Disclaimer -- see chapter 1Death Star Overbridge
Xander looked at everyone with something more than a bit of anxiety, which was ridiculous given that he and his friends were in control of what amounted to nothing less than a gigantic terror weapon with the power to end all life on Earth in an instant. More than ridiculous, really; the idea of turning the Death Star’s superlaser on the Earth had entered his mind for the first time, and it filled him with horror like nothing he had ever felt. The threat by the US Air Force to fire missiles at the battle station was laughable compared to the terrible idea in Xander’s mind now. He promptly, violently dismissed the thought from his mind as the influence of what little bit of Moff Tarkin remained in his head, and he resolved himself to formulate a strategy for answering the general.
Then it hit him. Xander remembered wandering the streets of Sunnydale as Tarkin with a noncorporeal Willow in tow, looking for what Tarkin assumed was an Imperial informant, but what Willow, and Xander himself, though he had no means of expressing it at the time, knew was a similarly-enchanted Buffy Summers. He remembered also how three trick-or-treaters, whom Tarkin had assumed from his worldview were aliens, and how Tarkin had killed two of them outright and wounded the third. It occurred to Xander that, though the “vaunted” Sunnydale PD would more than likely overlook the presence of blaster wounds, Sunnydale General Hospital would not be so naïve as to exhibit the same lack of thoroughness and concern.
There were several reasons, then, that occurred to Xander as to why he should have them brought up to the station. One, he could remove the evidence of the callous murders committed by the Grand Moff. Two, he could evacuate the wounded trick-or-treater to the station and give him better medical care sufficient enough to thoroughly eliminate any evidence of Tarkin’s callousness. The medical facilities onboard the Death Star would be advanced enough to prevent any scarring whatsoever when the wounded one was submerged in a bacta tank.
He also remembered something about Tarkin mentioning that those same medical facilities would be capable of helping Willow with her nervous habit of babbling nonstop.
That was it, then. Humanitarian aid it was. As for the sudden appearance of the Death Star over Earth, Xander could chalk it up to hyperspace capability, that meaning the Death Star was capable of appearing over a planetary body without so much as leaving an ion trail, as it took only the presence of a mass shadow in hyperspace to draw a ship back out into realspace.
“Giles?” Xander turned to the Watcher at the communications suite and asked, “have you familiarized yourself thoroughly with your station?”
The Watcher turned to Xander and replied, “While I have had some success in deciphering the alphabet used here, I still have some work to do concerning the technicalities of interpreting this console. Since your memories of Tarkin permit you to do the same thing with more success, might I invite you to approach and compose your reply to the good General?”
Xander smiled and shook his head. “You took the words right out of my mouth, G-man. Okay,” Xander answered and then strode over to Giles’ console. The librarian stood and offered Xander his seat, and then Xander got to work as soon as he could take it.
“Okay,” he then said in a slightly subdued voice, more to himself than to anyone else, “I’m setting up to record a voice response, and I’m tuning down the signal strength so it won’t blow out everything in that mountain when they get the message. As for the alphabet, this is Aurebesh, the alphabet of Star Wars, which I’ll teach you if we can get some time to induct you into the world of geekdom,” he finished with a slight chuckle.
Giles, for his part, sighed in despair. Bloody Colonials…
, he thought to himself. He then continued to look over Xander’s shoulder as the impromptu station commander worked his magic. After only a moment, the console signaled its readiness to record. Xander nodded to himself and began.
“General Hammond, this is Xander Harris commanding the planetary defense station Vigilant Watcher. We have just arrived in system to recover several of our people that have landed in the vicinity of the community known as Sunnydale, California, and to render humanitarian assistance to those same persons. I apologize for our abrupt appearance in this planet’s orbit, and we will rest assured render what aid we can to those who have been affected by the appearance of this station. We would like to send down a few shuttlecraft to recover those persons of which I made mention, and then we would like to offer you an opportunity to come aboard and meet with us. I’m sure we can work out some sort of arrangement that would be mutually beneficial… Vigilant Watcher out.”
When he finished, he looked back over his shoulder at the confused Watcher, and he noted the expressions of everyone on the overbridge, said expressions ranging from confusion to outright fear.
The Watcher then said to Xander, “Are you sure that was such a wise decision? This General Hammond does not sound like the kind of person who would take such a statement at face value, given the circumstances. And why ‘Vigilant Watcher’?”
There was a simple answer to that. “I’ll no longer call this the Death Star, Giles. If this thing can kill planets, it can also defend them, like a sentinel, or…”, and here Xander’s eyes took on a whimsical glint, and he smiled and said “a Watcher for a Slayer.”
The aforementioned Watcher’s eyes widened in amazement as his breath caught in his throat. At length he found the words to express his gratitude. “I’m honored, Xander, truly I am. Thank you. It still does not answer the question of how to respond to the message from the Air Force,” Giles concluded, his eyes taking on a hard gleam as he waited for a good answer from Xander.
“I don’t want them to think we’re hostiles, even though we could swat down anything they shot at us from the ground without even a blink. Somebody down there knows what’s up here, and they are more than likely scared shitless, if you’ll pardon my language. We need to assuage their fears and let them know that we are friends up here, so we don’t want to give them a reason to start shooting off nukes at us.”
“Dear lord,” said Giles as he removed his glasses and began polishing them furiously. The mere notion of atomic weapons being used was unsettling to Giles in the extreme. The assembled Scoobies on the Overbridge, hearing the extent of the conversation between them, began muttering amongst themselves in horror.
“Omigod, are we going to get nuked?”
“Highly unlikely, Dawn, we’ll just shoot them down with turbolasers, simple as it gets…”
Giles listened to the mumbling and muttering, and then he decided he’d had enough. “Go ahead, Xander, send the message.”
Xander turned to the communication console and pressed a series of buttons, and then he stood up and gave the chair back to Giles. “Done and done, now we wait. In the meantime, I want to go down in a shuttle and pick up anyone that might have had anything to do with our part in tonight’s unpleasantness. Willow’s down there and we need to get her up here, at least for now. I don’t want to have to explain to the doctors at Sunnydale General how they got patients with unexplainable third-degree burns from blaster wounds.”
“Agreed,” replied Giles, “but shouldn’t we be more concerned with the police? They will wish to investigate how those two trick-or-treaters were killed tonight.”
Xander just cocked his head sideways and pursed his lips together in a gesture of annoyance. “Giles, it’s Sunnydale PD, they’re more likely to find a convenient cover for those two deaths, as this was a Hellmouth thing. Case open, case closed. I doubt there’ll even be any interviews. No, the hospital people are the ones we should worry about, and that’s why we need to get down there and bring everyone that saw Tarkin or Daala walking around or got shot with a blaster. We can cover it up better because up here on the Vigilant Watcher
we have the medical facilities to heal blaster wounds much better and not even leave any scarring to show for it. No one will be the wiser.”
“Well thought, Xander. Tarkin’s influence must have improved your reasoning skills. I agree with your logic; we should board a shuttle and return home, at least until we shall be required to call this station home.”
“I agree there too, Giles, but we should discuss that when the time comes. Buffy?” Xander turned now to the Slayer stationed at the Tactical console.
“Yes?” The bottle blonde perked up her head at Xander’s call. “I have turbolaser batteries armed and ready should they decide to fire nuclear weapons or anything else. If they do get close, the shields should be able to absorb the radiation.”
“On your toes, Buffster, I like it. I need you to stay here on the Overbridge and keep an eye on things while we go down to Sunnyhell and get our people out. If you start tracking missiles from the surface, let us know at once, yes?”
Buffy tilted up her chin in a very aristocratic gesture and replied, “You will be informed the instant I detect missiles being fueled.”
“Hey, I thought I
was Tarkin!” Xander countered in mock offense.
“Please…” said Buffy, “I was a noblewoman from eighteenth-century Britain; I’m more of an aristocrat than you. Now get going.”