This is a Buffy / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine crossover. See the first chapter for background and some of the sources which suggested the plot. Thanks also to Captain Boulanger and Tara Keezer for helpful comments and suggestions.
All characters belong to their respective creators / film companies / etc. and are used without permission. This story may only be distributed on a non-profit-making basis.
Work in Progress. If you like this story, check out my other stories on the Fanfiction Net, Twisting the Hellmouth, and Fonts of Wisdom websites.
I'm British, so's my spelling. Live with it.
By Marcus L. Rowland
"What sort of experiment did you have in mind," Dawn asked warily. "Is it gonna be like the one you just ran?"
"What do you mean?" asked Sisko.
"Come on, Captain. This morning we had no idea of this Omphalos thing, by the end of the afternoon priests are coming out of the woodwork and Odo isn't even around for crowd control. It doesn't add up. I guess they could get here that fast, but I kinda doubt they'd organise it that quickly, or that you'd let them come charging in to see me without any warning. Admit it, we're in a holodeck. My guess is that Ezri put one over on me when we went to lunch, everything since then has been a simulation."
"What a paranoid mind you have, Miss Summers. Do I look like the sort of person that would do something like that?"
"Yeah. Computer, end program." Nothing happened. She looked at him and waited. After a few seconds Sisko shrugged and said "Computer, command authorisation, end program." The briefing room vanished, revealing a holosuite stripped of its illusions.
"See what I mean?" said Dawn. The door opened and Ezri and Julian came in. "So what was the idea?"
"I suppose I should apologise," said Sisko. "After our meeting this morning I began to wonder if you could possibly be possessed by a Pah-wraith. I think I'd recognise one, but the circumstances of your arrival were so bizarre it didn't occur to me earlier. If you were possessed the opportunity to attack the Vedeks, possibly to possess them, would be too good to miss."
"So I test out as wraith-free?"
"There's no easy way to be sure, but I think so."
"The experiment proved one thing," said Sisko, "I was watching you while the meeting was going on. The Key, or whatever it is inside you, seemed to respond to your mood to some extent; it seemed to spin fastest when you were most agitated."
"You handled them pretty well, by the way," said Ezri. "We didn't make it too tough, but all of the religious arguments came from the Bajoran scriptures. When they find out about you the Vadeks will probably ask similar questions."
"You live with a Jewish Wicca for a while, you learn all about religious arguments. Okay, that explains the holodeck. What's the next experiment gonna do, mess me up in the transporter or something?" There was an awkward silence, then Dawn said "Rats. I had to say that, didn't I."
"Statistically the transporter is the safest method of travel..." began Julian.
"Screw statistics. All I know is that about half the episodes I saw had something going wrong with the transporter or the holodeck or both of them together."
"That's an exaggeration," said Julian, "maybe in fiction and urban legends that's true, but there are maybe ten accidents a year throughout the Federation."
"And most of them happen to the people in this room, right?"
"Think about it. You all know the statistics and you've all been in transporter and holodeck accidents. Doesn't that strike you as odd?"
"Unlikely, perhaps," said Sisko, "but this station isn't exactly a state of the art facility."
"Don't you get it? Things are that way because they're the way they are in the TV show in my world. What with the original show, Next Generation and Voyager they must have made at least three hundred programs, and whenever they ran out of ideas they'd use a holodeck problem or a transporter accident to liven things up."
"It could explain quite a lot," Ezri said slowly.
"So now do get why I'm not exactly anxious for you to scramble my atoms with the damn transporter?"
"You've already been transported twice," said Sisko, "once when the Defiant rescued you and once when they were trying to get you out of your force field."
"I so didn't need to know that," said Dawn.
"Did anyone ever suffer any permanent damage in any of these accidents?" asked Julian.
"Not any of the main cast, but I'm pretty sure people did get killed."
"Well, could anyone be more 'main cast' than the creator of the universe?"
"That's such a stupid argument it probably makes sense. Okay, what do you want to do anyway?"
"O'Brien's checked the Defiant's transporter logs," said Sisko, "as far as we can tell there was nothing unusual about you when you were transported. But that obviously isn't true, because the logs don't show anything that would account for the Key. It's there, I can see it, but something like that would surely show up on the transporter logs if it was being transported."
"So you think... think what? That it's travelling some other way?"
"Maybe. What we'd like to do is observe you with every instrument at our disposal while you're transported and see if we can detect anything."
"Won't you have to work really fast?"
"I was coming to that..."
"I just want to say one last time," said Dawn, moving to the centre of the transporter pad, "that I really think that this is an incredibly bad idea."
"You're free to say no," said Sisko.
"Okay, no." She paused two beats then said "Only kidding... Sure you don't want to mess with this some more, make this even riskier?"
"Chief O'Brien's double-checked the system," said Julian, looking up from a battery of instruments and computer screens, "it ought to be as safe as any other transporter operation."
"Famous last words."
"Everything's in perfect order, Miss Summers," O'Brien said indignantly, "even if I do say so myself."
"And that's so reassuring. Okay, do it before I lose my nerve."
"Energize," said Sisko. Dawn shimmered, became the outline of a girl made of sparkling white light, and vanished. "Status?"
"Holding her in the transporter buffers," said O'Brien, "no problems so far."
Sisko stared at the stage, and said "It's still there... approximately a metre to the left of the centre of the stage. It seems agitated."
"Scanning," said Julian. "Neutrinos... no. Microwave radiation... no. Tachyons... no. Chronometric radiation... no. Quantum... no... Hello, what's this?"
"Status?" asked Sisko again.
"She's stable," said O'Brien.
"I'm detecting zero point vacuum energy fluctuations, Captain," said Julian, "affecting a volume of space over the transporter pad."
"Can you produce some sort of image?"
"I'll try." He changed several settings and turned one of the screens to face Sisko. It showed a blue computer-generated graphic of something that looked vaguely like three interlocking spiral tornados, rotating and intertwining above the transporter stage. The scale showed it as about a metre high, and floating about a metre above the stage.
"The Key," said Sisko. "Change the colour to green and you'll be seeing what I'm seeing."
"It's... amazing" said Odo.
"The movement seems to be speeding up," said Ezri. "Are any of your readings changing?"
"The vacuum flux has gone up by about thirty percent since I first detected it," said Julian, "fifty... a hundred and twenty... two hundred..." A faint white glow was beginning to appear above the stage, visible to the naked eye. "I'm detecting energy across the spectrum, up to and including gamma and X-rays. Not dangerously high levels yet, but getting there."
"Get her back," said Sisko, "I think we're beginning to annoy it."
"Energizing," said O'Brien. There were the usual transporter effects, and Dawn began to reappear from nothingness on another pad. As she appeared the Key vanished from the first pad and reappeared inside her. O'Brien completed the rematerialisation, and Dawn said "Get on with it before I lose my.. oh. Did you see anything?"
"Show her," said Sisko. Julian swivelled the screen towards her.
"That's the Key?" asked Dawn.
"If it isn't we've even more of a puzzle on our hands..."
"Okay, so... kinda sparkly. Is this me now, or while I was dematerialised?"
"That's approximately a second ago" said Julian, overlaying a transparent image of her material body to give her an idea of its position. "I can't quite give you a real time image, it needs a lot of processing." Dawn raised a hand, watched the image follow her and the Key spinning inside and said "Wow... it's awesome. I wonder if I can get it to do tricks. Any idea what it is?"
"Not a clue. But we know what it's made from, or at least what's powering it. Zero point energy. That's a lot more than we knew an hour ago."
"Wait a second," said Sisko. "Do that again."
"Do what?" said Dawn.
"Hold your hand out away from your body."
"Okay... hey, what's that?" There was something a little like the Key on her arm, a much fainter trace of something spiralling around Dawn's wrist, like a continuous loop of telephone cord made of pale green fire.
"I think it's your bracelet," said Julian. "Whatever powers it resembles the Key."
"That makes sense," said Dawn, staring at the screen, "The Key has to be magical and we know the bracelet is, looks like you've found a way to see magic."
"It seems that we've also found out what magic is," said Sisko. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it's something we really don't understand very well."
"What is this zero thingy anyway?"
"You've never heard of zero point vacuum energy?" Julian asked incredulously.
"Hello," said Dawn, staring at the image, "not exactly miss twenty-third century here."
"But the concept was known even in your era."
"Not to me it isn't. Can you give me the Reader's Digest version for people who stopped studying physics once they knew how to replace a fuse?"
"What's a fuse?" asked O'Brien.
"Kinda like a circuit breaker only messier."
"I'm sorry I asked."
"Will someone please explain?" asked Dawn.
"Briefly," said Julian, "It's one of the implications of quantum physics. The structure of the universe contains an enormous amount of energy which is always in a state of flux. Think of it as a sea of power. The things we think of as the fundamental building blocks of the universe, the electromagnetic waves, particles, and so forth are just the foam on top of that sea. Beneath thema are enormous depths. Unfortunately all our attempts to tap into it have consumed more power than they've produced."
"Is this like E equals M C squared?"
"Not really. All of that is just the foam. The true power locked into the universe makes everything else look like... like the faintest flash of a firefly compared to a supernova. There's enough energy in a cubic centimetre of space to boil all the oceans on Earth. It's the energy that created the universe and fuelled the big bang."
"So you're saying that the Key taps into it?"
"I think that magic must tap into it. It explains some of the things you describe, which seem to defy conservation of mass and energy. As for the Key... well, I'd have to say that it seems to be made of it. An enormously complex structure made of fluctuations in the zero point energy of space."
"And we really don't want to get it mad," said Sisko. "Because if it wanted to it could probably wipe out this entire universe without raising a sweat."