Hammond had had enough experience of SG teams being possessed, be it by Goa'uld, affected by alien technology, or something completely different, to know that the figure before him wasn't Willow. Of course, the impossibly coloured eyes gave that away.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"We are Willow." came the answer. It was Willow's voice - if stripped of all intonation and then replayed, over and over again, over the original voice so that it sounded like thousands of voices speaking at once. Except that each of those voices were Willow's.
Daniel broke in. "No, I don't think you are. The eyes are wrong, Willow had only one voice, and she never spoke with a plural."
Willow turned to face him. Suddenly, without any intermediate change, her eyes reverted from the impossible eyes to Willow's bright green ones. "Is that better, Daniel?" she asked, and it was Willow's voice - really Willow's voice, nothing changed or odd about it.
Hammond decided to continue with the procedure he'd established in such circumstances. "What are you?" he asked. He appreciated he might not understand the answer, but it might go some way to getting the real Willow back, if possible.
"We are... refugees, would be the closest term. We seek asylum." Willow answered. Or not-Willow, as the case may be.
"What're you running from? Where are you from?" Jack asked. He was perhaps more wary than his comrades, because he'd been in command when Caelus had come through the 'gate such a short while ago, and had seen the chaos the man who hadn't once made a single threat had caused. Hell, he'd nearly been tortured to death by him. So he wasn't about to be all trusting, just because the thing claimed to be a refugee.
"We come from - another dimension, we think. One that is very different from this one. As to what we are running from... that is very difficult to explain." not-Willow said.
"Try." said Sam. She wanted to know where the bright young woman who she'd failed to keep safe had gone, and what the thing standing in her place wanted.
"The beings from our dimension are very different from yours. We are... pluralistic. Each being is composed of untold minds, each of which share the same opinions. Should there be any disagreements, we split, joining other entities, or forming our own. We do not die, as you seem to, save by our own choosing." not-Willow began, but was cut off when Daniel asked:
"How do you know about our dimension? You've been here all of five minutes. And how did you get here anyway?"
Willow. We told you this. We have her memories, her likes, her dislikes. Much of what we experience in this body is shaped by that. Our mind merely works differently from hers." not-Willow replied.
"Did you kill her?" asked Sam aggressively.
"No. We do not kill. In our dimension, it is impossible to do so, and we would not do so here. We merely swapped places - although, in our dimension, she is hibernating. Her mind may not stand up to the strain of a dimension where the laws of physics are very different. Also, we feel it may keep her safe from the Darkness." not-Willow answered.
Okay, thought Hammond, now they were getting somewhere. "What is this darkness?" he asked.
"Wait, how do we get Willow back?" Jack interrupted, then muttered and apology when his commanding officer glared at him.
"Our dimension is infinitely different from your own. We doubt your minds could comprehend it - not because you are stupid, you understand, but because it is so far outside of your frame of reference you could not imagine it. It is malleable, we can form what we want from it. Everything changes constantly, according to our whims.
Everything changes, except the Darkness. It is a fixed point. We cannot alter it, nor affect it in any way. All who come near to it are stricken by a crippling fear, and should they get any closer, they vanish. We believe they die.
We do not know what the Darkness is. We have never been able to gather any data about it save what I have just told you. It has always been there.
Except now it is growing. It spreads throughout our realm, sowing fear and death wherever it goes. So we escaped. And as for Willow, Jack, she will be returned to you." not-Willow replied comprehensively.
Daniel didn't want Willow to die. Or be asleep in some other dimension, assuming not-Willow was telling the truth. But he also didn't want to have to force this being back to a dimension under siege. He didn't know why he believed it - them - her - oh, whatever, but he suspected it was in a large part due to the fact it looked and sounded like Willow.
All of which drove Daniel to ask how not-Willow how it came to be in Willow's body. He also asked her - it - oh blast, not that again - for a name. He felt uncomfortable calling it not-Willow, even in his head.
"Are you aware of the principles of how that which you call magic works?" not-Willow asked, avoiding the second half of the question.
"No.' said Sam eagerly. Daniel looked at her, and she shrugged sheepishly. Couldn't Daniel understand that she wanted to know how everything
worked? Even Giles, who seemed to be the expert on such things, hadn't had a clue as to how magic worked. He had told Sam, when she'd asked, that there had been numerous theories, but no one knew which one was correct.
"Imagine everyone has a temperature. People with magic have a lower temperature - the more proficient with magic they are, the lower that temperature is. This allows them to absorb the life force from those around them, from the planet, from everywhere they can get it, and project it outwards, in various forms. They call this magic.
Willow's proficiency with magic was increased by the armbands, and her magical temperature reached zero. She was absorbing so much that even other entities, from other planes and other dimensions, such as myself, could latch onto her. That is the source of the violent tendencies she felt before we entered her. That was banished when we took full control."
Walter tugged at his General's sleeve to get his attention - he'd tried calling him several times, but Hammond had apparently been so engaged with not-Willow's revelations that he hadn't even heard.
"Sir" Walter said deferentially "Senator Kinsey's sent word ahead that he's coming, with orders for... umm, Ms. Rosenberg and whatever might be using her body currently to be given into his care."
Jack said "Kinsey? How'd did he get wind of this so fast?"
Hammond didn't answer. "I don't take orders from Kinsey, Sergeant."
"Actually, General, you do. The President himself has given me orders to take - that thing - into my custody." said Senator Robert Kinsey himself.I understand that explain-y chapters are boring, but sometimes necessary.
The description of magic is entirely filched from Sergei Lukyanenko's "Twilight" quartet. I heartily recommend it - you don't even have to read it in the original Russian.
And just in case you readers didn't quite understand the large amounts of dialogue in this chapter, Willow is currently not Dark Willow. Yes, there have been hints of it, but I explained those. This is an entirely different entity.