Chapter 25 - The Promise
I'm stuck inside on account of the snowstorm, and my back is sore from spending most of the past 4 days hunched over my laptop working on stories (not this one), so I decided I might as well update already. Also, I really kinda want to know just what the hell my upstairs neighbour seems to be building, 'cause he/she's been working on it for nearly a week...
Anyway, thanks so much to theGlaistig
for reading over this chapter. And to everyone, whose read/reviewed/ect the last one. This chapter sort of grew when I wasn't paying attention, so it's a little bit long...
Disclaimer: The usual, nothing's changed.
Wordcount: Don't even want to know...The Promise“The light to lead the path through the darkness will shine when Kilgharrah once more flies. Years ago, a promise was given. Now it is time for it to be fulfilled.”
Ben Carr stared at the television screen, stunned. When the bell rang, he barely had the presence of mind to dismiss his class and he knew he was getting odd looks from his students as they left, but he couldn't help it.
Kilgharrah. A promise given.
Suddenly, he felt his lips spread slowly into a wide grin. He couldn't believe it! Then he was dashing through the high school hallways, oblivious to the bewildered looks of students and teachers alike. He could barely feel the pain in his hip from where he'd been injured during a bombing at age 19 – he'd pay for that later, no doubt, but right now he had to hurry. Lunchbreak was only an hour long.
He roared out of the school parking lot and raced home as fast as he could. Adrenaline made his hip obey him as he then stormed through his small house and unlocked the safe behind the desk. He pulled out the small box inside and simply paused to stare at it reverently for a few moments. His wife didn't understand why the ornament inside was so important to him.
He'd tell her. When he got home from work today he'd tell her and his little girl.
He raced back to the school, arriving just as the bell was ringing the end of lunch break. He was sweating profusely by the time he sprinted into the classroom. The students looked at him like he'd just told them he was Tinkerbell's cousin. Then he realized he was still grinning madly.
Oh well, his students already probably thought he was a lunatic for enjoying history so much.
“Good afternoon, class,” he said. “You can all put away your books. Won't be needing those for this class.”
While the grade eleven class exchanged surprised looks and slowly slipped things back into their bags, he turned off the television he'd forgotten to switch off before leaving and then opened the box in his hands. Inside, the green and gold-painted wooden dragon figurine was exactly the same as he remembered it. He sat down onto the edge of his desk. When he looked back up, the class was looking back at him expectantly.
“Well, a lot happened this morning,” he began. “And I'm sure a lot of you have questions about what it all means and some of you are probably worried about what'll happen next.” He paused to think. “I remember the moment, when I first heard about the Stargate. Can you imagine, finding out that right here, in your hometown, was a base that travelled to other planets and battled aliens on a regular basis? My parents didn't agree with me, but I thought it was cool. Almost as cool as what happened to me the year I spent Christmas in the hospital.”
His students still looked sceptical about his sanity, but at least they were mostly listening – well he could see a few phones out, but he was sure that would change.
“There was an old man, who claimed to be a powerful sorcerer. He called himself Dragoon the Great and on Christmas Eve that year, he told us all a story.”
Ben took the dragon out of its box and held it up for his class to see.
“This is the main character of that story. His name... is Kilgharrah.” He grinned at the number of heads that snapped up at the name. “That Christmas Eve, we all promised the old sorcerer that, when the time came, we'd pass on the story he'd told us. So here it goes: in a land of myth and a time of magic...”
Carly Lee had been dragged out of her office by her co-workers in order to watch the broadcast.
It wasn't that she didn't understand the significance of the occasion or that she didn't care for the historical occurrence. But getting production lines up and running again wasn't exactly an easy task. Now that the war was officially over, people were going to want things again. Not that they didn't want them before, but it was difficult to justify spending a lot of money on something unnecessary when your home was in danger of being blown up on barely a moment's notice. Not to mention that with factories being bombed and travel hindered, most people were jobless and therefore didn't have the money to spend on luxuries in the first place.
When the Peace Agreement had finally been signed, most people had been cautious. True, it was the first actual written peace treaty since the wars began, but there'd been talk of peace before. Now, nearly a year later with not a shot fired on any side, hope was starting to take seed in everyone's hearts.
After 20 years of surviving, now, perhaps, people could start to live again.
She had to hand it to both King men, they certainly knew how to stir up a crowd. Most of Uther King's speech was history; it wasn't as though this was the first time he'd told people why he decided to back the Stargate Program back when it was still a secret. However, she hadn't realized just how significant his son's role had been in bringing about peace.
As she watched Arthur King speak, she couldn't help but think that the light he'd been searching for had already been found. In his passionate eyes, in his confident smile, she could see the future.
Then his friend and adviser spoke and Carly's body froze, breath forgotten.
Yes, of course she remembered. How could she have forgotten?
The television cut to a commercial break and Carly left to find her boss. The tall, thin man was at his desk, watching the broadcast on the screen in his office.
“Mr. Davies?” she said after knocking on his open door. He motioned her inside. “I'm so sorry, but something's just come up and I'm afraid I need to take the afternoon off.”
“Oh, well, we're actually a bit ahead of schedule thanks to your hard work, so sure, go ahead.” Then he gave her a mock-glare. “Just don't make a habit of it.”
She smiled at him. “Of course not, sir. Thank you.”
As she was leaving, she overheard her co-workers wondering out loud about this mysterious Kilgharrah. She couldn't help but smile.
The first thing she did when she got home was text both her sons.Took afternoon off. Am baking cookies. Bring your friends over after school.
Then she changed out of her suit, into something more baking-appropriate, scoured her cabinets for ingredients, fired up the oven and got mixing.
She was placing the last plate of cookies onto the dinning room table when she heard the front door slam open followed by a cacophony of voices calling out greetings. She called back with a smile and went to retrieve milk and juice out of the fridge.
“Holy crap, mom, just how many friends do you think we have?!” she heard Duncan, her oldest, exclaim.
“Wow, I don't think I've ever seen this many cookies in one place, like, ever!” one of her youngest son's friends echoed.
She rolled her eyes and walked into the dinning room. She looked over the table again at the piles upon piles of cookies. Okay, so maybe she'd gone a little bit overboard.
“Are those complaints I hear in here?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Well then pull up some chairs and dig in. I've got milk and juice here and there's some pop in the fridge.”
Within seconds the beautiful display on the table was being attacked by a herd of teenagers (with the exception of a few of the youngest in her younger son's group, who were soon-to-be teenagers). Except for her youngest son, Travis, who was chewing slowly on his cookie as she stood in front of the china cabinet looking up at it thoughtfully. Carly smiled to herself. Of the two of her boys, Travis was the more observant one.
“Mom, why is the Dragon down here?” Travis finally asked.
Carly walked over to him and took it down, cradling it gently in her hand as she did. She looked down at her son and ran a hand through his hair.
“You know how I've told you there was a reason why Dragon was so special to me?” Her son nodded. “And that one day, I'd tell you that story?” Another nod, this time accompanied with eyes that were beginning to sparkle with excitement. “Well then why don't you go sit down and I'll tell you now.”
Travis grinned and ran to the empty chair waiting for him. Carly turned to the rest of them.
“So, did you all watch the broadcast today in class?” she asked.
The official announcement of the shut down of the Dimensional Field and the inauguration of the new president of the International Alliance was such a historic event, she couldn't imagine the schools not showing it – or at least part of it.
“Yeah, we did,” Duncan agreed with a grin. “Interrupted math class, it was great.” Then he paused, looking thoughtful. “You know, I think I kinda like that Arthur King. He's like, I don't know...”
“He's like a knight in shining armour,” the girl sitting next to him sighed dreamily.
Duncan pulled a face.
“Forget Arthur King, what about that Merlin guy!” one of the younger boys exclaimed excitedly
“I wonder if Merlin's even his real name?” said another girl at the table. “I mean Merlin and Arthur, really? How convenient is that?”
“It's awesome is what it is!” Travis exclaimed excitedly. “I heard the teachers talking at lunch, they have no idea what he meant with the whole light and flying thing.”
Carly grinned. Oh, she'd be the best mother ever after this. Then she cleared her throat and held out the wooden dragon with both hands.
“In that case, allow me to introduce you: this is Kilgharrah,” she said. That got the herd's attention. She giggled. “Of course, this isn't the real Kilgharrah. The real Kilgharrah's bigger than a house.”
“Duncan, Travis, you've both heard that I lived in Colorado Springs when I was little.” Both boys nodded. “And that, when I was a little girl, I had a heart murmur and had to have surgery for it. I was in the hospital over Christmas that year.”
“Well, while I was in the hospital, there was this old man who used to come 'round once a week dressed as a sorcerer. He called himself Dragoon the Great. On Christmas Eve he came to our party dressed in a very lovely red, fur-lined cloak with a golden dragon on the back and he gave us all these dragon figures. Then, he told us a story and made us all promise to remember it and, when the time came, to tell it to others.”
She paused and looked at the silent, wide-eyed teenagers. Too old to believe in magic on their own, but not too old to have had life drain away their imagination. She stepped forward and placed the dragon down onto the table.
“In a land of myth and a time of magic...”
Ashley Warrington – known as Lady Ash to her fans – was in the middle of applying lipstick when she heard the words over the state-of-the-art speaker system of her limo. She froze, her lips only half-done and looked at the small, jewelled flatscreen hanging from the roof. She stared at the screen, recognizing neither one of the men in view.
It was a name, a whisper of an almost-forgotten memory of childhood. She'd promised once, yes, she had.
With flip of her wrist, she finished applying her lipstick and clicked her compact shut, sliding both items into her pink satin purse. Then she reached for the button to the intercom.
“Henry, change of plans,” she said.
“Yes, Ms. Warrington?”
“Take me to the nearest park. I mean, this is New York. Central Park might be a mess of craters, but there's still got to be a couple dozen parks somewhere in the neighbourhood. And not some old geezer park, a children's park. It's a gorgeous sunny day, there should be plenty of kids around.”
“A park? Are you-”
“Yep, totally. Don't worry about the details, just get me there.”
“Alright then, nearest park it is.”
She switched off the intercom and scooted over to the other side of the seat, where she'd flung her white Dior gym bag. It took a few minutes of rooting haphazardly through its contents before she found what she was looking for. With a cry of joy, she took out a small item wrapped in blue velvet and tied with a gold string. Reverently, she placed it in her lap and then unwrapped the bundle.
Blue velvet was unfolded to reveal a small green and gold painted wooden dragon ornament. It was a little beaten up from having been handled by a child years ago and if one looked closely then they would notice a few places where scratches had been painted over, but the toy was obviously well-cared-for.
Ashley smiled fondly at the little dragon in her hands.
“Don't worry, Dragoon the Great, I always keep my promises,” she whispered.
Carolyn Bennet was barely awake. It didn't matter that it was the middle of the afternoon. Such was the life of a post-graduate student: so much to do, not enough time for sleep. Normally, she'd be napping right now, having just gotten home from her morning of teaching assistant work, before she sat down to work on her thesis again.
Stupid time difference. Why the bloody hell had they decided to hold this in bloody America anyway?! She, of course, knew the answer. That was where the Dimensional Field generator was.
She yawned loudly in the break between Uther King's speech and his son's. She heard the door to their flat open and then bang shut. Moments later, her roommate, Beth, entered the kitchen, threw her bag onto the floor by the door and headed directly for the coffeepot.
She joined Carolyn at the table with a groan of appreciation at the caffienated beverage in her hands. With the war over and supply lines strengthening, it was finally possible to attain coffee regularly without paying blackmarket prices for it.
“I can't believe you're actually awake to watch this,” her roommate said. “Your naptime's practically sacred.”
Carolyn shrugged. “Can't 'elp it, I'm a political science major. 'Sides, it's worth staying up to watch Arthur King.”
“Mmm, won't argue with you there, luv.”
Arthur King didn't disappoint either. Carolyn smiled as he bullied his aide to the podium to give him due credit – it made Carolyn like him that little bit more. Besides, Merlin Emrys was a name that got mentioned every now and then in conjunction with Arthur King, but this was the first time someone had managed to drag the young man out into the spotlight.
Then Emrys spoke and his words pulled Carolyn into wide awake with the abruptness of a bomb going off. Her coffee cup slipped from her hands, crashing onto the linoleum floor. She didn't notice.
No way, just no bloody way. It wasn't possible.
“Carolyn, what's wrong?!” Beth exclaimed in alarm. “Are you alright?”
Carolyn slowly turned to her with wide eyes.
“Kilgharrah, h-he said Kilgharrah, didn't he?”
Her roommate frowned. “Yeah, he did. Have no idea what it means, tho'.”
A door was flung open at the far end of the flat.
“Oi, everything alright down there?” their third called down the stairwell.
“I don't know, Carolyn looks like she's just seen a ghost!”
Moments later, there were two worried faces looking down at her. Carolyn took a deep breath. Then she calmly got up and headed into the next room. There, on the mantle, sat a lonely wooden dragon toy. She touched it, as though to assure herself it was real.
“I got this dragon from my grandmother just before she died, who'd gotten it from her mother, who'd gotten it from a man in an air raid during the second world war.”
She didn't look up from the dragon as she spoke, trying to remember the story she'd heard so long ago.
“There were several children there, at the shelter, all of them were scared. Then the man came up to them and told them not to be afraid, that they'd be safe down there in the shelter. He had this big, old sack with him and he reached in and gave each of them a candy and then this toy. Said it was a good luck charm. And then he told them a story, made them promise they'd remember it, so that it could be passed on when the time came. My grandmother told me her mother had been convinced the story was important and made her promise that if the time for the story to be spread didn't come in her lifetime, to tell it to her children so that someone would always know it.”
Carolyn picked up the dragon and turned to her roommates.
“This dragon... it was always just a family keepsake, a memory of my grandmother. A memory with a story. I- I didn't ever think it would be important.”
“What are you talking about?” one of them asked.
“This dragon, you see, his name is Kilgharrah.”
Beth gasped. Their flatmate looked between them, confused.
“Oi, what did I miss?”
“Everything, apparently,” Beth answered, stunned. Then she grabbed, the other girl's hand and declared. “Come on, we'd best get you up to speed and then Carolyn can tell us this all-important story of hers.”
Carolyn smiled as the two of them left. Then she followed them into the kitchen, where they were already tinkering with the television to find the correct spot on the saved footage.
Hiro looked at the dragon in his hands. It had once been green and gold, though the green was much faded and pieces of the gold had chipped away. There was also a dent on one side, where it had falled over during a particularly fierce storm.
To hear that name spoken aloud, outside of his father's workshop, was... momentous. It undoubtedly meant that the time had finally come. The story would have to be told, so that the dragon could finally roar.
Hiro chuckled to himself. He'd always treasured this dragon as a part of the inheritance of his father's workshop, which had belonged to his father before him and so on. For centuries, his family had forged swords for samurai and now kitchen knives for everyone else. He'd never thought of it as anything more than just a story.
The story was that four hundred years ago a fierce storm blew in from the sea. The swordmaker's mother had been out when it started and on her way home, she ran into a man and offered him shelter. It turned out, he was a westerner, but a nice, polite man with a wide smile and sad eyes. They'd given him food and after he'd eaten, he'd reached into his travelling pack and taken out a painted wooden dragon. He said, that where he came from it was customary for the guest to show appreciation for his host's hospitality by providing them with entertainment. Alas, the stranger could neither sing, nor dance, so instead, he told them a story. The story of the dragon Kilgharrah, but also of the sword he helped forge.
Hiro looked out the window. It was dark now, too late to go bothering people with an old story. No, the story had been waiting centuries to be told, it could wait until morning.
Lyon Grant stared at the screen in front of him. It mocked him. Ever since he'd seen a rerun of the broadcast from this morning, he'd felt frustrated. He gripped the armrests of his wheelchair. Not since the first few months had his disability felt so crippling.
He glanced to his closet. The door was slid open a crack, so he could just barely see his old army jacket hanging on the hanger, a hint of gold where he knew a golden dragon decorated the right sleeve. He'd once been one of the best communications specialists in the field: the Golden Dragon they'd called him.
Then he'd been taken out of the field permanently.
He didn't even have that dragon anymore. He'd given it to his daughter just before leaving that last time, asked her to keep it safe for him, told her he'd be back for it. Well, he had gone back for it, but she hadn't been there. The whole neighbourhood had been flattened by an explosion.
He still hoped against hope that his wife had somehow managed to get them out before the missiles had hit, but it was a long shot at best.
He'd left Colorado Springs and started to drive to Carson City, Nevada, where his wife's family was from. Passing through Utah, though, he'd overheard in a dinner about the problems they were having with communications. Huh, he'd thought, that was something he could help with.
So he'd headed to Salt Lake City, where they'd welcomed him with open arms. Too many resources had been going to the war effort and anyone with skills was in demand. For eight years now, he'd worked tirelessly to keep radio and telephone communications open and the internet up and operational.
Being able to communicate kept people from panicking. It helped people know what was going on. Maybe if the people at the Stargate Program had done that sooner, the entire war could've been averted. Or maybe it had been inevitable.
He had eventually managed to get ahold of his in-laws. They hadn't heard from their daughter. Lyon later heard on the communications grapevine that the SGC had evacuated hundreds of people out of Colorado Springs through the Stargate. It had been done in such a rush though, that they had no records of who had gone. So, Lyon had hope.
He also had a computer and one of the best internet connections in the country. It somehow felt wrong, telling Kilgharrah's story in such an impersonal way, but it was the best way to the story out to the world.
made a promise all those years ago, afterall.
He hit 'enter'.
General Cameron Mitchell only barely managed to hear the doorbell over all the noise in the living room.
With the television still on in the background, three grown men and Vala arguing loud enough to be heard by the oldest of their group (although at least Vala had finally grown annoyed enough at Jack O'Neill to march over and forcibly switch his hearing aides from the 'TV focus' setting to 'group focus', so at least he could hear the rest of them a little better) and Jack's occasional stick-pounding, the room was loud
As the only one in the room to have evidently heard the doorbell, he left the room to answer it.
Turned out, outside the door wasn't any quieter as it opened to reveal Cassie and her entire brood – including the 18-month-old grandson, who'd been named Jack on account of his unparallelled lung capacity. Jack, of course, didn't care as Cassie had given birth to all girls and thus he was simply tickled pink that there was finally a little air force colonel-in-training named after him running about.
“Hi, Cameron!” Cassie said with a tired smiled.
“Well, hello there, Doctor Cassandra Fraiser,” Cameron answered with a wide grin. Then he winked. “You know, if you use the element of surprise y'all might actually be able to interrupt their argument for long enough to get in a greeting.”
Cassie rolled her eyes as she led the procession into the front lobby. They all greeted Cameron, before calling out greetings to the living room as they shrugged off their coats and shoes. Their greetings were returned and in mere seconds, Vala appeared to greet them all.
“Daniel, don't be such a pain the mikita!” she called behind her as she entered. “With your leg it'll take you ten minutes to get out of that chair and another ten to cross the room! Oh don't glower at me; it's your own fault for overdoing it yesterday. And the day before. And, oh, the day before that too!”
Cassie shook her head with a fond smile. When Vala finally reached her through the throng of daughters, their partners and one grandchild, she exchanged conspiratorial smiles with her before the two women embraced.
“So, what is it that you guys were arguing about so ferociously when we got here?” Cassie asked. “We could hear you all the way outside.”
“Did you listen to the International Alliance Presidential switcharoo broadcast in the car?” Cameron asked.
Cassie gave him a look.
“Cameron, I was driving in a car with two teenagers, two adults and one 18-month-old, trust me, I have absolutely no idea what was being broadcast on the radio or if the radio was even on in the first place. There were several moments, in fact, where I was feeling quite envious of my husband who got to work for one more day and then fly out here on his own tomorrow.”
“You are an incredibly patient woman, Cassandra Fraiser,” she said. “I'd have drowned the noisy brats by now.”
“No you wouldn't have, Vala,” said Cameron with a roll of his eyes.
“No, you're right, I wouldn't have.” Vala turned to head on back into the living room. “Zats are so much better for that sort of thing. No evidence left to clean up.”
Cassie stopped short at the entrance to the living room and just stared at the ridiculous hat on Jack's head proudly proclaiming him the King of Fools.
“Nice hat, uncle Jack,” she said.
Jack smiled widely at her.
“It's from a secret admirer,” he said. “Daniel's jealous that he didn't get one. Now come on and give this old man a hug.”
Cassie laughed and bent over to hug her uncle.
“You know, I don't think jealously is quite the word I'd use to describe what I'm feeling towards that hat,” Daniel said from his chair on the other side of the room.
“Nah, you're just jealous,” said Jack as Cassie pulled away. “And annoyed, 'cause for once you don't know something.”
Daniel threw his hands up in exasperation.
“Jack, I never claimed to know everything!”
“Doesn't matter. You can't possibly deny that it's driving you absolutely nutso not being able to figure out what this Kilgharrah thing is.”
Daniel made a face, but didn't deny the accusation.
“Kilgharrah...” Cassie said softly. “Oh wow, now there's a name I haven't heard in a long time.”
From his place beside her, Cameron heard the words. His eyes bulged out as his head snapped around to look at her.
“Woah, hang on there, Cassie,” he exclaimed. “You've heard of this Kilgharrah thing?!”
Cassie looked up at him and blinked. Then she realized the room had gone silent. She looked around, a bit perturbed at suddenly being the centre of such focused attention. She raised her eyebrows and laughed.
“It's not really a 'what so much as a 'who',” she said with a grin. “And of course I've heard of him. Dragoon the Great told that story years ago to the children at the hospital's Christmas Eve party.”
Jack gaped. “Dragoon told the story!”
Cameron frowned. “Who's Dragoon the Great? Other than a guy with really lame naming skills.”
“He was Doctor Hunithson's alter ego,” Daniel answered.
“Oooh, was he the old man that scared all those big, burly marines?” Vala asked, her eyes suddenly lighting up with excitement.
“Yeah, that's him.”
Cassie laughed. “That really doesn't surprise me. But the children loved him. Especially after that Christmas, they just seemed to worship the ground he walked on.” She smiled fondly at the memory. “And since you're wondering, Kilgharrah's a dragon. And not just any dragon, he's the dragon whose flames forged Excalibur.”
“Excalibur?” Jack exclaimed. “As in the Sword in the Stone?”
“Actually, Jack, in many versions of the Arthurian legends, the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur are two separate swords,” Daniel pointed out.
Jack glared at him.
“You mean like the sword stuck inside a mound of concrete that no one had been able to budge no matter what they tried until we moved the Stargate and then the next morning the guards found it sitting next to the Stargate's new location from where it couldn't be budged again
?” Cameron asked.
Daniel and Jack exchanged looks.
“You know,” Max, Cassie's middle daughter's boyfriend, said. “Everyone's already been saying what a weird co-incidence it is that the new president's name is Arthur King and his advisor's name is Merlin Emrys.”
For several moments, the room was completely silent.
“So was Doctor Hunithson,” Daniel finally spoke.
“That's right!” she said. “I knew him mostly as Dragoon the Great, so I'd completely forgotten. But his name was Merlin too, wasn't it?”
“Vala,” said Daniel. “You've got the remote there. I know we recorded the live broadcast. Could you find a shot of Merlin Emrys?”
Vala looked confused, but she nodded and did as asked. She froze the image on the first clear shot of him. Jack and Daniel stared at it.
“Holy Hannah,” Jack said softly.
I hope everyone remembered that Christmas Special chapter I wrote. Until I'd written that chapter, I had no idea I'd be doing this, but then half-way through the chapter I just sort of went 'oooohhh' and thus this part was born. =D
Only one more to go, please review!