Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland
ffutures

The Key to Byzantium - XI

Here's the first draft of the next chapter of The Key To Byzantium, my BtVS / Stargate crossover. Previous parts are here.

Comments please before I post to archives.

This is a crossover between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stargate SG-1. For continuity details, credits, etc. see the prologue. Characters from these series belong to their respective creators, production companies, etc., and are used without any intent to deprive them of income or otherwise infringe on copyright. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.

Spoilers for Angel 5.11, Damage.

The Key to Byzantium
by Marcus L. Rowland

XI

"Keep down," whispered Jack, crouching in scrubby bushes and watching the cluster of buildings through low light goggles. "Can't see any guards, doesn't mean they aren't there."

"I can hear some dogs about a mile away," whispered Kennedy, "sounds like they're on the other side of the place." Jack couldn't hear a thing.

"Okay," said Sam, "that fits in with a small caretaker force. Probably just a few soldiers to keep an eye on things, stop anyone stripping the furniture and plumbing supplies."

"I can stop people from seeing us until it gets brighter," murmured Willow, "not so sure about dogs smelling us."

"No problem," said Sam. "they'll be attack dogs, not trackers."

"I shall consider myself reassured," said Teal'c.

"I'm not," said Daniel.

"Okay," said Jack, "sun's rising on the far side, with luck their night vision won't be too good when they look this way. Head for the office building on the right. The ground's hard, but try not to leave tracks."

"What about the church?" asked Kennedy, "looks like you'd get a better view from there."

"Too good," said Jack, "This place was built by Communists, remember, not very religious, the church is probably the control centre. I think the steeple's a radio mast."

"Oh. Sorry."

"Don't sweat it, I was doing this when they were still the Evil Empire."

"Any Slayer vibes?" asked Willow. "Kennedy? Dana?"

"Not a thing," said Kennedy. Dana shook her head.

"Maybe we've got here before the Knights," said Daniel.

"Maybe we should get moving," Jack said, "or we'll still be stuck out here when they arrive."

They ran, crouching behind bushes and rocks. The Slayers moved completely silently, flowing from shadow to shadow like predators, and for a second Jack imagined taking a squad of them through a Goa'uld encampment. They wouldn't know what hit them. Willow moved quietly, but not as well as the Slayers or SG-1, and seemed to be muttering as she walked. Jack caught snatches of Latin, and guessed she was casting the camouflage spell she'd mentioned. Teal'c brought up the rear.

"Camera to the right pointed at the door," murmured Sam. "Willow, can your spell handle it?"

"Yeah, for a few minutes, the cameras will see us but anyone looking at the screen won't. We ought to be okay provided they don't play back the tape. Don't hang around getting inside, I can't keep it up for long."

"Don't let the camera get good shots of your faces," said Jack, "just in case."

"Door's locked," whispered Kennedy as they reached it. "Want me to bust it?"

"Better not," Jack replied, "Carter, check for alarms, if it's clean I'll try to pick the lock."

Sam examined the door and said "Looks like a magnetic reed switch, if we open the door it'll trip. I can handle it." She dug out a jack knife and pried off a strip of wood. There was a wire ending in a plastic cylinder underneath. In seconds she stripped the wires and fixed a tiny clip to short them together, then put the wood back to cover what she'd done. "Ought to be okay provided there's nothing else inside."

"Dogs are getting closer," said Kennedy. Dana cocked her crossbow and seemed even more alert than usual.

"Let's take a look." Jack produced a slim leather wallet and worked on the lock for twenty seconds or so, then pushed the door open a few inches and peeped inside. "Concrete floor, no pressure mat, no signs of a light beam alarm, we ought to be okay provided they aren't using ultrasonics or passive infra-red."

"No ultrasonics," said Kennedy. "or if there are they're higher pitched than dog whistles."

"Good to know." Jack gingerly pushed it open a little more, took a better look, and said "it's clean. Everyone inside. Teal'c, throw out some pepper as you come in, that ought to put dogs off the scent."

"Where did you get pepper?" Willow asked as Teal'c obeyed.

"We always carry some," whispered Jack, locking the door once Teal'c was inside. "They have tracking animals on quite a few worlds."

A minute later they heard low voices outside, a casual conversation. Daniel listened, waited for the voices to fade, then said "Talking about ice hockey."

"Really?" said Jack. "Anything interesting?"

"They both think Moscow are going to win the next championship."

"No way. I've got twenty bucks on St. Petersburg."

"What now?" asked Kennedy. "What is this place anyway?"

"The sign out back was Russian for 'Building 17 service entrance,'" said Daniel, "apart from that your guess is as good as mine."

"Any thoughts?" asked Jack.

"It smells... kinda stale," said Willow. "Like nobody's been inside in weeks. Months, maybe."

"Perfect. Okay, Major Carter and I will lead the way, everyone else stay back. I doubt that there are any more alarms, but you never know. Willow, I guess you can stop the spell now."

"Thank the goddess."

* * * * *

"This place isn't ideal," Jack said twenty minutes later, "but it could be a lot worst." They'd decided that the six-storey building must have once been accommodation for the teachers, but most of the furniture had been removed and there was no power. There was running water, though no heat, but fortunately the weather was warm. They'd set up camp in a third-floor lounge that still had a little furniture. More importantly, it had a South-facing window which would be useful for communications. "Don't drink the tap water without purifying it first, it smells like it's been standing for months and Russian water is always a little dubious. And no lights near the windows."

"So what's the plan?" asked Daniel.

"Let's just watch for a while, see if the Knights are here, I'll set up the satellite transmitter and see if Hammond or the NSA have anything more for us. Teal'c, take some binoculars upstairs, see if you can get onto the roof without being seen. Daniel, you and Carter had better listen in on the radio, see if there's any traffic that might interest us."

"Any chance I could shower first?" asked Daniel, "I'm still itchy."

"Sure. Make it a fast one, don't want the drains making too much noise. And don't drink the water."

"Okay."

"Willow," said Jack, "is there anything that you can do?"

"I'm doing it. When the Knights were chasing us they had a couple of magicians with them, I'm... I guess I'd say I'm feeling for them, see if I can sense anything like that around. Nothing so far."

"Would they sense you?"

"Hope not, my shields are up."

"Okay," said Jack. "Dana, Kennedy, does any of this look familiar?"

"Yeah," said Kennedy. "The shop with the coke sign is about two blocks that way" - she pointed North - "you can just see it from the top floor, and I'm pretty sure that the puke green car parked across the street was in my dream."

"Dana?" Jack repeated.

"They're coming. Soon."

"Any idea how soon?" Dana didn't reply.

"Wonderful."

"One thing," said Kennedy, "I haven't seen any kids around, none of the people I remember from my dream. I've seen a couple of guard patrols, and one guy who seemed to be servicing the street lights, but that's it." Dana nodded confirmation.

"Servicing the street lights?" repeated Jack. "They wouldn't be doing that while the place is mothballed. They must be planning to open up again."

"If they are," said Sam, "there's probably a good reason for it."

"I'll get on the phone, see if anyone knows anything. Keep listening on the radio, see if they say anything that sheds any light. Everyone, keep your eyes and ears open for anything that suggests that they've spotted us or are tracking our signal, it's encrypted and the beam is pretty tight beam but with the right equipment they might just pick it up."

* * * * *

"The NSA has just confirmed it," said General Hammond, "The Russians are re-opening the site as an intensive language training school for the troops they're sending to SGC. Full immersion in American culture."

"That's... interesting," said Jack, "sounds like they might be planning to slip in a few agents with the next group, to make sure we aren't keeping any secrets."

"It's possible. It's what we'd probably do in their shoes."

"Why didn't the NSA tell us before, General?"

"Apparently the information was compartmentalized."

"Wonderful. Any idea when the school reopens?"

"The staff and their families arrive on Monday, the school reopens on Wednesday."

"Okay, it's Thursday now, that gives us a minimum of four days. We can't hole up here that long. Sounds like we'd better wait until nightfall, then head back the way we came."

"I concur, Colonel. Once you're out we'll contact the Russians and warn them that their site may be targeted for attack."

"We'll check in when we're back in Los Angeles. O'Neill out."

"Colonel," said Sam, "I think they might be on to us."

"They picked up the satellite phone?"

"No, but they're talking about an intruder." She listened to the radio again then said "No, false alarm, it's not us, they're saying something about seeing binoculars reflected from the outer perimeter." She listened again then said "They're sending out a patrol to investigate."

"Warn Teal'c, they might start to look in as well as out."

"I'll tell him," said Kennedy, heading towards the stairs as Daniel came in, rubbing his hair dry, and said "Anything happening?"

"Could be trouble," said Sam. "They've spotted some intruders at the outer perimeter. Kennedy's warning Teal'c."

"Trouble?" asked Willow, coming in with Dana. Sam repeated the explanation. "Could be the Knights," said Willow.

"It'd be one hell of a coincidence," said Jack.

"They might have been there for a while. Some of them were in Sunnydale months before the big fight with Glory, poking around for the Key. Well, more like asking questions, beating up demons, getting killed by them, that kinda thing. Maybe they saw us arrive and wanted to know what we were up to. Were they somewhere they could have seen us?"

Sam listened to the radio then said "I don't think so. More to the North if I'm interpreting the coordinates properly."

"They still might have seen something. It would have been about as bright on this side as it was in Pylea. We're just lucky the guards didn't spot it."

"No. They're lucky," said Dana.

"Um... Dana, we don't hurt humans, you know that." Dana didn't respond.

"Is that part of being a Slayer?" asked Daniel.

"Yes and no," said Willow, "most Slayers hate the thought of hurting anyone human, and it kinda attracts attention if you start to leave bodies lying around, but they don't actually lose their powers or anything if it happens. There have been a few incidents."

"I would have thought that with super-strong girls that age there would be more than a few," said Sam.

Willow said "Let's not go there right now, it's kinda a delicate thing." She glanced at Dana.

"Okay," said Sam.

"Eight," said Dana.

"Eight what?" asked Daniel. Willow glared at him as Dana said "Eight people. I k-k-killed eight people." She stuttered on the last words.

"Did you have reason?" asked Jack.

"Y-Y-Yes." She didn't elaborate.

"Dana," Willow said gently, "I think we might be stuck here until nightfall. Do you want to get some sleep?"

"All right."

"Lie on the couch, then, and close your eyes. Sleepy-time." In seconds Dana was asleep.

"Post-hypnotic suggestion?" asked Sam.

"Yeah. She's gradually getting to where she can start to talk about it, but for the moment it's just upsetting her when she can't, when she starts to stutter. The best thing she can do when that happens is sleep, that kinda takes the edge off it."

"What the hell happened?" asked Jack. "You said she escaped from an institution. What did she do to get institutionalized?"

"You're asking the wrong question, I think," said Sam. "What was done to her?"

"She was kidnapped and saw her parents murdered when she was ten," said Willow, "then systematically tortured for months. Then institutionalised for ten years or so after she finally escaped."

"Did they ever find the bastard that did it?" asked Jack.

"The police killed him in a shoot-out five years ago," said Kennedy, coming in with Teal'c. "Didn't even know what he'd done, he was robbing a liquor store."

"Good," said Sam.

"Not really," said Kennedy, "we could have made it slower and a lot more painful."

"I've just been explaining why we don't do that," said Willow.

"Okay, so maybe he'd still be alive when we were done. He sure as hell wouldn't be hurting any more little girls."

"So the people Dana killed...?" asked Daniel.

"Mostly they got in her way when she broke out," said Wilow. "Mostly. For a while every man she saw was the guy who'd kidnapped her. She's over that now, but... well, that's why there's always another Slayer with her, or someone like me who can handle her."

"Now you know," said Kennedy. "What do you plan to do about it?"

Sam and Daniel looked at Jack. He shrugged and said "About what? Far as I'm concerned we've been talking about the weather. Unless there's something we can do to help?"

"Doubt it, but thanks." Willow smiled, then turned to Sam and said "So, anything more on the radio?"

"They're searching the woods outside the wire. It's only been a few minutes, I'd guess they're still deploying."

"Okay," said Jack. "We'll take shifts on the radio. Anyone else speak Russian?" Willow and Kennedy shook their heads. "Okay, Daniel can take the next shift, then me, then Carter. Meanwhile let's see what else we can figure out about this place."

* * * * *

"They've caught three men," Jack said about three hours later, "wearing... what's that word... anyone know what kol'chuga means?"

"Chain mail," said Daniel.

"Damn," said Willow, "it is them."

"Or Jaffa," said Teal'c. "Though I doubt that Jaffa would be caught so easily."

"Our best lead in weeks," Willow said mournfully, "and we won't be able to get close to them."

"Actually," said Jack, looking at the map, "they'll be coming right past this building in twenty minutes or so if they're being taken to the church. We could take them if we played it right."

"That would be conspicuous," said Teal'c. "We would not be able to stay until nightfall."

"Anyone got trouble with that?" asked Jack.

"Fine by me," said Willow, "but we'd better hustle if we're gonna be ready to move." She went over to Dana and said "Rise and shine, sleepyhead."

Dana's eyes snapped open and she sat in one smooth motion. "The Russians have caught some Knights," said Willow, "We're gonna try to snatch them and head back to the portal. Get your things together, we might have to fight and we're sure as heck gonna have to run."

* * * * *

Until a second before the crash the Russian corporal thought the road was clear, then suddenly it was blocked by a green car. He slammed on the brakes, but couldn't stop in time. Inside the truck half a dozen guards were thrown forwards, along with their prisoners. A sword ripped through the canvas cover, just above their heads, and a dark-eyed girl with a blue tattoo on her forehead grabbed one of the guards and pulled him out before anyone had a chance to react. There was a loud thud, then the guards remembered their guns and moved to cover the hole. They were still looking that way when another sword cut the rear flap open and some rapid Zat fire took care of the others.

"Grab the Knights," said Jack, "Willow, you okay?"

"I guess." Her eyes were dark. "Make it fast, they're gonna notice they can't see the truck any more."

Dana came out carrying a Knight on her shoulder, followed by Kennedy and Teal'c, then Sam and Daniel with the Knights' weapons and supplies.

"Head round to the left then straight out towards the woods," said Jack, opening his GPS receiver, "Willow, if you can keep the truck concealed for a couple more minutes as we move it'll help."

"Okay..."

They were about half way to the portal when the alarm finally sounded. "Keep going," said Jack. "It'll take them a while to spot us, by then we ought to be out of here."

A hundred yards, and they heard shouts behind them. "Teal'c, Carter, rear guard," said Jack, "The rest of you keep moving."

Teal'c crouched behind a rock, waited for the pursuing troops to get a little closer, then fired over their heads. They dived for cover, and Sam gave him covering fire as he picked up the Knight again and ran towards the portal, then covered her as she in turn retreated. Sam noticed a hail of small rocks thudding down around the guards, and guessed that the Slayers were making their own contribution.

"Okay," shouted Jack, "this is the place. Willow, hit the gizmo."

Willow concentrated, and the glowing portal appeared again... about eight feet above the ground. "Oh crap," said Willow, as Dana threw her Knight up through it, then boosted Jack up into the glow. "Thicken!" The air between the guards and the escapees seemed to ripple.

"Out of here, fast," said Kennedy. She and Dana threw the other Knights through the hole, helped Teal'c and Sam, then grabbed Willow's arms and leaped together. A second later the portal closed.

* * * * *

"Is Willow okay?" asked Sam, listening to the night noises of the Pylean forest and wondering what was out there.

"She needs to rest for a couple more hours," said Kennedy, wiping the mascara 'tattoo' from her forehead and gesturing towards the tents SG-1 had set up. "Using that much magic without letting it take her over is difficult."

"But she'll be okay?"

"Sure. Just needs some sleep."

"How about Dana?"

"She's sleeping too. Willow told her to."

"But not you?"

"Demon dimension, remember. Makes it kinda difficult to relax. Come sunrise Lorne ought to be here, then we can head back to LA. Then I'll get some sleep."

"You'll be okay?"

"Slayers don't need much sleep, I'll be fine. Will Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c be okay with the Knights?"

"Relax, they're not going anywhere."

"I'm more worried about them killing themselves, or biting out their tongues."

"We checked them over; got a couple of suicide pills and some weapons the Russians missed. I've given them pretty heavy tranquillizer shots, that ought to keep them under control until the morning. Once we're in LA Colonel O'Neill can have an interrogation team ready in a few hours."

"Interrogation?"

"Kennedy... we're at war. It isn't quite the war you've been fighting, but there's a chance they're working with the Goa'uld. We can't take chances."

"I guess."

"What would you do if we weren't in the picture?"

"Oh..." Kennedy thought for a moment, then said "I guess we'd be trying to get them to talk too. Point taken."

Daniel came over with mugs of coffee, and said "It's never pleasant, but sometimes it has to be done."

"It's the part of being a Slayer I've never liked," said Kennedy. "Fighting things, killing monsters, that's okay. Making someone talk, that's different. Even when it's a demon."

"Do all Slayers think that way?" asked Daniel.

"No. There are a few that are kinda into it, or at least can do it without worrying. I'm just not one of them."

"Dana?"

"Oh, she'd be into it, if we let her. There's a lot of the First Slayer in her."

"First Slayer?" asked Sam.

"A few thousand years ago a bunch of wizards took a girl and gave her the powers of a demon. Trouble was a lot of the demon personality came with it. Gradually the worst of it wore off, I guess the Slayer package got a little more human, but somewhere in the back of every Slayer's head there's... well, she's a savage, a hunter. You wouldn't like her if you met her."

"And Dana remembers that?"

"We all do, sooner or later, in our dreams. But Dana..." She tapered into silence.

"She channels her?" suggested Daniel, sipping from his mug.

"She is her, sometimes. I've seen it a couple of times when she's been fighting. She rips through demons like a knife through butter, but if anyone else got in her way... well, it wouldn't be pretty."

"Is there no way you could take it away from her?" asked Sam.

"No. You're a Slayer until you die."

"That sucks."

"Sometimes. But saving a life, knowing you're saving the world, it makes up for it. For me, anyway, not so sure about Dana." Kennedy yawned.

"I know you can manage without it, but I think you should try to sleep," said Sam. "If the observations I made on the way in were correct the first sun rises in about four hours. Why not nap until then? We can keep watch."

"You sure?"

"Yeah," said Daniel. "We do this sort of thing a lot. C'mon, get some sleep, how else are we going to talk about you behind your back?"

Kennedy laughed, stretched, and went to join Willow in her tent.

"Every time I think the universe sucks," said Daniel, "something like that comes along to make me realise it's even suckier. What right did those bastards have to do that to those girls?"

"Arrogance, I guess," said Sam. "Any more coffee in the pot?"

TBC

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