Title: Zeppo Exalted (0/?)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link. Plus, archived at http://fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=62966 or http://fanfiction.net/~cyclone

Rating: I'm gonna go say PG.

Spoilers: Up to Chosen.

Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to the almighty Joss. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: Due to the Scoobies' short-sighted actions, the Slayer line is broken. Now, other champions must be chosen. Crossover with the Age of Sorrows (but NOT the World of Darkness).

Author's Note: There's probably quite a few of you readers who don't know that I'm a gamer (a role-player, that is). My RPG and 'fic-writing sides tend to stay separate. Until now.

* * *

He found himself standing on a grassy plain.

The light from the noon sun above him was incredible, and yet, it did not blind him. Not even bothering to shade his eye, he looked up into it, unafraid, and it descended upon him.

He could feel the heat surrounding him, even as... _something_ flowed into him, shooting through veins and arteries and suffusing his entire being.

It was power. Essence. The power of the Unconquered Sun.

For a moment, it struck him as odd that he would phrase it that way, but it felt right.

And suddenly, he was floating in a sea of... memories? Images, scents, sounds, tastes, and other sensory flashes flowed around him. Each was whisked away too quickly for him to get more than a glimpse of, gone too soon for him to learn more than a feel of familiarity.

He knew not how long he was surrounded, but it was a surprise when the sun appeared again. The chaotic collage of sensations vanished, and the bright sphere's surface morphed into a face.

And spoke.


He felt something sear into his forehead, and he threw his head back. It hurt, yes, but it was the pain of something being put back where it belonged, akin to a dislocated shoulder popping back into place.

* * *

He snapped awake, sitting up abruptly and looking around wildly with his lone eye, but he didn't see anything unusual in the tiny studio he'd rented -- after living with 30+ Slayers, he decided it was better to live alone than put up with that again.

*One helluva dream,* he thought, then frowned. *Wait a minute, what's lighting up the room?*

He rose and bolted to the bathroom. He had half-expected what he found, but nonetheless, he stared, stunned by the image in the mirror.

For upon his forehead shone a simple, solid, golden circle.

The mark of the Zenith.

Alexander Harris... was Exalted.

* * *

Author's Postscript:

Confused yet? Yes, I know that there's no indication that Exaltations can occur when the Exalt's asleep, but I decided to fudge it. Also, since I couldn't find examples of Solar Exaltations, I made it up as I went.

Additionally, for those who are unfamiliar with Exalted, here's a quick rundown of the important bits.

Long ago (before the demons' rule as described by Giles for the purposes of this 'fic), there were a number of powerful gods, the PtB of that time: the Unconquered Sun, Luna, the Five Elemental Dragons, and the Five Maidens. Each had their own Exalted: Solars (the greatest of them), Lunars (mates to the Solars), Terrestrials (foot soldiers and the most mortal among them), and Sidereals (seers and masters of intrigue), respectively.

The Terrestrials are the only Exalted that could breed more Exalted. The children of other Exalted were usually mortal, but the power of a Terrestrial is inherited by blood. Additionally, Solar Exalted -- and probably others, if not everyone -- reincarnate and can sometimes recall their past lives.

Solars were the most powerful, and they were divided in five castes: Dawn (warriors), Zenith (true believers), Twilight (scholars), Night (sneaky types), and Eclipse (diplomats).

More specifically, "Exalted of the Zenith Caste are chosen from those who thirst for righteousness and justice, as well as from among those who are natural leaders of men or who are willing to endure great hardship in the name of what they believe in."

The First Age began when the Exalted -- led by the Solars -- defeated the gods' enemies, the Primordials (in something akin to the gods vs. titans in Greek mythology). With their dying breath, the Primordials cursed the Solars, which brought about the betrayal of the Solars by the Terrestrials and the end of the First Age.

In the Second Age, the Terrestrials established the Realm, but centuries later, it began to fall apart after the Scarlet Empress (apparently immortal) disappeared, and Solars began to reappear. The Deathlords and deathknights (a new type of Exalted, the Abyssals; basically, vamps on uber-steroids) appeared, marking the end of the Second Age.

What exactly happened after that is not detailed.