Excerpts from the Journal of Alexander Harris

Author: Kevin Matsumoto <matsumotk010[at]hawaii.rr.com>

Distribution: If anyone wants to take the trouble, be my guest. Just let me know where to look. (Mostly so I can find other fic :) )

Timeline: Before the whole ADAM thing.

Rating: PG14

Feedback: Is the only pay I get for this. Be Nice. :)

Pairing: Supposed to be B/X but I'm not sure the characters are going to cooperate.

Disclaimer: I Own Nothing involved in this.

Summary: This was an experiment in writing first person stuff that got a little weird and out of control. Basically it's a Xander joins the army story with X-overs including Black Mask and SU-2

Latest addition

Part 1

From the Journal of Alexander Harris.

The Psych doc tells me that I should restart this journal. He claims it helped keep me sane during the worst times. The G-Man is on my case, too, to tell all of the story. He wants me to rewrite all of my journals that were lost when the base blew. He says. 'I owe it to future generations' to write down what happened". Yeah, like future generations are really going to care to read the diary of a trooper when they can read all about the Slayer and her role in the war. Oh well, Doctor's orders.

Where do I start? I suppose I should start at the beginning. How does it go again? "In the beginning there was darkness..." Nah, too far back. Besides everyone knows this part, how the demons and all the oldie moldy big baddies were driven out. How about the first time I ever saw the love of my life? Of course, every one else either calls her Buffy or "The Slayer". Should I write about how I literally fell head over heels for her?

Nah, I think I'd better start with the Project. Seven oh-one. Nicknamed "The Captain America Project" by some wag in R&D. It was the government's attempt to create a perfect soldier. Faster and stronger than any human has a right to be, the 701's were the fast track soldiers of tomorrow. Then they started to freak. OK, I'm not a med-tech so I don't know the medical slang for what happened to them. All I know, is that by the time it was over, the original 701 project was shut down.

So what does this have to do with me? At the time, not much. I was still doing the construction thing, when the last of the 701's bit the big one. Then Anya died.

Sunnydale, CA
December 12, 1999

"You do know that you don't have to come with us, right?" Xander asked Anya as they hurried down the nearly deserted street.

"I know," Anya answered tartly. "I really do want to go with you, I just don't see why we're in such a rush!"

"We're in a rush because you made us late," Xander said as they turned the corner of Buffy's dorm.

"*I* made us late!?" Anya asked stunned. "Who kept mumbling 'five more minutes,' then kept trying to bury himself in the blankets?"

"You didn't have to listen to me," Xander replied, turning his head to look at Anya as he spoke. As a result, he plowed straight into Buffy and Willow as they stepped out of the dorm.

"WATCH OUT!" Buffy managed to yell just before the collision. Willow tried to dodge but wound up taking the brunt of the impact.

"Omigod!" Xander bent down to help the red head up. "Will, are you OK?"

"Fine," Willow replied, "What's the rush?"

"We're late?" Xander sounded very unsure of himself.

"S'okay, we're running late too," Buffy shrugged.

"I told you we didn't have to run!" Anya delivered a solid whack to Xander's right arm.

"OW!" Xander rubbed his arm, "No violence! That's Buffy's department."

"Hey!" Buffy mock glared at Xander. "I don't always resort to violence."

Willow looked from Xander to Buffy and back again. Something about this conversation sounded familiar. Suddenly her eyes widened as the memory surfaced. Slowly she reached out and patted Buffy sympathetically on the shoulder. "Just so long as you believe that."

"Hey..." Buffy started to object then realized what Willow was doing and started to giggle. After a moment Willow and Xander joined in.

"OK now I'm getting freaked." Anya looked like she was about to run.

"Relax," Buffy said between giggles. "We haven't... hmph... we haven't been possessed. We're just having a... nostalgia attack."

"Oh," Anya rolled her eyes and shrugged. "Whatever. Can we go now?"

All three friends started giggling again as images of Cordelia suddenly flashed into their minds. Anya gritted her teeth and started walking.

"Anya! Wait up!" Xander and the others tried to catch up to the irate ex-demon. As they neared, she slowed a bit and waited for them. She turned to glare at them, her foot tapping out an irritated beat on the sidewalk pavement.

"What's the matter?" Xander asked.

"I don't like being laughed at."

"We weren't laughing at you..." Xander replied, "Well, I mean we were but not actually..." He turned to Buffy and Willow. "Help me out? Please?"

"It wasn't you," Buffy finally took pity on Xander. "It's just... We were laughing about something that happened when we first met. Then you went totally Cordelia on us and we just couldn't help laughing."

"Oh," Anya looked mollified for a moment, before she remembered what Cordelia was like. "HEY!"

"It was just for a second." Xander tried to calm his girlfriend down.

Their impending argument was cut off by the sound of screeching tires. The four Scoobies turned to see an SUV heading straight for them. Xander grabbed Anya's arm, trying to pull her to safety, when the SUV corrected, overcompensated, then went into a spin.

For a brief moment, it looked like the SUV might miss Anya and Xander. Then the tail end of the vehicle clipped the two teens as they tried to dodge out of the way. The impact sent Xander flying into the bushes less than five feet away. Anya was thrown along the sidewalk and landed with the sickening sound of breaking bones.

Sunnydale Hospital
2 hours later.

"The Doctor say's he's not too badly hurt, just a minor concussion and some heavy contusions." A soft female voice was the first thing Xander heard as he started to wake up.

"Anya?" Xander thought groggily as he became more coherent. "No.. Will."

"Xander?!" Buffy's voice came from somewhere to Xander's right and he tried to turn his head.

"AHH!!!" Xander couldn't keep the scream from escaping his lips as a searing pain made his head throb.

"Easy son." The reassuring voice tried to soothe him. "We're giving you something for the pain."

"I... I thought you...you weren't supposed to give painkillers to someone with ah... a head injury?"

Xander smiled despite the pain. You could always recognize Giles' voice, if only from the stammer.

"The concussion wasn't that severe, and Mr. Harris needs to rest." Xander finally realized that the new voice was the Doctor in charge. He felt his eyelids becoming heavy as exhaustion began taking over.

"How's Anya?" He asked softly. Through his drooping eyelids he got a glimpse of Buffy's face, the profound look of sadness bothered him. "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Xander."

"What are you trying...?" Despite the sudden surge of apprehension, Xander's eyelids became too heavy and he drifted off again.


I wish I could say I screamed or yelled or at least moaned, when I heard that Anya was dead. But the truth is, by the time the painkillers wore off and reality really sunk in, I was just numb. I guess it was about the time I was getting out of the hospital that I made my decision.

Part 2

"Have you lost your mind!?" Willow shouted after Xander told them his plans.

"Nope," Xander tapped his head. "It's still here."

"That's not funny," Buffy glared at the young man. "Why the hell did you join the army?"

Xander stared at Buffy for several long seconds before answering. "Truth? I needed to find someplace where I could belong."

"You belong with us!" Xander was momentarily taken aback by the hurt tone in Buffy's voice. It was something he hadn't expected to hear from her, given the way they had seemed to have grown apart since Graduation.

"I haven't felt like I belonged in a long time." Xander admitted, once he regained his composure. "Ever since we left High School, I've felt like the odd man out. I just think it's time I found a direction for my life."

"But the *Army*!?" Willow asked, still stunned, by the revelation that he was leaving. "Wait... this doesn't have anything to do with that time you turned into a soldier, does it?"

"Not really," Xander shrugged, . "It's more like, I kinda thought that at least in the Army I'd get some skills. The kind that'll make me useful when I got back."

"You are useful," Buffy started to plead with Xander, but stopped when she saw the determined look in his eyes. "And you're dead set on doing this. Aren't you?"

"Yep," Xander nodded, . "I've already signed the enlistment forms."

"When do you leave?" Buffy asked, sadly her voice betraying her disappointment and sadness.

"In a little while." Xander replied, "I just stopped in to say goodbye."

"You're not even giving us a chance to try to talk you out of it?" Willow nearly shouted. "But..."

"That was the idea, Will." Xander sighed. "I couldn't just leave without saying goodbye. But I knew if I gave you half a chance, you'd get me to stay. I'm sorry, I gotta go."

"How are you going?"

"Bus," Xander explained as he rolled his eyes. "I get a free ride to the Base, courtesy of Uncle Sam."

At least, let us walk you to the Depot." Buffy said as she grabbed her coat.

"I thought you'd never ask," Xander smiled, as they walked out the door.


Boot Camp wasn't the nightmare I thought it was going to be. I mean, I've seen 'Full Metal Jacket" and most of the other movies they've made about soldiers in the past two decades, but once I got there, something just clicked. I remember telling Cordy once, that I could probably put an M-16 together blind folded. Turns out that after a little practice, all those skills just came back. That didn't exactly endear me to the rest of the platoon, though, for some reason.


Fort Irwin, CA

"Harris, why don't you show Carter the right way to field strip the M- 60?"

Xander barely stifled the groan as he stepped forward and began quickly breaking the heavy machine-gun down. The rest of the platoon was glaring at him. Again. Every time he managed to get the others to, if not like him, then at least not hate him, the Sarge would call on him to show someone the 'right way" to do something and they'd all hate the 'golden boy" again.

"Way to go, Harris." ," Sergeant McClain nodded. "Think you got it now, Carter?"

Carter nodded and began the painstaking task of reassembling the M-60.

"Yeah Way to make us all look bad, Harris." one of the other boots whispered as Xander sat back down.

"Rodriguez, you got something to say!?" Sergeant McClain shouted.

"Sir! NO SIR!" Rodriguez snapped his attention back to front of the room.

"THEN PAY ATTENTION!" The Sergeant glared at the entire room.

Later that day, as the men entered the barracks. Rodriguez said. "Harris, I just don't get you. How the hell do you know all this shit? Was your Daddy in the Corps or something?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Xander smirked.

"Try me," Rodriguez challenged.

"OK," Xander shrugged. "About a year ago, this psycho cast a spell over the town I lived in. It turned everyone who bought a costume from his shop into that costume. I was dressed as a soldier. The information I got from that stuck in my head, and there you are."

"You're right," Rodriguez said, "I don't believe you. Good story, though."

"Harris, you got one weird imagination." Another boot, Brooks, patted Xander on his shoulder.


As time went on, things got a bit looser and I finally stopped being the 'teacher's pet'. After boot camp, I was assigned to the 1st Infantry division 20th Armored Regiment. I even had the rank of corporal going in. I gotta admit, it was kinda cool not being the low man on the totem. But kinda scary, too, actually have to be in nominal charge of everything when the First wasn't around.

Things were pretty boring then, since we were stationed somewhere in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A. I got a few letters from Buffy and Will, even one from the G-man. I sent a few postcards back. But mostly, I tried to learn everything I could about everything. About six months later, I was made a squad leader.

I gotta brag about my squad a little. Next to the Scoobies, they were the best friends I had.

Casey's a Sansei, that's a third generation Japanese American. I think she just barely made the minimum height and weight requirements for Army. But don't expect any 'Mr Miyagi" shit from her. That's not her talent, nope, she's the kinda soldier every unit should have. You know the type, they're in every movie, The Scrounger. I could tell her I needed a gallon of fresh cow's milk in the middle of the Sahara and she'd probably be able to get it. Of course, I wasn't ever foolish enough to ask her how she got what we needed. Some things man was not meant to know.

Jose and Brian grew up running with the gangs in L.A. I never did learn which gangs, but I do know that they didn't belong to the same one. They were always trading insults. Funny thing was, they were the two tightest bro's I'd ever seen.

Another funny thing is almost everyone makes the same mistake when meeting them. Jose's Irish-Mexican and takes after his Irish ancestry more than his Hispanic one. Brian's Filipino-Spanish, go figure, anyone looking for them by name just assumes that the red- head is Brian and the dark haired guy is Jose. It's kinda fun watching the double-takes when that happens.

Those two could fight dirtier than anybody I ever met before, and having grown up on the Hellmouth, that's saying something.. Well, Buffy could take them, but I don't think anyone else could even come close.

Their only problem was, they were still city boys. Out in the woods, they were still learning about survival. I guess that's were the last member of the team came in.

Grant's the only one that looks like his name, total white bread, blue-eyed blond hair, you know the kinda guy that's usually on a billboard someone as a male model. The thing is, Grand's Grandfather had been a bona fide big-game hunter before that became politically incorrect. His father grew up learning everything about tracking. By the time Grant was twelve, he could track just about any animal, anywhere, tell you how big it was, approximately how old it was, whether it was injured or not, and pretty much what it was going to do, once you found it. Somebody like that was priceless, once you got out in the boonies and had to keep an eye out for unfriendlies, 'cause there were always plenty of those around.

I still don't know how I lucked out getting a squad like that. Maybe the Powers That Be decided to make up for all those years in Sunnydale. Once we all got acquainted, I figured we were ready for anything.

Then all hell broke loose. Literally.

Part 3

I'm kinda vague about the mechanics of this. The G-man tried to explain it to me in once. I tried to get him to use words of one syllable or less but he just couldn't do it.

Near as I can figure, when the Mayor went all to pieces, the Hellmouth didn't just go dormant. It closed completely. We always figured that dormant meant closed. What we didn't know was that energy was always bleeding through. When the Hellmouth closed completely that energy was trapped and kept building up. And when the pressure hit a certain point, reality cracked.

The way Giles explained it, instead of one large Gate, we had hundreds of smaller little micro-gates. Thankfully none of the gates were big enough to let any of the really big baddies out, but what did get through was bad enough.


"WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE THINGS!?" Captain Walker yelled over the gunfire. The creatures, only vaguely humanoid, were being held at bay by the massive firepower being brought to bear against them. Unfortunately except for the occasional decapitation by a fifty caliber machine gun, they kept getting back up again.

"SHIT!" One of the creatures made it over the barricade, the soldier right in front of it broke and ran. All of a sudden, though, the creature was thrown back by a blast and lay still.

"What the hell!?" The Captain turned to see his reinforcements arriving.

"Sorry we're late sir," Xander saluted as he reached his C.O.

"Your timings perfect, Harris," Walker nodded to the dead creature. "How'd you kill that thing? For that matter, what is it?"

"It's a demon," Xander explained. "A Fyarol Demon to be exact. Only thing that can kill them is silver."

"Where the hell did you get silver bullets!?" Captain Walker stared at Xander.

"No silver bullets, but we do have some shotguns and a couple of people with silver chains."

"Son of..." Walker turned. "Anyone with anything made out of silver, sound off!!"

As each man called out, a private raced over and collected the silver.

"We'll keep them busy until you finish reloading," the Captain said.

"Yes, SIR!" Harris turned and started cutting the chains up. Casey and Grant started opening the shotgun shells and replacing some of the shot with the cut up pieces of silver.

Then Brian and Jose loaded the shells into their shotguns.

"Harris, not to rush you, but they're getting too close." Captain Walker shouted.

"LET'S ROCK AND ROLL!" Xander grabbed one of the shotguns and ran to the barricade. He got there just in time to see a Fyarol come over the wall. One blast from the shotgun left the demon dead on the ground.

Xander and his squad opened fire on the advancing demons. In a matter of seconds, the tide of the battle changed. The Demons, who had been advancing inexonorably, stopped in their tracks as their brethren fell.

"If they regroup, we're in a lot of trouble," Xander reported as he jacked the last of the his shells into the chamber. They'd emptied the guns twice since joining the firefight and everyone was low on ammo.

"I just got off the horn with HQ," Captain Walker told Xander. "We're pulling back."

"What?" Xander turned to Walker. "Sir. If we bug out now, there'll be no stopping them."

"Relax, Sergeant," Walker told Xander. "We're pulling back to give the A-10's a clear line of fire."

Xander thought about the sheer air to ground firepower on the A-10 thunderbolt and smiled. "That works for me, sir."

"I thought it might," the Captain grinned back. "You saved our butts, Harris. I'm putting you and your men in for a commendation."

"Sir, right now I'll settle for getting out of here alive."

"I hear that."


Captain Walker didn't just put me in for a commendation. He practically gave me all the credit for the platoon having the lowest loss of personnel during the first engagement.

I'm going to gloss over the next few months cause it's a just a blur of firefights and really narrow escapes. During the all too brief lulls in the fighting, someone in the Big Brass noticed that our unit had the highest kill ratio around. When they queried the Captain, he laid it all on me, said I knew more about demons than anyone else in the regiment. I guess all those years being research boy with the G- man really did pay off.

The next thing I knew I was pulled from the front lines and grilled about everything I could remember. Thankfully except for a few of the really weird (and when you're talking about demons, then you know that's gotta be *really* weird) demons, most of them have shown up in Sunnydale over the years. I did learn a few things while I was at HQ. I learned the Initiative got its ass kicked the first time out. I also learned that the Vatican's troops had been armed with anti- demon weapons since the Middle Ages. Big surprise, Vatican City was build over an old Demon ground. The so-called 'ornamental' Swiss guard decimated a whole army of lesser demons that popped up right in the middle of the Pope's televised plea for world unity. That was fun to watch, if only cause the Swiss Guards' guns were loaded with some kinda special demon killing bullet. Those demons didn't even know what hit them.

Anyway, the upshot is, nearly every Government in the world was having demon problems. In the Russian Republic they actually used Nukes to stop some of the waves. The U.S. went on a crash course in Demonology. So... guess who got the job of teaching the Techs and the Brass about demons?

EHHH! Wrong! Your's truly got assigned to ordinance development, while the G-man wound up giving all the lectures about the scaly creepy crawlies.

That's right, you read it correctly, the G-man. Rupert 'The Watcher' Giles.

Just after things went completely to Hell, the Watcher's Council came clean about the Slayer and the Vamps and all the other things that go bump in the night. Giles and Buffy suddenly found the 'big secret' was now out in the open.

The Buffster actually got the key to the city... well town of Sunnydale from the new Mayor.

Giles? He got a draft notice, sorta. He was pretty much strong-armed into becoming the Military "Demon Expert". Mostly, he just gave lectures on how to recognize the different breeds of Demon and how to kill them.

I, on the other hand, found myself helping to build new types of weapons. A job that was cut short by an idea from the Big Brass.



"Yes sir!" Xander saluted the Colonel standing in front of him.

"You're to come with me." The Colonel started walking away. "General Thompson wants to see you."

Xander followed the Colonel out the door without a question. Brigadier General Arthur Thompson was in charge of the Army's "Anti- Demon" units. Xander and the other ordinance development people had been called into his office before. Usually to clarify some part of a new weapons design.

As they walked down the corridor to the General's office, Xander went over the latest development in his head, a high explosive bullet designed to be fired from a .30 caliber assault weapon. It had thin alternating bands of gold and silver running down the sides of the bullet.

"Best of three worlds," Xander thought to himself. Some of the Demons, like the Fyarol, were killed by the silver shrapnel. Others, like the Kellain, actually burned where ever the gold hit. For any other creature, the Hi-Ex part tended to really ruin their day.

The door to the General's office opened before he could knock. Xander stepped through and saluted.

"You wanted to see me, Sir?"

"Harris," the General actually smiled at Xander. "Perfect timing."


The General turned to the other officer in the room. "This is Major Walker. He has a proposition for you."

"Major," Xander turned to Walker.

"Harris, Alexander Lavelle," the Major started reading from a file in his hand. "Sergeant, 1st Regiment, 20th Mechanized Infantry. Grew up in Sunnydale, California. You used to help out the Slayer, and that's where you learned about Demons. Is that correct?"

"Yes sir!" Xander nodded.

"Allright," the Major nodded, "Harris, what I'm about to tell you is classified. If you turn down this offer, you don't talk about this. Ever. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir," Xander's tone got serious at the look on the Major's face.

"Things have stalemated, Harris." The Major unfolded a map. "We've managed to cordon off every demon gate, creating a no-entry zone about 40 miles in diameter around each."

Xander glanced at the map. There were 10 red circles dotting the country. One of them smack dab on Anaheim. "They got Disneyland? Damn!" Xander suddenly remembered where he was and apologized. "Sorry for the levity sir."

"That's OK, Harris." The Major and the General both hid smiles. "The problem is, we can't get any closer to the gates without powerful defensive magic. Unfortunately, there aren't enough practitioners of magic willing to come forward right now."

"Can you blame them sir?" Xander asked, as he remembered the hysteria following the first demon waves. Anything outside the norm was considered demon work. The few genuine practitioners of magic had had to run for the lives from angry mobs too many times to trust people now.

"No, I can't," The Major sighed. "The cordon isn't one hundred percent. Every now and then, a demon gets through and dissappears from sight. We're forming special teams to hunt down those demons before they can get organized again."

Xander barely suppressed a shudder as he remembered the reports that L.A. had nearly become a 'no-man's land', after one organized demon group, the "Scrouge", launched an attack during the first days of the fighting. The combined forces of the LAPD Special Unit, a few local half-demons and a Wiccan coven had barely managed to stop them. After the news got out, nearly every police force in the country had created a demon hunter squad.

"What about the Special Units?" Xander asked, referring to the demon hunting police squads.

"They're no match for the Demons that have been getting through," the Major replied, "even with the new weapons. Strength and Speedwise, these demons are far superior to humans when it comes to fighting. That's where the Alphas come in.

"That's where you come in."


What the Major described was the newly revamped "Project 701a". The main deal was a special chemical formula, combined with a little genetic engineering, that worked just like the "Super Soldier" formula in the "Captain America" comics. It amplified a normal humans reflexes and strength to *way* above normal. Another series of injections increased your tolerance to pain.

After the full course of treatments and a little training a 701 alpha, or just 'Alpha' for short, could take a vamp on single- handed. Factor in the latest and greatest in weapons, body armor and tech-toys, and we could take on just about anybody.

That's right. I said we.

They offered me a promotion and a position in the newly formed demon- hunter squads, and I accepted without hesitation.


Part 4

One of the advantages to being 'in demand' was I got to choose the people in my unit. Casey and the others were only too glad to get off of perimeter duty and back in the action.

That's when we first heard about the codenames.


Fort Liberty, Nevada

"Look at this place. Walls twenty feet high and eight feet thick." Casey stared in wonder at the heavily fortified compound. As they walked through the gates, she noticed the Gun turrets with their 30 mm Vulcan cannons. "Christ! You've got enough gun emplacements to fight World War III from here."

"We are." Everyone turned to look at Grant. Grant shrugged, "It's the entire world against the Demons. If that doesn't count as a World War, I don't know what does."

Xander noticed Major Walker approaching from the main building. "Atten-hut!"

The entire unit snapped to attention before Xander's lips stopped moving. The Major nodded to the assembled unit before stopping in front of a saluting Xander.

"Lt. Harris." The Major returned Xander's salute. Then he added almost as an afterthought, "As you were."

Xander's mouth opened and closed a couple of times before his brain caught up with what the major said. "Uhh, sir? Last I heard, I was still a sergeant."

"Not anymore," Major Walker smiled. "Your promotion came through. Congratulations son."

The remainder of the unit simply stood there grinning as the Major pinned the bars of a first lieutenant onto Xander's uniform. Then, still grinning, they snapped to attention and gave Xander a textbook salute.

Xander eyed his squad skeptically for a moment before returning their salute. As soon as his arm dropped, the squad surrounded him, slapping him on the back and congratulating him.

The Major waited, a tolerant smile on his face, as the new lieutenant received the well earned congratulations of his team. Finally, he cleared his throat.

Almost immediately, the entire unit stopped their roughhousing and snapped back to a semblance of order.

"I'd like to let you continue celebrating, men," Major Walker nodded to the group. "But, the Colonel wants all of the new people to check in as soon as possible. You'll find a group of forms in the central hall, and I need you to fill them out ASAP."

Inside the Main building, the group found the forms sitting on a large typically utilitarian table. Casey grabbed one of the forms and started reading it.

"Typical bureaucracy," she muttered. "This is the same form I... What the fu -!?"

"Who bright idea was this?" The normally laid back Grant exploded. "Code names!?"

"When the hell did we join G.I. Joe!?" Casey finished for all of them.


All the G.I. Joe jokes aside, the need for codenames was soon revealed to be a necessity. It turned out that the first squad members that had been turned loose suddenly found their families being hunted by all sorts of uglies.

As it turned out there were a few turncoats out there that ratted out the existence of the Alphas to the demons for rewards ranging anywhere from money and jewels to the promise of transformation into a demon for themselves. Once the military found out what had happened, the widely publicized 'rewards' that normal humans gave the turncoats quickly dissuaded the majority of people who might consider such actions.

In any event, the demons actually started putting bounties on the heads of the Squads members. It was because of these developments that the big bosses decided that all Squads members would use codenames to help provide anonymity and safety for themselves and their families.

Being one of the first teams, we got to pick our codenames. That led to some choice comments.


"Hey L.T." Brian said from a couch in front of the rec room's TV set. "You picked your codename yet?"

Xander sighed, ever since the team found out he preferred to be called Xander, and not Alex. They'd been cracking jokes on his codename. Now he knew what Giles went through.

"If you make even one 'X-men' related suggestion, you're on K.P. for a month." Xander replied.

"Nope," Brian smiled, "I was just thinking that you've got the biggest boy scout streak in the history of the Army, so I thought that maybe 'Galahad', or 'White Knight' or..."

Brian's voice trailed off at the glare Xander was giving him. "Did I say something wrong?"

"You opened your mouth," Casey said as she walked into the room. Seeing Xander's face, she asked, "did I miss something?"

"All I did was suggest a new codename for the L.T." Brian said, confused.

"Oh god," Casey rolled her eyes and laughed.

"What?" Brian pulled himself halfway out of the couch.

"You've got an idea!?" Casey snorted, "This from a ex-street hood who couldn't come up with a more original code-name than 'Blade'?"

"You should talk," Jose walked in behind her. "Packrat."

"At least mine is descriptive and not a cliché *Razor*." Casey shot back.

"Enough," Xander said, a little too sharply.

"You okay, L.T.?" Jose asked.

"Yeah," Xander shrugged, "Brian just touched a nerve, that's all."

"You gotta admit, L.T., you do have a Sir Galahad complex." Casey said. "How's about 'Paladin'? They were real white knights, too."

"Paladin?" Xander thought about it. "Like the guy from the western?"

"Who?" Casey looked confused.

"Never mind," Xander shrugged, "I watched too much TV when I was kid."


If you think we made jokes about the code-names then you should have heard the comments that were made when we got our battle-gear.

I guess I better explain about the uniforms. Instead of the B.D.U.s we'd normally have been issued, the Squads got the latest most advanced battle-gear the Pentagon could provide.

Composite armor plating over a flexible ballistic mesh. The helmet was fully sealed with ABC filtration, equipped with HUDs, telescopic, low light and infra-red visual modes. The whole suit had one amazing trick. It could scan the surrounding area and project the image from one side onto the opposite side of the suit. It was creepy to see it in action you just saw this odd blurry shadow moving around. After the first time I saw us using the chameleon ability, I kept thinking we looked just like the Predator from the movies.

I just wish that with the power off the suit still looked that cool. I mean, did it have to be baby blue!? Fortunately I managed to restrain my first impulse, which was to refer to us as the 'Blue Beetle Brigade.'


"You've got to be kidding me," Grant looked in shock at the battle- gear. "I'm not wearing that."

"I take it back," Casey replied, "We haven't joined G.I. Joe. We've joined the freakin power rangers."

"Just put them on," Xander didn't quite manage to hide his smile over the team's outrage. "Besides, we don't have enough girls on the team to be the Power Rangers."

"Shows what you know," Casey muttered. "The Japanese shows the Rangers were based on had four guys and one girl."

Xander thought about it. "Then the Yellow Ranger was a guy? Bleah!"

Everyone laughed at the look on Xander's face, then turned their attention back to the brightly colored uniforms. One by one they donned the suits and activated the power.

After the suits warmed up, each one flickered for a moment then blurred. Grant held his hand up in front of his face and wiggled the fingers. "Now this is impressive."

"Try the default pattern," Xander suggested. "They built in a pattern that stays on, as long as there's power to the suit."

"This is almost worth the humiliation," Jose grinned as he removed the helmet. The suit shimmered again and jet black with grey trim replaced the camo effect. "I like it."


The power ranger jokes lasted a lot longer than the G.I. Joe jokes. Till the time we actually used them in combat.


Chicago Dockyards

"I thought we were getting backup from the Government Hunter Squads on this case, right?" Special Unit Two officer Kate Benson asked her partner.

"Beats me," Her partner, O'Malley answered. "We never needed help before."

"We never had to deal with things that ate almost every type of ammo for lunch before either."

"Yeah, good point." O'Malley nodded. "If they've got something that'll kill these things, I'm all for getting their help."

"Are killing Links the only thing you think about?"

O'Malley looked thoughtful for a couple of seconds, then grinned. "No... But it is high on my list of priorities."

"Why do I even ask?" Benson sighed, "Does Sean have any ideas about what we're facing?"

"Sean's completely stumped." O'Malley shrugged, "Which, I have to admit, doesn't happen very often."

"Which one of you is Benson?" someone asked behind them.

"Sonofabitch!" O'Malley spun around in time to see figure appear as though out of thin air. Benson was a split second slower and all she saw was a figure in a black and gray uniform.

"Who the hell are you!?" O'Malley asked leveling his pistol.

"Lieutenant Paladin, Demon Hunter Squad." Xander said as he removed his helmet. "I was told you were expecting us."

"They didn't tell us about you appearing out of thin air," O'Malley said as he lowered the pistol. "And where can I get a suit like that?"

"Join the squads," Xander said in an offhanded manner. "So, what are we facing?"

"We don't know," Benson answered. "We tracked two different types of Links here. The first looks almost human, except for some deformation of the face. The other ones are just disgusting; they're semi-amorphous vaguely humanoid shapes with mimetic capability."

"What and what?" Xander asked.

"They're big blobs of goo that make themselves look like people," O'malley translated, with a big grin on his face.

"Why didn't you say that in the first place?" Xander asked, with a matching grin.

<Oh god, there are two of them,> Benson thought to herself. Out loud, she said, "We've tried every custom round we've got, but the only ammo that works are the red and the silver rounds. And those are just too dangerous to use in most areas."

"You lost me again."

O'Malley held up his pistol. "We use a magnetically accelerated mini- rail gun equipped with custom ammo. Each color is a different load. Reds are powerful high-explosive rounds. They're usually used on buildings, not in them. Silvers are incendiary rounds, white phosphorous and thermite. Gets hot enough to melt steel."

"Where can *I* get one of those?" Xander asked.

"Join Special Unit two," O'Malley smirked.

"Okay, the testosterone contest is over, guys," Benson interjected. "We've got movement."

Xander put his helmet back on and activated the Low-light vision mode. "Seven humanoid and... Yuck! I can see what you mean by disgusting blobs of goo. They're... Shit! Those are Vampires!"

"The Blobs?" Benson asked. "Wait, I thought vampires didn't really exist."

"Oh, they exist all right," Xander activated his Comm. "Paladin to squad. We have hostiles in sight, multiple targets. Confirmed Vampire and Doppelganger presence. Use Incendiaries."


"Roger that."

"On it."

"Shadow here," Grant replied, "The SRSG isn't accurate with torches. Sticking to Talon rounds."

"Roger that," Xander noted. "Activating camouflage. On my mark. GO!"

Part 5

O'Malley and Benson gaped as three blurs moved to engage the Links. One of the 'Vampires' took a head shot and disappeared into dust. The remaining demons turned to see where the shot came from and spotted the two of them, then moved to attack, believing them to be the shooters.

"Oh shit!" O'Malley pulled his pistol and slammed in the silver ammo. Before he could fire, the roar of several Assault Rifles filled the air. The Vampires vanished in a roar of fire, while the Doppelgangers suddenly squealed and began shuddering as the high temperature rounds ignited inside their bodies.

"Nice," O'Malley brought his pistol up and put a second silver round right into the body of a Doppelganger that wouldn't go down. The pistol made a soft hi-pitched sound as the round left the barrel. The Doppelganger screamed as the thermite ignited and began cooking the creature from the inside out.

"Okay, Now I'm happy." O'Malley smirked.

"You're never happy unless you kill something," a gruff voice sounded from the shadows.

"I'm losing that happy feeling." O'Malley turned and pointed his gun at the short figure standing there. "Wanna help me find it again?"

"Forget it, O'Malley," Benson sighed, "Carl already knows that you won't pull the trigger."

"You never know." O'Malley put the gun away. "I might get lucky one day."

"Yeah right," Carl sneered. "Like you'd ever find another link that would trust you not to shoot them."

All of a sudden something approached their location. All Carl could make out was a vaguely humanoid shaped 'nothing' covered in a thin layer of dripping slime.

"EEP!" Carl's eyes widened. "Bye!"

"What the hell is your problem?" O'Malley turned and noticed the slime covered Squads member standing there. "Never mind, I think I know."

"Could you turn off the 'Casper' bit? I think you're scaring the natives," he asked.

The figure removed his helmet to reveal the face of Xander 'Paladin' Harris. "What's got him so spooked?"

"He's not a boogie man?" Carl recovered quickly.

"No he isn't," O'Malley grinned. "And if you weren't such a coward..."

"Hey, I'm a lover not a fighter."

"You're a thief and a con-artist." O'Malley corrected him. "And from what I've heard, lousy in all three capacities."

"That's not what your sister says."

"That's it." O'Malley tackled Carl and the two of them began rolling on the ground trading punches.

Xander noted the resigned, disgusted look on Officer Benson's face and asked, "I guess this a regular occurrence?"

"*Way too regular*," Benson sighed. "Break it up you two. You're making us look bad in front of the feds."

"That's impossible," Carl grinned as he got back to his feet. "Nothing can make O'Malley look any worse than he really is."

Benson's eyes rolled up to heaven as the fight started up again.

Los Angeles Barrens, (Formerly known as Rodeo Drive.)

Xander slowly inched forwards until he could just peer over the top of the ditch. Ahead of him, three Formorian and two Polgara demons were standing over the bodies of the LAPD squad that went in just before they arrived. Ducking back down he said, "Paladin to Rat, you in position yet?"

"Rat here," Casey replied, "I'm in position. Shadow's got the high ground. But I can't spot Razor or Blade."

"Razor here," Brian's voice sounded off; there was no missing the amusement in his voice. "We're in position. Rat looked right through me twice."

"Blade here, I'm in position. Awaiting... Shit! L.T., those cops are still moving!"

Xander popped back up and double-checked the scene. Sure enough one of the Polgara demons had a struggling officer by the neck. Xander quickly brought his rifle up and sighted in on the demon's head. "I can't get a clean shot from here. Shadow?"

"Just say the word L.T.," Grant whispered from his perch. He'd gone up 10 flights of stairs in record time to get into a position where his sniper rifle would do the most good. He thumbed off the safety and let his index finger rest on the trigger.

< Good thing that the electronics in our armor are tied into the sights of our weapons, >, he reflected as he waited for the command to fire, < otherwise, I wouldn't be able to see my sights to aim through. >

"On my mark," Xander replied. "As soon as..."

"You know, you guys just don't take a hint, do you?" Everyone, Demon and Squads members alike turned in shock to stare at the speaker. From the shadows a short, slim girl stepped out. Pulling nasty looking knife from a sheath on her leg, she grinned ferally.

"This is my town."

"Shit," Brian swore, "Is she trying to get herself killed."

Xander's mouth opened and closed a couple of times, as his brain recovered from the shock of seeing this particular lady again. Finally he said, "Nope, she's the Slayer."

"Bull," Jose replied, "The Slayer's a blonde, not a brunette."

"I'll explain later," Xander almost shouted. "Shadow. Take the shot."

Grant's finger slowly squeezed the trigger. The action on his rifle was so smooth that the recoil of the rifle almost came as a shock. Even before the bullet hit, he knew he'd made a clean kill. "Got ya."

The sudden and messy demise of the Polgara demon triggered total pandemonium among the other demons. The three Formorian demons rushed the Slayer, while the other Polgara charged the fallen officers.

Casey and Grant opened fire on the demons from their positions. But because of the presence of the still living officers and the newly arrived Slayer, they could only provide limited cover fire.

Xander and the others quickly charged in. Xander drove the Polgara demon back with a spinning back kick, while Jose and Brian just pulled knives and hit the Formorians from behind, aiming for their vitals. The silver plated blades made quick work of the first two demons, while the third demon suddenly found itself fighting for its life against the Slayer.

Jose and Brian's jaws dropped open at the sight of this slim girl kicking the ass of a creature that had at least 2 feet of height and god knows how many pounds on her. As a final roundhouse kick drove the demon backwards, Jose's hand snapped forwards, hurling his combat knife straight into the creature's heart.

Xander was too busy to notice the Formorian demons going down. He'd been holding his own against the Polgara demon, when one of the downed police officers grabbed his leg. The hand pulled him slightly off balance and before he could recover, the Polgara demon retaliated. The arm-spike that was the Polgara Demon's primary weapon drove straight for Xander's chest!

Part 6

The tip of the spike hit the center of Xander's chest with force of a sledgehammer. Unfortunately for the Polgara Demon, the armor Xander was wearing proved to be stronger than the material the spike was made of. With a loud crack, the spike splintered into a hundred pieces as the Polgara demon howled in pain.

The force of the blow was still sufficient to send Xander flying. Tucking and rolling, Xander took most of the landing on his shoulders and quickly bounced back to his feet.

As soon as Xander was thrown clear of her field of fire, Casey sent a quick three round burst straight into the Demon's center mass. The explosive rounds did their job perfectly, entering in a triangular pattern and exiting in a spray of body parts. The Demon slumped to the ground without another sound.

Xander checked the downed officers, and after making sure they were still alive, he keyed his radio. "Paladin to Med-evac, I have downed police in the Barrens, Map coordinates 15 alpha. Request emergency pickup ASAP."

Each of the Squads members switched their suit to the 'uniform' mode and removed their helmets. The Slayer watched as each person flickered into full view, a small smile dancing on her lips.

"Way cool," she smiled and sauntered over to where the last member of the team was removing his helmet. "Hey, *Paladin*, that was one wicked hit you took. You O.K.?"

"Five by five, Faith," Xander grinned as he turned around.

"Hell," Faith grinned back, then jumped into Xander's arms. Xander barely managed to keep his balance as Faith wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck, before pulling him into a long, very intense liplock.

"A friend of yours, L.T.?" Casey asked with a smirk.

"Mmm," Xander managed mumble as he pried Faith off of him. The faint blush on his face telegraphed to everyone how embarrassed he was. "People, meet Faith, the 'Vampire Slayer'."

"Hold it." Brian paused in his first aid to the surviving officers and shook his head in bewilderment, "I thought the Slayer's name was Buffy?"

"And from what I heard," Casey chimed in as she finished bandaging one of the other officers, "there's only supposed to be one Slayer at a time?"

"Well, that got changed by boytoy here," Faith pointed her thumb at Xander.

"Boytoy?" Casey smirked. "L.T.?"

"Long story short," Xander was looking everywhere but into his team's eyes, "Buffy was supposed to die one night. She did die, but I helped revive her with CPR. So now there's two slayers instead of one. And the first one of you to repeat the 'boytoy' remark gets a free transfer to Antarctica. Immediately"

"Cool," Brian shrugged, then turned to Faith. "So you and the L.T. were an item?"

"Nope," Faith almost laughed at the idea, then she took a closer look at Xander. "I think that was my loss, though."

"So what about the boy... mmphhh!?" Jose suddenly found it impossible to speak as Brian's hand effectively covered his mouth.

"Antarctica. Remember?" Brian said quietly. "I *don't* think the L.T. was joking."

The sound of the Med-evac Choppers arriving ended the conversation as the team got the surviving officers ready for transport.


We spent about a week more in L.A. helping the Special Unit clear up a Scourge nest that was giving them trouble in the Barrens. I'd heard Faith was in L.A. helping out Deadboy, so it wasn't really that big a surprise to see her.

Despite her gung-ho greeting, she'd actually changed quite a bit since the last time we saw each other. She'd lost a lot over the last few years and she was making the most of her second chance.

I spent so much time with her catching up on all of the Scoobies that the rest of the unit started to call her my 'girlfriend'. That was closer to the truth than most of them realized. I didn't fall in love with her but I could have.

Seeing Faith again was one of the two highpoints of our visit to L.A. The other was when Angel paid us a visit.


"Jose, I'm telling you this a perfect way to verify a vamp." Brian held up a small framework for the other squad members to see. "Two mirrors, set at just the right angles, attached to the sight of your gun, and voila!"

Brian finished connecting the makeshift design to his pistol and held it out. A steady giggling from the couch caused him glare at the source of the noise. "Something funny, Case?"

"What do you think the infra-red on your helmet is for, Genius?" Casey kept snickering. "Vamps are room-temperature, remember?"

"Bro," Jose was smiling now. "You been watching that vamp movie 'Ultra-violet' 'gain haven't you?"

"It works!" Brian defended his invention.

"But the IR in the helm... Who are you?" Casey eyed the stranger that just entered the rec room. Dark wavy black hair, long black overcoat. <Sheesh, he looks like a 'Lost Boys' reject.>

Everyone turned to stare at the newcomer. Brian instinctively moved to cover the stranger with his gun. What he saw (or rather didn't see) through his modified sight, stunned him.

"I'm looking for Alexander Harris," the stranger started to say when Brian suddenly interrupted him.

"Vampire!" Brian's shout resulted in both Casey and Jose drawing their pistols and covering the Stranger.

"Whoa!" The Stranger dove behind the couch, as all three of them opened fire. "I'm a friend!"

"Tell me another one fangface," Casey growled as she stepped around the couch and put the gun right into the stranger's face.

Xander and Grant arrived just in time to hear the stranger repeat.

"I'm telling you, I'm a friend of Xander Harris'."

"With friends like you, who needs enemas," Xander said from the doorway. He was slowly putting his pistol back into its holster. "Hey, Deadboy."

"You know this guy, L.T.?" Grant asked incredulously, glancing towards Xander.

"His name's Angel," Xander smiled, "Last I heard he was one of the good guys. Sorta."

"Sorta?" Jose repeated, as eased his gun back into its holster. "A vampire that's sorta one of the good guys?"

"Here we go again," Xander sighed, then told the story of Angelus and how the gypsies cursed him with his soul. "So now he's Angel, and one of the good guys."

Brian and Casey put their pistols away. "How did you get past Security?"

"I know the Special Unit Commander," Angel answered. "She's an old friend of mine."

"And speak of the devil," Xander grinned as Capt. Kate Lockley of the LAPD. Special Unit burst into the room with five of her officers.

"What the hell is going on here!?" Kate shouted as she noticed the lack of hostiles in the room.

"Well, you should have warned us that Deadboy was coming here," Xander shrugged. He walked over to the wall and examined the bullet holes. "Three in the head, three in the chest... I'm not even going to ask who put the three in the crotch."

"Actually, L.T.," Jose hastened to explain. "We all kinda walked the bullets up the target area. He just barely got out of the way."

Most of the males in the group eyed the set of bullet-holes nearest the floor and winced. Angel actually looked a little green at just how close he came that time.

"So..." Xander started.

"Don't call me Deadboy again," Angel warned.

"Ri-i-i-ght," Xander drew out the word slightly. "So, what brings you here."

"Faith told me you were here," Angel replied. "I need your help. Doyle's had one of his visions."

"Oh great," Xander sighed. "What world ending disaster is happening now?"

"Not exactly sure," Angel admitted. "All we can tell is, it's big and it's going to happen in Sunnydale."

"Sunnydale..." Xander sighed. "Home sweet Hellmouth. I thought that things had quieted down there?"

"For the most part," Angel nodded. "Just the occasional Rogue Vampire and the odd demon or two. Enough to keep Buffy busy but not much more."

"So, just how serious is this?" Xander asked.

"If what Doyle says is true," Angel replied, "We're talking 'end of the world' big."

"Oh, great." Xander sighed. "Another apocalypse. OK, let me get clearance to go and we'll head out."

"Already got it," Angel replied. When Xander stared at him, his eyebrows upraised, he answered defensively, "I asked Kate to put the request through. OK?"

"Got it."

"So..." Casey grinned, "We're going to your old home town, huh?"

"Yeah," Xander nodded, "back to dear old Sunnyhell."


There are a couple of things I guess I should admit.

I never told the Scoobies exactly what I was doing. I mean they knew I was in the Military and all, but I just never got around to telling them about the squads. There wasn't any real reason *not* to tell them. I guess, I just didn't want them to worry. Now they were about to find out the truth.

In retrospect I think they took it pretty good.

Part 7

Sunnydale Memorial Cemetery

Casey and the others looked around the dark grounds trying to figure out why they were walking in a cemetery at close to midnight. It wasn't a hunting sweep, since except for some small arms all five of them had left their gear back at the SU2 Headquarters for Sunnydale.

Finally she couldn't resist anymore and asked, "Okay, LT. What's the deal?"


"Yeah," Jose joined the conversation. "Why are we walking through an old cemetery in the middle of the night?"

"Just feeling a little nostalgic." Xander smiled.

"So we're in a cemetery cuz you wanna relive your childhood?" Brian frowned. "Boss man, I think you're... hey, this wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the Slayer would it?"

"Well, I'll be..." Jose said in mock amazement. "He does have a functioning brain after all."

"No shit Sherlock," Grant said at the same time. "I mean, how many times has the LT told us about patrolling with the Slayer?"

"You do realize, L.T.," Casey patted Xander on the back. "It's kinda sad when you think about it."

"You mean that my fondest memories of this town are wandering through cemeteries looking for Vamps?" Xander grinned. "Could've been worse. At least I had the Scoobies around."

"The who?" Jose chuckled as he got the reference. "Oh man, lemme guess. You were Shaggy, right? Always making with the lame jokes."

"Hey!" Xander frowned slightly at Jose's teasing. "They weren't all lame."

"OK," Casey nodded, getting into the spirit of the conversation. "So you were Shaggy, I'm guessing from the way you talked about them, that The Slayer is Daphne and Willow..? Willow is Velma. So who were Fred and Scooby?"

"Huh." Xander shrugged. "I guess Giles was Fred, he was always the one with the plans in the old days. Or maybe Buffy was Fred and Giles was Daphne?"

Xander shuddered slightly. "Ugh, bad mental image there. But Oz had to be Scooby."

"Oz? As in the Wonderful Wizard?" Brian asked with a frown.

"Nah," Xander shook his head. "Just your typical teenage, rock- wannabe werewolf."

"Huh!?" Everyone turned just in time to see something that they'd never thought to see. Grant had been so stunned by Xander's statement that he'd managed to trip over a rock and landed face first into the muddy ground.

"I don't believe it," Brian snickered. "The great white hunter; the guy that can walk across a floor covered in potato chips and not make a sound, on his face in the mud because of a lousy tree root?"

"That's not..." Grant started to say, then apparently changed his mind. "L.T. You ever hear of a hunter named, 'Cain'?"

"That jerk?" Xander almost stumbled in his tracks. "He blew into Sunnydale a few years back, tried to kill Oz. If I remember correctly, Buffy kicked his round ass square. Why?"

"I'll be damned," Grant said to himself. "Uncle Cain wasn't joking."

"You're related to that asshole?" Xander stopped dead in his tracks.

"Well, yeah," Grant shrugged, a look of embarrassment on his face. "He's the black sheep of the family. The rest of the family stopped hunting animals on the protected species list. He kept on going even though it was illegal, then one day he turned up and told everyone he had a new gig hunting werewolves, offered my dad a stake. We all figured he was nuts."

"Okay ," Jose nodded. "So why are you so shocked now? I mean, you had to have realized that he wasn't nuts when all the other big bads started appearing?"

"That's not it," Grant started grinning. "He showed up at our last reunion, totally blasted out of his mind. Started rambling on about some little girl who stopped him from killing a were. Said the girl actually bent the barrel of his rifle with her bare hands. That was the Slayer, wasn't it?"

"That was the Buffster, alright." Xander nodded. "She really didn't like him."

"Good for her." Grant kept smiling. "He is an asshole."

"Say. L.T." Jose looked around again. "Just out of curiosity if we're hunting vamps, why aren't we in full gear?"

"No sense tipping our hand early," Xander shrugged. "Besides, last I heard things had gone pretty quiet in Sunnyhell."

"I think someone forgot to tell them that." Casey nodded to a group of 'people' approaching them.

"Well, well, well." The blonde girl in the lead of the group smiled at Xander. "If it isn't the doofus."

"Harmony?" Xander goggled at the former member of Cordelia's clique.

"Yeah," Harmony grinned. "These are my minions."

What happened next caused everyone, vampires and humans, to gape in shock. Xander Harris literally fell over laughing hysterically.


Ok, so sue me. The idea of Harmony being a master vampire, much less the whole concept of her having minions, struck me as the funniest thing I'd heard in years. My squad must have thought I'd lost my mind. I don't really care what Harmony thought, but she must have been pissed.


"What's so funny?" Harmony screeched as Xander kept laughing.

"J... Ju... Just th... the i... idea of you. Heh! Minions," Xander managed to gasp out. "Oh god."

"That's it," Harmony screamed, "Kill Him! Lots!"

"Oh shit!" Grant and Casey started to move to cover Xander, when he kicked up and landed on his feet.

"You know," Xander still had a goofy grin on his face, "I'm going to enjoy kicking your ass."

"Oh please!" Harmony looked at her 'minions'. "Well?"

"What?" One of the vampires looked puzzled for a second. "OH!"

The vampires half-heartedly rushed the small group of humans facing them. They stumbled to a halt again as the humans simply grinned and pulled out combat knives.

"Uh," the vamp turned back to Harmony. "Knives can't hurt us, right?"

"AGH!" Harmony actually shouted up to the heavens, "Why can't I get good minions!?"

"I can think of a few good reasons," Xander shook his head. "Has something to do with picking looks over brains. But... why bother?"

In one fast move, Xander buried his blade into vampire closest to him. The vampire in question grinned smugly at him for a second, then its eyes widened in shock before turning to dust.

"How did you do that?" Harmony asked, her curiosity momentarily overwhelming her desire to have Xander and company killed.

Xander turned the blade slowly so that the wooden lamination along one side of the blade was slowly revealed to the vampires.

"Oh shit!" Harmony looked a bit panicky at the grin on Xander's face.

"Time for the vampies to go bye-bye," Casey taunted them.

"Get them!" Harmony shouted.

The eleven vampires charged headlong into the squad. Five of them rushed Xander, while another three decided to hedge their bets and take on the smallest member of the squad first. The rest rushed at three remaining squad members like a football blitz play.

Jose and Brian exchanged a quick glance of disbelief at the sheer stupidity of the vamps attacking them before dropping to one knee and skewering the vampires rushing them.

Grant sidestepped his attacker and struck out with a classic knife- hand horizontal strike. The leading edge of his hand caught the vampire just below its chin, the force of the blow itself nearly taking the vampire's head. The vampire flipped into the air and landed hard on its back. Before it could get back on its feet, Grant dusted it.

Casey shifted her weight slightly drawing one leg back, she waited in a stance that would have told anyone with half a brain what was coming. The three vampires coming at her didn't even pause until the lead vamp received a kick between the legs that lifted him two feet into the air.

Before the first vampire even hit the ground, Casey pivoted and buried her blade into the second vampire's heart. Releasing the hilt, she continued through the pivot and used her left hand in a flat palm strike that sent the third vampire flying back the way he came.

The third vampire, an ex-jock named Tyler, landed hard almost at Harmony's feet. As he dragged himself onto his hands and knees, he said, "Harm, she's gotta be the Slayer."

When he didn't receive an answer, Tyler looked around, he could just make out Harmony's backside as she ran for her un-life.

"What the?"

"Hey, big boy," Casey's voice interrupted his confusion, "C'mon, I haven't got all day."

Tyler stood to face her when the sounds of gunfire and someone screaming caught his attention. He managed to turn quickly enough to see the five vampires facing Xander vanish in a flash of fire.

"How'd you do that?"


While the others handled their opponents with hand-to-hand combat, Xander reviewed his options and went for the expedient approach. Dropping his knife and drawing his pistol, he put two bullets each into the five vampires.

One of the vampires managed to stagger to his feet before the burning sensations registered. Small gouts of flame shot from one of the bullet holes in each vampire. They started to scream as the flames took hold and they immediately burned to ash.

Xander holstered his pistol and crouched to grab his knife when a gruff voice asked, "How'd you do that?"

Xander turned an evil grin on the last remaining vampire and answered, "Every other round's a magnesium bullet. We call them 'torches'."

Tyler looked at the five people surrounding him. "I don't suppose there's anyway I can talk you out of killing me right?"

"He must have been the smart one of the group," Casey said, and then she shrugged. "Of course, with these morons that's not saying much."

"Why, you..." Tyler turned around and saw Casey drop into a crouch. As he completed his turn, Casey launched herself at him in a perfect 'Goldberg' spear.

"Yo, L.T.!" Jose shook his head. "I warned you about letting her watch too much WWF."

"Yeah, I know." Xander winced as Casey hooked her arm into the vampire's crotch. "Dammit, Rat. Just dust him already!"

"You got it, L.T." Casey shouted back as she buried her knife into the vamp's heart.

"Hey?" Casey said as she rejoined the others. "Who got the air-head blonde?"

All four men looked at each other in puzzled shock. Finally, Xander groaned. "Are you telling me that we let a ditz like Harmony get away? Buff's never going to let me live this one down."

Part 08

Grant eyed the ground in front of them for several moments. Everyone waited as he knelt down and started slowly going over the ground.

"She went that way." Grant got up and started running towards the street.

"How the hell does he do that?" Jose asked as they followed the tracker.

"Might as well ask Rat how she gets her hands all that stuff we need," Brian replied.

"Fell off the back of a truck," Casey muttered.

"Yeah, sure..." Jose grinned. "And my momma's the Queen of Ireland."

Casey flipped Jose a middle-fingered salute as they caught up to Grant.

"Which way?" Xander asked.

"Not sure yet," Grant growled, "I hate tracking in the city. There's just too much damned concrete."

"So we lost her." Casey's growl was almost as impressive as Grant's. "*I* hate it when they get away from us."

"She didn't get far," Grant smiled wolfishly, "Inside that building."

"How the hell?" Casey's eyes scanned the ground. What little training they did have in tracking a target hadn't covered following a trail over concrete, so she came up with zip. "How do you know?"

Grant nodded at the central patch of light created by a streetlamp, "There's a faint footprint, same size and shape as the shoes the ditz was wearing."

Casey knelt down and examined the print. "Damn. I can barely even see it."

Xander ignored the print, concentrating instead on the building. "This is a nest."

Jose followed Xander's gaze to the blacked out windows. Small pinpoints of light shone through in areas where the paint had been scratched. "L.T.'s right. So, do we go in with guns blazing?"

Xander shook his head. "Nope, first we go get our gear then we go in with guns blazing."


Harmony raced through the safe house looking around frantically. Finally she saw the person she was looking for sitting and talking with an unfamiliar figure.

"The other Slayer is in town," she told them frantically.

"Are you certain about that?" The stranger asked.

"Yeah," Harmony nodded. "She's with that dweeb Harris. They took out all my minions."

"Bloody hell," Spike shook his head. "Nancy boy Harris grew a set?"

"Them and their friends wiped out all of my minions," Harmony wailed. "It isn't fair!"

"There, there, ducks." Spike patted Harmony on the back, "We'll get even with them. But for now, we'd better vacate the premises before the Slayer arrives."

"Too bloody right," the stranger nodded. "Time to go."


Buffy Summers began yet another circuit through the lobby of the Sunnydale SU2 headquarters. "So where are they?"

"The DH squad dropped off their things and went right back out," Jacob Moreland, the SU-2 desk sergeant answered, "Their leader, a Lieutenant Paladin, said he was homesick or something like that."

"Great," Riley shook his head, "Probably some butter-bar asshole right out of West Point."

"I'm... I'm certain that the Military is ah... aware of the precarious nature of the situation," Giles interjected. "Besides, Faith claimed that this Lt. Paladin was very good."

"But the question is, what is he good at?" Willow joked, then blushed as everyone turned to stare at her. "Did I say that outloud?"

"Sure did, Will," Buffy grinned. "So, has anyone met this Lt. Paladin?"

"We all have, B," Faith said with a big grin as she and Angel joined the group. "Even you."

"I have?" Buffy frowned, trying to remember if she'd ever been introduced to any military officers with that name. "I think I'd remember someone with a name like that."

"Only if that's their real name," Faith smirked.

"Real name?" Buffy frowned, her eyes narrowed as she discarded the first person that came to mind. "Homesick? Faith? Are you trying to tell me? No! Couldn't be."

"What couldn't be?" Xander asked as he and his squad entered the lobby.

"Xander!" Willow was just a split second ahead of Buffy in throwing herself at Xander and catching him in bear hug. After several, 'I can't believe its you's, and 'I'm so glad to see you's, the two women starting hitting Xander over his shoulders and head. The blows weren't that hard, just enough, that coupled with the cries of 'Why didn't you tell us?' and 'You're not supposed to keep secrets from me', Xander understood they were upset with his keeping the Squads connection a secret.

The Squad watched their fearless leader vanish under the flailing fists of his two friends. While, Casey and Brian managed to downplay their amusement to just grinning, Jose and Grant were both almost on the floor laughing.

"Damn," Brian shook his head. "How the hell does the L.T. do it?"

"Do what?" Casey asked puzzled.

"First Faith, then that secretary of Angel's. What's her name, Cordy? Now these two. How the hell does he manage to get so many hot..."

Brian might have occasionally acted like an idiot but he wasn't so dense that he missed the glare Casey was giving him.

"Forget I said anything," he muttered.

"Like hell," Casey growled. "You're going to pay for that remark. Finished or not."

"Damn." Brian shook his head. He finally turned his attention back to the Scoobies. The hitting phase was over and Xander was now fully into the 'Groveling phase'.

"I wonder how long this'll be?" Jose managed gasp out.

Grant finally stopped laughing. "Until they're sure the L.T.'s groveled enough."

"We don't have time for that much groveling," Casey's grin got nasty. "HEY L.T.!"

Xander stopped in mid-grovel. As he realized just how much ammunition he's given his squad, he actually winced. <I am never going to live this down.>

"Yeah?" He answered Casey, as Buffy and Willow shot him apologetic glances for embarrassing him in front of his men.

"We've still got a nest to clear out. Remember?" Casey cocked her head slightly sideways, her grin still firmly in place.

"Oh yeah!" Xander straightened up and ran towards the locker rooms.

The five soldiers quickly stripped off their BDUs, totally oblivious to the show they were giving the others.

"My oh my," Faith's face wore a wide smile as she openly ogled the soldiers. "Boytoy's gone hardcore."

"Get your mind out of the gutter, Faith," Buffy said as she tore her own eyes from Xander's form. Glancing around, she could see both Cordelia and Willow sneaking peeks at, what she presumed was Xander's nearly nude body.

"Sorry, B. But that's too far a trip right now," Faith replied with a grin. "'Sides, I'm enjoying the view from there."

As the squad's battle armor made its appearance, Riley couldn't hold back a laugh. "Oh great it's the..."

"Yeah, yeah." Casey could hardly keep the sneer out of her voice. "Yadda yadda, 'Oh look! It's the Power Rangers,' right?"

"Uhm..." Riley shrugged, and didn't say anything.

"Jeez," Casey shook her head as she put on her torso armor. "Just once, I'd like to hear something more original that that."

"Rope it in, Rat," Xander chastised her as he locked the last of his armor into place. "It isn't Huck's fault that he doesn't have an imagination."

Casey gave off an unladylike snort as the others chuckled over Xander's new nickname for Finn.

"Yeah, Rat," Jose kept smiling. "Just like it's not our fault that idiot Walsh's chemical regimen made it impossible for the Initiative soldiers to use the Alpha treatment."

"Hey!" Riley started angrily, only to be cut off by Grant.

"Forget about it, *Huck*," Grant shook his head in warning. "Everyone in the Alphas knows about the ADAM project and how Walsh started playing Frankenstein and got killed by her own creation. You were just lucky ADAM wasn't one hundred percent functional at the time. Besides didn't you hear about the rest?"

"What rest?" Finn asked.


Xander sighed, "Look, Riley. After the Buffster and the SU2 units took out ADAM, one of the SU2 Biologists did a complete autopsy. Guess what? The chemical super-charger that Walsh was using on you guys? They found the same compounds in ADAM. And some of those compounds had nothing to do with increasing fighting potential."

"So what does that have to do with anything?" Riley asked still not getting it.

"As far as the biologist could figure out the other chemicals were designed to prepare a human body to accept non-human replacement parts."

"No..." Riley's eyes widened as he finally understood what Xander was getting at. "No freaking way! You're lying! Professor Walsh would never have done that to us!"

Xander eyed Riley sadly. "Nope, I've got no reason to lie. Walsh was setting the Initiative up as her own private Frankenstein factory."

With that Xander and the Squad activated their armor and headed out the door. Leaving behind a badly shaken Riley Finn.


Ok, I admit it. We were a bit hard on Finn. The simple truth is that the Alpha's had and still have a very low opinion of the Initiative's soldiers. The sheer stupidity of some the weapons they used only made it worse. I mean, Jeez! their primary weapon, even after the troubles started, was still a glorified taser for Christ's sake.


Sunnydale Eternal Rest Cemetery

Special Unit 2 officer Sharon Black and her partner did a cursory sweep through the Cemetery grounds. From the shadows a hooded figure watched with a bored look on his face. As the two officers disappeared in the distance, he stepped into the light and a sneer went across his face.

"Pathetic, absolutely pathetic." He walked along the graveyard until he came to stop in front of a nondescript grave. "Ah here they are."

"Rise and shine boys." The figure raised one arm in a lifting motion.

Five sets of arms burst from the grave, slowly but inexorably the rotting limbs clawed and pulled until the bodies they were attached to were free from the ground.

As each figure got to its feet, the decay seemed disappear leaving the individual, whole and healthy looking. Five individuals, four teenagers and one middle-aged man, looked around. The only sign they'd been buried were the tattered clothes each person was wearing.

"What the hell?" The largest of them looked around. "What's going on? Last thing I remember is Harris dropping a vending machine on me."

"Harris beat all of us," Jack O'Toole answered. "What I want to know is, how the hell did we get brought back?"

"The correct question is who brought you back, not how?" The robed figure suggested as he stepped forward.

"Who are you people?" the middle-aged man asked in confusion.

"No one to concern yourself with," the robed figured replied calmly as he walked around the group once. "Actually I just needed the boys here. You see, the Mayor has been dropping any excess bodies he didn't want found into already dug graves. Yours in this case, I could have just brought them but I decided I needed you to make a point."

"I still don't..." The man's voice trailed off as his body began decaying again. He tried to scream but only managed to open and close his mouth helplessly as he slowly fell apart.

"I trust you get the message?"

"Yeah," O'Toole nodded. "You brought us out from the grave and you can send us back to the grave."

"Precisely," the Robed figure smiled, "Now, I have a little job for you."

"All I want is another shot at that punk, Harris," O'Toole growled.

"Funny, you should say that." The robed placed an arm around Jack's shoulders and started leading him out of the Graveyard. "You see Alexander Harris is precisely who I wanted you to help me with."

Part 09

"So what's the plan?" Buffy asked as they arrived just out of sight of the four-story building containing the 'nest'.

"Normally we'd coordinate with the SU2 squads," Casey replied offhandedly. "But, from what I've heard, Sunnydale's SU2 consists of exactly ten people. And we've only got three of them here. I don't think that's going to work."

"That's because Buffy and my team provide the additional muscle that SU2 needs," Riley explained. "I can have three squads of men here in about fifteen minutes."

"Do it," Xander ordered. "Rat, you're with Huck. Buffy, you and Faith are with Razor and me. Blade, help Angel setup a defensive perimeter around the building. Shadow's got the high ground."

"You got it, L.T." Brian nodded and headed off with Angel to talk with the SU2 officer in charge.

"Why the hell did I get stuck with the GI jokes?" Casey grumbled to herself as she waited for Riley to call in the reinforcements.

Buffy followed right behind Xander as he headed over to the building next door to the 'nest'. Without breaking stride, Xander ignored the decrepit elevator and started up the five flights of stairs to the roof.

"Hey, Boytoy," Faith started as they arrived on the roof. "Not to sound like I don't have any confidence in you, but you do have a plan, right?"

"Always do, Faith." Xander took his helmet off while he waited. He pulled out a pair of small radios from his equipment pouch and passed them to Buffy and Faith. "Standard sweep and clear. Casey and the Initiative take the first floor and cut off any escape routes. Shadow'll put himself into a spot where he can cover most of the roads, in case someone gets past Blade, the Scoobies and the SU2 personnel."

"And we go in from the roof?" Buffy asked as she fit the transceiver to her ear.

"Yep." Jose answered for Xander, who was peering over the side of the building. "What are you two carrying anyway?"

Buffy held up Mr. Pointy, while Faith pulled a more vicious looking version of their combat blades.

"Oh, for the love of..." Jose turned his head. "Goddamnit L.T.!"

"Yeah, I noticed." Xander said as he shook his head. "Sorry, my fault. I've gotten too used to working with people who carry their own guns."

He reached down and pulled out his Berretta from its holster. After making the sure the safety was on, he passed it over to Faith.

"It's already got one in the pipe," Xander told her.

Faith nodded and held the gun the way Xander had shown her, one- handed, with her trigger finger resting on the side of the slide instead of inside the trigger guard.

"I know Faith can handle a pistol. But what about you, Buff?" Xander asked Buffy.

"Riley's been showing me how to handle almost everything in the Initiative arsenal," Buffy replied with a grin. "I think he was surprised when we got to the rocket launchers."

"What?" Jose only just managed to keep his query below a shout. He almost dropped the pistol that he was passing to Buffy.

Buffy, Faith and Xander began laughing softly at Razor's bewilderment.

"Boytoy here showed her how fire a Strella back when they were in High School."

"L.T.?" Jose looked totally lost.

"Let's just say it was an emergency," Xander replied, trying to brush over the whole incident. "We needed to take out a really nasty demon."

"Right," Jose shook his head. "Man, I knew you weren't telling us the good stories."

"Did he tell you the one about the Jhe Demons?" Faith asked with a wicked grin on her face.

"Nope," Jose shook his head. "Something special about that one?"

"Don't you dare..." Xander warned.

"Sorry, Xan." If anything, Faith's grin got nastier. "You can't send me to Antarctica."

"Somebody just kill me now," Xander asked dramatically.

"These female Demons were trying to open the Hellmouth," Faith started her explanation, the grin on her face getting even wider, if that were possible. "I got myself cornered by one of these Hell Bitches and figured I was a goner, 'cause she was kicking my ass, when Boytoy here, pulls a Deathrace 2000 and rams the bitch with his car. After that we went back to my place and..."

Buffy couldn't help giggling over the complete look of mortification that crossed Xander's face while Faith told Jose about their close encounter. Xander heard the laughter and the look of embarrassment on his face vanished, replaced by a promise of retribution.

"Man o man." Jose shook his head ruefully. He gave Faith the once over and asked. "And the L.T. let someone like you slip out of his grasp?"

"I already told you, it wasn't Boytoy's fault we never got together, it was mine."

"Yeah, well I still... Hang on." Jose turned his attention to listening to his com system.

Over the radios Casey reported, "L.T. we're going in sixty."

Xander answered, "Got it, Rat. Moving in one minute. "

"Show time," Xander announced as he put his helmet back on.

"Quick question," Faith said as they got to their feet.

"Ask away," Xander replied as he thumbed the safety on his combat rifle.

"Why not use that Casper deal?"

"We don't use the camo-field in mixed unit actions," Jose answered for Xander. "It's too easy to be mistaken for a hostile."

"Casper deal?" Buffy asked.

"I'II show you later," Xander replied as he looked over the edge of the building. "Okay, Rat and the Initiative toy soldiers are going in now."

"Let's go!" Jose said excitedly, adrenaline already pumping through his system.

Buffy watched in shock as Xander and Brian ran to the edge of the building and jumped off!

"Have they lost their minds?" Buffy ran to edge in time to see the two stand back up on the roof of the 'nest'.

"What are you waiting for, B?" Faith asked as she made the jump.

"She hasn't changed that much," Buffy groused under her breath as she joined the others on the top of the 'nest'."

"More than you think," Xander replied, his helmet picking up her barely audible muttering. "Everyone ready?"

Buffy and Faith nodded, while Jose just tightened his grip on his rifle.

"We're in," Casey's voice came over the radio. "Here they come!"

The muted sounds of gunfire were heard from the radios and like a reversed echo the unfiltered sound roared through the air a split second later.

"Let's go." Xander turned and noticed the roof door knob start to turn. "Ah hell."

Xander's foot snapped forward, hitting the heavy door with enough force to send it and the vampire standing behind it backward down the stairs.

Xander and Jose rushed down the stairs. Xander hugged the right wall and Jose following a step behind him hugged the left. The vampire was just climbing out from under the door when Xander put a burst from his assault weapon into its chest, dusting it immediately. Faith and Buffy followed closely behind, slightly unsure of what to do.

"Cover our backs," Xander whispered to them softly as they paused in front of the first door. Nodding to Jose, he held up three fingers.

On the silent count of three, Xander kicked in the door and rushed into the room. He could hear Jose right behind him, moving to cover his slice of the pie. That's when both of them heard the beep.

At the same moment, Casey's voice came over the radio. "L.T. There's something funny about the lights."

Xander looked up at the fluorescent lights of the room. Secured to the side of each light was a small black rectangular shape that didn't belong there. His shot back down to the small black box that had made the beeping noise earlier. On the box a small digital display was changing from one zero one to sixty. His eyes widened and he started yelling.



Corporal Casey 'Packrat' Yurimoto was still mentally grousing to herself as the rest of the Initiative's back-ups arrived.

<Why the hell am I the one that gets stuck babysitting the toy- soldiers?> she asked herself for the umpteenth time. <I just hope that they at least bring real guns.>

Her musing was cut off by the arrival of the back up team.

"Hey boss man." Graham greeted Riley as he leapt out of the van. "What's the sitrep? All we were told was to bring the anti-vamp ammo."

"We got an active nest," Riley told his men. "The Demon Hunter squad has point on this. Squad member 'Packrat' is in charge of the team entering at ground level."

Casey stepped forward drawing everyone's attention. "This is a standard sweep and clear. Four man teams. Keep radio contact at all times. Finn, take two teams and go in through the back. We go in, in one minute. Any questions?"

When everyone shook their heads, Casey contacted Xander. "L.T., we're going in sixty."

"Got it, Rat. Moving in one minute," Xander answered.

Casey waited at front entrance for the required sixty seconds then smashed the door into so much kindling. The vampires that rushed out into lobby to investigate the sounds were dusted by the first volley from the attackers.

The attackers quickly and efficiently broke into four man strike teams. Casey had to admit to herself that the Initiative team was far better trained than she'd given them credit for. They'd cleared the first floor in record time and were just starting up the stairs when she noticed something weird.

"L.T., there's something funny about the lights," she reported.

Everyone followed her gaze up to the lights in the stairwell. One of the Initiative soldiers frowned at the dark shape in the light. "That looks like a Claymore."

"EVAC IN SIXTY! MOVE IT!" Xander shouted over the mike a split second later.

"Ah shit!" Casey yelled. "You heard the L.T.! MOVE!"

Everyone made a rush for the nearest exit. Seeing slight bottleneck at the door, Casey decided to trust her armor and crashed through a window instead. That created a second exit for the soldiers with her to get out through and by the time she'd rolled to her feet, all of the soldiers were out of the building.

A couple of seconds later, a muffled roar shook the building and every window in the building blew outward, showering everyone with glass.

Part 10

Jose did a quick mental assessment of the situation. "L.T., we aren't going to make it to the first floor before the bomb blows."

"I know," Xander replied as he smashed out one of the windows facing the alley. "Bingo!"

"What?" Faith looked out the window and saw the fire escape on building across from them. Grinning she said, "Boytoy, you're crazy."

Blowing Xander a kiss, she took a running jump out of the window and onto the fire escape. A quick kick knocked a nearby window off its frame and she climbed into the building.

Buffy shook her head and growled, "Takes one to know one."

As she made her leap, Faith's voice came over the radio. "I heard that."

Once on the escape, Buffy dove through the window to give Xander and Jose room.

Straightening up, she looked the grinning Faith right in the eyes and said, "Good."

"HEADS UP!" Jose yelled as he came through the window. His tuck and roll nearly bowled both Slayers over.

"Nice one, Razor," Faith said as they helped Jose to his feet.

"Couldn't help it," Jose replied, "The L.T. was..."

The sound of Xander landing on the fire-escape was suddenly drowned out by the oddly muffled roar of the bomb going off. Luckily for the two unarmored Slayers, Xander was pretty much blocking the only window to the room.

"XANDER!" Buffy cried as the young man flew into the room.

"Holy shit, Boytoy!" Faith ran over to where Xander was slowly rolling into a kneeling position. Buffy was less that a step behind her.

"Xander, are you all right?" Buffy asked as she and Faith helped their slightly stunned friend back onto his feet.

"Yeah," Xander nodded, "Boy, lemme tell you something, I'm never going to knock the guy that built this suit again."

As he got to his feet, the two women noticed small marks peppering the back of his armor where the steel ball bearings had hit.

Buffy noticed a small dark spot on material between the shoulder and upper arm pieces. "You're bleeding!"

"Huh?" Xander twisted himself around enough to see the spot. "That's nothing. Doesn't even hurt."

"L.T. You Okay?"

"Yeah, Rat. What's the damage?"

"A few cuts and bruises. A couple of the Initiative people, Graham and Frakes got cut bad enough to require a real doctor, we're med- evacing them now. Oh yeah, and that SU2 officer, Spiner? He broke his arm."

"How'd he manage that?" Jose asked.

"He was a little too enthusiastic about seeking cover." Casey answered. Even over the radio, Xander could hear the laughter in her voice. "He dove over a car and right into the pavement."

"Ouch," Xander winced, "Ok, guys regroup at SU2 headquarters. We've got some planning to do."


Sunnydale SU2 HQ

Grant listened as each member of the Squad told their part of the story. After digesting all the facts, he said, "I'm telling you L.T. the guy who planted that bomb was one sick puppy."

"How so?" Buffy asked. "I mean, O.K. this is the first time someone's tried using a bomb to get rid of us..."

Buffy stopped as Faith started laughing. "What's so funny?"

"Nothing, B." Faith snickered, "It's just that this isn't the first time someone's tried to blow up the Scoobies. Isn't that right, Boytoy?"

"How did you hear about that?" Xander asked, curious.

"Hey, the Mayor had a file on you about a foot thick." Faith shrugged, "It was even thicker than B's. Had some really interesting bits about you, Boytoy."

"Oh really?" Casey and the rest of the squad leaned in, interest perked.

"Hold it!" Xander shook his head. "Before we enter into the humiliate Xander phase of the evening, I wanna know what Grant meant by 'one sick puppy'."

"It's like this, L.T.; normal SU2 procedure is to clear a building floor by floor, starting at ground level."

"Sure," Riley nodded, "SOP."

"If we were following standard SU2 procedure most of our people would have been on the top floor with us when the bomb was activated." Grant continued, "And that where the sick puppy part comes in."

"The timer." Jose shook his head in shock, "That's why that was there."

"Okay," Willow said, "you lost me again."

"A visual timer on a booby trap is senseless." Jose explained, "If you want to blow someone up, you set the bomb to go off as soon as they enter the room. You sure as hell don't have it make a loud beep that attracts everyone's attention to the bright red digital counter on the front."

"Unless you want to make everyone suffer and panic first." Willow suddenly understood. "Because no one can run down four flights of stairs and out the door in under a minute."

"Especially, if there are 20 other people trying to do the same thing." Grant nodded, "But that's not the sickest part."

"There's more?" Casey asked.

"Oh, yeah. I started counting when the L.T. gave the evac order. The bomb blew at forty seconds."

Xander shook his head, "Great, we got a vamp with a sense of humor."

"Well, I'm going to get a shower," Faith suddenly announced, "Fun as all this chatting is, I need to get clean."

"Wait a minute," Casey objected.

"Don't worry," Faith smiled, "I'll dish out the dirt on Boytoy after my shower. Wanna join me?"

Casey's jaw almost hit the floor before she realized that Faith's invitation was directed to Xander.

"I think I'll pass," Xander smiled as Faith sauntered toward the door to the women's shower area. Every male's eyes were locked on her form as she practically strutted through the room.

"Have you lost your mind?" Forrest asked in pure disbelief. "How the hell could you turn an invitation like that down?"

"It wasn't easy," Xander shrugged, "'Sides, Faith didn't really mean it."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that, L.T.," Casey replied, "That sure looked like a come hither look to me."

"Looks like we missed the party."

"I know that voice," Xander announced as he turned to face the new comers. "Officers O'Malley and Benson. What brings you here to armpit of the universe?"

"We've got a situation," O'Malley replied, "SU2 got word that a seriously warped Link was on his way to Sunnydale to cause trouble."

"So why didn't you send word through channels?" Xander asked. "Why the personal visit?"

"Because," Benson replied, "O'Malley and I faced off against this particular Link before. And since we've got some familiarity with it, here we are."

"This Link wouldn't happen to be the type to have a sixty second count down with the timer set to go at twenty seconds, would he?"

"That sounds like our guy," O'Malley informed Xander.

"Hold it," Jose interrupted. "A *Link* that went up against O'Malley and is still breathing?"

"Don't worry," O'Malley replied, "I intend to rectify the situation. As soon as possible."

"So what are we up against?" Buffy asked.

"A Link so old and evil that our resident Link expert suspects that he's the inspiration for the Devil in the bible," Benson explained. "The last time we faced him, he was after a ring that was the source of his power. Now we think he's going to use the Book of Anubis to draw power from the Hellmouth."

"Th... the Book of Anubis?" Giles started, "Good heavens. Th... that book is only a myth. The only mention of it outside of some ancient hieroglyphs is in the journals of Evelyn O..."

"O'Connel, we know." Benson nodded. "It seems the book's been in the safekeeping of the O'Connel's for the last three generations."

"Someone apparently stole it from the O'Connel's private collection. Speaking of which," O'Malley looked around. "Where the hell is Carl?"

"Who's Carl?" Willow asked Xander.

"Carl is a thief, conman, liar and petty larcenist," O'Malley answered for Xander, "He's also a snitch with contacts everywhere. The Captain made us bring him along."

"You also forgot to mention he's a Gnome." Casey elaborated, "Humanoid about one half the size of the average human being."

All of a sudden a loud scream echoed from the women's shower.


"I think we just found Carl." Benson sighed.

"You may have just lost him, too," Willow told them, "If Faith loses her tem..."

Willow never got to finish her sentence. Something vaguely human- shaped crashed through the door, arced gently through the air and landed less than a foot from the group.

"Hello Carl," O'Malley said with a smile. "Having fun?"

"Where is that little perv?" Faith stepped out from the shower area wearing only a towel wrapped around her torso. In her hand was an aluminum baseball bat. "I'm going knock his head off and use his skull for an ashtray."

"I like her." O'Malley smile turned into an even wider grin.

"O'Malley," Carl said trying to hide behind the two SU2 officers. "Help."

"Okay," O'Malley's grin got nasty. He stepped to one side and shoved Carl towards Faith.

"He's over here," he shouted to Faith.

"That's not what he meant," Benson scolded O'Malley.

"I know," O'Malley had a contented smile on his face. The rest of the group looked torn between looks of concern and amusement as the surprisingly limber gnome managed to just barely keep ahead of the dark-haired Slayer's bat.

"We need him," Benson reminded him. "The captain wouldn't have sent him with us if it weren't important."

"You would have to bring that up." O'Malley sighed. "Okay, I'm open to suggestions."

"You grab the perv, and get out of here," Xander replied. "Buffy and I will grab Faith."

"You got it," Benson nodded as she and O'Malley got ready to grab Carl.

"Ready?" Xander asked as Faith, still swearing a blue streak, got closer.

"On three, you get her arms and I'll grab her legs." Buffy replied, "One..."

Faith just narrowly missed Carl with an over hand swing that put a six inch long crack in the concrete floor.

"Two..." Xander continued.

Carl managed to duck under a desk and put another two feet of space between the Slayer and him.

"THREE!!" Buffy shouted as Faith missed another swing. Before she could recover from the missed swing, Xander had her arms pinned to her side in a bear hug, while Buffy almost tackled her legs.

"Lemme go!" Faith shouted as she tried to break free from her friends grip. "I wanna kill that pervert!"

"Now, now Faith." Xander tsked, "No backsliding."

"Who's backsliding?" Faith retorted, "He's a gnome! He's not human and he deserves it!"

"You know..." O'Malley smiled.

"I know, I know." Benson sighed, "You really like her attitude."

"She's a blood-thirsty savage," Carl complained. "Do you know that she threw me through that door? There was no need for that."

"Nothing except the fact that you spying on her," Benson reminded him.

"I wasn't spying," Carl objected, "I was looking for the bathroom, how was I supposed to know that was the girl's shower?"

"Oh, I don't know," O'Malley said with a bored tone in his voice. "How about the sign on the door that said 'Women's locker room'?"


It really took a while for Faith to cool down. Thankfully she was willing to forgive Carl once she did calm down.

As I later learned, that incident the least of our problems that night.


An old burned out warehouse.
The run down section of the Sunnydale business district.

"All right you sodding poofter, you're sure you can get this bleeding chip out of my head right?"

"I'm certain," The robed figure nodded, "And in exchange, you'll help me against the Slayer. Correct?"

"You're damned right, I will." Spike agreed. "Sodding white hats treat me like a bloody pet. I'll show them."

"Excellent," The robe figure gestured and Spike fell to his knees in agony.

"Oh, do get back on your feet." The robed figure said unsympathetically, "It can't have hurt that much."

"S... Screw you." Spike managed to stammer. Then as the pain faded, he asked. "Did it work?"

"Why don't you try it and see for yourself?"

Spike looked around the room, eyeing the various 'people' that their 'benefactor' had recruited. He finally settled on Ethan Rayne. "You'll do."

"Hold on now."

"Just stand still." Spike's fist snapped forward and sent Ethan to the ground. In a reflexive move, Spike started to grab at his head, then stopped, as the expected pain didn't manifest itself.

"Oh YES!!!" Spike threw his hand into the air in triumph. "THE BIG BAD IS BACK!"

Part 11

You'll have to forgive me if this section is a bit brief. Suffice to say that with four of the six most important women in my life telling tales, the Squad got a very candid and totally embarrassing view of my life in Sunnydale. I may never forgive them for mentioning the whole 'Mrs. French' thing.

Anyway back to the really bad stuff. Like we found out later, Spikey boy got dechipped. With the Bleach Blonde wonder on his side, our real enemy got someone who knew most of the Scoobies weaknesses. Like the little Romeo and Juliet thing, that Buffy and Deadboy had going. Of course that's when Ethan Rayne his 'great' idea on how to put a monkey-wrench into our lives.


"Let me get this straight," Spike asked. "We're going to remove the brooding wonder's soul *again* and turn him back to Angelus?"

"That's right." Ethan smiled, "Once we've got Angelus on our side, we'll have the perfect spy."

"What about me?" Spike asked.

"They trust you about as far as I can throw this building," Ethan replied. "Angel, on the other hand…"

"Don't remind me," Spike replied. "Being around him is depressing enough."

"Not that I'm complaining about you bringing me back," Mr. Trick interrupted, "but just to let you know... if I remember correctly from the Mayor's files, the last time Angelus reemerged, he was a few slices short of a loaf. Are you sure we want a slayer-obsessed psycho on the team?"

"That won't matter too much." The robed figure smiled. "He won't have to keep control for very long."

"Right." Ethan picked up the book of Anubis. "Once we have the sacrifice, they haven't got a prayer. How long will it take you to remove Angelus' soul?"

"By tomorrow night," Ethan replied. "The only problem is I'll have to get pretty close to him while he's alone to do it."

Spike smiled evilly. "Leave that to me."


"All right, let me see if I have this correct," Giles asked. "Your enhanced abilities are the result of a Government project similar to the Initiative?"

"Nope." Brian shook his head. "Our enhancements came from people who actually knew what they were doing."

"Play nice," Buffy told them.

"Nothing against your boys, Finn." Xander dropped the insulting nickname, in essence offering an olive branch. "Your people handled themselves well."

"Thanks, I think." Riley mulled over the slightly backhanded compliment. "Say, just how strong are you guys? I mean I've heard stories about Alpha's going up against some demons one on one."

"Probably true." Xander nodded. "Speed and Strength-wise, I'd say we're about level with Buffy and Faith."

"Whoa." Willow thought about that. "Instant Slayers."

"Yeah." Casey grinned. "Comes five to a box, just add a bit of Genetic engineering know how and scads of money."

"Amazing.," Giles shook his head. "I suppose there is a downside to this remarkable achievement?"

All five soldiers looked at each other for several seconds, finally lapsing into an uncomfortable silence.

"I'd say that was a yes," Faith decided., "So Boytoy… Downside?"

"The original seven oh ones eventually showed signs of Megalomania and Paranoia," Xander reported. "It led to them mutinying against their superior officers."

"Part of that was a result of faulty psych tests," Casey reported. "And the final project evaluation also mentions increased alienation due to lack of pain stimulus. That's the reason our pain receptors are only tuned down, not turned off completely."

"You got the evaluation of the original seven oh one project?" Jose asked. "How the hell did you... Never mind I don't wanna know."

Casey gave Jose a saccharine sweet smile. "Then why do you keep asking."

"Before we get too far off the subject," Buffy interjected, "any other downsides?"

Xander looked uncomfortable for a second before muttering, "Morituri Syndrome."

"Excuse me?" Buffy looked confused. "Mora whatsis?"

"Morituri Syndrome," Grant responded. "That's the name the comic book reading idiots at R&D gave to the real drawback to the Alpha program."

"You're gonna have to pardon, Shadow." Jose explained, "He's still a little pissed about a joke the R&D boys played on the first Demon Hunter Squads."

"Huh?" Willow looked around at the now grinning faces of the Squads members.

"You've seen the default black and grey 'uniform' the suit normally projects right?"

"Sure." Now Riley added his two cents in. "Sure beats the baby blue of the unpowered suit."

"Well, some clown in R&D decided to have some fun," Jose continued. "He added a second default pattern that occurred at random intervals. We managed to stop that but the pattern is still stored in the systems hard wired memory."

"So, what's so bad about it?" Faith was now curious as well. "I mean, does it go transparent or something?"

"Get your mind... What am I saying?" Xander shook his head. "That'll never happen. Just show her."

Jose sighed, flipped open the small command control on the left forearm of his suit and punched the command code in. Then he closed his eyes and waited.

As the suit's pattern changed into a very familiar red, white and blue pattern, everyone at the table who wasn't a member of the Squad burst into astonished laughter. Jose quickly changed the suit back to its default mode.

"Oh lord," Faith managed through her laughter. "Those guys in your R&D department need to get out more."

"Look at it this way, Xander," Buffy managed to gasp between laughs. "It could have been worse."

"How?" Xander asked.

"Well," Cordelia finally added her two cents to the conversation. "It could have been a blue, red and gold costume with a cape and a big S right on your chest."

As she heard that, Buffy started laughing again. The members of the Demon hunter squad waited patiently until everyone managed to stop laughing.

"Hey wait," Willow suddenly realized that the original question had never been answered, "What about the downside? That... that Morituri syndrome thingy."

"Damn," Xander muttered softly to himself. Then, sighing, he explained, "The genetic engineering that went into creating the Alphas is slightly incompatible with the human genome."

"Which means?" Buffy prompted.

"Eventually small errors begin to occur during D.N.A. replication," Casey finished for Xander. "Leading to cellular degeneration."

"Wait." Faith straightened up in her chair with a startled expression on her face. "Doctors have a name for that. It's called *Cancer*!"


Ok, I'm not going into everything that was said to me at that point. Suffice to say that if I didn't know that they were mad because they cared about me. I would have been hurt by some of the things that they called me.

Oh, you want an example? Well, 'idiot' and 'moron' were two of the milder ones. 'Suicidal' was also used, as was 'imbecile'. All in all, I'd say the girls impressed even my squad with their repertoire of insults.

Eventually of course, even the four of them had to run out of insults to use.


"Are you done now?" Xander asked the girls as they finally wound down their tirade. "Or did you want to yell at me some more before hearing the rest?"

"There's a rest?" Willow asked.

"Yeah." Xander nodded. "The Brain trust at project seven oh one figured out that the maximum a human can go before the errors become irreversible and maybe lethal is ten years. So they set the maximum time that a DHS member can stay on active duty at five years a pop."

"So what happens after five years?" Buffy asked with a worried look on her face.

"Another set of treatments to reverse the process," Xander replied. "Then a year of downtime with some minor medical therapy to ensure no lingering effects."

"Then we're back in the saddle," Brian finished in a voice that was a passable impersonation of Peter Venkman of the Real Ghostbusters. As every turned to stare at him, he got defensive. "Hey, I liked that show. It was the only good cartoon to come out of the eighties."

"You know something, Shadow?" Jose shook his head. "You can be a real geek at times."

Brian nodded his agreement, then said, "Sides, everyone knows that Transformers is the king."

Jose grinned, and motioned towards Brian. "See? Him, I expect stuff like that from."

"So did I miss anything?" a voice asked from the main hallway.

The SU2 members turned to see who the newcomer was. Standing in the doorway was a blond-haired figure in black pants, a black shirt and wearing a black leather trench coat. Before anyone could make any comments about the newcomers choice of dress, they all saw O'Malley step up behind the man and heard whine of the SU2 gun charging up.

"If I even think you're about to move, you're going to have a hole in you the size of a Mack Truck." O'Malley warned him.

"Look, Mate." Spike held his hands up. "I'm a white hat now. No need to go all Clint Eastwood on me."

"I'll make my own mind up about that," O'Malley replied.

"C'mon," Spike appealed to the others "Somebody explain things to him."

"You mean like the fact that you're a bloodsucking ghoul?" O'Malley pressed the gun into the small of Spike's back. "I already figured that one out from the lack of body heat. What I can't figure out is why you'd be dumb enough to show up here."

"Because he works for us," Buffy explained to O'Malley. "Spike's technically on our side now."

"What?" Xander said in shock.


Okay, so I wasn't the only one who pulled out a few surprises at the Scooby reunion. I still think Willow's was the biggest though, but I'm getting ahead of myself.


"How many souled vamps do you guys know?" Brian asked in shock. "And how many more are there out there?"

"Except for Angel, we've never met any other souled vampires," Willow told him. "Spike doesn't have his soul."

"Wait," Benson asked. "If he's still a *normal* vampire, how can you trust him?"

Almost as an afterthought, she added, "I can't believe I just called someone a *normal* vampire."

"Because the Initiative inserted a chip into Spike's head that prevents him from hurting people," Riley explained. "If he tries to hurt a human, it delivers a pain response equal the pain he intended to inflict."

"Wait," Xander said in amusement. "Are you saying, that...?"

Buffy finished for him, "They did an operation and now, Spikey doesn't want to play with the other puppies."

Spike barely suppressed a growl as the Demon hunter squad and the two SU2 agents had a laugh at his expense. As he watched O'Malley put his gun away, Spike thought, "Just wait, you bloody wankers. You'll get what's coming to you."

"Hey." Xander looked around. "Where's the G-Man?"

"He got a phone call while we were teasing you," Cordelia answered. "Something about the Book of Anubis."

"That's good," Benson said as she sat down. "Because, except for some very fragmented documents, Sean and Jonathan couldn't find anything about it."

"What about the people that the book was stolen from?" Faith asked. "Didn't they know anything?"

"Well we did interview William O'Connel," O'Malley replied, "He's the grandson of Evelyn O'Connel."

"And?" Buffy asked.

"He said that no one in their family was dumb enough to open an ancient Egyptian book of darkness." O'Malley shrugged. "Something about having learned that lesson decades ago. Whatever the hell that means."

"So what do we know about it?" Riley asked.

"Well," Benson tried to remember everything they got from Sean. "According to our experts, the book is a collection of spells dealing with dark magic and blood sacrifice."

"It's more than that," Giles reported as he rejoined the group. He paused a moment upon seeing Spike there, then walked to the head of the table.

"How bad?" Xander asked.

"The book contains one particular spell that opens the, and I quote, 'doorway to fire and pain'." Giles kept his composure by reverted to lecture mode. "Apparently the door opens for one night and during that night, the conjurer, if he has sufficient power, can manipulate the energy of doorway to do nearly anything he can imagine."

"That is *so* not good." Willow closed her eyes. Then she stiffened and shot a panicked look at Giles. "Wait, Giles. Is that spell meant to be used on a dormant Doorway or a closed one?"

"On a dormant one..." Giles stopped and his eyes got wider too. "Oh bloody hell."

"Why am I sure this is a bad thing?" O'Malley asked.

"Because if this spell is used on our Hellmouth then it's entirely possible th... that it won't close," Giles answered.

"Okay..." Carl drew the word out. "This is really not a good thing. I'm outta here."

"Forget it, Carl." O'Malley pulled his gun. "What you're going to do is find out where and when this is supposed to take place."

"And how am I supposed to do that?"

"Be creative." O'Malley put his gun away again. "Contact your fellow lowlifes and degenerates."

"I resent that," Carl objected. "They're not all lowlifes and degenerates."

"No." O'Malley nodded. "Some of them are just lowlifes or degenerates."

Carl started to reply, stopped, thought about it, then shrugged. "I'll go call my peeps. Maybe Willy knows something."

"Why am I not surprised he knows that sleaze?" Faith asked, still a little peeved at Carl.

"If it's underhanded, shady or the least bit crooked, Carl's probably got his finger in there somewhere." O'Malley shrugged. "I have to admit, he does manage to come through for us ever now and then."

"Him?" Faith turned and gave O'Malley the once over. Apparently liking what she saw, she leaned in and smiled. "Hi, I'm Faith… The Vampire Slayer."

"O'Malley." He smiled back. "Detective Nick O'Malley."

"Special Unit Two." Faith finished for him, practically purring she said, "I didn't know that SU2 had such good lookers working for them."

"Ex... Excuse me?" Everyone turned to see a timid looking blonde enter the room. "I... I'm looking for Willow?"

"Tara?" Willow bounced out her seat and kissed the newcomer. "Is something wrong, Sweetie?"

"Sweetie!?" Xander knew that his jaw had practically hit the floor. If he'd been a cartoon character, his jaw would probably be in the basement with Willow's next statement.

"Xander, I want you to meet Tara. I'm living with her."


Like I said, I think Will's surprise was the biggest.

Anyway by the time my brain finally started working again and I managed to at least stop making fish noises, Angel got back from wherever he'd gotten to. And Doyle finally got around to telling us about the vision that brought us here.


Part 12

Angel and Doyle had barely walked into the main hall of the SU2 Headquarters before the questions started.

"Okay, Deadboy," Xander leaned back. "I hauled my team here on your say-so, got ambushed by Harmony of all people and nearly got blown to hell by some sick whacko. Now, you wanna tell us what's going on?"

Doyle stepped forward, "First off, you have to understand that my visions are just flashes. I can tell you what I saw, I can't tell you what led up to it or how to stop it."

"Got it." Casey nodded. "So" What did you see?"

"A group of people fighting vampires and demons," Doyle began. "Angel and his group, the Slayer and her group, the demon hunter squads and a few people that I..."

Doyle's voice trailed off for a second as he noticed Benson and O'Malley. "Them, they were there too."

"Nice to know that we're invited to the party," O'Malley said as sarcastically as possible. "I was beginning to think we were crashing a private function."

"Xander," Giles asked the young man softly, "I was wondering, if by any chance, you have relatives in Chicago?"

Xander frowned. "I'm beginning to wonder that myself."

"Excuse me?" Cordelia interrupted everyone. "Doyle? Visions? End of the world? Remember?"

"Oh! Of course." Giles began cleaning his glasses. "Terribly sorry. Go on."

"Right," Doyle nodded, "anyway, there's a column of light and inside it is a man. Then there's a bloody roar and the whole room explodes in flames. That's it."

"Any idea where it is?" Buffy asked.

"I'm not sure." Doyle admitted, "I know it's in Sunnydale and it's underground some..."

"Nevermind," Xander interrupted him, "We know where it is."

"You do?" Benson asked.

"Yep," Buffy sighed. "The Master's old lair."

"Right over the Hellmouth," Willow finished.

"This is so not good." Cordelia let her head thump softly against the table.

"Okay, we know where." Casey thought for a second. "Anyone got any idea when this is going to happen?"

"Not for at least another week," Giles informed everyone. "I uhm found some references in other books that say that the spell our opponent plans on using can only be cast "on a night when the moon doesn't shine over the mouth of hell"."

"Anything else?" Buffy asked.

"Ye... yes," Giles nodded, "the sacrifice must be the 'one who is the Chosen one's protector and heart'."

"Angel?" Willow guessed.

"No," Giles shook his head, "the sacrifice must be a living being."

"Then it's gotta be me." Riley looked around. "I mean she is my..."

Riley's voice trailed off as he noticed the intense look Angel was giving him. Finally he asked, "Who else could it be?"

"Okay," Xander nodded, "so we put a twenty-four hour guard around Finn and wait for the wacko to try to collect him?"

"You're not using me as bait!" Riley objected.

"I'm not," Xander said evenly, "Even if we didn't put a guard on you, you'd still be a target. I'm just not taking any chances, that's all."

"Oh." Riley calmed down slightly. "So I'm supposed to just sit in my room and wait?"

"Nope," Xander shook his head, "What's the SOP on patrols around here?"

"The what?" Buffy asked.

"Oh man," Casey shook her head, "are you trying to tell me that you've been dating soldier boy here for more than a week and you still don't get military slang?"

"Standard operating procedure," Xander quickly broke in verbally, before he had to physically stop a down and dirty fight between the two women. Knowing that two of them could probably do more damage to each other than any demon or vampire they might meet on patrol. "How do you usually handle patrols?"

"OH!" Willow nodded in understanding. "Six four man patrols, Buffy leads one, Riley another one, Tara and I provide magical expertise for a third, and Giles coordinates everything with the SU2 here."

"Who are the other four patrol leaders?"

"Forrest, Graham, Dante and Carpenter."

"Okay." Xander thought about it for a short while. "It seems like the best way to make sure that 'Mr. I'm gonna open the Hellmouth' doesn't know we know, is to not change the patrols too much. Let's see; Benson and O'Malley, you're with me. Packrat, you , Shadow and Faith go with Finn's team. Blade you provide backup for Buffy. Angel with Forrest, Razor with Graham, Doyle and Gunn with Carpenter and Wesley and Cordelia will back up Dante."

"Wait," Cordelia looked around the table. "Who died and made you boss?"

"A lot of people have died, Cordy," Xander replied, "but Uncle Sam made me boss."

Buffy frowned. "I think I speak for all the other civilians here when I say "Huh?"."

"The ranking officer of the Demon hunter squads has full authority in situations dealing with HST's."

"H S...?" Now Casey frowned at Riley's use of unfamiliar terminology.

"Hostile Sub-Terrestrials," Xander explained. "The Initiative term for all the things that go bump in the night."

"Jeez," Casey shook her head as they headed out, grumbling, "can't you just call them Demons like everyone else?"

"So what are we doing?" Benson asked as she and O'Malley followed Xander out the door.

"We're going to pay Willy a visit," Xander replied with a small smile.


Yeah, I know. Carl was already going to Willy's. But I had another reason for showing up there. And no, it wasn't to make Willy lose control of his bladder. Well, not just that, anyway.


Willy's eyes bugged out as he saw the armored soldier walking through the doorway of his bar. "Oh god, oh god, oh god. A freaking Alpha? Please, god, or whoever's listening anywhere, please don't let him be hunting here."

"Oh. Damn." Willy saw Carl's eyes widen as he saw the people accompanying the Alpha. "This is gonna be bad. Really bad."

"Relax, Willy," the Alpha said as they reached the bar "I'm just here to make an announcement."

"Huh?" Willy blinked in shock, <How the hell does he know me? And why does he seem familiar.>

The Alpha turned away from the bar and Willy actually flinched at the booming voice that suddenly emanated from the helmet. "All right, Just sit down and stop trying to sneak out!"

Two vampires and a group of Fenryll demons shot back into their seats as the helmeted figure turned toward them.

"The two people with me are Detectives O'Malley and Benson of Chicago's SU2."

Willy shot another glance at the two officers; he'd heard stories about those two. Especially O'Malley. He was considered scary even by the strongest of demons.

"Don't believe all the stories you've heard about us." O'Malley's words caused some of the bar's patrons to relax a little, until he said, "Just the bad stuff."

"My name is Lieutenant Paladin," the Alpha continued, "and everything you've heard about me is true. *Especially* the bad stuff."

Several other demons began eyeing the door warily.

"Don't even think about it," the Alpha warned them.

Willy, anticipating a blood bath either way, began looking for the quickest way out of the room.

"Before anything gets too nervous, relax. We aren't here hunting anyone." The Alpha stepped into the middle of the room. "So those of you with guilty consciences just stay where you are. All we're here to do is give you some unfriendly advice."

Everyone, Willy included frowned at the Alpha's choice of words. "I don't know any of you and I don't give at damn. But by now, all of you know that there's a new big bad in town. He's probably looking for help. This is the advice, stay out of this. Not unless you want this town glassed while you're in it."

"Say what!?" one of the Vampires who tried to leave earlier shouted.

"Right now, a geosynchronous satellite with several magical enhancements is keeping watch on Sunnydale. If there are any signs that the Hellmouth has opened, a one kiloton nuclear warhead will be fired into the heart of the city. Get my drift?"

With that the Alpha headed for the door, followed closely by O'Malley and Benson. Halfway to the door, the Alpha paused and turned around again. "Oh, and on a personal note, if you do join the new Big Bad's plans and survive? I'll make it my personal mission in life to hunt you down and make you wish you'd died here."

With those words, he left the building.

"Was he serious?" Willy asked Carl once the door closed behind the trio.

"I don't know," Carl admitted, "and I don't want to find out either."

Around the room, most of the creatures sitting at the various tables agreed with him.


Outside the building, Xander turned up the sound on his helmet and listened in on the various conversations going on in the bar. Satisfied with what he heard, he started walking away. "Okay, I think we can leave."

"That was a really risky bluff, you do know that?" Benson asked as she followed him, then frowned and continued, "You were bluffing right? About nuking this town?"

"Not exactly," Xander replied as he started back to the car, then realized that both O'Malley and Benson weren't following him anymore. "Something wrong?"

"Look," O'Malley replied, "I'm all for killing these things, but even I couldn't come up with a plan as crazy as nuking a whole city."

"Look," Xander ignored the skeptical look Benson was giving her partner at that statement, "the simple truth is that every gate has a nuke pointed at it. If it comes down to it, the energy from a nuke can seal a gate back up again."

"And we know this how?" Benson asked.

"The Russians," Xander smiled, although there was a noticeable lack of humor in it, "one of the gates was in a part of Siberia too remote to effectively defend, so they dropped two nukes on it."

"Isn't that overkill?" Benson frowned. "I mean two nuclear weapons?"

"Sounds like just enough kill to me," O'Malley commented, "Then again, she does have a point. Why use two?"

"The first one was aimed at the demon's coming through the gate." Xander explained, "The second was aimed as close the actual mouth of the gate as they could get. As far as anyone can tell, the Russians got lucky. They must have dropped it right into the gate, cuz the blast yield was about half of what it should have been. Once it was over, a recon satellite confirmed that the gate was gone."

"I think I remember about those," O'Malley nodded, "There was a big stink over the fallout possibly drifting over other countries or something like that."

"That's why the nukes are a last ditch defense," Xander replied. "No one wants their neighborhood to glow in the dark."

"I can see their point of view." O'Malley nodded. "So what now?"

"Now we go hunting," Xander answered as they got into the Humvee. Once inside, he cleared the faceplate of his helmet so that his companions could see his face. "We find a few vamps and squeeze them till their hair bleeds."

"So we're going to torture them for information?" Benson looked dubious about that. "Is that legal?"

"One, vampires aren't human or even alive for that matter," Xander replied, "So torturing them isn't covered by the rules of war. And two, who said anything about information, I just want to see if I can make their hair bleed."

Benson's head snapped back around to stare at Xander, her mouth open in outraged shock. At least until she noticed the grin on his face and realized just how effectively she'd been baited.

In the back seat, O'Malley started to chuckle. "I..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know," Benson grumbled. "You really like their attitude."

"Yep." O'Malley grinned unrepentantly at her. "They don't take anything seriously except their jobs."


Of course, while I was messing with Detective Benson's head, our resident Judas was giving the 411 to the "big bad".


"So you've identified the sacrifice?"

"Damn straight I did," Spike nodded. "It's the bloody soldier what put the chip in my head, "Finn". He and the Slayer have been getting in some horizontal action, if you get my meaning."

"I'm painfully aware of your meaning." The hooded figure nodded, as it turned to address another of the cavern's occupants. "Mr. O'Toole?"

"Yeah?" O'Toole stepped forward as nonchalantly as possible.

"Why don't you and your friends take a few of the Fyarl demons and go pay Mr. Finn a visit. I'll leave it up to you how you capture him. But, if I were you, I wouldn't fail to bring him back alive."

"When are we going to get our shot at Harris?" one of O'Toole's cronies, the big, not very bright looking one, asked. "I still owe him for dropping that snack machine on me."

"Patience." The Hooded figure smiled. "Mr. Harris will come to us. All in good time."

"Don't worry," O'Toole whispered to his gang as they left the caverns. "We'll get our shot at Harris."

"Now, to other business." The figured turned again. "Mr. Rayne..."

"Please," the Chaos mage smiled, "call me Ethan."

"Ethan..." The figured nodded. "Are you prepared for tomorrow?"

"Of course," Ethan smiled, "By tomorrow evening, Angel will be on our side."

"Boss," Mr. Trick walked in, "We've got a couple of Strazin demons who wanna join up."

"Strazins?" Spike frowned, "That doesn't make any sense. Those guys are all hunters, real code of honor types."

"True," The figure nodded, "but then they might be looking to bag an Alpha or two. Very well Trick, show them where they stay. Demons as powerful as a Strazin should come in handy."


And of course, Willy was trying to pump Carl for more info about me.


"What's the matter with you?" Carl asked.

"Nothing," Willy replied, "It's just this "Lt. Paladin". He seems kinda familiar. Whadda you know about him?"

"I know that he's real chummy with the Slayers," Carl replied softly. "Especially the psycho brunette."

"Faith?" Willy stiffened at the mention of the former Mayor's former enforcer. "He's friends with her?"

"More than that if you ask me." Carl shrugged, "I've heard that she calls him 'boytoy' and on one occasion, 'lover'."

"Boy...?" Willy suddenly remembered some of the stories he'd heard about Faith. He also made a connection to something that Angel had once called one of the Slayer's allies.

"He wouldn't happen to be really friendly with the blonde Slayer and a redhead would he?"

"I'm not sure," Carl admitted. "I think so."

"Well I'll be..." Willy shook his head, he was pretty sure that he'd just figured out the real name of "Lt. Paladin". He was even more sure that he'd never tell anyone the young man's real name. He'd heard enough about the kid over the years that he'd grown to respect him. It helped that the kid was one of the few of the Slayer's friends that hadn't threatened to kill him over the years.

"Damn." Was all he could finally say about it.


Yeah, Willy figured it out. I didn't learn about till way later though.

Anyway, like I said earlier, I took O'Malley and Benson hunting. I don't think I endeared myself to them when I said that Vamps were like Cops. I swear if looks could kill, the glares they sent me would probably have killed my whole family all the way back to Adam. The original Adam not the... oh you get what I mean. I had to do some really fast explaining that all I meant was that, when you really wanted one around, you just couldn't find them. I swear we spent almost three hours going through every graveyard in town trying to find a vamp. Maybe the fact that word must have spread that the Alphas were in town was the cause of the sudden decline in the outdoorsy undead set. I sometimes think that vampires are actually cowards at heart. When they've got the upper hand, they're all tough and "I'm gonna kill you". But turn the tables on them even a little, give them the chance and they run. Geez, even the legendary big bad Angelus let a wuss like me run him off once.

Sorry, just a Willow-moment there, back on track now. Whatever the reason, we had finally decided to call it a night and started back to SU2. That's when we got word that Riley's team had been ambushed.


"This sucks," Casey muttered as she shadowed the Initiative patrol through the graveyard. "Tell me why we got stuck with Huck?"

"Probably because Razor and Blade spend too much time arguing and not enough time looking around during patrols." Grant's reply came back over the radio. "Besides, Finn's not that bad a guy."

"Yeah, if you like cardboard."

"You do know that we can hear everything you say over our radios, right?" Riley's voice interrupted their banter.

"Sure," Casey replied. "Why do you think I'm saying it?"

"I like her," Faith told Riley, sporting a big grin as she listened to the various conversations going on around her.

"You would," Grant muttered. "Just what I needed, another wise-ass on the team."

"Where the hell are you anyway?" Faith asked.

"You see the three story red brick building to your right?"

"Yeah," Faith nodded.

"You see that odd dark spot just above the second floor ledge."

"Yep," Faith replied.

"That's not me."

"Argh!" Faith snapped a one-fingered salute to the area in general.

"That's not very ladylike," Casey mock- chided Faith.

"Bite me."

"You wish," Casey replied. "Besides, I thought that was the LT's job, wasn't it?""

"We got company!" Grant's urgent warning quickly caused the smiles to drop from the faces of the patrol.

"Where?" Riley asked.

"I got ten hostiles chasing four civs, moving down the street parallel to the park. Looks like one of the civs is hurt."

Sure enough, now all of the patrol could hear the cries for help.

"C'mon." Riley started a mad dash for the street, followed by the others.

"Ah hell," Casey yelled while running after them. "Does the term setup mean anything to you guys?"

"I guess not," Grant answered her rhetorical question as the four teens slammed into Riley followed closely by the large demons.

"Fire in the hole!" Grant warned as the twenty millimeter subsonic round left his gun. He'd aimed behind the last demon, counting on the other nine to take up most of the remaining shrapnel.

Four of the Fyarl demons went down screaming as the explosive round went off behind them. Of the remaining six, three turned in shock to see their brethren fall, while the other three just charged forward. Casey and Faith each took on one of the charging demons, while the other three Initiative soldiers tried to handle the third.

Grant adjusted his aim and sent three rounds at the three shocked demons. The 7.62 mm explosive rounds did their job with gruesome efficiency, blowing the heads off their targets. As quickly as that, the odds of the battle changed to favor the soldiers.

Grant tracked the fight through his scope. He couldn't get a clean shot off at the remaining three demons without running the risk of hitting a friendly. Finally he started the scanning the area, looking for any other hostiles. When he reached Riley and the four civilians, he was stunned to see one of the civs hit Riley over his head with a piece of wood.

"Sonofabitch!" Grant yelled as he tried to get a clean shot off. His first round hit the largest civilian, dropping him instantly. The others, quickly grabbed Riley and started running for the trees. Grant tried to track them but couldn't get another clear shot off. "Rat! It was a setup, they got Finn!"

"I'm a little... busy... right... now!" Casey grunted as she blocked blow after blow from the much larger Fyarl demon. As the demon took another swing at her head, she ducked and lashed her foot out at the demon's knee. The demon howled as its knee bent in a manner that was anatomically impossible for its species. Casey followed through by burying her silver-plated combat knife into the monster's back. As it slumped to the ground, she turned to see Faith finishing off her opponent in a similar manner.

"I got Finn, you help the wannabes," Casey told her as she took off in pursuit of the commando's capturers.

Casey managed to track the trio's footprints through the damp soil only to lose the trail as it hit concrete. "SHIT!"

She started a quick 360 degree turn, trying to find some trace of the trail. Then paused when she noticed, Grant standing in front of a manhole cover. "They went in there?"

"Yeah," Grant nodded. "I got to the street in time to see the cover fall back down."

"So what are you waiting for?" Casey asked. "Let's go!"

"You know better than that, Rat," Grant answered.

Casey sighed, then nodded resignedly. Regulations actually forbade the members of the Demon hunter squads from entering the sewers with less than a full platoon of men;, they'd lost to too many people to hostile ambushes in the confined tunnels. "We gotta let the LT know about this."

"There's something else wrong," Grant said without the use of his radio. "You do know that right?"

"Yeah," Casey replied the same way. "How the fuck did they know that Finn was the target so fast?"

"You know that too."

"Yeah," Casey sighed, "We got a fuckin' Bennie in the group."

"My money's on the Billy Idol look- alike," Grant said.

"No bet." Casey shook her head. "I'm sure it's him."

"You think the L.T. will let us stake him?"

"Are you kidding?" Casey shot Grant a disbelieving look, "When the L.T. finds out about this, he's gonna make the bleach-blond-wonder *wish* we'd just staked him."


As it happens, when I did find out about it, I didn't do anything to Spike. Of course, I did have my reasons for that, too.