Title: Chaos on the Hellmouth
Author name: Kunglou
Author email: AU
Summary: Harry Potter had fielded and led vast armies, manipulated intergalactic wars and raised mankind to the heights of first ones but he had not actually existed until a chaos mage had sabotaged a Halloween on the hell mouth.
Author notes: AU, OC, HP: A matter or Perception/BtVS/Bab5
If you are unfamiliar with this series I really recommend that you read it for this piece to make sense.
The attack came swiftly and with blinding intensity. One moment he was standing on the bridge of his own war cruiser, alone and enjoying the fruits of his manipulations and watching as the Minbari home world burned, its remaining defensive fleet fighting a desperate but inevitably futile holding action against a Centauri taskforce.
He chuckled darkly as the bright glow of the binary stars at the centre of Chi Draconis system illuminated the shadows of the blackened hulls of both the attacking and defending fleets. Fusion and gravimetric offensive and defensive systems ebbed and flowed around the seventh planet, Minbar.
His personal troops were busy depopulating the beautiful Yedor of Minbari. The great Minbari capital city which was carved directly into the crystal would be a trophy, a personal accolade of his triumph despite Vorlon interference. The arrogant Minbari never understood how overmatched they were and now they never would. It would be millennia before they recovered he thought with a blood thirsty grin, if then.
He would enjoy watching the surviving Minbari scurrying around the edges of civilization like criminals in a fraught bid to save their disgraceful race from extinction. It would be a fitting end to a foe that in the end proved weak, easily manipulated and who had failed to live up to their own propaganda.
And when it was over, the Centauri would never know that they had been turned into little more than galactic attack dogs. It truly was a glorious feeling to trump his enemies so thoroughly and with such overwhelming force.
He recorded every scrap of data that CSE could get from her interface with his cruisers sensors. Such a triumphful moment was to be savoured and enjoyed.
Then his spine tingled as though an area wide ward had just been established throughout his ship and just as quickly as he had turned the tails on the disgustingly weak Minbari he was quivering on the ground fighting his own internal battle. Far from the Centuari taskforce and the Minbari capital, it was a battle of the mind, a battle that would determine who he was and would be in the future.
Harry was almost overwhelmed in shock in the first moments of the attack as his greatest moment of triumph quickly turned into a desperate holding action of his own despite the eternally comforting presence of CSE.
The symbiotic artificial intelligence, CSE – 001, created from a network of trillions of constantly communicating network of nanites, had long since integrated itself into his magical core, destroying and rebuilding it numerous times over his lifetime in a constant quest to both optimise and enhance his magical abilities. It was an effort that had increased his effectiveness and efficiency as a wizard and also given him an added layer of protection against external attacks.
Already a strong wizard in his own right, the enhancements granted by CSE, combined with two centuries of warfare had made him one of the most deadly wizards alive. It was his experience combined with his raw power that made him more than confident in his own ability to defend himself. Still, it was always smart to have backup and through the process of integrating with his magical core CSE herself had become intrinsically magical and thus capable of defending her host from most magical attacks.
CSE also added more than a few technological additions to his repertoire of offensive capabilities that often proved useful in times of unexpected attack. Throughout his long life however, he had never become so incapacitated that CSE had had to assume control over those defensive capabilities. The AI had even less of an idea of overkill than he did.
Harry snarled in pain and frustration as a foreign magical signature tried to overlay a new memory set over his own, attempting to destroy who he was. It was one of the few magical attacks that CSE would be unable to counter and it was a weakness that he held close in order to prevent every two bit assassin attempting to exploit such an obvious weakness.
He would gut the person responsible for this attack, and he would enjoy it. He had almost forgotten what it was like to constantly be on guard against powerful foes, to have his greatest victories turn into ash in his mouth. It was not a feeling that he enjoyed and he would be more than happy not to have to experience it again.
Mental attacks, boosted to almost ridiculous levels of power that somehow managed to bypass his mental shields were one of those attacks that CSE would be unable to help him with. Attacks of that kind attempted to forcefully embed foreign memories and personalities directly into his brain were devastating in their effectiveness and once foreign memories had been absorbed, they were indistinguishable from original memories. CSE could not protect his mind from memories that seemed native to his own mind.
Luckily he had caught the attack before it had done too much damage and had established his own fort like defences, regularly reinforced and seeded with ever more deadly traps.
Over the centuries he had seen what happened to people that either voluntarily or were forced to assimilated memories and their associated experiences directly into their magical core without mentally isolating and processing them first. It was never pretty.
If the memories were good memories and similar to a wizard's own then the damage was limited, a small personality change was common and expected. For darker memories, it could well drive the wizards insane; more than one dark wizard had been created by originally pure wizards stumbling across the reservoirs of dark memories. As an intelligence and surveillance technique it was invaluable to guarantee and even sway loyalties without any chance of detection.
It wasn't possession in the normal sense nor did it require the caster to supplant the victims will with his own, but the subtle rewriting of their personality with an influx of foreign memories and experiences could radically change who a person thought he was. As an attack it was deadly and brutally effective, but when used with appropriate precautions memory transfer proved to be a powerful tool for learning.
Harry frantically reinforced his external and internal mental shields, introducing blocks to prevent instantaneous absorption and isolating the foreign memories from his mind where he would be able to view them later at his leisure without the risk of a dramatic personality change. His own magic playing an important role in ensuring that his battle remained mental. Harry was well aware of the vulnerable position he found himself in. With all of his focus on his mental defences he was opening himself to external attack.
"CSE," he gasped "Code black, scan" Harry wondered how anyone had managed to get close enough to attack him mentally. His war cruiser was a fortress, both inside and out and he had thought that an enemy would have to expend an army to breech its defensives. Obviously he had been mistaken.
He had not felt so vulnerable since he had led his short crusade against the muggles on his home world, Earth. Then he had been relatively new to his powers and faced a foe that overshadowed him in every way imaginable. Now he had believed himself to be invulnerable to attack, he had fully grown into his powers and time was his ally as he continued to learn and evolve into a deadlier and more capable fighter.
Even if his arrogance seemed misplaced, he refused to be taken down so easily and vowed that his attacker would pay in blood, his own and his clans. It would not be easy, it required a large amount of skill to attack him so easily and he could feel the power tangling with his own in an attempt to overpower him. His attacker was clearly very powerful and skilled, and if he allowed himself to be overwhelmed now then it hardly mattered if he defeated the foreign memories or not.
Chances are, he would not even remember the attack and his loyalty would immediately be adjusted to the will of his attacker. Still, his attacker had made two mistakes that would sway the battle in his favour. At over two centuries of age his own memories dramatically outnumbered those that that tried to supplant his own and CSE had not 0 well.
In fact, he doubted he would be considered human anymore and whether by misinformation or just oversight those factors would insure his hard fought battle would end in his victory.
As he had become accustom to, a voluptuous blond appeared beside him as CSE stimulated the neurons and hijacked the neuronal spikes that interpreted the signals that travelled from his optical nerve to his cortex. "Black target alpha is directing the power that is currently attacking you, downloading coordinates relative to your position now."
Harry grunted as he was fed the coordinates. He was slowly regaining control of his senses as the foreign memories were compartmentalised and isolated. Taking no chances he directed CSE to carefully examine the implanted memories to avoid any nasty surprises. After all, if he were attacking someone of his skill and power he would definitely include something that would destroy the victims mind even if he where to overpower his initial attack.
"Oh my god Xander are you alright? What happened? Something Hellmouthy is going on, we need to find Buffy."
Harry jerked in surprise as a ghostly hand passed through him and jumped up in confusion, only CSE lack of threat assessment prevented him from sterilising everything in a hundred metre radius. Xander? Buffy? What was going on and why was he standing on what looked to by a twentieth century street in the middle of a small muggle town? He had annihilated the last city about one hundred and fifty years ago and not a second ago he was standing on his bridge watching the Minbari home world burn.
"Harry, after examining the memories and reintegrating myself into this bodies biological systems it appears as though your memories and personality are foreign to this body. Not the other way around as you and I first surmised. In fact, biologically, this body appears to be that of a sixteen year old muggle boy. I am already harvesting fat stores and replicating additional drones to address this problem and restore the lost capability. Be aware that your immediate abilities will be severely restricted until I have finished and you will need to re-supply me with additional energy, this body lacks the resources your last one did."
Harry stared at the visual representation of CSE in puzzlement, flicking his eyes towards the ancient muggle architecture. Shaking his head in an attempt to clear it from the feel of the magic that was still trying to overwhelm him he mentally drew up a list of priorities to deal with the strange situation he found himself in. Without the added pressure of defending his mind from direct attack it was easier to hold off the unrecognised magical signature and think clearly.
"According to the foreign memories, we are currently standing in the near vicinity of a hell mouth, Sunnydale California. A chaotic and unfocussed source of magic and a dimensional portal to a hell dimension. More information is required to draw any firm conclusions but it would appear that the citizens of this muggle town have been turned into their Halloween costumes by the magical signature that is currently trying to overwhelm your core."
Harry shook his head again, this time in amazement, his personality and memories hijacking this body and overwriting the original? If that were the case how had CSE come along for the ride and why was the feel of his magical core still strong as it was if it were a teenage muggle body? No, something else was going on and the source of the powerful magical signature was in the middle of it. Beside that, he suspected that while the conclusion of the spell was certain to return the inhabitants of Sunnydale back to their tedious existence, his own magical prowess in combination with CSE would ensure that his existence was permanent.
This meant that he found himself starting with a clean slate to work with and until he could determine exactly how clean, he would have to be careful that he didn't break it.
"Xander, are you all right?" The red headed ghost looked decidedly nervous and unsure as she stepped closer to him.
Harry frowned, restraining his vicious snarl and every instinct that he had to start blowing things up and immediately finding and garrotting the person responsible for him being here. 'Forget garrotting' he thought darkly 'I hear crucifixion is back in.' Clean slate or not, he had been stripped of a lot of the power base he had spent decades building up.
Instead he glanced up at the red headed ghost and came to a decision. He needed time and information before he could do anything, time for CSE to start rebuilding his magical and physical capacity and information so he could plan his next move.
In the short term and until he had started to restore some of the capability that he had lost, he would need to work with the regional players, weak and unorganised as they were. 'If that means that I will have to play muggle teenager for the duration,' Harry thought in distaste as CSE directed him to the most important memories and appropriate highlights of his bodies life 'that's what I'll have to do.'
"Calm down Willow, running off isn't going to do anybody any good. Beside, I am still all Xander, and your sooo Willow, albeit ghostly Willow, so what makes you think Buffy doesn't retain her memories like we do?"
Mentally Harry was rapidly indexing all of the muggles memories. It seemed that being located on the hell mouth made his former bodies friends even more suspicious than Dumbledore in the presence of a lying Tom Riddle. He smiled at the irony of such an image, it seemed that he was going back to school and he was in a much better position than when he attended Hogwarts and far more powerful.
Still, what did that mean for the world he found himself in? The fact that this small town was not swarming with ministry personnel at such an unusual and massive display of magic suggested no such organised body existed. Did that mean that the numbers of magic users were so small and unorganised? Did they even exist here at all? It was also clear from the technology base he could see that no contact had been made with any alien civilizations, friendly or otherwise. At least not at a public level.
As bereft of the resources that had previously been available to him, both human and technological, that could only be a good thing. It gave him some time to mould this world to his will before he attempted to take on hostile civilizations. With the clean slate that he had been gifted with, Harry felt confident that some of the mistakes he had made would not occur this time.
Still he was concerned, he had led his people in a brutal intergalactic campaign but they had already proven their superiority over the magically disabled muggles. He did not know how muggles would fair against such advanced foes. It meant that the challenge would be greater and his eventual success more sweet.
Carefully cataloguing what he already knew, he could already determine that this time and place was different than his own had been. Such a situation made it harder to for him to stamp his will on the world but not impossible. When he was taking over the wizarding world and later the muggle one in his youth and shaping it in his own image, he had made extensive use of the institutions that already existed. The few that he had destroyed, and the resulting power vacuums, only served his interests further making it easier for him to cement his control.
If none of the structures he was familiar with existed then he would have to proceed more slowly. Harry smiled evilly 'nether the less,' he thought darkly 'I have always been a big fish in a bigger pond. With the pond having apparently shrunk nothing will be able to stop me. Still, it seems I will once again have to prove my strength and superiority and time is still on my side.'
Before Willow could respond to his question about Buffy, a high pitched scream came echoed from round the corner.
Willow gasped in shock and worry, "Buffy!"
Harry just watched as the red headed ghost disappeared through a wall before he calmly walked down the street in the direction of the scream. From the memories he had reviewed he doubted that anything here would be capable of harming him, even the so called Vampires that scared the shit out of this…Xander. In fact if it weren't for the weak muggle body and the fact that a majority of his magical strength still fought with the accursed magical signature that flooded the area he doubted they would be any more than an irritant.
"Xander you have to help," Willow yelled franticly.
Harry almost burst out laughing at the site. Here was a blond woman wearing a dress that he doubted even some of his more eccentric concubines would wear, being assaulted by what looked like hairy house elves and trying to hide behind a ghost for protection.
Harry realised that he was chuckling at the scene and just shrugged, 'that was just bloody funny. At least I get to have some fun' he thought as he conjured some metal spikes and banished them at the hairy house elves with a flick of his hand. 'Until I have a firmer grasp on where exactly I have ended up, I doubt I will have too many opportunities.'
He tracked the attack and stepped back in a defensive stance in preparation for a counter attack. The magic that was not busy tangling and straining against the oppressive magical signature that continued to try to overwhelm him flexed in preparation for the fight from these demons. He needed to be doubly careful. With his magic as restrained as it was and his body as physically weak, he had little room for error.
The counter attack never came.
The hopelessly weak little buggers didn't even attempt to dodge as the metal spikes impaled them to the bitumen road. 'What a disappointment,' he sneered. 'There were not even worth the effort it would take to finish them off. He had fought muggles with more power than these. What kind of demons did these kids dress up as,' he though in disgust as he searched Xanders memories for more information on the current demon threat. 'Pathetic, but at least the screaming demons would serve as a warning to those that would attack him.'
"Xander!!" The red headed which yelled out in horror over the pained screeching of the impaled monsters, "how did you do that? And aren't those the kids that we took to Halloween?"
Harry just shrugged a dismissal, his secrets were his own and any behaviour that may stir up suspicion later he hoped would be blamed on whatever magic was still affecting events locally. The body that he currently inhabited had not even told his friends what he had dressed up as. He was too ashamed of his Harry Potter fetish and so had slightly altered the costume to render it unrecognisable. A good thing too, to think that anyone would compare that whining, pussy to him - it was an insult.
He looked coldly down at the quivering woman that lay splattered in demon blood. Working with these people was going to get very annoying very quickly he imagined and he doubted it would get much better until CSE finished her restoration of this body. Still, it was in his interests to divert attention away from what he was really planning.
Offering his arm to the woman in the dress, he pondered how best to address her. If she really had turned into her Halloween costume, and he had no reason to doubt CSE logic, then he would treat her as the one of the Centauri's emperor's wives. It was the closest match he could think of that would not antagonise her and if she remembered anything from before the spell ended then it would make working with her easier in the future.
Idly wondering if the Centuari even existed in this time and place he stepped closer to Buffy. "Shouldn't you find Giles to try and stop whatever is going on, I will look after Lady Buffy and make sure no more," he let his eyes stray to the screaming monsters "harm comes to her." He would take the opportunity to have some fun as well, but judging from the girl's horrified expression he kept that to himself. Buffy seemed to be the one who held the most influence in this group anyway and he doubted the redhead had the backbone to act without her approval.
"Yes, servant. Go stop this madness at once," Buffy commanded imperiously as she grasped Harry's arm and clung to his side. Harry could smell her fear and was disgusted, a warrior she was not. Still, she hid it well and that deserved respect he thought as the ghost sped away with a betrayed look on her face. "We'll my lady, while the girl is wasting her time lets go and stop this madness."
Buffy just smiled daintily as he led her in the direction of the coordinates that CSE had fed him earlier. Although most of his magical energy was being spent repelling the foreign magic from overwhelming his core, a much weakened core than what he remembered, he still had enough magic that he could take down some two bit magician who seemed to lack even the weakest magical core.
A magician that was merely channelling another's magic in what he considered a wasteful expenditure of power. With the amount of energy he was channelling he could take over a small country, massacre a small city or restructure his own body so that he could wield greater power in the future. But what did he use it for? Turning a few school children into monsters – pathetic.
He maintained his guard though. Xander's memories proved to be very interesting and provided a few leads and insights that he doubted Xander would have ever followed up. If he understood Buffy's role and significance in this town correctly he expected an attack on her sooner rather than later.
It was an ingeniously plan he thought, very sadistic in its own way and incredibly brutal. A plan that he would have been pleased to call his own, turning the slayer into such a simpering noblewoman before killing her. In her state she would not be able to defend herself. She would be capable of feeling true terror and despair and even if she didn't die she would be scared long after the spell had ended.
Such emotional baggage could destroy her or at the least make her easier to take down. Psychological warfare was truly inspired and any other time and he would have enjoyed the show but this time those plans overlapped on his own and any plan that overlapped with his own was doomed to fail.
"Now aint that a pretty sight." Harry blinked at the crowd of vampires that started to surround his position. He grinned in anticipation as a blond vampire stepped forward even as Buffy stepped further into his arms. He hadn't even needed to go searching, his fun had found him and he loved being right.
"Comic relief man and a useless slayer taking a stroll on a night like this, I'm feelin' a bit parched but I'm sure I can play around first. Fun all round." Harry's grin widened as CSE fed him the memories on Spike. It was a shame he was a vampire, he was a demon that he could get to liking. Spike indeed.
"You know Spike, crucifixion is all the rage these days." He drawled lazily as he conjured seven large crosses to erupt from the ground surrounding the demons. "And what fun it would be. For me."
Spike roared with laughter, "way I see it's ten to one. My kind of odds and I doubt the Slayer is feeling well enough to help."
"Then by all means, let the fun begin." Harry said already moving. The shivering body of Buffy tucked firmly under one arm. He could feel her terror dominating her surface thoughts and being broadcast strongly for those that had the ability to pick it up.
The vampires closed in but Harry was no longer enclosed by the mob. Instead, dust lay heavy in the air and the clatter of conjured spikes echoed loudly as he turned to face Spike. "Bahhh, fledglings. Couldn't you have found decent backup. These are hardly worth my time."
Spike roared with anger, rough ridges stood out from his face and his yellow eyes bore into his. "I'm gonna hang you on those fancy crosses boy, with your entrails."
Harry smiled and gently put Buffy down. Normally he would leave her to fend for herself but until he knew where he was, when he was and what other magic users exited he would need the information she could provide. In the short term at least she and her friends would have his protection, beyond that….
"Oh this is gonna be fun." He smirked as he wadded into the mob summoning small burst of flame and relishing the screams of pain and the increasing frustration of the blond vampire as he slowly worked his way through the backup that Spike had bought to take out the slayer.
Still it wasn't all going his way. As lost in his past victories and war time experiences as he was, CSE earlier warning about essentially being stuck in a teenage muggle body suddenly came back to hunt him as he was kicked roughly into a brick wall. The feel of his ribs cracking brought home that his body didn't even compare to what he was use to.
Harry snarled in frustration. As weak as his magic and body was he needed to stop playing around he thought as he quickly banished the two vampires that were approaching him aggressively onto the crosses that he had conjured earlier. Still, as much as he was in pain and handicapped by spatial and temporal displacement, this was the most fun he had had in a fight for decades and the most challenging.
"Okay now that hurt," he growled as he crawled his way back up the brick wall he had been kicked into. He couldn't wait until CSE started to repair the functionality that he had lost. "Now aint that a pretty sight?" he laughed mockingly as Spike stared in astonishment at the two vampires snarling uselessly from the giant wooden crosses.
"Who are you?" Spike snarled, "What are you."
"Oh you know me, comic relief, and doughnut boy, no one special." Harry suppressed every instinct, every emotion and reinforced every mental shield to be able to make such a flippant comment. Such an attitude was just not him but during the fight he had felt the magic that constantly pressed on his core stretch thin and vanish signalling the end of the spell.
CSE reported that Black target alpha was moving away from his position momentarily escaping his rage. When it cam time, the mage would not be able to run far enough or fast enough to escape him.
With the ending of the spell, he would have to dredge every memory, every lesson he had learnt and apply them to the mask he was again forced to wear to escape detection until a time of his choosing. At least temporarily, as with the last time he was chronologically a teenager he would be expected to fit a norm, a set of behaviours and until he could break out of that mould he had to be careful not to deviate from it too much.
Like last time he would have people in positions of power that would, at the slightest hint that anything was wrong, step in and try to interfere with his plans or even move to bind HIM to their will. He had already escaped from slavery once and he was not keen to submit to such restrictions again.
As much as he wanted to flare his magic, once again free from foreign influence, or disappear leaving a bloody slaughter in his wake he needed to stay where he was least he attract the attention of those that he was in no position to combat, YET. It galled him to admit that he was not at the top of the pecking order anymore; in fact until CSE could restore some of his old abilities he was not even in the game.
But that would change he thought as the sound of a wig hitting the wall behind him caused Spike to jump back. Yes, it would change.
"Abracadabra," Buffy growled as she leapt at Spike and his remaining buddies hammering her fist into the face of one and throwing the other in Spikes direction. Her Halloween costume did nothing to hamper her superior strength and speed as she attempted to take down the last three demons.
"Slayer, this isn't over." Harry frowned as Spike threw the demon back in Buffy's direction and fled. Cowardly, in fact he didn't even try to put up a fight. Harry shrugged and approached the Slayer as she picked up a battle axe from a pile of dust that had yet to disperse. A cowardly vampire was the least of his concerns and he was hungry. With CSE harvesting his fat stores he would need to get something to eat and fast.
"Hey Buffy, I left Willow's body in that direction. You might like to pick it up on the way home. Me, I'm starving, see you tomorrow at school."
Buffy decapitated the last of Spikes guards and stared up at the crosses that surrounded them, "what the hell did you dress up as Xander?"
Harry smiled at the vampires that still struggled with there bindings. He doubted that the conjured crosses would disappear until sometime after dawn and few could escape once he had bound them. "Nothing too impressive Buff," he quipped before disappearing around the corner and leaving Buffy to clean up.
Already he was thinking about the information he would need and the time it would take him to get into top form. As much as he disliked the thought, CSE would not be able to recreate two centuries of improvements overnight. It would not take as long as the first time around but, Harry shook his head, time was no longer his ally.
"CSE, how long will it before I am back to previous capabilities. Assume eighty percent of resources available."
"No more than ten years. To achieve the capability you held at the end of the great conflict will take approximately three months two weeks and three days."
Harry sighed, 'No,' he thought shaking his head 'Xander.' He would have to get used to it. It was not his world and from the boys memories their history was also very different. After he had filled up his energy stores he would need to break into Giles library to examine the differences and see how they affected his plans. Until he had some solid information to work on then any plans he made would be half baked.
It was times like this that he missed his private fleet of battle cruisers and personal order of warriors. The sooner he started rebuilding those the better, alternate universe or not, he always seemed to find enemies out there and no-one was very willing to hand out mercy at the expense of self interest.
Him least of all.
Slipping into Xander's house, his now he guessed, he started collecting all the alcoholic spirits he could find. Xander's parents were drunk on the lounge and he doubted they would miss the bottles till the morning, if then. If they came looking for them then he would have the excuse he needed to clear house. His face lit up in a blood thirsty gin as he walked to his room with his arms full of the alcoholic beverages.
Memories of an abusive childhood flared in his mind and he could only be thankful that the Dursley's were not drunkards as well as abusive.
He doubted he would have survived if they had. Despite that, he was lucky Xander's parents kept a well stocked liquor cabinet. CSE would be able to breakdown the high calorie carbon chains and use them to accelerate the changes that she was making to his body. It was energy intensive work and there was only so much she could strip from his energy stores before it became counter productive.
Until then he would work on his mental shields and fully integrating Xanders memories into his own. It would not do to be caught out by something as simple as a reminiscing childhood friend when there were infinitely more deadly foes out there.
So while Xander meditated, surrounded by now empty bottles of alcoholic spirits and readying his plans for the future CSE continued to undertake the process that she was programmed for. The trillions of nanites that made up CSE system and which flooded Xanders body acted to repair any damage that they found and correct faults, both genetic and endemic and when finished, it would technologically and where possible biologically enhance the bodies own processes, working from over two centuries of data.
Normally it took seven years to completely replace every cell within the human body and more than triple that to fully mature the brain, the immune system and multiple other complicated systems that had spend a billion years evolving. These systems needed years to fully develop past gestation and birth and if during that process the body did not get sufficient nutrients to fuel this development then sometimes irreparable harm could be done, shortening the life expectancy and forever limiting the bodies full potential.
However CSE had been doing this for over two hundred years. The AI was intimately familiar with her hosts biology and the technological data that he ad been exposed to. It would not take even a fraction of that time and CSE was pleased to be working with a clean slate herself. Over the centuries she had made some errors in logic due to lacking information that could now be corrected.
"Giles, did Xander tell you what he dressed as last night? Cause he was kicking major vamp ass last night."
Giles sighed as Buffy stormed into his library, loudly disturbing the quiet sanctuary with her crude American vulgarities. "No he did not, but perhaps if you where more specific than 'kicking major vampire ass' I may be able to narrow it down." His wry comment seemed to go unnoticed as the blond teen bounced herself onto one of his tables. "Was he dressed as a fictional or non-fictional character?" Giles asked the blond slayer.
She shrugged her shoulders and started to describe the fight. He should have known better than to expect a slayer to pay attention to anything other a fight, it was why there where watchers in the first place. "He was like with all the metal spikes and flammy knives, dusted four vamps himself and crucified two. I took down the last two when the spell ended and Spike got away again."
The older librarian shuddered and reached for his glasses, "cru…crucified, Good Lord."
"Yeah," Buffy pouted as she pulled out a stick of gum "they were still there at dawn I think. Why couldn't I have dressed as Xena?"
The image was horrifying and as Giles furiously polished his glasses he was once again very glad that the chaos magic from the previous night seemed to have no permanent effect. A character like that on the corrupting energies of the Hell Mouth would be a disaster. Still, it was best to be sure. "You haven't noticed any after effects have you?"
"Nah, nothing big" Buffy sighed as she picked up a random book and started flicking through it. "Just an overwhelming compulsion to sow something - stupid noble women."
Buffy pouted again and started to play with her now thoroughly chewed piece of gum. 'I am surprised that watchers last as long as they do, it's almost as if the children deliberately try to wind me up.' The older Librarian thought as he watched Buffy with narrowed eyes.
Just as he was about to snap at his blond charge though someone ran into the library doors, "owie" Putting his now meticulously polished glasses back on, Giles invited Willow in thinking of events last night. As always seemed to happen on the Hell Mouth, he had been relaxing into a quiet night to catch up with his watcher diaries and upcoming prophecies when Willow had floated in with an emergency.
He didn't mind admitting that she had scared the bejesus out of him when she had emerged from his filling system like that. It had been easy enough to deduce Ethan's part in the mayhem and from then a small step to ending the spell that had engulfed the Hell Mouth.
The only oddity in the whole night was that Willow had claimed that Xander had remembered who he was and now with Buffy's description of his powers he was intrigued. Xander's refusal to tell them what he had dressed up as added to the mystery, he had seemed almost embarrassed about it. Strange.
Such a powerful character, why the secrecy? Giles had been on the Hell Mouth long enough to know that strange could well come back to haunt you unless it were looked in to and he was determined to do just that. Nothing would harm his charges while he was watcher, even as annoying as they sometimes were. 'Hard to believe I was ever that young,' Giles thought as his mind wondered to his past as the Ripper.
"Morning Giles, Xander in yet." Willow sighed in disappointment as he shook his head and gestured towards a chair. She had also been worried by his behaviour last night. Xander may have appeared to remember who he was but Willow mentioned that he had been cold and evil like and he couldn't imagine the Xander he knew crucifying a pair of vampires and leaving them to be tortured by the dawn even if he were capable.
With the spell over he doubted it was important and he guessed that even the small remaining remnants of the spell, like Buffy's compulsion to sow and Willow's unthinking attempts to walk through walls, would fade over time. But the secrecy still bugged him.
"Hey watcher man, I bring doughnuts" announced the man in question from the door of the library. Giles moaned as he though about the sickly sweet and sticky pastries in his library and moved to take away some of his books from immediate danger.
"Xander, have you noticed any lingering effects from the spell last night? It may be important."
"Like what G-Man?" he took a deep breath at the moniker. No matter how many times he asked the boy…. Giles just shook his head in annoyance. The boy just loved to wind him up and he would not give him the satisfaction.
"Some lingering personalities or compulsions from you character perhaps. What was your character last night, none of us can place it." Giles fixed him with a hard stare urging him to answer. It had always worked in the past but this time the young man just shrugged it off.
Xander just smiled as Buffy and Willow tried their best not to look interested as they dug into the pastries. "No lingering effects that I've noticed G-man. As for who I was dressed up as, you work in the library. I am sure I have no need to actually tell you – ruin the fun of doing all that research wouldn't it?"
Giles smiled as Buffy latched onto one of his arms and started to plead for an answer even as Willow started to sternly browbeat the boy. 'Yes,' he thought with a small smile 'as annoying as the American teenagers were he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.'
But with so many irregularities it would be better to be sure and the part of him that was and always would be the Ripper, all the old instincts and experiences with chaos magic sat uncomfortably within him. Something about the group dynamic had changed and he was uncertain what it was. Buffy still seemed weapons and boyfriend obsessed and Willow still sat uncomfortably as the group Geek afraid of rejection.
Xander, Giles sighed in frustration Xander was still the boy who provided comic relief and attempted to fight the fight without the skills or power to keep him from harm. But something still grated he thought as he retreated to his Watcher Diaries in an attempt to find inspiration.
Xander stepped into the dank cavern that housed the Hell Mouth and chuckled in delight. The magical portal to hell emitted a feeling of rage, hatred and madness that was almost visible in its intensity. It was perfect. The feel of this location suited him much more than the stuffy feel of Hogwarts.
"CSE, please tell me that you can do something with this place. It's not Slytherin's chamber but the Hell Mouth promises to be much more useful as a magical source of mystical convergance than Hogwarts ever was. The structured magics of those wards were stifling. This… This is magnificent," he announced with a dark grin firmly plastered on his face.
Xander remembered back to his second year at Hogwarts when he had first discovered the ancient cavern below his school. It was perfectly positioned for easy access to the giant bastion of light magic, Hogwarts, easily defensible and well hidden and secured from casual discovery or attack.
It also proved the perfect solution to a growing problem that he and CSE were discovering with her design, being restricted to her host's biological body proved to be limiting CSE in terms of processing power and storage capacity. The relatively small space left no room for expansion and although her AI would forever remain firmly integrated into Xander's magical core her potential remained severely constrained by space.
As such Slytherin's chamber proved ripe for conversion into a supercomputer that would allow CSE to constantly expand her own capabilities without having to worry about physical discovery and add it to Xander's own. Even though the facilities existence was aggressively hidden and its destruction would not mean the death of CSE, it still proved to be prudent to make the chamber one of the most heavily guarded regions in the galaxy.
"Certainly, this place is more than satisfactory. I will start with defensive construction immediately. The proximity to the Hell Mouth will also prove useful for your plans and the increase in resources will speed the return of our previous capabilities."
Xander grinned at the sight of the flow of a few million nanites that appeared as small silvery tendrils flowing from his skin being sucked into the bed rock under his high school. The nanites would quickly harvest the needed resources from the bed rock and multiply as they started the construction of the computing facility around the Hell Mouth. It would also, Xander decided, give him a secure place to base his operations from until he found something more permanent.
He smiled at the thought of anyone trying to attack the Hell Mouth once CSE finished with the defences. Magically and technologically they would be considered godlike and he made a note to record any attempted assaults on this location. It would make pleasant viewing.
Still, that was then. Xander growled in frustration, now he was still feeling impossibly weak. CSE assured him that her repairs and enhancing processes were running on schedule but they would never be fast enough for his liking. In fact his constant involvement in conflicts, local and intergalactic had only steepened the rate in which he acquired power. To have it all ripped away from him so suddenly…..
Xander shuddered. Despite that, he was not always the more powerful in conflicts and he had always succeeded where others had failed and so it was counter productive to bemoan something that he could not help.
Until he gained his full powers back, he would have to pursue other avenues of gaining the resources he needed. It had been mere child's play to absorb the original memories of Alexander Harris into his own and ingratiate himself into his old group of friends. Only the old Watcher was even aware that things had changed, and a surface scan of the reformed chaos wizard had revealed that not even he had any idea of how or why.
From there it was a simple matter of a few small burst of magic to persuade his teacher and the school principle that he was legitimately missing class. Not even his friends would miss him and tonight he would ensure that he had full access to the Watchers library.
Oh yes. He may be as weak as a baby compared to his usual strength but that didn't mean he was helpless or had to be idle while CSE build his capabilities back up to spec. No-one ever said that he was reliant on CSE for everything. He would have tortured them for years if they had.