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Posted August 13, 2006
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Series: Ring of the Gods
Title: Ring of the Gods
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: B:tVS, "You can't tell me it's always puppies and sunshine out there; I have eyes, you know, and there's an awful lot of guys with guns guarding this thing." 2,400 words.
Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen"; SG-1 general season 8.
Notes: Yet another way Buffy might have come to the attention of Stargate Command. Originally written in three parts, for challenges.
Ring of the Gods
Buffy extended a cautious hand to caress the metallic curve of the Stargate. Giles had called it 'The Ring of the Gods'-- apparently it showed up in some book of his or other-- but whatever its name was, it was pretty impressive. When she thought 'portal' she usually pictured the Hellmouth or a raggedy, colorful tear in the sky; she hadn't expected anything like this. "Wow."
"Amazing, isn't it?" Riley's friend asked, with the nonchalant smugness of someone who knows he has the coolest job in all the world.
The metal tingled under Buffy's palm just the tiniest bit; she left her hand pressed against it for a moment, trying to absorb the concept of so many other worlds full of people spread across the night sky, and threw him a wry, sideways glance. "You can't tell me it's always puppies and sunshine out there; I have eyes, you know, and there's an awful lot of guys with guns guarding this thing."
He smiled wryly back. "Of course it isn't," he replied. "There are things out there that make your garden-variety vampire look like a bloodthirsty chihuahua. That's one of the reasons we asked you here."
"That, and the fact we already knew your deep dark secret?" she teased.
"I don't know what you're talking about, ma'am; I don't have any deep dark secrets." His tone was bland, but there was a definite hint of twinkling going on in his eyes.
Buffy found it surprisingly difficult to resist twinkling back. He was disarmingly cute, not gigantically tall like most of the soldiers she'd seen here, and he actually had a sense of humor. Bad Slayer, she told herself, and rolled her eyes. "That's not what I meant," she scolded him.
When Riley had first told her that an Air Force major he knew had discovered a Slayer on his base, her mind had immediately gone in an Initiative direction. She'd been worried for the girl, especially when Willow reported all the security blocking her attempts to research the place; when the coven's scrying had shown not one but three Slayers constantly disappearing from their reach under Cheyenne Mountain, Buffy had called in all the favors the Council had with the American military and demanded to speak to the people in charge. So far, she'd been surprised and pleased with their operation-- but they hadn't let her meet the new Slayers yet, and she certainly had no reason to trust him.
Trust them, she corrected herself irritably. Stupid Slayer hormones!
"I see the tour's going well?"
Buffy's guide turned toward one of the wide, open doorways to the Gateroom, posture straightening immediately. The intruder was tallish and bespectacled, attractive in a scholarly kind of way; Buffy had met him before, with the graying, sarcastic General in the introductory meetings. At the time, he had reminded her of a younger, relatively harmless version of Giles; from the major's reaction, though, it was obvious that wasn't all there was to him.
"Quite the place you have here," Buffy said neutrally. She gave the Gate a final pat, then walked back down the ramp toward her guide. "Major Lorne's been very helpful."
"Mmm," Dr. Jackson said, glancing between the two of them with a mildly amused expression. "I can see that."
Was he teasing her? Buffy blinked at him in surprise, and found herself reevaluating the place a little. Giles had heard of this guy; he wasn't just a soldier in baggy clothes playing civilian scientist to try to soothe her into thinking they were nice people. The General's friendly attitude toward him could maybe have been for show, but the Major-- and the Gateroom guards-- were treating him with actual respect, and he seemed to have no fear of them.
Maybe this place really wasn't another Initiative. Maybe she really had just stumbled onto a significant new ally-- one with their own problems, but who could also significantly help the new Council.
The thought cheered Buffy immensely. "I have to say, though," she said airily, "when he said he was going to show me a ring, this isn't quite what I had in mind."
Their reactions were everything she could have hoped for.
A New Challenge
"Riley," Buffy said, startled, as a parade of uniforms entered the conference room.
He looked different in his uniform, at the head of a line of other former Initiative soldiers. Older maybe? More mature? Looking at him, their history together seemed absurdly improbable; she couldn't imagine this serious, military young man having a sexathon with her in a frat house, or getting suck jobs from the vampire equivalent of whores.
"Ms. Summers," he replied, with a nod. His wife wasn't with him today-- which, how did that work with the whole fraternization thing?-- but she guessed all the brass in the room was having a similar effect; he hadn't been this formal with her the last time they'd talked on the phone.
"Major Lorne," he said next, nodding to the man seated to her left.
"Captain Finn," Lorne replied. "It's good to see you again."
"Likewise, sir," Riley said.
Buffy's stomach did a strange swoopy thing at the sound of her macho former boyfriend calling her current crush 'sir'. She could feel the hot rush of a blush creeping up her cheeks, and mentally kicked herself for it; after all she'd been through, shouldn't she be past this kind of teenage emotional one-upmanship? She swallowed, shoving the event to the back of her brain as fast as she could, and turned her attention to the general, who had started to say something about 'the reason we've asked you here.'
As it happened, Riley had come bearing proof: records and footage that had survived the meltdown of the Initiative, verifying the information Buffy and Giles had shared with these people earlier in the week. They had been very polite in the initial meetings, very careful not to say "I don't believe you" and "I can't imagine what the President was thinking sending you here", but the implications had been there, despite Dr. Jackson's repeated outbursts of "That would explain so much!" and Major Lorne's personal testimony about his encounter with a vampire. It was irritating to see their suspicions vanish so quickly over a few sheaves of paper that could-- after all-- have been faked, but mostly Buffy was relieved they were finally getting this hoop out of the way.
Just one more to jump through. "So," she said, when the conversation reached a pausing point. "About your three Slayers. When do I get to meet them?"
The general cleared his throat. "Before we do that," he said, lacing his fingers together atop his the table. "I know why you said you came here, and I know why the President says he sent you, and I know what the, uh, Slayers themselves are looking for, but I need to know. What do you really see happening here?"
Buffy remembered Lorne referring to "one of the reasons we asked you"; she remembered him comparing vampires to bloodthirsty Chihuahuas; she remembered having an inkling that this might be the most important contact the new Council could ever make. She glanced sideways at Giles and thought about his advice to give away nothing unnecessary and withdraw with as much advantage as possible. Screw it, she thought.
Giles might not want to be beholden to the US Military, but she wasn't in any kind of official position with the Council anymore, and Rome was getting stale now that Dawnie was in college and the Immortal had lost his luster. Wasn't acting on instinct one of the things that made a Slayer so effective? And wasn't she-- love life aside-- one of the best Slayers ever?
"I could use a new challenge," she said.
In her peripheral vision, Giles went scarily pale; across from her, Willow choked, then straightened in her seat, an argument building in her eyes. Buffy closed her mind to the swift knock of Willow's telepathic contact, and tried not to think about the argument they'd be having later.
"Meaning?" the general asked, his eyebrows inching upward.
"Your Slayers are going to need training, no matter how good they already are," she said. "You know I'm the best person for the job, and I've been semi-retired since Sunnydale, so it's not like I have anything else to do. If that means I have to join your project and help you fight your monsters-of-the-week..." She shrugged.
The general looked surprised, but pleased; next to him, Dr. Jackson looked as if he'd just won the lottery. Buffy could just imagine all the questions she was going to get from the archaeologist later; hopefully, she could pawn him off on Andrew or somebody, clog up the Council's email instead of boring her to tears. Riley looked more proud than anything, which she found mildly irritating; he hadn't had the right to be anything on her behalf in several years.
She refused to look at Lorne. There'd be time for that later, hopefully in a more private setting. Maybe involving an exchange of first names, even.
"In that case," General O'Neill said, and proceeded to rewrite the plans for her entire future.
Her students turned out to be a Major, a Lt. Colonel, and a young Lieutenant who'd just joined the program. The Colonel was on the front-line team, very visible on the base; she was the one Major Lorne had seen in action. The Doctor-Major, on the other hand, rarely went anywhere or did anything that would expose her heightened abilities; there'd been a close call the year before when she'd been shot in front of Dr. Jackson, but they'd managed to keep the knowledge of her superhuman healing limited to one other doctor and the lead team. After the emergency surgery, they'd sent her home for a few months to 'recover' and spend time with her adopted daughter.
Buffy liked them, more than she'd expected. Giles and Willow were predictably pissed and Dawn very teary when she called her, but it didn't shake Buffy's resolve; she knew she'd done the right thing.
Now, if she could just get them to let her redesign her BDUs...
The Queen Stands Alone
Buffy couldn't believe her luck. The youngest of the three Slayers she'd taken under her wing, Lieutenant Laura Cadman, had just been approved for the Atlantis project-- and so had Major Lorne, whose first name she'd finally winkled out of him on the third date after promising never, ever to tell. She, on the other hand, was stuck at the SGC, unable to so much as take an afternoon jaunt to the Alpha site.
Something about the tie between Mother Gaia, the Scythe, and the eldest Slayer meant that even an hour out of contact with home soil threatened to reverse the dispersal of the Slayer line. That hadn't been at all fun to find out; fainting off world in the middle of a training mission had been bad enough, but returning home to the news that all of the new Slayers had fainted right along with her had been a nasty wake-up call. It didn't seem to work the other way around-- Lieutenant Colonel Carter still went out with SG-1 like she always had, for example, and she wasn't the only Slayer regularly gating offworld-- but Buffy herself was essentially shackled to her home planet. Funny how that suddenly seemed like such a terrible sentence, when she'd lived most of her life without knowing that there was any other option.
Colonel Carter and Doctor-Major Fraiser were already so close, in both friendship and in age, that Buffy often felt as though she were ordering her mother around trying to train them; Laura, on the other hand, was close enough to Buffy's own age that she'd become a good friend. And as for Major Lorne! They said Colonel Carter was cursed; Buffy rather thought she'd come out ahead if they measured their disastrous dating histories side by side.
The worst part was that Buffy actually had the stupid Ancient gene. Not as strongly as the wonderboy who was currently in charge out in Pegasus, Major Sheppard, but a close match for her own Major's. Unfortunately, it looked like all she'd be able to do with it was light up whatever toys the Lanteans saw fit to send back and function as a back-up seat warmer should General O'Neill ever be unavailable to man the Antarctic weapons chair. She felt as though she'd been promised a night out at the Prince's ball, only to discover that her carriage had turned back into a pumpkin before she even got there.
Still, it would be cruel of her to rain on Laura's parade, or send her boyfriend off with anything less than the appearance of her full support. Just because she hadn't successfully done the relationship-by-mail thing in the past didn't mean it wouldn't work for her now... right?
"Of course I'm happy for you," she murmured, sharing a Slayer-strong hug with her friend. "This is an amazing opportunity. Just don't forget about me, okay? And don't forget your training, either! I hear there's a woman on the lead team with alien DNA that makes her stronger and faster than normal; you might try sparring with her."
"It won't be the same," Laura said over her shoulder, tears audible in her voice. "I'll miss you, you know. I really wish you could come."
"I wish I could, too," Buffy said. And she did; there was little tying her to Earth anymore, other than the obvious. She was out of the loop with the Watcher's Council and the former Scoobies these days, and Dawnie was an adult now, fully capable of making her own decisions.
The Powers that Unfortunately Be weren't ready to let her go, though, so as always, it was up to Buffy to pick herself up and keep on going. Maybe, if she was lucky, Willow would figure out a way to transfer the Gaia-link to another of the Slayers soon and she could follow. Faith deserved the recognition after everything she'd been through, and if not her, surely Kennedy wouldn't mind getting to wear the Queen Slayer title.
But until then-- well, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it, she reminded herself, and let go of Laura. "Write to me?" she asked.
Laura nodded. "Of course."
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© 2006 Jedi Buttercup.