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There Can Be Far More Than One

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Summary: People have changed. People have died. Other people have died and come back to life. No one is the same. And they’re all going to meet each other.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR18516,25102314,78616 Dec 1216 Oct 13No

Chapter Four

Dimension Iliad Seven Mark Three Zayin

Planet PD4-672 (Local name: Amaratsu)
The Antlia Dwarf galaxy (approximately 4.31 million light years from Earth)

May 23, 2187


"Mother pus bucket!" Colonel Alexander ('Xander') Harris-McNally swore with sheer frustration as he shoved a three foot section of reinforced concrete wall off his chest and pushed himself back to his feet.

The black-haired and -goateed SGC veteran would be the first to admit that he liked to go with the classics when it came to swearing since, in his not so humble opinion, you really couldn't go wrong by emulating the late, great Bill Murray.

And, again in his not so humble opinion, the fact that the majority of people he worked with had no idea who Bill Murray was, was simply a sign of their glaring and overwhelming ignorance – and not an indication that his sense of humor was well over a century and a half out of date as *some* people had tried to insist.

"Y'know, there's a whole lot of much better things that I could be doing on my freakin' birthday than dealing with some nine-eyed bastard, who thinks it's a laugh riot to blast me through the goddamn wall!" Harris-McNally grumbled to no one in particular.

"This sonuvabitch is *really* starting to piss me off, already!"

The dust from the wall he'd just been blasted through was still hanging in the air as he stepped back into the blood-splattered 'gate control room and casually sidestepped an energy blast identical to the one which had blown him through the wall just a moment previously.

"You know, your acting like this could make a person think that you really didn't like them," the SGC's oldest and most experienced member casually observed as he headed back towards the fifteen foot tall creature. The same one who'd tried to punch a hole through his chest using the seven and a half foot long metal-shod staff currently clenched in the upper leftmost of the six tentacles radiating from its lower half of its massive torso.

The towering nightmare could only be described as a hideous amalgamation of monsters, with its lower portion resembling the body of a rotting squid that had been merged with the torso of a deformed and exceedingly ugly, steroid-enhanced, tentacled gorilla and topped by a head which resembled a Mixmaster's haphazard blending of a goblin shark and a wolf spider.

And it smelled even worse.

Currently, the creature was hovering in mid-air between him and the make-shift sacrificial altar which its various multi-specied disciples were apparently attempting to use in an effort to invoke some alternate-dimensional entity's assistance against his team's current presence here on this currently war-torn planet.

After contact with the local Stargate facilities had unexpectedly ceased four days earlier, amid abruptly-interrupted screams and cries for assistance, Colonel Harris-McNally's team, SG-42, had immediately boarded one of the small Icarus-class fast transport vessels and headed to the planet and its non-responsive SGC base, in order to determine and resolve, by whatever means necessary, the problem, or problems, responsible for the facility's communication cessation.

Beaming down to the surface immediately following their arrival, Xander and his teammates – Ishta Norfalk'qua, the Jaffa Assembly's premiere warrior-chieftainess; Jorbanus Chakason, former K'kaan planetary champion; and Jarod Doyle, a three-quarter-Brachen demon, one-quarter-human hybrid archaeologist and mage – had quickly confirmed that the Amaratsu Stargate operation was the focus of an unidentified hostile strike force, whose apparent primary intention was to seize control of the facilities, presumably for the purpose of a subsequent invasion of Stargate Command HQ back on Old Earth.

Fortunately for both Stargate Command and humanity's home world, prior to their capture and/or deaths, the on-duty personnel had managed to activate the base's Ragnarok protocols, which had been specifically designed to negate the efforts of any potential invasion forces seeking to accomplish just such an objective.

Thus, the Amaratsu Stargate had been shut down, the transport control crystal wiped completely and, per standard protocols, any still-surviving personnel in the Ancient ruins containing the Gate and the SGC base rendered comatose via the cyberware programming all SGC personnel possessed, leaving the raiders with nothing more than a large, nigh-indestructible ring of naquadah and a great deal of useless subsidiary hardware.

Having been frustrated in accomplishing their primary objective of capturing the Stargate and its control system intact and usable, the invading demonic forces had then evidently decided to go with one of the most traditional demonic practices – sacrificing the lives of the surviving, but comatose, SGC base personnel to whatever their current favorite deity might be. All of this apparently done in the belief that this might somehow help them achieve their purposes.

As he dodged another blast from the creature's staff, Harris-McNally darted forward with his typical eye-blurring speed and drove his right fist through the massive demon's steel-hard exoskeletal torso and into its chest, all the way up to his elbow.

Wrapping his fist around the nearest convenient organ he could feel inside, the veteran planetary explorer yanked his hand back out, casually disemboweling his opponent with a minimum amount of effort, while a frown formed on his face as he felt the incongruity of his demonic foe's surprisingly potent mental aura beating against his own mental shields.

Focusing his attention and driving a mental probe into his adversary's mind, Harris-McNally was shocked by the abrupt revelation that this atrocity he was battling… was, in fact, not native to this universe!

Even as he snatched his foe's staff from the tentacle wrapped around it and began using it to bludgeon the monster's nightmarish skull into a repulsive mess of demonic bone and tissue, Xander focused his plasma vision on the abomination's head, reducing the crushed and exposed tissue and bone to a thoroughly charred lump of pseudo-flesh, while he simultaneously drove a mind-shattering mental probe through his opponent's brain.

While Harris-McNally was so occupying their leader, the rest of his team had engaged the creature's chanting disciples in a rather one-sided battle.

Ishta began cutting down the rows of the avidly praying multi-specied devotees with a spray of 6mm hypersonic projectiles from her XP-743 railgun as Jorbanus simply lifted his Trinium-Brightsteel war axe and headed, rather gleefully, for the three massive Grappler demons serving as guards. And while his teammates did that, Doyle had quickly begun his own banishment ritual in hopes of countering the summoning ceremony.

Opalescent demonic blood and grey-scaled limbs and viscera quickly splattered the chamber walls, as the SG-42 team pursued their mission with their usual efficiency.

Xander absently noticed that the fang-ringed suckers on his foe's tentacles were slowly, but relentlessly, gnawing their way through what was the newest – and supposedly 'impervious' – version of LexTech's 'Pendragon' series battle armor, which the team had been issued prior to their departure. All the while, his opponent seemingly continued to ignore both his ongoing efforts to eviscerate it, and the fact that its head was just a crushed and misshapen lump atop its shoulders.

{ This bastard has gotta be the toughest sonuvabitch I've ever run across. And we’re talkin’ eighteen decades of jumping through the 'gate into some of the worst pestholes in seven galaxies. And where the Hell does it keep its brain? } Harris-McNally decided as he targeted his plasma vision on two of the tentacles attacking him. The thought that he might have to literally tear his opponent into minuscule pieces to stop it flashed through his mind, while Xander ignored the numerous bluish-white sparks dancing across the gashes in the flesh now exposed through the breaches in his armor.

Doyle's horrified exclamation of "Holy fucking SHIT!!" momentarily distracted Harris-McNally's attention and made him chance a quick look over his shoulder as he tore away a fanged tentacle trying to gnaw on his face. He was dismayed to see a diminutive, fist-sized ball of energy shimmering into existence a few meters above the altar before he was forced to return his attention to his foe.

A few moments later, as Xander risked a second glimpse at the iridescent sphere while he fended off another clawed assault from yet another limb, it was obvious that the gleaming orb was growing perceptibly larger with every passing instant.

A third glance showed him that, in the space of less than a minute, the shimmering globe had grown from its previous size of barely a hand's-width in diameter to its current size of approximately a half-meter diameter, and was continuing to grow at an appallingly fast rate.

"Great Merciful Zeus," Xander murmured softly as he realized that, within the next few minutes, they were going to have an enormous portal – which they didn't control, and which was linked to a currently unknown and clearly hostile enemy location – stabilized only a short distance from a Stargate.

A Stargate which, despite lacking any sort of software or hardware to activate it on this end, was still potentially capable of linking to the existing Stargate network.

{ And given enough time, effort and resources – which these bastards obviously have – that sort of connection is pretty much a foregone conclusion, } Harris-McNally reminded himself.

A quick assessment of their situation, and the scenarios most likely to develop from what was looking more and more like a successful 'Foothold' scenario by currently unknown – but almost certainly demonic – enemy forces, obligated the SGC's most experienced member to make a command decision regarding what appeared to be the imminent hostile seizure of an SGC facility.

And given the fact that he was currently pretty much stalemated by his adversary, despite both his own superhuman abilities and the massive amounts of damage he'd managed to inflict, well… should any members of the assault forces which were obviously waiting on the other side of the portal to cross over possess similar capabilities, then his team wouldn't have even the faintest hope of successfully withstanding the attack.

Further, since their ship didn't have the capability to beam the Stargate up into a storage hold in order to prevent its capture by the enemy, Harris-McNally could see only one possible strategy which would safeguard the still-nascent Terran Commonwealth from their as-yet unidentified opponent's attack.

"Ishta! Jarod! Jorbanus! Activate your recall beacons, now!" Xander called over to his team, as he countered the feebly-scrabbling efforts of the abomination in his grasp, which was still continuing to attack him. "Inform Command that this is a Delta Prime Foothold scenario, and that I'm implementing the Omega protocol.

"Once it's been assessed safe to return – and assuming there's anything left– have Turhan Barim evaluate the area for possible Delta influences," Harris-McNally finished his orders, while continuing to beat his nightmarish opponent with the remnants of its own now deformed and misshapen staff.

"Xander?" Even for a Jaffa, Ishta could convey an incredible amount of information – both voiced and implicit – in that single word, and the centuries-old Immortal simply glanced over and nodded at her, in an effort to express everything he'd never gotten around to telling the alien woman he cared more about than anyone else alive.

"We can stop them here, Xander!" Jorbanus' protest was a guttural growl as he shook pale orange blood from his axe's blade.

"Don't be daft, man! We can still find some way to close the damned thing!" Doyle called, his Old Earth Irish accent becoming all the more noticeable because of his heightened emotions, even as he recognized that all of his efforts to even slow the portal's growth – let alone dispel it – had proven fruitless. "We just need a few more minutes to do so, that's all!"

"I’m pretty sure, we don’t have even that long," Harris-McNally shook his head in disagreement with the mage-archeologist's words. "And I really don't think we'll have much of a chance to hold off any of Squidly's playmates waiting on the other side of that portal for very long, either.

"Not if they've got any more like him," Xander noted grimly as he drove his still-struggling opponent's own staff through its torso to quell its attacks.

"The only way I can see to definitely safeguard the Commonwealth is, to make sure that there's no 'gate here for these assholes to grab," Xander added, as he shook his head. "And I'm the only one here who's got enough power to hold these bastards off, while ensuring the 'gate's destruction.

"I wish I was wrong, guys, but I'm thinking that this is my Last Stand," Harris-McNally predicted with a grim smile as he slammed his fist through his foe's torso yet again. "I just need you to help me make sure it's worthwhile, comprende?

"So, go on, and get out of here," he ordered his team in no uncertain terms. "And make sure that the brass understands exactly what happened here, okay?"

He watched approvingly as all three of his teammates – the closest thing to family he had left in his immortal life – nodded their reluctant acknowledgment of his orders, then glowed briefly before their transport beacons activated and they were beamed back up to their ship.

{ Even though I’m sure she's still burning in Hell for everything she did way back when, I guess I should be thanking Maggie Walsh for giving me these powers in the first place, } Xander mused to himself as he took a firmer grasp of his mostly-dead, but still-feebly-struggling, foe with one hand and flew them both even higher up into the air, heading towards the still-growing interdimensional threshold.

{ After all, if she hadn't identified us Scoobies for use as possible guinea pigs, then I certainly wouldn't be here, about to wipe myself out of existence, } Harris-McNally reflected sardonically to himself as he shifted the focus of his plasma vision to the Stargate and began pouring as much energy as he could channel into it. The 'gate soaked up the energy, much like a dry sponge absorbed water, and began to glow softly as it added the new energy to what it already had stored within.

As the Immortal soldier/explorer lifted himself and his now barely-struggling foe up into the air towards the still-growing portal, the unwelcome memories rushed through his mind. Memories of how, all those centuries ago, he and the other members of the Scooby Gang had defeated ADAM, Maggie Walsh's Frankenstein-ish cybernetic creation.

Unfortunately, however, he, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles, and Marci Ross had subsequently been kidnapped by rogue National Intelligence Directorate agents two days later, so that they could be scrutinized, observed and examined as the agency’s scientists searched for an explanation regarding their pyrrhic success. Buffy Summers had simply been killed, along with Joyce and Dawn Summers, by two 'over-enthusiastic' NID agents when they'd attempted to kidnap the junior Slayer from her home.

The rogue NID people certainly hadn’t been gentle afterwards, though, since Buffy had managed to take one of the agents with her. Marci, the senior Slayer and Xander’s unrequited high school crush, had been dissected alive, while Giles had succumbed the day following their abductions, when his heart had failed during the course of his 'interrogation.'

He and Willow, unfortunately, had somehow survived all of the corrupt agency's 'interrogations' and tests. And then, when they could no longer provide any further answers to the questions posed to them, they had been relegated to the role of experimental test subjects, in order to provide their captors with 'proof positive' of the feasibility of Maggie Walsh's theories.

Harris-McNally's smile was as cold as space as he remembered the expressions on their kidnappers' faces when the pair had finally demonstrated the results of the scientists' efforts to graft nonhuman DNA to unwilling recipients – by completely demolishing the facility in which they'd been incarcerated.

{ It's a damn shame no one could ever find out who, exactly, this 'Marco Xavier' person that Walsh got the genetic material they used on me and Wills from actually was. 'Cause Goddess knows we could certainly have used a couple thousand more people like us, to help out over the years, } Xander reflected thoughtfully to himself. { Unfortunately, that bastard, Erdel, managed to disappear before the NID goons could finish 'debriefing' him. }

The fact that all of the scientists and other support personnel who had kidnapped and tortured them over the course of their year-long imprisonment had either been permanently crippled or had died in the course their break-out was a completely accidental, although exceedingly fortuitous, coincidence.

Or, at least, so the two surviving kidnap victims had maintained to the government investigators questioning them, afterwards. Those same investigators, who had been eager to both determine exactly what had occurred in that nightmarish facility, while simultaneously suppress any public revelation of such a program's existence, had wasted little time in accepting and validating the two surviving Scoobies' statements and then concluding their investigation.

Once certain other governmental groups had learned exactly what the pair's true capabilities were, however, he and Willow had not only been exonerated of any culpability for the annihilation of the NID facility, they been eagerly courted by one Augustus Germaine, among others, a man who'd been hoping to augment the personnel of his group, which dealt with what some nameless minion had once euphemistically referred to as 'Special Circumstances.'

When one factored in that Willow's former lover, Tara Maclay, had been recruited by that same organization shortly after the Scoobies' disappearance, any half-way intelligent observer would have realized that the redhead's decision to accept the SC's offer of employment was a foregone conclusion.

Xander's uncertainty regarding his accepting the Special Circumstances' job offer had been counterbalanced by an equally tempting bid for his services by a group known as Stargate Command. It had been the chance to learn what might lie on the far side of the fabled 'Astria Porta' which had finally tipped the balance, though. After all, the opportunity to explore other worlds, which the fledgling program had been cautiously performing for the previous eighteen months was a prospect that Harris-McNally simply couldn't pass up, given his science-fiction geek roots.

He'd still maintained an active relationship with his childhood friend over the following years and decades, despite their reluctant parting of ways. And he, along with whatever SG team he was assigned to, had been 'lent out' on a fairly frequent basis to assist Special Circumstances' efforts, when the situations warranted.

But Willow's death sixty-one years earlier, while foiling an attempted demonic invasion, had finally severed the sole remaining personal tie which had bound Harris-McNally to the planet of his birth and had freed him to roam, at first, the Milky Way galaxy, and then the rest of the universe.

And so, he had spent the last six decades roaming the cosmos and exploring each new planet added to the ever-growing Gate system, while continuing to assist the Special Circumstances organization in their ongoing battles to protect Earth or whichever of its far-flung colonies might be threatened.

It had been during one such near-apocalyptic event, some twenty-five years earlier on Hala, one of the Commonwealth colonies in the Othala galaxy, that Harris-McNally had acquired Hoved, the sword he now carried with him. It had been a gift from the seemingly ageless sorceress, who'd given it to him following his battle with the Zorn.

As his enhanced awareness informed him that the naquadah in the Stargate had at last reached its maximum absorption capacity and he ceased forcing energy into it, Xander reached over his shoulder and drew a plain-looking, rune-inscribed longsword from its sheath on his back.

"I sure as Hellmouth hope Nimue wasn't shitting me when she told me what you can do," Harris-McNally murmured to the sword as he considered his actions one final time. "'Cause if you don't live up to your rep, then we're all royally screwed."

Glimpses of movement inside the portal warned him of the impending arrival of the enemy forces responding to the summoner's plea, and Xander realized that he no longer had any time to waste.

"Okay, assholes. You wanted a sacrifice. Now, choke on it!" Alexander Harris-McNally, the Last Scooby, declared as he drove Hoved, Warden of the Gates Between the Worlds, through the torso of his still feebly struggling, barely-alive opponent and into the outer surface of the portal as he simultaneously used his telekinesis to trigger the self-destruct mechanism of the already overcharged Stargate.

The second son of Eric and Tricia McNally, adopted following the deaths of Tony and Jessica Harris during the Parent-Teacher Night of Xander’s junior year of high school, had time for one final thought as the universe exploded around him.

{ Hmm. Looks like Nimue was right, after all. }

~/~/~
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