Chapter 1 - Meanwhile...
Giles reappeared in another place, quite different than the Magic Box. He found himself looking over a floor to ceiling window, in a building somewhere unknown. Apparently, the building was quite high, since he had an unencumbered view of the city below. And what a town it was.
It didn't look like any city he'd know, matter of fact, it didn't look like any city on Earth. He could see buildings almost as high as the one he was in, great linear wonders of steel and mirrored glass, sitting side by side with older looking buildings with impressive architectural features. And he could also see some kind of tracks running almost on top of those buildings.
"Megatrain Express," he whispered, his mind provided the info a second later. And with that, like a spell being cast, his mind filled with information. Lots and lots of information. Names, places, mathematical knowledge, Physics knowledge, historical background, everything. Every single thing.
Like, for instance, he planned a better power generator for the Megatrain in his brain, which would reduce energy consumption by about fifteen percent, and increase horsepower in about twenty three point seventeen percent. And that took about five point six seconds.
And he knew what a Transpatial Hyperdrive Generator was, how to build one and that he had a spaceship fitted with one on stand-by in his personal satellite, orbiting the Earth, right above this city.
MegasCity. His town.
He was Rupert Giles. Head of Watchers Enterprise. Known to the world in general as The Watcherman, The Most Intelligent Man on the Planet. And the richest one as well. He had more Nobel prizes under his belt than some people had socks.
And he knew as well that he was Rupert Giles, owner of the Magic Box, ex-Watcher from the Council of Watchers, friend and father figure of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and the Scooby Gang.
Which he somehow knew in this Universe as well. He looked back at his office, located in the penthouse of the building known in town as the Watchtower, and couldn't begin to wonder how he ended up . . . here?
He spoke to the room in general. "Ethan?"
"Yes, Ripper?", the Artificial Intelligence that he had built answered, in his commonly annoyed tone.
"For how long have I been here?"
"What kind of stupid question is that?", the once mutinous AI questioned. He somehow remembered all the problems the AI had caused in the past, and how he had managed to control and put it to work for him, as it should be.
"Just answer me, please."
"Forty six minutes, twenty three seconds, since you came from the meeting with the President."
He looked back to the outside, his super-intelligent brain trying to understand what happened. Surprisingly, he came back empty. Time to call some backup.
"Ethan, call them."
"It is time?" the AI asked.
"I guess the time has more than passed, old friend."
"OK. Signal sent, Ripper."
Thirty floors above ground, on the other side of town, a young man was seated on an I-beam, soldering a piece of steel on another one, not bothering in the slightest with the chilling wind or the height. His one functional eye was covered by a specially designed welder's goggle, while the hole that had his previous one was covered in his trademarked black eye patch. He found himself seated there welding for quite some time now, the memories of both of his 'lives' intermingling in his brain. So, instead of stopping and trying to run for a solution, he continued working. He found the motions soothing, and he /knew/ that the call would come at any second, if what he was experiencing was any clue from what the others would feel.
But before that, as it was the norm in MegasCity as it was in Sunnydale, trouble appeared. He saw the energy signature of a plasma cannon flare down below. He removed the goggle and looked with his enhanced senses. Ten men, armed to the teeth, assaulting an armored transport. Police would take a while to arrive, and there were too many innocent people around.
The only other man on the floor with him had gone down a few minutes earlier, so he was free to 'transform'. He stood up and ran along the beam, which ended in open space, two hundred feet above the street level. He jumped off the beam, fearlessly. If he trusted his new memories, and somehow he did, this should work. He sent a minute amount of his mystical energy to his eye patch, and it /changed/. It looked like a coiled dragon, the 'body' of the dragon going around his head to hold the patch in place, the 'claws' and 'head' of the dragon the patch in itself. In between the claws and fangs stood a single Chinese character, which meant 'Protector'. Before gravity took hold, he crossed both arms in front of his chest, like an 'X'.
"X-POWER!" he screamed, louder than the wind.
His mystical essence took hold, and everything around him changed, for the rest of his life.
The first thing after getting sucked into the big book on the table that Buffy recalled was falling. The others she sensed had been knocked out cold, but something, probably her status as a Slayer, kept the same from happening to her.
Then, below her, out of the nothingness they were falling into, something, a tiny speck at first that rapidly grew into a planet appeared beneath them. Before she knew it, a city that was bigger than anything she had ever seen before, almost half the size of a continent she imagined, came into view and it was obvious they were falling towards it.
A moment later, she blacked out again, only to be woken up rather rudely by someone shaking her shoulder.
"Buffy. Buffy. Buffy!" a vaguely familiar voice called her.
Groaning slightly, Buffy sat herself up and yawned, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Looking around she found herself in what appeared to be a Library. She had fallen asleep while studying for her midterm exam.
No, she frowned in concentration, that wasn't right. She had been in the Magic Box and had gotten sucked inside of a magic book. But she had also been studying for a test for her Psychology class at Megascity Community College. Hadn't she?
"Buffy!" the familiar voice cried again, snapping Buffy's head right to the source.
"Georgie?" Buffy asked, somehow knowing the young woman's name, even though on some level she knew she had never seen her before. But she also knew she was the Main Receptionist for the 4th Floor of the Watch Tower, which also happened to be the Megascity Main Public Library. Georgia Anne Louis Potter. The youngest employee at the Watch Tower, only 24 with dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, and a preference for tweed in her wardrobe.
"He's summoned you," Georgie whispered as quietly as she could, looking out of the corner of her eyes for anyone listening in.
Buffy both had no clue and knew exactly what she was talking about, but a moment later a bunch of screams were heard coming from an open window not far away.
The screams were coming from the street below.
Buffy's eyes widened and she shared a look with the blonde librarian.
"Tell him he's going to have to wait. The Slayer has evil to vanquish."
Even as she got up and hurried to a rather convenient Fire Escape, Buffy wondered what in the hell had made her say something like that. Her confusion mounted as she pulled a strange, yet familiar cross-shaped amulet from beneath her white school-girl blouse and wrapped her hand around it even as it began to shine with supernatural light.
"POWER OF THE SLAYER! ARISE!"
Willow was meditating. She had been meditating. But she had also been somewhere else only moments before. She had been with someone. Someone she loved. Someone she cared about greatly.
As the name of her lover rang through her mind, Willow's eyes snapped open in shock.
She wasn't in Sunnydale anymore. She blinked as another thought came to her out of the blue. She was in Megascity Park. Meditating. Centering her power center and practicing with her astral projection powers.
Wait . . . astral projection powers?
She didn't have any time to think further on it as her amulet around her neck, as well as a vague sense of it, told her that Buffy had transformed into the Slayer, and that usually meant trouble for Megascity.
Often the Most Powerful SuperWoman in Megascity could handle herself, but something strange was going on, Willow could feel it. And what good was being the Slayer's friend and magical support if she didn't lend that support out during the weird times.
Willow stood to her feet and looked around, glad she had chosen a closed off clearing in the woods for meditating that day. Raising her arms above her head, her body easily falling into the magical pose that began her own transformation, and made her look good doing it too, she summoned forth the energies of her birthright as The Red Witch.
"By the Seal of the Ancients, grant unto me the power, the strength, the wisdom of the Gods!" as she incanted each word, the magical power around her built up as did the wind. At the word 'Ancients' a glowing decagram appeared around her at her feet, the magical energies reaching up to surround her, tugging at her loose-fitting robes.
"Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Thunder, Metal, Wood, Ice, Light and Darkness, grant unto me the Magick of the Ages! Unlock the seal, release the power! RELEASE!"
Streams of power, a rainbow of colors at each element named, surrounded and engulfed the Red Witch, the wind picking up even more. At the final word of her incantation, Willow's robes disappeared, leaving her naked to the magical energies and soon her entire body was whited out in the flash of pure power.
Once the transformation was complete, nothing remained in the clearing except the still-blowing wind. The Red Witch, the most powerful witch, and diversely powered Super in Megascity was gone.
The scene in front of the Watchtower was one straight out of a warzone. The cops were trying desperately to contain the ManBeasts, the offshoots of an once upon a time rebel AI. The mottled brown giants were strong beyond belief, and apparently impervious to the police plasma cannons. What they wanted attacking the Watchtower was easy: to release such AI, who was called 'Father' by them all.
The seven monsters, human beings who once used a drug developed by Ethan called Chaos-17, were almost at the front door of the building, its automated defenses and the Police trying to hold them out.
One policeman was a second from becoming the morgue's newest addition when the monster which was holding him toppled over, falling like a tree. The public servant rolled free before being crushed by the sheer weight of the ManBeast. Standing behind the now fallen monster was a vision of beauty.
Dressed in a skintight black and blue bodysuit, stood a small woman. Her face was covered in a strange mask, in a black/blue pattern much similar to the one on the bodysuit, her golden hair flowing free on the wind. She was armed to the teeth: two stakes were secured in her forearms, two more near her hips, two short swords attached to her back, two silver daggers in each boot. Around her neck, a golden amulet stood proudly, reflecting in the sunlight.
"Slayer! Thank yo. . . LOOK OUT!" the policeman warned. The monster that the Slayer had dropped stood up with an impressive speed, something that shouldn't be possible for someone that size.
"You won't win, you monstrous fiend!" the Slayer quipped, menacingly, chin held proudly high.
The only answer that came from the monster was a roar of anger and an expected clumsy charge.
"ICE FORMATION!" was heard from behind the running monster.
The ManBeast was so blind with rage that he didn't notice that the ground beneath his feet was suddenly covered in ice. Very slippery ice.
He lost his footing, and he started sliding on the floor, head first. The Slayer jumped more than ten feet into the air, hands moving to the swords on her back. On the apex of her jump, she drew the swords in an amazing feat of control, speed and ability, the movement causing them to cross in the air right in front of her, directed at the ManBeast's back.
Two arcs of mystical energy jumped from the swords, impacting with the monster and some parts of the ground. Where the arcs struck, they cut. The monster was divided in several parts, ending his misery once and for all.
The Slayer landed gracefully on the ground, near the stunned policeman. She was sorry about killing a once human being, but Ethan had told her what Chaos-17 did to them, so she should consider their deaths an act of mercy.
"Are you all right?" she asked, helping the man stand up.
"Y-yes. Thank you, Slayer!" he said, gratefully, and ran back behind the hastily put together barricade.
The Slayer finally looked up at the floating woman. She was clad in strange, loose fitting clothes. The blouse/jacket was a blood red color, and a pattern of moving and swirling golden arcane symbols adorned it, the decagram of the Ancients circling constantly on her chest. The cuffs went almost to the ground if she stood on it, and the neckline should be called mid-face line, since it covered her face almost to the middle of her nose. Red John Lennon glasses covered her eyes, and her legs were encased in fitting red leggings, her feet bare.
"Thanks, Red Witch!"
"Always a pleasure to help, Slayer," she said, sounding more like the wind in the forest than a normal human voice. She pointed back, and the Slayer turned around. Finally, the other ManBeasts decided to give her their undivided attention.
"Deal with the wounded, I'll handle those beasts!" she said, running towards them.
"As you wish," the Witch said, finally landing on the ground and walking in the direction of a gathering of people, trying to tend to another wounded policeman. Before she took five steps, she stopped cold in her track, her eyes focusing on a point behind the approaching monsters and the Slayer.
"What does she want now?" the Red Witch asked to the heavens, but went unanswered. She prepared a spell just in case.
In the mean time though, she has some vermin to vanquish.
Turning back to the ManBeasts, the Red Witch raised a mystical shield in the space of time it took to blink an eye, the ManBeast that had been about to attack her being slammed back into its fellows. "This shouldn't take too long," her voice rose as much from the surrounding ether as her body.
Half the creatures suddenly broke off, angling away from the mystic superheroine and aiming for the Slayer, while the remainder got between the heroes and the Police, many of which were already wounded and unable to defend themselves. Red Witch's eyes flashed with eldrich energy as calmly voiced words echoed around the creatures of evil, "This is no longer amusing, and you are in my way."
When the three mutations of evil merely snarled at her and flexed their claws in hers and the cops' direction, the Red Witch finally lost patience with them. Two words echoing and bringing with them a sensation most would attribute to pure unadulterated terror.
And then the slaughter began anew.
A second before the clash between behemoths and Slayer, they surprisingly noticed the sound of something cutting the air at an impressive speed. The Slayer knew that sound like the sound of her own beating heart, since she once possessed such weapons.
Yin and Yang. Darkness and Light.
Before anyone else could make a move, the mystical Tomahawks cut the heads of the two nearest ManBeasts, the blades almost hitting each other in their flight path. But no such bad luck, and they continued their flying arc back to the hands of the current owner of the 'Slayer Fangs'.
The monsters and the Slayer looked at the stunning beauty, which was approaching at a leisure step.
"Is this a private party or anyone can join in?" she said, in a sultry voice.
Faith, the Rogue Slayer, was back in MegasCity.
Even after the book had snapped shut again, no one was exactly anxious to go and check it out, especially after Anya shouted at the other two girls, "STAY AWAY FROM THAT BOOK!" Finally fear for the lives of their friends and loved ones won out over fear for themselves, and Anya being the coward that she was and having the most knowledge, or at least the strongest suspicions about what had happened, was of course the one to stay as far away as possible without leaving when Tara went to look at the tome, which was now uncovered and no longer restricted by all of the paper seals.
"Well, what do you see?" Dawn asked from her position beside Anya.
"See what?" an unknown voice asked casually.
Of course, being girls on the Hellmouth, women who saw and fought demons from the worst parts of hell and encountered nightmarish things on a weekly, if not daily basis, screamed their heads off.
"What! What is it? What?" Riley Finn shouted back, first in fear, then in confusion as the girls stopped screaming and glared at him. If not for his military training, he would have feared for his life from the combination of those looks. Then again, considering who was glaring at him, he /was/ afraid for his life.
"You scared us! Don't do that again! Tara has to find out what happened to my Xander and the others!" Anya shouted at him, holding Dawn closer to her, until the younger Summers finally told her she was holding her too tightly, which was proved right by the forming bruises on the girl's shoulders.
"Please, c-could everyone just p-please be quiet," Tara spoke up. She added force to it with a 'witch glare', an off-shoot of Resolve Face, which Willow had been teaching her, when Riley tried to ask what was going on.
Once assured of silence, Tara took several deep breaths and anxiously approached the tome, still resting on the table. Surprisingly, it was in much better condition than from when she and Willow had handled it, trying to break the seals on it with their magic. In fact it almost looked brand new.
Slowly, carefully, she reached out and touched the book, withdrawing her hand instantly.
Reaching out again, she put her whole hand on the front cover.
Breathing a slight sigh of relief, Tara stepped closer to the table and examined the tome as closely as she could. The cover, which had been hidden by all of the seals earlier, was a magnificent piece of art, depicting not only the "title" and the inscriptions, but also symbols and what looked like a battle between powerful figures.
Picking the book up, pausing and looking around to see if anything was going to happen, which it didn't, she turned it over, surprised to see that the depicted battle continued on the spine and the back of the book. What was unusual though, was that in almost the same places where the inscriptions and title were on the front cover, on the back cover were nothing but blank spaces.
Frowning in confusion, Tara sat the book down and took a deeper, longer breath. Turning back to the others, she told them, trepidation in her eyes, "I'm going to open the book."
"Well, it was nice knowing you, Tara," Anya said in, what was for her, a sad, sympathetic tone, "You've always been very nice and I liked that you always bought from us first, even if Giles did give you and Willow discounts."
Tara just smiled at her, understanding what Anya really meant.
Then she turned back to the book, and before she or anyone else, namely Riley, could talk her out of it, opened the tome about halfway into it. Then she frowned in confusion.
The pages were blank.
"Well, you're still here, so does that mean it's safe?" Dawn asked.
"I don't understand," Riley confessed, "What is going on here? And where's Buffy, I was supposed to meet her here for lunch."
In answer, Dawn just pointed at the tome. "She, Giles, Willow and Xander all got sucked into that book. I think it was when they read the magic spell they said was on the cover," she innocently remarked.
"Out of the mouths of babes," Tara recited Willow's favorite saying as she closed the book again and silently, without opening her mouth, read the inscriptions to herself. It was a spell alright.
Knowing it was now safe, she waved the others closer.
"What do you mean they got sucked into a book!" Riley was shouting.
"It means they got sucked into the book," Anya answered matter-of-factly. "I've seen these types of enchantments before. Sometimes with a painting, most often with books or TVs, once they were invented of course. But you can never be too careful if you need to recite a spell or if it just sucks you in automatically. And getting out . . . alive . . . is always the most difficult part of it."
"Oh!" Tara cried out. She had been reading the inside of the tome, going page by page, and had finally gotten to the 'main text', which was on the middle of the page, and as they all watched, with a soft golden glow, the text was being printed out right before their eyes.
"Whoa," Riley muttered, having never seen anything like that outside of TV or movies before.
"Is Xander OK?" Anya asked, shoving her way to the front.
"Here," Tara turned the page back to near the beginning, "I think I saw his name mentioned briefly," she scanned the page with her finger until she found it and pointed it out to Anya.
"OK, someone wanna clue me in here, what is going on?" Riley demanded to know.
It didn't take too long to catch him up.
With the fury of a forest fire, Xander Harris' body was engulfed in white flame, blinding the outside world from view, gravity finally pushing him down. The human bomb hit the floor exactly in the middle of the villains, unbalancing all of them and making a crater right in the middle of the asphalt. The dust and debris from impact clouded everyone's vision for a while.
The thieves pointed their stolen cannons to the center of the rising smoke, safeties off.
"First warning. Quit."
The voice came from inside the smoke, which was clearing at an amazing rate. Every villain, every bad man, every evildoer feared that chilling voice. The Cruzz Gang had planned everything down to a 'T'. They even considered the interference of the Slayer. They just hoped he wouldn't be involved.
One kid, being held in the outside by his mother, voiced their fears.
"MOM! It's X, the White Knight!"
The smoke had finally vanished. Crouched in the middle of the small crater stood a figure all clad in white and silver. A helmet resembling a dragon's head, which guarded his secret identity, protected his head. His body was also covered by armor, looking like the twisting body of an oriental dragon. It looked incredibly heavy, but in fact it was the exact opposite. The only apparent weapon was a strange sword attached to his back, the pommel looking like a Hyena's head, but everyone knew that the Knight's armor was a cornucopia of weapons, all hidden in secret compartments around it.
"WE CAN TAKE HIM! FIRE!" the apparent leader yelled. All the weapons aimed at him.
He wasn't there anymore.
"X DRAGON CLAWS!" came the scream from above. His hands flashed for a second, and from there, several projectiles flew at an impossible speed.
The Dragon Claws were mystical daggers that were a part of the White Dragon Armor. Ten daggers, ten targets. The daggers pierced the plasma cannons like they were made of paper, rendering them useless. And ten weaponless men weren't a challenge for the White Knight. He landed back in the crater, hands stretched out. The daggers disappeared from the cannon's scraps, reappearing like claws in the depiction of the Dragon on the armor.
"Second warning, because I'm in a nice mood. There won't be a third warning."
One of the thieves tried to attack him with a knife. X let him approach until a certain distance, and he /blurred/ somewhat. The man flew backwards a couple dozen feet, landing in a heap, unconscious. To the outside observer, it looked like the White Knight hadn't moved at all.
"Next?" he asked. Bad guys were always stupid. They acted rather predictably. The nine remaining ones decided to attack as one, with hands and feet. Problem is, nobody ever bothered to tell them that the White Dragon Armor is a mystical armor, given to just one man in the entire world, and this man has to win the right to use it in unarmed combat. A thousand men tried to win it, only X did.
The fight didn't last more than a minute, property damage was kept to a minimum, and no one outside the fight was hurt. However, a very small child was crying, still scared with all the confusion. X walked to the child, clutched at her mom's lap, and spoke to her, in a soothing voice.
"Calm down, little one. The bad men won't hurt you anymore. So swears the White Knight," he said. The child looked at the sparkling white armor and calmed down, too curious with it to bother with a simple thing like crying. "Call the police," he said in a more serious voice to the mother, which simply nodded.
His head turned abruptly to another direction, as if listening to something.
"I'm on my way, Red Witch," he said to the air. He looked to an empty point in space and pointed with an open hand. "STALLION!" he screamed.
The white hyperbike known as Stallion dropped out of the dimensional pocket, stopping right in front of him, engine already running. He climbed on it, and departed at an amazing speed.
Time to face his ex-lover once again. He only hoped she would listen to reason this time.