Chapter 11: One World, Two Visions
"Okay, you said that the slayer is the chosen one, the one girl in all the world with the strength and speed to keep the monsters at bay and so on, so how come both Faith and Buffy are slayers? Now, I may not be the brightest one here but shouldn't there only be one chosen one," I ask, more than a little amused.
"Er, yes, well... let's just say that Buffy's never been particularly good at playing by the rules. There have been two chosen ones for a number of years now, though for most of that time Buffy has been the only slayer who's been actively slaying," explains this 'Giles' character.
"What do you mean?" asks Carter.
"It's a long story, and not particularly relevant. All you need to know is that the rules have changed," he says.
"I thought you said it was magic," she points out.
"It is, but just like science magic has its own set of rules," he explains, though I can see that Carter is still not happy about it. "The fact that the rules are different does not mean that there are no rules at all."
"So this chosen one is what?" I ask.
"A girl who controls the essence of a demon... though I've got to say that at times that control thingy doesn't really work as well as it should," says Buffy.
"The essence of a what?!" blurts out Carter.
"A demon," she repeats and I just glare at her on the general principle. Honestly, these people can possibly expect us to believe any of this crap!
"Wait, first magic and now demons? You've got to be kidding me!" I say.
"Okay, you obviously have no problem accepting the fact that aliens are real so why can't you accept that there are demons out there and that most of them are not really all that nice?" she asks.
"Because it's crazy, that's why!" I exclaim. I mean, 'magic' can be a fun concept, if only because it's likely to drive my 2IC nuts but I draw the line at demons.
"Crazier than aliens?" challenges Buffy.
"But aliens aren't demons, that's the point! They are bound by the same rules as we are... even if some of them like to pretend to be gods," insists Carter and for once I am deeply relieved to hear one of her rational explanations. "The laws of nature --the laws of science-- do apply no matter what world we go to. What you are asking us to believe is..."
"People, could we please try to focus here?" cuts in General Hammond.
"Yes, sir," says Carter, looking almost embarrassed by her little outburst.
"Good, now, Dr. Giles, you were saying..." encourages the general, who seems to be trying to keep his disbelief in check. After all, we need to get these people to agree to help the Asgard, that's our top priority. The fact that they are obviously crazy doesn't change that.
"Er, yes. Well, the bottom line is that the Ghoa'ul were not the only monsters that were threatening mankind's survival back when the Chappa'ai was buried so even after they were defeated there was still a need for a slayer," he explains, obviously well aware that we are not buying any of this crap but apparently determined to ignore that little fact.
"But why only one?" I can't help but ask.
"Because of how the slayer was created: a group of shamans forced the essence of a demon into a girl thousands of years ago, that's how it all began," he says. "At the time it was considered a ritual sacrifice and through that sacrifice mankind was granted a champion, someone who could stand up to the Ghoa'ul and win. When that first slayer died the essence of the demon simply sought another girl and the next slayer was called. Up until very recently it was the death of one slayer that triggered the calling of the next one."
"Until something happened and Faith was called?" I ask.
"Not really. Faith was called the old fashioned way after Kendra died."
"Then when was Buffy called?" asks Sam, who had obviously assumed that Buffy had been called before Faith and I can't help but agree with her assessment. Buffy seems to be a couple of years older than Faith, not to mention the fact that she is the obvious leader and that they said that she is the only one who has been 'actively slaying' for the past few years.
"Before Kendra," says Buffy, looking incredibly sad about something.
"Okay, I think I speak for everyone here when I say 'uh?'" I say because the truth is that this just doesn't make sense. If Faith was called 'the old fashioned way' when 'Kendra' died then Buffy should have been dead before that.
"It's simple, really. I drowned, that triggered Kendra's calling and then someone performed CPR on me and brought me back. That's how we went from the chosen one to the chosen two," she explains.
"And the Ancients' gene is what makes it possible for a girl to be 'called' to be a slayer?" asks Carter.
"Yes, or at least that's what the evidence would seem to suggest," says Giles. "To be perfectly honest, up until now we had never really thought of it in terms of genetics, we simply knew what we had to look for in order to identify the girls who could one day become slayers, after all, we had been doing that successfully for thousands of years."
"And why would you want to do that in the first place?" I ask.
"Well, slayers may derive their powers from the essence of a demon but they still have to be trained, or that was the conventional wisdom," he explains, shaking his head.
"And you've identified over a hundred women with this gene?" asks Carter.
"Er, yes," he says and I can see by the look he exchanges with Willow and Buffy that there's something he is not telling us, but then again it doesn't take a genius to figure out that there are plenty of somethings we aren't being told here. If one thing has become painfully obvious since these people arrived is that they don't trust us... and to be perfectly honest we don't trust them either, it's just that we need their help.
"So when Willow said that it was a matter of potential..." prods General Hammond.
"She meant that the presence of that gene is what makes a girl a potential slayer," explains Giles, though I can see that he is not particularly comfortable sharing that information.
"You said that the gene acts like a sort of 'plug', can you explain that?" asks Carter, turning her attention to WIllow.
"I can try, but I must warn you that I'm speculating here because, hello, we didn't even know it was a gene until a few hours ago."
"It's okay," says Carter, trying to reassure her and encouraging her to go on.
"Well, it's just that you said that the Asgard think that this gene would make it possible for a human body to basically accommodate their intellect, right?" asks Willow.
"Yes, from what we've been told, and from what we've seen, anyone else would simply suffer a fatal overload."
"From what you've seen?"
"Yes, Colonel O'Neill has a partial version of the gene. That means that he can operate the Ancients' technology to a certain extent, but when he encountered a repository if the Ancients' knowledge the overload almost killed him. In fact it was the Asgard who saved his life by undoing the process. We owe them," says Carter, obviously trying to put the Asgard in the best possible light and emphasizing just how helpful they have been... even though I can't help but think of just how often they have actually refused to lend a hand. Of course, our 'guests' don't need to know about that.
"And that's how you became aware of the existence of this gene?" asks Willow sounding more than a little curious.
"Not really, that was after another incident involving the Asgard. That's when we realized that if what the Asgard were looking for was a gene associated with the X chromosome we had to find a woman whose parents were both carriers."
"And that's how you stumbled on us," jumps in Buffy, glaring at Carter.
"Pretty much, now, about that 'plug theory'..." insists my 2IC, trying to get things back on track.
"Well, you see, from what you've told us I figure that what the Asgard are trying to do is not really all that different from what the shadowmen did thousands of years ago when they created the first slayer," says Willow.
"That's crazy!" I can't help but blurt out.
"I know it sounds crazy but it's not," she insists. "The shadowmen used the flexibility afforded by that gene to have a girl possessed by the essence of a demon, something that would probably have been fatal for anyone else, the Asgard want to use it to possess the girl themselves. That's an important difference in terms of how they attempt to use that flexibility, of course, but when you look past their different goals, you find that both the shadowmen and the Asgard are basically relying on the same trait provided by that gene. What they are doing is basically taking the same foundation and putting it to different uses."
"Except because the Asgard don't want to possess them, they just want to be able to grow themselves new bodies so they don't die out. No one is talking about human sacrifices here!" I remind her.
"Actually, from what you've told us, the Asgard don't just want to create new bodies, they want to take those bodies over," she points out.
"But there would be no one there to begin with. The bodies would be empty shells. They have the technology to do that, that's the difference," I insist.
"Are you sure?" she challenges and I can't help but realize that I'm not.
"People," says General Hammond, again.
"Sorry, sir," mutters Carter.
"Now, that's better. Okay, I understand that you have some misgivings about helping the Asgard here but..."
"That's putting it mildly," interrupts Giles.
"I realize that, but would you at least be willing to hear them out?" asks the general, knowing that we are unlikely to convince them.
"It depends, could they try to force Buffy and Faith to cooperate with them?" asks Willow.
"They could but I don't think they would," I say, even though the truth is that I'm not entirely sure. I'm fairly certain that Thor would respect their decision, but the other Asgard? If they are anything like Loki then I can definitely understand their misgivings.
"What could they do?" pushes Willow.
"Well, it is true that we can't even begin to comprehend their transport beams but..." begins Carter before being rather rudely interrupted.
"Transport beams?" asks Andrew, who is pretty much 'beaming' himself.
"Later," warns Willow.
"But... but..." he stutters.
"Later," she insists, glaring at him.
"Okay," says Andrew, crossing his arms and pouting like a five year-old.
"So you don't even have a general idea in terms of how those beams work?" asks Willow, turning her attention back to Carter.
"Not really," she admits.
"Great," mutters Willow before turning to her friends, "I could try a spell to block them but the truth is that I would have to guess how they operate, what I'm up against and that means I can't be sure it would do us any good. I mean I assume that those beams work by..."
"Do what you can," cuts in Giles, looking more than a little worried but knowing that they don't really have much of a choice here.
Sure, they could refuse but I can see that he is not even sure that we would respect their decision, not to mention that he knows that the Asgard are likely to come looking for them anyway. He knows that they have been identified and he knows that it is in their best interest to have this confrontation on their own terms, or as close to those terms as they can get.