Disclaimer: All characters belong to their proper owners. I can only claim ideas caused by sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Arcona Barracks, HQ GAR Special Operations Brigade, Coruscant. Nine months after the Battle of Geonosis.
The silence of the dormitory wing was broken by a strangled gasp. Immediately SGT RC-822705 (Echo) came awake and looked over to the bunk across from him. Sitting bolt upright in his own bunk Trooper RC/XH-579 (Zan) seemed to be staring at something no one else could see while at the same time silently screaming.
“Undessi vod’ika, undessi. It’s just a dream, wake up.” Echo said as he grabbed his team mate’s shoulders and gently shook him. Suddenly Zan took a shuddering breath and his eyes focused on his squad leader.
“Sorry Sarge, bad dream, I didn’t mean to disturb you.” The self-proclaimed ‘Mongrel’ of the Republic Commandos said, rubbing his hands over his face.
Echo nodded in understanding. All of the survivors of the first battle the clone army fought had had bad dreams at one point or another. Zan got up and headed for the freshers while Echo and the other members of the squad returned to their bunks.
In the freshers Zan rinsed his face and stared at his reflection in the mirror. “Who are you?” He asked. For the young man his ‘life’ started four years ago in Kamino City. At first no one, not Kaminoan cloners or the Mandalorian mercenaries hired by Jango Fett to train the clone army, had known what to do with him.
Eventually Kal Skirata had taken him in and began to train him alongside the clone commandos. For over three years Zander or Zan, as he became known trained and trained hard. ‘Flash Training’ gave him the basics and constant repetition honed those skills. Despite not being the end product of genetic manipulation he had been able to hold his own when compared to the clones being trained alongside him.
By the time the Grand Army of the Republic deployed to Geonosis he was a fully fledged Commando, Theta Squad’s demolitions and medical expert. Since then the squad had crisscrossed the galaxy in the war against The Separatist’s and their droid armies.
Of his life before then he remembered little. Just fragments, such as a shy red haired girl and a laughing boy. He knew he cared for them but he couldn’t remember their names. Other memories were of a beautiful blonde girl and an older man. Were they family or friends? He didn’t know. All he did know that at some point he had made a vow. A vow to keep fighting as long as he had breath to do so, no matter what the cost to himself.
Shaking off the dark thoughts Zan looked at the chrono and decided that there was no point in trying to get back to sleep. Instead he headed down to the gym for a workout before reveille.
Sunnydale September 1997
Buffy Summers sat in the bedroom of her best friend Willow Rosenberg and listened in shock as the sobbing girl haltingly told of what had happened while she had been on vacation with her father.
“And that was the last time anyone saw him...” Willow sobbed as she broke the news that Xander was missing. For a moment the room was silent save the muffled sobs of the Slayer’s best friend as Buffy tried to take it all in.
Xander gone! No it couldn’t be true. She thought, she was half expecting him to jump out of the closet and yell “SURPRISE!” at her as part of an elaborate prank. But she saw the sobbing red-head in front of her and knew it was no stunt or prank. Xander Harris, the boy who befriended her the first day she arrived at Sunnydale High, who instead of running away screaming or repressing when he found out about the existence of the Slayer and vampires had stood up and fought by her side even though it wasn’t his fight, was gone.
Instinctively she leaned across and hugged Willow who returned the hug. Together the two girls shared their grief as they remembered their friend. Finally after nearly an hour and several boxes of tissues Buffy stood up.
“C’mon Willow we’re going.” She declared.
Willow wiped her eyes. “W...where?”
“First to see Giles, then Angel and then I’m going to Willy’s and if I find the demon that took our Xander away I’m going to make it regret that it ever climbed out of whatever Hell hole it was born in!” The Slayer declared with conviction.
Rupert Giles would later report to The Council that on the night that Slayer Summers found out that one of her dearest friends was missing, presumed dead, she dusted over twenty vampires, including a group of five that were in the process of exhuming the bones of The Master who had been defeated by Buffy four months previously. The bones were then crushed to powder by Buffy using one of the shovels left by the vampires.
What he didn’t report was that Buffy finished the night crying in the arms of Angel, the vampire with a soul as she wept for the young man who risked his life to save hers and was gone before she had a chance to thank him.
And on the outskirts of town a black DeSoto with tinted windows crashed into the ‘Welcome to Sunnydale’ sign and came to a halt. A slender man with bleached blonde hair and wearing a black leather duster stepped out and looked over the town before helping a dark haired woman with a pale, almost ethereal beauty, dressed in a Victorian era gown out of the car.
“Here we are luv. Our new home.” Spike, killer of two Slayers said to his sire and lover Drusilla.
“Oh William it looks wonderful. But what about the nasty Slayer and her friends?” The insane vampire asked.
“Don’t worry luv, if she makes trouble you can bathe in her blood.” Together the vampire version of ‘Sid and Nancy’ danced in the moonlight laughing at the thought of all the blood and mayhem they’d cause.
End Chapter One