As always I own none of these characters, I make no money writing these stories, and I have no money.
thanks to Steve for bringing the Wandererverse to us.
Enjoy the story
A Scooby Ghost Story
"Holy Shit!" The voice over the radio caught the black armored soldier's attention. He paused and listened in on the conversation going on inside the base.
"Can you stop it?" Someone asked.
"We don't have enough time," the original voice replied. "EVAC! NOW!"
TAKE COVER!" Came the shouted warning as a dozen soldiers wearing Desert Camouflage BDU's ran out of the building. The black armored soldier saw the others diving into various holes and behind barriers, realized what was coming, and dove into a nearby trench. A second later a thunderous explosion rocked the area.
Xander Harris peered over the edge of the trench. All around the base, flaming debris littered the field. Through the flames and smoke he could just make out the other members of Section Seven and the Army pulling out. <That's right, Steve said that once the base blew we'd have to get to the extraction point ASAP.>
Xander's mind wandered back to the briefing.
Firebase one 12 hours ago
"All right, ladies." Major Kevin 'Tex' Ritter, addressed the assembled group of soldiers. The members of the new Alpha Regiment and the members of Section Seven straightened up and waited. "In case any of you are wondering why you're here. LISTEN UP! We've got a situation that requires a surgical strike against several Mexican Military Bases."
"Sir?" One of the lieutenants interrupted the briefing. "But why are we attacking Mexico?"
"We're not." All eyes turned to Steven St. Wolf. "The Mexican Military has a serious problem. According to the Mexican Secretary of Defense, seven desert bases have gone silent in the last ten days. A week ago they sent in teams to investigate the situation."
"And?" The Lieutenant asked.
"Each team reported everything was OK, just some technical problems with their comm gear." Steven replied, "Then the teams didn't report back to base."
"Three days ago, the Military launched a surgical strike against the bases with some of their elite forces. Four of the bases were deserted and three of them laid ambushes that nearly wiped out the units sent against them."
"They were warned ahead of time?" Giles asked.
"By someone pretty high up in the Mexican Military." Steven nodded. "That's when the Secretary of Defense called me personally."
"Whoa!" The Lt. Looked shocked. "That means that only the highest members of the Mexican Government even know that we're making these raids?"
"That's right." Steve nodded, "That's why these are going to be quick surgical strikes. Some Intel I've gotten from other sources tells me that the military's been infiltrated by vampires. Worse, one of those bases is an old secret supply dump for nerve gas."
"OK, my day is officially ruined." Xander sighed.
A few of the officers chuckled at Xander's comment. Steve didn't smile, "If the Vamps find out where the nerve gas has been cached, everyone's day is going to be ruined."
The laughter died out pretty quickly after that comment.
"So the Vamps don't know where the gas is yet?" Buffy asked.
"Not yet." Steve did grin this time. "The gas isn't on any of the manifests and the only way we found out about it was because an old sergeant who was assigned to the base, remembered them hiding the stuff in a secret bunker."
"So why don't we just bomb the hell out of that base?" The Lt. asked.
"We have to go in, neutralize the opposition, and do a quick inventory of the canisters and make sure it's all still there."
"And if it is?"
"Then we set a few PAV PAT Blue explosives and blow the whole thing to Hell and gone." Steve nodded to one of the boards. "The gas in question is highly toxic but thankfully breaks down to inert ingredients when exposed to high heat. The only problem is that once the bomb goes off, every patrol in range is going to come in running. We've got to be gone before then to prevent embarrassing the Mexican Government."
"What are we going to do about casualties?" The Lt. Asked.
"We'll EVAC any wounded personnel." Steve replied, "Any dead are to be left there."
"WAIT A MINUTE!" Another Lt. shouted. "No way are we leaving any of our boys behind!"
"I've already made a deal to have any remains returned to US." Steve sighed, "Unofficially of course."
"Is that why we were told to remove any identifying insignia from our uniforms?"
"That's right," Steve nodded, "As far as the Mexican's are concerned, the raid is going to be a group of Militia staging an abortive raid to get their hands on military grade ordinance."
"Kinda like a gang on PCP?" Xander grinned.
"Something like that." Steve nodded, "All right, we're going to break up into seven strike units and get the mission briefings done. Any questions?"
When no one responded, Major Ritter started talking again. "Harris," Xander snapped to attention almost involuntarily as Major Ritter called his name, "You and Chase are part of Team Alpha."
Ritter turned to Buffy and Willow, "Summers, Rosenberg and Hunter are part of Team Bravo."
He went down the list, assigning the members of Section Seven to the various Strike Teams. "Pryce, Team Charlie."
"Giles, Team Delta."
"Mcpherson, Team Echo."
"Calender, Team Foxtrot."
"Osborne, Team Golf."
Major Ritter turned back to the map, "Teams Alpha and Bravo are hitting the two bases we're almost sure have been totally taken over by vampires. Since all of the bases are to be hit simultaneously, each remaining strike team has been assigned an advisor from Section Seven. Team India will be held in reserve. For the record people, don't be fooled by the apparent youth of the advisors. Each and every one of them has faced and killed vampires in the field. If they tell you something, believe it."
"Now I really wish we hadn't left Robin and Liam back in Sunnydale." Willow whispered to Amy.
"Now *I* wish, I'd said yes when Steve asked for any volunteers to stay back home." Amy whispered back. They turned their attention back to Major Ritter.
Ritter pointed out four points circled in blue, "There will be four extraction points, Teams Alpha and Bravo will evac through extraction point 1, teams Charlie and Delta, point 2, Echo and Foxtrot point 3 and Team Golf point four. Final Warning people, if you're not there when the copter leaves, you're going to be in for a looong walk."
Climbing out of the trench, he tried to raise someone on the radio only to be rewarded by static. He removed his helmet and found a heavy sliver of steel sticking out of the main transceiver. <DAMN! Well at least it the helmet did its job and protected my head. Although Cordy might argue there's nothing inside to hurt.>
Xander was about to head for escape route one when the headlights of an old style jeep caught his eyes. <Oh hell, the bad guy's cavalry showed up earlier than expected.>
"Hey kid," Xander whirled around and pointed his MPK at the intruder.
"Whoa!" The intruder, a man dressed in Desert Camouflage, raised his hands in a warding motion. "I'm on your side."
Xander gave the soldier a quick once over, <Why the hell does he seem familiar?>.
Not taking any chances, Xander started the passcode sequence. "Talon."
The Soldier smiled, "Raptor."
"Artemis," Xander finished the pass code and relaxed slightly. "Xander Harris."
"The name's Falcon," The soldier replied, "Nice to meet you, Harris."
"Likewise." Xander nodded. "Route One's been cut off."
"I noticed," Falcon replied, "Whaddya think? Route two or route three."
"Route three," Xander nodded in the general direction they should go. "Route two would force us to go around the base."
"Right," Falcon nodded, "Good call. Route three it is."
Xander did a quick inventory of his gear. <Let's see: water, compass, MPK with three full magazines and one magazine about half empty, Browning Hi-Power with two full mags, a couple of flares, ka-bar knife, silencers for both firearms, Night vision gear and one dead radio. Just great.>
"Is your radio working?" Falcon Asked, "Mine got trashed by the blast."
"No," Xander shook his head, "Mine is out too. We've gotta get to the extraction point before they leave without us."
"Not a problem," Falcon grinned, "Let's get a move on. I'll take point."
Xander took up a following position about 5 feet behind Falcon and the two of them set off over the dark desert landscape.
"All right, Everyone get moving!" Steve yelled into his mike as the enemy base continued to burn. "The reinforcements are already here, let's GO!"
"WE CAN'T LEAVE!" Cordelia grabbed Steve's arm. "Xander hasn't checked in yet!"
"I'm sorry, Cordy." Steve sighed, "We can't stay and look for him. He's got to make it to the extraction Point on his own."
"Not a chance," Cordelia Chase started to head back towards the burning building.
"CORDY!" Steve stepped in front of the upset Amazon. "You know I can't let you do that."
"And how do you think you're going to stop me?" Cordelia asked.
Steve sighed, "OK, where do we start looking?"
Cordelia turned to glance at the building, searching for movement. As the Amazon turned away, Steve struck. The perfectly aimed punched dropped the young woman in her tracks. As he caught her limp form, Steve muttered, "If you don't kill me for this, Buffy will. But I can't risk both of you."
About a half hour later, Falcon dropped to one knee behind some bushes. He turned to see Xander already crouching down and eyeing the four-man patrol that was in front of them.
Xander raised the night-vision gear he was wearing and double-checked the patrol. Under the IR goggles the four figures were vague almost translucent. Without the goggles, Xander could clearly make out the figures of four soldiers surrounding the jeep. <Ah hell, Steve was right, the local military has been taken over by the vamps.> He turned to tell Falcon, and saw the soldier giving him an almost paternal look of approval. <What's up with that?>
`Vampires.' Xander mouthed the word carefully without actually vocalizing it. Falcon nodded and used hand signals to indicate to Xander that they should split up a little and catch the vamps in a cross-fire. Falcon suddenly caught himself and started to mouth the instructions to Xander instead, when Xander gave him the 'acknowledging instructions' signal and moved off to his right.
The older soldier gave Xander another approving glance before moving off to the left. Once in position both he and Xander fitted the silencers to their Brownings. Falcon held his hand up and indicated to Xander that they would fire on a five-count. Xander acknowledged the count with a nod. Falcon started the count and on four turned to aim his Browning at the nearest figure. Xander watched Falcon tick off the count, on three he turned and took aim on the vampire nearest him. Still keeping a count in head, Xander waited till five and then double tapped the pistol and put two rounds straight through the head of his first target. Before the second target could do more than look surprised, Xander dusted him as well. He readjusted his aim a third time to discover that Falcon had gotten already gotten his two.
"Good shooting," Falcon told Xander, "Nice and clean, who taught you to shoot like that?"
"Partly it was Steve," Xander removed the silencer and holstered the pistol. He pulled the night vision gear back over his head. "You wouldn't believe where the rest of the skill came from."
"Oh yeah?" Falcon grinned, an unsettling sight when viewed through the goggles. "Try me."
Xander shrugged, "OK why not? A couple of years ago or so, this really whacked out chaos mage decided to turn everyone in Sunnydale into their costumes. Guess who decided to be a Soldier for Halloween?"
"Lemme get this straight." Falcon thought about it. "Just because you dressed like a soldier, you've got the skills of a soldier?"
"Sorta," Xander shrugged, "See, I got the BDU's at a surplus store, the only thing I can figure is that somehow I got the skills of the original owner of the BDU's."
"Here I had to spend 20 years in the army to get where I am," Falcon shook his head ruefully. "And a kid just outta High School gets all of it just from wearing a costume on Halloween. There's no justice in the world."
"So you believe me?"
"Harris, you'd be surprised what I believe in nowadays." Falcon took a look at the jeep, "Looks in pretty good shape, what do you think?"
Xander looked over the entire Jeep, carefully knocking out all of the reflectors. "If we use the night vision goggles and keep the headlights off, it should cut down on our traveling time."
"You drive," Falcon slid into the passenger's seat.
Xander sat in the driver's seat and put the jeep in gear. With a quick double check of his compass, he set a course towards the rendezvous point. About an hour later, Xander saw something blocking the road up ahead and pulled over. Falcon took off his night vision gear and pulled out a pair of binoculars with the same capabilities. "Ah shit, they heard us."
"Time to go," Xander ducked out one side of the jeep while Falcon dove out the other side. They regrouped and moved parallel to the road. Xander watched as the patrol turned their flashlights on the vehicle and then began fanning out. Xander counted heads and held up five fingers, then four. Falcon held up his hand to indicate they should attack on the count of five. He was startled when Xander shook his head and started to move off. After they'd dodged the patrol, Falcon grabbed Xander's arm. "What was that about?"
"We didn't need to kill them." Xander replied.
"Didn't...?" Falcon paused, "Harris, have you ever had to kill anybody before?"
"Vampires and Demons." Xander nodded.
"But no humans?"
"Yes." Xander admitted, "But they were trying to kill me and my friends. I haven't had to just kill someone without some provocation before."
"And you're not ready to cross that line yet?"
"No." Xander shook his head emphatically, "I'm not."
"Good," Falcon smiled and walked off.
Xander looked after the walking soldier and frowned, shaking his head. "I don't get it." Xander muttered as he followed Falcon towards their destination.
Another half hour of walking got them to within sight of the extraction point. Taking off the night-vision gear, Xander could make out Buffy and Cordelia harassing Steve. <Gotta love them girls.>
"Hey Harris." Xander turned in time to see a round kinda floppy object flying towards him. He snagged the object out of the air and took a closer look at it. In his hands was the traditional headgear of the US army Special Forces unit commonly referred to as the 'Green Berets'. He turned it over in his hands and found the rank pin of a 1st Lt. attached to it.
"Something to remember me by, kid. For what it's worth, I think you've earned the right to wear it." Falcon said as he turned and headed away from the Extraction point.
"You're not taking the choppers?" Xander frowned at the soldier's retreating back. <Where the hell did he get this?>
"Nah," Falcon turned back to face Xander again. "I've got another ride set up for me. But do me a favor, will ya?"
"Tell Tex, that 'Falcon' sends his regards."
"Sure." Xander watched until the soldier's form disappear into the shadows before he tucked the beret away under his belt, stood, and headed down to the waiting copters. As he approached the perimeter several guards spotted him and began covering him. One lone guard stepped forward with a cross in his hand. He issued the first password. "Talon."
"Raptor," Xander removed his right glove as he replied. He held his hand up at shoulder level palm facing out.
"Artemis," The guard tossed the cross at Xander.
Xander caught the cross in his right hand and held it there for several seconds before tossing it back.
"Good to see you're all right, Harris." The guard smiled, "Your lady friend has been giving St. Wolf hell for losing you."
"They should know they can't get rid of me that easily." Xander grinned back, "I'm like the proverbial bad penny. I always turn up."
As he headed over to the choppers, Xander asked, "Has anyone told Steve I'm back yet?"
"Nah," the guard shook his head, "We just informed Major Ritter of your arrival."
"OK," Xander's grin got a lot wider, "Let's keep it that way."
"Sure thing." The guard nodded as Xander made a beeline straight for the copters.
Down by the copters, Cordelia Chase was giving Steve St. Wolf the verbal equivalent of an ass- kicking. "I don't care what the risks are. I'm going back and looking for Xander and if either of you tries to stop me again, I'll feed what left off your sorry asses to Patches."
"Geez, Cordy. From the way you're talking, someone would say you're worried about me." A voice came from behind her.
Cordelia whirled around to see a dusty, tired, but smiling Xander Harris walking towards her.
"Xander!" She threw her arms around him and hugged as hard as she could. "You're OK?"
"Yeah, I'm..." Xander started before Cordelia smacked him on the back of his head. "OW! What was that for?"
"For making me worry, dweeb boy." Cordelia said before she kissed him. "And that was for coming back in one piece."
"Ahem!" Xander and Cordelia broke apart to see 'Tex' Ritter grinning at them. "Get a room, you two. We've got to get moving."
"Anyone else still out there?" Xander asked worried.
"Nope," Tex shook his head. The whine of the helicopter turbines forced him to raise his voice. "You were the last member of the team still unaccounted for!"
"What about Falcon!?" Xander asked.
"What was that!?" Tex shouted
"I said, `What about Falcon!'?" Xander shouted back, "He and I got here together. He even told me to give you his regards!"
"THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE SON!" Tex shouted as they hopped into the copter. The door closed and Tex was able to speak in a more normal tone. "You've got to be mistaken."
"Why?" Xander sat next to Cordelia and relaxed into her embrace.
"Because," Tex replied sadly. "Falcon was a member of GI JOE back before the team was disbanded. He was killed during the assault on last Cobra Stronghold."
Firebase 01 Several hours later
<I know he told me his name was Falcon.> Xander mused as he turned the beret over in his hands. <Maybe he's an Immortal like Steve and Buffy?> Standing up, Xander headed for Tex' office. <Maybe Major Ritter can give me more info on this guy.> He was almost at the Major's office when the sounds of laughter caught his attention.
<Scarlet,> Xander quickly identified the female laughter. The three male laughs were nearly as easy. <Tex, Duke, and Hawk.> Xander did a mental double take. <Who the hell is *HAWK*?> Xander risked a quick peek into the room where the laughter was coming form. Inside; Tex, Snake-Eyes, Duke and Scarlet were sitting around a small table drinking coffee. With them was an older man, wearing a general's stars. <That's Hawk.> Xander realized quickly. <And how the hell do I know that?> He ducked back as Scarlet asked Tex, "So why the silence, Tex? You've been pretty quiet all evening."
"Just thinking about the old days in GI JOE," Tex admitted.
"Anything in particular?" Duke asked.
"Yeah," Tex nodded, "I was just thinking about Falcon "
"Falcon?" Scarlet was startled by Tex's remark, she glanced over at Duke. "Why would you be thinking about Falcon now?"
"Because of something that Harris said." Tex shrugged.
"Harris?" Scarlet and Snake-Eyes exchanged glances. "You mean Xander?"
"Yeah," Tex nodded, "He got cut off from the unit on the last raid."
"Is he OK?" Scarlet looked concerned.
"Hell yeah," Tex grinned, "Made it back to the Extraction point on his own. Or maybe not on his own."
"How so?" Duke asked. "Either he was or he wasn't on his own."
"That's the wild part." Tex replied, "Xander was the only man unaccounted for when we got to the evac. But he told me he'd come in with Falcon ."
"Maybe he did." Scarlet replied.
"Look, Scarlet. I'm not going to call you crazy..." Tex leaned in, "But..."
"C'mon Tex." Scarlet grinned, "By your own admission. Xander was the only fire team member still out there, right?"
"And with everything else we've seen since meeting Section Seven. Can you honestly say that the idea of Falcon coming back to help Xander is that unbelievable?"
"So why Xander," Duke asked, "And why now?"
"I don't know." Scarlet admitted, "But it sure fits the way Falcon used to be."
"I'll say," Duke replied proudly, "Remember the raid on that Cobra base in the Caribbean?"
Everyone started to laugh. Tex recovered enough to comment. "I remember the look on your face when you told Falcon that Shipwreck was still missing and he jumped out of the Tomahawk to go find him."
"We were already 30 feet in the air at the time." Duke defended himself. "He was just lucky that the copter was over the water when he jumped." The laughter started up again, this time it didn't stop for quite some time.
This time Scarlet spoke up, "Did you ever notice something weird about Xander?"
"You mean like the fact that he moves like a soldier?" Tex nodded, "But all of Section Seven can walk the walk."
"It's not just that." Scarlet shook her head. "I didn't peg it, till you mentioned Falcon. But doesn't Xander sometimes remind you of him?"
"Come to think of it," Tex nodded, "You're right. The way he moves in a firefight and the way he sometimes stands when he's expecting trouble. I didn't notice either. Weird."
Xander moved away from the doorway and headed back to the living quarters. <Weird doesn't even begin to cover this. He might have been a ghost, I've seen enough to believe that, but why me?>
"Hey Xander!" Xander looked up and saw Willow approaching from another corridor.
"Hey Will." Xander grinned at his childhood friend.
"I heard you nearly got left behind this time." Willow smiled back as she teased Xander. "You were always late for the bus in school too."
"For your infor..." Xander stopped and suddenly had an idea. "Will, you have your laptop with you?"
"Always," Willow tapped the small pack at her side. "Why?"
"Think you can hack into the DOD files for me and get the dossier of a former JOE?"
"Sure," Willow nodded, "I don't even have to hack it. Steve got me a temporary clearance for the network while we're here."
"Great!" Xander led the way back to his room. Willow setup the laptop and tapped in her clearance. "Ok, I'm online."
"Look up the record for a JOE, codename Falcon."
"Sure thing," Willow accessed the file. As the file appeared, she frowned. "Xander, are you sure about the codename?"
"Take a look." Willow turned the laptop towards Xander.
Xander leaned in and read the file. The first thing he noticed was the picture of the Joe. That same person had been his companion during his trek.
File Name: Falcone, Vincent R
Primary Military Specialty: Infantry
Secondary Military Specialty: Medic
Birthplace: Fayetteville, North Carolina Rank: O-2
Qualified Expert: Most NATO and Warsaw Pact Weapons.
Current Status: (DECEASED)
"Xander, he's been dead for nearly 10 years." Willow told him.
"Thanks, Will." Xander nodded. "That's all I needed to know."
"No problem," Willow put the laptop away. "Xander, are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Will." Xander smiled at her. "I just have some things to think about."
"Kay," Willow stood and headed for the door. "I'll see you later?"
Xander nodded absently, he was again turning the beret over in his hands. Willow gave him a concerned look before closing the door. Xander examined the rank pin attached to the Beret. <1st Lieutenant, same rank as Falcon, the same rank as that uniform I got from the surplus store before I removed them.> He walked over to the mirror and tried on the Beret. After a couple of quick adjustments he had set it perfectly on his head. As he stood there, he noticed a figure smiling just behind him. Xander didn't turn around, he simply stared Falcon right in his eyes. He then drew himself to 'attention' and snapped off a perfect military salute, remaining motionless until Falcon returned it. Then Xander watched as the soldier simply faded out of sight.
Falcon grinned at the familiar spirit standing in front of him. "Hey."
"Depends on your sense of humor," Falcon kept grinning, "Relax Kitty Cat. He passed with flying colors. He's quick, resourceful, and honorable to a fault. I like him."
Patches relaxed a little. //So you planning on sticking around?//
"I still don't know," Falcon admitted, "The kid doesn't really need me around. He's got the skills he needs already."
//Yeah, but he's still a little impulsive.// Patches replied, //He needs someone to remind him that sometimes you need a plan.//
"Tell you what, Kitty Cat. I'll be keeping my eye on the kid for now. At least until he's learned not to leap before he looks."
//Sounds good to me!// Patches faded out. The last the impression Falcon had was that the cat was grinning like a maniac.
"Now what the hell was that cat so pleased about?" Falcon asked himself before leaving.
Back at Buffy's mom's House.
//So what happened?// Duke asked Patches as the other returned. As the Cat started wheezing with laughter, Duke asked //And what are you laughing about?//
//Falcon's agreed to help keep an eye on Xander for now.// Patches managed, //At least until Xander learns to look before he leaps.//
//WHAT?// Duke started laughing as well, //That poor JOE doesn't even realize how long he's in this for, does he?//
//Nope!// Patches rolled over and kept laughing.