Disclaimer: I do not own any characters relating to either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate SG-1. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not provide any financial compensation.Far Beyond NormalChapter Sixteen
There was no way she was going to sleep. Big clocks around the entire facility were counting down the times when the planetary alignments had fit Buffy’s vision. When the first one passed, the counter was reset, and people got on with their jobs, using the extra time to help coordinate more troop deployments, move additional supplies where they might do some good, talk to frightened people on the outside who didn’t know what was happening, but were expected to prepare for it anyway. The second alignment passed without anything happening. People started looking at Buffy, wanting to know if she ‘saw’ anything new, knowing she would tell them if she had, but silently asking anyway. With only two more possible alignments people were getting antsy, nervous. Too keyed up to sleep.
She wanted to sleep. They needed the information they could only get from her dreams. But sleep would not come. This close to a battle, there was no way sleep would ever come. But she tried, resting on her bunk, trying to ignore the outside world, but there was no way she could relax enough to even remain lying down, let alone sleep. Sleeping pills would not help. At this point only serious narcotics would put her out, and they would prevent her from dreaming. Even so, time passed. Until she felt something.
It wasn’t like the feeling she got from a vampire, or a nearby Goold. Still, she knew what she was feeling. Everything she was, everything she had become, was keyed up, preparing to fight. The Slayer in her knew an enemy was nearby.
She barely noticed the people in the hallway as she got up and marched directly for the elevator. Perhaps subconsciously she might have wondered why so many people just ‘happened’ to be hanging out near her quarters, when no one had before, but she paid it no mind. Even the man reaching for a wall phone didn’t even merit a glance. The Slayer was back in charge, and she was just along for the ride.
When she arrived at the top, hundreds of troops were congregating, all waiting for her to make her way into the War room. It had an official name, but even the people who worked there called it the War Room. When she entered, generals and other officers could be seen fixing their uniforms, having been resting, taking what might be their final opportunity to think private thoughts before ‘game time.’ Warned by the call from below, everyone was there to meet her as Buffy made her way over to the group. She went directly to Hammond. “Theyyyy’re heeeere
.” She figured they would have all seen Poltergeist.
Several of the men standing there looked to the clock. There was still more than an hour on the countdown timer. Hammond just nodded at her. “Were you able to get any more information?”
Shaking her head, Buffy admitted that she hadn’t been able to sleep. “Too late to change anything now anyway.”
Hammond seemed to agree. Turning to face the NORAD commander, he officially pulled the trigger. “I would recommend that we go to DefCon 2, General.”
Turning to his aide, West made it official. “Send out Notification 1 to all contacts on List A. Send Warning 1 to those on List B. DefCon 2, people. We are at war. Everyone, take your places, please.”
Nothing showed on any of the monitors, but nobody expected them to. The extra warning time sure came in handy, West able to give people a chance for the initial adrenaline surge to pass before it could interfere with the normal cool, clear thinking of his command team. Still, even he was surprised when only ten minutes later Buffy pointed at the big monitor, with its graph of the projected trajectory of the Goa’uld fleet around Jupiter, and announced: “There they are.”
He stared at the monitor. He didn’t see anything. Turning around, noticing the confused looks around him, it was apparent nobody else did either. “There’s nothing there!”
Staring at him like she wondered about his sanity, Buffy was indignant. “Are you blind
?! They’re right there
She pointed. There was nothing where she pointed. People were starting to look at her strangely, wondering if they had gotten all worked up over the delusions of a nut-case. Making her way over towards Buffy, Carter simply glanced around at the assembled officers, who were beginning to loom aggressively over the tiny girl, making her even more defensive. Getting the message without a word being spoken, they immediately backed off. Carter tried to be as non-confrontational as possible when she spoke. “None of us see anything on the screen, Buffy.”
Confused, hyper, and now defensive, Buffy could feel herself getting ready to lash out in anger, and desperately tried to reign in her temper. “It’s right there, Sam!” Again, she pointed at the screen. “Two green diamond-shapes, and four red triangles.”
Carter looked up at West, both of their eyes wide. Both suddenly hoping the girl really was crazy. Because they had they had agreed earlier on what symbols they would use to represent the enemy ships, expecting that the two main vessels would be Ha’tak’s. But they had chosen to use the red triangles to represent those giant ships. Neither had really considered the green diamonds would be needed, since so far as they knew only Apophis had one of the giant ships, and it had been destroyed by the Replicators. Facing ships so powerful that even the mighty Ha’tek was dwarfed into insignificance had not figured into their plans. Turning to face Buffy, who continued to look at the monitor, Carter desperately hoped the girl was mistaken. “Are you sure
, Buffy? Are you absolutely certain
you are seeing those symbols?”
Frustrated and feeling like she was being accused of lying, Buffy didn’t know what to say. There was nothing strange going on, so far as she could tell. She was just seeing what was on the screen. “I don’t know what to say, Sam. They’re right there… I can see them moving a bit, but just the way you’d expect as they approach the planet. The picture is a bit fuzzy, but other than that it looks perfectly normal.”
To Carter the monitor seemed crystal clear. It should be; it was an incredibly expensive high-definition plasma display. She brought up the same image on a smaller monitor, one they could touch. The same image of Jupiter and its moons popped up, the same calculated trajectory, the same crystal-clear image. She didn’t see any flashing icons.
Buffy did, however, touching the screen to show where she was seeing them. Just slightly to the left of the superimposed line. When Carter paused to think, the Russian-accented civilian from the earlier meeting spoke. “You say image iz fuzzy. Fuzzy where? Line iz fuzzy or moon or stars iz fuzzy?” Frowning, she looked again at the screen.
“The stars are fine. Moons too. But Jupiter is all fuzzy. The line starts out ok at the top here, but gets wider and fuzzier as it gets closer to the planet.”
He was a young guy, very thin, uber-geeky. Hair prematurely balding. If anyone told her he was the smartest guy on the planet, she’d have believed it. He did something on the keyboard, and the screen flickered just the slightest bit, but was suddenly in focus. Buffy smiled, forming her fingers into the ‘ok’ gesture, and Carter and the Russian guy stared at each other, eyes wide, amazed by something. Everyone could see that Carter was suddenly excited. Grabbing a grease marker, she asked Buffy to indicate the exact position of each symbol on the screen. When she did, showing the ships still slightly to the left of the line, the Russian guy adjusted some of the parameters of his equations until the ships fell directly on the line. The second she nodded that everything was aligned, Carter grabbed another terminal and started updating the targeting assignments for the Avenger cannon.
While banging away at her keyboard, Carter explained what was going on to confused onlookers. “I can’t explain it, but we think
Buffy is seeing the Goa’uld ships in real-time
! As in, no
speed-of-light delay. If it’s true then we can hit them forty minutes earlier than they think we can, far more accurately than they expect. We should be able to hit them before they reach closest approach to Jupiter, where their course options are most limited. Instead of having one shot at this we might have the opportunity to drop an entire battery on them, because we know where they’re going and can adjust long before they think we can. Buffy, I want you to update the position of each of those ships every sixty seconds…” someone handed her a stopwatch “… and I need to get updated targeting information to Colonel Mgimba.”
There was a lot of muttering in the background as Buffy started marking the screen, the Russian guy changing numbers when her marks began to move out of alignment with the line. Before too long he didn’t have to make any adjustments, and Carter uploaded the final numbers to the moonbase, which began firing ten minutes later. After the first few dozen shots the aim was slightly adjusted towards places the Goa’uld might shift once they realized they were under attack. Unless they used their main engines their options were fairly limited at that point, due to Jupiter’s massive gravity, which was the whole idea of hitting at that point in their trajectory.
It took forty two minutes for the plasma bolts, traveling just under the speed of light, to travel from the moon to Jupiter’s orbit. Normally it would have taken thirty nine minutes for them to get a signal back showing how well they did, which was why everyone was watching Buffy’s screen to see what she saw. Someone finally put her screen up on the main board, nobody bothering with the actual board, which was only then showing the initial indications of Goa’uld ships forty minutes after Buffy first marked it on hers. Despite all the monitors showing her board, a dozen General officers were standing around Buffy as the flight time counted down, expressions tense and hopeful as they looked to her for any indication of success.
Within seconds of the timer reaching zero they had the sign they were looking for. Quietly, but exhilarantly yelling a muted “Yes
!” everyone could hear in the dead-silent war room, she drew an ‘X’ through one of the red triangles. There was no shouting, but a dozen people releasing relieved breaths was a welcome sign of satisfaction. It grew even more audible a few seconds later when she indicated that one of the green triangles had begun to blink. By then she knew it meant the ship had been hit, perhaps seriously, but hadn’t been destroyed. A few seconds later another red triangle blinked for a few seconds before it firmed up again, continuing on as a solid, deadly red. None the less, the officers were delighted with the results.
Orders quickly went up to the moon base to concentrate on the wounded ship. With Buffy updating its location every few seconds, it was soon apparent that it was in a purely ballistic trajectory, likely indicating complete engine failure. The other ships would be able to tow it out of the line of fire, but would likely still be expecting they would have twice as much time available to do it as they actually did, thanks to Buffy giving the defenders instant updates on which direction they were attempting to move the great ship. Her updates were instantly uplinked to the firing control system of the Avenger cannon, which made minute adjustments to the aim of the plasma bolts, affecting their trajectory over the hundreds of millions of kilometers they traveled so that they would hit a pattern centered on where they estimated the target would be at the time the bolts arrived.
Tension increased as the timer counted down to the estimated time of impact, and then passed with no indication of anything, as the green diamond had been moving in a random path since it was taken under tow. But it hadn’t been moved far enough, and the people firing on it had known their business, determined to saturate everywhere it might be by the time the plasma bolts reached the proper zone. Seconds passed. When the green diamond flashed, seemed to stabilize, and then flashed again before disappearing, Buffy could not prevent herself from loudly screaming “They got it
!” so everyone would know. There was a heart-felt cheer from the room as people realized they had just destroyed one of their enemies’ most powerful warships.
She updated the board to show that in addition to taking out the green diamond, one of the red triangles had also begun to blink, likely one of the towing vessels damaged by the destruction of the bigger ship, or maybe hit a glancing blow from one of the plasma bolts. Either way the enemy fleet had lost two ships. They also had one damaged, another hurt earlier, although now apparently operating normally as far as their sensors could determine, and the two remaining undamaged ships. The first shots had only been fired ninety minutes earlier. They had performed far better than anyone had dared hope. But their best shots were behind them, as Buffy began marking radical changes in direction for the remaining ships. The Goa’uld had finally realized their opponents had sensors operating at FTL speeds, but space was vast, and they had a lot of room to maneuver once they realized the need to do so.
Thirty minutes later Buffy was surprised when West ordered Mgimba to evacuate all but the final volunteer technicians to the deep shelters. For a second she was confused, until she realized what was happening; the enemy would shoot back when it came under attack. The Goa’uld used a different weapons’ system as their main gun than Earth had designed with significant assistance from the Asgard. Without the space available on a body the size of Earth’s moon, they had been forced to use a system which shot bolts traveling far slower than the near-light-speed achieved by those fired by the Avenger cannon. They would have been able to locate the likely firing position of the incoming shots and respond in kind, but those rounds would take far longer to reach their target. The Avenger cannon was huge, and had been designed to partially withstand just such an assault, but soon their screens were showing images of titanic explosions on the far side of the moon. Somehow the cannon kept firing.
A minute passed. Two. Pieces of the gun were being taken out, but in the vacuum of the moon it wasn’t a solid unit, more like a group of components, many of them redundant, replacements coming online when the primaries went down. Three minutes passed. The signal from the moonbase, hidden under lunar regolith and far from the cannon itself, was filled with static, the people barely able to perform their jobs as they were constantly battered by the massive reverberations of the impacting Goa’uld rounds. They were shouting, frightened but not panicking, knowing how much depended on them, determined to go down fighting, to take even more of their enemy down with them. But finally their luck ran out. Just before the timer reached four minutes the signal disappeared.
There was silence in the war room.
During the four minutes they survived, those who decided such things determined that it would be better to go after the damaged Ha’tak rather than try to hit the more dangerous remaining super ship. That ship was too fast, shifting direction too constantly, handled too professionally for them to have any chance of hitting it except through blind luck. The Ha’tak, on the other hand, was wounded, slow; there was a better than even chance they could find it. So until it went offline the Avenger was targeted towards where the ship might be when the bolts reached that distance, the possibility of actually hitting it remote, but less so than going after the other ship. Twenty six minutes of random fire preceded that decision; none of those rounds hit anything. But as the targeted rounds arrived at their destination everyone once again shifted over to Buffy’s board to see if anything came of it.
At first there was nothing. The red triangle only she could see was still blinking slowly, the grease mark trail everyone could see as she marked its position following a zig-zag pattern that grew increasingly short as she marked equal one-minute intervals. Finally there was a change. The rate of blinking increased. Buffy told everyone, and there was a tense wait as it indicated the ship had suffered further damage. The icon didn’t disappear however; the damage had been severe but not critical.
Then, a few seconds later, the icon disappeared.
Buffy shouted, thinking it meant the ship had been destroyed, before realizing that the other remaining icons were also disappearing, one by one. Confused, she explained what she was seeing to an excited crowd who were still reacting to her shout, still thinking they had destroyed another ship. Suddenly sober, Hammond looked up at West, who sighed and nodded back. Looking over to another soldier at one of the consoles, West ordered a 68 minute countdown begun. Buffy looked up at them in confusion. Putting down her console, Carter explained for everyone else who didn’t understand. “They’ve gone. We’ve driven them off. Something we can all be proud of… later. But they think there’s no point in continuing since they’ve learned what they came here to find out. Thanks to you, Buffy, they think we already have an FTL warning system in place. They think that coming to Earth now won’t prevent us from getting such a system and would undoubtedly irritate the Asgard, so there isn’t much point in continuing.
“But they’ve been in a fight. They’ve suffered massive casualties. If they fire back ‘in self-defense,’ and some of those shots just happen to hit the planet, well, that’s just unfortunate. They can claim it wasn’t deliberate and given their situation with the Replicators, the Asgard will probably let them get away with it. If they kept coming, the way Buffy saw it happen in her earlier vision, it would be a direct challenge to the Asgard since they have promised to defend our world. This way they can hit back without being punished too hard for it. What is about to happen is going to be a lot less horrible than what happened to us in Buffy’s vision; but what we are going to face in about an hour is still going to be pretty bad.”
‘Pretty bad’ didn’t begin to describe it. The defenses the SGC had placed in orbit were designed to repel ships, not bolts from energy weapons. The Russian guy made a computer model of the earth showing areas of the planet that would be in range of directed-energy weapons fired from near Jupiter’s orbit. Huge chunks of the south Atlantic, Antarctica, South America, and the southern part of North America would be in range of the incoming rounds. Nobody knew what would happen if there was a multi-megaton plasma detonation in Antarctica, and nobody wanted to find out. But essentially there was nothing anybody could do to stop it. West suggested that a notification be put out over the Emergency Broadcast System, but the White House refused. Since nobody knew where the bolts would hit, it was decided that warning everyone would create more panic than it would save lives.
But nobody could conceal mushroom clouds growing in the skies over the Amazon jungle… the Caribbean off of Cuba’s coast… the Gulf of Mexico… off the coast of Oregon. Or hide the tidal waves destroying parts of cities along the coast… St. Petersburg… New Orleans… Brownsville… finally Portland. Or pretend that a hundred thousand people hadn’t been drowned, or that a third of the U.S. oil production platforms hadn’t just been wiped out, all by parties the government refused to identify.
As Carter had warned, it was still ‘pretty bad.’