There was a name for this situation, Buffy thought as she hauled herself back to her feet, wincing at the movement. She knew what it was too. She just didn’t have time to name it as a bony tail made a pass at her. Jumping she got out of its way, ducking under the swing of one slimy claw before rolling it the side and taking a slash at it with he short sword. Mr. Tall, Scaly, and Stinky only growled in annoyance, not nearly as hurt as she’d hoped. Or at all.
Shit. That was the word. Sidestepping another pass, Buffy ducked closer to try and get another hit in. The obscenely large demon kicked her and she ended up hitting another mausoleum with a dull thud.
“Ow,” she said as she slid to the ground. Why were there bones? Getting painfully back to her feet again, Buffy glared at the demon that resembled a small dragon – or what a dragon would look like if he were from a Disney movie on acid. Fifteen feet tall, annoying disappearing act, claws, tail, and hideously orange, not to mention invulnerable to just about every trick she knew. The thing felt no pain. Was probably named Pete too.
Yep, shitty pretty much summed it up. Fortunately Buffy knew what to do in a situation like this. “Well, it’s been fun getting my ass kicked,” she said conversationally to the demon that was stepping intimidatingly closer.
“Yesss, fun!” the demons hissed through a mouth that really shouldn’t have allowed for speech.
Knowing she was beat for the night, Buffy ran.
“I think I found it,” said Dawn, her head still buried in the book Giles had suggested literally digging up from the remains of the Magic Box. It’s dustier than usual cover was currently smudging her already grimy jeans.
“Well? Is it a secret or you gonna tell us?” demanded Buffy testily from the couch. “Ow!” Her attention shifted from her sister to Xander who was squirting antiseptic on her many cuts and scrapes. The problem with summer clothing was that it didn’t help against getting thrown around.
“Weird,” said Dawn seeming to not have heard.
“What? Oh. It’s a . . . Grah . . . Grah-zul-risht-inkr . . . something,” Dawn frowned at the impossible name. “Anyway,” she went on, “it says they’re supposed to be myths – huh, just like vampires – and that the last one even mentioned was way back in Africa somewhere before the dawn of time. Could these people get anymore cliché?” She finally looked up at Buffy and Xander to roll her eyes significantly.
“I think they wrote the cliché,” Buffy shrugged. “How do I kill it?”
“It says the only thing that will kill it is the Stone of Farewell which can be found through the Chaapa’ai – there’s a ritual or spell plus some drawings of the Chaapa’ai – to be cast with the power of the . . . Gatekeeper and Keymaster,” Dawn finished slowly. She blinked several times as she looked up.
Xander and Buffy looked over at her. She looked at them. Finally Xander said, “Gatekeeper and Keymaster?” He turned innocent eyes to the Slayer. “Well, Buff, who we gonna call?”
Buffy rolled her eyes.
General Hammond was not in a good mood. No, sir, he was not. He glared at the phone on his desk – the earth-toned one – as if the man he had just hung up with on the other end would feel it and sizzle in his boots. It was an idle fantasy but that made him feel a little better.
Sighing because there was nothing he could do but follow orders, Hammond glanced impatiently at the clock, noting that as usual he had been given little warning to go along with the disruptive orders. His guests were already on their way – would be there in a little over an hour in fact, which did not give him much time. He pulled out the duty roster hoping he would see what he knew wasn’t there. A quick glance told him that no miracles were to be found. With little choice, the General made his way to the Control Room.
“Sergeant Harriman, would you call SG-1 to the briefing room?” he didn’t ask so much as order. Walter Harriman gave him a sharp nod.
O’Neill tapped his pencil on the table. Daniel stared that the pencil for a minute, glancing at him briefly but not saying anything. From his expression, he was pretty annoyed too and wasn’t about to begrudge Jack his means of annoying everyone else.
The briefing had been . . . brief. Three civilian consultants to the Pentagon had a sudden and pressing need to use the Stargate to go *somewhere*. Hammond had been assured that files were being sent along with their guest by courier no less – who the hell used couriers anymore, Jack wondered, not believing for a second that this was on the up and up.
Neither did his team. Neither did Hammond, who O’Neill suspected was chomping for someone’s head to bite off. He almost pitied the three consultants. Almost. He had front row seats after all.
“Sir,” Sergeant Harriman opened the conference room door hesitantly. “The, uh, consultants . . . are here,” he said.
“Show them in.”
He did. Carter choked on her coffee. Teal’c lifted both eyebrows. Jack and Daniel exchanged a surprised look as the Colonel’s pencil abruptly clattered to a halt.
“General Hammond?” said the blonde girl. And she was a girl, from her stylish shoes to her hip hugging cream pants to her v-necked shirt that hinted a bit too much. Never did anyone look so out of place in the SGC. Unless Jack counted the young man behind her who half-waved and the second girl – no more than a teenager for crying out loud – who crossed her arms and glared at O’Neill challengingly. The General rose clearly as surprised as SG-1. “Buffy Summers,” the blonde offered him her hand. “We’re the, uh . . .”
“Consultants,” supplied the young man.
“Right. The consultants from the polygon.”
“Pentagon,” corrected the brunette girl turning her stony gaze to Hammond.
“Right. Pentagon.” The blonde wasn’t embarrassed or fazed at all by her slip. And that perhaps was the most shocking part of all. Until, of course, she opened her mouth again. “Can we borrow your Chappy? I promise we won’t break it.”
It took them twenty minutes to explain it the first time. “So let me get this straight,” said Oldie, glancing from Dawn to Buffy to Daniel. “You want to perform a *magic spell* with your Gatekeeper and Keymaster to find out where you want to go through the Stargate so you can get this rock that will kill this . . . demon.” He seemed to have a little trouble with the word. “What are you? The Ghostbusters?”
“Scoobies actually,” Xander spoke up, “but we took a vote and decided to change our name for the occasion. Now we’re the Real Ghostbusters.”
“Extreme Ghostbusters,” Dawn shot back. Buffy rolled her eyes at the argument that had started at the house.
“It’s your Gatekeeper, but yeah,” she interrupted them before they had plot debates.
“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” said the General Guy.
“It’s your gate, right? So someone here has to be the Gatekeeper. It’s not one of us.”
“One of you is the Keymaster?” Daniel questioned sharply. He’d been the nicest one so far, in fact the only one who hadn’t immediately jumped down their throats. Buffy liked him for that, though she didn’t much like his question.
Dawn waved her hand shyly. “More like Master Key. That’s why we need the Gatekeeper. So I know what to unlock.”
“I don’t believe this!”
“So how do we find the Gatekeeper?”
Finding the Gatekeeper turned out to be a very complex procedure of walking around until the girl, Dawn, the Keymaster felt an attraction to someone. They didn’t have to walk far. And The Keymaster, while attracted, definitely wasn’t very attracted.
“Oh. It’s you,” she said somewhat surprised and disappointed to Sergeant Walter Harriman who in turn looked at the assembled might of SG-1, Hammond, and guests very surprised by their sudden appearance. Daniel could have sworn that Buffy Summers smiled just a bit at that.
Walter stared at the girl then glanced uncertainly over her shoulder at Jack and Hammond. “Sir?” he asked cautiously.
Walter felt just a little overwhelmed. Just a bit. Really, he saw crazy things at work everyday. Had for years in fact. He’d seen aliens both good and bad, viruses intent on taking over, dangerous objects, possessed colleagues, a black hole . . . he really had no excuse for feeling the slightest bit nervous.
He was just going to go through the Stargate for the first time. He was just going to go through the Stargate for the first time after dialing it with a teenager using magic. He really shouldn’t have been nervous. It didn’t help when Colonel O’Neill had clapped him on the back and told him he had nothing to worry about.
“Think Ghostbusters,” the Colonel had advised. Walter had seen that movie. Nope, hadn’t helped at all.
So here he was, the Gatekeeper, in full gear, standing at the base of the ramp with Dawn Summers, Keymaster, who was drawing a star on the ground with green sand. A few feet away Dr. Jackson was helping the young man with his flak jacket while the blonde girl and Colonel O’Neill argued.
“You are not taking a sword!” said the Colonel with finality.
“Yes, I am. And you can’t stop me. Bullets might not kill what were coming up against.”
“And a sword is better?”
“Of course!” Walter winced at the sarcasm that dripped from those two words. “And I guess you want to bring along a spear as well.”
“Buffy, just smile and nod,” said Harris. Walter heard O’Neill grumbling but he couldn’t make out the words.
“I’m ready!” Dawn Summers called out, startling both Walter and everyone else in the room. The young woman turned to him and laid a hand on his arm. “We have to be at the center,” she said. “Don’t touch the lines.” Gingerly, Walter tiptoed after her to the center of the star. “Everyone else stand back. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Peachy,” said O’Neill. He really wasn’t happy with this whole situation and Walter couldn’t blame him.
Dawn ignored him. “Okay,” her wide eyes turned to Walter with a shaky breath. She smiled weakly, her nerves evident. “Remember your words?” she asked. He nodded, remembering the sounds that held about as much meaning for him as a bowl of cereal. “Okay.” The girl took another deep breath.
Walter glanced over at SG-1 who looked on with Buffy Summers and Harris in concern. Above them he saw General Hammond watching from the control room over his replacement’s shoulder. God, how he wished he were up there right now!
“Mr. Harriman,” Dawn called his attention back to her. “You ready?”
“Yeah,” he croaked. He swallowed and tried again with more confidence he didn’t feel. “Yes.” The girl nodded and began.
Closing her eyes, she chanted the words from the book she’d showed him in a language that sounded like gravel. It was two lines that identified her as the Keymaster and asked who he was. When they ended, Walter closed his own eyes as hers opened and concentrated on the sounds she’d taught him, another two lines that said he was the Gatekeeper and asked what she wanted. And so it went back and forth, eyes closed while speaking, open while listening, three times until Walter had ritually granted her permission to open the Stargate.
Then Walter took his knife and sliced his palm, the blade biting as it broke the skin. He handed Dawn the knife and she did the same. Eyes open and staring into the others, they clasped hands palm to palm. And when their blood mixed, Walter felt it like a jolt of electricity that continued to pulse, though not painfully. The longer they held together, the more the pulse built up spreading from their hands to arm to chest to legs to chest to the other arm to head, and back to chest where for an instant time stopped before exploding in a flash of green and white between them.
Walter didn’t notice the shocked reaction of the spectators as the light engulfed him and Dawn. He didn’t notice the Stargate spinning or the chevrons locking or when they stopped at six instead of seven. But he did notice when the light that pulsed around them burned more brilliantly than ever, its source the very center of his being, deep inside where he never knew he could feel anything before. And there was something else there, a foreign yet oddly matching presence that twisted.
The Stargate burst into life. The green and white light disappeared as suddenly as it had come, leaving Walter and Dawn gasping for breath, their hands still clasped, both knowing that the second they let go the glowing green and white marbled wormhole would close.
SG-1 stared at them. Buffy Summers and Xander Harris stared at them. They all waited in tense silence as the MALP went through first. A minute later General Hammond’s voice over the speaker was subdued as he gave them the green light. O’Neill had to clear his throat several times before he could say, “Move out,” with any sort of conviction. And every single person going through the Stargate hesitated before taking the plunge.
“It doesn’t hurt, does it?” asked Dawn in a very small voice. They were the last on the ramp, and Walter was irrationally glad that they were forced to hold hands.
“It won’t hurt,” he reassured her, his voice surprisingly calm.
“Okay.” She took a deep breath. “Let’s go.”
They stepped through.
Aside from the spectacular green and white swirls, the trip through wormhole was normal. Sam stepped out the other end just behind the Colonel as on any other mission. The world they had gated to was, well, green. The sky was a shade of sea green tinged with gold from the setting or rising sun. The stone of the Stargate pad was jade and they were looking out over a green expanse dotted with green deciduous trees (whose trunks were mercifully brown). Straight ahead several miles distant was a towering cliff face that stretched off in either direction as far as the eye could see, the only gap almost directly in front of them. Behind them, the empty fields continued to infinity. It was rather bleak, a green prairie that never ended.
Sam took all this in quickly, moving out of the way of the others behind her. A moment later, Buffy then Xander arrived. Immediately the two doubled over, dry heaves assaulting them from the effects wormhole. Teal’c arrived after them, lifting a single eyebrow at the two before moving off after Jack to check out their surroundings. “Come on,” Sam gently tugged Buffy’s elbow to move her out of Daniel’s way as he materialized next.
“I think I’m gonna hurl my stomach,” Xander groaned, as he followed them.
“It’ll pass in a few minutes,” Sam told him.
“Here,” Daniel offered them his canteen. By the time they had had some water and recovered a little bit, Dawn and Sergeant Harriman had come through, and Daniel and Sam had to take care of them too. It was a trying few minutes, but by the time everyone was back on their feet, Jack and Teal’c came back.
“Well, it’s green,” said the Colonel as he joined them. “Not much else out there.” The wind around them suddenly picked up, whipping through their jackets. Sam shivered.
“Oh that is not good,” said Xander.
“What? The wind?” asked Daniel with a frown looking around for anything untoward. There wasn’t any.
“No harm in that.”
“You just jinxed us!” Dawn cried in alarm, clearly disturbed by his comment.
“Daniel, they might be ghosts,” the Colonel said as if he were explaining to a five-year old. The overly serious expression on his face didn’t help matters. Neither did the second gust of wind.
“Let’s just get out of here,” said Buffy. “The faster we find this rock thing, the faster we can go home and kill Mr. I’m-So-Tough.” Hefting her sword, the young woman started down the steps.
“Now, just wait a second!” snapped O’Neill following her. “Just where do you think you’re going?”
“To the gap in the rock,” Buffy pointed.
“And how do you know that’s where we’re going?”
“It’s practically an engraved invitation!”
“And secondly,” O’Neill ignored her outburst, “what makes you think you can just waltz into unknown territory unarmed?”
“Hello, sword. Crossbow,” she waved first the blade than at the projectile weapon slung over her shoulder.
“Right, those are going to be so helpful against who knows what,” said the Colonel.
“If you’ve finished your tantrum, can we go now?” said Buffy. She jerked her head over her shoulder at Dawn and Harris who both moved to follow her.
“Arrg!” O’Neill growled in frustration. “Teal’c!” he waved angrily for the Jaffa to take point with Buffy. “Carter, Daniel take the flanks. Harriman you’re with me.” The members of the SGC quickly fell into formation around their guests.
It took them an hour to get to the gap in the rocks. Colonel O’Neill complained the whole time. Walter wondered if he was even paying attention to their surroundings while he kept up his litany of why this was a bad idea. “I mean if you were in a hostile place, wouldn’t you stick to the experience of the people who do it for a living?” “Yes, sir.” “She just expects everyone to listen to her. Kids! Think they’re immortal. Nope, nothing’s ever going to get them.” And so it went. After the first ten minutes, Walter wished he had the gumption to just tell O’Neill to shut the hell up. With all due respect, he was such a baby sometimes. So Walter just nodded and said ‘yes, sir,’ and ‘no, sir’ as the situation demanded and hoped they reached the cliff soon. The hour passed dreadfully slowly.
“O’Neill!” Teal’c called when they finally reached the cliff.
“Why can’t things ever be easy?” Buffy’s voice complained. A minute later, Walter saw why.
There was indeed a gap in the cliff face. And there was a wrought iron gate baring them from entering that stretched up at least fifty feet.
“We should look for any inscriptions that might tell us how to get in,” said Dr. Jackson approaching the cliff wall and running his hands over the rock.
“Daniel! Don’t touch!” O’Neill snapped in exasperation. The archeologist snatched his hand back guiltily but continued to examine the walls.
“I don’t suppose we could climb it,” O’Neill suggested, but at the incredulous stares of the rest shrugged and let it go. Walter rolled his eyes and joined the others at the gate. Buffy and Teal’c were already there, O’Neill joining them after telling Dawn and Harris to help Dr. Jackson. Only Dawn did.
Buffy reached forward and pushed, and when the gate didn’t move she shook it. “It could have been unlocked,” she told everyone defensively. Walter nodded. She was right of course. He stepped closer to examine the right side. The iron bars seemed to be imbedded in the rock itself. There was no hinge or locking mechanism that he could see. Sensing someone at his shoulder, he turned and saw Major Carter.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” said the Major. She reached forward and pulled on one of the bars herself, fingers probing where iron met stone.
“Any luck, Daniel?” asked O’Neill from behind them. Dr. Jackson and Dawn had returned both shaking their heads.
“Great,” said Harris. “A gate with no way to open it. Not even a lock to . . . ” he trailed off. “We are so stupid.”
Xander couldn’t believe they had missed it. “It’s a gate,” he told the people watching him. Dawn got it first, the realization lighting her inside until she was bouncing up and down.
“It’s a gate!” she repeated.
“And what does that mean?” asked the cranky Colonel as Buffy let out a warning for her sister. But Buffy stopped in the middle of it.
“It’s a gate and we have the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster,” Jackson was the one to speak up.
“But how will they open it?” asked the Major Carter.
Xander turned to the two, not knowing himself. Dawn was a bubble of excitement while the Sergeant had gone another shade pale. “Maybe it’s like the Stargate,” said Dawn. “It has to be. I mean I doubt it would open if I said ‘Open Sesame!’”
There was a groan of iron.
Three guns went up from the military contingent. “What was that?” asked O’Neill very casually.
“Dawn!” said Buffy wide eyed. Xander was feeling just beyond that, but a grin nevertheless broke out across his face.
Dawn, shocked herself, slowly turned to face the gate completely. The others stared at her for a second.
“Jack, I think we should back up,” said Jackson.
When the space before the gate was clear. Dawn spoke, deliberately and clearly. “Open Sesame!”
The gate opened.
Jack stared as the bars retracted from across the opening. Then he stared at the kid who was grinning like it was Christmas after saying ‘open sesame’. What the hell! This was . . .this was . . . Jack didn’t have words for it, it was so far beyond logic. ‘Open Sesame!’ for crying out loud!
“Hey!” he yelled catching Buffy in her tracks as she started into the gap. The young woman turned around, exasperation in her eyes and that stupid sword in her hand. “Just . . . wait!”
“Wait? We don’t have time to wait!” She turned to go back in.
“Summers!” Jack yelled. “Will you listen to me for once? I’m the colonel. I’m in charge! Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
“I’m not trying to get –” But Jack was no longer listening because there behind the young woman a phantom wisp of fog was rising up, larger than life, the murky form twisting until it was clearly a person – one that was not happy.
“Buffy!” screamed Dawn as Jack shouted “Down!” and someone else “Behind you!” Buffy spun, her sword slicing neatly through the ghost to no avail. Two seconds later she retreated back into the green tinged sunlight where the phantom it seemed wouldn’t follow. The spirit form dissipated back into an ominous mist.
Jack turned to his teammates and their three consultants. “So Ghostbusters, any bright ideas?”
“What happened to ‘I’m in charge?’” Buffy mocked. She was put out that a little ghost had caught her off guard. She was so going to kick its incorporeal ass.
“I am,” said the smug Colonel. “And I just asked for suggestions.”
“You’re the ones with the ray guns,” said Xander pointing at their weird blue side arms.
“Actually, sir, it might work,” said Major Carter having a light bulb moment. “The metaphysical energy of the ghost could interact with the energy from the zat, possibly repulsing it, though more probably setting it out of phase with us.”
“And can I just say a world of ‘huh’?” Xander echoed Buffy’s thoughts. What was that supposed to mean? Was it even English?
“It might make the ghost disappear,” The Sergeant next to her explained.
“Why didn’t you say so to begin with?” mumbled the Colonel. “All right, let’s test this out.” He stepped around Buffy and into the gap with his ray gun ready. Buffy watched him, annoyed that he had to be the one to go in. However, her annoyance faded as the ghost reappeared, snarling at the Colonel with the worst hair job since Cher. He shot her, a bright ball of light spitting out with an electronic whine from his gun that lit up the ghost and made it roar in anger in a voice that was anything but human. He shot again, backing up slowly. The ghost roared again – but flickered. And then it was back as angry as ever. And when the Colonel retreated back into the sunlight, the ghost followed.
“Okay, plan B,” said Buffy. “You distract it, while the rest of us run. Run!” Dawn and Xander followed her immediately while the others waited torn for their commander. “Come on, we’ll distract it from the other side!” she yelled at the military people.
“Carter, Go!” the Colonel ordered and finally the others listened. Once in the tunnel, Buffy snatched the nearest ray gun from Dr. Jackson and hoped she was pressing the right buttons. The weapon sprang up as if it were alive and then she was firing, drawing the ghost’s attention to her and allowing the Colonel to dodge around it.
“Let’s go,go!” he shouted at the others who ran into the dark while he and Buffy held the ghost off from the rear. Occupied by their new friend, Buffy didn’t know how far they ran, but it wasn’t until they rounded a sharp turn that the ghost stopped following them. With a final wail, it came no further, as if an invisible barrier prevented it from turning after them.
“Looks like we made a right turn,” Buffy quipped to Jack who poked his head around the corner only to snatch it quickly back.
“Still there,” he confirmed.
“Buffy?” Dawn’s voice, high and uncertain grabbed the Slayer’s attention. It was only then that she noticed that the others hadn’t moved but were standing, staring at something in front of them. Exchanging a look with Jack, the two of them moved to the front of the group to see what was up.
Dawn made room for her sister as she joined them in front of the large placard that hovered in mid air over the path. Below it was empty space that dropped to dark infinity. The pit was at least fifty feet across, so wide that even Buffy wouldn’t be able to jump it.
“Anyone else, thinking Indiana Jones here?” asked Xander.
“No, but I’m thinking that’s an ominous sign,” Buffy nodded up at the floating board. It was covered in writing that Dawn didn’t recognize. It wasn’t the writing of the spell; the script looked angular and dense.
“Daniel?” said Colonel O’Neill. Of course, Dawn turned to look at Dr. Jackson. She’d forgotten he was a linguist.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “It looks like a form of proto-Dioritic. I’d need to look a few things up to translate all of it. The writing looks almost like Granitine but if those vowels are any indication – ”
“Daniel! Can you read it?” O’Neill interrupted impatiently. Dawn glanced at her sister, wondering if she saw the resemblance to her and Giles.
“Well, I recognize what has to be ‘Keymaster’ and ‘Gatekeeper’. I think that’s ‘transformation’ after that . . . ‘transformation of the instruments of’ something something ‘gifted/received grace and power to traverse’ something – I think it means the gap – ‘form of nature’ something.”
Dawn glanced back up at the sign, not liking the sound of that. Not one bit. “We’re gonna get turned into something?” she squeaked, trying not to sound as disturbed as she felt.
“You’re not going to get turned into something,” said Buffy though she was clearly just trying to calm Dawn down.
“Yeah, well, if I get turned into a smelly dog, I’m going to chew up all your shoes and drool!” said Dawn. She would too. Buffy would so regret it if she let her get transformed. She remembered all to well what had happened to the other keymaster dude.
“Well I don’t see how this helps,” said Xander. “I mean, sure we can sort of read the hover board here, but it doesn’t tell us how anything’s going to happen.”
“How is it staying like that?” asked Mr. Harriman, Sergeant Harriman, Dawn reminded herself. Her fellow doomed Gatekeeper anyway.
“Magic,” “Force field,” Buffy and Major Carter answered at the same time. The two looked at each other warily but decided not to debate the issue.
“What if it’s another gate?” the Sergeant went on.
“Gate?” said the Colonel. “It’s a piece of wood. Doesn’t look much like a gate.”
“Neither does your ring,” Xander retorted.
“I think he’s onto something,” Dr. Jackson interrupted, the faraway look in his eye again. “think about it Jack,” he turned to his CO. “First challenge of getting to this planet required opening a gate a special way, getting into the cliff there was a gate. It makes sense that this would be another gate, only more cleverly hidden.”
O’Neill stared at his friend for a second then abruptly turned to Dawn. “Hey, kid, you want to give it a try?”
“Me?” said Dawn startled.
“You see anyone else who’s key shaped around here?”
“Dawn,” said Buffy softly, laying a hand on her shoulder. So Dawn closed her eyes and tried to find what she had felt at the iron gate at the entrance. But when she sent out the keyness that had been humming inside her since they had opened the Stargate, she felt no resistance, nothing. In fact it was as if whatever gate there was, and she did kinda feel general gateness around her, it was already unlocked.
“There’s nothing there,” she said. “There’s nothing to unlock.”
“I . . . I think there’s a gate, but it’s open.”
“Oh,” said Jackson. He frowned. Everyone else started looking around for anything gate-like.
“Hey,” said Buffy suddenly. “Can’t you find it?” she asked Sergeant Harriman. “I mean you’re the Gatekeeper and all, you should be able to sense it or whatever.”
“Me?” He looked from Buffy to O’Neill who shrugged.
“Give it a shot.”
Taking a deep breath, Harriman closed his eyes murmuring, “How the hell am I just supposed to sense a gate?” He was quiet for a minute, then he opened his eyes again. “This isn’t working!”
But Dawn ignored him. So did everyone else. Around the sign a door had coalesced.
“Or maybe it did,” Walter stared at the door in disbelief. He’d been sure that closing his eyes and wishing for a door hadn’t been going to work. The fact that it was his front door – no that was disturbing.
“Sweet!” said O’Neill. “Good work, Sergeant.”
“Yes, sir,” Walter mumbled. He still couldn’t get past the fact that it was his front door.
Dawn who was standing directly in front of the door, opened it onto the same view of the chasm at their feet.
“Or not so sweet.”
Her sister glanced back at him, but Walter could only shrug. Major Carter from just behind them scooped up and tossed a pebble through it – and to their astonishment, it landed level with the top of the cliff, hovering in mid air.
“Definitely got a Last Crusade vibe,” said Harris. “So who’s first?”
“I’ll go,” said Buffy and O’Neill at the same time. They glared at each other a second and then Buffy who was closer simply stepped through before O’Neill could do anything about it.
“I’m walking on air!” she cried. “And it is very disturbing.”
“All right, don’t look down,” said O’Neill. “And Daniel, don’t fall off.”
So with Buffy in the lead and O’Neill taking the rear, the group stepped through Walter’s front door and walked across the emptiness beneath them. Walter made the mistake of looking down once and found that Buffy was right, it was very disturbing to see absolutely nothing beneath his soles. He found that as long as he kept his eyes up, it was just like walking down a hall. Soon they were all safely on the other side. Grinning at their accomplishment, the group continued down the dim path, small conversations sputtering up as they moved cautiously forward.
Until they rounded the next corner and were faced with a cave, the endless up of the walls abruptly coming to an end. And what was more, the cave was wailing.
“Is that . . . sugar I smell?” asked Major Carter, looking to the rest of them for confirmation. And she was right: something sweet was waiting for them in that cave, the cave they obviously had to go into.
Only now, the wailing was getting louder, and the ground was beginning to shake with heavy footsteps as whatever was inside made its way out.
As a group, they backed up to give the mouth of the cave plenty of space.
“Xander, here,” Buffy handed her friend the crossbow as the young man hefted the axe he’d brought with him.
“Buffy, I don’t like this!” said Dawn, drawing her sword over her shoulder.
“What’s not to like?” asked Major Carter dryly as she and the rest of SG-1 and Walter brought their more modern weapons to bear. He heard Teal’c power up his staff.
“Hey, Summers,” called O’Neill, “If the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man comes out that door, and your sword gets stuck, don’t come crying to me about it!”
It wasn’t the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. It actually more resembled a miniature Godzilla – and by miniature Xander meant only ten feet high as opposed to ten stories. Gunfire from the military hit the monster as soon as it showed its ugly face. Unfortunately, like so many things, the bullets only served to piss it off.
Mini-zilla shook his head in defiance and roared to the canyon tops, the sound as deafening as the monster breath it let loose was bad. Trying not to breathe, Xander took aim with his crossbow and fired, pissing it off more as the bolt landed in his stomach. But Buffy took the distraction as a chance to dart in with her sword.
“Watch out!” cried Dr. Jackson as one clawed hand swiped her away and into the wall. O’Neill and Carter opened fire again while Dawn ran to Buffy, Xander covering her back. The demon or whatever was slowly stepping forward, roaring with every step as it took bullets and energy blasts.
“Zats!” yelled O’Neill over the noise. “Use the zats!” As the military people switched to their energy weapons, Xander saw that they did in fact have an effect. But not a definitive one.
“Cross the beams!” yelled Teal’c and they spread out to catch the creature in the crossfire.
“Where’s my sword?”
Xander glanced behind him to Buffy who was on her feet now with angry determination in every line in her body. She accepted her sword back from Dawn and made ready to rush back into the fray.
“Aim for its face!” she yelled at the others who immediately shifted their target. Enraged and blinded, the mini-zilla batted at the energy he couldn’t really touch. Buffy rushed in, all speed and grace, the raw power of the Slayer guiding her in a deadly dance that Xander never tired of watching. She ducked under claws, twisted out of the way of feet and every movement was followed by a cut, always looking for an opening – and when she saw it she took it – rebounding off of the wall to slice open its belly.
A last agonized wail rose from the demon as it staggered . . . and fell. Buffy nimbly jumped out of the way, her sword loose in her hand as she caught her breath. She was grinning like a loon still high on the rush of battle.
She looked at O’Neill triumphantly. “And that is why you should never leave home without a sword!”
Rolling his eyes at the young woman and refusing to dignify her comment with a reply, Jack fished out his flashlight and fixed it on his gun. Taking point with Carter and leaving Teal’c and Daniel to take their six, he led them into the cave. It smelled of sugar and rotten tomatoes with a healthy dose of locker room. The tunnel floor was littered his small stones and cobwebs but was otherwise barren. Jack really hoped there weren’t anymore surprises. This place was giving him the creeps.
“Spooky, huh, Carter,” he murmured into the oppressing darkness.
“Yes, sir,” she agreed. They continued walking for at least twenty minutes down the tunnel. There were a few side paths but a quick inspection showed these to be the monster’s living room and kitchen as it were. Finally they came to a much larger cavern that was clearly bigger than their sphere’s of light.
“I don’t suppose there’s a light switch,” said Jack, sweeping his small light from side to side only to reveal more darkness. But then suddenly there was light in blinding green and white before it settled down into a more elegant tone.
“Cool!” said Dawn Summers behind them. She and Harriman had both stopped short at the entrance. “And the Keymaster said ‘let there be light!’”
“And Gatekeeper,” Harriman threw an annoyed look at the girl beside him who simply shrugged and followed her sister further into the room. Teenagers.
Now that the cavern was lit, Jack saw that it was mostly empty. It stretched a good hundred feet in every direction including up. There were no shadows now for anything to hide behind.
“Would you look at that?!” Daniel breathed.
“The Stone of kiss-your-ass-goodbye!” Buffy grinned.
Jack finally looked at what he’d ignored in favor of securing their position. The pedestal on the far wall directly across from them. On it was a shining green something – this stone they had come to get. But the oddest part was the carving of a Stargate on the wall behind it. It was the exact size with the same symbols etched into its rings in painstaking detail. With nothing stopping them, the group made their way to the pedestal.
“That’s it?” said Jack upon getting a closer look at the stone. It looked like a green dinosaur egg.
“That’s it,” said Dawn approaching it slowly. “Get ready for booby traps.”
At her words, Jack gripped his gun tighter, glancing at Carter, Daniel, Teal’c and Harriman to make sure they were ready. Dawn picked up the egg.
Or rather she tried to. “It’s stuck!” she exclaimed, her earlier reverent tone giving way to frustration.
“Here,” said Harriman stepping forward. “Since everything seems to need both of us . . .” The Sergeant stepped forward and placed his hands on the egg, and this time it lifted free.
The cavern was plunged into darkness. “Uh, who turned out the light?” Harris asked the obvious question.
“I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” said Buffy. A sound of shifting stone echoed through the cave next.
“I like the sound of that even less,” said Jack, swinging his light to the entrance. “Teal’c, Carter,” he nodded for them to check it out. The rest of them waited in tense silence for them to return.
“The door is sealed, O’Neill,” said Teal’c. “It is as if the entrance never existed.”
“We’re stuck, sir,” added Carter. Crap. Jack did not need this. How the hell were they going to get out of this?
“Harriman, can you do your gate thing?” he asked. He couldn’t see the Sergeant’s face well in the dim light.
“There’s no gate there, sir,” he said after a minute. Jack cursed again. “But . . .” Harriman went on, “there is a gate . . . here.” He looked over his shoulder at the pedestal.
“The Stargate carving,” said Daniel.
“The carving?” asked Harris.
“Buffy, we gotta do the blood ritual again!” said Dawn excitedly. “This is cool – we don’t have to retrace our steps or anything.”
“This better get us home,” muttered Buffy. “If you send us to another dimension, you’re so grounded.” But she still pulled a knife from out of nowhere while the rest of them stood back.
“Carry on,” said Jack in an attempt to feel like he was still in control. “I hate this part,” he added to no one in particular. But he watched Dawn and Harriman do the ritual that had got them there in the first place, each keeping a hand on the egg the whole time. The back and forth talking, the blood sharing, and finally the burst of green and white light that sure enough opened the Stargate on the wall.
“Well, I guess this is it,” he said. “Daniel, hit the GDO. Let’s go home.”
A week later, Walter Harriman received a postcard in the mail. It was one of those photo ones that his mother loved to do for Christmas. Only this photo was not a family portrait in the traditional sense. While this postcard did feature, Dawn, Buffy, and Harris, it did so before the body of what looked like an orange and very dead dragon. In her hand, Dawn held the green Stone of Farewell.
Written was a short note. ‘To our dear Gatekeeper, Thanks for all your help in getting the Stone. It worked quite well. Remember, who to call if you have any problems of the supernatural kind, or ever turn into a hell dog. Your friends, Dawn, Buffy, and Xander, the Real and Extreme Ghostbusting Scoobies. P.S.’ it went on in different handwriting, ‘if you show this to Col. O’Neill, ask him if he like green eggs and ham with a dragon.’