escort you back to your quarters, Mister Rayne," Wesker's voice said though the intercom speaker before the connection was severed.

Well, that's the best I can do for you, Ripper old boy , he thought as he looked back at the unconscious armored form of his friend. A few hours rest. Still, if you and your 'children' stay true to form, Miss Mayfield will live just long enough to regret this little venture. Give her hell, Ripper!

The Watcher might not feel the same way but he still considered Rupert a friend, even if he didn't act like it sometimes.

After all, what were a few pranks between friends?

A Little Over Two Hours Later, Master Chief John-117's POV

"WAKE UP, JOHN!" came a loud voice right into his ears and he was awake as well as alert in an instant.

Immediately he tried to sit up since it'd be a more strategic position than flat on his back but, to his disappointment, he found himself thoroughly restrained. He couldn't see them but he could feel them around his wrists, ankles, waist and neck so he did the next logical thing and that was to test the strength of the restraints. One by one he tested each restraint to see if there was any variation in strength but he found no significant difference in strength as all of them held up equally well under his efforts. Considering the fact that with his MJOLNIR six armor, he could lift a total of eighteen hundred pounds and that meant that whatever the restraints were made of it was damn strong.

"Sit-rep?" he asked as he took in the rest of the room.

"You know as much as I do." Cortana replied through the speakers in his helmet. "I only came back online a minute or so before you did. Other than what I could see and hear I can't tell you much. Someone's erected a jamming barrier around this room and there aren't any wireless access ports in here that I can tap into."

That meant that either someone was very paranoid or had prepared this room specifically to counter their specific abilities. There wasn't any among the Covenant who knew UNSC A.I.s well enough to prepare this well and that meant that someone human was the culprit.

That complicated matters.

While the war against the Covenant had united the human race under a single banner, his last clear recollection was that the conflict was all but over with. Half the alien races that made up the Covenant had awoken to the truth about the rings and their crusade and the others were being pushed back. While he wasn't foolish enough to think that the bad blood between the two opposing sides could be mended in less than two generations or more, the respite in hostilities would weaken the unification of the human race. Old grudges would arise and petty ambitions would enflame the hearts of a few humans who couldn't see the true cost of their actions. Sadly some of those people he knew of had a bone to pick with the SPARTAN II program, its creator and in some cases him personally, so it could be one of them who'd succeeded in capturing him. Perhaps they had found the back half of the Forward Unto Dawn and took him along with Cortana then. It was certainly feasible enough. He was in cryo last he checked and he suspected that his longtime friend would place herself into a sort of stasis in order to maximize the odds of both of them lasting until help came. A properly prepared team with specialized equipment and a sound plan could've boarded the half ship and abducted both of them before they were aware of any danger.

Looking at the other occupants of the room, he found himself evaluating them from a strategic point of view either as potential allies or enemies.

The first was a woman with purple hair who had yet to regain consciousness. She was clad in a skintight bodysuit and jacket, all of which was a combination of blacks and grays, making for good nighttime camouflage. It was impossible to determine her combat potential by looks alone so he'd classify her as a civilian at the very least and a competent soldier at the very most.

The other looked to be more of a threat, with a suit of possible armor covering a male form from the top of his head down to the bottom of his feet. In terms of appearance it looked like someone had modeled the armor to look like human musculature with a combination of both a black corded material and a reflective steel-like alloy. With crimson visor over the eyes and some kind of breather mask, it definitely looked the more threatening of the two. He'd definitely label it a threat above that of a rank and file soldier but until he could see the man in action he couldn't come to any more reliable conclusions.

The third was fairly unremarkable. Looked to be a civilian young woman clad in a sleeveless one piece body suit with knee high black boots and a white strap of some kind going around her waist several times. With the exception of the belt the entire outfit seemed to be made out of leather and was designed more to be aesthetically pleasing than functional. While there was some muscle tone from what he could see, he'd bet a month's rations that she barely knew how to fire a gun, never mind hold her own in a real firefight.

The final unknown showed signs of extensive cybernetic implants, though to what degree it was hard to tell based on his limited field of vision. With snow white hair on top it looked as though whoever had designed the implants had gone to great lengths to ensure that the woman could pass for normal if some ordinary clothes were put on. However, based on his experience with cybernetics, the more human they looked, the less power they actually possessed, so while this woman might be more than human, he very much doubted that she could surpass him in the area of brute force.

"What about our four roommates?" he asked to see if she picked up anything he'd missed.

"I can't tell much with just the mark six's sensors. They weren't designed for in depth scans," she replied honestly as he looked between the two unknowns. "Though considering they have restraints just as impressive as yours, I think it's safe to say that superhuman strength and at least some combat skill can be assumed."

"Agreed." It'd be a waste of resources to put heavy restraints on people that didn't need them.

Upgrading all four of the unknowns to Brute level threats, he began looking around as best he could to see what weapons were available in the immediate area. Nothing but bottles, books and a stone bust in the center of the room were available making for some rather crude weaponry. Not what he'd prefer but it might be enough to keep him alive long enough to get his hands on a firearm or suitable melee weapon. Odds were good that the facility had guards stationed throughout in order to deal with intruders or escapees and, depending on the complex's purpose, they could be armed with lethal or non-lethal weaponry. Either would be acceptable since even a non-lethal weapon could kill if used in the right way. However it all hinged on being able to escape the restraints so that he could utilize the crude implements to acquire something more familiar. That meant waiting until his captors showed themselves so he could get their measure and devise a means by which he could manipulate them into doing something in his favor. A restraint that someone forgot to secure or a fool that could be goaded into a fight would be nice but he'd take whatever he could get.

It was just as he was about to consider the matter further that the woman with the purple hair awoke in the blink of an eye and that wasn't a figure of speech. One second she was as unconscious as the other occupants the next her eyes were wide open and she was completely alert as though she'd been awake all along. Thinking back, he tried to remember if there'd been any signs of breathing or body movement indicating that she'd only been pretending to be unconscious.

He couldn't recall a single one.

Since to the best of his knowledge it was impossible for an organic being to stop breathing for longer than twenty-two minutes, he could only come to the conclusion that she wasn't entirely organic. If she received some kind of technological enhancement that allowed her to precisely control her breathing to the point where she could hold off breathing indefinitely, that could explain what had happened. Observing, he could immediately tell that she was no civilian both by the expression on her face as well as how she did the same as him by testing the strength of her restraints.

"No luck, ma'am. Whatever kind of metal the restraints are made of they can handle more than eighteen hundred pounds of pressure."

"And you are?" she asked, not volunteering her name first.

Smart.

"Master Chief Petty Officer Spartan One One Seven," he replied, figuring that a fellow captive might make a decent ally. "And you?"

"Major Chroma Aramaki of Public Security Section Nine," she replied, not giving anything away with her facial expressions or body language. "Any idea where we are or who tied us up like this?"

"None. Whoever did this came prepared," he replied, deciding it might be helpful to share SOME intel in the hopes of gaining some useful bits in return. "Restraints strong enough to hold us, no accessible ports wireless or otherwise and a jamming field set up around the room so sending out an SOS isn't possible. At least it's impossible with what I have at hand."

"Same here. No network access and the same blacksmith that made your restraints must've made mine because they're not budging an inch." She looked at the other occupants in the room, "Any info on our roommates?"

"Nothing. Other than you and me, they're all unconscious," he replied, not letting on that Cortana was online and fully functional. "Until they wake up or our captors decide to make their presence known, intel is speculation at best."

"It's all we have just the same." She had a look he'd seen on many veteran soldiers, "Let's pool what we know and see if we can come up with some way out of this place."

"Right," he said, knowing that that was all they could do at the moment.

In the future, though, he'd show his captors just what a SPARTAN-II was capable of doing.

Twenty Minutes to Five Hour Deadline, Prophet's POV

[SYSTEMS REBOOTING]

[INTEGRATING NEW DNA PROFILE]

[INITIALIZING]

[PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND TERTIARY SYSTEMS STABLIZATION COMPLETED]

[REROUTING PRIMARY POWER SYSTEMS]

[READY TO PROCEED]

Took you long enough , he thought at the A.I in the suit, codenamed S.E.C.O.N.D. that had been trying for the last four hours and forty minutes to get Nanosuit Two back online.

It'd taken dozens of reboot attempts and failed start ups but he was finally mission capable again but being immobile didn't mean he'd just been playing mind games while he waited. He'd kept his eyes and ears open, taking in as much as he could so that, when he did have a chance to make an escape, he'd be ready. After the first of the tactical unknowns, Master Chief Petty Officer Spartan One One Seven, had woken up from whatever had knocked him out, he'd listened. From what he'd heard it didn't sound like either him or the other one, Aramaki, had any more information on the enemy than he did but at least he gained greater knowledge of the obstacles in their path. No outlets, wireless or otherwise, meant that the enemy had a pretty good grasp of the tech interface capabilities of the group and didn't want them releasing the restraints on their own. The jamming field surrounding the room indicated that they didn't want an SOS sent out or chose to overestimate the wireless abilities of their captives. That meant that they were within range of either allies or enemies of their captors. If an escape attempt was made, it could be facilitated by drawing as much attention as possible to their location as possible in order to divide the compound's forces as much as possible.

Worth considering at the very least but he wasn't going to put all his money on that.

For the last two and a half hours more intel was added as the remaining two prisoners woke up, though if the suit's scanners were right 'came back online' might be more appropriate for the girl dressed like someone with a leather fetish. All the readings indicated that she was a cybernetic organism, an endoskeleton made of an unknown alloy covered with living synthetic human tissue, making him think that her primary function must be infiltration and perhaps assassination. The machine in young woman clothing had awoken after Chroma but so far hadn't divulged much in the way of information even when aggressively asked. If it wasn't for the fact that she appeared to be without emotion, he might've considered her a plant by the enemy but in truth he figured it was because she'd been programmed not to answer questions from fellow prisoners. In fact he considered it a small miracle that they'd managed to get her name, 'Cameron Phillips', out of her but then decided such things were considered non-vital. Much like the others, he had no way to measure how much of a threat she was other than to think that she wouldn't be in such thick restraints if she wasn't superhumanly strong.

The last to wake up out of the lot of them was the one with the white hair that looked like it had an artificial muscle system similar to his own, only smaller. Whether this was due to the fact that they were more advanced or simply because making them any bigger would be too conspicuous he didn't know but they were definitely not as bulky. In fact…

NANOVISION ENGAGED

Yep. According to what he was seeing, only the top half of the skull, the brain and part of the spinal column were organic, with everything else being a synthetic of some kind. While some of those synthetics were giving off heat and a perceivable energy signature, there was nothing about them that could be mistaken for organic or natural. From what he could see the nails on each finger and thumb had been designed to work as claws and the feet resembled two toed socks with roughly an inch or two of heel in the back. Add to that a visor with what look like some kind of night vision lenses that could slide into place and he was fairly certain black ops were the specialty of this young woman. Since she'd woken up a lot of ground had been retread and nothing really new in terms of intel had been submitted so they were pretty much in the dark.

Still, he had a theory and he felt that now was as good a time as any to let the others know.

"I've got a theory about all this if you'd like to listen."

"Not like we have anything better to do," Chroma said with a bit of annoyance.

"First, look at the five of us. What is the one thing we have in common?" he asked them before waiting to see what their answers would be.

"We're all warriors." Master Chief replied almost immediately.

"You're right but its more than that. All of us have been enhanced by technology to one degree or another." He looked each of them in the eye in turn, "Unless I'm wrong, some of us ARE pure technology. The thing is none of us are made from exactly the same technology. I think that the people who captured us and are running things are looking to see what makes us tick so they can either replicate our enhancements or bring them all together to make something unique. With the number of cybernetics in each of us, that's probably the only reason we're still alive. That and they're probably confident that these restraints will hold."

"No reason they shouldn't be," Raiden said with a bit of sarcasm. "All of us have tried to break out and since we're all still here it's clear how that turned out."

"Still, it's a valid theory," Master Chief said, sounding more objective. "It also means we have a time limit in order to escape. Once they've learned all the need from us, they'll likely dispose of us."

The discussion was cut short when the door to the room opened to reveal a blonde thirty-something woman in a business suit. At first glance she might strike a person as being a businesswoman or a politician but the look in her eye… if she wasn't a spook, she was damn close to one in the way she saw the world.

"Oh, I won't dispose of you, dear Master Chief, even after my scientists have learned all your secrets," the woman said with a smile on her face. "After all, as I'm sure you know, it's the warrior that makes the weapon, not the weapon that makes the warrior. I could outfit an entire army with your enhancements but, pitted against you, they would likely be wiped out entirely. Why? Experience! All of you are used to your bodies, your enhancements, whereas anyone fresh from augmentation will need months or longer to acclimate to their new circumstances and incorporate them into how they fight. I cannot wait that long. I have PLANS."

"And I'm sure you think that treating us like lab rats or offering obscene amounts of money will make us perfectly content to work for you?" Chroma asked, making it clear by her tone that she would not.

"You, my dear Major Motoko Kusanagi of Japan's Public Security Section Nine, won't have a choice." The blonde never once looked like she thought things wouldn't go her way. "In fact, I know a way to change all of your minds quite effectively."

With that the woman walked over to the clay bust of a two faced man that had been placed in the center of the room, lifted it up and, with surprising force, threw it against the wall. All he had time to comprehend was the sound of the bust shattering then out of nowhere his mind fell into chaos, with thoughts seemingly fading away into nothingness. In the end it proved to be too much for him and unconsciousness claimed him.

His last thoughts were that he couldn't die yet.

He was a marine and his fight was far from over.