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Alliance of Champions

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Summary: This follows on from my story Champions All. That was a Charmed crossover. This brings Stargate SG1 into the mix. SG1 discover that there is more to witchcraft than broomsticks and pointy hats. Now Complete.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > General > General: SG-1
Charmed > General
OsorkonFR1847243,91362658,38030 Mar 0627 Oct 09Yes

Part I

Alliance of Champions


This story follows on from my story Champions All. That story was a Buffy Angel Charmed crossover. This story brings Stargate SG-1 into the mix.


For the status of Buffy, Angel and Charmed please see the earlier story. This story starts a few months after the end of the previous story.


For Stargate SG-1 this is set in a vague mid point in that series when we have SG-1 as Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c. General Hammond is still running things and Dr Janet Fraiser is alive. For the purposes of this story Colonel Maybourne is still a serving officer and a member of the NID.


Note: I'm following Stargate convention and ignoring any possible language differences.


Disclaimer: This is a fanfiction and not written for profit. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters are owned by their various authors and networks etc and not by me.


Chapter One: Magic


"Witches!" exclaimed General Hammond. "What do they mean witches?"


"From what we can gather they mean pretty well the same as us," said Daniel Jackson. "A woman or perhaps sometimes a man, who can do magic spells."


SG-1 were currently engaged in a debriefing session with General Hammond following their trip to Kallistien, a newly contacted planet. Kallistien was a human occupied planet but with a much smaller population than Earth. At first sight the Kallistien technological level seemed to be on a par with Earth of the mid nineteenth century. The recent visit of SG-1 however had shown that some of the apparent similarities were no more than skin deep.


"The Kallistians seem to be convinced that magic works," said Major Samantha Carter. "People who are believed to have magic talent..."


"Witches?" said General Hammond.


"Yes, witches," confirmed Sam Carter, "occupy an important position in their society."


"We didn't argue with them about it," said Colonel Jack O'Neill dryly. "It's probably an important part of their religion. If they call it magic and we call it science it doesn't really matter in the long run."


"I understood they were quite clear about the difference between magic and science," said Teal'c.


"So did I," said Daniel. "They were very interested in what Sam had to say to them about science and technology but they obviously didn't think she was a witch."


Sam glanced quickly at Jack O'Neill as if daring him to take the opportunity to make a sarcastic comment.


"Look, it's not my fault you're called Samantha," said Jack.


This puzzled Teal'c but he was used to cultural references which puzzled him. He resolved to ask Colonel O'Neill about it later.


Sam rolled her eyes up and turned back to General Hammond.


"They asked that we bring some of our witches with us next time," said Sam.


"Didn't you tell them we don't have witches on Earth?" asked General Hammond.


"Well we tried," said Jack. "Oh we tried. That's when things started to go wrong."


"They didn't believe us," said Sam. "It seems they've heard of the Tau'ri and what they've heard is that the Tau'ri have the strongest witches. Since we'd already introduced ourselves as Tau'ri we're automatically meant to have witches of our own. If we don't turn up with some of our witches on our next visit we might as well not turn up at all."


"Do you mean they've had other visitors through their Stargate?" asked General Hammond.


"They weren't too clear about that," said Daniel. "I don't think they've tried to use it themselves for a long time, maybe centuries. They seem to be suspicious of it."


"Do we need these people?" asked General Hammond. "From what you say they seem to be a long way behind us with their technology and trust seems to be an issue between us."


"I think they might be very useful," said Daniel. "From what they said they know about the Goa'uld. They seem to have freed themselves from the Goa'uld a long time ago."


"Do you know how they did it?" asked the General.


"Magic," replied Teal'c. "Or at least that is what they believe."


"Did you meet any of these witches?" asked the General thoughtfully. "Do you have any idea of the sort of things they can do or at least what the Kallistians think they can do?"


"We did ask," replied Jack. "But they were all away, probably dancing around a tree or something."


"They told us their witches were busy with a problem," explained Sam with a sigh and a disapproving glance at Jack. "But they wouldn't explain what it was. They want to talk to our witches about it."


"Do you have something in mind General?" asked Daniel.


"Yes," he replied. "Whilst we don't have witches as such we do know that some people are reputed to have special abilities such as ESP, precognition and so on. I'll make some inquiries. I know there have been a few special projects over the years. It may be we'll be able to come up with some special ability people who qualify under the Kallistien definition of witch."


"You mean people who can tell apples from oranges on cards in separate rooms, that sort of thing," said Jack sarcastically. "I'm sure that'll impress the Kallistians no end."


"Would these special ability people be the sort of people you would trust with the secret of the Stargate?" asked Teal'c. "If they are to visit Kallistien they will need to be trusted with this information."


"One step at a time," said General Hammond. "First let's see if we can come up with anybody. Then we'll see if we want to trust them."


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"This is ridiculous," said Jack, not for the first time. "These people are wasting our time." Just as I knew they would all along he thought.


SG-1 had now spent two days at a Denver hotel interviewing potential witches. All of the people had been rated as having some sort of paranormal power in the archives of various government financed projects although none of them described themselves as witches. Unfortunately the 'paranormal powers' allegedly possessed by these people seemed to be of the sort that disappeared on close examination.


Jack O'Neill and his team were becoming familiar with such comments as "Well it usually works," or "I can't work in these conditions with so much scepticism about." These latter remarks were usually directed to Jack himself.


Two of the men had appeared to have something of a mind-reading ability but this proved to be no more than a skill at reading the reactions of those around them in order to come up with the right answers.


"It was worth a try," said Sam, "but I agree with you, we've been wasting our time." She looked at her watch. "It's getting late. I think we should wrap up," she added.


Teal'c entered the room. "There is one more person waiting," he said. "She said she couldn't get here before now."


"I thought we'd reached the end of the list?" said Daniel.


"Yes," said Sam Carter, "but there were a few no-shows."


"Bring her in," said Jack. "Let's get this done and get out of here."


Teal'c returned a few moments later with a young woman. She was very attractive with long dark hair. At Jack's gesture she took a seat facing Jack, Sam and Daniel. Teal'c remained behind her standing.


"Can we have your name please?" asked Sam, ready to mark the name off the list and look up the alleged special ability in the records in front of her.


"Let's deal without a name for the moment Major Carter," said the woman even though she had not yet been introduced to the team.


"Let's not," said Jack. "Tell us who you are or leave."


"But if I did that you wouldn't have the witches to help you with the little metal monsters," said the woman smiling, electrifying all four members of SG-1 with her comment.


"Are you a witch?" asked Daniel.


"No," said the woman. "Not technically, but I have been known to do a little magic."


"What exactly do you mean by little metal monsters?" asked Sam.


"You know exactly what I mean," said the woman. "I have The Sight and I know you'll be facing them again very soon."


"How soon?" asked Jack.


"More than a week, less than a month," replied the woman. "I can't say more than that."


"You need to come with us," said Jack. "We need to know how you found out about all this. We need to know just who you are and what you know."


"I can't go with you right now," said the woman standing up. "But this will all become clear to you before very much longer."


Jack made eye contact with Teal'c who was still standing behind the woman. Teal'c nodded to confirm that he would not allow the woman to leave the room.


"We don't mean you any harm," said Daniel. "We just..." Daniel broke off from what he was saying to stare open mouthed at the woman as she wandered towards the open window.


"What?" asked Sam turning to Daniel.


Suddenly the woman ran towards the window and leapt through. Since it was a third floor window the result should have been fatal. The members of SG-1 rushed over to the window expecting to see a broken body on the ground below. However nothing was there.


"What the hell just happened?" asked Jack.


"I do not think that woman was human," said Teal'c.


"Amen to that," said Daniel.


"What did you see Daniel?" asked Sam.


"It's what I didn't see," said Daniel who had started examining both sides of what looked to be an ordinary dressing table mirror. "She walked right past this mirror but she had no reflection."


"That's impossible," declared Jack. "It is impossible right?" he added to Sam hoping that as usual she had a theory to explain everything.


"Maybe she wasn't really here," suggested Sam. "Maybe she was some sort of a projection? That would explain the disappearance as well."


"Or maybe she's a vampire," suggested Teal'c drawing on his extensive knowledge of vampire films.


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The Gate Room of the SGC was quiet, just another day. The guard detail remained on alert but not especially so. SG-12 was expected back from its most recent mission and the Iris was opened in response to their signal. The familiar surge of an incoming wormhole washed out into the room and back. Now the new arrivals came through but it wasn't SG-12 that stepped through the gate.


Suddenly Replicators were running down the ramp. The Iris closed but it jammed on a number of Replicators still coming through. These Replicators and others already in the Gate Room began to work at destroying the Iris. By now the guard detail were on full alert with weapons firing at the Replicators as the alarm klaxon sounded. The backup guard detail ran into the Gate Room to join the fight.


Gunfire from the guards continued to destroy Replicators but the Iris was now damaged and other Replicators were able to squeeze through. The gunfire was mainly concentrated on the hole in the Iris but the Replicators continued to enlarge the hole at the same time as more and more of them squeezed through. By now Replicators were being reconstituted from the accumulated debris on the ramp in front of the Stargate.


More armed people rushed into the Gate Room and joined in the fight to destroy the Replicators but the humans continued to lose ground. Replicators were now on the walls and ceiling of the Gate Room as well as on the ramp coming from the Stargate.


The Iris was now nearly totally destroyed and Replicators flooded out of the Stargate. The first human casualties occurred as Replicators dropped from the ceiling onto the defenders.


"We've got to get out of here!" yelled a man as he saw his colleagues start to go down under the attack.


"No!" commanded another. "The door stays shut. We've got to gain time for the self-destruct to work."


The Replicators continued to swarm into the room, some of them working to open holes in the walls and door and gain access to the rest of the command centre. Others gradually submerged the last of the defenders. As a mass of Replicators surged out through the damaged doors the whole scene became bathed in bright light.


Phoebe Halliwell shuddered as she came to herself. That was awful. It was the worst vision she'd had since she'd seen the meteor impact. She needed to get home and speak to her sisters.


"Are you all right?" asked her boss who was stood in front of Phoebe's desk. "You've suddenly come over very pale."


"Um, no," said Phoebe. "I think it's something I ate," she added rubbing her stomach. Would you mind if I went home now? I really don't feel like continuing at the moment. I've done the column. Can we continue this discussion next week?"


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Jack O'Neill and Sam Carter had been called in to meet General Hammond with the rest of SG-1. "Any idea what this is about," asked Sam as they walked together towards the meeting room. "It's rather late for a meeting," she said looking at her watch.


"No idea," said Jack. "I hope we don't have to interview any more so-called witches, or rather any more idiots like the last lot." Over the past few days SG-1 had interviewed two more groups of reputedly special ability people but had come up with nobody with any demonstrable special ability. All this had served to confirm Jack in his view that there were no such people and everybody was wasting their time.


As Jack and Sam entered the room they saw another familiar face was present.


"Well, well, Harry Maybourne," said Jack. "There's never a bad day that can't get any worse."


"Don't be like that Jack," said Colonel Maybourne who had stood up when the other two officers had entered the room. He knew better than to offer a handshake. "We're all on the same side after all," he added sitting down again as Jack and Sam took their seats.


"Whatever side you're on count me as part of the opposition," said Jack folding his arms. Sam sat down beside him. Already present besides Colonel Maybourne were General Hammond, Daniel and Teal'c.


"Colonel Maybourne says he can help us with our search for special ability people," said General Hammond.


"Let's not be mealy mouthed about it," said Maybourne. "The word's out you want witches. We can help with that."


"Let me get this straight," said Daniel. "The NID has a witches department?"


"And this comes as a surprise to you?" said Jack to Daniel. "Do they come with their own pointy hats and broomsticks?" he added to Maybourne at the same time wondering exactly what Maybourne was up to this time.


"Now, now," said Maybourne. "You know as well as I do there are people out there who think of themselves as witches. We don't have any of them actually working for us of course but we do have records of a few and they may be what you're looking for."


"We're not simply looking for people who think they're witches," said General Hammond. "We have a need for a few people with special abilities who may be thought of as witches by some people we're dealing with."


"Yeah, I worked that out for myself," said Maybourne smiling. "You've got some natives you want to shaft."


"That's not what we do!" said Sam indignantly.


"It certainly isn't," said General Hammond equally indignant. "Colonel if you've come here to hand out insults you can leave now."


"I'm sorry sir," said Maybourne. "That was uncalled for of course. But I think we might be able to help you. The NID has access to some classified files from a number of old projects as well as a wide variety of information sources. We have a group of witches on the way here and we believe that they don't just think of themselves as witches but they have special abilities as well."


"What sort of special abilities?" asked Daniel.


"That I don't know," said Maybourne. "The information we've got is incomplete. It comes from various sources and none of them spell out what these people can do. No pun intended."


"How about we give them an audition," said Jack to General Hammond. "Anybody who can turn Maybourne into a toad gets the job."


"Why are you helping us?" Sam asked Maybourne. "Why do you think we'll trust anybody you produce?" Just what sort of characters do the NID have on their books she wondered? I wish we could tell him to take a hike but we've come up with nobody ourselves yet.


"They're not NID people," said Maybourne. "If any of them turn out to be what you want you can check them out yourself. As for why we're helping well, that's just it. We want to help. We want to be part of the Stargate programme."


"You want access to the Stargate," said General Hammond under no illusions about the NID. They would like nothing more than to control the Stargate. One way to do that might be to discredit the current Stargate Command in some way. He could think of a few ways that could be done by supplying unsuitable people to work with the SGC. He wished he had the option of telling the NID to get lost.


"You need us," said Maybourne who then held up his right hand. "But no pressure, that's up to you. When it comes down to it we all work for the same boss. We've been told to help and we're helping." If we can supply something they can't get hold of themselves they might have to admit they need us he thought. I wonder if these witches can really do anything? At least they'll probably drive Jack mad.


After Colonel Maybourne left, SG-1 remained in the room to talk to General Hammond.


"You don't trust him?" said Jack to the General. "This is Harry Maybourne. On the day he was born he was up to something."


"Maybe so," said the General. "But let's see who he comes up with first. We'll make a decision about whether they're suitable when we've seen them and checked them out. It'll certainly look better if we say somebody's unsuitable after we've seen them rather than rejecting them just because they come from the NID."


"Do we really need the Kallistians that badly Sir?" said Sam to General Hammond. "Even if we find out how they got rid of the Goa'uld it may not be anything we can use. It was probably no more than some sort of uprising that took the local Goa'uld by surprise."


"There is also what the vampire woman said," commented Teal'c. "She said we will need help from witches to deal with the Replicators."


"She's not a vampire for crying out loud," said Jack rolling his eyes up. "How many more times?" SG-1 had already had long discussions about their mystery woman. Teal'c was convinced she was a vampire, Jack was equally adamant that she wasn't because he was convinced that there was no such thing as a vampire. Sam had sided with Jack but Daniel professed to have an open mind on the subject, much to the frustration of Jack who blamed Daniel for Teal'c's refusal to be persuaded that vampires were entirely fictional.


"Whoever she is she knows about the Replicators," said Daniel. "We've got to take what she said seriously."


"It wouldn't surprise me to find out she's another part of Maybourne's scam," said Jack. "I bet he knows about the Replicators. The jump out of the window must have been set up in some way to make her seem mysterious."


"What about the mirror?" asked Daniel.


"It's probably some sort of projection like Carter said," replied Jack. "Or maybe a trick mirror. I don't know, but I do know there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything we saw."


Daniel pulled out his wallet and gave a ten dollar bill to Teal'c.


"What?" asked Jack. Nobody answered but Sam smiled.


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Chapter Two: Kidnapped


Dawn Summers was mad, spitting mad. As she walked home from the Bronze she was oblivious to her surroundings, as she fumed over what had just happened. For the first time she had an idea of how Buffy had felt when she had been dumped by Angel or Riley or... In fact come to think of it Buffy had been dumped a good few times. Well if Michael thinks he'll be happy with Lizzy he's in for a big disappointment she thought. Serve him right too.


It was probably because so much time had passed without any trace of vampire or demonic activity in Sunnydale that Dawn was so careless of her personal safety after dark. The result was nearly fatal because it was only at the last moment that she became aware of the figure quickly coming up behind her.


As Dawn turned, the vampire changed into vamp face. Although this would have scared most people witless, for an experienced potential slayer like Dawn it had the opposite effect. The instant Dawn saw that she was up against a vampire her mind cleared of all distractions and she knew what to do.


Expecting an easy kill the vampire was taken by surprise by the throw that Dawn executed on him. He was even more surprised to find that his intended victim was not running away screaming when he quickly bounced back to his feet.


The vampire had no chance to stop and think as Dawn immediately followed up with a head kick. She then threw a small bottle of holy water onto the vampire which broke and caused him to scream and stagger back with his chest steaming.


"I thought even idiot vampires like you knew better than to try to feed in the slayer's town," said Dawn who now stood holding a wooden stake in her right hand and a large crucifix in her left.


The vampire, who had been about to rush forward, stopped, suddenly thoughtful. He had heard about the vampire slayer and thought it to be no more than a bad joke. Now he wasn't so sure. As he hesitated Tara, with Willow in her arms arrived silently by orb behind him having been alerted by Dawn's pocket alarm.


"Freeze!" commanded Willow and the vampire and Dawn both froze. Willow immediately went over to Dawn and released her.


"Well there you are," said Dawn. "One vampire all ready for processing."


"Now you can put your plan into action," said Tara to Willow.


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"All done," said Kennedy as she walked into the main living room at Slayer HQ Sunnydale, formerly known as Castle Buffy. "I even swept up the dust afterwards."


"Good," replied Willow. "Hopefully we're back to a vampire free Sunnydale."


"Why didn't you want me in on the interrogation of the vamp?" asked Kennedy. "I know a few ways to make one of them talk."


"No need," replied Willow. "Anyway I didn't want you to get to know him, know him as a person. It's easier to stake an anonymous vampire. It becomes more difficult once you start to know the person he used to be."


"You don't know me very well do you," said Kennedy. "Wouldn't have made a difference to me. I've never had any trouble staking vamps."


"Maybe not," said Willow. "But I don't want to take any chances. I've seen it happen. Once you get to know somebody, however evil they've been or still are you start making excuses to yourself about why you shouldn't stake them yet."


"Oh," said Dawn. "You're talking about..."


"Moving swiftly along," said Willow. "We need to give all this information about vampire activity in LA to Cordy and Angel."


"I've got to pop over and see Cordy," said Tara. "I'll take it with me."


The vampire had been questioned under the influence of magic. Willow and Tara's project was to capture vampires whenever possible and before destroying them question them about where they came from and how they became vampires.


The vampire who turned a human being into another vampire was called the sire. The intention was to track back each vampire like a disease infection with a view to eliminating any other vampires connected to him including the sire.


The vampire just destroyed had been turned into a vampire in LA about six months before. The information would be turned over to Cordelia and Angel who would try to track down all of the contacts in their area and add the information they obtained to the accumulating vampire database as well as destroy any other vampires they found.


"Did you have to dust him?" asked Dawn. "Couldn't you give him a soul like you did for Angel, Darla and Drusilla?"


"Not really," explained Willow. "There's only a limited supply of Orbs of Thesulah so I need to keep the ones I have for special occasions."


"It has to be special occasions only Dawn," advised Tara. "Vampires with souls can still feed and some of them would. We've been lucky so far with the souled vampires but it would be very risky to overdo it."


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"They're not all like Giles and Wesley are they?" said Faith to Buffy as the two slayers walked through LA International Airport. They had arrived from England shortly before and had a few hours to kill before their connection to Sunnydale.


"I couldn't understand half of what that guy Stevens was saying most of the time," replied Buffy. "Where did he come from?"


"Somewhere 'Oop North' I think," said Faith. "I think they all talk like that where he comes from. I don't think even Giles understood him when he really got excited."


"Giles would have been happier if he'd been talking in ancient Greek or Sumerian or something like that," said Buffy. "Hello."


The last comment was given to a young man who had walked towards them and stopped in front of them. He was a little over six foot tall and immaculately dressed in an expensive business suit. He was carrying a clipboard which he glanced at before directing his attention to Buffy.


"Miss Summers, Miss Buffy Summers?" asked the man.


"That would be me," said Buffy.


"If you'll come with me please," said the man who turned away and strode off the way he had come.


Buffy made to follow him but was pulled up short when Faith grabbed her arm. "What are you doing?" hissed Faith.


"He said..." began Buffy.


"I know what he said," replied Faith. "But who is he? If he wants to talk to us he can explain himself. Didn't your mother tell you not to go off with strange men?" Faith stopped and smiled as she looked at Buffy and remembered Buffy's previous relationships. She rolled her eyes. "Stupid question."


"Shut up," said Buffy who then immediately added in a much quieter voice with barely a movement of her lips, "We're being watched."


By now the man had realised that nobody was following him. He turned back towards Buffy and Faith as the two slayers tried not to be obvious about trying to spot whoever was watching them.


"Didn't you hear..." began the man in a very officious tone. Faith however gave him no chance to continue.


"And just who the hell are you?" she demanded in a loud voice. "Just what are you up to? What do you want?"


The man now looked embarrassed. "I, I'm Eric Saward. I work for Homeland Security. We need..."


"I suppose you have ID?" continued Faith aggressively.


The man fumbled his ID out of his pocket and showed it to the two women in front of him. They both made a show of examining it carefully whilst continuing to look around them but it might just as well have been a membership card for the Mickey Mouse Club for all it meant to them. They knew about Homeland Security of course but had no idea if the ID was genuine.


"We're meeting somebody," said Buffy. "We don't have the time. Give me a card and I'll be in touch."


"This is a matter of National Security," said Saward. "I must insist."


"You go," said Faith to Buffy whilst pulling out her cellphone. "I'll wait for you here. I've got a few calls to make anyway."


Buffy realised that Faith was up to something and decided to go along so she nodded and turned back to the Security agent.


"OK," she said. "Lead on, but this better not take long."


As Buffy walked away, following the agent, Faith completed her quick telephone conversation, put the cellphone away and followed along behind. All the time she had been on the phone Faith had scanned the area. She had successfully identified two watchers, two more suited men, both of whom had followed after Buffy and the agent.


Faith was pretty sure that there were no other watchers looking at her. For some reason everybody seemed interested in Buffy, nobody seemed to be interested in her. Nothing new there thought Faith sourly. Faith concluded that somebody or somebodies had a file on Buffy and maybe knew she was the Slayer. They didn't seem to have a file on Faith so they had ignored her.


As Faith followed along behind the watchers she saw them joined by two other men coming from the other direction. Buffy and the agent had now gone through a door into a private part of the building. As soon as they did so the followers quickly closed in.


There was a uniformed security guard on the door through which Buffy and the agent had passed. The two leading followers now showed that they were not on the same team as the Homeland Security agent as they quickly and efficiently knocked out the guard and carried his body through the door. The other two followers now took post to guard the door and prevent anybody unwelcome from following their colleagues.


Inside the door Buffy had followed agent Saward along a corridor and into an interview room. As she entered the room a buzzer sounded from her pocket.


"What's that?" asked Saward.


"Just my cellphone," replied Buffy who knew it was nothing of the sort. It was a head's up alarm from Faith. "Just a moment," she added and went to stand behind the door.


"What are you..." began Saward who was interrupted in what he was saying by two men coming into the room with guns in their hands.


Buffy moved quickly. She came up behind the second man and took him out with a punch. He fell to the floor unconscious. The first man turned only to be tackled by Saward from behind. Saward grabbed the gun hand and pointed it up towards the ceiling. Before this struggle could go any further Buffy stepped in and knocked out the other stranger.


Faith entered the room in a rush, cellphone in hand. "You got them, good, let's go," she said. "I got the other two but there may be more on the way. Our uh transport will be here in a minute."


"You can't leave," said Saward. "It isn't safe."


That's why we're leaving," said Buffy. As she said this she grabbed Saward and pushed him out the door. "If you're really Homeland Security you'll know where to find me," she added as she shut the door.


A very puzzled agent Saward now found himself standing alone in the corridor outside the interview room. After a few minutes he began to wonder what was going on. They said they were leaving but they're staying in that room he thought. What are they doing? Saward waited a few more minutes, tentatively tried the door and cautiously opened it. He looked inside and then walked into the room. The two strangers were still lying unconscious on the floor but the two women had disappeared.


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Dawn looked up from her book as an orb appeared in the main living room of Slayer HQ Sunnydale. It was Tara and she was alone. "I thought you were going to pick up Buffy and Faith," asked Dawn.


"I was," replied Tara. "But they weren't there. I need to speak to Willow and Kennedy."


Tara went to fetch Willow and Kennedy and when they were all gathered in the room with Dawn she explained what had happened at the Airport. Faith had explained to Tara by cellphone that she and Buffy needed an emergency pick up. However when Tara arrived at the designated point there was no trace of either slayer, just two men lying on the floor of the room.


"I know they were in that room," said Tara. "Because I keyed into the amulets they wear like I usually do. But when I orbed in they were gone, and they weren't nearby. They went somewhere suddenly but I don't know where. I can't locate them now."


"Maybe somebody else orbed them away?" suggested Dawn. "Another Whitelighter?"


"I thought of that," said Tara. "I checked and nobody else was in the area. Anyway I think I'd have known if there were any other Whitelighters nearby and I should still be able to locate them."


"I remember something about Darklighters," said Willow sounding worried. "Could they be involved?"


Tara shrugged. "I simply don't know, I hope not. Whatever happened it happened very quickly. I know they were there just before I arrived."


"What about those men on the floor?" asked Kennedy.


Tara looked a little guilty. "They were just unconscious so I left them that way. I uh, went through their pockets," she said and brought out two wallets and two sets of plastic cards. Kennedy immediately started to go through the wallets and cards.


"There were guns lying on the floor but I left them alone," said Tara.


"NID agents," said Kennedy. "That's a branch of National Security if I remember right."


"If the ID's are genuine," said Dawn.


"I'll start researching," said Willow taking the documents and cards from Kennedy.


"Me too," said Dawn.


At that moment Xander let himself in through the front door. He was accompanied by Anya and Amy.


"OK guys," said Xander. "We've got problems."


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"Has anybody seen Phoebe?" asked Piper as she approached the table where her sisters Prue and Paige were sitting. It was evening in P4, Piper's recently renamed club. Piper had in fact soon regretted the renaming in view of the long line of jokers asking if they had seen her P4 and similar remarks and was planning to change it again.


Both Prue and Paige shook their heads. "Were you expecting her?" asked Prue. "She's probably at home."


"On a Friday night!" scoffed Paige. "This is Phoebe we're talking about. She's probably got a date."


"I suppose," said Piper. "It's just that I wanted to talk to her about Leo's party next week."


"Don't worry," said Prue. "I'll make sure she doesn't forget to get him a present this time."


"Shhhh," said Paige nodding towards the approaching Leo. "Talk of the devil, or the angel, or whatever."


Leo kissed his wife on the cheek in greeting. As he did so he whispered loudly enough for all three sisters to hear. "Those two at the bar, at the end."


"The big guy in black and the blonde on his arm?" asked Prue. "What about them?"


"Vampires," said Leo. "They're probably here looking for their next meal."


"Not in my club they're not!" said Piper starting forward.


"Wait a minute," said Paige leaping up and grabbing Piper's arm to stop her going over to the vampires. "That blonde, don't you recognise her? That's Darla."


"You're right," said Leo. "I didn't look at her face."


Piper gave Leo a disapproving raised eyebrow look.


"I mean I was looking at her general demeanour," said Leo. "Um, that's to say..."


"We get the message Leo," said Paige. "Quit while you're ahead."


"Isn't she one of the good guys now?" asked Piper.


"Unless things have changed again," said Prue standing up. "Let's go talk to her."


It turned out that Darla had come to speak to the Charmed Ones and had met the other vampire Lucien outside, on his way into the club.


"Lucien here's a new vampire," said Darla. "He thought he'd be able to find somebody tasty to eat in a place like this."


Lucien looked at the faces of the women around him, all of whom seemed to know what a vampire was but none of whom seemed to be frightened of him. Suddenly he realised that he was in big trouble and made a dash for the rear exit.


Darla followed closely behind and pulled a stake out of her purse as she followed the other vampire into the alley outside. For a moment it looked as if the vampire would escape but he suddenly dissolved into dust as Darla's thrown stake hit him from behind.


Darla walked back to the rear exit from where the sisters and Leo had observed the staking. "Thanks for that," said Darla. "I've been trying to get him to go outside with me for the past ten minutes."


"So why did you want to see us?" asked Prue.


"Is there somewhere private we can talk?" replied Darla.


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Piper had handed over to her duty manager and then joined her sisters, Leo and Darla in the back room of P4. Darla explained that she was passing on a message from Drusilla who had learned about an inter-world portal operated by the US military called the Stargate.


"And how did she learn this?" asked Piper.


"She's got second sight," replied Darla. "She's always had it, even before she became a vampire. It's a little clearer now she's not insane anymore but it usually only gives her a little bit of the picture."


"Tell us about it," said Paige. "It usually works that way for Phoebe as well. It's as if the guys in charge up there don't want to make it too easy for us."


"Let's hear what Darla has to say," said Prue. "Hopefully she'll get around to telling us how we're involved." Hopefully she really is still one of the good guys thought Prue. But I'm not going to trust her any more than I have to. Killing that other vampire was a mighty convenient way of stopping us being suspicious.


Darla explained how Drusilla had foreseen the Charmed Sisters fighting small metal creatures coming out of the Stargate portal, creatures that could destroy the world if unchecked.


"Even if broken up they put themselves together again," said Darla. "Dru says you have to turn them to dust otherwise you're just wasting your time. She says you guys will hear more about all this tomorrow when Phoebe contacts you, so be ready to move at a moment's notice," explained Darla.


"Phoebe!" asked Piper. "Where is Phoebe and is she alright?"


"Yes, she's alright," said Darla. "At least she'll be with you when you fight these things."


None of the sisters thought it a good ideal to just wait for Phoebe to call so they returned to the Halliwell Manor with Darla while Leo orbed away to try to find Phoebe. Shortly after the arrival of the women at the Manor Leo returned.


"So where is she Leo?" asked Paige.


"She's on a plane headed east," said Leo. "A military plane. She's asleep but she's OK. I couldn't pick her up without revealing myself and things didn't look desperate enough for me to risk that."


The sisters and Leo discussed what to do and decided not to attempt to retrieve Phoebe straightaway because from what Darla said Phoebe would be with them soon anyway and whatever Phoebe was doing might be necessary in order to find out more about what was going to happen.


"But I don't think we should just sit here doing nothing," said Prue. "We should be able to use our magic to find out exactly where that Stargate portal is."


By using a series of scrying spells and using as many maps as they could find the sisters were able to narrow down likely portal sites to only four. The strongest reading was one in Colorado, which was in fact exactly in the direction that Phoebe seemed to be going.


"Colorado Springs," said Leo looking at the map. "That's where the big military base at Cheyenne Mountain is. I bet that's where they've got this portal. They'll have maximum security on something like that. They'll have it way down in the lower levels."


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Chapter Three: Hurly Burly


"So why should I trust you?" asked Wesley. "Why should I trust anybody who has worked forWolfram and Hart?"


"What have you got to lose?" asked Eve. "I'm just asking for protection, for a chance to change sides. I don't expect you to tell me all your deep dark secrets." She smiled. "Not yet anyway."


"So this isn't yet another plot by Wolfram and Hart?" replied Wesley. "Why am I having trouble believing you?" As he spoke Wesley folded his arms and leant back in his chair. He hadn't met Eve previously but he had spoken to Cordelia and Connor since Eve had asked him to meet her and he knew all about Eve working for Wolfram and Hart with Lilah Morgan.


"Don't you help people in trouble?" asked Eve. "Well I'm in trouble and it's all your fault, or at least the fault of your friends."


"How do you work that out?" asked Wesley, genuinely puzzled.


Eve ran her hand along the chain that she was wearing around her neck and held out the amulet that was attached to it, showing it to Wesley. "Remember this?" she asked. "I presume you were briefed all about it, all about Faith forcing it on me."


"I'm wearing one just like it," said Wesley pulling out his own Willow empowered amulet. "Or at least one that looks just like it," he added glancing from one to the other and back again.


Eve sighed and put the chain and amulet back inside her blouse. "It's the same," she said. "You can get one of your witch friends to check it out later. It's because of the amulet that I've been able to break with Wolfram and Hart. That's why I'm in trouble. If I didn't have this amulet I'd still be happily under their control. As it is I've got back my free will."


"That doesn't explain why you want to change sides," said Wesley. "Why don't you go back to your previous life? I presume you had one," he added sarcastically.


"You don't get it do you?" said Eve. "You can't really be that innocent?"


"Exactly what do you mean by that?" demanded Wesley. As he spoke his suspicions about Eve remained on high alert. Did she ask for me because she thinks I'm a soft touch he wondered.


"If you really think somebody would be allowed to just walk away from Wolfram and Hart, think again," replied Eve. "The only way I have any chance away from them is with you people. Send me away and you're sending me to my death, or worse. Believe me, I've seen it happen."


"Well you made the decision to work for them in the first place," said Wesley still suspicious.
"I don't think I did," said Eve. "I don't think I had any choice in the matter. Anyway there's another reason why you should help me."


"And that is?" said Wesley.


"I think I'm a slayer," said Eve.


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The attack came without warning. One minute everything was quiet, the next a group of five black clad and masked gunmen stormed into the foyer of the Hotel. It was the middle of the morning and only Fred was on duty. Angel was sleeping in his room upstairs and the only other members of Angel Investigations on the premises were Wesley and Gunn. They were also upstairs in a room talking to Eve.


Fred immediately darted into the office and locked the door behind her. As she did so she sounded the alarm. She now picked up the phone to speak to Angel. Meanwhile she heard battering on the door of the office.


Things were already going wrong for the team of attackers. One of them had fired at Fred as soon as he entered the hotel to stop her from raising the alarm only to find that his gun didn't work. He assumed that there was some sort of mechanical fault. He and his comrades didn't yet know that the hotel had been made subject to a magic protection spell which prevented guns from working and explosives from going off.


The door to the office did not look particularly robust but it too had magical protection. Without a mage to help them the team would not be able to break down the door. They didn't yet know they were wasting their time in trying.


After an examination of the security monitors and a quick exchange of information between Fred, Angel, Wesley and Gunn on the phone Angel and Gunn headed downstairs to deal with the intruders. Wesley remained with Eve who it was thought might be the target of what was probably a Wolfram and Hart attack.


With their weapons useless the team of intruders were swiftly handled by Angel and Gunn despite their high level martial arts training. By the time they realised that all of their weapons were useless two of them were already down to the attacks of Angel and Gunn.


The remaining attackers were soon knocked unconscious. All five were disarmed and tied up ready to be turned over to the police later. Although none of the attackers, after they woke up would say anything it was assumed that they worked for Wolfram and Hart.


"That was ridiculous," said Wesley after everybody gathered to compare notes afterwards. "Did Wolfram and Hart really think an attack like that would succeed? No magic users, no demons, just a group of soldier boys. I almost feel insulted." What's Lilah up to now he thought? She knows better than this.


"Maybe it was some underling who doesn't know us very well," suggested Fred, "or maybe it's meant to lull us into a false of security before the real attack."


"Perhaps it's nothing to do with Wolfram and Hart," said Gunn. "They're not the only players in town."


"Or maybe it's a trick to make us think they want Eve back when all they're really doing is trying to make us trust her," said Angel thoughtfully. "It's an old trick. Try very hard, but not too hard to get somebody back when really you want them to stay right where they are."


"You're right," said Eve. "That's exactly what that was, a trick to try to get you to trust me. I worked it out with Lilah. The plan was for me to defect to you, and for Wolfram and Hart to try to get me back but fail. This puts me in deeper with you guys on the grounds that you have to keep me around to protect me."


"So why are you telling us this?" asked Gunn. "Why shouldn't we throw you out right now?"


"Because I really am defecting to you," said Eve. "I'm double crossing Lilah and Wolfram and Hart. I only pretended to go along with them. It's how I've stayed alive since I got the amulet. If I'd simply walked out I'd be dead by now, if I was very lucky. As it was I think I made them suspicious by going AWOL for a few days after I got the amulet. That's why I've waited all this time before coming to you."


"Why didn't you tell us all this before the attack?" asked Angel suspiciously.


"Because she wanted to see our defences," suggested Wesley. "See how we coped." Well that failed he thought. Wesley had stayed in the room with Eve who had seen nothing of how the attackers had been disabled.


"If you couldn't cope with an attack like that you're not the people to help me," said Eve.


"How come you've still got Willow's amulet then?" asked Fred. "I don't see Wolfram and Hart being happy for you to keep working for them while you have that."


"If they knew about it they wouldn't," said Eve. "But Lilah wants to keep hers so she hasn't told anybody else about them."


"And why exactly does Lilah want you on the inside with us?" asked Angel who quite clearly did not trust Eve at all.


"Oh come on," said Eve. "Take your pick. She wants to know what you know. She wants to be able to stop you doing anything she doesn't like. She wants to feed you false information. If she's got something more specific in mind she didn't tell me. Need to know and all that. At this stage she just wants somebody near to you she can take advantage sometime in the future."


Later after Eve had been secured in an upstairs room, with suitable safeguards the gang discussed what to do.


"How do we know she's telling us the truth?" asked Fred. "I really don't trust her."


"If Cordy were here she could do a truth spell," said Gunn. "When does she get back?" Cordelia was away visiting her mother and grandmother.


"She said she'd only be gone a few days," said Fred. "She should be back early next week."


"Anyway there are ways around truth spells," said Wesley, "if you know somebody's going to do one on you. All a truth spell can do is confirm you believe what you say at the time. I'm sure Wolfram and Hart would have made preparations to get round any truth spell we use. She could be primed to temporarily forget certain things."


Nobody suggested asking Lorne to read Eve. They knew that Wolfram and Hart knew all about Lorne. The example of Angelus had shown that there were ways around Lorne's talent and it would be foolish to assume that Wolfram and Hart didn't know what they were.


"Have you checked out what she said about being a slayer Wes?" asked Angel.


"Well she's definitely not a slayer," replied Wesley. "But I think she was probably a potential when she was younger. The trouble is a lot of records were destroyed when the old Council was blown up. I think Wolfram and Hart may have found a way to activate her and that's why she was able to go toe to toe with Faith."


"Whatever happens I want Eve out of here," said Angel. "I'd like to send her somewhere she'll be safe but where she can't betray us if that's what she wants to do."


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


"And what's to stop us calling the police as soon as we get the chance?" asked Phoebe. "Kidnapping's a federal offence I think."


"We will of course pay compensation," said Major Grant. "This is all a big misunderstanding."


"Misunderstanding!" exclaimed another young woman. "We've been drugged and abducted. Where's the misunderstanding? We don't have to put up with this."


Phoebe had taken a cab home from work. Her next memory had been waking up on a plane on the way to who knows where. She assumed that she had been drugged. Several other women on the plane had had a similar experience.


The person delegated the task of placating the women was Major Susan Grant who was attached to the NID. At the moment she was silently cursing the idiots who had kidnapped the women rather than trying to recruit them legally.


Major Grant knew why it had happened. Somebody had decided that failure was very much not good for their career in the NID and he was probably right. He had been ordered to produce witches and had taken a decision not to risk being rejected. Maybe he'd already been rejected by some of the witches on his list. He had done his job and it was now somebody else's problem.


"Why us?" asked Phoebe.


"And how much compensation?" asked one of the other women.


Major Grant explained that the government had an important project which required input from those with special skills and abilities. The women were amongst those who they believed might have such abilities as it was believed that they all practiced as witches.


"The government's recruiting witches!" said another woman. "I don't believe it."


"I think the term witches is what's caused the confusion here." said Major Grant. "For some reason the people instructed to contact you thought you were some sort of a threat. That's very wrong. We simply need your help. If you're not able to help us, or you don't want to help your country we'll supply transport to take you home."


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General Hammond had at first decided to hold the meeting with the NID and their alleged witches at a hotel, in fact the same hotel where SG-1 had recently been carrying out their interviews. He was persuaded to change his mind by Jack O'Neill.


Jack was still convinced that the mystery woman who had jumped out of the hotel window, Teal'c's vampire, was part of an NID scam. "I bet they've got something set up to make these so called witches look good," he said. "They'll pull some sort of Flim-Flam. We'll think we're getting somebody special and it'll be completely bogus."


"The Colonel's right sir," Sam added. "We can control events in the SGC. Out there we might have all sorts of magician's tricks thrown at us by Colonel Maybourne and his people."


"If there's no such thing as witches, real witches, a good magician might be the next best thing." suggested Daniel.


"No," said General Hammond. "We're not going down that line. If we can't come up with the real thing then that's the way it'll have to be. These things have a way of coming back to bite you. We're not in this to scam anybody whatever Colonel Maybourne might think."


As they left the room Teal'c had tapped Daniel on the shoulder to ask about the difference between magicians and witches.


Now the time for the meeting had arrived and SG-1 were waiting in the meeting room with General Hammond for the NID party to arrive. Sergeant Mackay entered the room to announce their arrival.


Colonel Maybourne introduced Major Grant and the three young women who formed the rest of his party. He simply gave their first names: Mary, Elise and Phoebe. "I'll give you their full details if you decide to take them on," he added.


"That's if we decide we want to work with you," said Phoebe, one of the three women. "Coming here wasn't our idea. None of us are looking for a job."


The three women had been the only ones aboard the NID plane who had not insisted on being taken home immediately. Some of them denied being witches or any knowledge of witchcraft. The three left had agreed to come to the meeting but they had all been very sceptical about what they had been told and had remained so until they arrived at the Cheyenne Mountain Base when they had realised that there really was official backing for what was happening.


Arrival at a military base made Phoebe start wondering whether there was some connection to her vision of the little metal monsters and their battle with military personnel so she continued to play along and persuaded the other two witches to do the same.


"When shall we three meet again..." muttered Daniel who looked up to find everybody looking at him. Most of them got the reference. "Sorry, I was just thinking out loud. Three witches, is there something about the number three with you people?"


"Perhaps you'd better tell us what the hurly burly's all about," said Phoebe. "Us people are regular people, just like everybody else. If there's a good reason to help that's what we'll do but we need to know what this is all about first."


"First we need to know if you have the skills we need," said General Hammond. "We're dealing with some people who are comfortable dealing with what they call witches. I understand that you all, uh practice as witches. Exactly what is it you do?"


"We mostly sit around stirring big black cauldrons chanting bad poetry so we can turn princes into frogs," said Mary sarcastically.


"What is the point..." began Jack.


"Show them what you can do," said Major Grant. "What you showed me on the plane."


Elise did a short musical chant. The lights in the room gradually dimmed and went out. Mary clapped her hands and they came back on again. "That what you had in mind?" she asked.


"How do they do that?" Jack asked Sam.


"I don't know," said Sam. "Maybe one of them has some sort of interrupter that..."


"OK," said Phoebe standing up. "We can play this game all day. Us doing some little thing and you trying to come up with some sort of scientific explanation. Things are too serious for that so we'll cut to the chase. What I'm going to show you is to remain a secret and is not to be passed onto anybody else outside this room. If it is then all bets are off."


"What exactly are you going to do?" asked General Hammond as everybody, including the other witches looked curiously at Phoebe.


"First turn off all your recording equipment and give me your agreement to keep all this confidential," said Phoebe. "All of you," she added looking around the room at the members of SG-1 and the NID.


This is it thought Jack. This'll be what they've been rehearsing to persuade us they can do magic. Should be fun. I bet having a hot babe like Phoebe center stage is all part of the distraction. Classic conjurer's trick.


The General gave his agreement and the others nodded. He left the room briefly and then returned. "Right, there is no recording or surveillance equipment in operation. You can speak freely," he said and sat back down.


"Over to you," said Jack determined not to be fooled.


"First I need a cellphone," said Phoebe. "Mine was taken from me on the way here."


Daniel pulled his cellphone out and handed it over. "You can use this but I'm afraid it can't pick up a signal this far underground."


Phoebe took the cellphone and briefly smiled at Daniel. "It'll do," she said. "With a little magic."


Phoebe now did a short chant and then dialled the Halliwell Manor. To the surprise of everybody else she received a reply. Jack wasn't the only one to lean forward to try to hear if she really did have somebody on the other end of the line or whether it was a pretence.


Phoebe had turned away and had begun speaking quietly into the phone, explaining what she wanted to the person on the other end. "Look, trust me in this," Jack heard her say. "It's all to do with one of my visions. We need a big demonstration. We don't have the time to mess around."


A minute later Paige orbed into the room to the surprise of everybody present except Phoebe.


"This is my sister Paige," said Phoebe to everybody in the room. "Paige is also a witch and as you can see she has quite a lot of power of her own."


"You're right," said General Hammond. "That was a big demonstration but..."


"We're already familiar with teleportation devices," said Jack sounding very unimpressed.


"So I'm a device am I?" asked Paige, somewhat put out by this casual dismissal. "Can your devices do this? Papers!" she commanded holding her hands out towards Harry Maybourne. The papers that Maybourne was holding in his hands disappeared and reappeared in Paige's hands.


"Hey!" yelped Maybourne jumping up. "Give them back!" He rushed over to Paige but before he reached her she orbed away and reappeared on the other side of the room, in fact on the other side of the table where Maybourne couldn't easily get to her.


"Now this is getting more um, magical," said Daniel.


"Indeed," agreed Teal'c. "Perhaps we have found our witches."


"Your witches!" said Mary. "We're not..."


"Listen to this," interrupted Paige who had been reading Maybourne's papers. "'Phoebe Halliwell, youngest of three sisters.' Well you've got that wrong Phoebe's older than me. 'Writes the 'Ask Phoebe' column in the San Francisco Bay Mirror and ..."


"That's you?" asked Sam Carter surprised. Phoebe smiled and nodded. Jack gave Sam a 'you don't read that sort of stuff do you?' look. Sam looked away.


"We can if necessary put pressure on her via her sisters to make sure she co-operates with us," continued Paige quoting from Maybourne's papers. Silence descended on the room as everybody glared at Harry Maybourne, even Major Grant.


"Let me see that," said Phoebe grabbing the papers from Paige. "Mary Crane: has a circle of friends including fiancé Michael Zimmer. Should be no difficulty in persuading her to do whatever is necessary. Elise Montgomery..."


Phoebe completed the reading of the papers. It was quite clear that the NID intended to blackmail the witches if necessary in order to get them to co-operate.


"I can assure you we knew nothing of this," said General Hammond. "You are all free to go. No pressure will be put on you to work with us, I will make absolutely sure of that." The General turned to Maybourne. "We'll talk about this later."


"OK," said Mary standing up. "Let's go."


"What about the compensation?" asked Elise.


"We can't just..." began Sam.


In fact everybody started talking at once. They were interrupted by the sound of the emergency alarm klaxon sounding, a sound that was familiar to Phoebe from her vision.


General Hammond and SG-1 rushed out of the room. As they left, Sam turned back to the witches and the NID members. "Stay here please. This may not be as serious as it sounds." Of course that immediately convinced everybody that something very serious indeed was going on.


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Chapter Four: Under Attack


Buffy woke up with a rush and sat up. She looked rapidly all around but all was quiet except for the breathing of Faith in the next bed. Buffy slowly got out of bed, walked over to the window and opened the drapes. The window however was blacked out. Paint or something had been used to cover the glass in order to make it impossible to see out. Buffy was tempted to break the window or force it open but for the moment decided not to.


As Buffy turned back away from the window she saw that Faith was now awake and getting up. "OK," said Faith. "Give me a clue. Where are we? What's going on?"


"Your guess is as good as mine," replied Buffy who was continuing to look around the room and noticing the very oddly styled furniture. Are we in an old part of Europe she wondered.


Buffy remembered the events leading up to the confrontation with the two armed men in the room at LA Airport. She remembered pushing the Homeland Security Agent out of the room and watching Faith press the button on her cellphone signalling for Tara to come and pick them up.


Events had then taken an unexpected turn. A yellow vertical circle had winked into existence in the middle of the room. It had immediately rushed towards Buffy and Faith. It was some sort of portal to elsewhere because after the circle had passed over them the two slayers had found themselves in a different room with the circle behind them.


Buffy remembered there being people in the room but her memory had not gone any further. Both slayers had been hit by something resembling an electrical discharge and had been knocked unconscious. Now they had woken up in what looked like a cheap hotel bedroom.


"Let's go exploring," said Faith. "We might be able to find whoever gave us those shots," she added ominously.


Faith tried the bedroom door. She was all prepared to force it open but was surprised to discover that it was not locked. Outside in the corridor was a tall, beefy armed guard who it seemed had just arrived at their door.


"You're awake, good," said the guard. "Come with me. They want all the witches downstairs."


"All the witches?" mouthed Buffy silently to Faith behind the guard's back as he walked away down the corridor, seemingly having no doubts that the two women would do exactly as they were told.


Faith shrugged but decided, like Buffy, to follow the guard to find out what was going on.


At the end of the corridor was the start of a wide back and forth flight of stairs going down. As they approached this staircase they began to hear noises coming from below: shouts, the sound of automatic gunfire, a scream and a loud boom that rattled the windows and was probably an explosion outside the building.


The guard rushed forward and looked down the stairwell only to be hit by an electric type blast from below and knocked down. As he fell onto the stairs a figure appeared running up the stairs whilst the noises of a battle downstairs continued.


"Cordy!" said Buffy as she recognised the figure running towards them.


"Buffy? Faith?" replied Cordelia. "We've got to get out of here, come on!"


Cordelia ran past the slayers and towards the other end of the corridor, Buffy and Faith followed. As they approached the door at the other end of the corridor it opened and two large men dressed in dark robes came through the doorway.


"Halt!" ordered the first man. Both men were carrying long poles which were presumably weapons because they both pointed the swollen ends of their poles towards the three women.


Buffy had no intention of stopping and went low, skidding into the two men and bringing them down like a bowling ball hitting skittles. Faith was right behind her and she delivered knock out blows to the two men. However the men were rather tougher than expected and the blows did not knock them out. It took a few moments longer and a few more slayer punches from Buffy and Faith before the men stayed down.


"Come on!" said Cordelia who was now in the doorway at the end of the corridor, a doorway which led to a back staircase. As she spoke a blast hit the ceiling above her, fired by one of a number of robed men who had appeared at the other end of the corridor and were now charging towards them.


Cordelia seemed to know where she was going, so Buffy and Faith followed her as she rushed upstairs.


"Why upstairs?" asked Buffy catching up to Cordelia.


"I'm heading for the roof," gasped Cordelia. "I think I can teleport us away from here but I want to have a look outside first. I don't want to land in the middle of the ocean."


"Stop!" said Faith. By now the women were two floors above their original level. Faith, who had picked up one of the pole weapons, now used it to smash through the blacked out window on the landing. "Will that do?" she asked as sunlight streamed in.


Cordelia went to the window and Faith continued to knock out broken pieces to make the view outside clearer.


"Hold tight!" said Cordelia holding out her arms. Buffy and Faith both put their arms around Cordelia and she began to chant.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


"So this NID lot have got something to do with Buffy and Faith disappearing," said Willow, "and this other lot..."


"Homeland Security," said Xander.


"Homeland Security, tried to kidnap Amy and Anya," completed Willow.


"But the NID guys were unconscious," said Kennedy. "They may not be the ones responsible for Buffy and Faith disappearing."


"But it might have been Buffy and Faith who knocked them out," said Dawn.


Tara had explained to Xander, Anya and Amy what she knew about the disappearance of Buffy and Faith. Xander, Amy and Anya had explained what had happened to them.


They had all three been at the Magic Box and Amy and Anya were getting ready to shut up for the day when two men in suits had walked into the shop. They had claimed to be from Homeland Security and had demanded that Amy and Anya come with them.


Xander had asked if they were making an arrest and if so he would call a lawyer. At this the two men had pulled out guns. Since the Magic Box had a full protection spell the witches and Xander knew that the guns wouldn't work. The witches had therefore refused to go with the agents and Xander had announced that he was calling the police.


One of the agents had then attempted to shoot Xander. When his gun didn't work his colleague had tried to use his gun but of course that didn't work either. Amy had then applied a sleep spell and the two men had fallen to the floor unconscious.


"So where are these men now?" asked Kennedy.


"We left them in the shop," said Amy. "They've probably woken up by now. We were gonna call you guys but we saw there were more of them outside so we went out the back way and came here."


"Wouldn't you have been safer staying there with the protection spell?" asked Willow.


"That's what I said," replied Anya. "If those men do anything to the shop..."


"You should have called me," said Tara.


"It's OK," said Amy. "I made sure they couldn't see us. We were in no danger."


"But you'd all better stay here tonight," said Dawn.


"I hope they're not real Homeland Security Agents," said Xander who turned to Anya. "Are you guys up to date with your taxes?"


"Taxes are the IRS," said Willow. "Totally different bunch. Much more evil."


"Of course they're not real government agents," said Dawn. "Government agents don't just go around shooting people."


"That depends on the government," said Anya. "I've known a few governments..."


Anya was interrupted in what she was about to say by the sounding of the security alarm indicating that a stranger had entered the grounds and had left the main path leading up to the house.


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"That's OK," said Willow, "I will, thank you," and she shut the front door. Lying rat she thought and went into the surveillance room where Tara, Dawn, Xander, Kennedy, Anya and Amy were gathered.


The visitor had claimed to be a Homeland Security Agent. He was not one of the same men who had attempted to abduct Anya and Amy but Willow knew those same two men were waiting in a car outside.


Willow strongly doubted that the man and his friends were anything to do with Homeland Security or any other official organisation. She had only had a short time for research before the man had rung the bell but the ID did not look the way she thought it should. However as far as she could tell the NID ID's were genuine.


The agent said he had called to see Buffy to clear up a security matter. He said that Homeland Security, on checking their records had found that their records for Buffy leaving the country and returning didn't match.


Willow had realised that this might in fact be true because Buffy had sometimes been orbed by Tara or Jenny and sometimes had travelled normally. Must remember to tell everybody about that when I get the chance she had thought. These guys might be bogus but they might have access to real Homeland Security records.


As Willow walked away from closing the front door and into the main lounge she muttered to herself. "Must remember to speak to Giles sometime soon." She looked at her watch. Eight hours difference, he'll be asleep. I'll do it in the morning she thought.


Willow had told the agent that Buffy was out of town but had agreed to ask her to contact him when she returned home. Of course she had no intention of doing any such thing.


The agent had tried not to be obvious but to Willow it had seemed clear that he was checking out the security precautions in force at the house. The alarm had been set off a short time before by one of the other agents looking around the house from the outside before going back to his car and his colleagues in the street at the front of the building.


"What are they doing now?" asked Willow as she entered the surveillance room.


"They're still sat in the car outside," replied Kennedy who was sat at the control desk. "Your guy's joining them."


As they watched the monitor Willow's visitor got into a car already occupied by two other men. Minutes passed and the men remained in the car. There was no way that they could know they were being observed because precautions had been taken to conceal the various CCTV cameras.


"They seem to be just talking," said Xander.


"They're probably talking to the other three guys out back as well," said Dawn.


"He's telling the others about what he could see of our security arrangements," said Willow. "He had a good look." As she said this she smiled at Tara and took hold of her hand. Tara smiled back. Everybody in the room knew that there was no way the agent, or whoever he was, could have seen anything of their main security precautions.


"Does that mean they're coming in?" asked Amy.


"I hope so," said Willow. "We might then have a chance to find out what this is all about. They'll probably wait for a few hours until it's really quiet."


"After what happened in the Magic Box they're probably being cautious," said Xander. "Otherwise that guy would probably have pulled a gun on you," he added to Willow.


"It would have been the last thing he ever did," said Willow darkly, remembering all over again her reason for hating guns. Tara quickly put her arm around her partner.


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"Don't worry," said Willow. "They won't remember a thing."


All six of the agents had entered the house, three from the front and three from the back. Now all six were lying on the floor of the basement unconscious. They had all been made unconscious by Willow soon after entering the house. Now Willow proposed to wake them one at a time and use a truth spell to question them. Suddenly and unexpectedly two of the men were conscious and jumping to their feet.


"Now that shouldn't happen..." began Willow, puzzled rather than alarmed. She would have been seized by a large hand belonging to one of the agents had Tara not orbed her away just in time. Willow found herself in the surveillance room with Tara and Dawn who Tara had grabbed with her other hand before orbing. Anya and Amy were already there keeping an eye on things.


Back in the basement Kennedy and Xander were discovering that the two men were not simply capable of recovering from Willow's spell unexpectedly quickly but they were also quite formidable in combat.


As a man made to grab her Kennedy delivered the sort of punch which would have knocked out a heavyweight boxer. Her opponent, the size of a heavyweight boxer, was simply rocked back and then delivered his own blow to knock Kennedy across the room.


Xander found himself facing an opponent who was only slightly the smaller of the two 'agents'. The man knocked Xander aside and then went towards the pile of weapons on the table. Four of the men had been armed with guns but the two men who had awoken had possessed hand weapons of a type quite unfamiliar to anything seen before by any of the Scooby Gang.


Xander, although stunned realised that he couldn't let the man get hold of a weapon. He therefore leapt after the man and jumped on his back bringing both of them down in a heap onto the floor amongst the bodies of the other unconscious agents.


Meanwhile Kennedy had gotten the measure of her opponent and dealt with him as if he was as strong and formidable as a vampire, which he very nearly was. Even so the man was able to take considerable punishment before Kennedy was able to knock him out.


Meanwhile Tara orbed back into the room with Willow and Dawn. "Freeze!" commanded Willow, halting the other man just short of grabbing hold of one of the strange weapons. She then released Kennedy and Xander from the freeze.


Kennedy now went over to the frozen man still on his feet and knocked him down. Willow sprinkled some special dust onto all six of the agents to make sure that there was no second unexpected awakening.


Tara dealt with the minor cuts and bruises sustained by Xander and Kennedy before looking at the fallen agents to make sure that the men had not received any major injuries.


"Well whoever they are they certainly train their agents properly," said Kennedy. "That one was tougher than some vamps I've fought."


"I wonder if they really are agents?" said Dawn. "And what do they want?"


"They probably wanted to kidnap Willow," said Xander, "Just like they were after Amy and Anya. All witches see. They're some sort of witch kidnap squad."


"What's this mark on this man's forehead?" asked Tara looking up from her latest examination.


"There's another one," said Willow noticing a mark that had clearly been concealed by make-up but which was now partly visible. On close examination aided by wiping with a cloth it became clear that the two men who had woken up were each marked on the forehead with a sort of embossed tattoo.


"Anybody seen anything like it before?" asked Willow looking around the room. Everybody shook their heads.


"There's something else about them," said Tara completing her examinations and looking thoughtful. She pulled open the shirt of one of the men to reveal a cross scar on his belly.


"What's that?" asked Dawn. "It looks...eeuw."


"They've probably...," began Tara opening the shirt of the other man to reveal the identical scar. "Thought so."


"What do you think it is?" asked Xander.


"There's something inside them," said Tara who now had her hand on the belly of the second man. "Something living."


"Something that makes them stronger than usual?" asked Kennedy.


"Maybe," replied Tara. "I don't know. I've never heard of anything like it before."


"More research," said Dawn to Willow.


"More questions under the truth spell," replied Willow.


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General Hammond and Sam rushed to the control room. Jack, Teal'c and Daniel made for the Gate Room. As they approached the Gate Room SG-1 met two technicians going the other way. "What's happening?" demanded Jack.


"Replicators," answered the female technician. "They've already damaged the Iris." With that she rushed off after her male colleague.


"We need weapons," said Teal'c darting into a side passage and pulling open a weapons closet. Jack, Teal'c and Daniel quickly armed themselves and rushed towards the Gate Room.


Up in the control room the General and Sam had just discovered the seriousness of the crisis. The damage to the Iris was now sufficiently large for a flow of Replicators to squeeze through.


"I thought that was impossible?" said General Hammond. "I didn't think they could damage the Iris from the other side"


"Nor did I," said Sam. "It should be impossible."


"We received the ID of SG-12," said Captain Mangin. "By the time we tried to shut the Iris it was too late, some of those things had already come through the Gate. They started to destroy the Iris pretty well straight away."


"Can you close the wormhole?" asked General Hammond.


"Not yet," said Sam who had taken over the main control chair. "I'm working on it. They've locked it somehow."


Down below, gunfire from the security teams was destroying the Replicators as they came through but they were reconstituting themselves from the debris on the ramp below. There were therefore more and more Replicators to aim at.


The remainder of SG1 had by now arrived in the Gate Room and on Jack's orders the entrance door was closed and secured. Despite the reinforcements the defenders seemed to be losing ground to the Replicators.


"I've got to get to the self-destruct," said General Hammond. "Captain, you come with me and everybody else arm yourselves. Major, you keep..."


"Wait," said Sam. "Look."


Down below everything had stopped, people, Replicators, everything. Everything that is except a group of four women and a man who had appeared in the Gate Room plus new Replicators who continued to come through the gate.


Suddenly the moving Replicators exploded. Small explosions only but sufficient to reduce the Replicators to dust and make it impossible for the remains to be reconstituted into new Replicators. Now the frozen Replicators exploded into dust as well.


The General and Sam didn't recognise the man but they recognised Phoebe and Paige as two of the four women in the gate room. The other two were not Mary and Elise but were new. Like Phoebe and Paige the other women were short of average height, had long dark hair and were stunningly beautiful.


One of the new women continued to wave her hands at new Replicators as they came through the Stargate and it seemed to be she who was turning them to dust. The other three women now gathered together and began chanting.


Suddenly the Stargate went black as it closed down, chopping the last moving Replicator in half. This then was also reduced to dust leaving no remaining Replicators.


General Hammond turned to Sam and raised his eyebrows in inquiry.


"It wasn't me," said Sam. "I didn't close it down. I think it was the uh, witches down there. They must have broken the connection somehow."


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Chapter Five: Into the Woods


Rupert Giles put the phone down and leant back in his office chair. I really miss those days back in Sunnydale he thought. All I had to think about then was the end of the world on a regular basis. Now I've got quarterly reports, council meetings and all the internal politicking and backstabbing that seems unavoidable in any big organisation.


Giles's mind drifted to his most recent telephone chat with Willow when she had updated him about all the recent events on the other side of the ocean. Since special precautions were in place Giles and Willow or sometimes Giles and one of the other Scoobies were able to talk freely without fear of being recorded or overheard.


Giles was now trying to persuade himself not to simply take the first plane out and throw himself back into the adventurous life of the Scooby Gang and in particular try to find out what had happened to Buffy and Faith. He was worried but he knew he wouldn't do it. He was sorely tempted but he didn't know anybody in England he would trust to take over control of the New Council.


Yes, he had a lot of fine people coming through but it was early days yet and he had nobody who'd worked at the sharp end. Nobody who'd worked with a slayer and knew at first hand what it was like. He was determined that the New Council would never go the way of the old one. It would never again be staffed by ambitious career people who just regarded slayers as a means to an end. As far as he was concerned that meant keeping some sort of control himself for a good while yet.


In any event Giles knew that there was no going back. He and the others couldn't go back to their cosy little group centred around the local High School ever again. Everybody was older, they'd all grown up thank goodness even though there had been times when it looked likely that none of them would live that long.


One person who did have the experience and the contacts to take over running the New Council was of course Wesley thought Giles. He's come a long way since I first met him in Sunnydale. It's like he's a completely different person. It just shows what difference a little front line experience makes.


Perhaps that's what I should do with some of these eager trainees thought Giles. Give them some time in the field, some time to mature. I really should have a watcher permanently assigned in Sunnydale since the three slayers use that as their base. Giles made a mental note to do something about that before too much longer.


Giles had already asked Wesley to spend more time in England and had been refused. Wesley can see himself being bogged down in paper work the same as me thought Giles. He's due to get here tomorrow with this Eve and his two potentials. I must remember to sound him out again, you never know.


"Oh to hell with it" said Giles out loud as he stood up even though he was alone in his office. I'm going home he thought. I'm in charge. I don't have to work late every night. I won't do anybody any good if I work myself to death. In fact it was already late by the standards of most of the workers at the New Watchers Council HQ. Giles put on his jacket and made his way through the largely empty building and down to the basement car-park.


As Giles walked through the basement he didn't notice a large vertical yellow circle open in the air behind him. As if looking around, the circle remained stationary for a few seconds before starting to move. It was now following Giles. As Giles stopped by his car to get out his keys the circle rushed forward and flowed over him. The circle stopped. Now there was no Giles, just the circle. After a couple of seconds the circle winked out.


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"Trees, trees and more trees," said Faith as she returned. "Well sort of trees. But I found water."


Faith was referring to the woodland in which she, Buffy and Cordelia found themselves. The trees were definitely trees but of a sort that had never grown on Earth. The most obvious difference was the colour of the leaves, none of which were green and many of which were distinctly blue.


Cordelia had successfully teleported the three of them away from the building which was the scene of some sort of battle and taken them a considerable distance away into a wood. Cordelia had learned the teleportation spell from Willow. She had known it would be painful but she had thought that once clear of the building she would be able to call Tara for a healing.


It was only on arrival in the wood that the three women had realised that they were no longer on Earth. Cordelia had nevertheless tried to call Tara but unsuccessfully and she had then passed out. In the hours that had passed since then Buffy and Faith had taken turns in exploring their immediate surroundings.


"I'll give Cordy another hour," said Buffy looking at her watch. "If she's still asleep I'll carry her to the water. Still no signs of life?"


"Nah, just the endless trees," said Faith sitting down opposite Buffy. "I'll climb one in a minute, see if I can see anything. We're gonna need more than water before long."


"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!" said Cordelia waking up. She held both hands to her head. "It'll hurt a little she said. A little! Just wait 'til I see Willow again."


"Perhaps it hurts because you didn't have that stuff that Willow and Tara used," said Buffy remembering the teleportation spell that had been used against Glory, "or because you did it on your own."


"Maybe, maybe," muttered Cordelia half to herself. "We'll definitely have a little talk about it."


Cordelia carefully sat herself up and leaned back against a tree. Over the next few minutes, whilst trying to keep her head as still as possible she told the two slayers what had happened to her and they told her their story.


Cordelia had also been kidnapped by a yellow circle portal which had appeared in her room at her mother's house the night before when she was about to get ready for bed. From the description, she had been transported to the same room as Buffy and Faith and like them had been knocked unconscious by the discharge of some sort of energy weapon.


Faith had kept hold of the pole weapon that she had taken from one of the fallen robed men. Now she looked at it lying on the ground between them and wondered if it might be the very sort of weapon that had been used on them.


Like Buffy and Faith, Cordelia had been fetched from her room, a room that had also been occupied by another woman called Margaret, who had similarly been snatched by the yellow circle. Cordelia and Margaret had been taken downstairs about an hour before the battle began.


Cordelia and Margaret had met two other women downstairs. In the brief time they had to chat together they discovered that they were all witches and had all been kidnapped in much the same way.


"They think we're witches as well," said Faith. "That's what that security guard called us."


"So why do they want witches?" asked Buffy.


"Power," said Cordelia. "When I got to talk to one of the guys in charge he claimed to be a Government Agent. He never said anything about being on another world." Buffy and Faith looked at each other. They had already explained to Cordelia what had happened to them.


"They've found out some witches have real power and they want to control it," continued Cordelia.


"How?" asked Buffy.


"By controlling the witches," said Cordelia. "I didn't realise it at first but all the other women did exactly what they were told to do. I don't know if it's drugs, magic or something else but they're all under control."


"So why didn't it affect you?" asked Faith. "Are you too strong for them?"


"I'm still wearing one of Willow's amulets," said Cordelia. "The one that stops anybody else taking control of your free will. It's hidden by magic so they wouldn't even have seen it while I was unconscious."


"That explains why that guard just assumed we'd follow him," said Buffy. "They must have given us the same treatment. Since we're also wearing Willow's amulets..." Faith nodded. "We've got protection too."


"So if one lot are Government Agents who were they fighting?" asked Faith.


"Dunno," said Cordelia. "Somebody attacked but nobody told us who it was. When the fighting started we were all told to stay where we were. I decided not to and ran upstairs when nobody was looking."


"I can't see this is really an official Government operation," said Buffy. "Not unless it's somebody else's Government." But a nagging thought intruded: What about the Initiative? That started out as a proper Government operation and look how that ended up.


"Perhaps the other lot are the local natives and they don't like us being here?" suggested Faith.


"I don't like us being here," said Cordelia.


"We need a plan to get us home," said Buffy.


"Well I've got to get some more rest," said Cordelia with a deep sigh as she lay back down on the ground and closed her eyes. "Make sure that plan includes a nice meal and a bath."


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If they hadn't found a wide path before it got completely dark they would have had to stop an hour ago and wait for daylight. Stumbling about in the woods during the day was bad enough but there's nothing darker than a wood at night thought Buffy. Or at least that was what she thought before the three moons came up and gave enough light to resemble a deeply overcast day.


Buffy could tell that Cordelia was really tired, she'd stopped complaining. They'd soon have to stop anyway to give her more rest but Buffy wanted to go on as long as possible in case there was a chance of finding somewhere to stay and something decent to eat. Those rabbit thingies that Faith had caught hadn't exactly been a feast.


Faith had experimented with the pole weapon, first of all using it to hit nearby trees. She had then graduated to aiming at small wildlife, which had raised objections from Cordelia.


"Don't you want to eat then?" was Faith's response which put an end to Cordelia's objections.


Faith finally managed to work out how to use the weapon without destroying what she was aiming at. It was certainly a cumbersome weapon for the untrained. It took a great deal of practice before Faith was able to hit three small animals. Having done the hunting and with Cordelia once again sleeping or pretending to sleep Faith had been successful in passing over the cooking duties to Buffy.


Earlier in the day Buffy had climbed one of the taller trees at the top of a hill to look for landmarks. She had been able to see that they were inside a large wood which, using the position of what she thought was the afternoon sun she assessed as stretching away West, North and East.


To the south Buffy had seen several columns of smoke and had concluded that they marked the site of the battle. She had been debating with herself whether to propose to the others that they head back in that direction when a large flying machine passed over the wood heading towards the smoke.


The massive flying machine was several times larger than the largest air liner on Earth and presumably had a considerable number of people aboard. It had been closely followed by a dozen smaller, individual flyers about the size of Air Force fighter planes.


There was no firing of weapons as far as Buffy could see, so the smaller flyers were presumably escort rather than opposition. As she continued to watch, the large machine had descended towards a landing point somewhere near to the smoke columns.


A conference between the three women had produced a unanimous decision to head in the opposite direction to the smoke and flying machines. If they found nothing to the north they would consider heading back south once Cordelia had recovered her full magic strength. They had therefore headed north as far as they were able, using the sun as a guide and helped by periodic sightings from tall trees.


As they continued their journey in the gloom to who knew where, Faith took the lead with Buffy helping Cordelia. Suddenly Faith stopped and hissed to the others: "Listen!"


Buffy and Faith stopped and listened to hear the sound of hooves coming nearer.


"Get off the track!" ordered Buffy. She grabbed Cordelia's arm and helped her into the woods to the right of the path. Faith chose left and decided to keep going a little way before stopping and lying down.


The horses, because that indeed is what they were, alien planet or no alien planet, came closer and slowed to a stop. From the noise it was clear that it wasn't just one rider but at least half a dozen. Buffy was able to see them through the foliage that she hoped was hiding her and Cordelia.


"You can come out," said one of the riders, a slim, dark haired man in a dark brown uniform. In fact as Buffy looked closely the riders seemed to be a military unit of about eight men. The speaker was presumably the officer in charge.


"With these special glasses we can see you quite clearly, both of you," he said. "We mean you no harm."


Buffy looked at Cordelia who shrugged. "I can't outrun horses anyway," she whispered. "In fact at the moment I can't outrun anything."


"Can you do anything magical if necessary," whispered Buffy.


"Only if really, really necessary," whispered Cordelia in reply. "I need more time before I'm back to normal."


"OK," said Buffy. "Let's see what they want."


Buffy and Cordelia walked back onto the road.


"OK," said Buffy addressing the man or officer in charge. "Who are you and what do you want?"


"That's just what I was going to ask," said the man.


The man introduced himself as Captain Brissim, an officer in the Kallistien army. Witches working with the Kallistien army had detected the strong magic that Cordelia had used in her teleportation spell and the Captain, with his patrol had been sent to investigate.


"We know you teleported away from the Goa'uld base so we're hoping you're on our side," said the Captain.


"And if we're not?" asked Buffy.


"That's up to our witches," said the Captain.


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Once the NID people had gone the SGC sat down once again with the witches. Mary and Elise had now left. Without revealing anything about the Stargate Phoebe had told them something of what had happened in the gate room. Neither of them were interested in working with the Military and maybe coming up against something similar in future. They actually had little power beyond that demonstrated in the meeting room.


The meeting was between the SGC on the one side and Phoebe and her sisters on the other. Leo had orbed away having received a call from one of his other charges. Seeing no alternative the General agreed to Sam and Daniel explaining to the sisters about the Stargate after receiving their agreement to keep the information strictly confidential.


"You have secrets you want us to keep," said the General. "Well we'd like you to keep our secrets. Everything about the Stargate comes under the heading of National Security."


After thanking the witches for their assistance the General explained about the need the SGC had for the assistance of witches the next time they visited the world of Kallistien. "However that can wait," the General continued. "Now the Replicators have access to a Stargate we've got to move quickly to stop them destroying who knows how many worlds."


"We've got to go to the world they just came from as quickly as we can to try to stop them going anywhere else," said Jack. "If possible we'd like you ladies to go with us. You seem to have a certain way with these things."


"It may be too late to stop them," said Sam. "Even as we speak they may be using the Stargate. They may have used it before they attacked us."


"It's never too late," said Phoebe. "There's always a way. That's why I get those visions. There's always a way to stop it happening." Phoebe explained about her vision talent and about the vision she had had about the attack of the little metal monsters through the Stargate.


"Haven't we already stopped those things?" asked Piper. "Do you think your vision means we're meant to help other worlds? Where do we stop?"


"There are people, human people, on these other worlds that might be destroyed by these things?" asked Phoebe.


"Yes, on some of them there are," confirmed General Hammond.


"Then we're meant to help them," said Phoebe with certainty.


"I've an idea about how we can help," said Prue. "But I need to do a little research first. Could we all meet back here about the same time tomorrow?"


"Do we have that much time?" asked Daniel.


"If my idea works out the delay won't make any difference," said Prue.


"And we need to make our own preparations as well," said Jack. "That'll take a few hours."


"OK," said General Hammond. "We've also got to complete repairs to the Iris before we power up again. We meet again back here same time tomorrow. I really hope you can help us but even if you can't we've got to make a move ourselves then."


The witches stood up ready to leave.


"A moment before you go," said Teal'c. "Until now many here were convinced there was no such thing as a witch. A real witch with magic power." Teal'c carefully avoided looking at Jack but Daniel couldn't resist. "Is there such a thing as a vampire?" asked Teal'c.


"Oh yes," said Paige. "Vampires are real. We've met a few." She looked at her sisters. "We all have. Most of them are very dangerous."


"Is it true they don't have a reflection in a mirror?" asked Daniel.


Paige nodded. "Uh huh," she confirmed. "Some sorts. Have you seen one?" she asked. "Because down here, no sunlight, this is just the sort of place they'd love."


"It wasn't here," said Daniel. "It was in a hotel a few days ago."


"After dark?" asked Piper.


"Yup," replied Daniel.


"It was a woman," said Jack. "Mid twenties, dark hair, attractive. She said she wasn't a witch but she sometimes did magic."


"Did she have an English accent, a cockney accent?" asked Prue.


"Well yes," said Daniel, "I think she did. It was a bit strange but it was certainly English."


"She said she had The Sight," said Sam.


"She does," said Prue. "Her name's Drusilla. What did she tell you?"


"She said we'd be up against the Replicators," said Sam. "Those little metal monsters, we call them Replicators. She said we'd be up against the Replicators again soon, and we were. In fact I don't think we'd have continued to look for witches if it wasn't for what she said." General Hammond nodded in agreement.


"Don't worry about it," said Phoebe. "She's one of the good guys, well nowadays anyway."


"So she's not a vampire then?" asked Jack.


"Oh no," replied Paige. "She's a vampire alright. One of the very rare good vampires. Generally if you meet a vampire you want to run a mile, if you can."


As the witches orbed away Jack pulled out his wallet and reluctantly paid off his bets, still not entirely convinced about vampires.
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