by P.H. Wise
An Angel crossover fanfic
Chapter 6 – In A Little While...
Disclaimer: I don’t own Angel. I don’t own Stargate. Please don’t sue me. This story contains spoilers for the final episode of Angel. This chapter contains small excerpts from the Stargate SG-1 episode, ‘New Order, Part 1.’ I don’t own that either.
"Why fight?" Angel asked.
Holland smiled. "That's really the question you should be asking yourself, isn't it? See, for us, there is no fight, which is why winning doesn't enter into it. We go on, no matter what. Our firm has always been here in one form or another. The Inquisition. The Khmer Rouge. We were there when the very first cave man clubbed his neighbor. See, we're in the hearts and minds of every single living being. And *that*, friend, is what's making things so difficult for you. The world doesn't work in spite of evil, Angel. It works with us. It works because of us."
The elevator came to a slow stop, and the doors parted. Angel looked out onto the plaza in front of the Wolfram and Hart office in Los Angeles, where a homeless man, dirty, grubby, and utterly without hope, pushed a shopping cart wherein was placed everything he owned.
"Welcome to the home office,” Holland Manners said.
"Of course it is! You know *that* better than anyone. All the things you've seen. All the things you've, well, done. You see, if there wasn't evil in every single one of them out there,” Two people in the plaza began to yell at one another. “Why, they wouldn't be people. They'd all be angels."
Angel stepped out of the elevator in a daze, staring bleakly about.
“Have a nice day,” Holland called as the doors slid shut with a faint hiss.
Slowly, Angel walked the streets of LA.
On a corner, a prostitute looked disgustedly down at the greasy looking man – a potential customer – who had approached her. Nowhere to go. Nothing to turn to. She had to support her children somehow, but she’d never thought it would come to this. Hating him and hating herself more, she walked with her disgusting client into a nearby alleyway.
Angel walked on.
“I HATE YOU!” a teenaged girl shrieked at her mother. The mother slapped her daughter, and hatred seethed between them. “GO TO HELL!” the girl screamed to her mother’s face, and whirled, and stomped away. Neither one saw the hurt that rested in the eyes of the other.
Angel walked on.
A woman lay face down in a dark alleyway, her life spilling out of a knife wound in her side. The man who had mugged her - the man who had killed her - searched frantically through her purse and wallet. His eyes lit up as he found what he had killed to take: a twenty-dollar bill, and a handful of change.
Angel walked on.
A dirty hobo lay in front of a liquor store, clutching a brown-bagged bottle as though it were his last hope in the world. People stepped out of their way to avoid getting too close to him. He lay there in a haze of drunken shame, hating the people who ignored him, hating his drink, and most of all, hating himself.
Angel walked on.
Illyria waved her hand, and the hole in space/time shut with a snap-hiss, and with it, the images of Angel. She stood in the laboratory that had been set up within Stargate Command for the purpose of testing her abilities. Doctor Rodney McKay – the latest in the line of doctors come to test her – stared in disbelief, for once in his life at a loss for words.
Groosalug stood close at hand, clearly troubled by what he had seen.
“How did you do that?” Rodney asked at last.
Illyria regarded the doctor coldly. “Since my diminishment, I have regained a small portion of my power over time and space. Such a display was once a simple matter. Now, it requires all of my concentration.”
“Thanks, that makes it SO much clearer,” said Rodney sarcastically. “How did you DO that?”
Illyria spared the doctor an annoyed look. A few weeks earlier, before the influence of the soul of Winifred Burkle had had time to grow, she would have destroyed him without a second thought. Now, she restrained herself, though she still felt the urge. “How do your limbs respond to your will, Doctor?”
Rodney’s nostrils flared slightly. He was clearly annoyed. “Of course. I should have expected that a person whose brain has been liquified wouldn’t be able to give me a satisfactory answer.”
Illyria’s eyes narrowed. If looks could kill, hers would have shattered several small moons. “We are done here,” she announced, her voice growing colder by the second. She turned smoothly and walked out, and Groo followed, leaving Rodney to go over the readings that the various sensors within the room had taken during Illyria’s demonstration.
All things considered, he was very glad that he wouldn’t have to deal with this much longer. Whatever else could be said for or against it, at least at Atlantis, he wouldn’t have to deal with Illyria anymore.
“Old One,” Groo called.
Illyria stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned towards the Groosalug. She directed a questioning look his way.
“Those images – they were real?”
Illyria nodded. “Pulled from a point in time before Angel rescued my--me from Pylea.”
Groo looked clearly troubled by this news. Illyria tilted her head slightly as she considered him.
“Is it really like that?” Groo asked.
“In the world of humans?”
“Yes,” said Groo.
“It is. The Senior Partners have done their job all too well. Man’s inhumanity towards man grows stronger every day. Even without the Circle of the Black Thorn, swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw, humanity rots inwardly, and foul contagion spreads, and that two-handed engine at the door stands ready. The Apocalypse continues.” She saw something in his countenance then, for a look of concern crossed her face. “Does this knowledge disturb you?”
“Yes,” he said again, this time barely more than a whisper.
Groo sighed. “It makes me wonder what it was that a warrior as brave and true as Angel died fighting for.”
Illyria fell silent, carefully considering her reply before answering, quite simply, “Hope.”
Groo grew thoughtful at that, and then nodded.
Time flowed on, as it is wont to do, and the minutes turned to hours, hours to days, and the days into weeks, all of it blending together into the continuous now. The Goa’uld System-Lords were soon to arrive for the summit at the SGC, and with all the goings on, Illyria and the Groosalug had been all but forgotten.
They came and went as Illyria pleased. She was Groosalug’s guaranteed reentry pass. Although he did not understand why she sought his company, he did not begrudge her it. Although General Hammond had gone, and Dr. Elizabeth Weir had replaced him, she was no more encouraging in regards to his prospects for joining an SG team than he had been. They had become nonentities – mere ghosts, haunting the SGC – they were ignored by all but Daniel Jackson, who spent some of his off-hours pouring over books in search of some reference to Illyria, and to her race.
Dr. Jackson had, thus far, been unsuccessful.
Oh, sure, it was easy enough to find out about the peninsula in the Balkans that had been called ‘Illyria,’ and it had pleased Illyria immensely to know that her name had not been completely forgotten by the world, but the shared name, for all the richness of the suggestion it created, did not lead to any kind of breakthrough in their understanding of the Old One. Rodney’s work in the lab seemed much more promising in that regard.
Rodney certainly thought so.
Which brings us to the now, where Rodney Mckay stood in the briefing room of the SGC, giving Dr. Weir his report on the Old One in question.
“What do you have for me, Doctor?” she asked.
He set a folder down on the table in front of the good Doctor. “It’s all there in my report,” he said, sounding entirely too pleased with himself.
Elizabeth met his proud gaze. “Why don’t you give it, then.”
He was taken aback for a moment, and then managed to stutter out, “Of course.” He took a breath. “Well, obviously she’s abnormally strong, fast, and extremely durable. She allowed me to test three different kinds of weapons on her, each with varying results. Zat blasts will knock her out after continuous, concentrated fire. Staff weapons are mostly ineffective, and our standard issue bullets only seem to bruise her.”
Dr. Weir raised an eyebrow. “She let you shoot her?”
Rodney laughed. "That's kind of a funny story..."
“You know how to work a gun?”
Rodney’s proud look crumbled. “... Doctor Jackson helped,” he admitted after a moment.
He recovered quickly.
“I would surmise that armor piercing rounds would be much more effective against her than either hollow-point or the standard issue rounds issued to SG-teams.”
“If we ever needed to have her killed?” Weir asked, clearly not pleased with that particular thought.
“As distasteful as that might sound, yes. Apparently, she’s also able to manipulate space and time to some extent. I’d LOVE to know how she’s able to do that. The most promising theories are all in the report.”
Dr. Weir nodded. “Thank you, Rodney. Dismissed.”
Rodney turned and left.
As the ever-proud scientist walked out, Dr. Weir opened the folder and began to read. She had another hour before the Goa’uld were scheduled to arrive for the... summit meeting. At the very least, reading the report (and it certainly did go on at great length about the specifics of what Rodney had just told her) would take her mind off of the butterflies that were having a little party in her stomach.
Although, thinking about the Illyria problem was never particularly good for her nerves... maybe it was easier to dwell on the Groosalug – the somewhat unwelcome guest that remained here only because Illyria demanded it, and they weren’t really in a position to refuse her. He, at least, had no truly exceptional abilities. Oh, sure, his physical abilities were slightly more than what you’d expect in, say, a Jaffa, but at least he seemed human enough...
The System Lords Camulus, Yu, and Amaterasu sat around the briefing room table. Daniel Jackson had taken his seat next to Amaterasu, and Doctor Weir sat at the head of the table.
Camulus spoke first. “Your unexpected defeat of Anubis has created an unstable situation among the System Lords,” he said. “In order to avoid open war, we came to an agreement to divide his territories and his armies evenly.”
“How civilised of you,” Daniel remarked.
“Yes. Unfortunately, one of those among us has broken that agreement.”
Doctor Jackson tried very hard not to laugh. “Oh, no, no, no, don't tell me, let me guess, it's, um ... “ He dragged out the suspense. “Baal?”
The Goa’uld were not amused. “He was able to learn the location of the planet where Anubis was creating his Kull warriors.”
Amaterasu spoke then. “With those orac at his command, Baal has tipped the balance of power in his favour.”
Camulus nodded. “In battle, the Kull are far superior to the Jaffa. Already many among us have begun to speak of capitulation, much as they did with Anubis. If that happens, Baal will indeed be unstoppable.”
“Well, this is all very interesting, I'm sure,” said Dr. Weir, “But I fail to see what it has to do with us.”
Yu beckoned his servant, Oshu, forwad. Oshu leaned down and Yu whispered into his ear for a moment.
“My master wishes to say it is well known the Tau'ri possess a powerful new weapon,” Oshu said, “something far beyond their current level of technology.”
Doctor Jackson nodded. “Yes, we used it to kill Anubis and destroy his fleet.”
“Yes. Baal has learned much with his access to Anubis’s resources. He has learned of something of great power on this world. And of a place called ‘Boca Del Inferno,’ where rests another Ancient device that would be of great interest to one such as him. The new weapon you speak of is the only reason he has not yet laid waste to this planet to seize this device.”
“And you know this because...?” Doctor Jackson asked.
“Lord Yu has many spies within Baal’s ranks.”
“But more importantly, by means of your new weapon, Baal can be prevented from conquering the...” he trailed off at the unexpected interruption of Illyria’s entrance into the briefing room.
“What is the meaning of this?” Amaterasu demanded imperiously.
“That’s what I’d like to know,” said Weir, directing a pointed look Illyria’s way.
Illyria ignored Doctor Weir, striding forward to the table, and examined each of the Goa’uld in turn. When she reached Lord Yu, she stopped, and peered directly into his eyes as though she could see the symbiote within.
“You...” she said.
“Yu?” Daniel Jackson asked.
Lord Yu looked up at Illyria in silence, his faded mind surrounded by the comfortable mists of senility. And then, something in him recognized the creature before him. The mists of his senility parted. His eyes widened. “Illyria...” he whispered.
The other Goa’uld stiffened at that name.
Illyria nodded. “Your shell is greatly changed from what you wore when last we met,” she said, her voice full with barely contained spite. “You took many of my subjects.”
Camulus stared at Illyria in abject horror. “Doctor Weir, if this - this creature... if it holds allegiance to you, I,” he blanched, “I... beg of you, send it away from this table.”
Illyria turned towards Camulus. “You tremble. You all tremble. Are these the weak, feeble creatures that presume to call themselves gods?” She laughed. “True gods have knelt before me and sworn fealty. Tell me, why should I spare any of those presumptuous creatures that claim the title of ‘god’ when they have no right to it?”
None of the Goa’uld dared answer. They remembered well this creature: the memories that passed down to them through their racial memory told of this terror that had laid waste to the Goa’uld armies so many long years ago. And although she now held the appearance of a human, so too did they.
Doctor Weir looked thoughtfully at Illyria, and Illyria met her gaze. An understanding passed between the two of them. Weir held her silence a moment longer, allowing the System Lords a few moments longer to sweat before she spoke. “Illyria, will you wait outside?”
Illyria smiled cruelly, staring imperiously down at the Goa’uld. “I will,” she intoned, before turning smoothly and walking out the door.
The Goa’uld all breathed a sigh of relief, leaving Doctor Jackson and Doctor Weir baffled, yet their minds racing with ways in which they could turn this to their advantage.
The System Lords, having been shaken to the core, were much more cooperative after that point.
Afterwards, when the Goa’uld System-Lords had all departed, Illyria met with Doctor Jackson and Doctor Weir in Weir’s office – once Hammond’s office.
Doctors Jackson and Weir exchanged looks, turned to Illyria and simultaneously asked, “Care to explain?”
Illyria smiled. Her gestures and expressions had become more human in the recent weeks, though her appearance was still anything but. “What I have done for you – it has great value.”
Daniel blinked at that. ”What?”
“My assistance has value to you.”
Elizabeth met Illyria’s gaze. “You’re talking about what we owe you?”
Illyria nodded. “What you owe me.”
“So, will you explain?” Daniel asked.
“I will. But it is a very long tale. How much do you know about the history of this world?”
“Um,” Daniel shrugged. “It was once the home to the ancients, some of them went to the Lost City, some of them died off, and the rest Ascended. We are the second evolution of their form.”
Illyria nodded. “Truly, your knowledge is limited. You know half of the tale. The other half was known to Angel.”
“Angel?” Weir asked.
“Handsome man save me from the monsters,” Illyria replied, her voice suddenly becoming well and truly Winnifred Burkle’s, if only for a moment.
“Uh... right,” said Doctor Jackson. “You were saying?”
“I am; was, one of the first ones. The Old Ones. Before the time of what you call the Ancients, we ruled the earth. Untold power emanated from all quarters: the seeds of what would come to be known as good and evil. But the shadows stretched and became darkness, and the malevolent among us grew stronger. The earth became a demon realm. Those who had the will to resist departed for higher planes, but remained ever watchful.”
“And you were one of those with the will to resist?” Doctor Jackson asked, thoroughly fascinated with the tale.
“No,” said Illyria, and there was a note of regret in her voice. “I was not.”
“Yes. And I waged war against my fellows. I learned to destroy everything that was not utterly mine. All that mattered was victory. That was how my reign persisted. I was as moral as a hurricane: empty but for the force of my gale.”
“So what happened?”
“What always happens. Summer becomes autumn, autumn becomes winter, winter becomes spring, and spring becomes summer. The stars turned against us, and we died, or fell asleep in the deep places of the world, waiting for the time when the stars would be right once again. The beings you know as the Ancients rose as we slumbered, and when we awoke again, we destroyed them. Most of them. Many learned to ascend, like many of us had so learned before them, and once ascended, remained watchful, but would not interfere. We ruled again for a time. It was during our second summer on this earth that the Goa’uld came in search of hosts. They picked the bones of the civilization of the Ancients, and they took many of my subjects, creatures that you now call ‘Unas,’ to be their hosts. Yu was among those who came, old even then. Apophis and Ra were also among them, barely old enough to take a host.”
“You let them take your subjects?”
“I did not. When I learned of what they were doing, I came upon them in fury, and they fell before me like chaff before the storm. It was the terror of my wrath that drove them from this world.”
“So why aren’t you still in charge?” Weir asked, not entirely sure whether to believe this tale.
“Man rules now where We ruled once; We shall again rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Most lie dead but dreaming in the Deeper Well. Some still walk, serene and primal, not in the spaces we know, but between them, undimensioned and to us unseen. All of history is cyclical. Surely you know this.”
Daniel nodded. He couldn't explain it very well, but he heard - he thought he heard - the ring of truth in her words. He had the strangest suspicion that he had heard this story before, though he couldn't recall where or when. “I suppose it is, though nobody's ever suggested that it's THAT cyclical. And that doesn’t explain how you came to be in that body.”
Sorrow – genuine human emotion – made itself known in Illyria’s expression. “No, it doesn’t,” she said. “I may explain that someday, but now...” she shook her head, "Not now."
The doctors held their peace for a long moment after that, before Doctor Weir finally asked, “So what are we to do with you, Illyria? What do you want?”
“To conquer all, and never die,” the Old One replied automatically, her sorrow concealed once more behind an imperious mask.
The two humans weren’t entirely sure how to take that.
It was Daniel who replied. “Is that what you really want?”
Illyria’s expression softened. “I...” she trailed off. The doctors waited for her. “I no longer know,” she admitted at last.
Doctor Weir smiled. “Well, that’s a start.”
“In truth the Groosalug is better suited to answer such questions. He, at least, knows what he wants. He is a Champion. All he has ever wanted was to do good.”
“Yes. The place that Yu’s servant mentioned – Boca Del Inferno – was destroyed by such as him.”
“The mouth of hell?” Doctor Jackson asked skeptically. Something about that name tugged at his memory. He'd felt it when it was mentioned in the summit, and he felt it again now - a nagging sense of familiarity, though he knew not the how or why of it.
Doctor Jackson wasn't entirely sure what to make of that - a common enough problem when dealing with Illyria. "So, it was destroyed? Where was it?"
Illyria met Doctor Jackson’s gaze. She remembered it well. Angel had spoken of it on occasion, and it was from thence that Willow had come to put Angel’s soul back in his body. “Sunnydale, California,” she said.
Even as Illyria met with Doctor Jackson and Doctor Weir, the Groosalug wandered the streets of Colorado Springs. He had taken to spending much of his time here. Although there was little in the way of vampire or demon problems here, it did happen occasionally, and when it did, he was there to stop it. But mostly, he watched people.
The images that Illyria had shown him had been intensely disturbing. He’d felt it necessary to go out and see for himself if people really were like that.
Much to his distress, they were.
Oh, there was more to the story than that, of course. There were flashes of love, altruism, trust, and compassion intermingled with the bitterness, the hatred, the violence, and the pain. But that did not remove the problem of such suffering. It only made it bearable.
So he sat in one of the outdoor squares by a fountain, watching the people as they passed.
Watching as a child shrieked hatred at a parent.
Watching as a young man set up an adulterous liaison with an attractive young woman.
Watching as a drunk stumbled into the fountain, only to come up a moment later, spluttering and roaring in outrage at having been tripped by a little boy who laughed loudly before running away.
Watching as an old, weather-beaten homeless woman pushed along a cart in which was held everything she owned.
A young woman sat down at his side. Her hair was long, and dark, and she was both beautiful and toned. “You the Groosalug?” she asked.
“I am,” he replied, meeting her gaze.
“I’m Faith,” she said. “Just got back from a trip down south, and heard you were in the area.”
“I don’t know you.”
“No, but a friend of mine knows you. He asked me to find out what’s the what.”
Groo thought about that. “All of my friends in this world are dead, save Illyria,” he said.
Faith raised an eyebrow at that. “You’re down with the Bluebird these days? How’s that workin’ out for ya?”
“She is somewhat... odd.”
“No kiddin’. You’re wrong, though.”
“There was another survivor?” Groo asked.
Faith nodded. “Lorne asked me to check in on you.”
Groo smiled faintly at that, and his heart warmed ever so slightly at the thought that one of those whom Cordelia had called friend was still alive. “He is well, then?”
“A little blue, but otherwise good. He’s been working with us, lately. Me and the other Slayers.”
Groo blinked, slightly alarmed at that. “His skin has changed colour?”
Faith laughed. “No. He’s still green. I mean he’s been depressed. What with everyone he loved dying on him.” The amusement went out of her expression almost instantly upon saying those words. “Can’t say I blame him.”
Groo met her gaze once more, and in that moment, he understood. He nodded, and he smiled sadly. “Is there anything in this life but grief?” he asked.
Faith thought about that. “... Sometimes,” she replied.
She fell silent, and together, they watched the people going by.
Watching, the Groosalug wondered...
And far away, in one of the few remaining intact caverns beneath the crater that had once been Sunnydale, California, the Ancient device glowed briefly, its untold energies rumbling to life for another in millions of long years of status checks. The Hellmouth was gone, but it had collected more than enough of the ambient energy of the dimensional breach to serve its grand purpose.
No sign of the machine’s glow reached the surface. For all that anyone could tell nothing had survived the Hellmouth’s collapse.
End Chapter 06
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