by P.H. Wise
An Angel crossover fanfic
Chapter 9 – Day of Wrath
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 is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
This is the end
- The Doors, ‘The End’
The three supernaturally empowered warriors charged into battle, and everything erupted into chaos. Faith let loose with another arrow, then ducked to avoid a staff blast, and cut a Jaffa in half with her sword; his armor was no match for Slayer strength paired with an enchanted blade. Illyria plowed through her enemies by sheer brute force, every blow visibly denting armor, crushing ribs, shattering jaws, or breaking arms or legs. Mangled Jaffa fell all around her as she went forth like a goddess of war. The Groosalug tore his battle-axe free of the Jaffa he had flung it at and promptly buried it in the gut of the one standing behind Teal’c and Carter.
That was more than enough prompting for the two members of SG-1; they were up and fighting in an instant. A dozen Jaffa were dead or dying in less than thirty seconds of combat. Teal’c took a staff-blast to the shoulder, and although it forced him to drop his staff-weapon, it did not drop him.
The Jaffa began to concentrate their fire on Illyria. Staff-blast after staff-blast rained down on her mixed with concentrated zat fire, and yet she was unphased. She strode through the firestorm uncaring, proud and strong, allowing her battle-instinct to come to the fore once more as it had not done since the fight behind the Hyperion. She could sense the desperation of her foes growing, and she reveled in it.
And then her world exploded in pain.
When their standard weapons had no effect, the Jaffa had brought out the heavier weaponry. Several now carried Goa’uld cannons in their arms, all of which were leveled at her. She looked down at her stomach, and saw that her flesh was badly burned. She was leaking.
“Where the hell did you come from?” Sam finally managed to ask over the din of battle.
“Run now, talk later!” Faith replied. “Bluebird, we’re getting out of here. Let’s go!”
Sam led the way, with Teal’c and Groo and Faith close behind, dashing for the stairwell some fifty yards away that led down into the depths of the Hellmouth.
Had she been as she was when she first absorbed Winifred Burkle, Illyria might have fought there until either she was dead or all of her enemies had fallen. But she was not that creature anymore. Satisfied that her comrades were on their way to safety, she dashed for the stairwell and bounded down it after them, with the Jaffa in close pursuit.
Even as the Jaffa poured down the stairwell and into the Hellmouth after them, the Prometheus came roaring in over the horizon, accompanied by a full squadron of F302s. Cover-ups could be dealt with later; a foothold situation could not be allowed to continue, especially not one so close to a major metropolitan area. All told, about half of the surviving Jaffa made it into the stairwell before the F302s began making strafing runs. Explosions rocked the Sunnydale crater as missiles and rail gun ammunition streamed out from the Earth ships, wiping out groups of Jaffa left and right.
And then one of the F302s exploded as a Tel’tak decloaked behind it and opened fire.
Tel’taks were supposed to be unarmed, but Baal had planned this action for a long time. He had refitted two dozen odd Tel’taks with weaponry comparable to a Death Glider’s. Although they were no match for the F302s in ship to ship combat, when you combined their McGuyvered armament with their cloaking ability, they became a formidable vessel.
Over the skies of Sunnydale, battle was joined.
Faith stopped short when they reached the site of the final battle with the First. The realization of where they were hit her like a sledgehammer, and her eyes widened in near-panic. It was hard to see by the light of the two P90 mounted flashlights, but this was definitely the place. She produced a flashlight of her own, and shone it about.
She could smell death in this place.
There, in the corner, Chao-ahn’s body still lay half-crushed beneath the rocks. Nearby, Amanda lay dead. Both bodies were badly decayed.
Faith grimaced. “That explains the smell, I guess,” she said, and the words sounded hollow.
If there were other bodies present, they were buried beneath the rubble that filled the greater part of the cave.
Then a plasma bolt struck the ground near where she was standing. The Jaffa were getting close. It was time to move.
They retreated down the second stairwell.
“Who are you?”
Daniel’s words hung heavily in the dank, stagnant air of the cavern, echoing strangely in the space until it seemed as though it were spoken by a fading chorus of his own voice. He held her gaze, and he felt afraid.
Sha’re smiled. “Not buying it? Fair enough. There are others.”
“Who are you?” he asked again.
Her form shimmered briefly, and Sha’re’s features melted into a new form. A short blonde girl stood before him, sad-eyed and a little on the skinny side, but lovely nonetheless. “I’m the thing the Darkness fears, little man.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You don’t look much like the thing the darkness fears to me.”
She looked down at her form. “You’d be surprised how much the things that dwell in darkness fear this form. I wear it now because it suits me.” She met his gaze again. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answer to, Doctor Jackson.”
He rolled his eyes. “Let me guess. You’re a god. Or at least, you like people to think so.”
“Oh please. I am as far beyond a god as you are beyond an ant.”
“Why do you want the human race to ascend?”
“They’re ready for the next step.”
Daniel gave her a speculative look. “And what is that next step?”
She only smiled and said nothing.
A moment later, Faith, Illyria, Sam, Teal’c and the Groosalug came rushing into the cavern. For the moment, the Jaffa were not pursuing, allowing them some time to catch their collective breath.
“OK, so talk. Who are you? How did you fall in with these two?” Carter asked Faith the moment she was able.
“Hi Sam,” Daniel called, a little bit irked at having been ignored.
“Hi Daniel,” Sam replied absently, looking directly at Faith.
“Name’s Faith. They’re friends of a friend.” Faith glanced towards Daniel, and then went slightly bug-eyed when she saw who was standing next to him.
“B?” she asked.
The First smiled brightly. “Hey there, Faithy. Miss me?”
Daniel spoke up. “Whoever you think she is, it’s not her. She’s...”
“The First,” Faith finished, suddenly very, very pale.
Daniel quirked an eyebrow at that, but said nothing.
“But we killed you!” Faith said.
Illyria and Groo both turned to regard the form of Buffy Summers, unsure of exactly how to respond.
“Aw, Come on, Faith. You didn’t really think that little old me would be done in by a cheap lightshow, did you? I’d expected better from you. Sure, you brought down my army, but you can’t destroy me. I am eternal.”
Faith tried very hard not to grind her teeth.
“I’m not really here to talk to you, though.”
“Then what do you want?”
The First shrugged. “Be seeing you,” she said, and vanished.
“OK,” said Sam, “What was that?”
“Long story,” said Faith.
“Make it quick, because a hundred Jaffa are about to come pouring down that passageway.”
Faith gave Carter an appraising look. “Short and sweet, huh? I can do that. Here’s the sitch: she’s an incorporeal bitch who tried to destroy the world, once. She’s bad news, and I helped some friends take her down a peg or two a few years back. What’d she want this time?”
“For me to activate that machine.”
“Huh. What’s it do?”
Daniel grimaced. “Causes every man woman and child to ascend to a state of existence that almost all of them aren’t ready for yet.”
Faith blinked. *That* was certainly new.
“An ascension *machine?*” Carter asked, her mind clearly racing at the thought. “Is that possible?”
“Apparently,” Daniel said.
“You gonna tell me what the hell a Jaffa is?” Faith asked.
Carter glanced at Teal’c, then at Daniel. “It’s classified,” she said.
This time, Faith did not refrain from grinding her teeth.
Further conversation was cut off by the sound of approaching Jaffa. Carter signaled to Daniel and Teal’c, who took up positions around what cover they could find to cover the entrance to the cavern.
It was then that it occurred to Faith that neither Groo nor Illyria had said a word in a while now. She looked their way, and immediately cursed. Both were still standing perfectly still where they had stopped some twenty feet away from the Great Machine, staring blankly into space.
“Yo Bluebird! Heads up!” she called.
“Groo, you with us?”
Groo didn’t so much as twitch.
“Damn it,” Faith muttered.
And then the sound of gunfire and staff-blasts filled the chamber.
Even as the image of Buffy vanished, the form of Winifred Burkle stepped out of the shadows.
“You... you are what I sensed on the edge of the crater,” Illyria said, regarding the image of her former self quizzically.
“If you had wished to throw me off of my guard, why take this form? Why not his?”
The First smiled. “You can lie to the others, but you’ll never be able to lie to me. I know who you are, Winifred.”
Illyria flinched. “I am not her.”
“You could be. You could be her, with parents that love you, and a whole bright shiny future ahead of you.” The First’s smile took on a knowing air. “You could bring Wesley back. You could be a mother.”
Illyria swallowed heavily, and a deep, desperate yearning rose up within her. For Wesley. For her lost humanity. For her family. For all the children she would never have. Unless... “If I were to ascend...”
“If you were to ascend, the Universe itself would bend to your whim. Even Death would have no choice but to open up its doors at your command. You could be a goddess to the gods once more, with your Wesley at your side. Think of it, Winifred. Think of it, Illyria. All you have ever desired is within your grasp. All you need do is reach out at take it. Activate the machine.”
Illyria glanced at the machine, and it occurred to her then that it was beautiful. So very, unspeakably beautiful. “Why should I believe you?” she whispered.
“I have no reason to lie. You were an Old One, once. You understand what Ascension means.”
“You speak of the path that the Others followed. Those that came before.”
The First in Fred’s guise nodded. “They were the first. They showed the way. Will you follow?”
With great difficulty, Illyria met the First’s gaze. She visibly gathered her strength, forcibly pushing down every want and need and desire she had ever had. Her desire to be with Wesley again. Her desire to be human again. Her desire to be an Old One again. Her desire to be loved and accepted. Her desire to be feared and worshipped. Her desire to be a mother. All of it, she pushed down and cast as far away as she could, and said. “You lie.”
The First’s eyes narrowed.
“I will not destroy this world for you. I recognize you now, Angra Mainyu. You worshipped us once. Though I have been brought low, I have not been brought so low as to worship one who was once my servant.” Illyria strode forward. “The First Evil indeed. We were beyond good and evil; primal forces of destruction incarnate upon the Earth. I remember the day of your birth, Az. You were a mewling, pathetic thing, then. We let you live because your shrieks amused us, and a mewling, pathetic thing you remain. I will not be beholden to you now. Be gone!”
The First’s spell shattered.
“What’s wrong with them?” Carter asked as she ducked to avoid another volley of staff blasts. The smell of smoke filled the cavern, and she knew that if this kept up, the air would quickly become unbreathable.
“Hell if I know,” Faith said. She had acquired a staff of her own in the confusion, taken from the body of a dead Jaffa. She was surprisingly good with it, especially when you considered that she had never held one before.
“They appear to be in some sort of trance, ColonelCarter,” Teal’c said.
Several staff-blasts struck Illyria in the back. She did not react.
Nearly a dozen dead Jaffa were piled up at the entrance to the cavern when they finally stopped coming down.
Lieutenant Colonel Carter almost breathed a sigh of relief. But she knew better. This wasn’t the moment when things got better. This was the moment when everything went straight to hell.
A small metallic sphere came bouncing down the stairwell and rolled to a stop halfway between herself and Daniel.
“Oh, hell,” she said.
And then the Jaffa grenade went off, and the world dissolved in a haze of light and pain.
“Groo,” Cordelia said as she stepped out of the shadows, smiling warmly. She was clad all in white, and the Groosalug’s heart leapt at the sight of her.
“My Princess?” he asked, barely daring to hope that it might actually be her.
“Why have you come here, Groo?” she asked.
He told her. He told her about Faith’s dream of the end of the world. Told her of the War in the Heavens. Told her of the battle that had already been fought. And then... “I missed you, Princess. I tried to avenge you, but I was too late. Too late... how is it that you are here before me?”
“In strange aeons, even death may die.”
“I do not understand.”
She smiled and gave him a look that made his heart beat faster. “The Powers That Be owe me big time.”
Nearly overcome with emotion, he reached out to embrace her... and his heart sank as he watched his hands pass right through her form.
“I’ve come to warn you, Groo. Don’t let them destroy the Great Machine. It holds the world’s salvation.”
Groo met her gaze, his eyes full of love. “Our salvation?” he asked.
“That machine has the power to make all of humanity... perfect. To take us all to a higher level of being, where all the wrong things are made right. All that pain, all that suffering, it could all be over! Groo, you could bring Paradise to earth.”
He looked at her, and he thought for a long moment, and remained silent.
“You have to have seen it. The Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart. Feeding on man’s inhumanity towards man. Turning the earth into their Hell one act of cruelty at a time. Here, on Pylea, there is nowhere that the cannot reach. You know as well as I do that it’s going to take something drastic to claw them out of the human heart, and honey, you’re looking at it.” She pointed to the machine. “Presented with true enlightenment, how could human beings not cast off their hatred and their pettiness, and become perfect?”
A still, small voice cried out within him. ‘No,’ it called, ‘No, Groo, don’t listen to her! It’s a lie! It isn’t me! It isn’t...’ he ruthlessly crushed that voice.
“What must I do?”
The First smiled.
Illyria hissed in pain as another staff-blast struck her already wounded side. It rankled that she had allowed the First to render her senseless for such a long amount of time, but now she was here, and these Jaffa would know her displeasure.
Colonel Carter was insensate, lying sprawled out behind the rock that had provided her cover. Teal’c and Faith were still holding off the Jaffa, albeit barely, and on the verge of being overwhelmed. Daniel Jackson clutched his head some distance away, unable to stand.
That was when Illyria noticed that the Groosalug was making for the machine.
The Jaffa were forgotten. All of her attention focused on him. She moved. Time slowed around her as she moved. Nearly instantly, she was between Groo and the machine. “What are you doing, Groo?” she asked. “The fight is the other way.”
She looked into his eyes, and she saw the First looking back.
“You will not stop me from saving this world,” he said, and his voice was like steel.
A stray staff-blast struck him then, but had no more effect on him than it would have on her when she was at her strongest.
“This is not the way, Groo. She lies. She is not who she pretends to be.”
Groo attacked. She barely managed to duck underneath his initial combination of punches, and although she fought with all the skill and power that was hers to command, nothing seemed to phase him. She was injured, and he had been empowered by the First Evil for this task. She freely slowed and accelerated the flow of time around her, dealing blow after devastating blow; blows that would have crushed every bone in the body of a normal human to powder. Although the Groosalug was no normal human, even empowered by the First Evil, her blows began to take their toll.
He decided to end this fight.
Groo’s fist finally connected with Illyria’s chest, and she went flying backwards into the cavern wall, her chest visibly dented, and leaking blood.
Gasping, she rose to her feet. Of to the side, she saw Daniel Jackson turning to look at the Groosalug.
Groo put his hands on the machine and began pressing a series of glyphs. Each one shone brightly as his hands left it.
Daniel’s eyes widened. “NO!!”
Illyria surged to her feet and crossed the room in less than a second, but even for all of that, she was too slow.
She tore the Groosalug’s hand away from the machine even as he pressed the last glyph. And the machine’s energies began to gather.
“What have you done!?” she hissed.
He smiled sadly. “It is better this way, Illyria. Once they have grasped perfection, they will see.”
Her vision went red, and she felt a rage like she had never felt in all of the long years of her life, neither as human nor as Old One. In one swift, terrible motion, she reached out and snapped the Groosalug’s neck.
He fell bonelessly to the floor, staring up at her with disbelieving eyes. Dead.
She sank to her knees, and began to weep.
All eyes in the room turned to the machine as those few surviving Jaffa stopped firing to stare in wonder at this new threat.
Daniel rose to his feet. “We have to stop this. NOW.”
Carter looked at Daniel. “How?”
He rushed to the machine, and the Jaffa made no move to stop him. After a moment of examining the glyphs, he cursed. “There’s no way to shut it off!”
“Then why don’t we do it the old fashioned way?” Faith asked as she brandished her staff-weapon.
The Jaffa began to run.
Carter pulled out a small Asgard scanning device, activated it, and then shook her head. “That would never produce enough energy to disrupt the machine’s quantum matrix,” Carter said.
Faith looked at her. “Huh?”
Teal’c removed his backpack and began pulling out blocks of C4. “ColonelCarter, would this be sufficient?”
The machine’s energy continued to build, with the glow now almost too bright to look at.
Carter looked at the C4 for a long moment, and then nodded. “There’s a very small chance that if we place the C4 correctly, the resulting explosion will disrupt the forming quantum matrix and disperse the energy back into the surrounding environment.”
“That sounds bad,” said Daniel.
Carter nodded. “If it works, all of us will be dead. But if it saves the world...”
“Let’s get to work,” Faith said.
The others nodded.
They went to work, and frantically. The machine’s energy continued to build. It was now too bright to look at, and a loud hum filled the cavern. Distantly, it occurred to Sam that it sounded like a choir.
Finally, with all the explosives placed, the group gathered around the detonator.
Daniel smiled at his team-mates. “Good working with you,” he said.
"Indeed," said Teal’c, "It has been an honor to fight at your sides."
“See you on the other side,” Faith said.
Carter pushed the button.
There was a thunderous roar as the C4 detonated violently. Only Illyria saw what happened next: how things did not go according to plan; how the energies of the machine actually absorbed the explosions back into itself.
A cataclysmic pulse of energy surged out from the machine, passing through stone and earth and rubble, out and across the entire world and back.
And every man, woman, and child across the face of the earth began to Ascend.
Daniel. Teal’c. Carter. Faith. The Jaffa. Jack O’Neill. General Hammond. Buffy. Willow. Xander. Giles. Kennedy. Vi. Fred and Trish Burkle. Gwen Raiden. Every human, everywhere on the earth.
Except for Dawn.
Dawn Summers watched in horror as the bodies of her friends and loved ones dissolved into light.
“BUFFY!” she screamed, reaching for her sister.
Her hands passed through the air where Buffy had been, and she fell to the ground, wracked with despair.
Above the Hellmouth, Colonel Pendergrast ordered an emergency jump to hyperspace even as the energy pulse surged towards the Prometheus. Two F302s were caught in the pulse. Deprived of their pilots in the middle of a dive, they hit the ground hard and exploded. The others escaped into hyperspace.
More and more, ever and upward. The whole earth began to glow with the light of the Ascended. Humanity was lifted up to true enlightenment, and for one shining moment, they were Perfect.
Illyria knelt alone in the cavern, lit only by the light of the fallen flashlights of her comrade. The machine had gone dormant, its glow gone out. She’d felt something when the energy was released... a tugging on her soul, but it passed, and she remained. She clutched at her head and screamed.
The First Evil began to laugh.
For one shining moment, humanity was perfect.
And then they began to quarrel.
Two abusive parents ascended, and their abuse did not stop for Ascension. Angrily, they lashed out at their children, now with cosmic forces at their command. But their children were no longer helpless. They too commanded these new powers, and fought back, tooth and nail.
A serial killer ascended. A petty child ascended in the middle of a temper tantrum, and a mountainside was reduced to glass. All of humanity’s worst instincts began to boil to the surface. The earth burns beneath man’s touch as he ascends; and every petty argument shatters mountains, burns forests, turns deserts to glass, and reduces great cities to rubble.
They began to reach beyond the earth.
Stars winked out. Entire solar systems were destroyed as mankind walked amongst the stars. Some meant well; Jack O’Neill stretched out his hand, and the Goa’uld, all Goa’uld, everywhere, died. Most did not mean well. Most were consumed by the same pettiness that had dominated their earthly lives. Humanity made war upon itself, and upon the cosmos. Only a few, those who had been ready to ascend, stepped back from the conflict and embraced the joy that was theirs in Perfection.
But the Ancients were not idle. In the face of such a huge disruption of the natural order by Ascended beings, they had no choice but to act. They descended upon the earth like the stroke of doom, and the entire planet erupted in the wake of their anger. The meeting of the ascended humans and the ascended ancients was like the collision of twin supernovas. The oceans boiled, and continental plates were shattered like glass. Celestial armies clashed in the heavens; but the ancients had the advantage. The humans were greater in number, but they fought amongst themselves, and lacked the experience to fight such a battle effectively. Humanity was overcome, and the celestial bodies of defeated humanity, hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, rained down upon the broken earth like falling stars.
It is said that the mind can make a hell of heaven, or a heaven of hell. Vanity. But it was with such words that those few who survived attempted to comfort themselves as they lay in abject misery, cast out of paradise a second time, and with no one to blame but themselves.
END CHAPTER 9
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Next: The Second Fall