Hey all so this is my longest chapter yet, had to rewrite it a few times but happy with it now, and sets the ground work for going forward. so hope you enjoy it. but first will answer a couple of reviews:

scorched Halloween

thanks, I did love the iron tauri, and got a few ideas from there. but I'm planing on going a very different direction than tony stark xander.

Glrasshopper

not going to say who Xander will end up with. will say it definitely won't be buffy, though.

Alcov

No Dawn was mentally in the future. Between the t-virus and the fact that she's the key, she will be getting some funky powers in the future.

Azai Jin

Okay, glad you're enjoying things so far. So eternity is a bit complicated. but basically, in marvel comics, he is the sum total of the marvel multiverse. there are only two beings more powerful than him, the one above all and the cosmic tribunal. his job is to maintain the balance of the universe. dawn and xander will be meeting up in the next few chapters.

Williams1996

Xander is 16 at this point, while I've moved dawn up from 12 to almost 15 so not such a big age gap.

And now on with the show.

Chapter 3

"I was God, and... and yet, I was unchanged. I was not one with the universe I was not content. I had pushed myself for this for so much of my life, only to discover it was a fool's quest. So I fell back to Earth... forced to confront my true self... to rethink my purpose in this life. And it was then that a sudden and simply notion struck me. It knocked me to my knees. If the selfish act of ultimate power was not my calling... then maybe the opposite could be true."

Doom

Los Angeles – WolfRam and Hart law offices

Holland Manners stood in the observation deck looking at the ritual room below him through the specially tempered glass with a small sigh at the mess and wondered how much it would cost to repair the ritual room.

Around the room, several dozen men in full decontamination suits walked about the large room with cleaning materials and buckets. Carefully picking up assorted body parts from the two dozen individuals that littered about the room.

While Holland noted the second group walking about with several mystical or technological scanners trying to figure out what had happened. He was sure the report would be depressingly short like the last several times this had happened. Taking one last look about the room, he calmly walked from the room and slowly made his way back to his office.

Giving another small sigh Holland fought to keep a straight face as he looked down at the single image on the single piece of paper this ritual had generated. Some sort of silver metal mask stared back at him from the page with a single word written along the bottom. DOOM. Not the most comforting of outcomes, he thought to himself as he stared at the image in his hand.

This had been the largest and most expensive oracle ritual this branch of the company had ever sponsored. And this single piece of paper had been the result. Under normal circumstances, a ritual like this should have gained him a solid look into the future, no matter who was trying so hard to block their efforts. But within a few moments of the ritual starting, there had been some sort of backlash. Where all their efforts before had simply ended in failure. This time whoever was blocking them had decided to send a more pointed reply to their efforts. Resulting in the current mess the sanitation department was having to deal with. And if he hadn't made sure the room had been so powerfully warded, then the backlash would have probably taken the whole building. Such power, he mused. For some reason, someone very powerful didn't want anyone peeking into the future. Even with all the company's vast resources, he hadn't been able to find anything about who it might be. However, from their spy's on the other side, he knew that the other side was having the same problem.

He was guessing it had something to do with Halloween.

Several of the company's more powerful psychics had warned the company before they had expired in a variety of extremely unpleasant ways. Some new player had stepped onto the board, someone very powerful. And he could only assume that they were a danger to all the company had been working towards for the last fifty thousand years. Holland hadn't panicked. This wasn't the first time some unforeseen adversary had popped up in the company's long history.

Thus had begun several ritual attempts to try and see what was coming so the company deal with this danger by either destroying it...or suborning it. Each had ended in the same way. Failure. Then one of his subordinates had brought him this ritual (what was his name again, Linford, lincoln... it'll come to him.) When he had been shown the designs and what would be needed for the ritual he had been tempted to fire, Linbourne (no, that's not it either.) literary. But then he thought about it. With three failed rituals behind them and

his bosses were seemingly reluctant to say anything about what was happening.

He had authorised the massive expense to try and get an idea of what was happening. It had at least this netted them something, no matter how little it seemed to be.

To everyone who saw Manners walking through the building, he looked as calm as an ice burg. On the inside, his mind was racing a mile a minute as he tried to figure out what was happening. The mess he had just left behind was the fourth attempt by the company sears to look into the future, and this had been the result every time. Since Halloween, something fundamental had changed somewhere in one of the outer planes. Something perhaps even beyond the senior partners, if what little information they had passed along. Mostly all they had said was that they were dealing with a fundamental shift (whatever that meant) and that soon things would return to normal. Holland didn't need to be a veteran of WRH employee to know that something had seriously spooked his bosses, and anything that could worry them was something that should be terrifying him and his. He would get this image to research. First thing. Perhaps he should set a few of them on fire to motivate the rest of them... decisions, decisions, he thought to himself.

Greyston Graveyard 12.48 am

Buffy slowly made her way through her third graveyard of the night on a final sweep of the area.

It had been a quiet night so far. Only two newbies had risen that night, and only one particularly stupid vampire had tried to jump her while she was checking out the Bronze.

Thinking to herself that perhaps since it seemed to be a quiet night, she could sneak off a little early and go and look for Angel for a bit of special time before she had to head home and get some sleep.

Things had been a little odd for the last month, and while she wasn't getting the vibe like she would when there was some big bad on the horizon. Something was vibing her, just low level enough to keep her on edge. Wishing to herself for the 20th time that whatever it was would just show up so she could slay it. This constant low level buzzing was slowly driving her up the wall. So she could get her peace of mind back. Pausing for a moment in her patrol, hoping whatever was annoying her slaydar would show up. Sighing when after a minute when nothing happened. Something had been pinging her slaydar since Halloween. Whatever it was, even though it only seemed to be low level, it was keeping her constantly on edge. Giles was no help. She had told him about the feeling. But he seemed to think that whatever it was was very far away, and until something happened, Buffy would just have to bear it. At this point, she was almost praying that whatever it was would show up, just so she could get some peace in her own head. But whatever, it was didn't seem to be in no hurry to show up.

Giving a small rock an annoyed kick in frustration. The small rock went sailing out of sight.

Huffing in annoyance, she continued on with her patrol.

Thinking over the last month since Halloween, there was whatever was going on with Xander... she was happy that he was finally listening to her and staying out of the fight, but she missed having him around. He always reminded her of the life she wished she could have.

Thinking on Xander brought up a few thoughts that she and Willow had talked about a few times over the last week. Willow, as always being hyper-aware of Xander, kept going on about how Xander was subtly different since Halloween. She had to admit there was something a little off about him, nothing that either of them could point to and say, ah ha, but still both of them had noticed something was off with him. His new work ethic for one, Willow had mentioned that he was doing a lot better in his classes since Halloween, not super well but definitely a lot better than he ever had before. And had turned down Willows's help when she'd asked if she could help him study with some tutoring. Which Buffy knew primarily meant lost time for Willow to drool over Xander.

They had both been a little worried after Halloween and had both kept a sharp eye on him but apart from his new love of studying, nothing else seemed off with him. She had even made a point of passing by his home a few times on her patrol routes for the first week or so. Most nights, when she checked on him, all he seemed to be doing was his homework or meditating of all things, which, while a little odd for him, wasn't anything terrible. So after a week or so, they had let it go when he had said nothing had stuck in his head. She suspected something had. A little, perhaps like with her, but more like upping his IQ or something.

She'd even snuck into the comic book store in the mall one afternoon when no one was around and looked into this Doom character that Xander had dressed as. Willow's explanation had been a little lite. The comic book store didn't have much she could find. The stuttering guy behind the counter she had spoken to had filled her in on a few of the blanks. From what she could follow, this Doom guy mostly boiled down to Big Bad, had his own country and was super smart. She didn't get it but figured it was a nerd thing.

With his new job, she and Willow had barely seen him since Halloween.

Thoughts turning back to Halloween, Buffy had to stop herself from reaching for a sewing needle that wasn't there or thinking about the best way to serve high tea to a lord.

Ruthlessly crushing the impulse, she couldn't help but frown, thinking of Halloween always led to her thinking of lady useless, which in turn led to a lot of useless drivel that she wished she could forget. Taking a deep breath and trying her hardest to push all the unwanted memories to the back of her mind, she carried on with her patrol.

Deciding on one last loop of the graveyard before she looked to see if Angel was about.

Walking around one of the larger tombs, a scream rang out through the graveyard. Buffy's senses went into overdrive as she fell into a familiar combat stance steak held defensively in front of her looking around, trying to figure out where the cry came from.

From around the corner of the large tomb, she was just about to walk around. Six men ran past so fast that she barely had time to register that her slayer senses were going haywire as the men ran past. The vampire at the back of the group stumbled and burst into ash just a few paces from where she was standing. The rest of the group seemed to be in too much of a hurry to notice that they had lost one of their number. Wondering what was going on that was bad enough to scare six, well five now, Vampires.

With barely a second thought, she took off after the fleeing group. They had already pulled quite far ahead to the far side of the graveyard and saw each of them smoothly jumping the ten-foot wall on the south side of the cemetery without pause.

As the last one was just at the apex of his leap Buffy saw something whip out from the dark to the left, snagging the vampire mid-leap. Buffy saw the rearmost the vampire slammed into the ground hard as it seemed to be wrapped up in some sort of wire, and then the vampire was sharply whipped to the side. The vampire screamed as it was dragged out of sight around another mausoleum.

The screaming abruptly cut off as the vampire was dragged around a corner. Assuming the vampire had been dusted, Buffy kept with the main group hoping to see what was attacking them. Buffy just got to the wall, quickly clearing the 10ft jump as she leapt over it. As she landed in the street, she noted that three of the vampires were pushing hard towards the end of the street, but one seemed to be trailing a little behind as it clutched it's side, trying to keep up with it's comrades. The trailing vampire tripped and fell. Pulling out her steak as she ran, she planned on staking the vampire as she ran past. As she got within 10ft of the vampire, she could see it struggling to rise back up again.

With a scream, it burst into flames in front of her. Causing her to stop in shock as she tried to figure out what had happened to the vampire.

Putting aside all the questions that were piling up from what she had just seen.

Buffy could see the three remaining vampires pause at the end of the street for a moment looking back at the sound of the scream from the dusted vampire.

"S##t It's the Slayer! Run!"

One of them shouted out as the trio turned and started running again. Puzzled, she looked down at the pile of ash in front of her wondering what was going on. Vampires didn't spontaneously combust, as far as she knew. Putting the puzzle aside for the moment, she took off after the three remaining vamps. Even with her pausing for a few seconds, the three that remained, had pulled far ahead of her. Two of the vampires turned into a small side alley disappearing into the darkness, while the third stuck to the main street.

Unwilling to chase vampires into the dark narrow side streets, she decided to stick with the one that had peeled off alone. Following him for several more streets, trying to catch up with him. But as fast as she was, fear seemed to have given this one wings. She faintly heard several shouts and a scream a minute later, from the general direction the other two had run off to. The final vamp made a sharp turn jumping a high fence with a grace she could admire as she hoped the wall too.

Realising that she had just entered the dockyard area and that she had to catch the last vamp quick before she lost him in the maze of shipping containers if she wanted to figure out what was going on. Pushing deep, she began to close the gap between them as he ran between two shipping containers. Without pause she ran in after him.

Slowing down at the first turn, she looked both ways trying to figure out which way the vampire had gone. A clang as if someone was bouncing off metal came from her left. Turning, she ran in the direction of the sound. For several minutes she quickly made her way through the shipping containers looking for her vamp. On the edge of giving up, she finally caught up with the vampire again. She caught up with him as he ran into a closed-off box area.

POV – Bob the vampire

Bob, the vampire, slowed down and let out a sigh of relief to finally be safe after being chased all over town by whatever that thing had been. Shakily he pulled out a cigarette from his jacket, trying and failing to light it with his shaking fingers. A cough from behind him had him spinning around, terrified that that creature had caught up with him somehow. Turning around, he let out a sigh of relief.

"Thank God it's only you slayer."

The silence stretched out for a few moments as the young woman in front of him looked at him confusedly, as he realised what he had just said out loud.

Slowly pulling out a steak from inside her jacket, she began to stalk towards him.

"So, just the Slayer, huh. That's a first. I don't suppose you want to tell me what you were running from, by any chance?"

The vampire backed away, stuttering as he quickly realised that he was trapped in a metal box with the only exit blocked by a slayer.

Thinking that any chances of him living to see another sunset had just reached zero, he raised his hands in a sign of surrender, hoping to buy himself another minute of unlife as the Slayer stalked towards him.

"Bob. What are you doing over here? The entrance to the nest is on the other side of the docks, you idiot."

Said a voice. Both turned from looking at each other as another vampire casually walked into the area. The Slayer spun on the spot as she took in the new vamp.

"Well, well, well, at least you brought dinner, she's a bit tiny, but I figure there's enough for two."

"Now it's a party she said."

The Slayer replied with a dangerous smile. The new vampire looked over at the young Slayer, unconcerned. Reaching over to the nearest container before banging on it loudly three times.

The Slayer backed up a step, surprised at the loud noise as hissing quickly filled the still night air. Backing up several more steps as ten vampires dropped from above or walked in through the only entrance.

"Yes, now it's a party slayer."

The new vampire said with a smirk as he looked around at his fellows as they slowly moved to surround the young Slayer.

"I've always heard that that slayer blood is the sweetest blood a vampire could ever drink. I'm looking forward to seeing if that is true. I want her alive. Broken but alive!"

The lead vamp called out. Taking a few steps back, the new vampire gave an evil smile as he watched as his ten guys rushed the young woman en masse. The fight was violent but short, as the young Slayer was quickly overwhelmed by the number of her attackers. But she still managed to take out three of the attacking vampires before they managed to restrain her.

Bob watched as the Slayer was beaten bloody for several minutes. Before a shrill whistle brought the vicious beating to a stop. Four of the vampires picked the bloody Slayer off the ground and forced her to her knees. With four vampires holding both her arms, not giving her any room for leverage no matter how much she weakly struggled. The other three circled around, laughing at her and boasting about what they were going to do to her.

Bob looked about still worried that, that if the Slayer had been able to track him back here, then that monster that had been chasing him all over town could too.

Buffy glared up in defiance, one eye swollen shut and with torn clothes as, his Master slowly stalked towards her. His human shell falling away, and the monster within was revealed. Blood dripped across her face as she weakly kept struggling, trying to break free. Bob was still getting that horrible feeling and very much wanted to get out of there. But John was playing with his food again. It was a slayer for Satan's sake. That's the last person you wanted to give a chance to escape to. But Bob was only five years old, basically the low man on the totem pole, and no one ever listened to him. That bad feeling just kept getting worse and worse. As he looked around the boxed in area, trying to figure out where the feeling was coming from. John and the others were too focused on what they were going to do to the Slayer to pay attention to their surroundings. He watched as John slowly leaned in, enjoying drawing out his game. He could see the Slayer trying not to gag as she pulled away from him as much as she could.

Then his fearless leader started talking.

"You've killed a lot of us since you came to Sunny Dale. Several of them were good friends of mine. Before we start, I just want you to know you're going to take a really long time to die, my record for keeping a human alive is three days. I want to see if I can beat that record. You're a lot tougher than any human, so I think we'll manage."

John said with an evil smile as his yellow eyes burned into the tiny girl in front of him.

"But first a little sip, just to get things started."

Bob watched Buffy struggle as much as she could, but the four vampires held her steady as the leader leaned in to bite her neck. And then what he had been afraid of happening. Happened.

Buffy Pov

Buffy struggled with all of her strength to break free as the master vampire leaned in to bite her neck. In a panic, she screamed out.

"NO!"

As she screamed, four small canisters fell down around her. The metal hitting the ground caused all the vampires to look around at what had caused the noise. Before the metal balls stopped bouncing, Buffy heard a hissing sound and a small pop, and everything went white. Closely followed by several deafening bangs and blinding flashes of light. The vampires holding her let her go as they started coughing in the smoke and screaming as they grabbed their ears from the loud bangs. As Buffy tried to stand, the world swayed as she tried to rub to blood out of her eyes.

Several shadows nearby seemed to be staggering around, trying to get away. Seemingly unable to breathe the smoke. The smoke lit up red for a moment with two screams from her right that were closely followed by another from her left. This was closely followed by the sound of several vampires turning to dust.

Moving slowly through the smoke, the screaming seemed to become less as she made it to one of the metal walls, jumping a little as one of the vampires was slammed hard enough to dent the metal right next to her before it seemed to be hit with a red light before it turned to dust.

A minute later and the smoke began to clear. The whole area seemed to be swaying to Buffy as she slowly slid down the metal wall that had been holding her up.

She knew she probably had a concussion, her left eye was swollen shut, and she had definitely done something bad to her left arm since she could barely move it. As she looked around the boxed in area that had been full of vampires a few minutes earlier, all she could see left of the vampires was the leader and the one she chased here. Both of them were on the ground coughing up blood and wheezing. Buffy noted that both their skins looked deeply burned, as if they'd had holy water poured all over them. Trying not to gag as she watched the Master Vampires face, as the smoke seemed to be slowly eating away at it.

Standing with his back to her was a man. All dressed in black. She noted several steaks and weapons strapped about his body, along with some sort of silver arm guards. The man in black was pointing a large gun at the leader's head. Too weak to do anything, the vampire groaned on the ground. Without a word, the mystery man pulled the trigger blowing the vampire's head clean off. Jumping at the loud retort, Buffy watched as the man turned to the last vampire. Putting away his gun as he walked over to the groaning vampire that had started all of this. Pulling something out of one of his pouches, she watched him inject something into his neck that seemed to totally knock the coughing vampire right out.

"Hey."

Buffy called out as she tried to push herself up from the floor, pausing a moment to let everything stop spinning. The man turned toward her for the first time. Frowning as she noted, he seemed to be wearing some sort of silver mask with a black tear mark under one of it's eyes.

"Slayer. This was a foolish trap to fall into."

Said the man, in a deep duel toned voice, as he turned back and continued to secure the vampire.

Buffy wasn't sure what happened next but she seemed to blink and the man was crouched down beside her, one of his hands glowing with a soft white light over her broken arm. She had never felt so calm in her life as she watched him move his glowing hand to several points over her body, she saw small cuts on her arms seal up as she watched, but she felt nothing but calm even though she knew that this feeling was unnatural, and she should punch this unknown away from her. She just lay there and let herself be healed. After a few minutes her arm seemed to feel a lot better and everything had stopped swaying.

The strange man regarded her for a few moments more, in silence. With a small nod he stood up without a word and walked back over to the secured vampire hoisting the vampire easily over his shoulder.

The feeling of calm that Buffy had felt was quickly fading away. Which was leaving her feeling strangely angry.

"Who are you?"

Buffy asked angrily. Even as she realised that this man had probably saved her life.

"A friend."

He replied over his shoulder. As he walked away from her, thinking the man was going to run she prepared to run after him. And almost stumbled as the air around the strange man fractured like a broken mirror. He continued walking into the fracture. Within seconds he had disappeared into the fracture without another word.

The fracture area slowly disappearing, leaving her alone, covered in blood with only a lot of dust to show that anything had happened here. Looking down at her torn clothing she sighed at the loss of another of her outfits. And was even more annoyed at another mysterious stranger popping up out of the shadows and saved her life. As if she didn't have enough of that with Angel last year.

Turning to look around to see if there was anything left that might give her a clue to who he was, she almost missed the glint of metal in one of the piles of ash. Walking over, she dusted off the piece of metal as she looked at the odd weapon in her hand. Turning it over in her hand, she noted it was oddly warm to the touch as she turned it over examining it. Two curved blades joined by a hand grip in the middle. Noting the crosses on the hand grip while both blades had a strange symbol etched into them. Noting how sharp the edges were, she carefully tucked away the blade into her coat pocket. Sighing that she probably wasn't going to get any sleep tonight. This was definitely something Giles would want to know about asap. Turning she started slowly walking towards his place.

In a separate dimension that looked identical to the one Buffy was standing in, Xander swore long and hard as he watched Buffy pick up his brand new Glaive off the ground.

Loosing that the first time he had used it, he could only curse some more as Xander watched as Buffy limped away, knowing that she would take it to Giles and then be like a dog with a bone till she figured out who he was. Still swearing long and hard in several languages, he started walking back to Avalon with his new science pet.

Trying not to groan as he dragged his heavy load back home. He just wanted to collapse, healing Buffy had taken a lot more of his strength than he had thought. He only had a very basic understanding of magical healing, so he had, had to brute force it, which had cost him a lot more magic than it should have. With a sigh he added healing to the very long list of things he needed to get up to speed on.

Thinking over the evening, he had to admit this test of his new equipment had gone even better than he had hoped. The mask he had made he was most proud of since it let him see perfectly clearly in the dark and protected him from his own flash bangs. The amour he was hearing had worked pretty well, too. It was light and flexible while offering fair protection from blunt force trauma, which is why he knew tomorrow he was going to be covered in some impressive bruises but no broken bones. He had taken several hits at the start of this little fight before he had managed to thin their numbers enough to get them to run. At that point, it had been a turkey shoot.

He had to smile as he slowly made his way home, this was the first time that the things in the dark were afraid of him, and he intended to build on that.

Several ideas and improvements flew through his head.

Several possible improvements to his armour sprang to mind, and perhaps building some drones that he could get Scarlett to use to scout out locations for him and perhaps bring in aerial support when he needed it. Flight was a must, and perhaps he could cobble together some thermal cameras light enough to go on a drone he mused. Shaking his head not to get to side tracked this was mainly temporary till he could build his main armour.

The simple light dimension enchanted weapons he had been using tonight had proven devastating to vampires on his hunt like he had hoped. The only problem with them was that he had to make everything by hand and recharged by him after use. The enchanting, while simple, couldn't be done by a machine since a constant flow of magic was needed while the pieces of equipment were forged/enchanted. Which is what he hoped his new friend that he was bringing home with him would be able to help him out with, some tests to better figure out how to destroy them. The laser pistol he had made hadn't worked out so well though, it had died on him after only three shots, two of which had missed. He would definitely have to look to that. The one vampire that he had hit with it had immediately burst into flames, so he definitely needed to fix that for next time he went out.

Doom had wanted him to bring in some test subjects after reading the watcher dairy's and calling them a waste of time. Since the Watchers hadn't seemed to have done any actual research into killing vampires, past stick them with a pointy piece of wood, hit them with a sword, or set them on fire in centuries.

Which Doom found unacceptable and very stupid. They had both work shopped several ideas that would use the local tech level without a problem.

Hence tonight's test run. And his very heavy first new test subject. Doom had pointed out several possibilities for improved ways to kill vampires. This is where Xander thought up the idea to enchant his equipment with light dimension enchantments. Every time he had punched a vampire with his reinforced gloves, it had been like they were sticking their hand in acid. And he was thrilled with the bullets in his gun. It had been a pain enchanting every bullet individually, but so worth it. One shot with a subsonic hollow point filled with holy water had been enough to kill anything he had shot with his six-shooter.

'The vampires seem much weaker than the ones Doom is used to dealing with. No shape-shifting into animals or mist, no control of the weather, or blood magic's. No clans either. It's very strange I would almost label them as feral is we haven't seen them talking.'

Thank God for that, Xander thought back at his mental room mate. Vampires are dangerous enough in this dimension without giving them powers like that.

' This is just a distraction, you could be doing a lot more for the human race if you focused more on building up your company and solving large scale problems.'

Yeah I know. Xander replied. I haven't forgotten. But solving world problems won't do anyone much good if the gates of hell open up around here, and suck us all into some hell dimension. Once I can secure this front I'll move on to bigger things. Plus this will give me time to test and grow. I know there are a lot bigger and more dangerous things out there I'll have to deal with than a single hell mouth.

Doom just grunted in reply.

With a sigh, Xander started the long walk back to his lab. Promising himself, he'd learn some way to teleport. Doom might know a few short cuts to get in and out of closely layered realities without having to use a sling ring.

Doom had called this place the Mirror Dimension. He called it his new favourite place to ambush vampires.

Doom had explained that a sling ring was still the best way for a sorcerer to get about. A sling ring could take someone to pretty much any unwarded area in the universe if the sorcerer knew what he was doing. When he had heard that Xander had all for creating one for himself. Then Doom had shown him what he would need to build one, he had known it wouldn't be easy but when looking over the plans that Doom showed him, well it would be a lot easier to build a technological teleporter than it would be to make himself a single sling ring. So he was stuck on foot for the moment, till he could build some transport for himself.

Sighing at the craziness of his life as he slowly walked home through the empty streets of Sunny Dale.

Training Room 1 3 days earlier

Xander sat in a full lotus position in his newly completed training room floating several inches above the ground, sweating heavily after maintaining the position for almost two hours. Carefully controlling his breathing as he concentrated on the ten spell circles that floated in the air around him. The goal of his new exercise was to stop the unstable spell forms slowly floating around him from collapsing while he had to stabilise each spell form one by one in sequence.

Doom had explained that the exercise was supposed to help train young sorcerers to split their focus while maintaining control of their magic which was essential for fighting multiple opponents. Three of the shapes around him glowed a soft blue, showing that they were complete while seven more still burned red, waiting for completion.

Moving on to the next circle, Xander tried not to think about the fact that this was as far as he had made it in this exercise without it blowing up in his face as he carefully rotated the most complex spell form in front of him. Slowly he fought to maintain his focus on the universal energies that were flowing through him. Aware that Doom was watching him closely, Xander carefully threaded his power into the circle for thirty minutes till finally, the spell circle stabilised. Letting out a deep breath that he hadn't even realised he was holding, a burst of pride flowed through him as he looked at the complex spell formula as it stabilised and turned blue.

Wiping away the sweat that had built up on his brow, he quickly turned to the next spell form in the sequence chanting Ea'. He looked at the complex spell form as it floated in front of him. For a good forty minutes, Xander slowly worked out what he needed to do next. Slowly, heart beating a mile a minute, he reached out with his magic to stabilise the spell form. Like a lock, Xander slowly slotted in spell formulas with his own energy, knowing what a mistake would mean. Xander slowly worked to complete the spell circle, which continuously trembled in his magical grip trying to collapse. Only his magic holding it in place. Sweat poured down his face as he completely focused on his task. Slowly chanting as he moved his hands, slowly manipulating universal energies into the slowly stabilising spell form. Doom had shown him that a true master of the mystic arts could use magic with only the tiniest twitch of their little finger. Looking at the trembling circle in front of him he knew he was decades away from that sort of control but was determined to reach that level of control one day. About a quarter of the way through the fourth form, he realised he had missed a step in stabilising the spell circle. The circle turned an angry red and started to spin as it tore itself from his magical grip. Xander only had a moment to realise his mistake before the spell circle in front of him detonated with a thunderclap throwing him across the room.

Groaning, Xander rolled over on the training mat onto his back with a groan as he waited for his ears to stop ringing.

"Well, that could have gone better..."

Xander spoke to the empty room.

"A new personal best Xander. Four completed circles. In just over three hours."

Scarlett responded from the monitor at the far end of the room.

"Though I have to ask, does it have to explode like that every time?"

"Yes, according to Doom the spell sequence is set up that way to teach the apprentice patience and control. The further you get along the sequence, the bigger the bang if you make a mistake. Though I do sometimes think the great and powerful Oz may have tweaked the lesson a bit. I dread thinking about what will happen if I make a mistake on the tenth one."

Xander let out a sigh as he pushed himself off the mat. The carefully constructed spell sequence that he had been working on over the last three hours having collapsed completely, leaving just a few scorch marks on the mat he had been using. Still, he couldn't help but smile as he looked at the scorch marks on the mat. This was the first time he had managed to make it to fourth spell form. Considering where he was a few months ago, he was practically flying through these exercises.

Walking towards the exit, Xander snagged his towel and water and made his way from the gym to his primary lab. Doors opened silently as he walked through the complex and down several levels. Finally, arriving at his main mechanical lab, Xander made his way over to his central workbench and sat down, looking at the several complex moulds and several actuator pieces of what would, when put together properly would be an articulated boot.

"Scarlett, at current rate of production, how long till V.01 amour is completed?"

"At current rate of construction, I estimate 4 months and 13 days till completion of V.01 armour."

Xander fort back another sigh... he knew that once he had the primary production lines up and running, he could create a set of armour every few weeks. Unfortunately, he was proving to be the bottleneck since he had to build everything himself at the moment. Mostly by hand, while working around school and keeping up appearances with everyone. Since this had to all be kept secret from everyone.

But he wanted to be out there helping people.

Thoughts flew through his head on possible ways he could go out and help people while still being relatively safe.

Perhaps he was going about this the wrong way, Xander mused to himself, tapping a pen absent mindedly on the boots casing, the soft chime of the pen hitting the metal putting him in a very relaxed mental state.

Perhaps he could build a simpler set of amour to tide him over till he could complete his main armour. There were lots of superheroes in Doom's universe he could take ideas from. Doom had made it a point to study most of their powers or equipment at one point or another so he would know the best way's to fight them. One sprang to mind that, with some slight adjustments would be quite suitable. After all, there were few things creeping around Sunny Dale that needed nuke-proof armour, he mused. It's not as if a first-circle demon would show up tomorrow. Perhaps he should be working smarter, not harder...

Doom leaned back as he watched from his throne within Xander's mind. Watching Xander's thoughts with interest. This could prove fruitful, he mused while sending a nudge into Xander's subconscious to give him a few hints.