The Amazon warrior laughed as she launched herself into the arms of a smiling Xander. The young man caught her and just held her tightly as if afraid if he let her go that she would disappear from him. The former slayer was surprised at his grip as she was fairly certain that his hold on her was greater than that of a vampire. She didn’t say anything though she noticed that Valkyrie had launched herself into the arms of the redhead and acting a lot like her as she greeted a long lost friend. The two super heroines were finally put down by the young men and allowed to get a good look at the two men. Both men had shaggy hair and eyes that seemed to twinkle with some unknown joke. There was also a hardness in their eyes that came from people who knew the hardships of life. The two grinned a bit as they examined everyone. “You guys can probably toss the masks, flames, and helmets to the side. It’s not like they do all that much.” Xander informed Gryffindor, Fate and Fire.
“For sure, besides we all have our own little secrets here.” George said with a grin.
“We’ll keep them up for the moment.” Gryffindor returned getting agreeing nods from the other two who were trying to keep their faces hidden.
The two men shrugged a bit at this not seeming to care one way or the other. “Glad you decided to take us up on the offer of a safe place when you needed one.” George told Fate with a grin. “Even brought along some friends I see.” He added as he gave a one armed hug to Valkyrie. “Not that I’m complaining. Seeing women running around in tight fitting clothes is always a good thing in our book.”
“But we do have more important things to talk about.” Xander interrupted. “Like what happened and how to get you guys back out there before those guys do anything else. So welcome to our workshop where we will fix you all up so you can play whack a demon.”
“Xander what happened to you?” Buffy questioned curiously. “You’re as strong as a basic demon at least. Then there’s this place.” She said waving her hands at the large cave that they were in that all sorts of fires and blacksmith tools lying around.
“Would you believe me if I told you that you weren’t the only one to get cool powers?” Xander asked curiously. “Granted mine aren’t as cool as yours but they’re still something.”
“Alright I’ll bite, what happened to my Xander shaped friend, and how did you get powers?” Buffy questioned him with a grin used to his posturing.
“It seems that there are other slots on the roster besides fighters that needed to be filled with the new order of things.” The young man explained. “Curious George and I seemed to fit the slots that they had for us. The various gods, ancient dwarves, trolls, elves, and whatever else that was in charge of building stuff for the Gods and heroes way back when decided that we would do for the job.”
“Yeah so down they come and gave us both these long stories about why they were doing all of this and then making us an offer.” George added.
“Seemed like a good idea so we took them up on their offer.” Xander said with a smile.
“Yeah, so now while the Xan-Man here builds all of the cool stuff I do the voo doo that I do and enchant it.” George said with a smirk.
“Uh huh.” Katie said crossing her arms and looking at the red head intently. “And what else is there? You might as well drop the other shoe.”
“What makes you think that there’s something else?” The redhead questioned curiously while giving an innocent look at her.
“I know you.” The blonde girl said poking him in the chest as she glared at her friend. “I also know that you wouldn’t volunteer this much information unless you had something big for an ending.”
“Something like that.” Xander said with a grin as he watched his partner rub his chest. “But we thought you would like to know the score of what has been happening. Sure you might have thought one or two of you coming along to counter the balance but all of you?” The young man questioned. The heroes all looked disturbed that there might be more to their powers than what they had originally thought.
“Yeah, we were kind of surprised by it as well but we managed to classify it into different types of powered beings with the help of people like Giles and Wesley.” Xander told them with a smile getting knowing smiles from Blade, and Wonder Woman.
“Who?” Fire questioned curiously.
“Book smart people that understand the whole thing a whole lot better than we do.” George returned to the fiery girl. The girl nodded though her eyes narrowed slightly at the unintentional slight on her intelligence. If she removed her flames she doubted that the redhead would dare say that to her.
“And what did they explain?” Fate asked curiously.
“Well according to them there are three worlds that co exists out there.” Xander told the group. “There’s the regular or muggle world, the wizarding world where the wand wavers live and then there is the supernatural world which is a combination of the other two. The supernatural world deals mostly with demons, the vampires and whatever else is out there. The wizards are charged with keeping things like dragons and phoenixes and anything else like that in their world. From what Giles said it’s the job of people like the Powers that Be to oversee it all. The supernatural and magical worlds both have people that watch out for bleed through so that nothing goes wrong. The Powers that Be and most of the ones like them have been dropping the ball of late though. Seems that they were sapping some of the Slayer power to themselves and using it in other places to make them more powerful. The old gods were woken up from their sleep by a series of imbalances that made them take action though.”
“What kind of imbalances?” Angel asked curiously as he looked Gryffindor over with interest.
“Voldemort making Harry into a container was one of them.” George said looking sad. “Old Harry was a good kid, bit crazy and all but a good bloke to have at your back. Dumbledore’s refusing to make him a counter to him also changed the balance as well then to finish it off he killed Harry off. So many imbalances made it so that Gryffindor here was created. Whoever he is or used to be. Same thing happened with your place mate.” The redhead said to Angel. “The curse being ripped in and out of ya then destroying everything that you created while inflicting no real damage on the bad guys made the balance wobble again. You lost your team for the most part as I understand. The true seer being dead, the young watcher, new seer in the hospital. While the Host and street warrior were just trying to stay out of the crosshairs.”
“Then there’s the whole Adam and the hell god thing.” Xander said rubbing his back at the memory of the woman that had ripped through the Scoobies and their soldier friends like Kleenex. “It was the Power’s job to delay Glory, they ignored her though and because of her there was nearly a slaughter. As it was Willow, Giles, Riley, Graham, and Spike were taken out of play maybe even permanently for Will and Giles while Spike and the soldier boys are gone. There are a few other imbalances as well, but they’re ones that you haven’t heard of and right now you need to worry about this fight instead of other fights that aren’t going so well.”
“All of these imbalances led to all of our creation.” The redheaded wizard told them. “At least that’s how the Gods explained it to us when they were juicing us up.”
“Yeah the Powers are limited as well.” Xander added with a smirk. “The slayer is the only Champion that they’re allowed to have any control over. Outside of Faith the Powers have no authority over anyone. It’s a part of their punishment for allowing things to get as bad as they have.”
Buffy and Angel chuckled while the others who had little contact to know contact merely looked at them confused. “Kind of makes me wonder what happened to Whistler now if they’ve been so limited.” Buffy said with a smile.
“You know Whistler?” Angel said in surprise as he recalled the balance demon that had helped him out of LA and toward Sunnydale.
“Yeah the Powers sent him to tell me to kill you.” Buffy returned the humor fading from her eyes.
“Yeah, the guy is annoying but he is our contact to the Powers that Be here.” Xander told them. “Since he knows how you feel about him I wouldn’t be surprised if he works on making himself scarce.
“Okay, that’s a lot to think over.” Fate admitted to them getting agreeing nods from all of the others. “That doesn’t explain you though, is there something different about your abilities as opposed to ours?”
“Yeah there is that.” George said with a sad smile. “Seems that we’re not front line fighters anymore, but the guys that make the stuff for you guys. We’re hero support as the last member of the group likes to call us.”
“Last member?” Fire questioned looking around for anyone else.
“Yeah after Sunnydale got a new Slayer it also got a new team complete with a new Zeppo.” Xander explained to them. “That Zeppo ended up becoming one of our main information sources.” Xander said getting understanding nods from the former slayer and vampire. “You’ll meet him later and probably beg to never meet him again. Anyways Giles, Wes, and Willow came up with a theory on what is going on. There are two levels of people being given powers. There’s the ones like you which are the warrior class or the Empowered ones who have the powers of super heroes from various sources. Then there are those like us who are Blessed with extra skills and abilities to perform a certain type of job.”
“In our case the job is that of making better weapons and other things as needed.” George explained. “Xander here builds the weapons then I come back and put power into the weapons by enchanting them and what not.”
“So there are Empowered and Blessed agents.” Fire said nodding her head in understanding. “It makes since really, I mean rather than having to come back each and every time to repair anything that was damaged or when there is a need for more power we come here that way balance cannot be affected by the source powers interference.”
“Impressive.” Blade said in agreement.
“That it is Dead-Boy that it is.” Xander returned.
Angel smirked at him as he glared at him. “That name doesn’t refer to me anymore. I happen to be an immortal now not a vampire. In short I’m not dead anymore.” He boasted to the Blessed one.
“What?” Wonder Woman said marching toward him and placing her hand under his shirt. “You’re alive.” She said in shock and surprise.
“Uh, yeah.” The dark haired figure admitted looking suddenly nervous as the cocky grin he had been wearing was wiped from his face much to the amusement of the watching Xander.
“And you didn’t think to call me and tell me that there was a chance that the soul might be permanent?” She asked in annoyance while giving him a glare that would have killed most people. The blonde then spun around to look at her friend. “Xander, do you have a place that the two of us can talk? I think that the two of us have several things to say and unless you want us to put it all out here.” Buffy trailed off.
“Take that shaft over there two floors down,” Xander replied, “there’s a training room in there with soundproofing. It should give you the privacy you need.”
“Thank you.” The young woman said before tossing the dark clothed figure at the shaft before diving in after him.
“I wish she would just kick his ass all over the place personally, but somehow I doubt that’s going to happen.” Xander grumbled as they heard a loud slamming sound.
“Don’t worry that’s just the main doors closing.” George assured the others. “That isn’t though.” He added a moment later as another loud sound echoed from down below them.
“You don’t seem to like him very much.” Fire noted as she looked toward the shaft wondering if she and Gryffindor would be using the room next to discuss their problems.
“It’s personal,” Xander returned to her as he looked at the shaft with another scowl. He then turned to her and shook his head. “And you’re not going to quit asking until I tell you are you?” He asked her with a knowing look. The flaming girl flared a bit in a blush. He limped toward a large chair and sat down. “Alright here’s the story little matchstick. Once upon a time there were three friends. They were the three amigos the outcasts and all of that. Then there came the day that a girl destined to be hero transferred to our school. She was that girl as a matter of fact.” He added nodding toward the shaft. “It was on that day I learned of the supernatural. My friends were captured by vampires and the Buffster and I headed out after them. The Hair Gel King warned us about it being dangerous and all that but when asked if he would come with us he disappeared into the shadows. I ended up losing one of my best friends because he was too scared to fight for people. Made it all the worse when I learned he was one of the few people that could have made a difference. It’s part of why I forced him to track Buffy that one time since it was the same one that took my best friend. I wasn’t losing anyone else if I could help it.” The others nodded their heads in acceptance not really sure what to say about that. “He had to learn how to rush out and save someone.” Xander was so wrapped up in his memories that he didn’t notice the two heroes float back up to join them. “Buffy didn’t need to be taught that. She whined, she moped, she pouted, she tried to run away, and cried about it. When the time came she did her job better than anyone else though.”
“Awe I think I’m going to cry.” The former slayer complained a bit as she listened to him.
Xander flashed her a smile at this as he climbed out of the chair. “Sorry Buffster, I just couldn’t help myself. Anyways, I guess it’s time for you to deal with the last member of our team. Hope you guys survive the experience.” A large door opened and a scrawny looking young man entered. His eyes seemed to light up in untold happiness as he saw all of the armored figures standing around the room. “Meet Andrew Wells, our number one source for superhero information.” Xander said nodding toward the figure.
“It is an honor to meet so many great and mighty warriors.” The boy said trying to be solemn but still seemed comical. “I um have a speech that I wanted to say for this momentous occasion.” He looked over at the other two members of the group who were giving him tired grins. “I promised myself that I wouldn’t cry.” The young man stammered as he wiped at his face. “Tinker, Forge do the two of you think that you could take my picture with them?”
“We’re not doing photo shoots.” Gryffindor and Fire said darkly.
The boy looked shocked and hurt at this. “We got more important things to worry about than taking pictures for your scrapbook.” Gryffindor said. “Besides do I look like Lockhart to you?”
“Oh, um okay.” The boy seemed to deflate a bit at this making the two feel a bit bad for what they had done to the young man.
“As amusing as this is we have bigger problems.” George said as he waved his hands over one of the flames and an image appeared. They saw one of the members of Illyria tearing through an army of wizards. While you guys were talking a report came over the wireless on what our enemy are up to. They’ve decided to go and take over the various Magical governments of the world. At the moment they’ve hit America, England, France, Russia, China, Italy, and Japan. With so many of the big hitting wizarding countries under attack it will only be a matter of time that they’ll fall and you saw the army they had before if they were able to find a replacement army that fast.”
“Probably just looked through the dimensions until they saw an army willing to work for them.” Xander noted with worry as he rubbed his jaws. “They’re under attack now, but it won’t be long until they win if we don’t do anything about it.”
“And what can we do? The last time we went up against them they kicked our asses all over the place.” Buffy reminded them. “How do we fight this?”
“Get you all some decent armor and take away their cheat.” George returned to the blonde.
“What cheat did they have?” Katie asked in confusion not recalling there having been a cheat.
Xander waved his hands over the flame and they saw the battle from before. “I’m still working on getting the cable to work down here.” Xander informed them with a smirk before pointing to a lone figure that was watching the fight. “Illyria as it called itself is made up of 7 beings each one of them seems to have a special skill or ability that it can use. Speed, Strength, Portals, Plant Control, Healing, and Shape shifting. The shapeshifter also has the ability to use the abilities of the others to a lesser extent. However this one didn’t do anything but watch the fight.” The young man said pointing to one of the members of Illyria that was standing off to the side.
“Maybe he was backup in case someone was beaten?” Gryffindor suggested.
“Nope, if that was the case he would have helped out against Fate here when he was beating the crap out of the shape shifter.” George pointed out as they watched the mentioned hero blast his opponent away.
“Good point.” Fate said. “He didn’t get backup until the rest of you had been taken out and that was with the others not from him.”
“Oh look he’s holding his head in concentration.” Andrew said with a smile. “He must be using some form of telepathy. I wonder if he has telekinetic potential as well? He could be like Professor X, No he would be like the Shadow King or the Dark Phoenix.”
“Did you understand any of that?” Angel questioned Xander curiously as he looked at the blonde then Xander.
The young man’s shoulders slumped a bit. “Unfortunately I understood everything that he said.” Xander returned to the vampire.
“Care to explain to the rest of the class then?” Fate asked curiously.
“Telepathy, mind reading whatever you want to call it.” Xander replied to the figure. “This guy was using mental attacks on you guys for some reason.”
“Impossible, vampires are resistant to mind reading.” Angel argued with the young man.
“Maybe only to a certain extent and this guy is really that powerful.” Xander pointed out to the figure.
“Can we see how his fight with the government is going?” Buffy asked curiously.
Xander waved his hand over the flames and they saw a new image. The British Ministry of Magic was under attack the only thing was that aurors hit wizards and regular ministry workers were tossing spells back and forth at each other and at the army of demons that had been summoned to help. They saw Illyria standing high above with crossed arms watching the fight in a bored manner. “It does look like a mental assault, seems when ever some starts to realize what’s going on and shoot spells at him they have a sudden migraine and then start fighting whoever is nearest to them.” Xander pointed out. Unaware of the conflict many of them had as they watched a balding redhead shoot spells at a dark skinned man with a gold earring stud.
“So why was Fate unaffected and why didn’t we become puppets?” Gryffindor questioned. “I have a high tolerance for things like the imperious curse I didn’t think that there was anything stronger.”
“That’s because he wasn’t trying to control you.” Andrew explained as he watched. “I think he wanted to beat you down and show you just how pathetic you were compared to their power.”
“So what was he doing then if he wasn’t controlling us?” Gryffindor asked impatiently.
“He was slowing you down.” Andrew explained to them. “The whole battle was just a joke to them. They were making you hesitate for a few seconds and then they would knock you down. Watch as the Lady Valkyrie the Mistress of the dead fights it out with Illyria the self healing.” They all shot annoyed looks at the long winded name that the young man gave but turned and watched as Valkyrie sliced through the healer so easily in the first few strikes. The lone member of Illyria touched its hand to its head and they watched as reactions that had been fast slowed down enough that sure blocks were now batted aside and the heroine found herself being sliced into.
“Your right they were cheating.” Valkyrie growled angrily slamming her fist onto a nearby anvil they all watched as it cracked down the middle. “Can you do anything about it?”
“Of course we can, that’s why they sent the Blessed ones here.” Andrew responded for the pair. “It is their most holy and sacred duty to keep the heroes of the world armed with the very best in weaponry. They perform the duty for the slayer so it is only natural that they would perform the same duty for yourselves.”
“What do you need from us?” Fire asked curiously.
“Well for non perverted reasons I need your clothing sizes and your costumes so that I can fix the damage that you’ve received.” Xander informed them.
“Only two of us are actually wearing armor though.” Gryffindor argued back.
“Yeah and look just where it’s gotten you mate.” George informed him. “Your clothes may absorb magic and dragon fire but when it comes to getting hit you need something more.” Gryffindor nodded his head in acceptance.
George waved his hand and two screens appeared for the armored girls to change behind. The girls shook their heads before Katie slammed her fist to the ground causing a circle of flames to surround them that them from view. When the flames died both girls were dressed differently. Katie was wearing cotton shirt and shorts while Buffy was wearing a toga. The two girls ignored the smirks of their friends as they watched the men set the discarded armor onto a pair of dummies. The others reluctantly then gave out the requested information.
“So what do we do in the meantime? I mean is there anything that we can do?” Fate questioned the two men after they had all of the information that they needed.
“Not much really, other than train and learn what you can about these guys.” George told the red and gold figure.
“Very well.” Fate agreed.
“Xander is there a way for the others to come down here, or do we have to go to them?” Buffy asked her friend.
“Huh, oh yeah I can have the guys brought down here since home sweet hellmouth is kind of on the restricted list for you. Besides the military is still looking for you and I doubt that they would just let you go if you told them there were demons taking over various world magical governments and you were only here to get your gear repaired.” Xander said with a sneer. “They told us point blank that there was a detain order for you and that assisting you would be breaking federal law. Don’t even get me started on the weekly checkups or listening devices we have to deal with all the time. They must really think that your valuable.”
“Great to know the lengths that they’ll go to try and control me.” Buffy returned with a scowl. Have they done anything to the rest of you?
"Nah, they know that we’re the best chance that they have on finding you so they won’t let anyone mess with us other than threats. There’s even a couple of soldiers that Faith likes to sleep with that are soldiers." Xander explained to them with a smirk.
"So she knows that they’re soldiers and are doing stuff with her because they’re trying to find me right?" Buffy questioned nervously. Faith and her jealous rages were sometimes troublesome.
"Yeah she knows, and they know that she knows that they know that she know. Doesn’t stop them from doing it though and telling us all about it either.” Xander said with a disgruntled look. “Course every now and then she makes them regret their assignment by nearly breaking them. They’re not nearly as cocky then.”
“So I’ve been patient, and there’s something that you haven’t told me. How’s mom?” Buffy said her eyes looking at her friend desperate for information on the woman.
“Mrs. S is good.” Xander assured his friend. “When the time comes I’ll drop her down here as well and you can talk to her as well. Then with her and Giles you can figure things out and get your mom time.” The young man promised her.
“Yeah I’m hoping Giles can tell us something about whatever those things were. Buffy said hopefully they totally knocked us out.
Just remember that they were using freaky mind powers that you weren’t prepared for.” Xander told her. “Now that you know what to expect from them you can teach them what happens when they mess with you.” He said flashing her a supportive grin.
“You really think so Buffy questioned I mean before I always had you guys to at least help me figure out what it is that I had to do now I’m not having you to back me up so much.
“That’s cause you got yourself a new group.” The young man told her. “Now go on. I already called Giles and he should be coming from that hallway.” He told her nodding toward a tunnel. Buffy smiled at him before she rushed down to the tunnel while Xander turned to look to the others who were discussing how they might turn the next battle in their favor.
Buffy waited in the large tunnel that her friend had told her to and smiled as she saw a familiar figure hobbling toward her. Despite the cane that he was leaning heavily on there was no way that he could hide his uptight Britishness from her. It might also have been the pile of books that he had under his arm to though. This man was one of only a handful of people that she actually trusted. “Hey, oh Watcher of mine.” She greeted from where she was standing. The older man looked up and smiled at her as he was engulfed in a hug. The watcher awkwardly wrapped his filled hands around the petite powerhouse.
The pair stood there for a few minutes just enjoying being in each other’s arms. “It’s good to see you again Buffy.” Giles told the champion. “I was almost afraid that I would never see you again. The ex Watcher told his former charge with a fond smile.
Buffy merely smiled at him in return. “Come on, you didn’t really think that I was that easy to get rid of now did you?” She asked him with humor in her voice.
Giles smiled at her fondly. “I take it that it that this is not a social visit and that you are the one that Xander needs help in researching something for then?” He asked Buffy dryly as he adjusted his glasses.
“You know it Watcher man.” She returned to him. “If there’s something to hit I’m your girl, but if it’s of the research variety I know better than to try and do your job. Although I think I am better than I used to be. Besides there’s no one better for the whole research thing than having your very own Giles figure things out for you.” Buffy assured him.
“Well it is nice to be appreciated.” Giles returned glad that she felt like she still needed him.”So what is it that you are fighting this time around?” He asked as they began walking down the tunnel.
“Some group calling themselves the Illyria.” Buffy returned to him going into a more professional mode. She was very happy that she could remember the name this time around. The training under Chiron had forced her to understand the powers that names had. He had made her understand that while mangling an enemies name on the battlefield to rile them up was alright continuing to do so while investigating their origins was stupid. The fact that she had started making the name mockeries to help her remember the basic sounds of the name when she couldn’t keep track during a fight was the only reason that she hadn’t been in too much trouble when he had found out that particular habit of hers. The punishment for every time she had skewed a name had resulted in her being chased by satyrs and writing a detailed paper on the person whose name she messed up.
“Good, I’ll see what I can discover.” Giles said proud that she was not using silly nicknames anymore. It seemed that his Slayer was growing up. “However I am somewhat surprised. I thought with your enhanced abilities that there would be very little that would be capable of actually slowing you down anymore. And the only reason you ever came to me in the past is because you were having trouble killing it.”
“Yeah that’s because none of us were able to kill them.” Fate said from where he stood. “Despite the fact that we all seem to be much more powerful than most supernatural things.”
“I see, and you are?” Giles questioned.
“I am Fate.” The red and gold figure returned. “Over there are Gryffindor, and Fire, Valkyrie is the blonde over there inspecting her sword. Then there is Blade in the corner over there.” The figure said pointing toward a figure in the shadows.
Giles turned and raised his eyebrows as he recognized the pale figure stepping into the light. “Angel.” Giles greeted him coolly. He knew that the vampire had done many things to help atone for his past crimes but he didn’t think that he would ever be able to trust the figure before him like his slayer did. The dark clad figure nodded his head in greeting to the man. Giles then turned to face the others and spoke to them in much more welcoming tones. “I am Rupert Giles. I suppose you could say that I’m the head of research here. I help in the training by telling heroes how to kill something when time is of the essence. It is my specialty you might say just as Xander and Mr. Weasley are our weapon specialists. Now then, what is it that you know about you opponents?”
“They were all scientists or prodigies in various fields.” Angel answered once it became apparent that no one else knew anything about their victims. “They were all kidnapped by various means by the cult of Illyria from various places in the world.”
“Wait, I thought they all called themselves Illyria though?” Gryffindor interrupted from where he was standing.
“I’ll explain if you’ll keep your questions to yourself until I’m finished.” Angel told him coolly before going back to what he had been saying. “Only the best and brightest were taken though. The regenerator was some sort of medical genius, a kid by the name of Doogie Howser, the plant manipulator was some biologist from Russia. Like I said they came from all over the world. They’re not the real powers behind this though. From what I got from some of the people that I questioned they were taken for their minds. The souls of these people would be sacrificed and then they would become something more. Whatever this something new is I’m hoping that this is all that they are. I’m not real sure that we could stand it if this was just the start with them.”
“I see.” Giles said saddened to hear that these bodies were now no longer any more alive than a vampire’s was. “You said that they all called themselves Illyria?” He asked the group wanting to clarify every tidbit of information that he could.
“Yes, they all called themselves that.” Fate agreed.
“Most interesting.” Giles said as he began flipping through one of his books. “Disturbing but interesting. It will take time before I can find out just what it is that we’re dealing with here. I would recommend all of you resting for as much as you can while I see if I can’t find anything on our enemies. Xander and George are working on their part by doing whatever it is that they do. I would recommend that you stay out of sight and down here though as the military is somewhat aware that we fight demons and is always looking for a way to gain control over us. If they were to become aware of any of you the neutrality that we have would likely be broken and they would make several attacks. Having super soldiers is something they’ve been working on for years.”
“Do you think that they could beat us?” Gryffindor asked sounding somewhat insulted but he was also looking around nervously. The young hero obviously did not enjoy the prospect of being caged.
“I honestly don’t know. I do know that they have been working on several experimental weapons though in case Buffy should ever choose to come back to this area.” Giles returned. Last time they sent over a hundred men after her at the hospital before she managed to escape. These same men were ones that she had saved not 12 hours earlier.”
“And where are we anyways?” Fire asked curiously as her eyes tried to take everything in.
“You’re in an underground bunker slash forge near the hellmouth in California of the USA.” George supplied from where he was looking at the various cuts and dents in the armor of the girls. In his hands were parchment and quill as he was making a list of protective spells to add to the outfits. Xander was nearby but was making a list of things to do for the armor he would have to build for the others.
“Yes, and while you’re waiting there are certain things that you need to do.” Giles said. “Wesley will come down here to help train you in teamwork in combat. It’s obvious from the way you all are standing around that there may be teams within teams.” He shot a look at Buffy and Angel first his eyes then sliding toward Gryffindor and Fire before turning back to the others. “But as a group you have no cohesion.”
“Do you really think Wesley can do that Giles?” Buffy asked looking skeptical on that one.
“Indeed I do.” Giles said confidently. “He scored extremely high on his strategy tests. In fact it was part of the reason that he was pressed into service so early in life. Most Watchers do not get a Slayer until their thirties or forties at the very least. Due to his high scores though he was able to be slipped in. His lack of experience in real life is what made him so easy for Travers to manipulate.”
“So Wesley knows this stuff then and can probably help out?” Buffy still looked dubious, but the assured nod from Giles and the relieved smile of Angel on hearing that his friend was in Sunnydale convinced her to give the man a chance before she made any rash decisions. “Fine, but I reserve the right to say I told you so if he can’t do the job.”
“Fair enough.” Giles returned. “I would suggest resting for now though. Come tomorrow we will all have plenty of things to do. From research to training.”
“Yeah sleep would be nice.” Katie agreed with the man.
“Good, now all of you go rest.” Giles ordered them waving them off. “Come tomorrow you will have much to do.”
“So where can we find beds in this hotel of yours?” Fate asked with amusement.
“If you’ll follow us we’ll take you to your rooms.” George said with a smirk as he tried to act like the arrogant hotel man but not quiet making it work. The redheaded man then led part of the group while Xander led the others to various rooms that they could use for sleeping.
Fire sighed as the door to her room shut and she allowed her fire form to finally die down and she was in her human state once again. Normally she didn’t feel so week after her transformation but after the battle and all the information that they had gotten that night her mind was somewhat overwhelmed. She smiled as she saw her bed she removed most of her clothes before she tiredly pulled her wand and transfigured her shirt into a giant night shirt. Without another thought the witch collapsed onto the bed and was out. The other magic users followed suit as with waves of their wands they had new clothes. Angel and Buffy of course had to do things the regular way but a care package from Xander to each of them had them in their own sleep garments before they drifted off as well.
The next morning they all woke up and quickly changed their clothes back to what they were before they went to sleep. Fire also added a half mask that covered her face. The fact that she had long green silky hair meant she wasn’t afraid of anyone recognizing her through that. They all headed back to the room from the night before and were amazed to see the giant workbenches that had been covered in tools were now laden down with various breakfast foods. The wizards all thought that it was comparable to what Mrs. Weasley would prepare. Buffy smiled knowing exactly who made this food while Angel merely watched in surprise. The surprises weren’t over though he thought as he watched various people filter into the room carrying more food to place on the table. Wesley, Cordellia, Faith, Giles, Willow, and Andrew were all there. Alongside of them though there were a few others there was a blonde woman who was nervously adjusting something, Anya the former vengeance demon that Xander had briefly dated Spike and a short dark haired young man.
“Jonathan?” Buffy said in surprise at seeing the mage. He was good with illusionary spells more than anything else as she recalled. Although he had once made all of Sunnydale believe that he was the best thing since chocolate he was really fairly harmless.
“Hi Buffy,” the small man said with a weak smile. He looked at her nervously as if afraid that she would attack him but she merely smiled at him before looking at the others.
“Tara good to see you again.” She said as she gave a hug to the other blonde. Buffy then stepped forward and lifted him by his throat. She then looked over at Faith and Xander. “Do you mind if I throw him into the wall?” She asked them curiously. Xander merely grinned while Faith gave a casual uncaring shrug to the fate of the young mage.
“Buffy Summers, you put Jonothan down this instant, you are going to behave like a civilized person during meals. Do I make myself clear young lady?” Joyce said glaring at her daughter.
Jonothan grinned in relief as the blonde powerhouse very reluctantly set him down nder the watchful eye of her mother. “The big bad Champion of the Greeks taken down by a glare from her mom.” The young man said.
George drew his wand and shot a spell at the obnoxious fanboy turning his hair pink. Buffy nodded her thanks to the wizard as she turned to face her mom. “Hey,” she said with a weak smile before launching herself into her mother’s arms. “I’m so sorry I didn’t call or write. I was scared. I didn’t want them coming after you and I didn’t know how to get a letter to you without making them suspicious.”
“It’s alright Buffy.” Joyce said as she merely held her daughter and rubbed her back as the girl let the tears fly. The other heroes casually turned away and began filling their plates while the two women held onto each other comforted in the feel of each other being there. Words weren’t needed as worries that they both had over the fate of the other were now forgotten. “Come on now, let’s get some food.” Joyce said with a smile. “I made chocolate chip pancakes for you and the others.” Buffy smiled as the woman led her to the tables of food.
As they sat down to eat Angel found himself being shoved into a chair next to an irate Cordy. The vampire swallowed nervously. He would never tell the young woman but he thought of her as his own Joyce, and knew that he was in for a good telling off from the set of her face. “Alright you, explain.” She said to him. “Explain to me why you just took up and left us in the hospital while you went and did something stupid like blowing up Wolfram and Hart without so much as a real plan. I thought that you had learned to not charge in like an idiot unless you had to. I mean seriously that kind of lame brain stunt was more like something Buffy or Xander would do.” The girl said. Everyone watched as the long legged girl then spent the next five minutes berating the dark figure for his plan. “And don’t think that I’ve forgotten that you just went and left us either Buster.” She said glaring at him. “I mean would it have been so hard to pick up the phone and call us or leave a note at the library about what was going on? Buffy couldn’t because she didn’t know if it was safe after the army boys decided to take potshots at her.” The brunette turned to glare at the blonde. “Which reminds me Miss Slay-Gal, or whatever you’re going by now having soldiers constantly bugging me is not amusing. Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass they’re being? They also can’t seem to understand why I don’t want to date them. Like I would ever lower myself to taking any of your sloppy seconds.” The girl said with a haughty sniff.
Buffy smiled at that. “Good to see you to Cordellia, although I think that some of your clothes look off the rack. Is being less common really that hard on you?”
“At least I don’t try and kill everyone I know.” Cordellia returned.
“Says the girl who got couldn’t figure out how to use a stake.” Buffy shot back.
“Um should we stop them?” Fire questioned as she watched the two angry girls snipe at each other and give each other death glares.
“Are you kidding?” Angel asked her as he watched the pair. “The longer they’re arguing the less time they have to be angry at me. Besides with one of them capable of taking out a dragon I think I prefer this method.”
The two girls heads whipped around at that their own argument stopped for the moment. “Busted,” Xander, George, Andrew, and Jonathan muttered as they watched the glares focus on the former vampire.
“Blondie had an excuse, so what’s your excuse since there were no soldiers hunting you?” Cordellia asked in a huff.
Buffy joined in alongside of her. “Yeah and the bimbo was a part of your team and don’t you think it would have been helpful if I knew that you were no longer there to help me? Unless you’re going to say that you already knew I was no longer in Sunnydale at the time?” She challenged him arching an eyebrow at him.
The glare she sent him made Angel glad he knew nothing of her leaving. Still though there was no way to answer that one without getting in trouble so he remained silent.
“It’s a good thing he’s already dead.” Faith said with a large grin as the others were watching the usually stoic figure being torn to shreds by the double team of his best friend and ex-girlfriend. “If he wasn’t, I don’t think that they’d have any trouble taking him out right now. I mean everyone knows the story of those two birds and the Slay-Fest right?” The Slayer asked the others. The new comers turned to listen as a story of surviving a gauntlet of hired killers while the pair in question continued to scold the dark haired figure that was looking for the best way to get out of the hole he had dug himself in.
“I do hope that you are done now.” Wesley said after the story ended. “Because we do have a schedule to work with.” The two girls each gave the vampire dark looks before setting themselves back into their seats. “Good now that that’s done we can get to work.” The hunter informed them all. “With the assistance of the others I have managed to come up with a list of the known abilities that your group has. I see some rather good methods to begin working on training you in working as a team. There is much you can all benefit from each other working as a team. You all have a combination of ranged and close up attacks the only thing is that you need to learn to use this skills in a group. Your heavy long ranged hitters appear to be Fire, Fate, and Gryffindor. Wonder Woman on the other hand…”
“Amazon.” Buffy cut in quickly. “There are a lot of things I am, but Wonder Woman I’m not. I think Amazon describes me better though.” She said confidently.
“I could of told you that you weren’t Wonder Woman. I mean you needed magic to even get close to the right height whereas I am all natural in the height and chest department.” Cordellia snarked to the other girl. The two gave each other glares but kept quiet otherwise.
“Thank you Buffy, and I think your right, Amazon does seem to fit you much better than the moniker of Wonder Woman.” Giles said approvingly, as he tried to get the pair to stop their fighting.
“Yes thank you.” Wesley agreed. “Now then Amazon, and Blade, are the best mid range fighters we have with the guns and magic lasso that you use. Gryffindor, Fate, Valkyrie, and Amazon are our physically strongest but Blade, Amazon, and Valkyrie are likely our best fighters due to where their skills come from. Unless of course any of you have any other gifts or abilities that we are unaware of that could change things that is?” The Watcher looked the heroes over curiously.
“I have a wand that I use in Dragonfang.” Katie said as she ejected the wand from her blade.
“I have a wand in my staff as well that helps charge my blasts with even more power.” Gryffindor responded. It’s a legendary wand known as the Elder wand.”
“You have the Elder wand?” Fate asked in surprise. “That is indeed a most powerful if not the most wand.”
“Yeah it’s a bloody menace to though.” Gryffindor returned to him as he drew the white wand out of his staff. “The only way to gain control of it is to either steal it or win it in a duel which means the owner is either always fighting or always afraid of having it stolen. The added power it gives you in a duel is really not worth the pain it gives you.”
“The legendary Elder wand, or better known as the Death Stick.” Giles said as he looked at the weapon in fascination. “The Council actually had possession of it for a while before it was stolen from us. Simply remarkable, one of the legendary gifts of death.” The man mused before turning back to his books.
“I have a wand as well but in my elemental form I am incapable of using it.” Fire said looking slightly put out about that.
“So there are four magic users in the group then.” Wesley stated nodding his head as he began making notes on a piece of paper. “We might be able to use that to our advantage I’m hoping. With Fire she may have a secondary method of attacking if she grows weak from using her elemental abilities as long as they are not connected to your magic that is.” He looked at her questioning hoping she would know the answer to this question.
“I don’t know, but it is something that needs to be addressed.” Fire agreed. “It would be an interesting theory.” Katie and Fate watched the green haired woman suspiciously there was something eerily familiar about the way the young woman was prattling about the connections between magical ability and her elemental powers.
“Yes, we’ll look into that. Willow and Tara would probably be the best to look into that actually.” Wesley noted glancing at the wiccans who nodded thei heads in agreement.
“Why them just out of curiosity?” Fire asked looking the two older girls.
“Of course, Tara comes from a family line of wiccan users while Willow is one of the potentially strongest witches to exist.” Wesley explained to the wand witch. “It’s only because of her injuries that she doesn’t do much.”
“Yeah I was injured in a fight about a year ago.” Willow explained sadly as she looked at her arm. There were still several scars on her even after all this time. “The result was severe nerve damage which makes doing most forms of magic very dangerous for me.” The redhead looked grim at this. “However I have managed to channel my magic into spells that don’t require any of the hand gestures. I’m nearly to the level where the others think that I can be of use patrolling again.” She said proudly.
“Really, that’s great Will’s what types of magic do you use now?” Buffy asked her friend glad to see that the redhead was able to rejoin the fight after all of the wounds that she had. She had seen her arms twitch from time to time all morning and wondered if there was nothing to be done for her.
“Instead of the ritual style magics that require magic circles I only use telekinesis and elemental spells.” Willow explained to her friend. “They’re technically beginner spells, but with a little work I’ve managed to do things like form element balls around me and use them for my fighting.”
“So you’re back to throwing stakes with your mind again then?” Buffy said with a smile.
“Yeah, along with fire, water, earth, and air.” The redhead said with a smile glad that she could still use her abilities even if it was in a much more limited way than she had before. “No spells that require hand gestures though as they’re too dangerous for me to use. I may never be a big gun, but I’ll be powerful enough to fight vamps from a distance.”
“Very cool.” Buffy said as she eyed her friend glad that her injuries hadn’t taken her completely out of the slaying game.
“Yes, now then for you to train you will need to spar against each other and train as a team. This way you’ll know the best way to fight as you will know how the other members of the group react. Xander and George told me that they will be dealing with the telepathic abilities in the armor designs that they’re working on. We have to hurry though because every day that we take in preparing you to combat these things. The longer they have to get stronger.”
“So let’s get to it then.” Gryffindor said rising from his seat.
“Agreed, now if you’ll all head down to the training room we can begin preparing you for the coming battle.” Wesley ushered the group down into the tunnels so that they could begin their training.
For the next week the military watched as the protectors of Sunnydale and the world seemed to be even more busy than normal. They were always running in and out performing various tasks and when they weren’t doing that there were long periods of time that none of them could be seen no matter what they did. They had always suspected that there was some method that the group used to ‘conduct their real business this seemed to be the proof that they needed. To make it even worse there didn’t seem to be anyway to trace them. They had planted a number of tracking devices on the group whenever they could but they always seemed to fail. Whatever was going on it seemed that it was more important to them than hiding the fact that they were capable of beating many of their tracking methods. If this continued they would have to find another method of tracking them. For all they knew Summers had reappeared and their orders were to capture on sight. Live ammo was issued in dealing with her and they were cleared for dead if there was no other choice. Deep below in the newest Scooby central they all trained. Tactics were discussed, sparring was done so that they could anticipate the movements of others. Giles and Wesley had watched Buffy who had gone from a brawler before she left to something deadly and graceful with all the powers of a demi god. It was truly awe inspiring. Chiron who had spent the years high above waiting in the stars until he was needed again had seen many wars and many battles and had all of the knowledge of what they had done within his head. He had given Buffy the basics for many new combat styles that she was working into her own style. The others were amazing as well though. Amazon and Gryffindor seemed to be tied for raw strength, while Valkyrie and Fate came after them. The sheer power that the group had was truly astounding.
Buffy had just finished one particularly rough training session under her new trainers and turned and looked at the figure waiting for her to finish. “Faith,” the blonde said.
“Hey B.” The Slayer said a bit uncomfortably. “I hear that the armor is almost ready.” She said casually. The pair hadn’t really talked alone since the group had gotten here as there was always someone there watching over them to make sure the normal clash of their personalities and feelings didn’t erupt. It was so bad that they wouldn’t even allow the two to spar in case one or the other tried to take it too far.
“That’s what they say.” Buffy returned neutrally.
“Look B, I’m no good at this crap, but I came to apologize for everything. I know it doesn’t mean much to you and all but I am trying.” Faith said. “I had to fight for every inch of respect I was given here from both your friends and the demons. It’s taken nearly a year for them to accept me. The demons were easy as all I had to do was kill enough of them and they accepted me. The others weren’t as easy to please though.” She said sourly.
“They’re alive and seem to be doing okay.” Buffy returned to her. “You tried to kill them and if there’s something that they have its long memories. You on the other hand don’t look as well.” She said nodding to a scar that was on the slayers arm. Buffy knew that the scar went from her shoulder to her wrist.
“The demon just got lucky.” Faith defended herself.
“Just remember the first rule and you’ll be fine.” Buffy returned to her as she walked by the girl. “Oh and Faith,” she said pausing midstride. “You seem to be doing a good job.” The girl then continued on not even bothering to look behind her.
Faith smiled and nodded. Not very many words had been exchanged between the pair but it had been enough for them to feel as if they could continue without having to worry about each other.
Three days, it had taken Giles three days of nearly nonstop research with the help of most of the other Sunnydalers with the occasional bout of help from the heroes when they weren’t too tired. Fire had been extremely helpful as she had gone through the books with a fury. Gryffindor had followed her lead and read diligently at her side. That didn’t matter though, since he had finally found what he was searching for. He rushed out of the library and down the tunnels until he reached the training room and forced the doors open. “I’ve found it!” He cried before ducking as Amazon was tossed through the open doors and Fire nearly singed him and his book while trying to hit Fate.
“Stop!” Wesley ordered and looked toward the other Watcher curiously. “Is there something that you needed Rupert?”
“More like something you need.” Giles returned ignoring the younger man’s annoyance. “I know what it is that they’ll be fighting.”
“All right another win for Giles.” Buffy cheered her former mentor.
“Very well, I think that is a good reason to interrupt a training session.” The other man admitted. “I propose an intermission while we all listen to Mr. Giles information on our enemy.”
The others nodded their heads in agreement as they slumped to the floor. “Yes,” Giles said as he held a large book up. “When I first heard the name Illyria I thought that it sounded familiar but I had to check some things out first. It turns out I had read about this Illyria before.”
“Alright that’s nice, but who or what the bloody hell are they?” Katie asked in annoyance.
Giles ignored the interruption and continued on as if she hadn’t spoken. “The Illyria is found in some of the books that we took from the Master Buffy. Some of his books on his gods.” He said rather pointedly getting Angel to look up at him in disbelief. “There is also a reference to the Illyria in the books of Ascension.” He added.
“The books of Ascension?” Buffy said in disbelief as everyone who had been there or seen an Ascension tensed up. “As in the same books that taught the mayor how to become a full demon lord?”
“Precisely,” Giles said as he held a picture of a blue creature for all of them to see. “Illyria was the leader and king of the Old Ones. It was the most powerful and cruel of all of the Old Ones. Its power I would imagine is too great for simply one body which is why it is using multiples bodies at once to spread the power out.”
“So how do we beat it?” Katie questioned.
“It will be hard, as there were no known weaknesses. However extreme blasts of power have been known to kill or weaken such creatures. I would suggest taking the head off though.” Giles said.
“Then the host bodies are dead and they’re nothing more than possessed corpses then?” Angel questioned looking somewhat discouraged he had hoped that he would be able to save them from their possessions but if anything it sounded even more final than being turned into a vampire.
“No I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do to save them.” Giles agreed sending a sympathetic look toward the Daywalker.
“So we need to take them down fast and hard then.” Gryffindor noted.
“Like we had much choice before the only difference is that we’re going to have to go in for the kill when we attack them.” Buffy noted. “The others all nodded their heads in agreement. Whatever the Illyria had once been they were no longer the same thing they were monsters that had to be put down now. For the moment they were happy with magical governments but sooner or later they would be going after the rest of the world and they had to stop them before that happened.
Xander smiled as he looked at everyone gathered in the main room of the workshop. “Well folks we’ve really outdone ourselves this time I’d like to think.” The Blessed figure told them with a grin. “First we’d like to thank Fate without him we never would have managed to do what we have. Since he knew where we could find Pendragon scales though we managed to make some of the shiniest and most durable armor around.” The pair pulled walked toward some ropes that we’re hanging and tugged. A large rock moved to the side showing several suits of armor. “While the stuff you were wearing filled my inner fan boy with awe and joy there is simply no denying that for serious fights like the one you got coming that you can’t be wandering around with so much flesh exposed.”
“At least not against these guys, afterwards you can go back to the old style though.” George said. They came up to the Amazon armor first. “We’ve added a heavier chest plate that will cover your front and back along with arm and leg guards. So a hit or a block there means that they’re hitting armored body parts instead of that lovely body of yours. We also have a Greek helmet that should allow you to block the mental attacks and keep your head safe.” He added as he handed the Greek Champion a Spartan helmet.
“Yeah, I figured that this would be better than the bird armor that the comics usually use.” Xander said with a grin as he handed Buffy a picture of what her armor could have looked like. On the paper was a picture of Wonder Woman’s Kingdom Come armor.
“Um why does it have wings? I thought Wonder Woman didn’t need wings to fly?” Buffy questioned her friend.
“Not sure,” Xander said shrugging, “and I didn’t think you would want a giant bird head for a helmet either so I did away with those things. I’m going to guess it’s more ceremonial or decorative than anything else.”
“Thanks Xander.” Buffy said as she slammed her wrists together and there was a flash of light and Buffy stood before them wearing her original armor. “And here I was getting used to a quick change.” The blonde complained.
“Think about the new armor when you slam your wrists together.” Xander ordered.
The blonde nodded and tried again and this time another flash of light happened but she was now wearing her upgraded armor. Perfect she declared as she performed a few stretches to find out her range of motion.
“Valkyrie we did a lot of the same for your armor. Arm and shin guards, added in with new and heavier duty chest plate that covers more of your body. We took your helmet and turned it into a psychic scrambler as well. George said as he displayed the next suit of armor.” George explained to his friend.
The Aesir Champion smiled as she slammed her fist into the ground and a blue ring of fire surrounded her. A moment later she was dressed in the modified armor. “This is great thanks.” Valkyrie said as she hugged her friend tightly.
“For Gryffindor and Fate we decided to go a different route and created English styled armor.” Xander said as they walked toward two new sets of armor. “Since your clothes absorb magical energies then all we had to deal with was this. So we added heavy chest plates bracers boots mainly keeping the vitals protected.” Xander explained to them. “It’s easier than trying to create whole new sets of armor. For Gryffindor we put a Gryffin on his chest plate with carvings of talons and paws on the boots and gloves.”
“We also went and added in a helmet.” George added with a smile. “We based the helmet on later incarnations of what Captain Britain wore and based the helmet off his head gear.” The helmet was golden and was like a hard hat that extended downward in the front and had two square slots for the eyes. “This thing is a lot better than the cloth mask that you get.” The hero nodded his head in acceptance of the helmet. He looked at the chest plate and noticed on the back were engraved a pair of wings.
“As for you two, well we needed something a bit different.” Xander said turning to the last members of the group. “For fang brains, we mainly just added some dragon hide body armor. It looks a lot like Kevlar armor only about five times more resistant and can block some minor spells. We also added a Batman utility belt to keep all of your toys in.” The man said as he tossed the heavy leather and belt towards the vampire. “Andrew wanted to add a duster like the real Blade has but I told him that was Spike’s gimmick not yours.”
Angel nodded his thanks to Xander as he examined the body armor. “What do I use for a helmet?”
“We built you this motorcycle helmet that has all of the protections in it. Personally I wouldn’t mind if they fried your mind though.” Xander said as he tossed a helmet toward the former vampire.
“For Fire we managed to create a crown made entirely of pendragon scales. They have such a high melting point that we thought we could chance it. It should protect your mind from whatever it is that they throw at you.”
George smiled. “And now for the extras. For our warrior girls we added some shields and Amazon now has a sword in case she needs it. It’s not as good as Dragonfang, but that’s a celestial weapon to.” The redhead shrugged seeming unconcerned that they couldn’t compete with weapons of that degree. “For Fire we added a staff that will better channel her powers it also has the ability to contain her wand just like some of the other weapons are capable of doing so. The staff is based off the one that the comic book character Fire Lord uses so it should work. For Blade we made a katana so that he could really be Blade if he so chose to use it.” The dhampir nodded his thanks as he drew the sword and inspected it. “The rest of you already have weapons or don’t need them.” He said nodding to Fate.
“Yes,” Wesley said as he now took the stage. “You’ve all been trained as best we can with the amount of time we have your not a true team but I think you can work together after this and win. After this though the magical world will know of all of your existences. Before Gryffindor was the only one known now you’ll all be known to the magical government. Be careful in what you do. Survive this fight first though before you go around do anything else though.”
The heroes all nodded at his words. “Alright then Fate, you ready to get us there?” Amazon questioned the main mystic.
“Ready.” Fate agreed as he began creating an ankh to teleport them away. “We’ll see you later.” The mage said before the spell absorbed them all and they disappeared.
“Come on,” Xander said as he activated his fire screen. “We might as well watch and see what happens. Besides you know the big guys are going to be watching as well.” The others nodded as they prepared the last of their medical supplies before taking their seats.
Gryffindor’s helmet is based on a SPECTACLE HELMET
Amazon’s is based off a Corinthian helmet. Think 300 helmet mine just doesn’t have the horse hairs
Next chapter should be the final battle and chapter for this tale.