“So tell me what’s been happening back home.” Buffy said.
“Well, Sunnydale collapsed into a crater after we defeated the First. It’s filled with water now.” Dawn told her.
Buffy’s eyes went wide and her mouth fell open in shock. “Wow, really?”
“Yeah.” Willow grinned. “The hellmouth was destroyed completely.”
“What about the scythe?” Buffy suddenly remembered. “I dropped it when the boulder hit me, and I know that Faith didn’t have it when I pushed her out of the cavern.”
“Now that was weird.” Xander answered. “It kind of just appeared one day. It showed up in Faith’s room after we bought the estate in Cleveland for the new Watcher’s Council. Faith has been doing really good. I think the spotlight has really done her good. She told us what you said that day. You would be proud of her.”
Buffy smiled in satisfaction. She knew Faith could do it. “Wait, you bought an estate?”
“Yeah.” Dawn grinned. “We managed to get our hands on the money from the old Watchers Council. We made a new one on the Cleveland hellmouth. Giles is in charge. Willow and Xander were also on the council until we decided to come here.”
“What about Kennedy, Will?” Buffy asked, remembering her friends’ obnoxious girlfriend. “What did she have to say about you moving across the galaxy to be with me?”
“We broke up a year ago.” Willow told her. “She said some really mean things about you the day of your anniversary, and I’d finally had enough. Did you that know she was always jealous of you, even more than Tara?”
“Anyway, these people are a part of a government program called the Stargate Program.” Willow directed the conversation away from her love life. “Several years ago, they uncovered an alien device that allowed them to travel to other planets in different galaxies. Unfortunately, they found a Big Bad out there. They’re called the Goa’uld. They’re these snake-like parasites that burrow into the body, wraps around the spinal cord and attaches itself to the brain. It suppresses the host and completely takes over the body.”
“Kind of like a vampire, huh?” Buffy reasoned.
“Pretty much, but the host isn’t killed. They have several reports of people who have had the symbiotes successfully removed, but if it is killed in the body, it decomposes into the bloodstream as a poison. The host knows everything that’s happened, but can’t do anything about it.”
Buffy shuddered. “Creepy.”
“So this is your room?” Xander looked around.
“Yeah, this is my place. The whole room is kind of a stasis chamber. I don’t understand how it works, much less how they made a whole room. I remember those space shows. Aren’t people in stasis supposed to be in pods or something?” Buffy asked curiously, then shrugged and pointed behind her. “Anything, the place came complete with a weapons locker and training room through there.”
Buffy watched silently as the others explored her chambers, content for the moment to simply bask in their presence. It had been so long since she’d had anything but her memories, then her photos. She visited the different colony she found through the Stargate between her battles with the Wraith and her time in stasis, but it wasn’t the same.
“Hey, Buffy, what is this?” Willow asked, staring as a screen with scrolling information.
“I think they’re my medical records, or something, from when I’m in stasis.” Buffy answered. “I recognize some of it, but not this part or this part.” Buffy pointed to one section of the screen and tapped on another. “But I think this part is something about my evolution.”
Willow looked intrigued. She entered a command to take her back to the top. She read the first date, and her eyes nearly bugged out of her head. “Buh… Wha… Hey, Dawn, come here.”
“Yeah?” Dawn came over from where she was studying the artwork.
“Your Ancient is better than mine.” Willow was still goggling at the screen. “Tell me that I’m reading this wrong.”
Dawn read the screen and her jaw dropped. Seeing the absolute shock on her face, Xander set down the picture of him and Anya and came over to join them. “Buffy, this says you’ve been here for a hundred years.” Dawn’s voice rose to near hysteria. “That’s impossible. You’ve only been gone for three years. How could you have been here for a hundred years
Buffy grabbed her sister by the shoulders and turned her so that she could look Dawn in the eye. “Calm down, Dawnie, and take a breath.” She looked at the others. “Come on, guys, and I’ll explain.”
They all moved over to the bed and got comfortable, except for Xander who pulled over a chair. ‘Just like old times.’ Buffy thought. “The first time I woke up, I found a letter from Tara, written in Anqueeta.”
“Jeez, that girl did a lot.” Xander interrupted. “What’s Anqueeta?”
“Ancient.” Dawn answered. “That was another name that they were called.”
“Imagine my surprise when I could read, write and speak this strange language. Apparently, if they had left me in the present time, it would have drawn too much attention to what they had done. It also gave my abilities time to evolve to fight the Wraith. The Slayer was not created to battle something like this, so some genetic altering was required. The Wraith are naturally evolved, not demons, and despite the fact that they killed millions of humans, they are a part of the natural food chain. The caretakers forage, taking humans and storing them, all the time, but every ten to fifteen years, the rest of the Wraith awaken in increasing increments to go from world to world kidnapping almost whole populations in what they call cullings.”
“What does that have to do with us?” Xander asked.
“Well, the Powers That Be would never have done anything about the Wraith because like I said, they are a natural part of the food chain in this part of the universe. By the time the Wraith would have drawn their attention, they would have already discovered the location of Earth, and then only because they never should have found out that Earth existed. A single world of billions and billions of people, who reproduce daily. Anybody seeing the problem here?”
Xander’s eyes got really wide as he realized what that meant. “A one-stop all-you-can-eat buffet.”
“Exactly.” Buffy nodded. “So one of those Ascended Being called Oma Desala went to Tara when she died and asked for help and Tara agreed. When I was dying, Tara came to me and asked me if I wanted to remain dead or if I would travel to this place to fight the Wraith. I usually awaken when majority of the Wraith have already awakened, but something’s happened. There is something really wrong, because my spidey-sense is going nuts. I need to talk to whoever’s in charge.”
“Buffy, can I transfer your records to my laptop to look over?” Willow asked.
“Go ahead.” Buffy shrugged.
Willow transferred the records and remotely started a translation program that she and Dawn had been working on, then they all decided to save the catching up for later and went to find the others.
“So I guess this is home now.” Lt. Ford said to Sheppard.
“I guess so.” Sheppard answered.
“I’m thinking of a little place with an ocean view.” Ford joked. “A little ways off the beaten path, you know.”
They were standing on a balcony, watching the people introduce themselves to one another in the gateroom. Night had fallen and they here holding a “getting to know you” party of sorts, mixing the Stargate crew with the Athosians. As they people watch, Weir stepped out to join them.
“Major, Lieutenant.” Weir greeted them and handed them each a mug. “I thought the occasion merited champagne. Compliments of General O’Neill.”
“Cheers.” Sheppard toasted and they all drank.
“You did good, John.” Weir told him when she noticed is less then happy expression.
“I don’t know about that.”
“There was no way you could have saved Colonel Sumner, was there?” She asked.
“No, but I have to live with it.” Sheppard answered after a moment. “I’m beginning to think you were right. I have
made things much worse. I haven’t made us many more friends out there.”
“No?” Weir’s brow rose as she turned back to look over the party. “Look around you.”
Sheppard looked at the Athosians milling around happily. Nearby, Halling was having an affectionate moment with Jinto, the two of them have their foreheads touching. Teyla was standing next to Halling.
“I agree, Major Sheppard.” Teyla said. She walked over to him, put her hands on his shoulders and bowed her head. Sheppard glanced at Ford, who grinned at him. Sheppard rolled his eyes a little and lowered his own head so that his forehead touched Teyla’s. They stood like that for a moment, then Teyla straightened. “You have earned both my
friendship and that of my people. With our help you will make many more friends.”