Title: The Heart of the Universe 1/?
Sequel to Of Gates and Mouths
Author: David A. Knapton
Archive: If anyone wishes too, go ahead, but it would be polite to at least drop me a line.
Rating: I will go with 15/R for now
Pairings: Willow/Tara Buffy/Faith Amanda/Andrew Janet/Sam Riley/Sam Finn
Crossover: BtVS/Angel, and Stargate.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in any of the shows. If I did, boy would I have some fun?
Spoilers: None for Buffy but may contain some for Stargate.
Summery: Information is gathered and plans made.
Story notes: The season 7 episode 'Get it done' of BtVS did not happen, at least like the show, and the Shadow men did not create the slayers. Oh and I decided that President Hayes, the President seen in Stargate is in his second term so the things that happened at the end of season 7 of Stargate would not really occur.
Notes: We, well you the reader anyway, learn the meaning of the speech by the big bad. It is Sumerian but I do not claim to be an expert by any means so any spelling/grammar errors are mine but let us just pretend that they are correct as it is a 'Demon' hybrid language.
Thanks to the following people who helped me with this story: irishwavefan, Electronis Zappa.
Most of this part was originally betad by Kim as the epilogue for Of Gates and Mouths but something’s have been added and so will be re-betad by Tamara.
Please note I am English, so is my spelling. Live with it.
Okay sorry this has taken longer than planned to post but (hangs head in shame) I forgot to send it to my beta.
Buffy and Janet were reluctant to leave Dawn or Cassandra so the agreed meeting between the two groups was going to be held the next morning in the apartment's living room.
Buffy and Janet spent the night following their return to Cleveland sitting with Dawn and Cassandra, who were sharing Dawn's room. Every so often one or the other would sit up screaming, at which time the two women would hold them until the crying girl fell back to sleep.
When Buffy and Janet came out of Dawn's bedroom, both yawning, they found Faith and Sam the only ones there. Both looking as haggard as they themselves felt.
As Buffy walked over and gave her girlfriend a good morning kiss. Without thinking Janet did the same, freezing in place as she did so, realising she and Sam were not alone, she turned blushing a deep red as she began to splutter, trying to explain it away.
Buffy laughed, "It's okay Janet, when we met, you both set off our gaydar, even if it wasn't for the blatant way you two were around each other before we left Kennedy's house," Sam and Janet looked worried. "Don't worry we know about the 'Don't ask, don't tell' thing, we won't say anything to your friends... although the way Jack was teasing you yesterday I think he's already guessed, but I don't think he will make an issue with it as long as you don't start kissing and making out in front of him."
"You think he knows?" squeaked Sam.
Faith laughed aloud, causing Buffy to slap her on the arm and shushed her nodding towards Dawn's room, "Sorry," she whispered. "He's a man ain't he, you two probably feature heavily in his fantasies, I mean two hot chicks all over each other, he probably sprouts wood every time he sees you in the same room together," she said.
"Can I just say eew," said Sam going a little green.
At that moment, a knock came from the door. Answering it Buffy found Willow and Tara standing there holding bags full of fresh bagels if her nose was not lying to her. "We figured you wouldn't feel much like cooking breakfast this morning so we went to the bakery on the corner," explained the redhead entering when Buffy opened the door wide.
"Thanks Will, it was a long night," said Buffy smiling slightly.
"No problemo. So how's Dawn?" asked Willow returning the smile.
"She and Cassandra have had about three hours sleep now without waking up screaming... They haven't told us about any of the things that were done to them by the Sag'éd... I hope that one day I get the chance to take out the anger I'm feeling on it," growled the Slayer clenching and unclenching her fists as she tried to get her temper under control.
"Tara and I have been doing some research; we found a description of the device he used... The thing is he shouldn't have been able to use it to get to Erset la tari let alone use it to get from there to this dimension," Willow told them as she and her girlfriend moved into the kitchen with the others following.
"You called the creature Saged yesterday!"
"It's Sag'éd there is an apostrophe," Willow interrupted Sam as she began pulling plates out of the cupboard.
"Okay Sag'éd, is that the creature's name or its species?" finished Sam.
"Its species... well sort of, it's what their eseru called them," explained Willow.
"Eseru?" asked Janet sitting at the table with Sam.
Willow smiled weakly at her, "Sorry it’s part of what our brain seems to be incapable of translating," she apologised taking her own seat and biting into her bagel.
"Ok, but what's this 'Erset la tari'?" asked Sam.
"It is where their eseru trapped them, it was meant to be forever but something's changed, I'm sorry we can't seem to make you understand anymore," said Willow.
"That's alright, hopefully Daniel and your Mr Giles will have some information when they get back from your offices," said Sam.
"Well while I was sitting with Cassie last night I had quite a bit of time to think about the fact that slayers and witches seem to be the only ones that understand this language as well as unable to translate it," said Janet. "I think it could be something to do with the fact you are supernatural beings, I think in some way it's a racial memory!"
"You mean similar to the Goa'uld?" mused Sam.
"Yes," nodded Janet.
When Giles and Daniel arrived at the apartment an hour or so later, the older man looked ready to spit fire, "What's wrong Giles?" asked Buffy letting them in.
Giles looked around, everyone was already there, "The library has absolutely nothing on the Forbidden language. Any records must have been in the old Watcher Council's main library when it was blown-up by the First," he replied in annoyance as he sat in an easy chair.
"So how do you know it's this Forbidden language if all the books are gone? And how do you forbid a language anyway?" asked Colonel O'Neill.
"When I became a Watcher, for the first ten years, I worked in the main library," explained Giles. "I was not privy to why it was forbidden, it was rumoured that sometime around the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, at that time the Council's base of operation, the Powers That Be ordered all reference to it destroyed! Well for whatever reason it wasn't done so they 'arranged' for the library to be caught up in the fighting between the Romans and Egyptians," Giles stopped to take off his glasses and began cleaning them.
"So if these 'Powers' destroyed the library how did you see any of this in the Watcher’s library?" asked Jack, smiling slightly as the scholar did what Daniel did so often that they did not even register they were doing it.
"Well that was thought to be the case until the siege of Constantinople in 1453, where the Watchers were then based. Well in saving the archive, which cost the Council every penny it had at the time to bribe some of the Ottoman Turks, it was found that two books had somehow survived the burning of the library in Alexandria. It was thought wise to hold onto them just in case," Giles replaced his glasses and sighed. "I had hoped that at least one would have been in the small archive the Watchers had in the Cotswolds we inherited!"
"So now what?" asked Sam a little frustrated, "If Buffy and the others can't even write it in English, how are we going to find out what it means?"
"Look you shouldn't worry too much about what the Sag'éd said, it wasn't a threat or 'I'll be back' thing. Although I think he and his kind will come back," said Buffy, failing dismally in her impersonation of the Terminator. "What we need to find out is how he managed to use the device he used to get here and more importantly, how we stop anymore escaping Erset la tari."
Sam thought for a moment then smiled as a possible solution occurred to her, "Daniel you said it sounds similar to Sumerian," she prompted.
Daniel glanced at Giles for a moment before looking back, "Ah yeah but there are so many variants it would take years to even work on approximate English translation," the archaeologist said.
"Yes if we used paper, but what about a computer? A very powerful one!"
"Woo I still have Miss Calendar’s program from school. It was written to convert an obscure Slavic dialect to English but I'm sure it could be adapted to convert the Forbidden language," smiled Willow enthusiastically.
Dawn sat up in bed, calmly looking around the room that had been hers since moving to Cleveland.
She got up and grabbed her robe putting it on as she walked towards the door. Something seemed wrong, but her mind could not come up with what it was. Opening the door, she stepped into the empty living room. Moving to the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of orange juice before returning to the living room, a man dressed in very outlandish clothes was sat on the couch.
"Hello Dawn, my name's Whistler," he said, gesturing to the chair, "Sit, we need to talk."
Still a little bemused as well as wondering why she was not freaking out being in the apartment on her own with a complete stranger, she sat and took a long drink of her juice. "What do you want with me?" she asked calmly.
"Well Dawn it's like this, things are starting to go wrong and they need fixing, so the Powers have drafted you," he smiled at the young woman. "I know what the First One did to you and your friend seems terrible, and it was, but if we don't start getting things moving it will happen to whole races."
"Alright," said Dawn frowning as she finished her juice. "But why me? Why not Buffy or Willow, I don't have any power!"
"No you don't, but you do have one unique ability, you can translate the Forbidden language for your friends."
"Forbidden? How do you forbid a language?" asked Dawn mirroring Jack's question.
"With great difficulty. Anyway it didn't work, two books survived the purge, those books got into the wrong hands and that person did a really stupid thing! He created a device that was able to draw a First One across the barrier created to imprison them. That device is now in the Land of No Return."
"If there is a Land of No Return! How does something return?" queried Dawn. Then something occurred to her, "How can I translate this Forbidden language? I know I'm good at languages but Giles, and what Cassie told me about her friend Daniel, they are better!"
"Well it all goes back to what you use to be; you were created by beings of great power as were the Slayer line and witches," Whistler held up a hand as Dawn went to ask the obvious questions. "Please listen. These beings endowed them with knowledge of the First Ones, their language and so on, but because at the time it was felt unnecessary to give them the ability to translate that language none of them were given it. However much they or any of their friends try they cannot translate it. Well when the monks gave you human form, the Powers had a small hand in your make-up they realised the error they had made with the others and gave you the ability to translate it.
"Now you want to know about the Slayer line and witches?" Dawn nodded. "Okay, the story goes back further than anyone can imagine! Eons ago, there existed a race so old that they remembered the beginning. This race are known by the races that followed as the Ancients and they spanned the universe, they thought of themselves as teachers and guardians of the lesser races and kept the peace as these other races began to move into space.
"As time passed three of these other races joined them in looking after the other less advanced ones. Everything was hunky dory for many more eons. Then the Furlings began colonising suitable planets in this part of this galaxy and when one of their ships crashed on Earth, the home of the First Ones, a demonic race of such evil that they took great joy in slowly torturing the Furlings to death even after they had obtained every piece of information possible.
"Until then no other race had any type of contact with them, even though they were almost as old as the Ancients. Although they were still a technologically backward race not capable of building ships they were able to use a device from the Furling ship called a Chaapa-ai or a Stargate as some of Cassie's friends call it. This device gave them access to many worlds where they tore down everything and consumed the races they found there. The four races used every resource at their disposal without success. The First Ones were impervious to all the Ancients technology as well as their magickal abilities, the Asgard, who constituted the military arm of the alliance, had a little more luck with theirs, killing thousands but those thousands were replaced by millions."
"So how did they win?" interrupted Dawn.
"Well they didn't, it was like trying to hold back the tide with just your hands," sighed Whistler. "By then half this galaxy was overrun, that was when an Ancient by the name of Brah'ha came up with a desperate plan, using a device called The Heart of the Universe and you, when you were just energy. He was able to seal all the First Ones behind an impenetrable barrier but only at the sacrifice of his people’s physical form, they were no longer able to keep their form, they ascended. However, before they went they left behind a legacy, the slayers and witches. To these they gave many of their powers and abilities."
"Why?" asked Dawn curiously.
"Well not only did the First Ones consume the races they conquered but they infected them, making many like lesser First Ones, vampires, werewolves, other demons. The Ancients knew that something would be necessary to fight those creatures left behind, because they were not pure First Ones they could not be banished from this reality."
"Okay I can see why that would be necessary but why was there only two slayers before we closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale?" said Dawn.
"Because the energy needed to create a Slayer is infinitely greater than it is to create a Witch, most of a Witch's power comes from mystical energy all around us, but the Slayer's power comes directly from the same source as the barrier..."
"But that would mean... we are responsible for the First One returning when we activated the potentials in Sunnydale..." Dawn realised, "What would have happened if all the potentials had become slayers?" she asked going pale.
"Don't worry, the Powers wouldn't have let your plan work if there had been any alternative, it was they that stopped any potential outside Sunnydale from being activated but that little fight did cause this problem... well mostly. You should remember that if the two books had been destroyed when the Powers commanded, the First Ones would still be trapped and the barrier would have eventually returned to its previous strength," said Whistler trying to alleviate some of the young woman's guilt.
"Who found the books?" asked Dawn a sudden anger coming into her eyes.
"Ethan Rayne. Using the distraction caused by your friend Giles’ little raid on the Council’s library, he slipped past the Wards set up and took the books. He planned on making a device he believed would give him the power to not only draw demons and other creatures across dimensional barriers, similar to what your blood can do but on a much smaller scale. He also wanted to move between dimensions himself, the Powers are unsure why?" Whistler explained. “So I’m guessing that things didn’t work out for him?” surmised Dawn.
“No, although in theory it would have, only the first time he used it he drew a First One to him,” explained Whistler.
“So how do we fix it?” asked Dawn.
“There are some things you need to tell the Slayer,” said Whistler. “Any device that was built by the Ancients can be used by slayers and witches; they cannot be directly hurt by them either. Devices built by any other race based on Ancient technology can be effective against them but will take more power.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Dawn.
“Sorry I can’t tell you that, but some of your new friends will be able to work it out? You need to go back now, bye kid.” As everything went white, Dawn heard the balance demon call out, "Tell your sister I said Hi."
"BUFFY!" screamed Dawn as she sat up in bed next to Cassandra who followed suit shocked from her sleep.
Before anyone else was halfway up from their seats the blonde Slayer was already at her sister's door. As Janet joined Buffy on the bed, gathering her stepdaughter into her arms as she began to cry, the Slayer was gently rocking Dawn back and forth speaking quietly to her, "I'm here Dawnie, I got you, nothing can hurt you now. Don't cry."
"Buffy no one is safe, the First ones are coming," exclaimed the distraught brunette.
"Who?" asked Giles as he sat next to his Slayer still rocking her sister.
"The First Ones... The Sag'éd. The barrier that kept them prisoner has been breached," she explained.
"Dawn now listen to me. How do you know about the Sag'éd? And more importantly how are you able to convert the Forbidden language to English when no one else can?" Giles asked gently.
"The Powers gave me the ability and Whistler explained that I'm the only person who can, it has to do with what I used to be," said Dawn pulling slightly away from her sister to look at the Watcher.
The Watcher looked at her for a moment, "If we give you a little time, do you think you would be up to coming out and joining the meeting?" he asked gently.
"Sure, but would it be alright if I showered first?" Dawn smiled slightly.
"Of course Dawn, I think we probably have that much time," he said rising and pushing the others out and closing the door behind him.
"Okay Dawnie you go and shower... Do you want Tara to make you some of her famous funny shaped pancakes?" said Buffy beginning to rise.
Dawn grabbed her sister's arm, "Please don't leave me... I don't want to be alone!" she sobbed.
Buffy looked down at her 'little' sister holding on to her with a death grip, "Okay Dawnie I'll stay with you, so will Janet and Cassie... Just let me stick my head out the door and tell the others okay?"
Dawn released her sister and nodded, "Alright, and yes I'd like some of Tara's pancakes."
It was a little under an hour before Dawn felt ready to face the others who waited in the living room as she and her roommate ate the pancakes in the kitchen; Faith and Sam standing guard at the door refusing anyone other than the two witches and their mates access to the kitchen.
Dawn slipped her hand into Buffy's who squeezed it reassuringly as they all entered the crowded living room.
They sat on the couch, the others vacating it to allow the two young women to be joined by Buffy and Janet; Faith and Sam sat on the arms next to their respective partners.
Giles and Daniel sat opposite them both with intense looks on their faces, "So Dawn, you said Whistler told you, you could translate the Forbidden language?" said Giles.
"Oh, he asked me to say 'Hi' Buffy," Dawn said smiling at her sister before answering the Watcher's question. "Yeah, he said that when the monks made me human, the Powers made sure I could translate it..." she hesitated for a moment trying to remember everything, "He said that when the Ancients created slayers and witches they didn't feel it was necessary for them to have that ability..."
"Wait, the Ancients created slayers and witches? How?" interrupted Daniel.
"Ah yeah and he didn't say," explained Dawn looking from Giles to Daniel. Then a hardness came to her eyes, "We are partly responsible for what is happening, but Ethan Rayne was the one that brought the Sag'éd, the First One here."
"Ethan 'bloody' Rayne, I should have guessed. Well he's gone too far this time," growled Giles.
"Because the two books that the Council had and should have destroyed, Whistler said he stole them from the Council just before the building was blown up. He built something he hoped would allow him to cross the dimensional barriers, well at least he thought so."
"I think you better start at the beginning, try and leave nothing out," said Giles taking his glasses off and polishing them again.
"Wait first I wanna know what that thing said back at the NID base!" Jack jumped in looking around.
"Okay, so what did he say?" smiled Dawn thinking how much Jack acted like Xander, 'Maybe they are related?' she mused.
"Ah... will one of you guys tell her?" asked Jack looking around at the slayers and witches.
"Me-ng ina Sag'éd Me nam sa itti du sa ina amelnakru su'ati eseru memin erset la tari," supplied Willow.
"Well you have to understand that some English words don't have any corresponding word in the Forbidden language. As close as I can get it, it means, ‘We are First Ones We will not talk with creatures that belong to the enemy that banished us to land of no return,’" explained the young brunette.
Dawn went on to tell them of the Ancients and their allies war against the First Ones and the desperate plan, which caused the Ancients to leave this reality.
"So how did they cross the barrier?" asked Xander speaking for the first time.
"We are partly responsible; the power that Willow and Tara tapped into to activate the other slayers in Sunnydale weakened it, which was why only those potentials in town were activated not all over the world. But even that wasn't enough to allow the First Ones access, it was Ethan that built the device, which is now in Erset la tari. The only good thing is that there are no materials there to build more, but if they get the books or manage to obtain those items they will be able to create more, then they will come in force."
Everyone sat in silence trying to absorb what the young woman had told them.
"So not good," said Buffy, "We need to find those books and destroy them."
"Yes Buffy," nodded Giles, "I would guess Ethan still has them."
"Right so we find this Ethan guy," agreed Jack getting nods from his team.
"No," snapped Buffy, "This is our domain."
"Not anymore," Jack snapped back, "This concerns everyone."
"Buffy, I'm afraid the Colonel is correct," agreed Giles. "If we can somehow obtain the device the First One has and secure the books then the crisis will be averted and both sides can go back to their own concerns. But if not, we have to prepare for the worst." He looked at Jack, "If you can arrange it, I think we need to organise a meeting with your superiors so we can work out an agreement as soon as possible."
"I think it would be a good idea for Colonel Stevens to also be involved," added Riley.
"Yes you are probably right, can you contact him and see if he can make himself available," said Giles.
Jack looked over at Daniel, silently asking his advice he nodded slightly. Jack turned back to Giles, "I'll contact General Hammond," he told the Watcher, "But in the meantime what about this Ethan guy?"
"I'll run a check with the FBI and NSA computers," pointed out Sam.
"And I'll contact our network and see if anyone knows anything," added Willow. "Don't forget the Coven, they maybe able to help!" suggested Tara.
"Yes why don't you three get on that," said Giles.
Sam looked at her CO who nodded, "Right, I'll need a computer," she said.
"No problem, we have everything you'll need in our apartment," smiled Willow as she headed for the door with Tara and Sam in tow.
"Right I'll make that call," said Colonel O'Neill getting up and heading towards the balcony, opening his phone and pressing speed dial as he went.
SGC, General Hammond's office
As the General entered his office the phone began ringing, "Hammond," he said taking his seat.
"General, it's me," came Colonel O'Neill's voice on the other end.
"Jack, how is Cassandra doing?"
"As well as you would expect having been experimented on by the NID. Janet didn't get much sleep last night by what Sam said. Cassie and her friend Dawn kept waking up screaming. Whatever those bastards did to them, I think it will take time for them to get over it! If ever," said Jack, the General could hear the anger in his voice.
"Yes, we both have experiences like that," said the General shivering slightly as he thought back to his time in the hands of the Vietcong. "If there is anything she needs let me know. So how did the meeting go?"
"Will do General. Not so great actually sir, we may have a bigger problem than the Goa'uld. We still have a chance to stop things from going to hell, literally. We discovered why and how the Ancients left this reality. It seems they met a more powerful race which they managed to imprison but the barrier has been weakened," explained Jack briefly.
"So Jack, what do you suggest?" asked General Hammond worried that there was something out there worse than the Goa'uld.
"The people here asked for a meeting. Sir what I saw yesterday is a danger to everything and everyone, I think you should be here and at least some of the Joint Chiefs should also be as well if it can be arranged."
"Very well I'll take that under advisement and get back to you. I'll suggest to the President that he also send a representative to the meeting."
"Right sir, I'll wait for your call," Jack disconnected the phone. They all looked at him as he re-entered, "He's getting back to me," he said retaking his seat.
A little over an hour later General Hammond returned Jack's call.
"O'Neill," said Jack opening his phone.
"Colonel, can you persuade Ms Summers and some of her associates to accompany you and your team to the President's home in New Hampshire? The President wishes to be at the meeting and as he already planned to spend a couple of days there and none of the press will be around it will be easier to keep this under wraps for the moment."
Jack looked around the people watching him on the phone, "I think I can do that, I'll contact you again when the details have been sorted out here. Bye Sir," he disconnected the phone. "The President wants to be at the meeting, so would like some of you to accompany my team to his private home in New Hampshire," he informed them.
"I can't leave Dawn," said Buffy.
"No, but I think Dawn should be part of the group anyway as she is the only one capable of translating the First Ones’ language," pointed out Giles.
"Alright, you, Dawn, Willow, Robin, Riley and me that way if any decision involving the Council has to be made the majority will already be available and Willow and Tara can always do their mojo to connect the rest to us," said Buffy.
"Alright if that's your decision," nodded Giles.
Janet asked General Hammond for permission to remain with her daughter in Cleveland until Cassandra felt up to returning to school, Buffy suggested they remain at her apartment while she was away.
The private jet taxied to the end of the small airstrip where three black limousines waited. As they exited the plane they were greeted by a young man in his mid-twenties, "Welcome, I'm John Peterson, President Hayes personnel aide. If you will come with me, I'll take you to the President," he said shaking hands with everyone before leading the way to the cars.
"Has General Hammond arrived yet?" asked Jack as he followed the aide.
"Yes Colonel, along with a Major Davis," answered John.
"And Colonel Stevens?" added Riley.
"Not yet, he is expected around six tonight. I understand he had some problems with some vampires in the Andes!" smiled John standing by the side of the first car.
The aide rode in the first car with Buffy, Dawn, Giles and Willow. He smiled at Buffy, "You don't remember me do you?" he asked.
Buffy frowned, "No sorry, should I?"
"I guess not, I was a nobody at Hemery, I was one of the students you saved that night at the gym," John explained, "A lot of us figured out what had happened and I wasn't the only one unhappy to see you expelled," he said serious.
Buffy looked closely at the young man, "Peterson! Didn't me and my so called friends give you a hard time?" she blushed remembering some of the things that had been done to him. "Sorry about that," she finished unable to look at him.
John laughed, "Yeah, but don't feel too bad, it happens, anyway about a year after you left LA I met a guy who lived on the streets, I helped him fight vampires until I went to college."
"So what was this guy's name," asked Buffy, already suspecting the answer.
"Charles Gunn. He works with your friend Angel now," smiled John.
"I thought it might be. Do you still keep in contact with him?" nodded Buffy.
"Now and then, he knows I work for the President and he has been able to give me a heads up when something apocalyptic is about to happen so I can warn the President."
"So you were able to warn him about Jasmine and the sun being blacked out a few years ago!" asked Giles.
"Yeah, that was a close one with Jasmine, half the people in the White House were under her influence. I suggested at that point the President should secure himself and his family in the bunker," said John solemnly. "Some of the staffers are still being treated for the trauma they suffered when they found out the truth."
"Does he know I'm in the party?" put in Willow.
John glanced at the redhead, nodding, "Yes, he knows. He knows what you have been through over the last few years, Angel told Gunn who told me and I passed it on, he knows you're much better and would not do anything dangerous."
"Oh," said Willow quietly seeking out Giles' hand for support.
The rest of the short journey was spent in silence. They passed through a set of security checks without incident and arrived at a quite large colonial house. They all piled out of the cars and John led them up to and through the large front doors. They passed several men in suits that were obviously Secret Service agents, he approached a door on the left and knocked, opening it when a male voice called out to enter.
John stood to one side beckoning the Scoobies in followed by the rest, "Mr President, may I introduce the Slayer Buffy Summers, I went to school with her you may recall."
The two men in the room rose and came forward, one, the older looking was a portly bald man wearing an Air Force General's uniform, Buffy guessed he was Jack's CO! The other man was in a well cut suit, slightly shorter than the General and maybe in his early fifties, he extended his hand to Buffy, "Ms Summers, I'm pleased to finally meet you, I've heard so much about you from John here."
"Pleased to meet you Mr President," smiled Buffy, "May I introduce my sister Dawn, my Watcher Rupert Giles, my best friend Willow Rosenberg, the last principle of Sunnydale High Robin Wood and former agent Riley Finn," said Buffy turning towards the others as she released his hand.
The President shook their hands, "This is General George Hammond of the SGC," he said. He looked at Riley a knowing smile coming to his face, "I've heard some good things about you son, mostly from a friend of yours I have had doing some work for me."
Riley smiled back as he shook his former Commander in Chief’s hand, "That would be Graham Miller; I didn't know he was involved with Dawn's situation until we were on our way out of the secret base. Did he make it?" asked Riley concern coming to his eyes.
"Yes he made it out fine. He is helping coordinate our efforts to closedown the NID," explained President Hayes. "Please everyone have a seat," he gestured to the couches and chairs before turning back to the guests he had not yet greeted. Jack and Sam saluting before accepting the President's hand, "It's nice to meet you again, Colonel, Major please come in and have a seat, the old soldier in me has never been one to stand on ceremony," he smiled. Finally he turned to the remaining two guests, "Doctor Jackson it is nice to finally meet you, George has told me only good things about you and Teal'c may I formally greet you and thank you for all the help you have given us over the years fighting the Goa'uld," he finished.
Teal'c bowed slightly, "Thank you Mr President, but it is I that should thank you, without the Tau'ri there would be no hope for my own people."
"An amicable situation then," smiled Hayes, he turned to John, "Can you please arrange for refreshments to be sent in?"
"Of course Mr President," replied John before leaving the room.
The rest of the late afternoon was spent getting to know each other as they waited for the remaining people to arrive for the meeting. By the time Colonel Stevens arrived, even Willow felt more relaxed having been reassured by the President that he was pleased with her progress and had no intention of sending agents to kill her.
At just after six, John knocked and entered the room, "Mr President, the rest of your guests have arrived and are waiting in the conference room," he said.
The President rose followed by the rest, "Thank you John. Shall we join them?" he said smiling at the rest as he led the way out the room.
On entering the conference room, they were greeted by three men and a woman who all rose when the President entered the room.
"Ladies and gentlemen please find your seats," said the President sitting at the head of the large table, "We thought it easier to have nameplates made so we could proceed quicker." It took several minutes for everyone to find their places and settle down. "First of all I think we should all get an update on the search for this Ethan Rayne character, at the suggestion of John, I requested both the NSA and FBI start a search for him. Margaret, Jim, has anything come up since we spoke last?" he asked the heads of the respective agencies who sat just down from him.
"Not much Mr President. His credit cards were last used to pay for a hotel room some eighteen months ago in Cleveland, he stayed a week then nothing after that," Jim MacDonald the FBI director said.
"Ethan is not stupid," put in Giles, "He probably had arrangements with the demon underworld to disappear or..."
"Or the Sag'éd killed him," put in Buffy.
"Or the Sag'éd killed him," sighed Giles.
"Well what about the books? Is there anyway to find them?" asked the President hopefully.
"The Council would periodically place powerful tracing spells on their more important volumes, but as I did when I ah... obtained certain books from them he would have removed them. So no there is no way, sorry," explained Giles.
"Alright so we concentrate on finding Ethan Rayne then," nodded the President, he turned to the Directors, "I want every available person on this," he ordered.
"Yes Mr President," they said in unison.
"We have our people looking as well," put in Buffy, "And we are not impeded by national borders," she smiled.
The President smiled at her, "I envy you Ms Summers. Have you any idea what he was doing in Cleveland?" he asked looking around the table.
"Cleveland is the only active Hellmouth now that Sunnydale is gone," explained Giles, "I suspect he was using the chaotic energy coming from it for something."
"Giles you’re always saying that the Hellmouth is a weak place in the barrier between dimensions," said Willow, "That would also apply to Erset la tari, it would be the most likely place to bring the Sag'éd across."
"Yes of course, damn. This means that the creature has been here for eighteen months..." growled Giles, he looked at the President, "I would suggest we also trace this Doctor Hoven's movements for the last two years."
"Why two years?" asked the President.
"It is doubtful this NID would have accepted him without checking his background, so the creature must have replaced the real Doctor Hoven at some point. I think it would be useful to know about the real Doctor as well."
"Yes," nodded the President, "Please do the checks," he said looking at his Directors again.
"Yes Mr President," they said in unison again.
"Now then Mr Giles, you requested this meeting what do you propose?"
"We pool all our resources as well as information," the next words out his mouth had everyone looking more than a little shocked. "To that end I propose a team from Watchful Security join your SGC to help find 'The Heart of the Universe', whatever and wherever it is and you supply us with several dozen personnel to augment our shortage of Watchers to help look after the other slayers."
"You can't be serious Giles," exclaimed Buffy rising and turning to confront her Watcher, "I thought we agreed that we would have nothing to do with the military," she growled.
"Things have changed. Buffy think, the US government have what we need to find this 'Heart of the Universe' and slayers and witches I suspect are the only ones that will be able to use it," Giles said in a calm voice.
“Whistler told me slayers and witches can use any Ancient technology,” added Dawn.
"Alright," Buffy acknowledged grudgingly, "Just out of curiosity, if the Council were to agree, who did you have in mind?"
Giles smirked as he glanced at the Colonel, "Faith, Willow, Xander and yourself, with Riley and Sam as back up if needed."
"No way would I take orders from Jack," Buffy said between clenched teeth.
"I'm sure General Hammond and I could come up with something that would work," smiled the President.
Jack looked a little sick himself as he looked at his Commander in Chief, "Sir, you can't be serious! These 'children'," he said between clenched teeth, "Should be kept as far way from the gate as possible."
Buffy looked daggers at Jack before turning back to her Watcher, "If Jack is against it and we don't hafta take orders from him, I agree," she finished sitting down.
"May I suggest Buffy as joint second in command in regards to her team under General Hammond," offered Robin, "But with Buffy having a veto over any order outside the remit of the search for the 'Heart'."
"That could work Mr President," put in General Hammond receiving an angry stare from Colonel O'Neill.
The next person to shock everyone was Colonel Stevens, "Mr President, as my unit is already doing much of the same work as the slayers may I suggest that as long as the team of slayers are working at the SGC, my unit be placed under the joint control of yourself and Watchful Security."
"You wanna work with these people Mike," said Jack in shock.
A look of pain crossed Colonel Stevens face as he glanced at his old friend before addressing the President, "Sir, as you know, I just returned from Peru. Without the aid these people gave us, via Riley, it would have been far worse! As it was we lost over one hundred civilians and seven of my unit were injured, two of which are almost certain to have to leave the service. Had we obtained the information earlier most of those people would still be alive and I would not be looking to replace two men who have served this country... this world, so well." he looked at Jack again, "Yes I would work with these people Jack."
President Hayes glanced at the two Colonels and then at General Hammond and Giles, "If we and your Council can agree to terms would both groups accept these offers?" he asked.
"Mr President all this may be academic, if we can recover the two books and the device built using them, the First ones will be trapped again. But the slayers and witches have knowledge and abilities of the Ancients, besides being a very valuable asset to the world, and as Mr Giles said, are probably the only ones that can use the 'Heart', would be of great benefit to the SGC in fighting the Goa'uld," pointed out Daniel.
"We won't be used as a weapon without our freewill again," snapped Buffy.
"Buffy, no one is suggesting otherwise," said Giles gently knowing how his Slayer felt about the old Council and its methods.
"Aren't they Giles? Aren't you Giles? You have already offered mine and Faith's services to an organisation we know next to nothing about without discussing it with us first. We all agreed when we set up the new Council that would not happen and here you are doing just that," growled Buffy her face like thunder.
Giles had the good grace to look ashamed, an apologetic look coming to his face, "Yes I did didn't I! My apologies Buffy," he sighed heavily glancing at the others before settling on the President, "My apologies to you, for myself and Buffy, I am sorry but for the moment, I must withdraw the offer of the slayers, which exceeded my authority."
"No," cried Dawn jumping up from her place on the far side of Buffy. She blushed as all eyes turned to her, "Sorry," she whispered before turning to her sister, "Buffy please, you don't know what the Sag'éd are capable of, but I do," she said tears coming to her eyes. Buffy rose again and pulled her into a hug, there was silence around the table and after a few moments Dawn pulled away from her sister looking into her eyes, "Buffy I don't want anyone to go through that, and they will if we don't stop it. Buffy I feel we can trust these people and they need our help, they 'need' your help... Please Buffy for me," she pleaded.
Buffy let out a heavy sigh, "Alright," she said never able to refuse Dawn anything when she was like this. She released her sister and turned to the others, "Sorry about my earlier outburst," she glanced down at Giles, "If the whole Council agree and the individuals agree, I will do it," she said retaking her seat.
"Very well Buffy," nodded Giles he turned to the President, "May I suggest a short adjournment and a quiet room where Willow can do the spell to connect with the rest of the Council!"
"Yes of course, it is almost time for dinner, may I suggest we take up where we left off tomorrow after we have slept on it!" suggested the President.
"Yes that maybe best, Buffy got very little rest last night," said Giles rising with the others.
President Hayes turned to John who had risen from a chair by the doors, "John please show our guests to the music room and see they are not disturbed and I'll see you all at dinner," he said looking at everyone.