Daniel Osbourne shifted the amplifier and carefully loaded it in his van. He paused and watched with mild interest at the strange storm front roiling in with impressive speed. Then the brightest bolt of lightning he had ever remembered seeing came crashing down. It blinded him as it illuminating the entire heavens momentarily. He blinked, trying to clear his vision but all he saw was flashes.
After a minute or so, he could see properly again but the little weather anomaly had vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
"Weird," he remarked blandly. Then again, Sunnydale was a trifle bit more unusual than most communities. He turned to continue loading the rest of the equipment.----
Chapter Two: The Lightning
Xander blinked. His room had shrunk. No, waitaminute—
he took a look at himself. His room hadn't shrunk, he had grown by over half a foot. He also, he realized with a look at his massive sinews and muscles in his arms that he had significantly bulked up.
Hesitantly he reached up and touched several long strands of hair from his scalp. It was long enough that he could actually pull it forward for him to see it with his eyes. Blonde hair.Holy—
he cut that thought off and flung open his bedroom door and charged for the bathroom. He was halfway down the hallway before he realized that his leg wasn't screaming in agony from his movements. He banged off the doorframe, misjudging the new differences in his height and size. He came to a dead stop in the bathroom and gazed into the mirror.
It wasn't his face looking back at him with somewhat widened blue eyes. Tentatively, he reached up with a hand and poked himself in the face with a finger, watching intently to make sure that his reflection mirrored his movements perfectly. He continued making a few faces, opening and shutting his mouth, squinting, and grimacing just to be sure.
It was official. It really was him. Or rather, he was really
Thor. The Norse God of the Storm. The Thunderer. Wielder of Mjolnir. Odinson. Half brother to Loki. Prince of Asgard. The Mighty Avenger. And everything else as well.
He shook himself, trying to focus. Belatedly he reached down and touched his lame leg and then flexed it experimentally. He was whole once more.Well, he had the body of the Thunder God, even the Hammer of Thor,
he realized as he hefted the restored war hammer in his hand—but did he really have the rest of it too? The strength, the ability to command storms, and the whole nine yards? Hmmm.
Slowly, Xander started to grin.----
During the day, Sunnydale was much like any normal, ordinary, small town. It had parks, art museums, schools, and businesses. After dark though was another matter.
For what the majority of it's inhabitants—the non-nocturnal variety at least—didn't realize was that Sunnydale was anything but
Most of these ignorant individuals never bothered to delve into the history of the region. Why should they? It was history. It was boring crap that had absolutely no relevance in the modern world after all.
After all—it was of absolutely no relevance that the few Native American tribes who settled here—were all wiped out or died under mysterious circumstances.
It was of no special reason why; after centuries of tribe after tribe being wiped out—the Native Americans began studiously avoiding the entire region like the freaking plague. Or that they viewed the very land itself as cursed had absolutely nothing to do with this area either.
Neither was the fact that the Spanish conquistadors who conquered the region and slaughtered the inhabitants, arrogantly chose this place to set up and built in on the backs of blood and slaves—suffered a similar tragic fate.
After all, Sunnydale was in a prime location, nice view, excellent farming land, harbor facilities, and plenty of water too—surrounded completely by miles of dusty desert for some odd reason. They never bothered to wonder why.
Why would such an attractive location exist?
Unless—unless somehow the very land itself was attempting
to draw prey towards it. Like a slavering predator with excellent camouflage designed to conceal this piece of godforsaken bit of hell on earth as being harmless.
It was only later that the Spanish priests who did study the folklore and history of pre-Sunnydale would begin to realize the truth. As to why they translated it as 'Boca del Infierno'. The Mouth of Hell.
The priests proclaimed to any and all who listened; "From beneath you, it devours."
As a cautionary tale. As a warning. As a prediction.
But what do priests who are God fearing men of course—really know about the real world? They're only interested in the spiritual world and have absolutely no concept of reality. So their warnings were ignored, chuckled at, or simply dismissed … until they were simply forgotten.
So despite attempts to prevent it—Sunnydale slowly arose. A quiet town—which happened to have a larger murder per capita that nearly matched that a major metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. And the inhabitants were mostly ignorant of the dangers that lurked beneath them. Like happy, well fed cattle ignorant that they were slowly being nibbled away—by ones, by twos, by sometimes threes—like a slow meal being savored by the dark predators.
Basically the entire region was practically Disney World, Las Vegas, and Cancun combined for the supernatural. Vampires, demons, monsters, and creatures of all sort were attracted to this place by the score. They drew strength from it and they in turn fed the Hellmouth.
And most of these saw humans as some sort of snack and/or delicacy to eat. Giles once speculated with a gimlet eye—while Xander was scarfing a Twinkie—that it was because of all of the artificial sweeteners that people tended to stuff themselves with.
It tended to be hard on the cattle (i.e. humans) but they tended to spawn and repopulate the feeding pool rather quickly.
So basically, for the most part—living on a Hellmouth was a severe drawback.
However, Xander was about the exploit one of the few advantages of living on a Hellmouth. That it was really, really
easy to find something available for living test dummies.----
"Well, well, well. Lookie here Wade. Dinner!" a vampire declared, nudging his companion.
"I see it Earl! He's a big 'un. Might be enough for both of us!"
"Lookie here! Guinea Pig One!" the tall blonde man proclaimed and pulled out the biggest mallet that Earl had ever seen from beneath his cloak.
Then what he said sank it to the slightly smarter vampire.
Earl bared his fangs defiantly. "Hey! Who are you calling a hog?" he snarled.
Then he blinked as the blonde rushed forward in a burst of speed, his large mallet swinging up to crashing down in an overhead smash.----
Buffy frowned as she felt a minor tremor in the ground. Huh,
she looked around, her ears cocked for anything else accompanying it. But there was nothing and already the mild quiver had faded away. Just a minor earthquake or maybe the ol' Hellmouth is twitching,
She hefted her crossbow and continued on her patrol, a bit more alert.----
It seemed so easy in theory. Introduce Mjolnir to vampire's head. Poof.
No more vampire.
In practice, however was frightfully more complex. His entire body felt off. His reflexes were faster, his senses more acute, his entire center of balance felt different, and his very body was far stronger than it should be.
His lunge had caught the vampire by surprise. But it had almost surprised Xander just as badly as to how fast he was now. He had timed Mjolnir for an almost leisurely downward swing when he started—only now he was suddenly in range and the hammer was still beginning it's upward arc.
Gritting his teeth, he tried to accelerate his arm's downward swing. The momentum resisted him for a moment, further throwing his timing off and then his Asgard-born muscles powered his way through—blitzing the uru mallet earthward with blinding speed.
He also missed Earl by a mile.
Mjolnir was then introduced to the concrete pavement. Irresistible force met immovable object—and irresistible force won by a landslide. The impact shattered the concrete, creating a huge impact crater and a slightly more minor seismic temblor. The shocks on the cars parked nearby were rudely tested, most of them bouncing a few inches into the air before crashing back down when gravity reasserted itself.
It also created a huge cloud of dust that temporarily blinded Xander and left him choking and hacking since he had his mouth wide open.
Wade and Earl took one look at the crater and the blonde titan and decided to take full advantage of the priceless opportunity presented to them.
By running in the opposite direction and as fast as their undead legs could carry them. Even the undead have a survival instinct and that little display had triggered it.Well, I have the strength of Thor at least,
Xander realized as he spat a few times to try and get the dust out of his mouth. He also resolved not to do that again until he had a bit more practice wielding Mjolnir.
Then he remembered the two vamps and he started looking around for them. Spotting them fleeing, he grinned wolfishly and started running after them. Usually, he was in the other position in this race and had the misfortune of having only the leg speed of a normal human vs. vampire.
However, they had gotten a fairly good head start on him and showed no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Xander growled as he turned the corner and continued to pursue the running vampires. But damn they were quick!
Then he almost slapped his head and nearly brained himself with Mjolnir. Waitaminute! Why was he running? Thor could fly! Which means I can fly too! Let's see, how did he do it again?
As he continued to run, Xander began spinning the mallet with the leather thong in a circle and began speed up the rotation and power.
The spinning uru mallet quickly became a mere blur and he heard a odd—yet strangely familiar drone in the air—a drone that a part of him knew very well. The part of him that remembered being Thor.
He grinned as he hurled Mjolnir up and in the proper direction, keeping a tight grip on the thong.
However he was surprised at the sensation of the ground disappearing beneath his feet and the sudden acceleration as he hurtled through the air by the leather thong firmly caught on his wrist."AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"----
Earl and Wade never bothered to look behind them despite hearing that strange scream as they were much too busy fleeing for their undead lives to see that their vengeful pursuer had taken off. Literally.
After another twenty minutes or so, Earl finally worked up the nerve to risk a glance behind him and found that they had somehow managed to escape the blonde giant with the freaking croquet mallet.
It was unfortunate timing on his part that he had looked over his shoulder at that particular second. But even if he hadn't, it wouldn't have done him much good. As it were, he just never even saw the crossbow bolt that impaled his chest and turned him into a cloud of rapidly dispersing dust.
Wade on the other hand, had just enough time to realize what had happened to Earl when he met his own end via a rather nice economical stake thrust. Buffy practically didn't even have to do anything. She simply held it out and let the vamp bayonet himself onto it.Sheesh. That was easy,
Buffy thought to herself as she retracted the stake and replaced it into a pocket. She shaded her eyes and peered through the gloom, wondering just what they were running from. After another moment of peering, she shrugged her shoulders, not seeing anything out the ordinary. Weird. Maybe the vamps were training for their version of the Undead Olympics or something?
She shook her head and proceeded to reload her crossbow as she continued her nightly patrol.----OK, maybe that wasn't the smartest thing I have ever done…
Xander quickly realized.Mistake Number One.
Thor's power of flight was not an act of conscious will like say … Superman.
It relied on using his superhuman muscles to throw Mjolnir and then holding on while being dragged into the air sort of like a rocket. So it wasn't so much as guided thrust but more like sheer ballistic propulsion akin to a boulder being hurled by a catapult.
And Xander had greatly underestimated the amount of force needed to accomplish takeoff.Mistake Number Two.
Thor's ability to maneuver in midair was unconscious and totally effortless.
It was not.
Rather, it was the result of Thor shifting his weight and using his arms and legs to simulate aerodynamics. Not to mention mentally wielding Mjolnir to harness the wind itself.
All of which had taken Thor years to master.
The reason why it looked so damn easy was that Thor happened to have several centuries in which to practice.
Incidentally, flailing around like a chicken with it's head cut off nor dumb luck will compensate for years of experience and skill as Xander was rapidly finding out.Mistake Number Three.
Xander abruptly discovered that he disliked heights.
He was really, REALLY high up, out of control, and panicking. The situation was definitely suboptimal.Mistake Number Four.
Owing to his first three mistakes, Xander was hurtling uncontrollably into the upper atmosphere. Worse, he was starting to feel cold. As in he could see moisture crystallizing on his body as ice. The frost was instantly forming with every exhalation and he realized that he had actually achieved escape velocity and was literally orbiting the planet.
Zero gravity was making him feel queasy, there was nothing to breath, and he was SO DAMN HIGH UP!
So in Xander's current frame of mind, all he could think about was getting down. Right NOW.
Which lead to his fifth and final mistake. He instinctively yanked Mjolnir downward to try and get back to solid ground.
Gravity is a heartless bitch and does not take kindly to being ignored.
It also has a perverse sense of humor as some early aviators discovered.----Well, at least I don't have to worry about freezing to death,
Xander thought as his entire body was glowing from the sheer friction as he plummeted into the atmosphere. Burning to a crisp on the other hand…
Need to pull out of the dive!
Xander realized. But his sudden downward thrust had yanked Mjolnir out of his hand. Only the fact that his wrist was caught on the leather thong kept him and Mjolnir connected—although it was a double-edge sword as it was also technically dragging him down at the same time.
He swung his free hand around and tried to grab the thong but the steep angle was bad and the roaring air pressures that was blasting his entire body wasn't helping either—and the damn cape was creating an enormous amount of drag that was pulling his body backwards simultaneously.
Cursing, Xander tried to work his trapped hand around to grab the handle instead but it was just out of his reach. His fingertip scraped the handle. How the Hell did Thor do this?!
He racked his swiss-cheese memories of the Thunder God for the answer. Then, suddenly—he saw it.Oh. Shit. That was so fucking simple—
he jerked his wrist hard, overpowering the accelerating uru mallet's fall. It boomeranged back towards his hand.
Unfortunately he was using half-remembered memories and barely-there instincts. His hand was a fraction too slow to grab the handle and instead Mjolnir's thong yanked his wrist around and then it was around his back and—and he was flying/falling backwards! Oh and cape that had been streaming behind him like a damn chute was now instead enveloping his head so he was now blind as well.Oh … this was much, much WORSE!
Xander was flaying wildly to try and twist himself around to—he tried to tug the cape and caught a glimpse of a looming shadow over his shoulder—THOOOOOM!----Uufffhh.
Xander blinked and as his nausea and spinning head started to fade—he slowly realized that he was embedded in a mountain. In a snow covered mountain.
He lifted Mjolnir in his hand and studied the mighty Dwarf-forged weapon. OK, this was … a bit trickier than he first thought. He took a breath and tensed his muscles and he ripped himself free from the crater and stood up, brushing off bits of snow and rock. As he stepped clear of the just created depression, he glanced down and smirked slightly.
It sure was an odd looking crater—his mind flashed to those old Looney Toon cartoons that he used to watch as a kid when Wiley E. Coyote fell off a cliff and made a hole in the ground in the exact shape of his body.
Then he turned and made a complete circle of his remote surroundings. There was only wilderness as far as the eye could see. "Where the Hell am I?" he muttered, scratching his head.Oh crap, I sure hope that I'm still in America!----
It wasn't quite the same without Xander around, Willow thought to herself sadly as she made her way to Sunnydale High. Ever since Halloween and his leg surgery; he had taken to avoiding all of them. She suspected that he hated being treated as an invalid. As being useless.
She hated seeing him like that.
Buffy and Giles were around—but just felt odd without Xander's sarcastic and snarky quips. It was—she came to a halt and stared at the large crater in the ground. It hadn't been here yesterday afternoon which meant it was probably something Hellmouthy.I wonder if Buffy had something to do with this,
she thought to herself. She picked up the pace. Hopefully Buffy would be at school early so she could ask the Slayer if anything unusual had happened last night.----
"Haah. Haah. Haah." Xander panted and ran his arm across his sweaty brow. How long had he been walking? He had totally lost track of time. He peered at the sun in the sky and tried to estimate. It was no good. He lowered his head and gave up.
Thor used to do this stuff all the time before they invented watches—and Xander had lost his when he had transformed into Thor. Although, now that he thought about it, he never remembered the Thunder God bothering with one even after the things became widespread. But somehow that bit seemed to missing from his dim memories belonging to Thor.
Fortunately, he still remembered how to tell directions and navigate by the stars and sun so he knew he was heading in the right direction. That was something at least.
He drew Mjolnir and considered attempting another attempt at flying. It would certainly cut down on travel time. It would be easier. His feet were killing him and—and—he felt a shiver of fear at the memory of the ground falling away beneath him. He remembered hovering on the brink of space itself. He remembered his uncontrollable plummet and then his crash.
Suddenly his feet didn't seem quite so sore anymore. He drew himself more erect and continued walking. Westward.----
He lifted the uru mallet and brought the end of the handle down on the ground with a thump. Then he lifted it again and stamped it against the ground again.
He was rewarded with a light rain shower that almost immediately died and dried up almost instantly.
He shook the hammer irritably. "What is wrong with you?!" he yelled. "This is so damn WORTHLESS!" he roared and slammed Mjolnir down on the ground resulting in a massive explosion and shaking tremor and left Xander flying before he slammed into the ground and rolled a few times before standing up. He stared at the enchanted mallet embedded in the center of the new hollow.
He closed his eyes, his hands digging out divots in the ground. "Shit," he muttered, panting.
Then he suddenly felt the oddest sensation. Like his entire body was tingling and he could feel his energy draining at the same time.Wait—how long have I been separated from Mjolnir?
He realized frantically. He shot up and tried to—and then he heard the Thunder.KRA-KOOOOOOOMMMM!
And suddenly—abruptly—unexpectedly—he was Thor no longer. He was merely Xander Harris once more. And his injured leg came down with his full weight on it and agony jolted up his limb.
He screamed as liquid hot pain seemed to radiate through his knee and upward through his thigh and he couldn't stand up any longer and he fell to the hard dusty ground. He lay there, sobbing and gasping, trying to get control over his traitorous body, trying to will the pain away.
After long moments of gulping breaths, he was able to not feel like screaming anymore and he levered himself up to see the wooden cane standing where Mjolnir once was. But bizarrely enough, the cane was maintaining a straight vertical and perfectly balanced position in the air in complete defiance of gravity.
He reached down with his hand and tenderly massaged his throbbing knee. No—it wasn't going to be good enough to hold his weight for a while. He grit his teeth and slowly, painfully, began to drag himself across the dirt towards the cane.
He tried to brush aside some of the big rocks and stones out of his path but he could still feel the ones that he missed scrapping against his body as he continued to pull himself forward, inch by bloody inch. Fifteen feet.
His entire upper chest felt raw, like the skin was scoured off. Ten feet.
His forearms were bruised and dirty and covered in small cuts, some of which were bleeding. Seven feet.
His elbows felt numb and his entire body was dripping with sweat. Four feet.
Gasping, he reached out his hand to grip the polished wooden surface and as he made contact—electricity flashed and he let out a pained cry and retracted his now smoking palm. Lightning spat and arced up and down the surface of the pristine cane momentarily before it faded away.
Xander stared at his palm for a long moment and bent his head down, his eyes closed. He licked his cracked, dry lips and looked heavenward. "I'm sorry."
He took a deep breath. "You warned me. You told me that I was selfish and immature. Arrogant and impetuous. And—and you were right. You wanted me to be better than that. To be Worthy and I—I wasn't.
"I used my power without thinking. It wasn't like I was actually trying to train or protect anyone. I treated this gift like a bright new shiny toy to play with. I was wrong. And I am sorry.
"Please. Give me another chance. I—I won't promise that I won't do something like this again, I know better than that. I am selfish and impetuous. And immature and arrogant. I can't change overnight. But I will do my best to be better than that."
He squeezed his eyes shut and then pleaded, "Please."
He took a breath and reached out to the cane. This time, no lightning crackled or shocked him. He took hold the wooden cane and gently pulled it free of the earth. He closed his eyes in thanks. "Thank you Thor."
He raised the cane above his head and slammed it down. Lightning sparked and Thunder roared.KRA-KOOOOOOOMMMM!
No longer lame again, Xander got to his feet. Then he knelt and bowed his head. "Thank you Father," he whispered prayerfully to Odin.