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 Twenty Two
General George Hammond was shocked to see Sif step into the War room. Having seen the Asgard enter the Stargate and return home four days earlier, its sudden appearance in the ‘Gate control room was unexpected, to say the least. Especially since they had locked down the StarGate ever since Buffy had declared the Rodeo Arcade code-phrase for reporting an alien invasion attempt. Having General West back up her call gave Hammond the cover to get away with following the exact letter of the protocol, despite West himself, and then others up to and including the President demanding he unseal the mountain only minutes afterwards. But it wasn’t his career Hammond was worried about. He had been fully prepared to retire years earlier, after he received his first star. Having the safety of the human race dependent on his decisions was turning out to be a whole lot more fun in theory than in practice. The consequences of making the wrong call were becoming far too familiar ever since he had accepted a routine assignment to close down a failed experiment known as the SGC.
He had hoped Buffy had been wrong, but trusted her instincts enough to implement the Arcade protocol even before West had seconded her warning. Three uneventful days later, with no sign of alien incursion and ever increasing political pressure to terminate the protocol, had started to make him question his stand. But the shocking disclosure by the President, and then the even more shocking charges brought about by Buffy Summers, all witnessed by much of the human race on live television, made it clear that a great many lives would depend on the decisions he made in the next few minutes. The warning that an unknown alien spacecraft had uncloaked and was entering Earth’s atmosphere just clinched that impression.
Sif’s shocking appearance came just as Buffy, appearing on their main monitor, revealed to the monstrous alien ambassador that she had asked the Asgard to tweak the Legion gun. Hammond had been about to deploy the gun anyway, without much hope that it would have any effect, until Buffy’s words gave him a sudden burst of confidence. He glanced over at the Asgard, feeling no need to ask Sif to confirm Buffy’s claim. Her appearance in the Mountain spoke more than loud enough.
It was with considerable relief that he would be able to carry out the job he had been charged with; protecting the planet from alien incursion. “Sergeant, target the alien ship… and fire
!” It was the most satisfying order he had ever given.
The Legion gun used the same principle as the Avenger cannon, but in a more compact, shorter-range adaptation, optimized for in-atmosphere applications. The full output of a naquadah reactor was pumped into a giant superconducting capacitor, until more energy was stored than was available throughout the entire remainder of the earth combined. Legion Gun Number One had been built into the core of Cheyenne Mountain, using the space left behind when the shaft was dug to lower the StarGate into the facility. The gun was forty eight feet long, gimbaled to orient in any direction, and until then had never been fired for-real. At Hammond’s order, concealed doors atop the mountain were opened, the Gun was raised, and it oriented itself as the static hum of the superconducting ring raised in intensity, the material of the ring having stored energy to the physical limit of its endurance.
Within seconds the gun was aimed, and power was suddenly released from the massive superconducting coil, entering a reaction chamber at the base of the Gun. The energy was focused, enhanced, transformed into a lance of incandescent energy bursting from the muzzle with such intensity that the very atmosphere burned into a plasma. The beam of the phased plasma discharge was coherent, invisible; but people a hundred miles away could see the atmosphere itself burn as the stupendous discharge burst, aimed like the laser beam it wasn’t, reaching out to touch the approaching alien spacecraft like the finger of a particularly vengeful god.
It was a huge ship, fifty percent larger than Apophis’s giant flagship. Onboard were a dozen Priors and more than a hundred thousand warriors. The ship was protected by shields designed to shrug off full-power impacts from the most powerful weapons a Goa’uld Ha’tek-class warship could throw. But what hit them was more than a hundred times more powerful than even those. The focused energy was so overwhelming it quite literally smashed into the ship hard enough to stop it in its tracks. The ship had been designed to withstand the awesome energies of combat, and its inertial dampers actually saved the crew from being crushed by the sudden decelerating force of the impact. But the shields hadn’t been designed to withstand such power. They failed instantly; the shield generators fused into slag.
It took even a naquadah reactor half an hour to fully charge the superconducting capacitor, and in combat they didn’t have half an hour to spare, so follow-up shots from the Legion gun were less than ten percent of the intensity of that first massive thunderbolt. But follow-up shots didn’t have to worry about a shield. The first such follow-up shot burst outward four seconds after the stupendous initial shot; it blew a hole fifty centimeters wide clear through the engine room. The next shot blew the ship into a billion pieces. By the third shot, it was just vaporizing debris. There was no need for a fourth shot… but they took one anyway. Just because they could.
Buffy didn’t even bother to look over her shoulder to see the action. The flash of light and thundering sonic boom told her everything she needed to know. She just looked at the massive alien, and smiled, eyes hard as flint. “Oooops
The Doci glared at her with its almost human eyes. It was livid, momentarily unable to speak through the depth of its overwhelming rage. “You will be punished for this insolence! The Ori see all. They will send more ships, more powerful weapons and punish those who would deny the truth of the Origin!”
Buffy just raised an eyebrow and smirked, but was careful to keep a close eye on her massive opponent. “You sure that’s a good idea, Gort? They send anything too fancy and it will attract the attention of the Replicators. Who, I’m sure you will have already noted, are immune to both the ‘thrall’ and to any attempts at religious conversion. But, hey, if you want to put them to the test, I say go for it.”
To her annoyance, the creature seemed to be getting a grip on its temper, momentarily distracted by the violence suddenly unleashed in the crowd around them as if the destruction of the ship had been a signal. The Special Forces quick-reaction force had noticed the President wasn’t moving, seen that Berklyn wasn’t human, and put two and two together and added it up to equal ‘Threat.’ Armed Special Forces troops had a real quick solution when dealing with ‘threats,’ and started shooting. As Buffy had expected, Berklyn’s staff created a shield which the bullets couldn’t penetrate, and his thrall powers were quickly brought to bear, making the Secret Service agents see the Special Forces as a threat to the President. Given that both sides were highly skilled marksmen, casualties mounted rapidly, the civilians were panicking, and the situation was rapidly spiraling out of control.
Buffy knew what she had to do. She also knew she was going to get hurt doing it. Hurt worse than the Torak-han champion had hurt her. Probably hurt worse than she had ever been. She was very aware, from what Faith had said, that attacking the Rock Beast was suicidal. But it was also necessary
; the situation could not be permitted to escalate any further. The one thing in her favor was that, unlike Faith, she knew what she was facing. Knew that she’d have one chance, and only
one chance, to get in a significant blow before the Beast understood exactly what it was dealing with. Because, once again unlike Faith, she was carrying a weapon. A weapon she fervently hoped the Beast did not realize was far more powerful than it looked.
Inside the Mountain, Hammond glared at Sif, knowing that he owed the Asgard big-time for her work on the Legion Gun, but annoyed that the alien had done it without informing him. “What is happening out there, Sif? What is that creature? What sort of threat are we facing?”
As usual the Asgard showed no emotions, and did not appear to be in the slightest intimidated by the looming, obviously angry, General. “Much of what you ask is self-explanatory. Your planet has attracted the attention of the Ori. They have sent their most powerful mortal acolyte to coordinate your assimilation into their dominion. Unless they are stopped, your world, your society, and likely the galaxy at large is doomed to subservience under Ori domination.”
“And you didn’t think it necessary to warn
us about this danger?!”
The alien twisted its head a bit, looking at the General quizzically. “We did
warn you. We took steps to assist you. It isn’t often that we provide the sort of technical assistance I have just provided by modifying the modulation parameters on your Legion gun. But Buffy Summers requested that we do so, and it is she
, not you, who will resolve this crisis, or fail in the attempt.”
The calm words cut through his anger, and Hammond unthinkingly turned his attention to the monitor, where Buffy and the massive alien, which appeared to be made of rock, were glaring at one another like savage gladiators about to do battle. Which, Hammond realized, was exactly what they were. “We are a powerful military force, Sif. We have defended ourselves against the Goa’uld for more than five years. These people had one ship, and one, well, creature
. For all Buffy’s impressive talents, I think we could have handled the situation ourselves had you come to us.”
“No, you could not. The Ori are an immensely powerful foe. They maintain domination over several entire galaxies. We have so far escaped their overwhelming power only due to the direct intervention of the Ancients themselves. As I explained before, the price for allowing the Slayer to be activated in our universe involved a threat to your planet. I should clarify that statement: the Powers That Be were permitted to modify certain fundamental physical characteristics of our universe if they came up with a way to challenge the might of the Ori. For reasons we do not know, the Ancients themselves will not directly
oppose the Ori, but will only use subterfuge and deception to protect this galaxy from their domination. Even the Powers that Be were restricted on how they would be permitted to oppose them.
power—would not succeed. We agree that you could have defeated this initial, covert, attempt at assimilation had we provided adequate warning. However this would have inevitably led to a more significant military incursion by Ori forces which neither you, nor we
, could have successfully opposed. A more subtle approach was required. We believe that the Powers That Be manipulated a confrontation which will require Buffy Summers to act virtually alone in order to resolve the crisis with the fewest possible casualties, but the most profound possible consequences. It is in fact our conclusion that this entire confrontation with the Ori has been brought about deliberately in order to test Buffy Summers. It was inevitable that our galaxy would come to their attention eventually, but the fact that it is happening now, rather than at some time in the future, is definitely suggestive.
“We believe they want her to fight this creature. But she understood the consequences which would befall the Earth should she simply kill the Beast, as you would have had we alerted you to the Ori intentions. It isn’t enough to simply destroy this advance group. It is necessary to use this group as a wedge against the Ori themselves. Doing such a thing would be difficult. She would need a plan. And she needed our help to make one.
“We believe that the Powers That Be, with the consent of the Ancients, are risking the fate of your planet not just on Buffy Summers learning how to plan a campaign, but on her having learned to ask for help.”
One of the things that had always irritated the hell out of Giles was the way Buffy had led with her jaw, permitting her opponents to get in the first punch before she got down to business and kicked their ass. It worked only because she was about a thousand times tougher than she looked, so most opponents didn’t really go full-out when they assumed a stiff breeze could probably knock her unconscious. Plus, she just needed the wake-up call of a good belt to the jaw to let her subconscious know that she was in a fight for her life. No matter how long she had been a Slayer, some part of her still couldn’t believe that a mean thing would really dare hit someone as cute and perky as her. Once her subconscious was convinced, she was hell on wheels; but until then she just didn’t take it seriously enough.
Even without Faith’s warning she probably wouldn’t have been that dumb when dealing with something of the Rock Beast’s size and mass. Or at least she hoped so, as an impartial review of her past actions suggested otherwise. This thing was Adam in battle armor. The trick was to convince it that it could afford to do what she ordinarily did; let her opponent get in the first blow. Given their size disparity the Beast had good reason not to feel overly threatened. And, with his spaceship just blown to hell, he had reason to feel pretty fucking irritated, and not exactly thinking straight. So Buffy did what Buffy did best; irritate the hell out of the miserable bastard. “I wonder what your precious Ori are gonna say when they go over this disaster. Your ‘Prior’ outed, his protégés revealed, the whole invasion plan down the crapper. You’re not having a good day, Alf.”
She smirked at the Rock Beast, enjoying the outrage in its expression. It was time to gamble, even though she knew she probably would not survive the next few seconds if she was wrong. From Faith’s description she knew there was no way she could attack such a powerful opponent without being swatted aside like an annoying insect unless she could first knock the Beast off its game. It would be virtually impossible to get in a really good opening blow while simultaneously defending herself against its inevitable counter-attack. The trick was to make damned certain she got in better punch than it did. Continuing to twist and twirl the hammer, she met the Beast’s eyes for a few seconds, both of them psyching themselves for what was to come. What they both know was happening. She was waiting for the moment… when her opponents’ arms were in the exact proper position, when the angles were right, when her breathing and balance were perfect. And then she suddenly moved.
It was a dance, balance and flexibility and speed, beautiful in its perfection; violence become art. There was no wasted motion, not a single extra step, not a superfluous gesture. The hammer swung faster than a human eye could see, her body a ballet of perfectly contortioned physical coordination. Stepping, swirling, arms swinging as she bent and lifted, constantly moving the hammer to adjust its trajectory, never allowing her opponent to know her target, never committing herself to a specific objective but prepared to take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself. Both knew what was happening, both thought they were prepared. But there was a difference. The Rock Beast just wanted to punish the small human for her insolence.
Buffy wanted to kill the son of a bitch.
The hammer came down and across powered by everything Slayer muscles could impart. Ignoring the massive obsidian arm swinging towards her own face, Buffy twisted a final time and drove the hammer directly for where the rib cage would be on a human opponent. Despite looking like it was built of rock, she had seen that it breathed, its body apparently using oxygen for something. She figured anything that breathed needed lungs; and needed a system to fill those lungs. The hammer was driven towards the lower midsection of its torso, the aim true, the timing perfect, the hammer slamming home less than half a second before she felt the monster arm crush into her face with the force of a battering ram.
Knocked clean off her feet by the force of the blow, Buffy flew through the air twenty feet, crashing through the aluminum framing struts of the VIP observation platform, even the noise of the platform being demolished not drowning out the agonized scream coming from the Beast. When it came to first blows, the alien had miscalculated. Big time.
Back in the Mountain, Hammond watched the result of that first confrontation with stunned disbelief. The rocky alien monster was twice the girl’s height, and probably out-massed her ten-fold. The small hammer she was wielding like it was a useful weapon couldn’t have weighed more than eight pounds. But it had smashed into the alien like the Fist of God, crushing the right side of its chest, fluorescent red ‘blood’ flowing like lava from the devastating blow. The monster had hit Buffy with an arm bigger in circumference than her waist, knocking her flying, but the girl was already back on her feet and stalking her vastly larger opponent. Television cameras closed in to show that the left side of her face had been smashed and scraped, her left eye red with blood; but Hammond knew such damage would barely affect a Slayer in combat, even though the blow had been hard enough to kill anyone else.
He frowned at Sif, but quickly returned his attention to the screen, watching the way Buffy manipulated the hammer, moving it back and force hypnotically, her deadly cold eyes never leaving those of her prey. And it was prey. Hammond knew he wasn’t watching a ‘fight;’ this was the sort of kill-or-be-killed gladiatorial combat rarely seen in civilized society. Despite her size and looks, Buffy was the best person he had for such a conflict, being the least ‘civilized’ person in the SGC, the one who, even more than Teal’c, was familiar with and prepared for a fight to the death. Sif walked over to observe the screen, her expressionless alien face showing none of the concern Hammond couldn’t hide.
“Thor’s hammer is somewhat more than it appears at first glance. We tried to explain it to Miss Summers, but as I’m sure you have discovered for yourself, she is not especially interested in explanations; merely in results. She cared only what the hammer did
, not how it works. The hammer is considerably heavier than it looks; approximately 28 of your pounds. Only a Slayer could swing it with such casual, effortless ease. However it has several uniquely useful properties. You have already seen that it acts like a personal shield to protect the wielder from massive impacting projectiles. It would do the same against energy weapons as well. We are hoping the Doci will assume it protects her from its psychic machinations, such as thought control and psionic attacks. It doesn’t, but a Slayer with Buffy’s experience has her own defenses against such attacks.
“More usefully in this present confrontation, the hammer incorporates what might be considered a ‘momentum enhancer,’ a reversal of the ‘inertial sump’ installed on spacecraft in order to counter the effects of sudden acceleration. When the hammer is swung, the ‘momentum enhancer’ has the ability to vastly increase the effective energy required to oppose the imparted momentum. The hammer is specifically ‘tuned’ to respond to its owner, so that one person, and only that one specific individual, can manipulate it almost effortlessly; but anyone else would find it too heavy to move. For some reason Miss Summers feels that this aspect of the hammer is significant, and she refers to it as a ‘Troll hammer.’ As you can see, the sort of force the hammer can impart is vastly more than it would appear such a small object was capable of inflicting.”
Carter had been listening in on the speech while simultaneously watching the horrifying bloodbath on the display, as the alien being who had once been disguised to appear as Berklyn unleashed his mental powers, forcing those people within range of his influence to shoot at anyone trying to get to the President. But even that was secondary to the main battle between the two more-than-human combatants. She had been astonished at the damage Buffy’s initial blow had caused, but still extremely concerned given the size of her opponent. “What sort of a magnification in force are we talking about? That thing
–the Doci-- must weigh at least a thousand pounds. And it’s made of rock!”
Never looking away from the screen, Sif answered absently. “I would estimate that her initial blow delivered approximately 4200 foot-pounds of energy directly to the diaphragm of her opponent.” The alien ignored the gasps of amazement from the humans who overheard. “I am uncertain how much damage has been done to the Doci. It is definitely injured, but I do not know how critical the damage. This is unfortunate, as this particular species has never been defeated in single combat before, so far as we know.”
Watching Buffy close with the monster, Hammond tried to be supportive to his agent. “It’s never faced a Slayer before.”
Turning to face him for a second, Sif didn’t respond until after she returned her attention to the screen. “Unfortunately, that is not quite accurate. Technically speaking; it has. The results of that confrontation were not encouraging. On a more optimistic note, however, Miss Summers has so far avoided the primary mistakes made by her predecessor. She actually hurt
it. I would hope that she continues to do so.”
Buffy knew she’d hurt the monster, hurt it bad, but it was far from out of the fight. She hadn’t expected it would be… but it would have been nice if she’d have been able to inflict some crippling damage with the only surprise blow she was going to get. From here on in everything would be a brutal slugging match, and she could only hope she had injured it enough to make up for the difference in power she’d been warned the Beast possessed. Faith had warned her not only about its strength, but that nothing built by humans could penetrate its rocky skin. Somewhat like the Judge in that respect, but she didn’t have a rocket launcher handy to test if it had a similar weakness to weapons humans manufactured
as opposed to built. Even if she did, it was still shielded from projectile weapons by the blue thing on the staff it now carried in the hand on its weakened side. The only way she was going to beat it was up close and personal. Which, to be honest, was the way she preferred it, even knowing how bad things were likely to get.
The problem was, she was used to being at least as fast and as strong as anything she faced, if not more so. The only time she’d faced anything comparable to her own physical capabilities without being supported by magic, the results hadn’t been pretty. Technically speaking, she had beaten the Torak-han champion. But if she fought this thing as stupidly as she’d fought it, she was dead meat. Fortunately, this time she wasn’t out to impress frightened Potentials. All she wanted from this encounter was to be the one who could walk away once it was all over. Moving forward, careful, eyes never leaving those of her massive opponent, she closed in, using all of her skill and experience to offer him what he expected. Finally she braced herself and, at the absolute last possible fraction of a second, twisted, redirecting the hammer, aiming for his weakened side, knowing he was protecting it but knowing even more that her only chance for victory meant attacking her opponents’ weakest point.
She wasn’t surprised that the alien knew what she was doing and had prepared to defend himself against it. But it was still underestimating her speed, and it hadn’t expected her to redirect her aim at the last second. Once again, she was able to smash the hammer into the monster’s torso an instant before he brought up his massive forearm, the quite-literally rock-hard limb slamming into the side of her head with enough force to compress her brain, almost knocking her unconscious, almost making her miss the dubious pleasure of being thrown twenty feet by the impact until she crashed into the masonry wall of the hanger which had been a backdrop for the President’s speech, causing huge fractures in the concrete surface.
Once again, however, her blow had done much more damage than his. The hammer had hit him just a bit higher than the first one, near the shoulder, and Buffy was fairly confident that his arm was at least partially disabled. Probably the only good thing about getting her butt kicked on a fairly routine basis was the fact that it made her far better prepared for getting into a fight against an opponent as good or better than herself than was the alien, who might never have come across anything that could truly challenge him. Trying to shake off the dizziness and pain, she got to her knees, pausing only when someone noticed that the monster had dropped his staff when she hit his arm the second time and decided to try taking a shot at him. His skin turned out to be as bullet-proof as advertised. And unlike with the personal shield, which returned the bullets on an exact reciprocal of the incoming trajectory, his rough skin deflected the incoming rounds in random directions.
Whoever was shooting eventually got the message that it wasn’t doing any damned good. Buffy gulped nervously as she realized that the Beast wasn’t as badly hurt as she had hoped. It was, in fact, coming towards her. And it looked pissed. Ordinarily she would have been delighted, as an angry opponent made for an easily-killed opponent, but she’d already hit this one twice with blows that would have stopped almost anything else cold. Which meant this thing was Adam-level tough, and she didn’t have access to the magic she’d used to stop Adam. The monster was definitely hurt, but as she shifted her position, lying low to the ground, just using her hands and toes, watching it carefully, ready to spring in any direction, she knew that it was far from fatally damaged. And it was stalking her, no longer pussy-footing around, prepared to accept some more pain if that’s what it took to end the fight, no longer willing to give her the opportunity to hit it full force with the hammer.
Jumping up, twisting in mid-air, hammer still held in one strong hand, Buffy bent at the last possible second, using the hammer as a diversion as she dropped to the ground and kicked out full-force with both feet, aiming for the Beast’s right knee. It was a brilliant move, perfectly executed: and it failed abysmally. Instead of shattering its knee and taking the Beast down, her own legs almost spasmed as the titanic kick was met by something far stronger than anything she could have imagined. Her kick would have been enough to bend a steel girder; the Beast screamed in pain, but didn’t budge. And she was too slow to escape the lightning-fast hand that reached down and grabbed her leg, her entire plan of attack thrown off by the unexpected strength of that rocky leg.
It was then her turn to feel the pain. Swinging her by the leg, still roaring loudly in agony, the Beast twisted, arm whipping around faster than the eye could see, releasing Buffy at just the right point for her to fly through the air, ten feet, fifteen, until she smashed into the masonry wall of the hanger with enough force to smash the blocks into rubble, momentum carrying her right though the wall into the hanger itself. Nothing human would have survived, but the Beast didn’t care, it wanted to be certain, it wanted to tear her body limb from limb, so stalked after the human missile it has just thrown, severely limping, eyes quite literally blazing in its fury.