Buffy watched as the Stargate opened its blue vortex and SG-1 rushed through, carrying Jack. She wandered down. Buffy knew she should have run, but she had other things on her mind -- like the papers she had just signed. She wasn't looking forward to telling Teal'c about that little gem.
"He did it again," she heard Daniel tell General Hammond, while her mom and Teal'c took Jack towards the infirmary.
Jonas walked towards her. "What did he do again?" Buffy asked.
"General O'Neill had to take the Library of the Ancients into his mind again, or Anubis' Jaffa would have gained its knowledge instead. Your mother said that he'd have a few days before he'd start remembering their knowledge and hopefully be able to tell us the path to Atlantis. And if we can reach the Asgard in time he'll never be in any danger. If we don't reach them in time, the knowledge will destroy his mind. This has all happened to SG-1 before," Jonas explained.
"Ouch, I better go see him then," she said and dashed through the crowded halls, catching up with Jack, her mom and Teal'c just as he was sitting down to get examined by Janet.
"What happened? I heard about the library thing from Jonas," she asked.
"Jack had to load another copy of the Library of the Ancients into his head before we blew it up. Anubis' Deathgliders were hammering us pretty badly back there," her mom explained.
Buffy leaned in and looked into Jack's eyes. He stared back at her. Buffy could see no difference. "You'll be fine," she said.
"What makes you so sure?" Jack asked almost defiantly.
"Well, because Thor will come through for us," she replied.
"Ah, sure, because he’s always there when we need him. Did someone forget to tell you that the Asgard haven't exactly been responding to any messages for a while now?" Jack said.
"Someone did, but I have faith in the universe's ability to provide," Buffy said.
"Oh, sure, faith," Jack said, as though the word made his mouth taste bitter. Buffy nodded and stepped back. Her mom started talking to Jack about his plans for the next few days. Buffy tossed her head sideways and looked at Teal'c.
"Teal'c, a word in private?" she asked.
Teal'c frowned for a moment, then followed her into the halls.
Buffy felt a bit nervous as she said, "This is not about me leaving your command -- you have to understand that. I am still working for you, but General Hammond has asked if he could borrow me for a mission that will take me away from here for a little while. I won't be leaving for a few days yet, but I might be gone for a week or so after. Is that alright?" She kept the conversation in Goa'uld to limit the number of listeners.
Teal'c studied her. "What are you going to do, Buffy?" he asked.
Buffy looked at the man who had sworn to protect her. The person who, outside of her mom, had shared the most with her in her life this side of the Quantum Mirror. She decided that she could tell him. "I'm going to slay Anubis. I am going to fulfill a part of my destiny. I might not win, but I am sure gonna try," she said.
"Then I will come with you," he stated.
"No, you can't. Trust me, Teal'c, I'm the only one who can go this time. I don't like it. I sure wish it was different, because I know this all sounds like pride or maybe even arrogance, but it’s that time when I have to do things like that. Or so I’ve been told, anyway," she said, not loving this return to the age of feeling an immense burden on her shoulders. Still, she was growing up, and that also meant accepting life's burdens and still managing to keep moving under the weight.
Teal'c studied her for a while, then straightened and gave her a Jaffa salute. "I wish you good luck, Buffy Anne Summers Carter," he said.
"Thank you," she said, just as Daniel came walking down the hall towards them. Buffy didn't want to lie to anyone about the conversation or her mission, and so -- ignoring the wondering look from Daniel -- she just nodded and smiled as she passed him and headed back towards her office. She still had a lot of work to do.
"Buffy! Hey, Buffy," the voice of her mom tore Buffy from her dreams. She sat up in her small cot. She was still in her office, probably with a massive case of bed hair. It had been a long night, calling around and talking to the people General Hammond had put her in touch with. She didn't have clearances for half the stuff she had needed, and she had even needed to talk to the President. Bleary-eyed, she looked up at her mom.
"We're leaving in a little while. Jack came up with a set of coordinates. The Tel'tak should be ready within the hour," her mom explained.
"I'm not coming," she said. Buffy watched as her mom, who had been half-turned towards the door, stopped in her tracks. She had avoided telling her mom for a while now. Buffy was pretty sure that her mom would not think it was a good idea to do what she was planning.
"What! Why?" Sam asked.
"Teal'c and General Hammond have me doing another mission," she explained.
"It can probably wait. We're going to find Atlantis, Buffy. This is the most important mission we have right now. With what the city might hide, we would have a chance against Anubis," her mom said.
"I know, and I'd like to go, I really would. Not to see Jack slowly go nuts, but to see the lost city. It would be worth a look to find a real Ancient city. But I can't. I have to help with the defense here. Teal'c has loaned me out to the Air Force. They need all the F-302 pilots they can get, in case Anubis comes before you get back. Besides, Jonas and Daniel are all the Ancient experts you need. Teal'c is both a good pilot and a fighter. Jack can probably help for a while, too. Basically, you don't need me on this one," she said.
Her mom studied her and stepped closer. "It's more than that, isn't it?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, I feel like I have to be here. It's an instinct. I know, you don't trust in stuff like that, but I do," Buffy explained.
"Buffy, I trust you. If you think is where you need to be, and you've got orders, then I have nothing to say on the matter. Please just try to stay safe until it’s all over. We'll be coming back with all the help we can get," Sam said.
"He might not get here for weeks to come," Buffy said, trying to sound hopeful.
"Or he might be here in an hour. Just promise me you won't do something stupid... Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Just don't take chances with this guy, Buffy. He's not a typical Goa'uld," her mom said.
"I promise. And I know. Besides, with your DNA how could I possibly do anything stupid?" she said and grinned, even though the smile that followed on both their faces didn't quite seem to warm her as much as she had hoped. Buffy knew what was coming. And she knew what had to happen, up to a point. From there on, it was all up to her. And she had no idea what that meant in this universe.
"Okay, at least come say goodbye," her mom said.
Buffy glanced at her watch. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to tell everyone I wish them a good trip. I'm expected at Patterson in an hour. With brushing my hair, driving like a mad woman and security at both ends, I'll be lucky to make it in time," she apologized. She felt a short stab of pain in her mind. She still didn't like lying to anyone.
Buffy closed her cell phone. Her mom and the rest of SG-1 had been gone for nearly 2 days. There had been no word so far. She was standing in the conference room overlooking the Stargate. The Iris was closed and the seemingly constantly dialed gate was casting a blue afterglow over the unlit room. Every few minutes something caused the Iris to shudder as a heavy object -- most likely a mass-accelerated object -- hit it. The attacks had been going on at intervals of only a few seconds for nearly twenty-eight hours straight. It was barely five in the morning. She had been woken a half hour earlier. Their early warning system, satellites placed in a grid around the solar system with subspace relays and sensors, a Tau'ri and Tok'ra joint invention, had warned them of a group of objects passing through, heading towards Earth. General Hammond came into the room.
"Still no word from your mother. I don't know if anyone told you, but I put her in charge before they left in case of Jack becoming incapacitated," he said.
"I didn't get to say goodbye. I think I am regretting that a little, now," Buffy said.
"Why didn't you? They didn't leave in a rush -- not with all the equipment Jack had packed for them," General Hammond noted wryly.
"I’m not sure, I guess I just couldn't stand there and tell them all goodbye to their faces without showing how I really felt," she said.
"Are you afraid?" he asked.
"Always, for them. Not so much for me. Well, not at the time. It kinda helps when you know what awaits you. It’s funny, really. Once I would have needed nothing else to go into battle with a clear mind, but now I’m also afraid for my own life. I guess I feel like I deserve to live a little, too. I lost that for a while when I was still in my previous life. I just hope my plan is sound," she said.
"And everyone at the White House thinks you're right. I understand why you didn't want SG-1 to know. They won't like it when they hear about it," he said.
"Sir, sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness instead of worrying everyone by explaining. They wouldn't have been able to go do what I think they have to do, if they also had to think about me going into mortal danger. George?" she asked.
The general turned and looked at her. "I've made out a will and recorded a few personal messages, just in case. It's all in my office," Buffy explained.
"I'll make sure they get it. Please, try to make sure I don't have to, though," he said.
"Weren't you going up with the Prometheus, sir?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, I can't: the attacks on the Gate and the need for me to coordinate the entire fleet demands that I stay here. I put Colonel Pendergast in command of it. He has been briefed on your operation," General Hammond explained.
"My operation?" she asked, a bit surprised.
"Apparently, the President has been a private fan of yours for a while. When he and the Joint Chiefs read your brief they decided that you should be in command of the Air Group. You'll be calling the shots up there until the assault starts; then the regular chain of command applies. You'll be flying in Major Mitchell's wing. You're familiar with him from before?" General Hammond gave her a curious glance as she mutely nodded. The nice older fighter pilot had been by for dinner after the operation against Anubis' mothership. She had been blushing that entire night. However, Laws of Man and Nature had kept her from even considering flirting, and there had been nothing more to it. She had met him a couple of times since, and he hadn’t triggered any more babbling or blushes -- just almost. He still had all those man parts that made him straight-up yummy, but she had just decided to try and aim for something a bit more in her age category for her first serious boyfriend in this universe.
Her watch beeped. It was time to leave for Patterson. "I gotta go, sir. Thanks for having me," she said.
"Godspeed, Buffy," George called out as she left.
"Thank you, sir," she replied.
Buffy looked out the window of the helicopter General Hammond had ordered to pick her up. It was still morning. The active sound suppressors made the noise of the ride seem like a sedate sea of white noise. There was a click and the voice of the pilot cut in. "Ma'am, I just got a message from the mountain. They said to tell you that the sensors have picked up hints of decelerating objects near Jupiter. They're counting over 30 contacts," the pilot said.
She glanced over at his name tag. "Ellison, what you just heard is top secret. Understood?" Buffy said. Her mom and Jack had spent days drilling her in protocol in these situations.
"I am cleared, Ma'am," the pilot explained.
"Still, you cannot share this information with anyone," she insisted.
"Understood," the pilot replied. Buffy looked out over the hills and valleys as they flew towards Patterson. In her head she ran a few calculations based on her experiences and what she had been taught about large-ship-class hyperdrives. Anubis would be in orbit within half an hour to an hour. Being a Goa'uld, he would then do one of two things: demand surrender, or attack immediately. Usually Anubis had been a more calm and thinking Goa'uld, and she would have tipped him for making a big show proclaiming ‘You shall surrender to me!’, but after what she had seen on Chu'lak she had to face it. He was just as likely to come in shooting from all cannons. They had to meet him in orbit. She watched as they swept over a hill and came into the Patterson Airspace. In the distance she recognized the many airstrips. Buffy took a deep breath and tried to find some peace. It might be her last for a long while.
Herak looked up from his station. "My Lord, the fleet is forming around us. The Tau'ri homeworld lies at your feet. The Jaffa Ha'tak has abandoned its allies and the Earthers have not risen to challenge us, yet. Neither have the Asgard arrived to give us challenge. We will arrive in orbit of that ball of mud within half an hour," he said.
"Tell my fleet to prepare all bombers and cannons. We will scour their world with fire. We will return them to their primitive state and let them return to the proper worship of their God," Anubis proclaimed. Herak felt his heart warm at the thought of destroying the human home-world and hopefully seeing the Stargate Command and its SG-1 burn.
"I shall relay your commands, my lord," he said and bowed deeply, unable to keep from smiling.
Cam was not feeling all that awake yet, but he knew he had to be soon. They had gotten the call an hour ago. He looked around. All the world's most top-secret squadrons were ready for their deployments. He, however, was more concerned about the special mission his Blue squadron had pulled. They were the oldest and consequently the most experienced group of F-302 pilots on the planet. But that didn't stop his guys from being bewildered at their orders. The airfield had been filling with F-302s, all of them fresh off the assembly lines, but his squadron had been ordered over to another hangar yesterday, even though he had had his hands full with instructing all sorts of new pilots arriving from all around -- most of them having only had simulator time on the F-302. Still, there they had been in a hangar, being presented with the brand new F-305s standing in front of several Jaffa Deathgliders. A bit later General Hammond actually told him what was going on. He had been shocked.
"Seriously, Major, why are we here?" Reynolds his second in command asked.
"Listen, people, I got our orders a few minutes ago. We're leading the charge against the Goa'uld fleet, a fleet that is moving into orbit at the moment. We're a part of a strategy called ‘the Stake plan’. We're the stake. When the fleet comes into orbit, the other squadrons and the carriers are going to make an attack run. We're then going to use the confusion and these modified deathglider to fly towards each of the motherships. A Deathglider is capable of flying remotely and that is what we're there to do: guide them in remotely. As you can see, the pilot and co-pilot area of the Deathgliders have been filled with our technology. On the pilot seat is an F-302 hyperdrive set to run for a few microseconds on its own small naquadriah reactor, and on the back seat is a naquadah-enhanced tactical nuclear device. We're there to deliver this to the front door safely and launch them on command. The targets will be loaded into your computers as we approach the battle. That way, we should be able to take out several of the opposing motherships. Now, your navigator will be in charge of the Deathglider, including the final release of the nuke and the firing of its drive. At that point, our carriers -- and hopefully our allies -- will turn back around for what we hope is just clean-up," he said.
"Finally, there is a footnote. For this mission we will be under the command of another officer, who should be arriving shortly. Apparently, his call sign is Slayer. He will be flying the attack on the main mothership. This has been decided at the top of the chain of command. If all else fails, Slayer has to reach his target," he said.
"Her target," a young female voice corrected him. Cam turned and saw Colonel Carter's daughter, who was supposedly some sort of operative for the SGC. He wondered why she was there.
"Excuse me?" he asked.
"I am sorry to interrupt, but the Slayer is a she," Buffy Carter told him.
Cam realized that the girl was in a tiny flight suit and carried one of the F-305 flight helmets. It had the call sign ‘Slayer’ printed on it. "You're commanding my squadron?" he said.
"No, actually I was planning on not disrupting your routine and have you lead your squadron. I only need you to fly with me until I break off and go for the huge main mothership with my Deathglider drone," Buffy explained.
The blond with her gently curling hair in a ponytail turned and addressed his men and women. "Listen, people, today we're going on a vital but highly dangerous mission. We're literally saving the world. Everyone in the world is going to wake up tomorrow and they will be alive and free because of what you do today. We must not fail." As she spoke, hundreds of F-302s and even a few more of the new F-305s started taking off behind her. "So, with that in mind, I wish you all godspeed and my hope that you will come back safely," Buffy said and headed for the lead F-305, pulling out what looked like a flash drive from a pocket.
"Go," he yelled, and his squadron ran for their ships. Technicians who had been scrambling around the Deathgliders threw some switches and ran off as the Deathgliders came to a hover with a hum. Cam -- or ‘Shaft’, as he thought of himself while in a cockpit -- crawled into position while trying to get his head in the game. He radioed his men, making sure everyone had done their pre-flight checks before signaling the tower that Blue Squadron was ready to go.
He heard over the radio, "Tower, this is Slayer, staying on Blue Channel. Ready to taxi." He wondered what Samantha Carter was thinking about her daughter going into battle while dragging along a multi-megaton nuclear device.
"The moment we get out of hyperspace, we have to radio the SGC. If Anubis comes after us, we'll be obliterated before we reach Atlantis," Samantha said.
"Which will be soon, Colonel Carter," Bra'tac said. Sam looked over her shoulder to glance at Jack, who was modifying the ring platform of their Tel'tak.
Daniel added, "The contact we had before leaving Talnosh said that the Tok'ra had intel that Anubis was in flight, heading for Earth. Our world could be under attack already."
"I hope we’ll make it in time," she said.
Buffy felt the ship accelerate with a roar. The feeling of exhilaration was almost like her first day in her bird again. For a moment or two she allowed herself to revel in the feeling of freedom, as her F-305 went from Earthbound to heading into the upper atmosphere.
"Come in, Slayer: SGC on the line for you," Walter's voice came to her over the radio.
"Go, SGC," she replied.
"Slayer, Team One is inbound. Arrival time is unknown. The Commander in Chief has confirmed that you have full release of the ball. Stake is a go," Walter explained.
"Roger and out," she replied.
"Slayer to Blue Squadron," she said.
"Go, Slayer," Cam said.
"The other squadrons are about to start their run. We have release of our payload. Set all weapons hot and prepare yourselves. We're flying low through the upper atmo until we're horizontal with the battle. Come at the motherships from the front, as their main weapons are bottom mounted. Watch out for sudden launches of gliders. After delivery of payload, pull away; from there on, you’re under the command of Colonel Pendergast on the Prometheus or the SGC. We're going radio silent after you receive your targets, so until we begin the actual attack run, just follow the leader," she said and put her 305 in the front. They flew underneath the battle overhead in space. She used the relayed information from the Prometheus and the SGC to pick and distribute their targets. No one exchanged any radio chatter anymore.
Overhead, a combination of the barely flight-ready Daedalus and the quite powerful Prometheus was teaching the Goa'uld about human space technology, while the Rebel Jaffa Ha'tak they had sent on a slingshot course through hyperspace immediately upon detecting Anubis appeared above their enemy and loosed its weaponry. Buffy wished they had gotten a few days more to prepare, as she'd have liked to have the promised Tok'ra Ha'tak waiting around, hidden under its cloaking device.
She noticed that they had passed under the battle and pulled her stick back and pointed the nose of her ship towards the sky. The faint blue-black around her turned all black, and she slipped from the Earth’s gravity well, feeling the drop in weight quite clearly. It was amazing how the stars paled in the reflection of the Earth, but she didn't have time to appreciate the scenery. With the Deathglider and its precious payload shadowing her every move she turned and saw Anubis' fleet poised to obliterate their meager defenses and then crush the Earth.
Buffy put her engines at the best speed she could without losing the tenuous radio connection to the remote interface of the glider behind her. It had all been her plan. An old idea she had carried around since her mom and Cam had made the attack run on Anubis' super mothership and destroyed his special weapon. She had kept it in her mind, wondering if there was a way for Anubis to stop it, but in the end, with her vision having shown her part of the future, she had proposed it a few days earlier to General Hammond and then via a teleconference to the Joint Chiefs. It had been adopted, tacky name and all. It was hoped that their enlarged wing could significantly reduce the enemy number, and maybe even kill Anubis.
She looked at their enemy, hoping that they wouldn't detect her squadron’s approach and intent before it was too late. Fortunately, the gliders weren't known for their jump capacity, so she hoped that would at least keep Anubis from guessing their plan too early on.
Herak watched as the sensors of the fleet showed another of the human and traitor Jaffa groups attempting an attack in their vessels. A small group of their craft and gliders were speeding for the fleet. He didn't need to inform his lord about every detail, and so he just dispatched a glider wing from a nearby mothership to destroy them.
Buffy saw enemy gliders approach. This was when things started to get interesting. "This is the Slayer, begin the attack run. Break and attack. I repeat, break and attack. Stay safe, people," she said over the radio, and turned off, heading for Anubis' ship. All around her -- with her mom's modified naquadah reactor-driven guns already firing small but rapid bolts of orange at their enemy -- Blue squadron did as they were told.
Buffy yanked her ship right, avoiding a pair of bolts from a Deathglider. She turned her ship on the side, then fired the counter thrusters. The glider's bolts missed again and it swept into her flight path, straight into her line of fire. A bolt of death was already on the way, her fingers having followed her instinctive drive to fight and triggered the weapons at the right moment. She smiled as she noted out of the corner of her eye that her mom's shielding of their fighters was causing surprise and chagrin for the attacking gliders. Soon, however, Blue squadron drifted apart as they headed for their targets.
Herak wondered about the tactics of the small squadron of enemies attacking from the other side of the battlefield. The squadron had split apart into small groups, each composed of one human and one Jaffa fighter. Even worse, it seemed they had made short work of the squadron he had sent to destroy them. Each group was headed straight for a mothership. He wondered if they were going to futilely attack a mothership, just like the rest of the ragtag band they were already fighting off on the other side of the battlefield. He considered if he should order more gliders to fight them off but decided to let the anti-glider weaponry on each mothership handle it. He trusted his commanders to do the right thing with such a pathetic challenge.
Buffy dove in between two motherships, shooting another glider that had been heading for the withdrawing Earth fighters and carriers. She was heading straight for Anubis' ship at the center of the fleet. It was still surrounded by a pair of three Deathglider patrols. She hoped she could use the size of the enemy vehicle against it and deliver her hopefully crippling cargo to the area around the hangar, where blowing up stuff had seemed to do a lot of good the last time she had met one of those ships.
"Blue One, Cargo delivered," Cam's voice said. He was soon followed by several other members of Blue squadron reporting successes. Buffy smiled as the declarations were followed by massive explosions, each taking out a mothership completely with a massive nuclear explosion triggered by a Deathglider hyperjumping some place random inside their superstructure. Most vehicles weren't built to withstand internal damage of that type. She watched as the explosions of the motherships and their parts damaged several other motherships close by. All in all, it looked much better for a moment.
"We need to slow down!" Daniel proclaimed as they emerged out of hyperspace close to Earth to gain them as much of a surprise arrival as possible. This, however, meant they were heading for Antarctica like a meteor.
"SGC, this is Colonel Carter. Come in, SGC," Sam said into their radio.
"Colonel Carter, this is the SGC: please report your status," Walter Harriman's voice came back over the radio.
"Sergeant, we've found Atlantis. It's here on Earth. We're going to its location now. However, if Anubis detects us he could figure out what we're up to. He had an agent working for him with us," she reported, thinking of the young Jaffa pilot who had flown them to Talnosh.
"Colonel, Anubis is currently being engaged by Earth's entire space fleet. He cannot come after you for the moment, but you won't have a lot of time," General Hammond's voice was the next to speak. Sam wished she could ask about Buffy, but she forced it from her mind. Her daughter, inexperienced or not, was through her abilities and inclinations a natural pilot, and as long as her daughter's luck held Buffy would be waiting for them back at the SGC with a few more stories of battles fought.
"My Lord, the Tau'ri has destroyed parts of our fleet using suicide bombs. One of that attack group is coming for us," he reported.
"I see. Herak, show me a scan of the attacking vessel," his God commanded. Herak didn't understand what his God's machine showed his God, but he didn't need to, either. He just waited.
His Lord laughed. "Here are your orders, my First Prime," his lord said while making what looked like adjustments to their shield. "Retrieve the pilot with the transporters we acquired from the Asgard, and make sure to zat her until she cannot move. She is a tough one, so be careful, Herak. I want to speak with her when she is here. I have waited years for this moment," his Lord commanded.
"Yes, my Lord," Herak said and smiled grimly. The new transporters were untested, but he looked forward to testing them on his master's target.
Buffy took a calming breath and looked around to make sure no Deathglider was sneaking up on her. She was about to launch her package, amazed she had actually made it that far, when there was a familiar noise and white shimmer. She found herself in what looked like a ring room. Several zats fired at once. Buffy fell over.
She opened her eyes, her head throbbing from the effect of the zats fired at her. She could feel heavy manacles around her hands. She got up and looked around. She was chained to the floor of what she guessed was Anubis' throne room. The head asshole himself was seated on the throne, studying her impassively. Buffy felt a presence behind her and turned her head to see Herak, Anubis' first prime, looking exactly as Jack had described him: blond, angry, stupid and arrogant. She rattled her chains a little. They had made one mistake. Only her hands were shackled.
"I see you're awake, little Slayer. That is what they used to call you. Yes?" Anubis said.
Buffy looked over at the black-cloaked Star Wars Emperor-wannabe and said, "Yes, when they are my slayees, then sure. So, this is what you consider your home. Seems a little bleak. It could use some paint, maybe a throw pillow."
"My lord, a transport ship just appeared. It bears the signature of the ship carrying SG-1 on their quest for Atlantis," Herak said behind her.
"Send ships after them," Anubis commanded.
"Yes, my lord," Herak agreed.
"Just like having an extra pair of hands," Buffy said to Anubis.
"Quite," Anubis agreed, "However, I have many loyal hands." He waved a hand over a blue part of his throne -- probably a thought-interface to the ship. A door opened to her right. Buffy looked over and gaped in surprise, and then outrage caused her blood to boil with instant rage.
"What the hell is that?" Buffy demanded in anger.
"That, my dear, is yet another failure of mine caused by you," Anubis explained, as another Buffy walked into the room. She was dressed like a skanky Goa'uld ho, if Buffy was any judge. She looked vapid and subservient.
"You have walked around my galaxy thinking you came to this universe by chance. You didn't. Neither Thoth nor his pathetic students did anything without my permission. I let them explore the quantum realities of your world. And it was I who ordered them to experiment on you and the others like you. I have enemies -- not pathetic things like you and your precious SGC. No, beings with real power. I detected in your kind what I believed was a possibility to destroy my enemies. But it didn't work. I could not find the source for your power. Even after Thoth -- before you killed him -- sent me your ovary and I made a copy of you, I did not learn anything. This mindless puppet animated by one of my lieutenants has not allowed me to learn what the source of your power is. But you will, girl. You are the original. And I have the means of learning everything I want to know," Anubis said and stepped down from his throne.
"You and Thoth are the same. You're complete idiots. I am not some thing you can just make carbon copies of and send into war like the idiots who serve you. I am the Slayer. I am not your weapon," Buffy said.
Anubis laughed and stretched out a hand. It held what Buffy recognized from the descriptions was a mind probe. A small ball with metal spikes. She also knew from reports that the implantation of it was supposed to be horrendously painful. She knew something else, too, though. It was time soon. She took a deep breath and tried to remember what the Universe had instructed her to do.
"SG-1, be advised. You have Al'kesh and a few gliders incoming. We're sending help," the SGC said over the radio.
"Just buy us some time," Jonas replied. He looked over his shoulder, past Bra'tac at the controls, to where Teal'c, Daniel and Sam were helping Jack make the ring platform back into a ring platform. He wondered if he should join them. An orange bolt whizzed past their view screen and created a crater in the ice beneath them.
"Help is here, boys and girls. Blue squadron, break and attack. Cover SG-1 at all cost," the voice of Major Mitchell said over the radio.
The seconds ticked on. A major dogfight between F-305s and Anubis' ships was happening just outside the window. "Jonas!" Sam called. Jonas couldn't help smiling as he got up, grabbing his rifle as he went to ring down into what they hoped was Atlantis with his team.
"My Lord, our ships on the surface report that SG-1 has descended into the ice at the South pole of their world," Herak said, loathing to interrupt just as his lord was about to take his prisoner away for interrogation.
"It seems your interrogation has to wait," his lord said and went back to stand at his throne, getting ready to activate his tele-presence projector -- another invention taken from the Asgard.
A while passed, with his lord speaking in the human tongue about something being too late. Suddenly his lord turned and said, "Aim all our weapons at that spot. Do it, do it now," Anubis commanded.
Buffy vaulted backwards, hoping her judgment of the distance had been correct. She felt her feet slip over the shoulders of her target. Using the hook she was shackled to, she pulled her body forward towards the floor. "Stop this!" Anubis yelled. She could hear a pair of feet running towards her. She sat back and pushed herself as far back as her shackles allowed. She came to rest on Herak's chest. He struggled to get her off. She placed her hands under his chin and pushed up with all her strength until he looked straight up; then she hammered her hands down. Herak started thrashing around, but his windpipe was crushed. Her clone hammered into her. Buffy grappled it just as she heard a staff weapon ready itself. She tossed her clone in the direction of the noise.
There was a snap! hiss! and her clone landed with a burning hole in her chest, mid-way between Buffy and the left corridor where two ready and armed Jaffa stood aiming staff weapons at her. Anubis held up his hand, stalling their fire.
"Now what purpose did that serve? I will just restore my First Prime using the sarcophagus. In fact, I am tempted to have my Jaffa just shoot you and bring you back later. I can do that many times, you know," Anubis said.
"Death is my gift. I am not afraid of it," she said defiantly. A orange flickering light shone in from the window.
"What is that?" Anubis asked.
"What we were waiting for," Buffy said grimly. Now it was all up to her. The universe had shown her the way. She looked over her shoulder as the strange, white-hot-looking tentacled device from her vision hammered through the window and hit her. Everything turned white and peaceful.
Sam felt exhausted physically and emotionally, but she didn't have time to deal with it. She had just been briefed on the basics of the battle with Anubis’ fleet on her flight from the Antarctic battlefield near Atlantis to the SGC. She was to fly from Patterson to the Mountain. But on the way in she could see why everyone was so busy. Not only was the airfield littered with F-302s in every condition possible, but there were also gliders, tel'tak, and even a crashed pair of Al'kesh. She winced at the thought of how much information would leak. She had gotten out of the Antarctic on a Tel'tak detailed temporarily as a SAR shuttle -- one of many actually.
"Colonel, I am glad to see you," a familiar voice greeted her as she stepped out of the Tel'tak that had taken her home at record speed. Sergeant Siler had apparently been detailed to taking her to the mountain. A squad of security personnel was right behind him. The mom in her wanted to ask about her daughter, but the military officer wanted to ask about the security.
"I wish we could spare a ship to take you to the ring at the mountain, ma'am, but we're gonna have to make do with a helicopter," Siler explained. Sam just nodded, trying to cope with the sight of utter destruction she was seeing all around.
"Just before General O'Neill did his thing, a group of Anubis' fighters and bombers followed a squad down and did an attack-run on this place. But that is the least of our problems. The Prometheus made a controlled landing at Area 52, but the Daedalus was lost with all hands. The Rebel Ha'tak blew during re-entry, but the Jaffa escaped using the rings, and most who survived are either here or in the Mountain. There is real trouble, though, ma'am. We might be facing public disclosure. Before the battle, Anubis started disrupting satellite communications world-wide, but not enough to prevent the news networks from being on alert about something. One of Anubis' Ha'tak crashed in Eastern Germany. The EU and NATO are up in arms. The Chinese, of course, are angry at not having been informed about everything going on. The General is very busy at the moment, and the Pentagon and the White House are probably going to be running wild for a while. I wonder how we'll handle it, ma'am," Siler said.
"Badly at first, Siler -- we're still human, after all. But after the fear, things might be okay," she said. Siler led her towards a helicopter.
"Siler, about my daughter . . . ?" she asked.
"Sorry, Ma'am, I don't know. I just know she went up with Blue Squadron," Siler said.
Sam suppressed a gasp. Most of Blue Squadron was on the SARs coming out of the Antarctic. They had taken a beating to protect her team. Sam wondered if Buffy was on her way home now, just waiting for her landing permit. She also hoped Jonas, Teal'c and Daniel would come back soon, but she understood why they wanted to stay and watch over Jack in his stasis pod.
Sam sat at General Hammond's conference table, answering yet another set of questions from Major Davis that he had been told to ask on behalf of the Pentagon. The President needed all the facts. She could appreciate that. However, Sam was a mom -- and a mom whose daughter had just been in a major military engagement. She was getting anxious at the lack of news or mention from anyone. Daniel walked up. He and Teal’c had gotten back from Atlantis a little after her own arrival. Jonas had apparently won their drawing-of-straws and the right to stay behind. Davis nodded to her and headed for General Hammond's office, where the General had the Pentagon on speaker phone.
"Sam," Daniel said. She knew immediately. It was in his eyes, in the tone of his voice. He had grave news. It was the tone her dad had used to tell her of her mom's death and to tell her of his cancer.
"No," she protested.
"Buffy is missing in action. According to NORAD and NASA, her F-305 was destroyed along with its drone Deathglider after impacting the shields of Anubis' ship. They registered three successful engagements on the way in. She won all of them and seemed alright," Daniel explained.
"Drone Deathglider?" she asked.
"Buffy came up with a plan several days ago," General Hammond said as he entered the room. "She had apparently had a prophetic dream which had given her assurances that an earlier idea of hers could work. She wrote up a brief she called ‘The Stake Plan’. She hoped she'd be able to strike a deadly blow against Anubis, or at least his fleet. And it worked. However, we could only get twelve gliders ready. They were set to follow remote instructions, just as they could from a Ha'tak, only tied to an F-305 instead. They were then loaded with a remote-controlled, naquadriah-fueled F-302 hyperdrive and a naquadah-enhanced nuclear warhead. The plan was to jump them inside the shield or even into the target mothership and detonate. It worked," he said.
"Why didn't she tell us, sir?" she asked.
"She didn't want to worry you or the rest of SG-1." General Hammond paused, then looking slightly guilty he admitted, "I knew she was holding something grave back. I believe she may have seen her death in her vision. She left messages and a will in her office, just in case."
"No, she is not dead! She can't just be dead! Not like this! I never got to say goodbye," Sam yelled, then broke down in tears. Daniel stepped up and held her for a while. Sam felt the presence of General Hammond fade and the door to his office closed to give her privacy.
"Shhh," Daniel whispered, "nothing is sure yet. She might not be dead. Why would she just crash her ship like that?"
But Sam couldn't believe him. She acknowledged it in her heart. There was something amiss in her world. There had been since the Antarctic. Now she knew what it was: Buffy was gone from her world. Her beautiful daughter had died in the battle to save yet another world.
Buffy awoke in what looked like fine white desert sand. A baking sun was overhead.
"So this is where you feel at home. Strange seeing as you're a typical human from another environment," a thin Egyptian man called out to her.
"Only the part of me you so desperately wanted to know likes this place," she replied. In her mind she could hear the beckoning threnody that always rang in this world.
"I don't think you understand. Neither the so-called Ancients nor Oma Desala herself could stop me. I will just move to another body. And what will you do? You're dead, little human girl," Anubis proclaimed.
Buffy ran at the man and launched herself into a massive kick. The rail-thin Egyptian flew down to the bottom of the dune they had been standing on. Buffy charged after.
"Impossible!" the man said, coughing in pain.
Buffy lifted him to his feet by grabbing a bunch of his white smock and said, "I thought we had been introduced. Let's try again. Hi, my name is Buffy, I'll be your Slayer this evening." She took grasped his head with both hands.
He fought back, his hands grabbing hers. Fire sprang from his fingertips, and he yelled in anger and pain. Buffy winced but didn't say anything as she placed her fingers over the man's eyes and pressed. Her pain grew and grew. Suddenly she had a feeling like she was pressing her fingers through Jell-o. The fire stopped, his fingers went limp. The body shuddered once, then fell silent. Buffy let go of Anubis and looked around. Beneath her the body seemed to rot away within moments.
A dark-haired woman she had seen before stood at the foot of the dune. Hundreds of others – fuzzy, almost ghost-like in appearance -- stood in the distance beyond her. The woman looked shocked to her core. "How? How can you damage an ascended being?" she asked.
"Oma -- right?" Buffy asked.
"Yes," the woman agreed and nodded.
"Are you sure you're so ascended, or is that just a name? How can you be anything like a being with an enlightened nature? True enlightenment isn't transcending the human or Ancient form, nor is it being transformed into an energy-like being with the help of friends or technology. Especially when you're then able to spawn mistakes like Anu-bitch. Take it from someone who has been to Heaven: this is only an approximation. Ever considered that you might be on the wrong path or caught at a dead end?" Buffy asked.
"You're not enlightened," Oma declared.
"No, not me, I am just a regular girl on a visit to Ascension land," Buffy said. The Ghost of Tara appeared to the left of her. Oma and the others faded out of sight, looking horrified as they vanished. Buffy wondered if she had gotten through to them. She had come to consider the Ascension offered by the Ancients a crutch and a dead end. Ever since Orlin had told her about it she had doubted it. It was not some blessed state, but probably just some energy-being form created by the Ancients to go and be immortal and god-like, but not the path to perfection or the afterlife.
"You managed to shift into this state just in time," Tara said.
"I was so afraid it wouldn't work," Buffy admitted. It would be pointless to lie to the Universe, she reasoned.
"I had faith in you. And, well, I did instruct you, didn't I?" Tara said and smiled.
"Thanks. Can I keep doing this, then?" she asked.
"Maybe, but this shift is very dangerous and you need my help to get you all the way here for now. As you age and learn, that may change. You should still avoid it, at all costs, if you can. Even if you manage it again each time you come here, it will get harder to leave... You know, the Ascended aren't all wrong as far as I know," Tara said.
"Probably not, but they're still people which means that they aren't right either. They've got to face that they can make mistakes, too," Buffy said.
"Ready to go?" Tara asked and held out her hand.
"Sure," Buffy admitted, and again there was white-hot pain.
"Try to take it easy for a while," the words echoed for Buffy's ears only as the regular world faded in again. Buffy looked around her. Daniel and her mom were standing in the window of the control room high above her, overlooking the gate room. Buffy rose and turned -- the gate was shutting down. The next thing she noticed was the rather drafty state of things. She looked down at herself and let out a shocked screech. She was quite naked in front of all the marines and airmen. Quickly she covered up as well as she could with her hands and arms and dashed to the back of the room to find some sort of cover. She felt like every part of her body was blushing.
"So they're gonna go for full disclosure?" Buffy asked, sitting leaned against her mom, who was dressed completely civilian for once.
"Yes, the President believes there is no other option. There are major consequences for us, as well. The G7 countries, the EU, the Chinese, the Russians, even the UN -- everyone is saying the same. If the US keeps to its course of hoarding the alien secrets and power gained through the Gate, then they'll have no other option than to band together and launch a nuclear strike against us. They fear that some new and more warlike administration would come to power over here in the hysteria that is sure to follow, which could stoop to using our new space warfare capacity to turn them all into slaves to our nation. I don't believe this is possible, but they are very adamant," General Hammond admitted.
"You can't see that happening? Come on, you're not that naive, sir. The first fear- or hate-monger who comes to power, and it will happen. One of the base requirements for becoming a politician is the desire for power. They all have it in them, sir. I think the rest of the world is right. No matter the bureaucratic and political mess it will be, I think having the entire world protecting the entire world is the only way to go. We've got to face it at some point here. The USA is far from being the entire world nor its single protector," Buffy said.
General Hammond gave her a dissatisfied look, but said nothing else.
"And Anubis is gone for good?" Daniel asked.
"Killed him good and proper. Jack got his body with his Ancient-weapon light show, and I got the Ascended bits. Really, in the end, it was an easy gig. Well aside from the slight case of dying and all," Buffy said.
"So, what now?" her mom asked. Buffy leaned back into her arms. Even though she was alive to tell the tale, dying again had brought up some old feelings that Buffy had a hard time both admitting to and facing again. Having her mom there to hold her and tell her that things would be okay again was helping though.
"The SGC is coordinating efforts to capture any Jaffa that may have escaped to Earth, while the UN is leading the discussion, first of all, about what to do with the Atlantis Base and if it might lead us to the real Atlantis," General Hammond explained.
"I'm fairly certain Jonas and I will be able to help there -- at least once we're allowed back in the Ancient outpost," Daniel said.
"I have to help Teal'c with the Jaffa resistance. We're going off-world in a few days. I might not be back for a while. We're a mess right now, but if we get our asses in gear, we'll be able to really get the rebellion going. Anubis did us quite a favor by killing most of the System Lords, but sooner rather than later another one of those parasites is going to try and copy his methods," Buffy explained.
"You can't leave so soon again, Buffy," her mom complained.
"Mom, don't worry. I will always come back. After all, I came all the way from another universe just to find my way home," Buffy said.
Author's end notes:
I have to start out by thanking my betas for helping me keeping this story together. Especially RevDorothyL who has been invaluable and has kept this Dane from overly misusing the language. I hope you've all enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
Going Home started as a simple idea of inserting Buffy into the life of Sam Carter and as grown organically from there. Inspired by the Cassandra episodes of Stargate (Sam has good chemistry with kids) and a couple of Buffy-family insertion fics on this site I wanted to try my hand at my first crossover. It seems to have been a success. Originally envisioned as a much shorter story (around 60000 words) it has grown a bit thanks to the reviews and general kindness held in them. I want to thank all my reviewers for giving me the energy to finish this story to my satisfaction. And finally to all that have read this far. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
Now I have a follow-up fic or two that I could write dealing with my Going Home Buffy getting to see the Scoobies again as well as a third one dealing with both Atlantis and the Ori plotlines. However I am not sure if I should write in this universe again immediately. So tell me in reviews and messages if you think, the story can bear a continuation or if I should stop here. Please you the readers tell me. I will also admit I might be off to write other stuff I have original stuff I would like to try to write and there is also real life to take care off. Yet I am interested in opinions and comments about what you'd like.