by P.H. Wise
An Angel crossover fanfic
Chapter 8 – Such as Hearts Heroic Oftenest Win
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.
Doctor Elizabeth Weir shook her head and marveled at the adventure her expedition was about to embark upon.
They had found it.
Now she stood at the very brink of the Stargate, about to step into another galaxy.
General O’Neill was there to see her off, but Daniel Jackson, the man who had made all this possible, was conspicuously absent. She had only barely managed to have Doctor Zelenka recalled from the Sunnydale investigation in time to join her team, but now, they were all here, and all ready to go.
When the President had called her, it seemed like years ago now, she’d had no idea that it would lead to something like this. Atlantis!
If someone had told her that she would never see Earth again, she would not have been surprised. They all knew going into it that this was probably a one-way trip. But they had never in their wildest dreams suspected that this expedition would become the last hope for the survival of the Tau’ri.
Side by side with Colonel Sumner, she stepped through the gate. With all her expedition behind her, she stepped through the gate.
No one would have thought that the establishment of an archeological dig site at the place where Sunnydale once stood would bring about the Apocalypse. Well, unless they’re us. But most people wouldn’t think so, and most certainly didn’t. Certainly not Daniel Jackson, who was crouched in front of a portable sensor array. Doctor Zelenka was gone now, recalled to the SGC for the Atlantis mission. But Doctor Jackson knew how to work the device well enough. It pinged, and he blinked. Now THAT was unexpected. There were residual energy readings on every part of the Sunnydale crater. There was also, however, a single location at which they were concentrated.
“What do you have, Daniel?” Carter asked as she shielded her eyes from the light of the setting sun.
“We were right. There IS something here. The strongest concentration of energy is about two hundred meters below the surface in the center of the crater.”
Teal’c stepped forward, glancing down at the readout and raising a brow. “Indeed.”
Doctor Jackson reached the crater’s center several minutes later. “Sam! Teal’c! There’s a stairwell here. I’m going in!”
He disappeared from the realm of light and sky. A few moments later, Teal’c and Carter followed him in.
Some miles away, Groo sat as comfortably as could be expected in the passenger compartment of the Council’s private jet. He very pointedly did not look down. For all that he had been in this world for many years now, he still could not abide these metal birds that the cows insisted on using to fly from place to place. Not that he was frightened. No, the Groosalug was not one to be frightened of flying. His pale face was the result of a lack of sunlight, and his hands were clutching the seats not because he was afraid but because he was exercising. Yes, that was it.
OK, so maybe he was just a little bit afraid of flying.
Faith sat in the chair across from his, helping herself to a few swigs out of a miniature whiskey bottle. Illyria was at her side, her expression unreadable. They sat there in silence, for what was there to be said? All three of them knew where they were going.
They were going to the Hellmouth.
He had heard stories of such things, but in all his years, the Groosalug had never actually visited one. And now, here he was, on his way to the remains of the Hellmouth.
And for all his fright, as the jet drew nearer and nearer to the blasted Hellmouth, Groo couldn’t help but feel as though he was coming home.
The chains of causation had well and truly bound them, Human and Goa’uld, Slayer, half-breed, and Old One.
It came about so strangely - So silently. The cargo ships full of Jaffa glided smoothly down through the earth’s atmosphere, each one concealed beneath its own cloaking device, bending the light around their frames. They set down in the Sunnydale crater without even so much as a cloud of dust announcing their presence.
Yet their presence was marked.
There, in the shadows of the ruin, an unquiet spirit dwelt, seething with rage, watching impotently as these intruders set foot upon its domain.
The very shadows seemed to writhe.
“What do you seek in the dust, Daniel?” Sha’re asked as she stepped out of the shadows.
Daniel Jackson was crouched over a broken metal seal at the bottom of the stairwell that looked like it might have once covered the entrance to this place, and when he heard the voice of his dead wife, he nearly leaped out of his skin, and that was before he recognized it; a voice coming unexpectedly out of the darkness in a tomb-like atmosphere is startling at the best of times. He hit his head on the wall, yelped, grabbed his head, and hissed in pain.
A moment later, it occurred to him exactly who had spoken to him, and he turned towards her, barely able to believe his eyes. And there she was in all her glory: his Sha’re, right down to the playful look in her eyes. Dark and lovely, clad in simple Abydonian clothing; his heart ached to look at her.
The sound of Teal’c and Carter descending the stone stairwell echoed behind him.
“Sha’re?” he asked.
“Find anything?” Carter asked as she reached the bottom.
Daniel gestured towards Sha’re.
“What?” Carter asked.
Daniel frowned, and then looked. Sha’re was gone. He grew distressed. “She was here, Sam.”
“Sha’re. She was standing right here.”
Teal’c raised an eyebrow, and Sam looked at Daniel carefully. “Are you feeling OK, Daniel?” she asked.
He grew visibly confused and glanced about. “I don’t know.”
“We can do this another time,” Sam began.
“No. We’re here now. I can do this.” Daniel said.
Sam and Teal’c both nodded, though their concerned looks did not fade.
“I found this,” Daniel said, and gestured to the broken seal. “I’m not sure what it is, but it has writing on it. I don’t recognize the language.”
Teal’c spoke up, then. “Would it not be prudent to explore our surroundings before we begin any detailed study of artifacts?”
As much as he wanted to examine the seal, Daniel found he couldn’t argue with that line of reasoning. He nodded, and they moved out from the bottom of the stairwell and into the main cavern.
Much of the cavern appeared to be caved in. It was only a small miracle that had prevented this particular part of it from collapsing. Before them was a ledge overlooking a narrow shaft. It might have been a very large pit once, but it’s mostly filled with rock and rubble now. Near the edge of the ledge was a small pile of dust and ashes, and on the left hand side, another rock stairway that descended further into darkness.
Standing at the top of the stairway, Daniel felt the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. There was a sense of watchfulness here, and he was almost sure that he could see the dim outline of Sha’re at the bottom of the flight of stone steps. He didn’t call out; he didn’t trust his eyes. The flashlights mounted on their P-90s didn’t penetrate very far into the gloom. If he didn’t know better, Daniel would have sworn that the darkness was resisting the giving up of its secrets to the light.
They went down. Down and down. After they’d been following the stairway for nearly ten minutes, Sam shook her head. “How much further does it go?” she asked rhetorically.
Daniel answered anyways. “I don’t know. It has to end somewhere, though.”
“Indeed,” said Teal’c.
Finally, after fifteen minutes of slow descent into the very heart of the shattered Hellmouth, they saw a light in the distance: a faint silvery sort of sheen. And then the stairway opened out into a great cavern, this one fully intact. The whole of the cavern was lit with a soft, silvery illumination like moonlight. Wending their way across the winding path to the source of that light, they finally saw what had drawn them here. They finally saw the source of the energy their instruments had detected.
It was a grand machine affixed to the far wall, perhaps twenty metres high, reaching nearly to the roof of the cavern, and it shone like the moon.
Colonel Reynolds, the CO of SG-3, neither knew nor cared of strange machines buried beneath the Sunnydale crater. What he did care about was getting the hell out of here as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option at the moment, as his team had been assigned to assist SG-1.
This place was damned creepy. He had learned long ago to trust his instincts, and right now his instincts told him he was being watched. He signed to the others to take cover.
No sooner had he ducked behind a piece of debris when a staff-blast went straight through the spot his head had just vacated. Following the line of the sound with his eyes, he quickly saw the source of the blast, and he swore.
Jaffa. Lots of Jaffa.
“Look alive, Marines!” he roared over the sound of incoming plasma bolts.
Battle was joined, and soon, the air was full of the smell of gunfire as four P-90s barked out their response to the staff-blasts. He knew that there were too many to fight head on. There had to be a hundred Jaffa out there, and SG-3 was only four men. But they were the marine combat team, this was their home world, and by God but they were going to give the Jaffa what for. He quickly formulated a plan. “Covering fire!” he called, and two marines sprayed bullets towards the Jaffa as he and Penhall retreated from the squad of Baal’s servants. After they had retreated some ten meters, they stopped and provided their own covering fire as the two who had initially been firing retreated. Finally, the marines stopped firing. It was night, and the Jaffa could no longer make their positions.
Colonel Reynolds gave a few hand-signs to his men, and they each donned their night vision goggles and vanished into the darkness.
Even as they approached the machine, Carter’s Asgard communication device began to glow. An instant later, Colonel Reynolds’s voice came through, loud and clear. “Colonel Reynolds to Colonel Carter.”
“Carter here,” she said.
“Sir, we have a foothold situation up here. I estimate at least a hundred, possibly two hundred Jaffa. Request immediate assistance.”
Carter’s eyes widened ever so slightly, and she exchanged glances with Teal’c. “Teal’c and I are on our way. Doctor Jackson’s found something here. It might be what the Jaffa are here for. We have to hold them until help can arrive.”
“How exactly would you suggest we do that, sir? We may be the best, but we’re a four-man team.”
“Be creative, Colonel. We’ll do the same.”
“Creative. Roger. Over and out.” The sarcasm in Reynolds’s voice was thick.
She glanced at Teal’c. “Any ideas?”
Teal’c nodded. “Many. The Jaffa will attempt to crush all opposition through the direct application of overwhelming force. This may work to our advantage if we can lure them into an area of the crater where they cannot make use of their numerical advantage.”
Daniel spoke up. “And while you two are fighting off an army, I should be...?”
Sam gestured to the machine.
They moved out. As they ascended the stairs, Carter activated the Asgard communications device and gave a quick report to the SGC. By the time Sam and Teal’c arrived at the surface, the Prometheus was on its way, escorted by a full squadron of F302s.
An old jeep screeched to a halt at the edge of the Sunnydale crater, and immediately Illyria stepped clear of the vehicle. The smell of the sea hung heavily in the air, and the roar of the ocean was loud. They had parked at the very edge of the beach, and the remains of the Sunnydale docks could be seen a few miles distant. Even as Faith and Groo gathered their weapons from the back of the jeep, Illyria moved to the edge of the crater and looked down. So this was the remains of the Hellmouth. The Gateway between worlds.
It did not impress her. “Is this truly all that remains of the Gateway?” she asked. “I had thought it would be more impressive. More than,” she gestured at the rubble-strewn crater, “this.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, Princess,” Faith said as she moved up beside Illyria, a hunting bow in hand, a sword at her side, and a quiver full of arrows slung over her shoulder, “But what you see is what you get.”
Groo joined them a moment later, and he too looked down into the shattered Hellmouth, and the three of them stood in silence for a few moments.
“Well,” said Faith, “I don’t see any celestial armies dukin’ it out overhead. I guess we’re early.”
“How disappointing,” Illyria said. “I had hoped to test the mettle of these ‘higher be...’” she trailed off, and tilted her head to the side slightly. Her ear twitched.
“Something up, Bluebird?” Faith asked.
“Something stirs. It is... familiar.”
At that moment, the sounds of gunfire and staff-blasts echoed across the rubble-strewn crater. The three Champions exchanged glances.
“Guess that’s our signal,” Faith said. “Let’s kick some ass.”
Together, the descended into Sunnydale.
Daniel studied the inscriptions on the machine as carefully as he could, comparing them with his notes on the Ancient language. He wished that Jack were here. Sure, Jack probably wouldn’t be interested in what he was looking at, but at least then he’d have someone to talk to about it. It was certainly fascinating, though. Thus far he had managed to decipher the words ‘warning, great machine, and ascension.’ It was the last word that had truly excited him. If this machine did what he thought it did...
His thoughts were interrupted by Sha’re’s voice. “It is beautiful, my Daniel.”
Daniel did not turn to regard his dead wife. He continued working.
“Are you ignoring me?” she asked a few moments later.
Daniel nodded. “I’ve decided that I’m hallucinating. There’s no point talking to a hallucination.”
Sha’re laughed. “But you just did, Daniel.”
“Did what?” he asked distractedly.
“Talked to me.” Her laugh faded into an impish smile.
Daniel immediately shut his mouth and resumed his study of the Machine.
Sha’re did not leave, and for fifteen minutes he worked in silence, intensely aware of her eyes upon him, barely able to concentrate for the distraction she proved to be. ‘No,’ Daniel thought, ‘it definitely isn’t easy concentrating when your dead wife is standing behind you.’
Finally, she spoke again. “Have you figured it out?”
“Figured what out?”
“What it’s for.”
He shook his head. “Something about Ascension. I can only assume that this was somehow used in the Ancients’ research in that field. Maybe it... measures your potential to ascend.”
“You are close, Daniel.”
“And I suppose you know what it’s for?”
“Why do you think that I am a hallucination?”
Daniel turned and met her gaze. “You died,” he said simply.
“I did. But do you really think that death is the end?”
“The Ancients seem to think so.”
“Don’t be foolish, my Daniel. The Ascended Ancients have never experienced death, never seen beyond the veil. For all their knowledge and enlightenment, they know nothing of what lies beyond unless they should become corporeal and die, but if that should happen, they cannot return and tell the others what they have learned. Death is closed to them.”
Daniel frowned. She was telling the truth; of that much he was certain. He didn’t remember much from his time as one of the Ascended, but her words rang true. “So you’re a ... ghost? Some sort of incorporeal spirit?” he asked.
“No. I am so much more than that now. Don’t you see?”
“Uh, no. Definitely not seeing.” He considered her form for a moment and then said, “Well, actually I am, and it worries me.”
She smiled at him. “When I died, I become so much more than I had ever known before. My tiny experiences joined with something greater. Something... beyond words.”
Daniel took off his glasses. “That doesn’t sound so different from Ascension.”
“I wouldn’t know,” she said.
“So what lies beyond death is...?”
Her smile widened. “Me.”
It felt wrong. Very, very wrong. He didn’t know how just yet, but something was not of the good here. Still, he didn’t confront her with his suspicion. Instead, he asked, “What does the machine do?”
“Use it, and find out.”
He almost laughed. Almost. “I don’t think so.” He went back to his examination of the machine.
A few minutes later, Daniel’s eyes widened, and he stared at the machine in shock. He glanced at her, and she only nodded.
“Ascension?” he said, unable to quite believe what he had read on the now translated inscription.
“Not just for the individual, my Daniel, but for everyone.” She sounded almost... eager. “A planetary Ascension.”
Daniel shuddered. “It would be...”
“Beautiful!” she interrupted. “Think of it, Daniel. No more pain. No more suffering. Eternal enlightenment and joy for every human being!”
“I was going to say terrible. They’re not ready for that, Sha’re. Not most of them, anyways. Can you imagine what would happen if an immature race ascended en masse? Those that are ready to ascend should be able to reach it on their own.”
She sneered, and it detracted from her beauty. “The rules were not much use to you when you were Ascended. Why do you cling to them now? Now when you have the chance to change everything? To make all the wrong things right, and secure the salvation of humanity?”
His eyes narrowed. That didn’t sound much like Sha’re. He met her gaze and spoke, though he was fearful of the answer. “Who are you?” he said.
Their plan worked, at first. They found an easily defensible choke point in the rubble-strewn crater that had been Sunnydale, lured the Jaffa to it, and turned the whole thing into a crap-shoot. Sam, Teal’c, and SG-3 opened fire, and for a few minutes, it was like Armageddon in that narrow passage near the pile of rubble that had once been Sunnydale high. Nearly twenty Jaffa died in the first few seconds before a merciless stream of armor-piercing bullets. Twenty more fell before they had time to take cover of their own, and there was little of it to be had.
The Jaffa returned fire, but could hit little. SGs one and three were all behind solid cover, and although staff-blasts rained down around them, they did not find their mark.
It’s the little things that tend to trip you up. A few stray pebbles starts an avalanche. One snowflake too many, and the whole mountain side falls on you.
It was such a small thing. Colonel Reynolds’s P90 jammed. He dropped it and drew a pistol. When the P90 hit the ground, it went off, and the spray of bullets destroyed what was left of the wooden support beam that was holding up the chunk of stone he was taking cover behind. He barely had time to yell out a surprised, “Oh shit!” before the masonry collapsed, and he was exposed to enemy fire.
His team tried to cover him.
He took a staff-blast to the face, and collapsed in a heap.
Then a Jaffa had time to produce a grenade and hurl it at another member of SG-3. It was of Jaffa make, and did not kill him, but the blinding flash and stunning effects were more than enough to allow the other Jaffa to swarm his position. The last thing he saw was the reverse end of a staff heading directly towards his face.
The other two members of SG-3 were not far behind. Staff-blasts found their mark, and in seconds, Sam and Teal’c were surrounded.
Sam shivered involuntarily as she heard the sound of a charging staff weapon from behind her. She would have turned, except there was another one in front of her, pointed at her face.
“Drop your weapons and surrender!” ordered an angry Jaffa with the symbol of Baal etched onto his forehead.
Sam slowly lowered her P90 to the ground.
“Shol’va, drop your weapon!” the Jaffa said.
Teal’c stood his ground.
“Do you desire death this day, Shol’va?”
Teal’c smiled grimly. “I die free.”
The Jaffa leveled his staff-weapon at Teal’c and prepared to fire, and in that moment, an axe embedded itself in the back of the Jaffa’s skull. He jerked visibly, and a look of confusion settled upon his face. Even as he reached back to feel the axe, he fell over. An instant later, two other Jaffa fell with arrows sticking out of their throats.
Illyria, Groo, and Faith had arrived; once again, battle was joined.
END CHAPTER 8
This was probably the hardest chapter to write out of all of them. I knew exactly what was going to happen, but actually putting it on the page was like agony. Some days, I the best I could manage in a day’s work was a paragraph – two if I was lucky. It’s very rough, but at least it’s finally on paper.