DISCLAIMERS: SG1, Clone-Jack, and anyone you recognize belong to MGM, Gekko & others that are not Scorpio. Xander & the Scooby’s belong to Mutant Enemy & the “Grrr Argh” Monster, not Scorpio. The various original characters do belong to Scorpio, however, so don’t feel too bad for her.
The glass panel flickered to life with images, but Harris ignored it and answered him. “Actually, I think that was part of what D’Hoffryn did to change me while I was in Arashmaha. He knew that my destination was this timeline and that the Hellmouths had never been created here. I, like most of the Hellmouth born, seem to thrive on the infernal emanations that radiate from a Hellmouth. Myself more so than most, but I think that’s just because I’ve spent the better part of fifty-eight years living and fighting on one Hellmouth or another. To answer your question though, I feel fine. I feel as if I’m on a Hellmouth…sort of.”
~Xander was strapped to a cold damp blood-stained stone altar by cackling imps even as several low-level Vengeance Demons began to chant and dance around him with stilted and almost formal movements. Xander wasn’t sure what they were doing exactly, but he suddenly was paralyzed, all his muscles locked into place. The hair on his head and all along his body stood on end as mystical energy rose up around him, crackling along his limbs. Then D’Hoffryn was there, reciting some arcane spell in his native language, the words painful to Xanders’ ears and grating down his spine. The Demon Lord lifted up a chalice etched with runes and an oddly stylistic paint brush. Green lightening flashed from the sky and hit the chalice. The chanting became louder and faster as the demonic dancers twisted and swirled around them. With a grim smile, D’Hoffryn dipped the brush into the chalice and then reached down to begin painting symbols and demonic words on Xanders’ body. He didn’t know what type of ink was in the chalice, but it burned his skin like acid. Xander did the only thing he could with his throat paralyzed and mentally screamed inside his own mind.~
“I… I see.” George shared a look with Colonel Ferretti that spoke eloquently of recognizing torture when they see it. Harris seemed to shrug it off, but in George’s experience, it was only a matter of time until the boy – no the man trapped inside of a teenage body needed to come to terms with what was done to him against his will.
He nodded down to his 2IC. “Continue, Colonel O’Neill.”
Harris shifted his attention to the Colonel, but the Colonel himself was looking up at George in the observation room. He seemed to be slightly pained and when he turned back to face the young man on the bed, he screwed up his face into his classic ‘I can’t believe I’m going to actually say this’ expression that SG1 all new so well. Reaching up with one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, Colonel O’Neill sighed before abruptly throwing an exasperated glare at the visitor.
“Okay. Tell me about…” his face twisted in distaste, “demons.”
~Faith was fighting one of the Sisterhood of the Jhe at the mouth of an alley. She was loosing, badly. Xander had a brief vision of his father and his uncle Rory yelling at him and calling him names, but he pushed that out of his mind. Shoving the car into gear, Xander slammed his foot on the gas and aimed right at the Jhe Demon.~
~The Polgara was huge, at least seven feet tall. It didn’t move very fast, but it was tough and hard to take down. Buffy was twirling and leaping around it, battering it with hit after kick after punch. It barely seemed to notice her, let alone that she was slowly herding it towards the back of the alley. Meanwhile, Xander stood off to the right side of the alley with Giles guarding the left. Each of them carried a heavy crossbow with poisoned bolts incase it managed to get around the slayer. Willow and Tara were in the back of the alley hurriedly putting together the spell that would trap the Polgara and render it unconscious.~
~Xander burst into Spike’s crypt only to find Clem sitting back on Spike’s favorite chair, eating nachos and watching a documentary on tuna fishing. His saggy blue skin and floppy blue ears peaking out from under his woolen cap looked particularly frightening in the harsh glare of the old television. Clem turned to face him with wide eyes and trembling limbs until his recognized his friend’s friend. “Oh, uh…hey Xander. Spike’s not here right now. He’s out collecting kittens to pay off his poker debts. I’m…uh, crypt sitting.” Clem smiled and held up the nachos. “Wanna join me in watching some thrilling fishing?” He sweetened the deal. “I’ve got nachos and lemonade.”~
~“Ahn?” She turned around; her gameface all wrinkled and twisted and her teeth razor sharp in her smile. Slowly her gameface melted away to reveal the beautiful features that he still loved so well. “Oh, it’s you.” She frowned as she walked over to him and placed her hands on her hip. “I suppose that I should forgive you for leaving me at the altar like the scum-sucking man you are since I’ve been forbidden from seeking vengeance upon you. Which is a good thing for you or choice bits of you would have fallen off and you would currently have ear hair long enough to braid.” She stomped her foot and waved her hands in the air with frustration. “It wouldn’t even be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that I still love you, you dweeb!” Xander smiled sadly and reached out for her. He dropped his hand back to his side before he could touch her, his dark eyes watery. “I still love you too, Ahn. I always will love you.” He started to turn away, “That doesn’t mean I’ll ever be good for you though…”~
~Bart screamed like a girl and danced away from the opening of the cave. Xander had one brief second to be glad that it wasn’t him who had freaked out in such as embarrassing way. Then a huge freaky half giant spider half hungry demon scrambled quickly along the wall of the cave and leaped out of it and into the middle of his slayers, mages and warriors. They all leapt back, many of them shrieking. Xander let out a high pitched, “Whoa momma!” Weapons in hand, spells on the tips of tongues, they fanned out to circle it as it skittered around on it’s eight long black and grossly hairy legs. “Xan…what is it?” “I don’t know.” “Uh…how do we kill it?” Xander looked at the spider demon and considered. It was huge, at least four feet tall with foot long fangs that dripped some type of pale green slime. Coal black multifaceted eyes sat in various places along its oddly shaped head and it was chittering loudly. Perhaps it was trying to talk to them…more likely it was calling to its friends about the good eats it had found. “Not sure, try the basics; fire, decapitation and dismemberment. If we can flip it on its back, those legs might not be any use to it. Watch out though, it’s fast, can walk on walls…possibly ceilings. And for God’s sake, don’t get bit. That slime is probably venomous.”~
As the last image slowly began to fade from the glass panel, Colonel Ferretti breathed out a soft whistle. “Damn. Either this kid is a delusional lunatic or his world is one seriously dangerous place.”
“Indeed.” Teal’c paused briefly to frown deeply. “I also find it disturbing that so many young females are on the front line of this war Commander Harris’ home reality is embroiled in. Many of them can not be any older than Dr. Fraiser’s daughter Cassandra.”
George merely sat quietly and considered all that he had seen and heard so far while their guest took a quick break for a glass of water. He was polite as he apologized for delaying the proceedings as the drug given him to aid the memory recovery device was making him slightly dehydrated. Harris’ pale face and haunted eyes spoke of another story however. Dr Jackson seemed a little fidgety and impatient, but even he seemed to realize that these memories were painful for Harris to relive. George made a mental note to speak to Dr. Fraiser and Jonathan about the possibility of Harris suffering nightmares.
Dr. Jackson clearing his throat pulled everyone’s attention back to the business at hand. A brief glance at her monitor followed by a curt nod from Dr. Fraiser indicated that all was in readiness.
“Yes, um…” Dr Jackson consulted his notes, “There was mention in Agent O’Neill’s report about…un, vampires and slayers. What exactly can you tell us about them?”
~Giles stood in front of a small wooden lectern with Willow, Kennedy & Dawn seated in chairs behind him. Xander relaxed against the side wall watching over the third group of slayers and support staff that he had brought back to England from his roving quests to seek out all the activated potentials. This particular group consisted of two slayers, three magic-users and three non-empowered humans that wanted to be Watchers or demon-hunters. They had gotten the Xander-version of this speech, but Giles liked to greet every group personally and make sure that they all understand the truth of the world. Clearing his throat, Giles began. “The world is older than scientists believe and unlike what most religious sects would tell us, it was not a paradise. Demons ruled here on Earth. This world was their Hell, their home. Than the humans came. Unlike the beasts and animals that the demons used for food and sport, humans fought back with weapons, magic and logic. Despite all their effort, however, humans were loosing the war against the demons. Their greatest mages all gathered and came up with a plan to create a super-powered warrior, one who could defeat the demons with extraordinary strength, speed and battle prowess. They chose a young girl. She became the first slayer, the one destined to drive the demons out of our world. She lived, she fought and then eventually, she died. When she died the power of the slayer found a new girl and the destiny to protect humanity from the demons fell upon the shoulders of this girl. She also lived and fought and died. Then the slayer spirit found a third girl. It has been this way since the first slayer that when one girl dies, the next is called.” Giles paused a moment and glanced over at Willow briefly before speaking again. “Until now, that is. Two years ago, we changed that. One of the oldest and most powerful evils made a bid to return to this world and reclaim it. In order to stop this evil, we were able to activate the slayer spirit in all the girls that held that potential within them. Where before there was only one girl in all the world, now there are hundreds.~
~Giant tentacles were swinging through the air as the Guardian of the Hellmouth battled everyone at once. Willow, Cordelia, Giles and Ms. Calendar fought desperately just to stay alive and all of them were sporting cuts and bruises or worse. Above the library, on the roof, Buffy battled the Master. Chaos ruled. Then suddenly the skylight shattered raining glittering shards of glass down into the library as the Master fell to his death, impaled on a broken bit of wood. Everyone paused in shock to goggle at the sight when the Master’s body exploded into ash leaving only his burnt skeleton behind.~
~Jesse. His best friend and his brother. His link to happiness and sanity. His other half slowly dissolved in a soft shower of gently drifting ash swirling around his feet in the confusion of the Bronze. The hand holding the stake began to shake. He had dusted Jesse.~
~Buffy and Kendra stood side by side, both gripping stakes and poised on the edge of violence. “Two Slayers.” Twin grins. “No waiting.”~
~Xander sat on a headstone in the middle of a graveyard with Willow next to him. He held a bag of potato-chips that the two were sharing. With an excited gasp, Willow pointed. Looking up from his snack, Xander watched as Buffy ran and jumped, flipping over the head of the leader of the vampire gang only to land lightly on her feet between him and two of his minions. She quickly spun on one foot while kicking the leader away with the other. Another spin in the opposite direction left one minion dusted and the other flying through the air curtsey of a solid punch to the jaw. “Ooo, and that’s another three points for team slayer. The Buffster is wiping the floor with these guys. I hate to say it, but team vamp just doesn’t have any quality players this season. Don’t you agree, Wils?” Willow grinned up at him nodding enthusiastically. “That’s because they’re all big poopyheads.”~
~Xander watched silently from behind a row of hedges and trees as Spike tried to calm a frightened and half-hysterical girl who had been called as a slayer only three weeks before. No one blamed her for being freaked out. She was painfully young at the age of thirteen and she was orphaned by vampires that attacked her home the very night she was called. “Look, pet. Vampires, for the most part, are dumb brutish thugs that have very little going for them. They’re just blood-demons that have animated a corpse. The person, the soul that had once been that person, is gone. I know this for fact, because I’ve got both and so I, more than anyone, know the difference. Vampires are stronger, faster and much more violent than any human. They’re also usually pretty dumb, over arrogant and lack patience. You’re a slayer and that means that you are just as strong, fast and deadly. You just need to learn how to out think them and you can beat them. Remember that Slayer; your greatest weapon against the demons is your brain and your heart.” The teary eyed little girl looked up into the compassionate eyes of the blond killer next to her and sobbed, “But why me!? I don’t want this! Why me!?” Xander and Spike shared a look of heartbreak over her head even as the souled vampire pulled her into his arms and let her cry on his shoulder. “Why not you, pet? Who would you chose to carry your burden for you?”~
It was painfully quiet both down in the lab and up in the observation booth as everyone tried to absorb what they had seen. Little girls tapped by ancient magics to become mystical warriors against horrors invading from distant dimensions. It was unfair and cruel and each of them would have loved to step backwards in time and strangle those long dead mages who cursed thousands of generations of young girls with such a horrifying fate.
Finally George gathered himself together enough to flip the toggle on the intercom. “I think that we’ve seen enough with Hathor’s Memory Viewer. I’m sure Commander Harris would like a break from this. It’s a difficult thing to relive ones memories and these have proven to be harsh ones.” He ignored everyone’s slight noises and nods of agreement and gazed down at the old soldier trapped in a child’s body. “While this procedure has confirmed the initial reports given about your home world and how you arrived here Commander, its’ also brought up a whole host of questions. I’d like to meet with everyone in the conference room first thing tomorrow morning so that we can answer those questions.”
A chorus of ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘Yes, General’ washed over him as he flipped off the intercom and stood up. With one last long look at Harris down in the lab, George turned on his heels as headed for the door. “Colonel, you’re with me.”
Everyone was gathered in the conference room waiting for Agent O’Neill and Teal’c to escort their guest in. Everyone had copies of all the reports written so far.
Finally the door opened and the three men walked in. Teal’c was as impassive and difficult to read as ever, but both Harris and Jonathan looked slightly rumpled and they had dark circles under their eyes that spoke eloquently of sleep loss. With a gesture, George directed them to the end of the table where three chairs awaited them. Once they were all seated, George stood up.
“Commander Harris, first let me start out by saying that I believe you when you say that you did not arrive in our reality by choice. I also believe you when you say that you don’t mean anyone in this reality any harm.”
He paused a moment to let that sink in and only continued after Harris nodded his understanding. “That said; there are several issues that we must all deal with. First, while we will continue to research the matter, at the current time we do not have any reliable way to send you back to your own timeline. The device that we do know about that can open portals to other realities is not under our control and to be honest, you wouldn’t want those people to be aware of your existence here.”
A throat delicately clearing over to his right drew his attention. “You have something to add to that Major?”
“Yes, sir.” Major Carter took in a deep breath and blew it out again, obviously gathering her thoughts. “I’ve studied the mirror closely when Kalawsky and… the other me came through it last time. While it did give access to many alternate realities, they were all variations on a theme. That theme was the SGC. It’s possible that it can only reach those realities that are closest to us or connect to this one in some way. Each of those realities we’ve found had a split in the timeline within a fifty-year span.” She flashed an apologetic look down the table at their guest. “If what the alien D’Hoffryn claimed was correct, the break in our reality from Commander Harris’ happened over a hundred-thousand years ago. The mirror might not even be able to connect to a reality that far away.”
There was a brief pause during which George watched what little hope had sprung up in Harris’ eyes dimmed again. Frowning, he looked down at the table and then back up again.
“Thank you, Major. It wouldn’t hurt to review your notes on the device and I can make some discreet inquires to see if Area 51 was able to determine anything else since they took charge of it.” He looked around at the rest of his staff before resting his eyes on Harris. “However, I believe that it is a slim chance at best and that we should concentrate on planning for the long term.”
“Uh... General.” Everyone turned their attention to Colonel O’Neill. He was tapping his pen on the top paper in the report in front of him. “I did some digging like you asked. The preliminary report made by Dr Fraiser’s staff was correct. Harris here was never even born in this reality. He doesn’t exist here, so we don’t have to worry about the Cascading Entenmanns thingy.”
Harris leaned over towards Jonathan and mouthed ‘Cascading Entenmanns?’ and got a half-shrug and a nod in reply. Major Carter took pity on their guest.
“I think the Colonel means Entropic Cascade Failure. It is a phenomenon that occurs when two copies of the same person try to exist in the same alternate reality at the same time. Essentially, the universe tries to correct the problem by erasing the copy.”
A strange expression washed over Harris’ face then. It was a mix of fear and resignation. “Does that mean that the universe is going to try to erase me? ‘Cause I have to tell you, so not wanting to be wiped off the blackboard.”
“Nah.” Colonel O’Neill shook his head. “You’re safe kid. That’s what I was looking for in the public records, to see if there was an Alexander Harris running around somewhere. Unless you didn’t tell us the truth about who you are and when you were born?” One graying eyebrow rose up in question.
Harris nodded and grinned. “No, it was the truth. My mom was born Jessica Lavelle and my dad was Tony Harris.”
Colonel O’Neill nodded. “Well, I did find Tony Harris.” He flashed an apologetic look at their guest. “I’m sorry kid, but the only information I could find on a Jessica Lavelle says that she died childless many years ago in a car accident.”
An unreadable look flashed quickly over Harris’ face. Too quick for George to read it before it was replaced by a quick forced grin and a nod of his head in the Colonel’s direction. Taking a deep breath, George pulled the meeting back on track.
“While I am sorry about Ms. Lavelle’s untimely death, it does make it easier that we don’t have to worry about Entropic Cascade Failure.” Looking up at Harris, George’s eyes soften in sympathy. “I’m having a full set of identification papers drawn up for you Commander. However, you are in the same boat as Agent O’Neill here.”
Ignoring everyone’s eyes flickering over to the young clone of his 2IC George continued. “While your mind reflects your true age with memories that reach back over five decades, all medical exams show that your body is less than two decades old.” He shuffled his papers briefly until he found the one he was searching for and briefly re-read the report. “According to Dr. Fraiser, medically you appear to be around the age of fifteen or sixteen years.” His voice softened in apology, “And I have to be honest and tell you that anyone who looks at you is going to believe that you are exactly what you look like; a teenaged boy.”
Sighing, George put the report back down on the stack of papers and looked directly at Harris. “With that in mind, I would like you to enroll in the local High School along with Agent O’Neill. It will keep you close to the base in case of emergencies and hopefully you can provide another set of eyes keeping watch over the children of the staff here at the SGC as well as act as back up for O’Neill in the event of one of our enemies attempting to get to us through those children.”
Harris’ eyebrows almost hit his hairline even as a confused “What?” left his lips. Jonathan reached out and rested a calming hand on Harris’ shoulder.
“Hey, it’s okay. Look, High School sucks eggs. It always has and it always will. The teacher’s are misinformed and the students are clueless. It’s also an important assignment.” Jonathan jutted his chin out towards Dr. Fraiser. “Doc’s kid was snatched once by a rouge group calling themselves the NID. We got her back in one piece, but it’s always a worry that they’ll try that again. And the doc isn’t the only person here will a kid at Springs High. I was planning on taking a tour of the world until I could re-apply to the USAF Academy when the General asked me to enroll at the Springs and watch over the kids.”
There was a long moment with Harris staring directly into Jonathan’s eyes as if he could look right into the other young man’s heart and soul. Finally, with a weary sigh Harris nodded. “Yeah. Okay. I can’t promise to pass science class…but I’ll do it.”
Jonathan nodded sharply once. “Its important work, as big a drag as it seems at times. They’re good kids and they deserve to have someone watching their six.”
George waited for a brief moment to let the tension bleed out of the room before speaking again. “That brings us to our second issue; the reason that the alien D’Hoffryn brought you to us in the first place.”
Sighing and shaking his head briefly, Harris looked slightly lost and confused. “To be honest, General. I don’t know. He said that he had been looking for a way to get someone from my world here for a while. It wasn’t until a specific wish was made – one in each reality really, that he could work enough magic to get me here.” Harris shrugged lightly and gazed into the middle distance as he gathered his thoughts. “D’Hoffryn said this reality had extremely limited magic and almost no links to any of the infernal realms. While he is powerful enough on his own to come here himself, he wouldn’t be able to tap into any ambient or latent magics. He was forced to use what magic was his and his alone. As powerful as he is, that is very limiting… at least for a being that is used to having the ability to draw upon the infernal magics of an entire hell dimension.”
Harris’ eyes lost their hazy expression and he focused intently upon George. “I don’t know his full reasons for wanting me here, only what he told me. And while D’Hoffryn has never lied to me, he’s also pretty well known for never telling the whole tale or twisting it just enough to serve his own purposes. He claimed that the seers of good, evil and neutrality were all seeing the same event; the destruction of the human race. He also claimed that this destruction couldn’t be stopped because it originated in a separate reality – this one. Apparently, if the danger isn’t stopped here, in the reality it begins in, it will sweep across all of the timelines.”
George nodded. That’s what he understood the reports to say. “What is this danger that he believes that you can stop?”
Harris sighed and shook his head frowning. “I don’t know. He said that it came from the stars, but that he didn’t have any more information on it. The only thing that he could tell us was that it is something that I have been trained to deal with and that no one here could. What that thing is, he didn’t say or didn’t know.”
George took a deep breath and looked down at the reports on that table in front of him for a long moment, thinking. Finally he looked up and nodded. “Okay, folks. This is what we’re going to do. Once we get the identification papers for Commander Harris here finalized, we’re going to enroll him in Springs High. Agent O’Neill can brief him later about the assignment there and who to protect and what to watch for. Dr Jackson, I’d also like you to work with the Commander to try and get as detailed a history on him and his reality as possible. If something he has encountered before will provide us clues on what this mysterious danger is and how to counter it, then I want to know what that is.” He took a brief moment to look around at everyone, “When Dr Jackson has that information documented, I want the rest of you to pour over it and compare it to everything that we’ve run across so far just in case this danger has already shown itself and we just didn’t recognize it.”
Taking one last look around and suppressing a vague worry that things were going to take a turn for the worse, General George Hammond closed the cover on his report and stood up. “Dismissed, people.”
END – HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING