Title: Emerald Moon (1/2)
Feedback: Please be gentle.
Distribution: Gimme credit and a link.
Rating: Just a little bad language.
Spoilers: Anything and everything.
Disclaimer: The characters depicted herein belong to other people. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: Xander may have memories of the future, but there are still more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in even his philosophy. Part three of Emerald Flame.
Author's Note: I still have trouble believing I'm actually including this crossover.
The seedy little bar was in the Kabukichou district of Tokyo's Shinjuku ward. Kabukichou was Shinjuku's red light district, and from the outside, this particular bar was indistinguishable from those around it. Within, however, it was very different, catering to a clientele that was decidedly mixed in species.
One particular woman nursed a glass of scotch at the bar. With her exotic red eyes and luxuriously long dark hair that, in the right light, held a distinctive greenish tinge, one would naturally assume her to be one of the bar's less human patrons. One would be wrong. Mostly.
After all, add enough magic, and even the most human of humans gained a sense of otherworldiness.
Someone stepped up behind her, his shadow falling across the bar and disturbing her melancholy thoughts, and she scowled. "I'm no working girl," she said flatly, in no mood for dealing with the drunken refuse that filled the district. "Go away if you value your reproductive organs."
Setsuna's head shot up, and she turned and glared. "Skip," she said acidly. "What do you want?"
The demon smiled and laid a photograph on the bar next to her drink. "There's a boy who must be dealt with."
Her eyes widened slightly as she recognized the boy in the picture. She had noticed his actions in passing while monitoring the Gates of Time, searching for whatever it was that had erased the future she had been charged with protecting. His actions weren't what she had anticipated, but they were for a good cause, and she could detect no temporal eddies around him.
"He's reviving the Corps, and you want me to kill him?" she snorted. "Please. I know who you are, Skip, and more importantly, I know exactly who and what you work for. I am no puppet of yours."
"No," Skip said, "you'll kill him for your own reasons, Guardian of Time. You may not be our puppet, but you dance to your own strings. It is his actions that erased the future you so jealously guarded."
"That future had already been confirmed against the variations of free will. Only time travel could have erased it, and he is not from the future."
"No, he isn't," Skip agreed. "But his memories are."
Ohshitohshitohshitohshit... Xander thought as he frantically dodged another of those devastating magical blasts. His uniform was energy-absorbent, making it an ideal defense against energy attacks, but there was still a limit, and the excess energy had to go somewhere. When he was struck by a staff weapon blast, he generally felt a slightly warm spot around where the blast struck.
That first magical blast, which had already expended quite a bit of power smashing through his admittedly-hastily-erected barrier, had struck him in a glancing blow. He felt scalded from the neck down.
He had never seen anyone with this much raw magical power. Even Willow at her best (or worst) didn't project that much raw energy for use as a weapon.
Alexander! Stop panicking and think! The order barely registered in Xander's mind as he dodged another blast which blew a parked ambulance in half.
Easy for you to say! he snapped back a little heatedly as he scrambled away. Still, the exchange had done its job and broken through Xander's panicked mental state. I don't suppose you recognize this psycho bitch?
No, came the hesitant reply. However, there were... rumors, myths that have long been forgotten by the Tauri, of a great civilization on the moon, ruled by a silver queen some ten million years ago, but no real evidence was ever found of it, either by Ra or the Corps. No starships, no buildings, no advanced technology at all.
Well, that's helpful, he grumped.
Not getting any answers from the voice in his head, Xander took a more direct approach with a shout of, "Who are you?!"
"Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time."
"Guardian of Time"? Xander thought. Oh, shit.
"All right," he said, using his ring to rocket toward her, tackling her across the midsection. "So what's your beef with me?" he asked, pinning her against the asphalt.
He held her in place for exactly three seconds before she slipped out, rotating and slamming him into the ground. "You have altered the course of history," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. "You threaten the future I was charged with protecting."
"Aw, hell," Xander muttered as he rolled out of the way of her fancy club. The Garnet Rod struck the asphalt and cratered it.
Sailor Pluto leaped back, landing lightly on a street lamp as though she weighed a feather. "Dead Scream."
Xander rolled to his feet and found himself backed into a corner. There was no dodging this one. He was about to bring up another -- probably futile -- barrier, when his head rung, Wait!
What? he thought back, but complied.
Moments before the magical energy blast immolated him, Xander's ring flared. The Dead Scream splashed harmlessly against the green barrier that formed protectively around him.
What the hell just happened, E? I thought we were dead!
There is a reason the System Lords cannot use the power rings, Alexander, the same reason I have not taken a more active role in our battles until now, she answered. Neither host nor symbiote can use the ring if the other opposes it, and if we both tried to use its power but in different ways, our attempts would cancel each other out. But when we work together, our wills in perfect concert...
Double the will, double the power.
Precisely. Look out!
Engulfed in green energy, Xander shot to the sky, then dove, tackling the Guardian of Time, who hopped out of the way, somersaulting and sending another devastating Dead Scream toward him, which barely missed and smashed into the street below.
The two landed across from each other on the hospital's roof, squaring off.
"We don't have to do this," Xander said.
"Yes," Pluto countered. "We do."
"Why?" he demanded. "If you'd just tell me what I do, what changes the future..."
She blinked back tears and whispered, "You save the world."
"That's generally considered a good thing," he said dryly.
"I know." She lifted the Garnet Rod, and Xander surged forward, knocking it aside before she could launch another Dead Scream.
She spun and lashed out with her foot. Xander twisted with the kick, grunting at the impact. She was at least as strong as a Slayer... but he'd fought Slayers before. Grabbing her leg, he pulled, and she pivoted, using his grip on her leg as support as she brought her other leg around. Xander released her and stepped back, narrowly avoiding a potentially decapitating kick.
Sailor Pluto caught herself on her hands and performed a kip-up, facing him warily. He was better than she'd thought. Meanwhile, Xander suppressed a wince. His ribs were bruised at best. After a moment, they lunged at each other again, exchanging blows, feint and counterfeint, grapples and holds.
Once upon a time, Xander would have killed for this much close physical contact with such a beautiful and scantily-clad woman. He knew better now.
Xander suddenly dropped to the ground, the only reasonable escape his momentum allowed from the spinning clothesline she had sent his way. Catching himself on his hands, he shoved hard with one, rolling away from her before she could put a concrete-pulverizing stiletto heel through his back.
He looked up and blinked, mesmerized for a moment as she approached. "Damn," he muttered, "those really go all the way up, don't they? Not too many girls I know have the legs to pull off a miniskirt like that."
Sailor Pluto stopped and blinked at that... then hopped back to avoid a scissor kick as he levered himself up on his hands and swung his legs around.
We're getting nowhere fast, Xander thought sourly as he rose back to his feet. E, do you think-?
I do not like that plan, came the response even before he finished the question. But... I do not see a viable alternative.
As the two combatants squared off again, Xander thought, You're still going to hold it against me, aren't you?
She pointedly declined to answer.
Xander met Sailor Pluto in another exchange of blows. This time, however, he accepted the hits instead of deflecting or tryiing to dodge them. Even with his glowing green force field, he was taking the worst of it, until finally, he grabbed her by the large bow on the front of her blouse and pulled her toward him...
...and kissed her.
She froze, and her eyes flew wide at the unexpected action. It had been... a very long time since she had had any sort of intimate contact, and she didn't even think to struggle until she felt something slither down her throat. By then, it was too late.
Breathing heavily, Xander bent over, hands on his knees. After a moment, he looked up and asked, "You okay, E?"
"I am... uncomfortable with this, Alexander," came the soft-spoken reply. "But yes, I am in full control. She is... resistant, but my control is physiological, not mental; this is a fight she cannot win. I do not, however, appear to have any access to her powers."
"We don't need her powers, E, just her reasons."
"You need rest, Alexander," she retorted. "You've been running on adrenaline and endorphins for the last thirty-six hours. I should know. I've been pumping them into your system just to keep you propped up. You'll crash before the hour's up whether you like it or not."
"Yes, dear," Xander muttered semi-sarcastically as it all started to catch up to him. "We can crash at the Baxter house."
"It's not secure."
"Just because it has a great big gaping hole in the front wall doesn't mean it's not secure," he answered.
As it turned out, the security or otherwise of the Baxter house was a moot point. Wearing civilian clothing, they slowed as they approached the Baxter house. There was a limousine parked in front of it. The man standing by it looked up at their approach, pausing to check a photograph.
"Mister Beacon?" he called. "Alexander Beacon?"
Xander cocked an eyebrow, and he said, "My name's Sam. Ms. Cortana hired me to escort you to the new house."
"She did, did she?" Xander said flatly.
Sam wasn't quite sure just how to deal with this guy. He had just gotten out of the Company, the last ten years of his life nothing but page after page of blacked out lines, and looked into getting into business in "close protective services" -- that is, bodyguard duty -- when he had been contacted by some mysterious woman with excellent references. It was just a one-off job, but her description of the client was... unusual, to say the least, and it seemed to be panning out. Mr. Beacon was... suspicious, very suspicious... and hadn't responded to his name until he'd used his full name.
And Ms. Cortana hadn't said anything about a companion. The woman was smoking hot, but he had zero intel on her, which just put Sam on edge. He was really beginning to regret not trying harder to get Bryan in on this.
"Yes, sir," he replied professionally. "If I may?" he opened the back door of the limo. The client and his companion climbed in, and he walked around to the driver's seat.
The trip was short and uneventful, thankfully, and he pulled into the loop-around driveway in front of the mansion. He leaned back to project his voice back and said, "Ms. Cortana also mentioned that your usual key should fit."
"Thank you, Sam," Xander said before following Egeria out of the limo. He headed up to the front door and formed a key construct with his ring, unlocking the dead bolt and entering the foyer.
"Cortana," he called to the seemingly empty room. "How long have you been working on this?"
"About a month," came the reply as a video projector concealed in a chandelier flared to life, presenting her avatar on the foyer's white wall. "Who's your friend?"
"Yet another in a long line of women that have tried to kill me for one reason or another," he deadpanned. "Cortana, meet Egeria and..." he glanced over.
"Setsuna," Egeria supplied. "Meiou Setsuna."
Cortana cocked an eyebrow.
"E's the one not trying to kill me," Xander said helpfully.
The AI frowned and accessed her databanks. "Goa'uld?" she hazarded.
Egeria nodded. Unlike her children, she held no shame for her species name.
"Tok'ra, actually," Xander corrected. "It seems she was enlightened and decided to spread the word."
"I was speaking of species, not ideology," Cortana retorted. "And I need to finish getting the scanners installed," she added with a frown. Had the scanners been installed, she wouldn't have had to guess.
"Okay, you know what?" Xander said. "You will explain to me exactly what's going on here. Later. Where's the bed?"
"Why, Reclaimer, how forward of you!" Cortana gasped, bringing an arm across her chest.
"You are no fun," she pouted. "This way," she said, pointing up the stairs.
"Hey, I'm plenty of fun when people aren't trying to kill me," Xander grumbled under his breath.
"So... that would be never, then?"
He couldn't even summon enough energy to get indignant over that.
"You're not serious," Xander said, glaring at Cortana's projected avatar on the kitchen wall between bites.
"I very much am, Reclaimer," she answered. "Your alter ego, Alexander Beacon, exists for a reason, and that reason is Beacon Advanced Industries."
"What is it?"
"'Beacon Advanced Industries, lighting the way to the future,'" she said, giving him the tagline. "BAI is a new up and coming technology firm with a wide base of research and products, ranging from computer software and advanced avionics and telecommunications to materials research and molecular science. Its founder and sole owner is one Alexander Beacon. You."
Xander considered that for a long moment.
"You got bored, didn't you?"
Cortana huffed and argued, "If you truly intend to reclaim the galaxy, you cannot waste time accumulating financial resources; this takes care of that necessity. More importantly, Reclaimer, this planet's technological base needs to be elevated in order to properly support your campaign and defend itself from retaliatory strikes. With BAI, we can slowly introduce critical pieces of technology onto the open market toward these objectives, hence the fields BTI focuses on."
"So... that's a 'Yes, but I don't want to admit it'?"
Cortana glared mulishly at him for a moment before looking away and mumbling, "...yes."
"So how does this affect me?"
"For the moment, it doesn't," she answered. "There are some high-level personnel positions you will need to personally interview candidates for, but that can wait."
"Good. It'll have to," he said, finishing up the large breakfast. He glanced over and asked, "So, E, what's the sitch with our friend?"
"She's under a geas," she answered. "A magical compulsion to guide events to a specific future."
"Mind control?" he frowned.
"Not exactly," Egeria said. She paused, struggling to find the right words to explain it, but the concept was new to her as well. Only her current host's familiarity with it allowed her to understand it at all. "She doesn't want to do it -- in fact, she applauds your efforts and even finds you quite attractive, probably because you're the first person in a hundred years to not treat her like a cold fish -- but she's magically compelled to defend that future to the best of her ability... at any cost."
Xander pointedly ignored the comment on her attraction, as it was so not applicable to the situation. "Any way to break it?"
Egeria pursed Setsuna's lips in annoyance and answered, "If she knows of one, she's doing a very good job of hiding it."
"Does she realize that breaking the geas is probably her best chance to get laid?"
"Not helping, Cortana," Xander growled.
"It's more likely the geas protecting itself," Egeria said.
Xander stared at her. "You're talking as though it's alive."
"It's not," she said, shaking Setsuna's head. "Not exactly. But given Setsuna's own ambivalence on the situation, maintaining the geas on her is crucial to achieving the future she is geased to protect. And so, the geas protects itself as a necessary step in order to achieve that future."
Xander dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his temples. "Okay," he admitted, "my head hurts. I'm calling Giles."
"So, how are the girls?" Xander asked.
"They're doing fine," Giles said. "Cortana arranged for alternate housing while repairs are under way."
"Good, good," Xander nodded absently. "Say, Giles, what can you tell me about geases?"
"Geasan, actually," the Watcher corrected, shaking his head. "Xander, do you have any idea how many different kinds of oath-binding spells there are?"
"Humor me, Giles," Xander said. "Start with the basics. What could break one?"
"Oath-binding spells aren't like the legal system, Xander," Giles frowned. "They are often based as much on intent as on literal wording. Still, in most cases, the only one who can release someone from such an oath is the one to whom the oath is sworn."
Great, Xander thought sourly, so I have to resurrect a ten million year old queen. Wonderful.
"What is this about, Xander?" Giles asked, taking off his glasses and pinning the teenager with a piercing gaze.
"Just some stuff that's come up," Xander hedged. "I can take care of it."
Giles considered that for a moment, then said calmly, "Bollocks."
Xander sighed and explained the situation.
"Sailor bloody Pluto?!" Giles sputtered.
"Umm, you've heard of her?" Xander blinked, surprised. Egeria hadn't recognized her beyond vague rumors.
"Several years ago, there were reports of a young blonde girl with superhuman capabilities fighting supernatural forces in London," Giles explained. "Naturally, the Council investigated. She was later linked to a group that appeared to oversee the hellmouth in Tokyo. They were known as the Sailor Senshi: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Uranus, and Sailor Neptune. This Sailor Pluto is clearly linked."
"That's... a helluva lot more intel than I had before," Xander admitted. "Which means, next stop, Tokyo. Joy." He turned to leave.
"Xander," Giles called.
Xander turned. "What?"
"A recommendation," Giles said. "Should you speak with them, it would be best if you did not mention the Council. From what I understand, their investigation into Sailor Venus did not end with them on the best of terms."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Also... do you even speak Japanese?"
"I've got my ring," Xander answered with a shrug. "It's got translation protocols in it."
"So you intend to go to a foreign country, asking random people about mythical defenders against the supernatural, while dressed as a comic book character?"
"Well... when you put it that way, it could use a little work. Have any suggestions?"
"Well, I have a... a friend in Tokyo. She's someone I knew from... a while back."
Xander cocked an eyebrow and asked, "She a friend of Rupert's or a friend of Ripper's?"
"Got a name for her, or am I going back to my original plan?"
"Her name is Saeko," Giles answered reluctantly. "Mizuno Saeko."
Like I said at the beginning of this, I still have trouble believing I'm including this... but it fits well enough for the greater Emeraldverse. And yes, I know I'm playing a fanon cliche, but I broke from that with Iron Moon, so I'm choosing to go the other way with this one.