XANDER HARRIS: THE IRON TAU'RI
Disclaimers: Nothing belongs to me other than this insane idea I have that just won't let go. Iron Man belongs to Marvel, Stargate SG1 belongs to MGM. Buffy belongs to Joss... blah, blah
Summary: Xander goes as one of his favorite marvel comic characters, but gets more than he's bargained for.
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-Commencement Part 4-
Xander shut down his phone into silent mode the moment he left the Pal-Core facilities as he put the car he designed from scratch though its paces. Like most of the Tony Starks swimming around in his head, he had developed a real passion for auto-mechanics. Unlike most of the gestalt, however, he preferred a forward approach to it.
Case in point: the car he was test-driving at the moment was an electric prototype that almost used no combustion chemicals at all. While it still used oil to help with most of the internal mechanisms that made up at least fifty percent of the vehicle, it was nothing more than a lubricant. The prototype power plant itself was a bigger, but very scaled-down version (minus the alien derivatives he originally copied from the zat gun) of the original power source that he used for the Mark Zero armor, redesigned for automotive use with a twenty-four hour lifespan before needing a recharge with a solar power collector tiled roof as a backup source that could give it an emergency charge in the event the driver wasn't able to get to an electric outlet in time before the mains ran out of juice.
All in all, according to his calculations, the prototype should last close to thirty hours on a full charge combined with the solar charge as backup. The young engineer started putting the car through its paces as he sped away from his facilities at a considerable clip, never realizing that his fast exit didn't go unnoticed from the shadows a block away from the main entrance.
Xander neared the outskirts of town when he first spotted a blockade of vehicles ahead of him and immediately brought the almost noiseless prototype to a halt.
He glanced at the review mirror and let out a curse as a black sedan came to a halt behind him, cutting off his escape. He was way too far from his armory for the sub-dermal controls to signal the armor pieces for matter transport. The only thing he had on-hand was the damn nano-undersheath that Lilandra permanently grafted to his body to keep him from dying, and he wasn't one hundred percent sure if the damn thing was bulletproof. As crazy as he was with the Stark gestalt inside his head, he was still sane enough to not try to fill his fool self with holes just to find out.
"Damn it." Xander swore at himself for being too complacent. Note to myself: make a goddamn collapsible in case of emergencies, he thought, or better yet, bring the one the Technites made for him inside a backpack from now on. There was a REASON why Tony Stark was paranoid enough in the books to always carry spares ever since he donned the armor, more so when more than a few of the Starks in his head were publicly known AS Iron Man.
The teen shook his head, it wasn't enough that they'd just found out from Giles and the that the real bad guy this time was the Mayor of Sunnydale – who was also the town's original founder who sold his soul for immortality and coming demon-godhood – and now this. The fact that he should have know better since one of the Starks inside his head knew this reality as a television series should have sufficed. But no, something else always got in the way.
The young genius engineer kept on berating himself that he was startled when he heard a tapping on the glass on the passenger side. Turning to look at the source of the noise that brought him out of it, he gaped.
If he didn't know any better, the person standing outside of his custom sports car with a smug grin on his face bore a passing resemblance in demeanor to a man his gestalt mind learned to both admire as well as hate no matter what reality he was in.
Hell, indeed, had come bearing gifts inside a hand basket. For someone who had gotten used to the impossible and improbable happen to him in the shortest time of his teenaged life on a daily basis, this would have to take the cake.
Xander opened the passenger side door under silent protest as the figure slid in.
"Hi." The older man said through a cigar clamped on one side of his mouth with a cat-ate-the canary grin as he held out his hand in greeting. "My name's Michael Knight, it seems that we have a lot to talk about."
Whatever Xander was expecting, that wasn't it.
"Since when the hell did a defunct organization like the FLAG program have a clandestine paramilitary arm?" The young engineer blurted out loud.
"Actually." Michael began. "I'm surprised you even know a little about the Foundation, but no, while the currently mothballed FLAG program shares some ties to the group I'm currently involved with, our latest incarnation is part of an older one that dates far back to the crusades and then some."
"Illuminati?" Xander asked incredulously, remembering the group one of the Tony Starks formed in an alternate reality.
"Nope." Michael grinned. "Close, but no cigar. We're not controllers behind the scenes even when we're behind the scenes, though we do seem to have more clearance than god these days to be able to get things done. Although I gotta admit, we've almost always been labeled as MIB's from time to time with some of our cases."
"But enough about that for now." Michael continued as he gestured to the men outside to disperse and tail them discretely. "Let's get a move on, standing around like this is bound to get us both noticed, thanks to your flashy car and my men outside. Nice car by the way."
"So…" Xander said slowly as he turned on the gas and reversed his direction as soon as the car behind him backed out. "Where to, Mike?"
The address Michael directed them to solved part of one of his "problems" but he managed not to look surprised and complied. As they drove in silence, the young engineer tried to remember what he had on the Foundation for Law and Government, or FLAG and its number one troubleshooter. As far as he knew, Michael Knight was a guy that barely existed until he was taken under the auspices of one Wilton Knight who, along with his father Garth Knight – for whom he named his disowned son in honor of, but in the end the boy didn't live up to his grandfather's legacy – started a premier technological company called Knight Industries. Father and son also had a side-hobby in connection to their firm, called the "FLAG" program – though Wilton Knight was billed as the founder, the ideas for such an organization were inspired by his father. FLAG's mandate was dedicated to fighting criminals who operate above the law. FLAG's "pilot program" was the use of one man and one technologically advanced car, responsible for resolving issues that went beyond typical legal measures. The theatre for said program was first instituted in the United States of America.
The man beside him was proof of that program made real as the urban legend of one man and a funky car during the early to late 1980's and early 1990's became more than supposed fiction on some usenet sites he trolled through in search for information. However, the program somehow died down and was mothballed without any discernable reason. Knight Industries still functioned, but Michael Knight somehow vanished into obscurity until tonight, although he was also listed as a de facto major shareholder for said company being run currently by a Melinda Miles, niece of the late Devon Miles, he was never seen at all.
Looks like Michael Knight never stopped trying to prove Wilton Knight's adage that "one man can make a difference." However, as Xander noted, that "one man" now amounted to several people. Just how "several" it amounted to, he didn't know.
They arrived at their destination and got out. Xander noticed as they got out of the car that several of the vehicles that corralled him a while ago parked themselves out of sight but within easy reach in case some emergency occurred.
"Damn." He noted with mild appreciation. "They're good, if you really didn't know what to look for they'd just blend in the background. Not even their cars seem out of place in this neighborhood."
Michael led the way to the door of the house and knocked. A muffled female voice called out in confusion and all he said in reply was, "Honey, I'm home."
The door opened to reveal…
"Amanda Riviera." Xander said as he eyed the strange pistol that was out of sight from any onlookers in her hand and the steady look she gave him. "Fancy meeting you here of all people, really, I'm touched. What'd I do to piss your boyfriend here off? "
One perfectly sculpted eyebrow rose up in amusement while Michael dove between then on his way inside the woman's apartment. The taller man didn't get very far before "Amanda" yanked the stogie in his mouth and threw it towards the astray on the living room coffee table.
It landed with the lit end crashing into the ceramic, effectively snuffing it out.
Xander's own eyebrows rose at that. "Excellent marksmanship, or is that markswomanship?" He said. "You know, I reckon that's one of those little tidbits of information left out from your bogus, but incredibly encrypted CIA dossier. Someone really MUST update the poor thing."
The two shared a look of stunned surprise at that.
"How the hell did you manage to break the encryption on that?" Amanda asked in shock as she turned to Michael with an annoyed tick in her left eye.
"Hey, don't look at me, I just got here." Michael said, just as shocked at the ease the young man before them figured it out Amanda's cover. "You and Strahs worked for weeks on your cover in the CIA to make it airtight to infiltrate the NID at their request. That stuff is beyond even me, that's why we have people like you and Strahs to do the hard work."
"Well, in your defense, they're really good." Xander said as he sat down without preamble, leaving the two standing in their shocked stupor. "Very good that it'll fool even the tightest and most paranoid background check everyone normally has to date. Unfortunately for you folks, what I have blows them all out of the water."
The last was said with a shit-eating grin that made "Amanda" growl at the young upstart that was technically her cover's boss. Part of her annoyance was the fact she and Sven Strahs worked on her current cover to hell and back, and all it took was a damn kid and whatever else he had to wreck it. Her professional pride wanted to wipe that grin off of Xander's face.
"Easy now." Xander said as he tried to placate the seething woman in front of him that could no doubt turn him into sushi at a moment's notice. "Your cover is not technically broken as only a select few know of you and the NID twits don't even have a clue."
"That's supposed to make me feel better?" She spat. "My cover is still blown thanks to you, wiseass."
Xander sighed as he looked at Michael. "Okay, I know who you are." He said, and pointed at the seething blond woman beside him and asked. "Who is she really?"
Michael opened his mouth to reply, but the woman beat him to it as she ripped the blond wig on her head to show that she was a natural redhead cut in a boyish style that made her look exotic and not at all unfeminine. In fact, Stark's libido would have been all over her if not for the fact that her strange pistol was still pointed at him.
"My name is Natalya Silva, lieutenant commander, first class." Her voice dropped with European undertones that made Xander blink as he thought her former accent was pure Californian, making him wonder if either of her accents were real or not. "I work alongside monsieur Knight in our endeavor to safeguard the world from external and internal threats, be it demonic or not."
Xander looked back to Michael. "Okay, enough cloak and dagger already. Who the hell are you guys if you're not CIA and not in cahoots with the damned NID nor with any of the damned alphabet soup intelligence community?"
"We're currently known as Mithril." Michael Knight replied. "Our agency has its origins tied with an offshoot of the Knights Templars, the sect that didn't become the brigands portrayed by most scholars and historians. They were those that truly believed in helping the world with unselfish perseverance and dedication. To preserve their anonymity, they keep changing their outward persona under an alias that would benefit and reflect the times with a force full of technological, natural, and supernatural resources. Almost all of us are volunteers, but with one defining goal: to preserve all sentient life against evil in whatever form it comes. "
"Well shit." He said; he certainly didn't see this one coming. "You guys have impeccable timing, because we have a doozy of an apocalypse coming: our illustriously long-lived Mayor has just decided to ascend into an old one: specifically, the mantle of Lohesh."
At their confused stare, Xander tried to explain. "Think something almost Titan sized with four huge wings on its back."
At their continued stare, Xander sighed. "Look, this is all new to me too. That's one of the reasons I was driving around to clear my head. The only other ascension like that was recorded around the 12th century AD and it decimated an entire town with minimal survivors."
"Figures." Michael muttered. "At least this gives me an idea of what happened tonight before we got to you."
"Beg pardon?" Xander asked. "What do you mean?"
The adopted heir apparent of Wilton Knight spoke with trepidation. "Roughly over an hour ago, I received a communiqué from one of my agents stationed here that Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, and Daniel Osborne, have been abducted via mystical means."
Xander reached into his pocket for his phone and belatedly noticed he had it silenced. Sheepishly turning what could amount to a small audio bomb on as the formerly muted audio cut in mid-ring, Xander winced as Janna's vitriolic greeting washed over the room for all to hear as he put it on speaker phone.
"So, you finally answered after the seventieth try." Her face glared out to him from the screen. "Buffy, Willow and Oz have been kidnapped, and since you weren't answering, we thought you might have been as well. I've got Kendra running a search flight over the town, so where the FUCK are you?"
Despite understanding the Romany technopagan's rage, Xander was nevertheless confused. He had stealth satellites orbiting the damn planet, there was no way in hell he wouldn't show up on his own sensors as he'd calibrated them to work around the dampening field caused by the supernatural energy that surrounded the Hellmouth – and by extension – the town of Sunnydale.
"What the hell do mean "Where am I"?" The confused teen genius said in response. "I haven't left Sunnydale, I'm at the home of Amanda Riviera and her friend."
"Bullshit." Janna replied, not realizing she was on speaker phone. "Kendra flew over that area recently and you weren't even a blip on her scanners."
"I'm serious; I'm really inside her place!" Xander as he looked at the two people in front of him, and his eyes widened as he saw something propped near the wall behind the female Mithril agent.
Well that explains it, he thought. The Stark gestalt part of him that dabbled in the arcane recognized something familiar, he pointed the top portion of his phone towards the object and scanned it.
"Never mind, I think I found out how I'm not showing up on any of our scanners." He said. "Recall Kendra and have her work with you on the satellites with JARVIS, tell him to reconfigure the scans I'm sending through right now. Get everyone down to the Armory as it's the only other safe place right now other than my current location."
Once he hung up; Xander threw a pointed look at Natalya in annoyance. "Okay, mind telling me how you got a runed warding stone half the size of an office desk that looked to weigh about a ton inside your house all by your lonesome?"
Natalya shared a glance with Michael and the man simply shrugged in an "up to you" gesture.
The silent reply he got in response from the woman made his jaw drop. A stick that looked like an anorexic stake somehow materialized on her left hand and she then pointed it at the large stone.
Said stone shrank before his astonished eyes to the size of a soda can.
Xander rushed towards the shrunken stone and was shocked to find that weight had exponentially decreased as well in proportion to the size.
"What the fuck?" He exclaimed as he turned the stone over in his hand, even though it shrank, the runes carved onto the stone still glowed with the same amount of brightness as before.
"You're a magic user." Xander said as he turned and studied the woman. He now knew what the stick was.
He turned to Michael Knight and said. "She's a wanded magic user!"
"I did tell you we have a lot of different people in our ranks." Michael replied with a grin as Xander turned the stone over his hand, eventually flipping it though the air like a toy as Natalya looked on in annoyance at the treatment of her shrunken warding stone. "We'd like you and your friends to join Mithril. That was initially one of the reasons why I came to Sunnydale. I wasn't supposed to be here for another couple of days until Natalie finished her profile on you and your somehow non-existent boss-slash owner, but when one of my agents keeping guard over the Summers residence noticed something off – well, we thought you'd need all the help you can get combing the town for them."
Xander shook his head. "As fun as that sounds like, I don't think I'm ready to join any group at the moment, there's too much to do here in the Hellmouth. Though I won't mind to having some help with the local wildlife as it were, should the need arise."
The young genius thought for a second before he turned back to the female mystic spy. "Do you know of the Romany?" he asked. "Specifically the Kalderash clan?"
"Of course," Natalya replied as she transfigured her robes into something more presentable. "While most of my regular wanded Wizarding kin choose to ignore other aspects of magic, those amongst Mithril aren't that narrow-minded. We've got a whole branch full of diverse mystics. We've already been aware of the Kalderash especially when two of the higher profile clan members are working for your supposed recluse of a boss – whom most of us already deduced to be you."
"Yup, I know of them, but not personally." Michael piped in. "I know someone affiliated with them through a contact of ours that usually handles some of Mithril's European assignments., though I haven't had contact with either of them for a couple of months since Lord Henry went undercover in wanded magic user territories."
"Interesting, come on, we have to go and meet up with my friends." Xander mused as started leading them out of the house only to stop outside and groan in annoyance.
The dual gasps of shock Xander heard from behind him elevated his annoyance to being pissed off. It seemed that a few people ignored his orders through Janna and were now arrayed outside the area in plain view of the people behind him.
What made the situation worse was the armored form of Kendra hovering a few feet behind Faith with all of her weapons trained at Michael's security contingent that had gathered at the front of the building when they arrived. That was a whole can of worms he really didn't want to get into with the group representing Mithril at any time – AT ALL.
Some days, Xander thought as he closed his eyes and exhaled explosively, it wasn't worth it to get out of bed. The Stark gestalt within him agreed and wished that he had gone to the beach.
Buffy groaned back to wakefulness to the sound of leaky plumbing.
"Ah, I see someone rejoining us in the land of the living." An unfamiliar voice said from behind her.
Confused at the direction the voice was coming from, the blond Slayer suddenly realized that she was tied with a length of glowing chains hooked to the ceiling. Turning her head, she found to her horror, Willow and Oz in a similar position she was.
"Buffy…" Willow said with a heartfelt whimper as she tried to shift her full weight, but was only successful in moving her upper torso slightly. "I can't feel my legs."
"Don't worry about that." The voice said as the figure stepped into the light. The manic grin on Sunnydale's illustriously long-lived Mayor graced the three trapped teens.
"The ritual's about to start, my dear children…." Richard Wilkins laughed. "With you three as the focal point of the spell right here over the Hellmouth, you won't have time to feel anything before I'm finished consuming every single living human soul in town."
The scores of vampires and demons that the three teens were just beginning to notice behind manic magic user laughed along with him.
Deep inside, Buffy quailed as her inner Slayer spirit made a rough head count.
It was a veritable army of over three hundred combined, and if she had to guess, it was the worst of the worst of the overall demon population in Sunnydale.
AN: apologies for the very long delay, I have no internet for the past couple of months and I can't do more than surf and leave slight reviews on my Android while I leech off a signal from places like Starbucks, etc.
Also note that I'm hard at work on Harry Potter Iron Magius... and I am going to try re-writing my God of War sequel into something more technically inclined and not just supernatural since I've also placed it in the SG1 universe.
Also, I am experimenting on a series of shorts that took off from answering a challenge of Xander turning into the Silver Surfer... among other stories. Of course, Iron Tauri is my main focus, but so as not to be stuck in a rut, I've decided to expand on other stories to keep my creative juices flowing.
PS... if those of you recognize Mithril ... I took the liberty of making an organization after my favorite anime: Full Metal Panic. Of course, giant mechs will NOT crossover for this though some characters with familiar names will come in as liaisons from time to time.
FF(dot)net is being frustrating again in letting me post stuff up.