Twice Told Tales
A/N This chapter is a bit of an info dump. Sorry about that, but it was necessary to get the story to where I need it to be. Anyway, I have no claim on BTVS, Stargate or the works of H P Lovecraft. Constructive criticism is always welcome, pointless criticism will receive the same consideration as my daughter's attempts at cooking. (You really don't want to know.)
TWICE TOLD TALES
Willow wasn’t nervous. Nope, not one bit. She’d left nervous a long time ago and was now edging into the realm of full blown panic. She stood there and for the umpteenth time wondered how she’d let Xander talk her into this. Sure the meeting with Dr. Williams had gone well and his lesson plans were easily within the realm of what she was capable of teaching, but it was easy for Willow to forget all that as she watched the students file into the lecture hall. Idly Willow wondered if anyone would notice if she quietly slipped out the back.
“It’s your first day, you shouldn’t be thinking about taking off already,” a voice muttered quietly behind her.
Willow barely contained the shriek that threatened to jump from her mouth as she whirled around to confront the voice’s owner. “That’s not funny, Xander.”
“It was from my perspective there Wills,” Xander replied with a grin. A look of mock solemnity replaced the grin. “And remember now, this is college and perspective is everything,” he said; echoing back something Willow had said to him many years ago.
“You big meany,” Willow spluttered as she tried to think of something else to say.
“Maybe,” Xander replied. “But I bet you’re not nervous any more,” he said with a grin as he headed for the exit. “It was either do that or tell you to imagine the students in their underwear and considering that these are a bunch of computer nerds . . . .” Xander just shuddered dramatically and left the hall
Willow whirled back around to face the lecture hall just as the bell to begin class rang. She quickly closed her eyes, said a brief blessing and then tried to start without picturing the kids in their underwear. Sadly there was a question before she could even begin. “Yes?” she said, pointing to the student with her hand raised. Willow found it hard to focus on the rather cute girl’s question without picturing her in a sky blue bra and panties set. ‘Darn that Xander,’ Willow thought as she furiously tried to keep her blush reflex under control.
“Do you know Dr. Harris?”
“He’s my best and oldest friend,” Willow replied honestly. “We’ve known each other since kindergarten.”
The class seemed to shrink back at this answer. This told Willow exactly how much Xander was both respected and feared here. Clearing her throat and finally managing to get the underwear image out of her mind, Willow started her first class.
It had been “one of those meetings”. In fact it had been several of those meetings, all of which Daniel had tried to put out of his mind; mostly because of Jack. Jack O’Neill was capable of handling many varied situations, but when it came to things that weren’t concrete; such as the notion of an elevated being relaying information to prevent a possible world ending event that didn’t involve the SGC, then he wasn’t at the top of his game. Lately it had taken every ounce of Daniel’s willpower to keep from rolling his eyes every time Jack opened his mouth. Eventually even Hammond got tired of it and; in no uncertain terms, told the Colonel to behave himself.
Despite the fact that no one could come up with any kind of corroborating evidence to back up Oma’s dire predictions; it was decided to extend the invitation. In the end Daniel trusted Oma and Hammond trusted Daniel. Now all they had to do was have Sam make a phone call.
Jack O’Neill had backed off because Hammond had asked him to do so, not because he wanted to. While he didn’t particularly blame Harris for reacting as he had to Jack’s rather ham-handed behavior; he felt that the resulting humiliation had been uncalled for. Beyond that, he was feeling a bit of jealousy; as irrational as that might be. When you saved the world on a regular basis; even if you and your colleagues were the only ones that knew about it, you developed a bit of an ego. Finding out that there were groups out there that could quite honestly make the same claim was a bit of a blow to that ego. It had forced Jack to re-examine his whole place in the great scheme of things and that’s never a comfortable thing to do.
Jack had promised Hammond that he wouldn’t go out of his way to make trouble for whoever showed up from the university and he had meant it. He respected Hammond too much to break a promise like that. However, that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to ignore an infraction of the rules. The Miskatonic crowd was going to be on his turf this time so he had the home field advantage. There were things that he had seen and heard while a guest at Miskatonic that had shaken Jack to his core. The whole notion of a hidden world right here on earth, a world that he’d never had the faintest notion that it even existed, was mind boggling. So if he got the leverage to lean on Harris and his cohorts, Jack was going to use it. Quite frankly, he had a bunch of questions and he was darned well gonna get some answers.
“I’m sorry to disturb you but we’ve got a bit of a situation here and I need a favor.”
“And what would that be?”
“Could you ask Dr. Harris and one or more of his associates to come to my base in two days? There is someone who needs to talk to them.”
“It isn’t Colonel O’Neill is it,” Randolph asked.
“No, its . . . . . well, it’s hard to explain exactly who it is.”
“And the reason for this meeting?”
“I was told that it concerns,” Randolph could hear some paper rustling. “The end of all things and that only this . . . . person has the knowledge that Dr. Harris and his people need in order to deal with it,” Sam replied. “I’m sorry to put you in the middle like this,” Sam said. “But I doubt anyone there would listen to us if we just called them up.”
Randolph barely heard Samantha’s apology. The phrase “The end of all things”, echoed in his mind. It was a phrase that he’d seen recently in one of the documents that only the President of Miskatonic had access to. In the end, he really had no choice; that didn’t mean his cooperation came free. “I’ll act as your intermediary here Samantha”, Randolph finally replied. “But it will cost you.”
“What exactly,” Sam replied, sounding wary.
“Well, Thanksgiving is a few months away and it would be nice to celebrate it with family, don’t you agree?”
Sam sighed, knowing that she was obligated to give in. “Of course Uncle. Do you want to come to Colorado or do you want me to come to Massachusetts?”
“Given the unpredictable nature of your schedule, it would probably be best if I came to you.”
Sam allowed herself a brief smile at her uncle’s concession. “That sounds good, I’ll even see if Mark and Dad are available.”
“That would be excellent Samantha,” Randolph replied. “I’ll pass on your message to Doctor Harris and let you know of his response.”
“Thank you Uncle Randolph,” Sam replied. “I’ll be waiting.” And she hung up the phone.
Back in his office, Randolph Carter leaned back in his chair and thought. He knew from the prophecies that he had access to that a crisis was approaching and that it seemed to be an all or nothing situation. Of course he would encourage Dr. Harris to go to the meeting so that he would find out everything he could. Honestly, Randolph had little doubt that Harris could deal with whatever was thrown his way, so he wasn’t very worried despite the use of the phrase “The end of all things”. Instead, Randolph was thinking about his niece. Now that Samantha was beginning to open her mind up to things that existed beyond her science, she would be a worthy successor for him. It was something that he would lay the foundations for at Thanksgiving. His brother’s presence might be uncomfortable, especially considering how they’d parted, but it was something that Randolph was prepared to tolerate. In its long history, Miskatonic had very few presidents who were not named Carter; Randolph wanted to see that continued. With that firmly in his mind, he stood and straightened his suit and headed over to Lovecraft Hall to pass the message on to Doctor Harris.
“I’m telling you that there’s absolutely no basis for that,” Xander stated emphatically. “There is nothing that says Walt Disney was in any way aware of demons.”
“But it explains one of the great mysteries of the universe,” Faith retorted.
Dawn, Oz and Willow were watching the exchange with barely suppressed laughter.
“And what mystery is that?” Xander asked.
“What is Goofy?” Faith replied calmly. “Goofy was a Loose Skinned demon,” she said. “Except for the nose it’s a perfect match.”
“We always thought he was one of us,” Clem added helpfully.
Xander sat there silent for a moment, obviously processing what he’d just heard. “That would explain a hell of a lot,” he finally muttered. “Only someone purely evil could have designed “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride”.
“Is that the one you got sick on three times?” Willow’s question was almost drowned out by the other three’s laughter.
“Hey, you got sea-sick on the Swan Boats; missy”, Xander fired back. “You don’t really want to go there Will.” Willow’s embarrassed blush just made the other three laugh all the harder. This was finally interrupted by a knock on the door frame. Everyone looked up to see Randolph Carter.
“It’s nice to know that academia is still pushing the frontiers of knowledge,” he observed dryly.
“There are some questions that are truly timeless sir,” Dawn fired back.
“Indeed,” Carter said dryly, observing the five younger faculty members. “Sadly I did not come down here for the witty conversation.”
“Then why are you here, sir?” Xander asked.
“To relay an invitation from my niece,” Carter said. “Apparently someone or something approached her and the team she works with and said that there was information that you needed to solve whatever current crisis was brewing.” He sighed, “I know that you probably think that this is some sort of trap; let me dissuade you from that point of view. It cost my niece quite a bit to actually call me and make this request. In fact, I am convinced that she would not have done so if the situation was anything other than world shaking or if there was any chance her own team could have dealt with whatever it is.” Here he fixed Xander with a glare. “And since I like the world spinning just the way it is, I suggest that you show up for this.”
“When and where, sir?” Faith asked.
“Thursday at noon, Cheyenne Mountain,” Carter replied, relieved that they had actually listened to him. “I was told that only Dr. Harris and one other associate should be there.”
Xander quickly looked at the other four there, the question clearly written on his face. He received four non-verbal replies of ‘we need to be there’, and nodded, they were in agreement. “You can tell the Major that we’ll be there,” he told Carter.
Carter just nodded; a look of relief on his face. He turned and just before he left he turned back to face the five young people. “Just for your information Miss LeHane,” he began. “Walt Disney’s early partner was a man named Ubbe Iwerks. In point of fact, he designed many of Disney’s most notable creations, including Mickey Mouse and Goofy.”
“Yeah, and?” Faith prompted.
“Mr. Iwerks attended this school during the Great War and his attendance was sponsored by a Historical society based in London.” He gave Faith a knowing grin, “Make of that what you will.” Then he was gone.
“That explains even more,” Dawn said; breaking the moment of silence that had followed Carter’s departure.
“So who’s going,” Faith wanted to know. The resulting discussion was vigorous.
Jack O’Neill was disappointed. Despite his best efforts, he really liked Doctor Alexander Harris. Jack had insisted on meeting Harris and his assistant at the entrance and had inadvertently thrown out a mildly sarcastic comment on the outdated suits the pair of visitors were wearing. Harris had volleyed the comment right back at him without any hesitation what-so-ever. From there they were off and running and by the time they’d hit the medical section, Harris and O’Neill were dueling with movie quotes and the assistant, whose name was Dawn Summers, was simply rolling her eyes and muttering constantly about how there were “two of them”.
The trip down had changed Jack’s feelings about Harris, but when they got to the medical section he won Jack’s eternal admiration. Sure they’d been invited, but the SGC had to make sure that they weren’t Goa’uld infiltrators. Harris had refused to stop with the commentary and eventually his barrage of goofy questions and one-liners got Janet so verbally turned around that she had to leave the room. Harris’ insistence that Janet would have to mud-wrestle his fiancé and win before he’d drop his pants was Jack’s personal favorite.
Despite Xander’s best efforts, the two of them eventually cleared Medical. Dawn was having a hard time containing herself, especially when Xander and Jack O’Neill both got on a roll. “Sometimes,” she thought, “it sucked being the token adult.” They were now being escorted to the conference room where they were going to meet whoever it was that wanted to talk to them. That was the one thing that the SGC people had been steadfastly silent about and it had Dawn wondering what was up. It couldn’t have been a demonic source without the Council having at least heard rumors about it before hand. And considering what the SGC dealt with regularly, the obvious conclusion that the source was somehow extraterrestrial. But this just didn’t seem right to Dawn. There wasn’t anything concrete to base this on, just a feeling in her gut.
They walked in and SG-1 was already there as well as Doctor Frasier. There was also a rather cherubic man with stars on his collar and an older, Hispanic looking man who was dressed oddly.
As they entered, the older man excused himself and left, giving both Xander and Dawn a hard, evaluating look as he did. The general turned to face them and said, “Doctor Harris and Miss Summers, welcome to Stargate Command. I’m General George Hammond; I believe that you’ve already met Doctor Frasier and SG-1. I apologize for my earlier meeting running late,” here he shot a quick look at SG-1 that seemed to be significant, Xander just wasn’t sure how significant.
“It’s good to meet you General and thank you for allowing us here” Xander said easily. “And as to your earlier meeting, as long as we’re on time for whoever it is we’re supposed to meet, is see no harm.” He broke into a wide smile, “Maybe after this is over we could trade tips on keeping meetings short. God knows I could use a few.”
Hammond’s face lit up with a smile, a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “If you know how to keep folks focused and not playing their Gameboy’s;” here he shot a look at Jack, “then that’s information I could use.”
Xander was preparing to fire an answer back when suddenly there was a power flare and a ninth person was in the room with them. “I take it that this is who we’re here to meet?” Xander asked after a momentary pause.
“My name is Oma Desala,” the woman answered before anyone from the SGC could say anything.
“Mother Nature,” Dawn murmured.
“That is another one of my names,” the woman replied.
“And you need to speak to us?” Xander asked, getting things on track.
“I do,” she replied turning to face Xander.
In the meantime the SGC people had been watching the conversation almost like a tennis match, looking back and forth between the three. A subtle clearing of the throat by Hammond and a small hand gesture and SG-1 along with Dr. Frasier sat down, followed by Hammond himself. In truth, Hammond was a little disappointed, he had expected some sort of reaction from the Miskatonic people, but they’d acted as though talking with someone immaterial was a common occurrence.
“I am one of an ancient race,” Oma began. “We . . . . .”
“You’re one of the progenitors,” Dawn interrupted; “the fore-runners to the human race.”
“Correct young one,” Oma replied. “And it is knowledge of our past that you will need if you are to survive the coming crisis.” She turned to face Xander again. "For the most part, my people focused on the sciences. We developed space travel and then sought to expand on that. We advanced in the areas of medical technology and energy.”
“And weapons,” Jack O’Neill added.
“Indeed,” Oma conceded, briefly turning to face Jack and looking chagrined; “and weapons as well.” Then she turned back to Xander. “But there were some of us that looked to other dimensions instead of other stars and galaxies. They sought to cross into other worlds that were tangent to this reality. The three who were most adamant in this pursuit were named Kali, Mordred and Glory.” The SGC people all noticed the obvious reactions to that last name; it was clearly one that the Miskatonic people were familiar with.
“They succeeded and as most of us were using the . . . . Stargate to explore the universe, they were using something similar to explore other dimensions. What we were not aware of, was the fact that the three were posing as gods in these other places and using our technological advances to reinforce this notion. The more beings that worshiped them and believed in their godly status, the more powerful they became. Over time it became clear to the three that they could not continue to exist as co-equals, that sooner or later one would claim supremacy. But before that could happen, two of them; Kali and Mordred, joined forces to get rid of Glory. Of the three, Glory had been the most energetic in exploring different realms and gathering worshipers, therefore, she was the most powerful.
Their battle was horrific and spilled over onto the rest of us. It laid huge areas waste and many of our people were killed. You see, in addition to their own powers, each of them had summoned creatures from the realms that they controlled to fight for them. Many of these creatures were mindless beasts, bent only on destruction; but there were some who were intelligent and fled to seek freedom in this new place. In the end, Glory was defeated, but not slain. We later found that due to her numerous worshipers; Glory could not be slain, at least not by us. Kali, seeing the devastation that had been wrought, repented and threw herself on the mercy of those of us left. But Mordred refused to surrender. Instead he sought to summon creatures that he had discovered that were the equal of us in learning and technology, but who were completely without morals or mercy. In the middle of this summoning, he was attacked by our greatest scientist, Merlin.
Merlin stopped the summoning by damaging the portal so that it would not work. Sadly, the vast amounts of energy that were being called upon did not just dissipate back into the void. Instead they continued to seek a connection until they chanced upon a spot where this reality lay very close to another and formed a thin spot between realities.”
“A Hellmouth,” Xander murmured.
“Yes,” Oma answered, “the first Hellmouth. As for Mordred, he was slain by Merlin’s son Artorious.”
“Arthur,” Daniel said, barely above a whisper.
“That is how he is remembered now,” Oma said and then resumed her tale. “Since he was our leader, as well as our greatest scientist; Merlin sought a way to safely siphon off the energies and close the portal. He had tried stopping the Hellmouth, but as soon as he closed it off, another opened elsewhere; so a more permanent solution was needed. The rest of us worked even harder at moving off into the galaxy, seeking to escape this place that now had such evil memories. Eventually Merlin devised something he called the Key; it was a way of controlling the portal energies that Mordred had unleashed. Sadly, he informed us that the Key was incomplete and its completion was beyond even him. He then volunteered to stay on Earth in the hopes that one day; someone would be able to complete his work. So we took to the stars and he remained behind with his Key and Glory’s damaged body.
Time passed and Merlin found himself growing weaker, so he began looking for someone or some group to take up this burden. Eventually he located a holy order that was accepting of magic and the reality that lies below the surface of this world, the Monks of Dagon; who agreed to render their assistance. Once they agreed, the order was broken up into three separate groups, each performing a specific function. The Monks of Dagon were charged with keeping the Key and seeking to complete Merlin’s work. There was the Esoteric Order of Dagon, a lay group that was charged with keeping watch over Glory’s essence. For in that time, Merlin had found a means to lock Glory away inside a person. This group volunteered to be the willing vessel for Glory until such time as she could be completely destroyed. It was arranged so when one vessel died, her essence moved to a vessel that had been newly born. Finally there were the Knights of Byzantium who were charged with guarding both groups.”
“Sometime in the Middle Ages, the Knights decided to move the Esoteric Order out of Europe due to the innumerable wars and plagues that were criss-crossing the continent. It was decided to take them by sea to Eastern China, but they never reached their destination. A storm forced the ship onto a Polynesian island that is part of the Solomon group. There they stayed until contact was made with American traders and the remainder of the order wound up on the East Coast of the United States. It is my belief that at this time Glory began to emerge. Not a full manifestation, but just enough to influence events slightly.”
“Like being picked up by traders who normally wouldn’t be interested in bringing people home with them?” Dawn asked.
“Exactly,” Oma replied. “Then, as you know, Glory re-emerged and was dealt with. But what you didn’t know was that, per her instructions, some of Glory’s followers stayed behind and have been attempting to reconstruct and reactivate the portal. The restoration is nearly done, but there is one crucial component that they require.”
“The Key,” Xander said, looking resigned.
“I thought that this Key was originally created to shut the portal for good?” Daniel asked, confused.
“It was, but now it is one of the few energy sources potent enough to re-activate it.”
“One of?” Jack asked.
“Yes, another reason for you to be here is that a ZPM could also perform that function.”
Xander noted quite a bit of surprise from the Stargate crew at this pronouncement, which was quickly followed by a lot of silent conversations. Personally he didn’t care; he was too worried about some bunch of nut bags being after Dawn. “Where is this portal that they’re trying to re-activate?”
“That is one of the few things I do not know,” Oma replied. “That knowledge is being withheld from me somehow.”
Xander just closed his eye and winced. It sounded like something the boneheaded PTB’s would pull, doing what little they could to steer the situation to their best advantage. “Is there anything else,” Xander asked tiredly.
“No,” Oma replied, looking a bit sad. “You did not know, nor could you know specifically what the threat was or the history behind it. I have done all I can to enlighten you. The rest, as they say, is in your hands.”
“Thank you for your assistance,” Xander said; standing and giving Oma a slight bow.
“Good fortune go with you,” she replied and then was gone just as suddenly as she had arrived.
Xander looked around the table at the SGC people. It was clear that they had questions; the problem was that Xander wasn’t sure what answers he could provide. Rather than wait for the questions to start, he did what he could to seize the initiative. “I assume that the whole ‘ZPM’ thing is your concern since I have no idea what that is.”
“It is," Hammond replied, "and the Key?"
“That is secure, or at least as secure as we can make it,” Xander replied.
“Is there anything we could do to help,” Hammond asked, cutting off his subordinates before they could get started.
Xander thought about that for a moment or two. “If things get dicey, would it be possible to send the Key off world?”
Hammond considered the question. “What exactly are we talking about?” he wanted to know.
Xander looked around the room, considering; then he looked at Dawn. She understood what he was asking and gave an almost imperceptible nod. Xander nodded in return then wrote three words on a scrap of paper, folded it and handed it to Hammond. “Just you,” he said.
Hammond just nodded, opened the paper and almost physically recoiled from the words there. He looked to Xander for confirmation. “Yes, it’s true,” Xander replied to the un-asked question.
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” he replied, his voice shaky.
“Thank you sir,” Xander said. Then looking around the room he continued. “And thank you all for your hospitality but we need to get moving.” He then paused, considering. “And if things get dicey on this end, you can give us a call,” he said, handing his card to Colonel O’Neill. “That way you can contact us directly without Samantha having to go through her Uncle. When we get back to Miskatonic we’ll send you all of the pertinent information on who might be trying to obtain a ZPM.”
“Thank you,” Hammond said; his voice still a bit shaky.