Title: Armageddon Now (5?)

Author: Cyclone

Feedback: Please be gentle.

Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.

Rating: Mechanized violence and harsh language.

Spoilers: Up to Chosen for BtVS. Anything goes for the other.

Disclaimer: Some of the characters depicted herein belong to Joss. The jury's still out on others. I'm just borrowing them for a while.

Summary: The Scooby Gang must endure an apocalypse they cannot stop.

Author's Note: Much thanks to David Wangen, Yorath, and Anime Ronin for their input not only in this part, but in previous parts as well.

The admiral waited on the tarmac of the landing strip that dominated the visible portion of Alaska Base. He shivered as the wind chilled him to the bone, slashing through his thick and heavy coat as though it weren't there. He watched the VC-27 Tunny military transport plane as it set up for its landing approach. As an admiral, he was hardly obligated to stand out here in the cold to greet every transport that flew in, but this was a special case.

After all, his daughter was on board.

With the alien fleet long-range sensors had detected and the debacle with the SDF-1, he knew he had to get her to safety, and there was no place on Earth that was as well-protected as Alaska Base. He had had to pull a few strings to get her here, but as a member of the United Earth Defense Council, he had the strings to pull. That her particular experience made her expertise valuable if something unexpected happened only made it easier.

They hadn't always seen eye to eye on things, but she was still his daughter.

Several minutes passed, and he tilted his head in silent greeting as his daughter exited the plane and climbed down to the tarmac.

She threw a sharp salute and spoke, her voice as cold and cutting as the arctic wind, "Colonel Samantha Finn, reporting as ordered, sir."

He was forced to remind himself that he was lucky. At least he knew his daughter was safe, even if she did hate him. Don Hayes was not so fortunate: His daughter, Lisa, had been assigned to the SDF-1 when it and Macross Island had disappeared.

As Xander ran through the park, he saw Lt. Cmdr. Lisa Hayes and a large man wearing a ski mask. He pushed himself to run faster, but just as he reached the edge of the clearing, he skidded to a halt.

Lisa grabbed her assailant's arms and brought her knee up into his gut, then shifted and knife-handed the back of his neck.

The word "timber" silently echoed through Xander's mind.

Let it never be said that the RDF Spacy's hand to hand training was lax.

Xander watched the fallen attacker warily, but he didn't get up. Definitely not a vampire, he concluded.

"Basic wasn't that long ago for me, Corporal."

Xander jerked and found himself looking in her eyes. "Hey! That's not why I..." he suddenly frowned. "Why do you do that, anyway?"

She blinked. "Do what?"

"Act like you're some old spinster," he snorted. "I'll have you know, I'm a good five years older than you, young lady, so quit with the old and over-the-hill act, ya hear?"

"I do not act like an old spinster!"

"Then what do you call assuming everyone else thinks you're old, huh?" he shot back. "Like that crap about Basic?"

"It's not 'crap', Corporal. It's the truth."

He shrugged, "So you're a hardass. Big deal. Considering you're supposed to keep the fighter jocks in line, you've gotta be." He looked in her eyes, "They talk about you like that because they respect you, and trust me, getting the respect of that bunch of lunatics isn't easy." He looked away, "You have it. Old man Gloval has it. The CAG, by natural law, has it. The fighter techs have it. And that's about the sum total number of people on this ship who do."

"But..." she said uncertainly, "...Rick... I-I mean Sergeant Hunter..."

"Is an exception," Xander interrupted curtly. She did not need to hear his diatribe about the flaws of someone whose pure and utter lack of combat instinct put one of his girls in danger because he was overly anxious to assist and didn't have the gut instinct to warn him to hold fire.

"You're just saying that because he almost shot down Lieutenant Summers earlier," she smirked.

Xander blinked. Could she read his mind? "Uhh... okay. I'll admit, that may bias my opinion, but that's not all, Commander. He's a good pilot, great potential, but he's got no head for combat. At least not yet."

She raised an eyebrow, "You've met him?"

Xander coughed, "Well, if by 'met' you mean 'beat the crap out of'..."

"Ah, yes," she smiled, "the infamous 'pirate brawl.'"

Xander gave her a pained look, "Please, if I mean anything to you at all, never ever call it that again."

"And what exactly do you think you mean to me, Corporal?"

Xander's head jerked up, "Uh, I didn't mean... that is, I... uhh... you're really enjoying this, aren't you, Commander?"

"Call me Lisa, please," she said, the amused twinkle not leaving her eyes.

Xander gave a long-suffering -- and melodramatically exaggerated -- sigh, "Women."

Lisa's face and voice turned sharp, "And what's that supposed to mean, Corporal?"

"Hey, if I'm gonna call you Lisa, I insist you call me Xander," he said pointedly. "As for what that means... let's just say I've spent my entire life inadvertantly entertaining women at my own expense." He smiled, "C'mon, we should get going. It's late."

"Are you offering to walk me home, Xander?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

He shrugged, "What do you think I was doing back in the park here?"

"Oh, how gallant of you, brave hero," she replied melodramatically. "Then let us be off, sir knight."

Xander gave another long-suffering sigh.

Xander stifled a yawn as he made his way back home. He just wanted to get to his bed and grab some rack time.

He was going to be disappointed.

His key had barely started to turn when the door was flung open from inside.

Finding himself marched to the couch, Xander wondered just what the hell was going on. Before he could voice his confusion, Willow sat him down and sat next to him, "So, is she cute?"

"Who?" he blinked.

"Whoever you just ran off to save," she explained patiently. "Cute? And does she have a sister?"

"Huh?" he sputtered. "Why does there have to be a 'she'?"

"Oh, come on, Xander," Buffy threw in. "In all the time I've known you, you've never had a guy friend that wasn't dating one of us."

Xander looked away, "Not entirely true, Buff."

At that solemn reminder, silence reigned, and Xander rose...

"Well, I'm beat. G'night."

...and made good his escape.


"Exactly what the hell are you trying to pull, Fokker!"

Lt. Cmdr. Roy Fokker looked up as the Destroid Corps officer stormed into his office.

"That kid's going to be an officer as soon as his gunny and I can convince him to step up, and you want to pull him out to become a FLYBOY? Over my dead body!" roared Lt. Col. Edmund Talbot.

"Colonel Maistroff has already agreed to the transfer, Ed," Roy replied evenly. "It's a done deal."

"The hell it is! I don't give a rat's ass what that paper-pushing ticket-punching rat bastard has agreed to," Talbot leaned over Roy's desk, eyes blazing. "The Ninety-Sixth is MY regiment, and you're not pulling one of MY troops without a damned good reason! The farking civvies may think you veritech bastards all have halos and can cross the Atlantic without getting your feet wet, but you are not the damned tin gods they make you out to be!"

"No, I suppose we're not," Roy admitted solemnly. "But Harris has talent. Outnumbered, no training, and he splashed five 'pods in his first sim run. And let's face it, Colonel. We need the manpower. We've taken two dozen casualties over the last three engagements alone, and we don't have any source of trained replacements. We're throwing fresh recruits straight into the meat grinder, and they're getting chewed up. Someone with Harris's talent might just keep some of those pilots alive long enough to become veterans, and you know how much we need those vets if we're going to make it back to Earth."

Talbot was speechless for a long moment, before he sighed and relented, "All right, granted. You flyboys need all the help you can get. But what the hell was Harris doing in a VT sim?"

"Well, talk to Lieutenant Summers about that," Roy hedged.

"Oh, I will."

"I didn't think Xander -- sorry, I mean Corporal Harris -- would be able to do any of that," Dawn shrugged. "I wanted to get practice flying with someone who had no idea what he was doing, given that mess with Hunter."

"Hunter, huh?" Talbot mused. Wasn't Roy talking about how good Hunter was? he thought to himself with a frown. I'd better talk to Bill.

Xander was a little nervous. Okay, he was a decent enough pilot with a Beta fighter, and he had yet to have his mecha shot out from under him, which was more than could be said for a lot of Tomahawk pilots.

But still, this was his first day of flight school. It was bound to make anyone nervous. The fact that he had a good ten years on everyone else in the class didn't help matters much either.

Two officers in RDF Air Force uniforms entered the room. The first was a full-bird colonel with steel-grey hair and a hard look. Behind him was an attractive blonde major.

Stop checking out the instructor, Xander, he mentally scolded himself.

"Good morning, kiddies," the colonel said, "and welcome to flight training. I'm Colonel O'Neill, but you'll learn to know me as 'That Damned Bastard.'" He gestured to his companion, "This is Major Carter. We're the last two Air Force pilots on this ship -- since no one wants to sign up -- so we're stuck teaching you Navy and Spacy pukes to fly. Half of you will be in her class, half in mine."

He smiled, Xander felt a chill run down his back. Colonel O'Neill's gaze swept across the fifty or so flight trainees, finally locking onto Xander.

Oh, shit, Xander thought. This is bad.

"And it looks like you're in luck. Corporal Harris there is already a simulator ace."

I was right.

There was no mistaking the evil grin on the colonel's face.

Author's Postscript:

You wouldn't believe how long that final scene took to write. I think I got to the beginning of that scene a couple of TNC episodes ago...