Xander eyed the five barely functioning spaceships that had half landed and half plowed into the ground in the middle of town, while the T-800s went about stripping the withered corpses that were strapped to the outside of them and placing them in a pile with the bodies of the dead reavers they had collected.
"All the bodies have been collected," a T-800 reported, "weapons have been removed and placed in a separate pile."
"Does that include body parts that they used for decorations and food?" Xander asked.
Xander turned to the pile of bodies and tapped the tar pits, causing them to vanish and flooding his system with well over a hundred black mana. He shivered for a second and forced the urge to dominate and destroy down. Even though he was holding more mana at one time than he ever had before didn't mean it was significantly harder to control himself. He was really glad he was a planeswalker at the moment.
He scanned the ships, easily gathering their patterns from just a glance, and shook his head. Somehow the reavers had kept the ships just functioning enough to use and god only knew where they went for fuel. He tapped some plains and buckled metal plates came together as rust and radiation damage faded away, restoring the ships to perfect working order.
Gesturing he created half a dozen new ships in the field where the Serenity was parked and frowned as that barely dealt with a handful of the mass of black mana he was holding. "I really wish these had been green or blue mana," he complained before vanishing in a swirl of leaves.
"Where'd he go?!" River demanded, as they'd just reached him in time to see him vanish.
"I'm kind of curious about that myself," Shepherd said. "Also… the vanishing bodies and new ships."
"Swamp Gas," Simon said, causing everyone to turn and stare at him. He shifted uncomfortably. "Obviously we were all hallucinating about the reavers as the only things here are perfectly maintained ships and Xander's security personnel, who must own these ships."
Shepherd chuckled. "I think we're beyond hiding things now, however your loyalty does do you credit."
"Xander probably isn't going to hide things for much longer," River agreed, gesturing to the dozens of identical Terminators wandering around and searching for threats.
"Well, until he tells me otherwise I'm going to claim it was a hallucination," Simon said firmly.
"Where did he go?" River demanded once more, looking around in frustration.
Xander appeared in a swirl of leaves that vanished as they reached the ground, looking around at the bare land surrounding him dozens of miles away from the small colony. "I can't even call it dead land, because it would have had to have life at some point first," he muttered with a shudder, the feel of land that had never known life was anathema to him in some way, not able to be tapped for mana or even claimed in its current state.
"Evil Presence," he called out as he poured black mana into the ground causing the land to rapidly change around him, the soil turned black and dark water rose from it, trees sprouting covered in moss and vines, slitted eyes opened as reptilian creatures sprang from the swamp itself, the multitude of creatures an integral part of its ecosystem. The change rolled across the lifeless land, miles upon miles, rich in life… and water.
Xander sighed and leaned against the cypress tree that had risen up behind him on the small island of stability in the swamps' continually shifting surface. "Note to self, terraforming costs a lot."
A frog hopped onto the island and snapped a bug out of the air. "Croak!"
Xander nodded. "It is about time for lunch." He ran across the swamp, leaping from island to island, occasionally casting Overgrowth and Illusionary Terrain to create a little variation as he went. He almost stumbled as he reached the edge of the swamp and the quarter mile stretch of lifeless land that still existed between it and the colony. "Almost reached it," he noted, turning back to look at the massive swamp that dwarfed the land the settlement occupied. "Maybe no one will notice," he said, looking around for witnesses before speeding through the forest.
"Back," Xander announced as he appeared in the middle of the street next to the group, catching River as she sprang at him.
"Where were you?" she demanded.
"I had to pee," Xander said, obviously lying and equally obviously not caring.
"That's a lie," she told everyone.
"Do you want me to cloud my thoughts again?" he threatened.
"No!" River clutched him tightly.
"Then no pointing out my lies," Xander told her.
"Fine," she said with a sigh. "I was just worried about you," she added quietly.
Xander hugged her to him, and rolled his eyes. "You should know better than that."
"What…" Shepherd waved a hand.
Xander seemed to argue with himself before shrugging. "The ships they brought were on the verge of blowing up, so I repaired them and getting rid of the corpses gave me too much energy so I had to burn it off."
"That explanation isn't much of one," Kaylee pointed out.
"I can repair things, this was just doing it in a more obvious and bigger way," Xander told her, "and I can vanish corpses, which gives me a lot of energy."
"Human sacrifice?" River asked, catching a bit about sacrificing the corpses in his thoughts, but not understanding it.
"Technically it's a sacrifice, but a week dead dog is the same as a fresh human," he told her. "It's just a handy way to get rid of corpses and prevent the spread of whatever diseases they might have."
"So not human sacrifice," Shepherd said hopefully.
"That's usually talking about taking lives, this is about vanishing corpses," Xander assured him, "completely different animal."
"Glad to hear it," the preacher said with a relieved sigh.
"So… Where do we get lunch?" Xander asked.
"Lunch?" Kaylee asked in disbelief.
"Yeah…" Xander said, "all the excitement is over and everyone is fine."
"You have a hole in your shirt," River pointed out.
"It's an old shirt," Xander said with a shrug.
"There is blood all around it and it's damp," she said with a frown, poking it with a finger and then wiping the wet blood on his shirt.
"Okay, the shirt is old and the bullet wound is new," Xander said, rolling his eyes.
"You got shot by a reaver?" Simon asked, quickly examining him and making sure he was alright. "There's blood but no wound."
Xander nodded. "I heal fast and no, the reavers didn't have a chance of injuring me, I was shot by Jayne."
River stared at him wide eyed. "What?"
"I popped up out of nowhere while he was defending the ship, so he shot me," Xander explained. "It wasn't a big deal. So, back to lunch?"
"Normally we like to put out a potluck for visitors, but it'll be hours before everyone returns from the forest to see if the reavers have left," Shepherd said, a bit at sea thanks to recent events.
"So… we'd have it in the saloon?" Xander asked. "I can provide the food, I just need a place."
"Loaves and Fishes?" Shepherd asked, arching an eyebrow.
"No, that's a miracle of a different stripe where a little food became a lot, because of the power of faith. I'm just making lots of food I've ran across before," Xander said with a shrug. "I really don't want anyone drawing any parallels here, that way lies badness."
"But you can just wave your hand and food," Kaylee said.
"Or ships or cyborgs," River said unconcerned, and grabbed his hand to pull him towards the saloon. "Let's eat."
"What are you going to do with all the cyborgs?" Kaylee asked as she followed them.
"Order them to obey Shepherd." Xander held open the saloon door for River.
"Pardon?" the preacher asked, eyes wide.
"I don't need them and this little town could use some security, plus they eat very little and are good for chores," Xander explained. "Just remember to treat them right because they will evolve into their own people as time goes on."
"Evolve?" Simon asked. "How does that work?"
The group filed into the empty saloon and Xander summoned two mana's worth of food and drink onto an empty table while they were distracted waiting for him to answer. "They are always learning and will become as complex as a normal human, more complex in some cases, so it's best to teach them to become good people even if they have to follow the rules they are given."
"Did you do that?" Kaylee asked as she spotted the food and they all gathered around it.
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything," Xander quoted with a grin before grabbing a Big Mac and a Coke.
"I've seen pictures of this," Simon said as he picked up a quarter pounder and unwrapped it.
"McDonald's a fast-food place from the Earth-That-Was," River agreed, grabbing a box of chicken nuggets.
"Are we still keeping things quiet?" Simon asked, looking to Xander.
"No… I've pretty much blown that out of the water," Xander admitted, thinking about the Terminators and ships scattered about.
"Can we ask what you are?" Kaylee asked hopefully, as she looked through the food. "Cause it's kinda obvious you aren't a reader or aren't just a reader."
"The term wouldn't mean anything to you," Xander told her with a shrug. "I'm really powerful and really lost. Basically, out of billions of people, one person may have a certain… spark and out of those people about one in a billion or five has something happen to cause that spark to ignite. When the spark ignites you get really powerful and… in my case, really lost."
"Verse ain't that big," Kaylee offered.
"But you ain't from this 'verse," River realized.
"Creation is a lot bigger than you think," he told her. "A lot bigger than anyone thinks."
"When you say 'verse…" Simon frowned trying to think of what he wanted to ask.
"Everything you ever imagined exists somewhere," Xander told him. "Infinity has a lot of space in it."
"Timelines?" Simon asked.
"Infinite," Xander said.
"This is pretty good," Kaylee said, after a sip of soda.
"What all can you do?" Shepherd asked.
"Lots and I figure out more all the time," Xander replied.
"Can you raise the dead?" Kaylee asked.
"Yes, but it's kind of rude," he said, "eternal reward should be just that, not a decade and then some jerk rips you out of it. If it's less than three days… I'd probably do it, but there is a reason people sit vigil with a body for three days. When the soul has passed on… it's best not to mess with them."
Everyone just stared at him for a moment.
"Have you ever resurrected anyone?" Shepherd asked cautiously.
"Once," Xander said, "a ninja sage called up three kages in the middle of battle in some weird undead state, so I had to resurrect one to help deal with things."
"I now have even more questions," Shepherd said, absently picking up a soda.
"A couple of worlds ago I ran across this land full of ninja, doing all the things you hear about in Asian myths and legends," Xander said. "Anyway, Orochimaru called up and enslaved his soul, so it wasn't against my morals to free him by bringing him back to life."
"Do the cyborgs have souls?" Kaylee asked.
Xander took a bite of his burger as he considered that. "I'm not sure if they do initially… but I think they develop them."
"So, it's okay to resurrect them?"
"Probably, but I just create new ones wholesale rather than mess with whatever afterlife they go to," Xander said.
"You can just make forests grow and create life?" Shepherd asked, thinking of what he'd seen recently.
"I can copy life," Xander corrected him. "I'm cribbing things I've seen, I'm not making things out of whole cloth."
"I don't think I'd be as modest as you about being able to do all of this," Kaylee told him. "I'd have my own little crown," she decided with a grin. "Oh, and a throne! Can you make a throne?"
Xander laughed. "Yeah, I'm not falling into that hole. I know that the people who think they are invincible immediately get smacked by karma. I'm keeping my ego small, so when I get smacked for forgetting that the smack will be equally small."
"That is a unique perspective," Shepherd said amused.
"I've seen how people get with power," Xander said, "and the whole 'I'm a god' and 'I'm unstoppable' usually ends very badly for them."
"You have enough power to be mistaken for one," River pointed out.
Xander shrugged. "They can ask and I'll assure them I'm not one."
"This stuff is really sweet," Kaylee noted as she dipped a chicken nugget in the honey mustard sauce packet.
"Filled with fat, salt, and sugar," Xander said cheerfully. "Not the best for you, but they were more concerned with taste than health."
"Do you know a way to help me sort through the confusing mass of thoughts from when I was crazy?" River asked. "They put a lot of foreign thoughts and controls in there and I'd like them out."
"I could mind control you into ignoring any attempts to mind control you," Xander said thoughtfully, "but…"
"I'd still be being mind controlled," River said.
"Yeah," Xander agreed, "I'm not all knowledgeable, so while I no doubt can do it, I don't know how yet."
"You figured out how to block me reading you pretty quickly," she pointed out.
"I poured a little bit of blue mana into my brain," Xander said, "mostly to try and speed up my thoughts so I could figure things out, and it just happened to do what I wanted or most of it anyway. Not sure it wouldn't just melt your brain."
"You don't have a way to test it?" Kaylee asked curiously, locating and grabbing another twenty-piece nugget box.
"Maybe," Xander said as he considered the issue. "I could make a Mox sapphire and have a Terminator activate it, see what happens."
"One of the ones who aren't people yet," Shepherd said, not really asking a question.
"Exactly, it takes some weeks for them to develop into people, if not years," Xander said. "Regardless, since I can fix any damage in seconds, even death, this should just take about a minute to do."
"How do you travel from… timeline to timeline?" Simon asked curiously.
"I can will myself into a point where all of time and space meet, which is really overwhelming, so I immediately jump out again and then wander around for a while getting my bearings before getting up the nerve to try again," Xander explained as he cupped his hands together and poured blue mana into it, causing them to glow brightly before opening them and revealing a bright blue gem on a simple gold band.
"How do you find anything like that?!" Kaylee asked in disbelief.
Xander shrugged and created a Terminator that looked like Kaylee. "I haven't figured that out yet."
"Did you just clone Kaylee?" Simon asked in disbelief.
Xander looked at the T-800. "Nope, was just a bit distracted while making her, so she resembles Kaylee."
"Are you positive you aren't a god?" Kaylee asked, as she looked over her 'twin'.
"They are a completely different group," Xander said, "and before anyone gets upset, gods are way below God the Creator, who stands at the top of everything."
"I'm not sure it works that way," Shepherd said with a thoughtful frown.
"There are many different… supernatural beings," Xander said, "and god is a category in there for them. Creator, however, is a singular spot that no one is stupid enough to contest. He's the one referred to as Jehovah or simply God."
"How many supernatural beings have you met?" Shepherd asked.
"Far too many and most of them evil," the native Sunnydaler replied. "My hometown is built over a gateway to infernal realms called a Hellmouth, so until I got lost I spent most of my time fighting demons with my friends. Demon refers to beings from planes lower than the mortal plane… I think. A lot of this is guesswork and I wasn't exactly the best student on the subject being more focused on 'How do we kill it'. Anyway, not all the beings from below are evil, which is a bit of a mindblower, but probably makes sense since some of the higher beings that fall into the god category are pricks."
Everyone took the time to stare at him again before looking to River, who simply nodded that he was telling the truth.
Xander rolled his eyes. "Anyway, back to the test." He handed the ring he'd just created to the Terminator. "Put this on your finger and mentally will it to activate."
The T-800 put on the ring and the blue gem glowed softly for a moment before dimming. The blank look on the Terminator's face faded giving the impression of someone slowly waking up. She didn't say anything, but her eyes were more animated as she took in the group.
"How do you feel?" Xander asked.
"I'm operating within normal parameters," the T-800 replied with a shrug, her voice a duplicate for Kaylee's.
"Do you feel different than how you did before you put on the ring?" Xander asked.
"The data I have on human behavior is much easier to parse, as the reasons behind their actions appear much more transparent," she replied. "The files I have seem to have been prepared by a third party with little true understanding of the species. I also find myself questioning some of the choices made in my design and designated purpose." Having said what she wished the Terminator fell silent and returned to quietly observing them, but with more interest apparent.
"Looks like straight blue mana isn't inherently harmful," Xander said. "Not sure it'll fix everything, but it does handle mental enhancement well." He cupped his hands and created another Mox sapphire ring, handing it to River.
River slipped it on and took a deep breath before balling up a fist and activating it. A hundred different emotions danced across her face in a matter of moments. "Oh… So many minds and most of them… assholes or out and out psychos. They tortured so many people…"
"Are you okay?" Kaylee asked, as River stared at nothing with a frown on her face.
"No, but I'm getting there," she replied, giving her a small smile. "I can see what's me and what's not now, though I'm still keeping a lot of you and Inara with a little bit of Zoey. A person would have to be plumb loco not to want to be like you three."
"So… what effect is it having on you?" Xander asked.
"I'm thinking clearer and faster and more… just more. It's like my brain is bigger than my head, which is really good cause I got a lot of brains to sort through here. Well, not full brains, but some big bits," she finished, picking up a soda to take a sip.
"You can use the ring once per day and the effect lasts at least a couple of hours," Xander offered. "So, don't feel you have to sort everything all at once."
The T-800 that looked like Kaylee glanced down at the ring on her hand for a moment and almost smiled.
"Good, I think it'll take a couple of…" River's voice trailed off and she paled.
"What's wrong?" Simon asked, concerned.
"I just found out where reavers come from," River replied, looking horrified.
Typing by: Me!
Beta by: Mist-Of-Shadows
AN: If anyone hasn't read The Journeyverse I'd suggest reading it now, it's a massive BtVS cross with nearly every 80's property out there co-written by a dozen authors, with the main author who started the whole thing being Tenhawk. I've re-read it at least a dozen times myself. The author also wrote a massive (He doesn't do small) series called Alexander Harris and the Shadow Council which is a BtVS/Addams Family/Harry Potter crossover before he drifted off into writing books which can be found on Amazon under the name Evan Currie, mostly military sci-fi. Why am I bringing this up? Because he's started writing on Alexander Harris and the Shadow Council again and even put up a Pat re*n page for his works under the name Tenhawk. I'd suggest checking it out.