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
"The way of the warrior," said Worf, polishing his bat'leth, "is to die with honour and take enemies with you to the gates of Sto-vo-kor."
"Bull," said Dawn, practicing a few thrusts with her new sword and looking around the holodeck, set up as a dojo and practice room, "unless all your enemies are dead the way of the warrior is to stay alive and fighting. 'First rule of slaying,' my sister says, 'don't die.'"
"There is some truth in that, but sometimes honour demands sacrifice."
"Yeah? Who's gonna make sure that the sacrifice is worth it if you aren't around to take care of things for yourself?" She walked over to a practice dummy and tried a few slashes. Straw padding began to shower to the floor.
"Your comrades in arms, of course."
"Okay, maybe that works for you if you're in an army. Do you think this looks a little blade-heavy when my arm's extended?"
"It should work for anyone except those who walk alone. Show me some thrusts, this time aiming a little higher."
Dawn complied, and said "Thing is, until Buffy the Slayers were always alone. No friends, no family, warriors for the higher powers. It got most of them killed before they really knew what they were doing."
"And your sister changed this? Again, this time thrusting for the heart."
"She realised that she was stronger when she was fighting for her family and friends, and when they supported her in the fight," said Dawn, running the dummy through then pulling back for another thrust "She's lasted longer than any other Slayer and these days she isn't alone, there's a whole army of them out there. A few platoons anyway and they're mostly working in teams, all because she realised it was possible. It's changed everything."
"I would say that the weight is towards the hilt, if anything, but there is little in it. Your sister must be a true warrior, it would be an honour to meet her."
"Hmmm... she's a pain in the ass sometimes, but maybe I can bring her here for a vacation once we've worked out what to do about this Omphalos thing. I guess you're right, it's balanced pretty well."
"And the crossbow?"
Dawn sheathed her sword, picked up the bow, cocked and loaded it, and fired a bolt into the heart of the dummy, "It's good. I like the cocking mechanism a lot, don't think they invented anything quite like that on Earth." As she was talking she reloaded and fired again, then tucked the tiny bow into a carrying bag and went over to the dummy to recover the bolts.
"If that is true it may breach the Prime Directive to give it to you."
"Don't worry about it, I've seen something similar used to lock the luggage onto a motorbike. Anyway, how is improving an obsolete weapon gonna contaminate our culture?"
"True. Are you ready for combat practice?"
"I think so."
A door appeared in one of the walls and opened to reveal Ezri, who said "Dawn, Julian and Miles are ready for you in laboratory five."
"Finally! Okay, Worf, get back to you later. Unless you want to come see the fun."
"It would be my privilege. Computer, end program."
"The idea," said Julian, "is to create a disturbance in the zero point energy, just enough to attract the Key's attention, then try to establish communications with it." He gestured towards a screen where the latest images of the Key could be seen. "We've got the processing time down to a fraction of a second now, you shouldn't really be able to notice the delay."
"I thought you said that you couldn't do anything useful with the energy," said Dawn, as usual fascinated by the ever-changing movement of the Key.
"We can't extract it, but we might just be able to make a little ripple, of a type that isn't normally caused by natural phenomena or our electronics. The readings on your bracelet and the Key itself gave us some clues, and we've put together a... well, I suppose you could call it a zero point radio." He gestured towards a bench covered with electronics modules which O'Brien was still tinkering with. "The range is probably only a metre or two, there's so much energy at that level that we'll be swamped at greater distances. The hissing noise you can hear is a receiver that ought to pick up the same signals."
"What are you going to send it?"
"We'll try counting, prime numbers, that sort of thing, see if anything gets a response, then put the universal translator on-line and hope that we can open up a line of dialogue."
"Is there any danger?" asked Worf.
"I don't think so," said Julian. "We're using relatively small amounts of energy, more would probably be counterproductive. We want to attract its attention, not hurt it."
"Where's Sisko?" asked Dawn.
"He should be along any time, he's just talking to Kira on Bajor. Apparently there's been some trouble there, a pro-isolationist riot."
"Might as well get started without him."
"If you're sure. When you're ready, Miles?"
"Oh, I've been ready since Miss Summers got here, just tidying up a little. I'll try a few number sequences, see where we get to."
On the screen another source of green light appeared, flashed once, went out. It ran through the sequence from one to ten then stopped. It was echoed by buzzing noises from the receiver.
"It didn't seem to be very interested," said Julian. "Either it isn't aware of them or it doesn't know what to make of them. Try something a little more complicated."
"Ascending primes," said O'Brien. "One.. two... three... five... seven.. eleven... thirteen... seventeen... nineteen... twenty-three." Again the receiver buzzed with each signal.
The sound from the receiver changed slightly, becoming an eerie unintelligible whisper. O'Brien fiddled with the controls and put the translator on line, frowning when he couldn't get anything more coherent from the computer. "I don't like the sound of that," said Dawn, "Sounds like... maybe something demonic."
"It could just be random noise," said O'Brien. Slowly it died away.
Julian said "Try that again with a little more power" as Sisko walked into the laboratory.
"Try what?" asked Sisko.
"We heard something when we transmitted primes, but we couldn't translate it. I want to try a higher series with a little more power."
"Dawn, you don't look happy about that."
"The noise we heard, last time I heard something like that was when our house was being haunted by something just after Buffy was bought back from the dead. What was the word Willow used... thaumogenesis, that was it. It's a side effect of really powerful magic, you can actually make these things, kinda ghosts that can only live if they can kill someone."
"Can they be destroyed?"
"Not easily, but if they can't get life-force they fade away eventually. Willow used a spell to solidify it enough that Buffy could kill it."
"Do you think that the transmitter is creating something like that?"
"I don't know, but aren't we thinking that this zero point stuff is what magic is made of? If it's generating raw magic there's no way to tell what could happen."
"Is there any way to defuse something like that? I'd imagine that if you do somehow solve our problem there would be some magical fallout."
"The only way I know of is to make sure that every bit of the left-over magic is used up. You have to use a spell that adapts to the available magic. In Sunnydale that was really difficult, because there was so much of it around, but here I guess it'd be a lot easier."
"Could you do it?"
"I only know half a dozen spells, and most of them are only useful if you're being attacked by demons." She thought for a moment. "Yeah, there's one that's harmless and would work like that."
"What does it do?"
"It's kinda stage magic, conjures something that vanishes again in a few minutes."
"You're joking," said Julian.
"Nope. Some old-time stage magician must have stumbled across it, realised he had the ultimate trick up his sleeve. I've seen it done a couple of times, it's really cute. If you like rabbits, that is."
"The situation on Bajor is very serious," said Sisko, "There's a good chance that the isolationists will take power in the next few days if we don't re-establish contact with the Federation. I think we'll have to try communicating again. Can you be ready to cast the spell if things seem to be going wrong?"
"Mister O'Brien, can you vary the settings, perhaps create less of a disturbance at the zero point level?"
"I could try to send the signal as shorter pulses at a lower frequency."
"Very well. Dawn, are you ready?"
"Proceed, Mister O'Brien."
Miles transmitted a new sequence. On screen it showed as smaller green flashes, picked up as short "beeps" by the receiver. In seconds they were drowned by the same sibilant whispering, much louder than before, and everyone in the room shuddered involuntarily. On screen the Key seemed agitated and a green glow was starting to form near the transmitter, even though the signals had ended. "Something's materialising!" shouted Dawn.
"Miss Summers, your spell please!" shouted Sisko, Dawn yelled "Bora! Bora! Himble gemination!"
There was a loud popping noise, then a sound like chugging champagne as hundreds of furry balls showered down onto Chief O'Brien. The whispering stopped abruptly. "It never did that before," said Dawn, picking up one of the balls and absently stroking it. It cheeped and began to purr. So did several hundred others. Worf sneezed loudly and hurried out.
"Tribbles, Miss Summers?" asked Sisko. "Tribbles??"
"Don't ask me," said Dawn, "it was the right spell. Guess there were no rabbits around to be conjured."
O'Brien cut the power and began to dig himself out from the mound of tribbles. Sisko sighed, touched his badge, and said "Sisko to security. I want a biological containment team in laboratory five immediately..."
"Well, at least they all vanished," Dawn said defensively, as she sipped an ice cream soda at Quark's bar.
"We started with four hundred and seventy-two," said Julian, "by the time they went there were over five thousand."
"Will Worf be okay?"
"The hives should go in a day or so," said Ezri.
"Maybe I should get him some flowers or something."
"It wasn't your fault, Dawn," said Ezri, "you were warning us not to try it."
"I wasn't sure, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to go well. Guess I was right. Any ideas on what we do now, how we talk to it?"
"Why do you say 'it?'" asked Ezri.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, you told us originally that you were made from the Key, that in effect you are the Key. But more often than not you refer to it as something other, something that's separate from you. It's as if you feel that it's somehow not a part of you."
"Ezri's right," said Julian. "We've been talking that way, but everything you told us about the Key suggests a much closer relationship."
"I guess you're right," said Dawn. "Not sure why..."
"You told us that you learned you were the Key under traumatic circumstances," said Ezri, "your mother was ill, you were being hunted by beings that wanted to sacrifice you, and people who wanted to kill you to prevent the sacrifice. Then your mother died, and your sister was killed undoing the consequences of the Key's activation."
"So all of your early experiences would make you associate it with pain, suffering, and death."
"That's true," Dawn said defensively, "but I think I'm over it now."
"Consciously. Subconsciously, I'm wondering if you might still be suppressing some memories, blocking access to the powers that we're calling the Key. It's obvious that you've some link to them, that you're beginning to learn how to use them, otherwise you wouldn't be here and we wouldn't have this problem. It even seems to know the things that you do and respond to your moods. I think that it's part of you, and that you may be able to do much more if we can get past the trauma."
"What did you want to do, psychoanalyze me?"
"Psychoanalyze? I was thinking more of scanning your mind for blocking engrams, and seeing if there was any way to get past them."
"It's a painless procedure," said Julian, "shouldn't take long if you're prepared to try it."
"What if it... I don't know... unmakes me? I was made from the Key and the monks gave me a lifetime of false memories. Will I stop being Dawn if I remember being the Key?"
"I can't see why that should happen. We wouldn't be taking anything away and I can't see any reason why the spell that made you would be broken, we'd just be adding to your memories."
"After all," said Ezri, "you did set out to look for more information about the Key. This might be the best way to get it."
Dawn sat silently for several minutes, deep in thought, then said "Okay, let's give it a try."