"Dakota city," Julie announced. "What now?" She turned the RV onto the off-ramp.
"Now we go to the wrecking yard and wait for a blond teen named Richie to show up," Xander replied.
Julie tapped a couple of buttons on the center console and directions appeared on the small screen set in the dashboard. "So who is he and why's he so important?"
"He's a Bang Baby with a tech inclination," Xander replied, "and since he isn't rich he'll be scavenging for parts."
"Front line type or support?" Julie asked.
"Support, though he sidekicks for Static Shock," Xander explained.
"I've heard of Bang Babies but not any of their names," Julie said. "How good are they?"
"Gears is solid, able to work with all earth-based tech and able to branch out to alien tech with a similar development path," Xander said thoughtfully. "He'd probably be at sea when exposed to Kryptonian tech and the like, requiring a few weeks to even begin to adapt. Now, Static Shock is just starting out, but he has the potential to be a big name as he gains more experience. Not precisely a heavy hitter in the Justice League, but more a well-rounded hero that can sub for one in an emergency."
"And they're both teens just starting out now," Julie said.
"Still in high school," Xander agreed.
"What's the plan?"
"I'm going to copy Richie and have her make us a high tech wheelchair with built in taser that affects both the target and the person sitting in it," Xander explained.
After a few seconds Julie asked, "And you can't say anything more because it'll give things away?"
"Exactly," Xander agreed as they drove through the city.
"I hate having my curiosity tweaked," Julie said with a sigh.
"Just think of it as a pleasant surprise," Xander said.
"I'm from Gotham, all surprises are unpleasant," she told him.
"Only in Gotham," Xander told her, "it's something in the air… and water… and earth…"
"You may have a point there," Julie said, "yet I am still going to miss it."
"And I miss Sunnydale," Xander replied with a shrug, thinking of his friends back home wistfully.
"Do you have a plan on how to get back home?" she asked, turning onto a side road.
"Not a one," Xander said, unconcerned.
"And yet you don't seem worried," she noted.
"Well, I can think of several ways off the top of my head and a Norse god owes me a solid, besides he'll probably send me back himself when I finish saving the world here or at least stacking the deck in the heroes' favor," Xander said.
"And what do we need to be saved from?" Julie asked.
"Any of a dozen things," Xander replied with a shrug. "This Universe has a lot of crisis points coming up where an extra hero or two could really make a difference. I'm not sure the world couldn't get by without help, but better to have it and not need it than otherwise, plus it should reduce the death toll and help ward off a dark and gritty reboot."
Julie decided not to ask what he meant by that as she was sure the answer would be… unpleasant. "And we're here," she said as they pulled into the open gates of a large wrecking yard.
Xander hopped out and stretched his legs. The RV was by no means cramped, but it still felt good to get out and walk around a bit. Looking around at the stacks of vehicles piled up at least ten high he nodded to himself, a place like this would definitely attract tinkers.
"So, are we just going to wait for him to show up or do you have something planned?" Julie asked as she wrinkled her nose at the smell of rust and oil that filled the air as the sun beat down on them.
"Well, we still have to meet up with Martian Manhunter so I figured we could get that out of the way while we wait," Xander replied, "and my plan is to simply walk up and shake his hand."
"I thought we were keeping a low profile?"
"Kinda sorta," Xander said, "Gears and Static are independents without any connections to the League, so as long as we aren't making clones on the six o'clock news we'll be fine."
She nodded. "I'm surprised you aren't going to ask permission first, as they are heroes."
"He'd probably say no and I'm on a mission from god," Xander said with a grin.
Julie raised an eyebrow. "That was a Blues Brothers reference, wasn't it?" she asked dryly.
"Yes it was," Xander said, unphased by her annoyed tone as he could feel her amusement and knew she was simply putting up a front, used to playing the part of a member of the upper crust until it had become habitual.
"And what if they object violently?" she asked.
"I have regeneration and they are heroes," Xander replied. "Gears or Static might taze me, but I'll recover in a second or two."
"Any plan where you get tazed is usually a bad plan," she pointed out.
"It'll be fine," Xander said, waving it off. "We'll copy Gears, have her build a wheelchair, and then we'll hit the zoo."
"They have a zoo?" Julie asked. "What's their big cat population like?"
"Pretty sure Dakota city has a zoo and even if they don't have any big cats they should have some endangered animals I can copy," Xander replied.
A broad shouldered man with graying hair came out of the front office. "Hi, I'm Kenny, the owner of Brewster's Wrecking, what can I do for you?"
Xander shook his head. "Xander Harris, call me Xander. We're in the middle of a road trip and needed to stretch our legs and park for the night. The girls have never seen the inside of a wrecking yard and I figure a hundred bucks would be a fair price to park overnight here and poke around a little."
"Strange request, but I've got no problem with it," Kenny decided. "I doubt this place is all that fascinating tho'."
"Beats the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota," Xander replied with a shrug.
Kenny laughed. "I suppose it does at that," he agreed as Xander passed him several bills. "Well, have fun and call me if you need anything."
"Will do," Xander replied as he left.
"How sure are you that Gears will show up while we're here?" Julie asked Xander.
"I'm not," Xander admitted, "but if we have to we can track him down, besides this is a good place to meet up with Martian Manhunter, which we should do before Batman lets his paranoia get away from him and complicates things."
"I know how that is," Julie said with a sigh. "I hope he's taken my advice on how to deal with me."
"He probably has," Xander assured her. "Suitably modified to include some bat theme of course."
"Of course," she agreed with a grin.
"Let's go poke around," Xander said, changing the subject.
"What do you expect to find here?" she asked as she followed him into the stacks of vehicles.
"Nothing really," Xander replied, "but while I have visited a junkyard before I haven't visited one in this universe, so there should be a lot of cars I've never seen before."
"I keep forgetting you're new here, since you seem to know so many secrets," Julie said as Xander examined an old sedan.
"Not everything I know is right," Xander said, "I know a couple dozen timeline's minimum and some are wildly divergent." He found the keys in the glove box and get out of the car, walking around to unlock the trunk.
"How divergent?" she asked.
"In one timeline, Regan remains President for over twenty years, all the Superheroes go underground or retire including Batman," Xander said as he opened the trunk. "You end up running a high-class escort service."
"Not something I can see myself doing," Julie said, lips pursed in a frown.
"The Joker lapsed into a coma without Batman there to keep him busy, so when the old Bat comes out of retirement to save Gotham because of a Russian nuke setting off an EMP, he wakes up, beats you to a pulp, and dresses you like Wonder Woman before dropping you on Bruce's doorstep to get his attention," Xander explained.
Julie winced. "I can't believe he dressed me like that, or rather I can, but I wish he hadn't."
"Of course that's what you would focus on," Xander said amused as he closed the trunk and left the keys in the lock.
"Find anything interesting?" she asked to change the subject.
"Just that the trunk could probably fit three kidnappees comfortably," Xander replied. "The cars where I'm from are tiny compared to the ones you guys drive."
"What is your world like?"
"Higher general tech level, no super science," Xander replied, "also a lot more demons, but all that stuff is kept on the down low for some reason." He paused to examine an old panel truck.
"So you might know what some of the next big technological advances would be?" she asked intently.
"Oh yeah," Xander said with a nod as he leaned against the side of the truck. "Personal computers, cell phones, and video games all make money hand over fist with no sign of stopping. By video games I mean home consoles not arcades, which have pretty much faded from sight where I'm from."
"Arcades are still pretty popular here," Julie pointed out.
Xander nodded. "Yeah, but as home consoles and personal computers advance, video arcades become less and less viable."
"I thought the real attraction of those places was so teens could hang out with their friends, not just the games."
"Teens find other things to do," Xander replied, "though what that is I can't say."
"Why not?" Julie asked.
"Because I spend my time hunting vampires," Xander replied with a shrug, "it's kept me too busy to keep up with the trends."
Julie stopped and looked him over. "How old are you?"
"Why?" Xander asked, amused. "It's not like there's actually any record of when I was born here for anyone to look up."
"I can hardly throw stones considering what I was doing as a teen," Julie said, "but I am curious."
"I'm not yet eighteen, though I've also been in my mid twenties, and was once possessed by a primal spirit that is probably older than civilization," Xander told her as two teens stepped out of the stacks and stopped and stared. Xander laughed. "Man did you two come in at the wrong part of this conversation."
"I'm going to have to go with 'That's an understatement," the blond teen said before turning to his friend. "What do you have, Virgil?"
"I'll probably go with 'You've got that right," the African-American teen offered.
"Virgil and Richie, right?" Xander asked.
"How do you know who we are?" Virgil asked, trying to figure out if they'd met before.
"Forgot to introduce myself," Xander said, offering a hand. "Alexander Harris, my friends call me Xander and this is Julie."
Virgil grasped his hand and a naked girl appeared next to him, making him jump back. "Whoa!"
"Mama," Richie added wide eyed as Xander extended his hand to shake.
"Clothes!" she yelped, trying to cover herself with her hands.
Virgil quickly ripped off his shirt and passed it to her as Richie absently shook Xander's hand and another naked girl appeared.
"Ack!" the new girl exclaimed and yanked Richie's hoodie off to cover herself with.
"Everyone follow me," Xander said, "I have clothes in the RV."
Hiding in the middle of the group to disguise the fact that they were half naked, the girls encouraged the rest to hurry, desperately wanting some clothes.
"Okay, what just happened?" Virgil demanded as the door closed behind them and the two girls vanished into the bedroom.
"I'm preventing the end of the world by expanding the hero population," Xander replied, grabbing a bag of burritos and offering the pair some, which they reflexively accepted.
"You cloned us?!" Richie exclaimed. "Wait, they're female. How does that even work?"
"You know who we are," Virgil realized nervously.
"I know who everyone is," Xander told him, "or at least the big names, as I tend to forget some of the small fries."
"We're big names?" Richie asked hopefully.
"Not yet, but you will be," Xander assured him.
"Are you from the future?" he asked eagerly.
"Can we get back to the 'knowing who we are and cloning us' bit?" Virgil asked.
"This is a bit of a complicated story," Xander said. "So, I'll just give you the highlights and then you can ask some questions, alright?"
"No big fight or argument, you're just going to give us the answers?" Virgil asked, surprised.
"I'm not a supervillain or an idiot, so yeah," Xander agreed.
"Works for me," Richie said, unwrapping his burrito and taking a bite.
"Alright. Now, I'm from another universe and have seen dozens of timelines that may or may not be applicable here in this one," he explained, "so you can be sure I know some of the things coming down the pike here."
Virgil nodded and unwrapped his burrito.
"So, a trickster god plucked me from my world and dropped me here for the purpose of increasing the hero population and probably causing enough chaos to screw up other long term plans," Xander continued.
The two girls came out of the bedroom wearing sweats that were a little too big for them.
"And he made us for something he could probably do himself," Richie's female clone complained.
"I could have," Xander admitted with a shrug, "but making sure there was a second Static and Gears is way more important than my current plan. My current plan is just a minor thing on your parts, while the two of you being heroes is the long term major plan."
"I only got your current plan when I appeared," Richie's clone admitted.
"There's a larger plan?" Virgil's clone asked.
"Bad things are coming in the future, so I'm making sure you guys have enough heroes to handle it and reduce the body count," Xander explained.
"How bad are we talking here?" Richie asked as the girls raided the burritos.
"Coast city vaporized, Green Lantern loses his shit and precedes to murder ninety some odd percent of the Green Lantern corps," Xander replied, causing everyone to stare at him.
Xander took a bite of his burrito to let them take in what he'd just said.
"How?" Virgil and his female clone asked softly.
"Alien warship and Supes was out of commission," Xander said. "There was a fake Superman who was supposed to be handling it, but he was actually in on it."
"And you're sure that's going to happen in this timeline?" Richie asked.
"Unfortunately," Xander said with a sigh. "Thankfully using a wheelchair with a built in taser setup I can arrange events so Supes doesn't end up on ice for a couple of months, which should allow us to avoid the entire situation," Xander paused and frowned. "Part of the whole situation resulted in another hero taking up the mantle... which means I'll have to do something to let him know he's going to be needed."
"Another hero?!" Richie asked eagerly. "Who?"
"Steel," Xander said. "He's a tech type like you. I'll have to track him down and speak to him or maybe ask Superman to do it, since he's the one who inspired him."
"The Butterfly effect is a bitch," Richie offered.
"But a much friendlier one than fate," Xander said.
"Alright, I can see why you made clones of us," Virgil said, "and I can even agree with it being necessary, but how are we going to explain to our parents that we suddenly have twin sisters?"
Xander took a bite of his burrito to get a little time to figure out how to answer that. "I could make clones of your parents," he offered with a shrug.
Julie sighed and rolled her eyes in amusement. "I'll call Batman."
Typing by: Abyssal Angel