Brave New World
Dawn Summers dove behind the desk, narrowly evading a hail of bullets, and neatly somersaulted to her feet. She made it look easy, rising and shooting in the same smooth movement, firing once, twice, three times, and then permitting herself the faintest of smiles as the sound of her enemies hitting the floor reached her ears: three shots, three kills. She was a girl no longer; time and fate both had made her a woman and a killer. Her name was spoken and feared by those that altered the fate of nations with but a word. A distant part of her was horrified by what she had become, knew that Buffy would also have been horrified, if she had lived. That bothered her less with every day that passed. And in a flash, it all changed.
She was a mother of three children, living a safe if boring life in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Her husband worked for Newscorp, providing her and her children with everything they ever wanted; it wasn’t what she wanted, but she tried to ignore the voice inside that told her she was meant for something more. Cold, crystal blue eyes troubled her dreams, sometimes, but the torpor of her life was otherwise undisturbed. Another flash, another change.
She was something else. Something beyond words. Her mind stretched into vast infinities that should have made her shudder with terror, yet seemed somehow, disturbingly *right* in a way that she couldn’t even begin to describe. She was in the spaces between those places where humans walked, and her heart beat in time to the music of the spheres. Yet through it all, she remained herself.
She was a mother and an assassin, a Slayer and a thing they didn’t have words to express in any human tongue. She made love to men and she made love to women. She made death. She made life. She married and she divorced. She watched as the Eater of Souls invaded her sister’s mind, and she prepared her counterstroke. Her whole world dissolved in the light of the Ascension of the human race. Buffy ascended, smiling beautifically. Giles ascended. Xander ascended. Willow ascended. Everyone ascended before her eyes, but not her. The power of the Great Machine passed her by, leaving her with a sick, empty feeling inside before the horror set in and the desperate screams of denial began.
She woke up with just such a scream. She sat up and began to sob great, terrible tears of utter despair. The reality of her situation came rushing back to her as she wept; Earth was gone, and with it everyone she’d ever known. It was now her third day in the city of Atlantis in the far-distant Pegasus Galaxy. Had the circumstances been different, she might have been filled with amazement and wonder at the very idea of being in such a place, but here, now, it did little to lift her spirits.
She was alone.
Illyria placed a hand upon her shoulder.
She didn’t know why she found the presence of the Old One so comforting, but the nightmares were always lessened when Illyria was near. She had seen Illyria in her dreams, sometimes wearing a red mottled leather catsuit, sometimes in the guise of Winifred Burkle. She was probably the only one who understood. No, scratch that, she *was* the only one who understood. Had someone told her a week ago that an Old One was going to be her only friend in the world, she would not have believed them. Yet it was. She had latched onto Illyria just after she’d been found by the SGC’s rescue teams and brought to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, one of the very few human structures on Earth-That-Was to survive the Second Fall. She didn’t like to think about the time before her rescue - those first few frantic days in the light of the End. The emptiness. The growing certainty that she was the only one left alive in the world. The threat of madness... Illyria’s grip on her shoulder tightened slightly, and she shook the thought from her mind.
“Was it bad?” Illyria asked. To anyone else, the tone would have sounded dispassionate, almost clinical; to Dawn, it was the voice of a concerned friend.
Dawn hugged the other woman, and Illyria, uncomfortable with such basic human contact, awkwardly patted her back. Mom would have known exactly what to say. Exactly what to do. Illyria didn’t, but she was grateful for the Old One’s presence nonetheless. The Old One, too, was grieving, in her own way. She too had lost everything she had ever known, and twice.
“It was bad,” Dawn whispered. She glanced at the clock set on the nightstand of her bed. It read 4:00 AM. “Was it really only four hours?” she asked, her voice trembling. “It seemed more like a lifetime. Several lifetimes.”
Illyria’s reply was as confusing as ever. “It was,” she said.
Dawn looked up at the other woman, searching for some clue in her face that would unlock the meaning of that statement. Nothing. Damn. “You know something, don’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
“I do,” Illyria intoned, and cocked her head to the side in a bird-like movement.
“You’re not ready yet,” Illyria replied.
Dawn drew herself out of the hug and hit Illyria with a pillow. “Fine. I guess you’re just going to keep your secrets, then,” she groused.
Dawn wished she had something heavier than a pillow to throw. Still, it wouldn’t do to start attacking her roommate. Yeah, roommate. Atlantis, large as it was, was pressed for space at the moment; there was definitely room enough for all the additional personnel that had come from Earth after the Second Fall, but the problem was that so much of the city was still unexplored that they couldn’t be certain that all of those available rooms were safe. Until Major Shepherd’s team finished its checks, the newcomers were doubling up on rooms in the area the Athosians had lived before moving to the mainland. This room was theirs; hers and Illyria’s. She supposed it could have been worse. She could have had to room with Doctor McKay. She suppressed a mental shudder, wiped her eyes, and got ready to meet the brave new world.
Mom would have known what to do.
by P.H. Wise
An Angel crossover fanfic
Chapter 1 – Brave New World
Disclaimer: I don’t own Angel. I don’t own Stargate. Please don’t sue me. This story contains spoilers for the final episode of Angel.
Note: This story is the sequel to Epigoni. If you haven’t read that story, you will not have seen the character growth that got Illyria to the place she begins at in this story, and the story will probably not make much sense besides. Epigoni: Atlantis contains spoilers for Buffy, Angel, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and for Epigoni.
Doctor Elizabeth Weir sat in her office, alone, staring blankly at the papers on her desk: not reading them, just looking at them. Several new care lines had settled onto her face in the past few days, though not enough to even begin to detract from her not inconsiderable beauty. Below, in the embarkation room, at the bottom of the stairwell that led up to the control area, John Sheppard and Aiden Ford stood, looking up at her through her office’s window.
“How long’s she been like that?” Sheppard asked.
“She was like that when I came on duty four hours ago,” Ford replied.
“Hasn’t anyone talked to her? Found out what was wrong?”
Ford gave Sheppard a slightly disbelieving look. “We all know what’s wrong,” he said.
The good Major seemed to sink into his heels, crestfallen. “Yeah,” he said, his voice pained, “I know. But what she’s doing with the blank staring and sitting there aimlessly – that can’t be healthy, can it?”
Ford shrugged helplessly. “Truth be told, Sir, I’d probably be doing the same thing if I weren’t on duty. And from what I hear, we don’t have it half as bad as the people who actually lived through it. You tried talking to them? It’s like they’re not even there.”
Sheppard didn’t much like that response, either. “I hear Dr. Heightmeyer’s booked solid for the next two years at least. I guess you need a good psychologist in a time like this... but I hate seeing her like this. Someone needs to do something. This can’t go on forever.”
“We lost Earth, Sir. What do you expect?”
John got a stubborn look, and walked up the stairs purposefully, heading for Weir’s office.
“Sir...” Aiden said, and then trailed off, and turned away.
John knocked on the archway that served as the entrance to the office. Doctor Weir did not react, so he walked in, sat down at the chair across the desk from her and said, “Elizabeth?”
She started visibly, and her eyes met his. The hopelessness he saw there, unguarded for the barest of seconds, made him want to wince. “John,” she said, and as she spoke his name, she seemed to gain strength. “What can I do for you?”
John smiled faintly. “For starters, you can tell me what’s had you staring off into space for the last four hours.”
She pushed the papers across the desk to him. He glanced down at them, blinked, took a moment to read them more thoroughly, and then let out a long, slow breath. These were the procedures laid out by General O’Neill that the Atlantis base is to follow in the event of the loss of Earth, and they were complicated. *Very* complicated. From the language usage, Sheppard suspected that Walter had been the one who had actually prepared them. The General had never liked to use legal language.
“Oh,” Sheppard said at last.
Silence hung between them for a moment as John digested the information he had just received. At length, he spoke. “We can’t sit on this forever, you know,” he said.
“I know,” she replied, “I just need some time. Time for all this to sink in.”
John nodded. “I agree,” he said diplomatically, which for him almost invariably came off as ‘condescendingly.’ She knew him well enough to understand the meaning, though, and just smiled in response. It was the first she’d smiled since she heard the news. “We should give it a month,” he went on, “Maybe two, before we start making drastic changes around here. But those changes are going to happen eventually, and we’re going to have to make some hard decisions.”
“I know. I just wish it weren’t necessary.”
“So do I.”
She took his hand and squeezed it. “Thank you.”
Things slowly began to settle into place for Dawn, and in a few short weeks, her life had become routine again. While she hadn’t been a slouch with languages before she’d started having ‘The Dreams’ (and it was always capitalized in her mind), the knowledge that she had gained, especially in those dreams of lives in which she was more interested in linguistics than she ever had been in this one, Dawn was fast gaining a reputation for being able to speak and read nearly any language – including Ancient. That being the case, much of her time was spent translating information gathered from the Ancient database. She took her meals in the second cafeteria – one of the three additional cafeterias that had been set up to serve the several thousand people that had been brought to Atlantis from Earth after the Second Fall. And at the end of the day, she returned to her room, and slept beneath Illyria’s watchful gaze, confident in the Old One’s ability to keep her safe. Hours turned to days, days turned to weeks, and at last, weeks became months.
As for Illyria, her days were filled with the regular trial of not flaying Doctor McKay alive. He was a bug. An insignificant creature that she would have squashed without thought, once upon a time. Now, she simply gritted her teeth and did her work as a scientist in his department. She did not require sustenance, but she partook of food occasionally; she never had the same dish twice, however; once she had tried one dish, she saw no reason to ever try it again, for the memory of its taste remained undimmed in her awareness whenever she cared to recall it.
It was during one of those occasions, two months after her arrival in Atlantis, that she first met Major John Sheppard. She was experiencing turkey and cranberry sauce at the time, and wearing the Burkle persona. Dawn was with her, eating at the seat next to her, though from the looks of it, the girl wasn’t particularly hungry.
“Hello,” John said, and sat down at the table across from Illyria. “You must be the new researcher Rodney’s always ranting about. Winifred, right?”
Illyria considered the human for a moment, and then returned her attention to the flavor of the meat and fruit-product. If the good Major was discouraged by her disinterest, he made no sign of it. It was Dawn who spoke up next, however.
“She likes to be called Illyria,” Dawn said.
“Illyria?” Sheppard asked. “That’s an odd nickname. I like it.”
Dawn blushed faintly and smiled. “Well, she’s an odd sort of person. But she’s great once you get to know her!”
“Is that a fact? Well then, I’ll just have to try harder, won’t I?” He smiled good-naturedly, and met Dawn’s gaze. “You must be the new translator. I’m John. John Sheppard.”
Dawn’s blush got worse. “I’m Dawn.”
“So how’d you get the nickname, Illyria?” he asked.
Illyria shot Dawn an irritated look, and Dawn stuck out her tongue in response. For a moment, Illyria considered ripping out Dawn’s tongue for her impertinence, but the thought passed quickly. She would never do that to her friend. The urges and instincts of a god-king were still present within her, but thanks to the influence of her very human soul, she had brought them under a measure of control. She met Sheppard’s gaze, and her warm, brown eyes seemed to freeze solid. “I have no interest in mating with a worm like yourself,” she said imperiously. “Cease your bleating and be gone. Already the stench of your lust has overpowered the scent of my meal.”
John’s eyes widened in surprise, and Dawn struggled to refrain from laughing. “Geeze!” John said, “You weren’t kidding about the odd. Fine, I can see where I’m not wanted.” He rose to his feet, and left the table.
“Don’t encourage the likes of him,” Illyria stated coldly while he was still within earshot.
“Who, me?” Dawn asked innocently.
Illyria met Dawn’s gaze, and her expression softened, and her eyes returned to the warm brown of the Burkle persona. “You lust for him,” she said.
Dawn went completely red at that.
“He may be genetically compatible, but I do not approve. He is a bad choice, and far too old for your current shell.”
“I do not lust for him!” Dawn said, and a little too loudly. People from surrounding tables stopped their conversations and stared for a moment.
Dawn wilted, and sank into her chair.
Illyria smiled ever so faintly. Anyone who didn’t know her well wouldn’t have caught it, but Dawn saw, and glared daggers at the Old One. She opened her mouth to say something awful, but was cut off as the city’s PA system activated.
“May I have your attention, please,” Doctor Weir said, her voice echoing through every room and corridor in Atlantis.
Everyone in the cafeteria looked up, and fell silent.
“This is Doctor Weir. I have an announcement to make. As you all know, the governments funding the Atlantis expedition no longer exist, and we have heard nothing from Earth’s Alpha Site, nor can we spare the Daedalus to make the trip to investigate, as doing so would leave us vulnerable to a Wraith attack. We are on our own. So the question arises: how will we live? How will we govern ourselves? Will we continue as we have for the last few months, or will we establish a new government? To that end, I am hereby calling a meeting of every person on Atlantis. It will be held two days from today, and we will there decide what is to be done, and by whom. That is all.”
Stunned silence filled the cafeteria for a long moment, and then everyone began talking at once.
The talk had certainly not died down on the dawn of the Tuesday on which the ‘town meeting’ had been scheduled to take place, nor had Weir’s uncertainty about the future of Atlantis decreased in any significant degree. Elizabeth Weir woke that morning to the sound of her alarm. She had only managed to get sleep for four hours; she’d spent much of the night tossing and turning, mulling over the possible outcomes of the morning; fearing the thought of not being in charge anymore once the people here had made their choice. But it would be a relief, wouldn’t it? Not being the one in charge? Not having the fate of the survivors of Earth in her hands? It would be a relief for that to be in someone else’s hands. But in whose hands? Teyla’s? Maybe. Sheppard’s? Also possible. But there wasn’t anyone else she’d trust to run whatever government the people decided on.
Nobody else understood what was really going on out here.
It was idiotic, really. The thought of turning over control of Atlantis to a potentially unqualified civilian. A politician, run Atlantis? Impossible. Abruptly, she laughed out loud. She *was* that politician, selected by the President to run Atlantis in the first place. It hadn’t turned out so badly for her. Why should it for the next person?
She took a long shower while she thought about the situation. Steam filled the room, and she thought, and the mirrors fogged up, and she thought. Then, at last, she emerged, dried off, got dressed, put on her makeup, and went out to meet the world.
She didn’t feel any better about the situation.
John was there in the corridor outside the great hall that they had chosen for this meeting: a great hall only discovered three days previously.
“Elizabeth,” he said politely.
“John,” she replied, inclining her head.
“You ready for this?” he asked.
She met his gaze. “No,” she said. It was barely a whisper, but he heard it, and his expression softened.
He started forward as if to embrace her, then stopped short, smiled awkwardly and said, “Everything’s going to be OK, Elizabeth.”
It was absolutely ridiculous. There were a million things that could go wrong. A million mistakes the citizens of Atlantis could make. Yet somehow, impossibly, she believed him. She smiled. “I know,” she replied.
Side by side they stepped through the doorway and into the great hall where the population of Atlantis waited, four thousand strong. Doctor Weir entered the room, the crowd fell silent. She and John walked to the front of the hall, and John stepped aside; she had to make the rest of this journey alone. She strode to the podium at the front of the hall with all the confidence she could muster, and all eyes followed her. Elizabeth stood there for a long moment, her eyes scanning the crowd. The original members of the Atlantis expedition were there, and the Athosians as well, but they were vastly outnumbered by the new arrivals from Earth. She took a deep breath.
At last, she spoke, and her voice rolled out across the room, confident and strong, carried even to the farthest corners by the amplification provided by the city’s PA system.
“My fellow humans,” she said, “Earth is gone.”
A deep sigh went up from the crowd, as if everyone had released the breath that they were holding simultaneously.
“And though we come from different places, with differing customs and traditions, it now falls to us to create a new, unified government; Earth is gone, and it now falls to us to choose what happens next. Will we flicker and die like a spark thrown from a bonfire, or will this be a new beginning for our civilizations? In accordance with the instructions left to me by General O'Neill, and by the President of the United States in the event of the loss of Earth, I am hereby calling for the creation of an Atlantean Congress, for the purpose of determining exactly what kind of government we will have, and the drafting of our new constitution, to be approved by at least a seventy five percent majority before being put into practice. The floor is now open for nominations.”
She swallowed heavily, and sat down in the chair that had been set up immediately to the left of the podium, her heart racing.
Silence. A minute passed, and then two, with not a single word – not even a whisper – from the crowd. People began glancing about nervously. The reality of the situation had come home for them, and it was terrifying. Another minute passed. Another, and still no one spoke.
Elizabeth barely suppressed the urge to giggle hysterically. What, she wondered, would happen if no one was nominated
? She forced herself not to react. Not to let the panic she felt show to anyone in the crowd.
John knew. Their eyes met, and he knew. He was willing her to be strong, willing her to be the leader she had to be in this situation. She endured.
Another minute passed in silence, and then another.
And then, at last, ten minutes after she had sat down beside the podium, a woman stood up in the crowd. Illyria. Elizabeth cringed internally. Of all the people who could have spoken, why her? Why now? Clad in her blue-jeans, yellow blouse and lab-coat, she didn’t look particularly threatening. Elizabeth knew better. Within that slight and frail looking frame lurked a power that could bind even the Goa’uld to its will.
She had no choice. She stood, went to the podium, and spoke. “The chair recognizes Winifred Burkle,” she said.
All eyes turned to Illyria, then, every breath held in anticipation of what she might say.
“I nominate Elizabeth Weir to the Congress,” Illyria said, her voice full of a pleasant Texan drawl.
Weir took a deep breath. “Is there a second?” she asked.
For about ten seconds, no one moved. Then, a man she didn’t know – one of the new arrivals from Earth – raised a hand. “Seconded,” he said.
Weir let out her breath. “We have our first nomination,” she announced.
Things went more smoothly after that. Some fifty representatives were chosen in total, with Radek Zelenka, Carson Beckett, Teyla, Kavanagh (Weir had mentally cringed at his nomination), and Rodney McKay all among the fifty.
As the nominations drew to a close, Weir met Illyria’s gaze. The Old One was smiling, but it wasn’t a pleasant smile: more like a smile of triumph. She couldn’t help but wonder what the Old One expected to get out of this. What she owed her.
It had begun, and there was no stopping it now.
END CHAPTER 1
Here we go. Not as long as I had planned it to be, but the first chapter is, at least, finished.