Two weeks later Willow had pretty good grasp of the contents of the cavern computers.
Unfortunately the chamber was only designed as a defense control station and didn't promise to
offer up much detailed information about the race some referred to as the Ancients. Giles had
spent a couple of days investigating the chamber and teaching Willow what little existed of a
proto-demon language that matched the symbols found on the chair interface. Once Willow
began visualizing that language while she was in the chair, the interface started teaching her a
related language. It was slow at first, but picked up speed as she learned more and by the end of
the first week she had enough to master it.
During that time, she also grew accustomed to the feel of the machinery's power source. It was
mechanical in construction, but resonated with mystical energy. She searched for other sources
of the same energy and sensed periodic surges from a military installation in Colorado. She sent
spy probes in and learned that the underground base held a device that opened wormholes and
allowed people to travel to other planets that also had a device. They called it the Stargate.
She also sensed a stealthy but powerful power source deep within the Cleveland Hellmouth. It
was protected by formidable spells and she would need some prep time and the assistance of the
Coven to penetrate them. And it was likely that the source was protected by some kind of demon
army the Slayers would need to defeat. She decided to leave that be until after she dealt with the
frozen man in the Antarctica chamber.
Kennedy was the first one to discover the man. She bumped against a machine and wiped the
frost off it and saw a man in some kind of state of suspended animation. He was in what the
Stargate people called a "regeneration chamber." She learned that his name was Jack O'Neill
and less than two months ago he had volunteered to have knowledge from a library constructed
by the Ancients downloaded into his brain. This had ultimately left him incapable of speaking
anything except the Ancient language (which the Stargate people only knew a small bit of at that
time), but still he managed to locate a power source constructed by the Ancients (called a "ZPM"
by the military) and used it to power the defense center within the cavern to defeat an alien space
But his brain couldn't handle the knowledge of the Ancients for long. So he had placed himself
in the regeneration chamber until a method to safely remove the knowledge could be found.
Kennedy listened to conversations from the Stargate base and discovered that O'Neill had had an
Ancient library downloaded into his brain once before. That time he had contacted an alien race
called the Asgard and they had been able to remove the knowledge. But the humans hadn't heard
from the Asgard in quite some time. They feared that the alien's war against something called
the replicators was going badly.
The more Willow learned about O'Neill, the more she admired him. From the information she
could gather, he had saved the world at least as many times as Buffy had. His colleagues, his
friends were very frustrated that they could not investigate the chamber yet. They hoped they
would find some way to restore O'Neill to his old self.
But Willow knew they wouldn't find a solution that would help them in the chamber. Short of
contacting the Asgard, there was nothing they could do to help their friend. But there was
something she could do. The cavern computers gave her enough background on the Ancient
libraries to feel she might be able to remove the knowledge using magic. After re-awakening
O'Neill, she should be able to use one spell to make him forget anything that happened up to a
point just before he used the Ancient library and another spell to permanently extract the recently
forgotten knowledge from his brain. There would be no danger of a relapse caused by a broken
crystal or anything else.
After explaining the problem to Giles and suggesting that they try using some variation of the
forgetting spell, the Watcher had done some research and found a spell to extract forgotten
knowledge from a human's brain. That had been an awkward conversation for both of them
because of the memory spells Willow had used on Tara and everyone else. Because of the
nature and sheer amount of Ancient memory O'Neill had, Willow would not have been able to
perform the extraction spell before she became Darth Willow and then the White godess. It
would still be difficult now, but she felt it was doable. However she would need to establish a
rapid telepathic communication with O'Neill after he was re-awoken in order to explain her
purpose and perform the spell before his brain was permanently damaged by the Ancient
Giles, Xander and the rest agreed that she should help O'Neill if she could, but they were uneasy
with the rest of her ideas. The more Willow learned about the Ancients and their history and
technology, the more she was certain that demons had used some of that technology in the past.
She examined the mystical power that flowed through her own being and found traces of the
Ancient power sources. Since her energy had been contaminated by the energy from the
Sunnydale Hellmouth, it stood to reason that an ancient power source had been located
somewhere within the Hellmouth. It was her theory that both the Sunnydale and Cleveland
Hellmouths had been opened using ZPMs. And Spike's amulet must have done something to the
Sunnydale Hellmouth power source in order to make it close. Giles was forced to admit that her
theory sounded more plausible than any other theories on the subject.
But he didn't like the conclusions Willow drew from her theories. She now knew in her bones
that the best way to fight demons would be to understand the power of the Ancients. She
remotely scanned the alien in the Stargate complex called Teal'C and found a residue from a
demon infestation in his body. She teleported into the morgue of a navy ship off the coast of
Antarctica and examined the remains of some of the air crew of the alien craft shot down in the
dogfight. They were humanoid, but infected by infant demonic parasites. What the military
called "Gou'ald," she called demons. Ultimately they were fighting the same thing.
So it made sense to Willow that they join forces with the military in order to share knowledge
and construct new weapons. She knew that military assistance would greatly reduce the number
of casualties the Slayers would suffer in the effort to retrieve the Cleveland ZPM and hopefully
close the Hellmouth. And her magic and the strength of the Slayers would be an asset against the
scary new alien warriors the Stargate people faced. The knowledge that Willow herself held a
very high concentration of the Ancient's gene in her cells would certainly be enough to get them
interested. But everyone else was concerned that they would end up locked away in Area 51 or
where ever Ethan Rayne was being held. Because of their experiences with The Initiative, they
didn't trust the government.
But Willow saw the auras and Kennedy listened to the conversations of the people in the Stargate
complex and those working in Antarctica. The two women were convinced these were good
people with good leadership and good intentions. They had the direct support of the President
and most of the other leaders of the industrialized countries of the world. On the other hand, she
wasn't even sure the President had known about the Initiative.
Willow and Kennedy were going to teleport to a Scooby leadership meeting in a few hours where
the group would decide which course to follow. The options they had were to cover their tracks
and leave O'Neill as he was, rescue him and hope they didn't get found out, or rescue him and
negotiate some kind of partnership with the SGC. She knew that the military had formed
alliances with the Asgard and other offworld communities. She felt they would do the same with
the Slayers if they could demonstrate that they had something substantial to offer towards the
defense of Earth. She felt that teleporting into the SGC with a healed and cooperative Jack
O'Neill and then demonstrating her knowledge of the Ancient command center would be a big
step in the right direction. One of the things she would show them was the existence of
Atlantis-the lost city they had been searching for. Demons and other mystics had probably
already exploited most of the Ancient artifacts left on Earth, but she suspected that the
knowledge and power she needed to rid the world of demons was in the Pegasus Galaxy. And
joining forces with the military was the best way to be able to go through the Stargate and get
She suspected that everyone else at the meeting would see the logic of her arguments. But if that
didn't work, she was prepared to use guilt. Angel and the rest had ultimately died because they
were alone and abandoned by the Scoobies. If the two groups had joined forces that wouldn't
have had to happen. In the end they might still all be killed fighting evil, but they had a greater
chance of succeeding and surviving if they got assistance from others fighting the same fight.
Willow did a mental relaxation exercise and then got up from the chair in the middle of the
cavern. Many thoughts weighed heavy on her mind. She still felt much guilt and sadness for
things she had done or not been able to prevent, but also felt hope for a brighter future. Things
would work out with O'Neill and the military. She would reconcile with Buffy. And she would
always have Kennedy and the memory of Oz and Tara. Willow had time to give her girlfriend a
small demonstration of her love before they left for the meeting. It was still chilly in the
chamber, but she knew they could heat it up a little. Things were definitely going to be even
more interesting for the Scoobies from now on.
The End (for now?)