The Open Door (megacrossover)

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The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Open Door

The day had not started off well, and it had only been going downhill from there. A grey, dreary sky had met him when he woke up in the morning, and just as he had left for school a sort of hybrid of a clinging mist and a half-hearted rain began to sort of drift to the ground. It was a rather depressing sort of precipitation, in that while it still had all the misery of soaking you to the bone, it had not the energy to make up for it. It was as if the weather was tormenting you out of apathetic boredom rather than actual maliciousness, which made it all the worse.

Continuing with the motif of the universe casually toying with him, somewhere along the line one of the tires for his bike had developed a slow leak, gradually making it harder and harder to push the pedals and guide it, until finally he had given up and hauled it over to a pedestrian tunnel running beneath a roadway. The weary drizzle floating in the air made it hard to actually escape the cold water, but at least there was a light in the tunnel that gave him a better view than outside. Sort of. The off yellow bulb had a tendency to flicker whenever a car passed overhead, making the illumination sporadic at times.

All in all the day seemed constructed to annoy him, and he knew that it was only going to get worse. While technically not late for first period yet, there was no way he would get to class in time, meaning that when he did arrive he would get chewed out by his teachers for being late. And of course, no matter how well the school administration accepted his reasonable excuse of getting a flat tire pretty much exactly half way between his home and the school, the bane of his existence would inevitably treat his lateness as some sort of personal affront.

Then she would probably sulk and he and the others would probably have to figure out some way to cheer her up before she tried to destroy the universe.


Some days, especially on a day like today, it did not pay to be called Kyon. Especially since that wasn’t exactly his name and now that he reflected upon it he knew that he would find it especially annoying today and Haruhi would find some reason to use an endless repetition of “Kyon-kun! Kyon-kun!” and as usual he would be limited in his ability to tell the spoiled, bratty, hyperactive destroyer and creator of worlds to just shut up.

Still, as Kyon fought with his tire repair kit in the poorly lit, damp tunnel, he made very, very certain that he did not even think that things could not possibly get worse. He was enough of a pessimist to know that things could easily get much worse, enough of a cynic to know that things would get worse, and enough of a realist to know that tempting the cosmos, especially when it already had it out for you, would not improve the situation.

Unfortunately, fate was being enough of a bitch to take his lack of invitation for a smiting as a sign of hubris and decide to give him a whole knew dollop of pain and suffering.

Kyon first knew something was wrong when the rain immediately behind him ceased its irregular patter. Turning about, Kyon discovered Yuki standing behind him wearing a rain smock with an umbrella in her hand. At first Kyon was relieved, but then he noticed that her normally emotionless and impassive face had a hint of concern and worry, perhaps even a smidgen of fear. To those that knew Yuki, this was somewhat like seeing a normal person running about in a blind panic with their hands waving in the air screaming bloody murder.

“We must leave,” Yuki told him.

“Yuki, what’s wrong? I…” Kyon began to ask something when he suddenly saw Yuki’s face flash with fear and anger, her focus shifting from him to something behind him. Whirling about, Kyon discovered another person in the tunnel.

The person was wearing a somewhat garish purple and blue raincoat, the hood pulled up over the head and the whole body slouched forward while simultaneously leaning up against a wall, as if it were a chore simply to stand. The hands were slung in the pockets of the coat, again as if even letting the arms hang from the shoulders was simply too much effort. From the angle the person’s face could not be seen, and so voluminous was the coat that it was impossible to even tell the gender.

With a sort of awful slowness, not from anything particularly ominous but because the motion felt poorly scripted, the figure turned its face towards the two SOS Brigade members, revealing an androgynous but slightly more male face concealed behind a pair of thick, dark sunglasses, incongruous with the dark, steel skies above. The face split into an ugly, lopsided grin that felt absurdly forced, almost as if someone else was trying to force the expression with their fingers.

The person then chuckled, producing a weird, atonal sound, before the person, tentatively labelled as a ‘he’, said in a choppy, disjointed manner, “I see simple hellos are not welcome here.”

“They are to your kind,” Yuki replied coldly. Already strongly suspicious that this had something to do with Haruhi, Kyon now knew for certain.

“Do I really scare you that badly? Is my presence here the dark mirror for your kind?” The man… thing… whatever asked.

“We are nothing alike,” Yuki replied coldly. Normally everything she did was cold, or at least cool, but this was like comparing dry ice to a snowball: both were cold, but only one would burn when thrown at you.

“Your denial only tells me you know how lucky your kind is in comparison to my kind… and how limited as well,” the man replied.

Getting somewhat annoyed, Kyon finally interrupted and asked, “Who or what are you?”

Yuki responded, “It is an extra-dimensional entity, one from another set of realities that the Integrated Data Entity has only recently become aware of. It is… malevolent.”

The thing canted its head to the side awkwardly, as if attempting to affect an air of bored disdain but not quite getting the motions right. Sighing, it said, “Those are our cousins, we are not so uncaring.”

“What about the man whose body you stole?” Yuki accused.

“His mind is being entertained as an honoured guest within the palace of my master. We are not so fortunate, as always, as to be able to simply form ‘humanoid interfaces’ at will,” the thing said.

Kyon looked at the man again and he realized that all of the creepy awkwardness could be said to stem from the fact that it looked like the mind controlling it was unfamiliar with the skin it was wearing. Seeing his stare, the man reached up and removed his glasses. The reason for their presence became immediately obvious.

Instead of eyes, there were only empty pits filled with blackness, and perhaps, if you stared too long at them, tiny twinkling stars that should not have had room to exist. It was an eerie, disturbing sight that was mercifully cut short by the thing returning the glasses to their position on its face, but what had been seen could not be unseen and Kyon felt a shiver creep up his spine that could not be blamed upon the weather.

Not even the homicidal Ryoko had displayed anything quite so sinister, and perhaps only the monsters conjured up by Haruhi in Closed Space during her blackest moods could approach the inhuman malignancy that now radiated off of the creature.

“If you truly care at all, the man will be returned unharmed to his body after we have finished our conversation. His destruction would not serve us, and we have no desire to antagonize any of you. We merely wished to ask a favour of you, and it is not one that would be truly onerous or odious,” the thing said.

“His kind lies. Do not listen to him,” Yuki warned.

Snickering harshly, the thing replied, “And what if our request was that you keep doing what you are doing? Would that cause you to immediately go out and tell Haruhi everything simply to be contrary to what we asked?”

Yuki frowned before she said, “Your kind always have ulterior motives.”

“But of course. For now though, it is entertainment. We get a cheap laugh or two out of your various misadventures handling your young, immature goddess. We have no intention of disrupting the delicate balancing act you maintain, not when it is so amusing to watch. No, we merely wish to ask for permission to travel through this dimension,” the thing said.

“Why?” Kyon asked suspiciously.

“Your goddess has altered this reality so that those who know how can slip through. We intend to use this reality as a transit hub of sorts, allowing us to slip through to other realms, other possible realities. Unfortunately, should your goddess alter the rules again, we would no longer have such an opportunity open to us. Pragmatically, we wish to spread to other realities as a form of back-up plan, but really, we are in a lull phase of our own operation back home and it would amuse us to no end to explore infinity,” the creature replied.

“So you want to conquer the universe,” Kyon said flatly.

“Just our own, and if you knew it, you would agree that it needs conquering. Where we come from is not a nice place, not a nice place at all,” the thing said.

“Your kind makes it that way,” Yuki accused.

“As I said, those are our cousins, who incidentally, we are offering, one time only, to keep away from your lovely reality. They are far less subtle, yet far more experienced with trickery, and no where near as benevolent as my kind. Also, as extra-dimensional travellers, we are ultimately unaffected by your goddess. Oh, scouts and agents might perish during a reality rewrite, and the doors might be barred to us, but ultimately neither we nor our less compassionate brethren actually care what happens here,” the creature replied.

Kyon shuddered in mute terror. Assured destruction was what had held the various factions in line and prevented any overt action around Haruhi, but evil outsiders with no concern for casualties added a whole new level of horror to the calculations.

“What would your ‘cousins’ do if they got here?” Kyon asked.

“They would destroy us,” Yuki stated.

“Correct. There are those who would immediately want to charge in and cause all sorts of death and destruction, the streets running with rivers of blood and that sort of thing, all very cliché and predictable. Haruhi would probably panic under such a situation and realize that having alien invaders from another dimension slaughtering her friends is not something she would want and rewrite this world into something far more bland and boring. And then there would be the others who would seek a more indirect approach, who would seek to change her,” the creature then lifted one of the man’s hands out of the pocket of the jacket. At first it was normal, but then with a sickening crunch the bones started to warp and break, the flesh splitting open to release jets of iridescent flame. Bits of burning, molten fat dripped from the limb for a moment until it all sealed up and returned to normal.

“How would you like it if Haruhi was informed of the sort of goddess she truly is and then convinced that she deserves to be worshipped, that she deserves sacrifices made to her? Or how would you like it if she was convinced that whips and chains and leather and piercings in sensitive places sound like a fun time and everyone should join in? Or all of a myriad of other possibilities, of ways that she could be corrupted. Every human vice and weakness and flaw and negative aspect that you can think of, my kind, and our cousins more so, can exploit and magnify. It would be so easy too with someone like Haruhi. But we do not want that, we merely wish to explore. So what do you say? We leave you alone and keep the nastier members of the cosmos off your back, and you leave us alone and keep Haruhi happy like you have already been doing?” The thing asked.

“Why are you asking us?” Kyon asked back.

“Well, technically Haruhi should be the one we’re asking, but that entails a certain unpredictability we do not desire, so it falls to her ‘handlers’ to ask permission from. Of course, all of the SOS Brigade should be here, but Itsuki is both particular strong and particularly vulnerable against me, so he won’t come within a hundred metres of my position, and Mikuru is rightfully terrified of what I am and what I represent, so I ask you two, knowing that you can speak for the group,” the creature replied.

Yuki looked at Kyon in a sideways manner for a moment before she said, “You are not to be trusted… but the Data Integration Entity trusts you more where you are visible. We will not act against you.”

Kyon looked at the thing warily before he said, “I agree, I don’t trust you, but I don’t know how to stop you from doing something worse if you don’t get your way.”

“Excellent. A pity that we could not work more directly, but here the deities do not know their own power, unlike where I come from. If you need anything, you two, or any other member of the Brigade, can simply say my master’s name three times and a representative will be sent to you,” the thing said.

“What is your master’s name?” Kyon asked.

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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter One: Rematch

The rumble of battle could be heard in the distance as the guns of Tokyo-3 duelled with the latest intruder threatening to extinguish the human race. Up close the roar was quite literally ear shattering and could even kill an unprotected human that stood too close, but here, several valleys away from the primary fighting, the fury of the storm of metal being thrown at the Angel was reduced to a low, continuous thunder.

And then, for a brief, awful moment all sound was drowned out by an eerie buzzing noise, the sort of thing that would set animals into a blind panic in their cages half a continent away. But then the sound stopped, replaced by something far, far more terrible.

They stood there, a quartet of them, fifty metres tall and each one of them ghastly and horrible in its own unique way.

One was clad in bronze armour that flowed and fused with brilliant scarlet flesh, its face obscured behind a helm of ancient design and cruel, pitiless countenance. Enormous, bullish horns rose from beneath the helmet, while the hands were set with terrible rending claws capable of gutting battleships and the brass hooves on the feet could easily slice through tanks. Not that these natural weapons were necessary considering the colossal bronze axe it held in one hand and the cruel, barbed and bloody whip it held in the other. Sprouting from the armour on its back were two great, leathery wings clearly large enough to carry this beast aloft. Circling about it were keening warrior women, armed and armoured in bronze capable of cutting through steel, their hair streaming behind them as blood coloured banners.

Standing next to this war god forged in the traditions of Mediterranean antiquity was the bearer of plagues and pestilence. Its flesh simultaneously bloated and gaunt, it was corrupt throughout, bearing a tangible miasma of disease that caused all about it not forged of immortal essences to wither and rot. What exactly it had once looked like was impossible to say beyond the fact that it carried itself upon a humanoid frame, so decayed and twisted were its scabrous features. Somewhere along the line its lower jaw had come loose, leaving a long tongue hanging free, dozens of lamprey-like maws adorning the nearly prehensile appendage. Clutched in one meaty, tumorous mitt was a great, ghastly sword that was more of a cleaver for preparing meat than a weapon of war. Its grey-green, necrotic flesh crawled with life, from yellow maggots the size of large dogs to humanoid figures that seemed to be walking conglomerations of cancers give life. A layer of pus and ooze adorned everything of this monstrosity, and its skeletal wings were not so much bat-like as they were bits of bone and connective tissue with great sheets of green mucus replacing the skin typically found on such appendages.

Flanking the war god on the opposite side from the plague bearer was a creature that met just about every dictionary definition of the word ‘obscene’. Not only was it an unholy monstrosity like its fellows, but just to look upon it would have caused any so called ‘moral guardian’ to spontaneously combust in sheer horror. Its flesh was a bright, garish, sex toy pink, and the only adornments were not so much covering its flesh as piercing it. Not that covering up would have done much good without a jumbo jet sized burkha, for it seemed that every inch of its flesh had some form of erogenous zone, male and female, copied over, and in many places the various mouths and genitalia and nipples were interacting in ways that only made glimpsing the creature even more of a violation of decency laws. Of course, the places where there would have been such things on a human were only writ large versions of what was expected. Six large orifices, gaping like wounds, leaked out semen, sexual lubricants, saliva, narcotics, liquor, and beer. From the top of its head, framing its perfectly formed face sprouted a cluster of writhing black snakes and decidedly phallic tentacles. Clutched in one hand and coiled about its seductively proportioned hips was a long, snaking whip, intended for capture where the war god’s meant to inflict ghastly, bleeding wounds. The opposite hand bore the true killing implement, a brutal crab like claw that could peel open hardened bunkers with casual, dismissive ease. Great black, feathered wings rose from its shoulder blades, just as with the others. Swirling about this monster were keening, naked, seductive women, their siren call capable of lulling mortals into passivity so that they could have their way with them.

But leading the group was the most awful one of all. At first glance it seemed the most human of them all, a Titan of old clad in a simple loincloth and wearing a face concealing head dress like that of an ancient pharaoh, but further examination of its flesh revealed a certain incorporeal quality to it, such that if you gazed too long at it you could see beyond. Not beyond into the surrounding area, but beyond, into the cosmos of sparkling stars, billowing nebulae, and swirling galaxies. And if you gazed further, you would then see beyond even that, into the space between the stars, the space between the void, where these creatures made their homes, and the mind shattering horrors that dwelt within. Of course, to stare at such things was hypnotic, meaning that the longer you looked at it, the harder it became to look away, until it was too late. Clasped in its great hands was the symbol of its authority, a titanic spear that coiled and uncoiled like the strands of life and fate. Once this had been metaphorical, but time with its new master had altered the weapon such that it now literally moved upon its own like a writhing snake. Adorning its back were not one but three pairs of wings, the feathers adorning them constantly shifting through a myriad, hypnotic, unpredictable pattern of reds, blues, and purples. Flying about it were dozens of smaller versions, whispering secrets to their great master.

The Evangelion avatars of Tzintchi, Asukhon, Reigle, and Mislaato were all here. It was perhaps something of a risk, but the temptation to play around in this timeline, so similar and yet not at all similar to their own, had overwhelmed them. Their objectives were simple: Asukhon would engage in a little rematch with Zeruel, Reigle would hunt down the souls of SEELE to add to their collection, Mislaato would find and devour Gendo for similar reasons, and Tzintchi would just observe and laugh.

It was good to be the king.

Taking to the air and followed by their clouds of lesser daemons, the four Chaos Gods observed the familiar terrain from the air and wondered what their former comrades, or hell, they, would think of such a sight. The thought brought chuckles to their dark hearts. Breaking into a wide banking turn when they reached the airspace above the city, they discovered that Zeruel was already descending into the Geofront. Swooping in, they followed as the Fourteenth Angel was met by the barrage from the waiting Unit 02.

If NERV had not known about these new intruders, then they certainly did now. The battle paused for a moment as both defender and attacker tried to discern just what the hell these new, unholy monstrosities were and exactly whose side they were on. Finally after the Chaos Evas landed some distance away and folded their wings to watch did the fight resume, with Unit 02 opening up with everything it had.

Asukhon gazed over the equipment and sneered. Pathetic. Unit 02’s only hope was that the absolutely lacklustre showing so far had kept the Angel from adapting much. And… nope… Unit 02 got decapitated, and an appropriate fight scene before hand either.

Getting up, Asukhon stretched her Eva’s wings a bit while rolling her shoulders and limbering up a bit before stalking over to the Angel, cracking her whip and bellowing out in a booming voice, “Hey, shit head, its time for our rematch, you and me. One on one.”

Zeruel considered this offer for a moment before it fired its main beam weapon directly at the slowly advancing Asukhon. There was a tremendous explosion and then… Asukhon continued to advance, as if she had never even been hit. Zeruel fired again and again and again to no avail, until the unholy beast was standing next to it.

Casually Asukhon snapped out her barbed whip, cracking it against one of Zeruel’s arms, shredding the broad, flat, thin, cutting appendage. It lashed out with its other arm, only for the red and bronze titan to dodge aside contemptuously. In fact, all she did was evade its attacks for a time until it regenerated the wounded arm, at which point she lacerated the opposite one.

“Come on you bastard, evolve, you’re no sport the way you are now!” Asukhon bellowed while the other gods watched in amusement.

“My counterpart is attempting to sneak into the battle while carrying an N2 mine,” Reigle pointed out.

“I know,” Tzintchi replied while watching with amusement at Asukhon teaching Zeruel to be a better melee combatant just so that she could have more fun slaughtering the Angel later.

“Should we let her join in on our fun?” Mislaato asked slyly.

Tzintchi pondered for a moment before he replied, “Nah. The Children are not the ones we are here to torment. My dear Reigle, if you would do the honours, could you disarm that little firecracker she is carrying before she hurts herself with it?”

“Of course,” Reigle burbled happily, waving a hand and causing the N2 mine clutched in Unit 00’s hands to corroded and disintegrate into its component parts in seconds, leaving a very stunned looking Rei examining the rust stains on her Eva’s hands.

“Incidentally, how goes the hunt by your Reiglings for SEELE?” Tzintchi asked idly.

The terrified faces of the various SEELE members were shoved out of the pus and mucus engorged flesh of Reigle’s Eva for a moment, vomiting forth the lethal slime from their lungs just long enough to begin screaming before they were once again dragged beneath the surface by the Reiglings that infected the Eva.

“Very nice,” Tzintchi commented.

“I get first crack at playing with them when we get home. Bastards cost me my father, I deserve some fun time with them, but the ones we already have you already nearly broke before I woke up,” Mislaato pointed out with a slight pout.

“There, there my dear, we already agreed that you would get to have this batch. Not quite the same I know, but its not like any of us didn’t have our own grievances with them and you were still gestating at the time,” Tzintchi said soothingly.

“I know, I know, it’s just that… holy shit, is that you?” Mislaato said in surprise, pointing at where Unit 02’s head had landed, the enormous thing having crashed through the ceiling of a shelter, and sitting there staring morosely at it.

“What the fuck? Alright, change of plans. Mislaato, go hunt down Gendo whenever you want, I need to see how pathetic I really was without Khnemu and the teachings of Tzeentch,” Tzintchi grumbles while heading out from his observation position to examine this other version of him. Already his Black Pharaohs were flying ahead to detain everyone and keep the alternate Shinji from fleeing.

By the time Tzintchi reached Shinji, Zeruel was finally fighting at Asukhon’s demanding standards, which meant that both of them were now engaged in a blurring whirlwind of death from which a light rain of blood was being ejected. Shielding the shelter with his Eva, Tzintchi peered in at the panicking crowds being kept in line by his servants and how they had isolated Shinji, who had just collapsed into a hopeless heap next to Unit 02’s severed head.

Forcing his flesh opaque so that Shinji would focus upon him and not the swirling visions from beyond, Tzintchi exited his Eva in a deliberately Christ-like pose with his arms held wide, supported by ethereal tendrils of force until his bare feet touched the concrete floor and Tzintchi stood before the apathetic Shinji.

The deity stalked about the creature that could have been him if not for the intervention of the gods, and he felt only disgust. Finally he reached down, grabbed the boy by the shirt and hauled him effortlessly to his feet. There was no real fear in the boy’s eyes, just bottomless self loathing.

Sad, apathetic brown eyes stared into a black void, before finally Tzintchi could no longer stand to hold the piece of filth and so he dropped the boy unceremoniously to the floor.

Tzintchi gazed at the severed head of Unit 02, still wearing the armour the Evas had originally come with before he had helped influence the designers into developing better equipment. Finally an awful idea crystallized in his mind.

“Is it too big for you? Is the price of failure not tangible enough even when it stares you in the face like this?” Tzintchi asked, his voice echoing with power.

Shinji may have mumbled something.

Tzintchi let the blackness surrounding his face lift enough to reveal his mouth so that he could grin evilly at the boy. “If this was not enough for you, then perhaps something a bit more tragic rather than statistical will help you.”

When they dragged her in, she was still in shock from the disconnect just before Unit 02’s head was severed. Of all the sights that day, perhaps the most eerie for the civilians in that shelter was the sight of Asuka in her plug suit being hauled along by two Valkyries: blood soaked crimson Amazons with collections of skulls on their belts and enormous axes in their hands that looked exactly like the young woman they were carrying.

The two lesser daemons threw Asuka roughly to the floor, having no compassion to the girl who could have been their mistress if not for a quirk of fate. Shinji just stared in shock between the faces of the Valkyries and Asuka’s.

Tzintchi finally let the last remnants of the blackness obscuring his face fade away so that Shinji could look upon his own face upon the body of a monster.

Sneering, Tzintchi said, “Congratulations, you are now looking upon your face after you failed to save everyone you ever might have loved and cared for. You are looking upon your face after Third Impact. Know now the price of failure.”

One of the Valkyries raised its double headed axe high while another held an unresisting Asuka down, her neck exposed for the killing stroke.

Somewhere along the downward descending arc of the blade there came an impassioned cry of “NO!

The axe hit bare concrete and released a shower of sparks before Tzintchi let out a snort of derisive disgust. “Took you long enough to get your head out of your ass.”

Shinji was cradling Asuka’s limp, but unharmed, body, bawling his heart out at the horror he had almost witnessed. Squatting down so that he was level with him, Tzintchi said, “Kid, I fucking killed people for Asuka I loved her that much, and I know that somewhere in you there is enough of a spine that you could do it too if pushed. Now get up off your sorry ass and let loose all that shit you’ve got stored inside you. Trust me kid, whatever you’ve suffered, I’ve probably already had ten times worse, and I got over it.”

Getting up, Tzintchi allowed himself to be lifted up by the same tendrils that had lowered him down from his Eva in the first place before pausing to say, “Oh yeah, if its any consolation, the we’re taking most of the world ending pressure off you for the last three Angels. The things they keep attacking Tokyo-3 to get? Well we’re going to eat them like takeout.”

“Did anyone order the bucket of Lilith?” Mislaato asked while dragging the still crucified Angel behind her with one hand. “Or the urine soaked Gendo with the side order of Adam?” She then held up an absolutely terrified Ikari Gendo with her other hand.

“I already got my takeout,” Asukhon noted while sitting on the remains of Zeruel and munching on a hunk of flank while its skull-like face adorned one of her horns.

“Then we shall be off,” Tzintchi noted before glancing at the Lance of Longinus embedded in Lilith and saying, “Actually, just a second.”

Hauling the Lance out, he then stuck it into the ground next to where Asuka and Shinji lay. Towering over them, he said, “I already have one of these, you can keep this one just in case the remaining Angels are too much.”

Turning to the others, he said, “Alright, now let’s go.” With a wave of his hand he opened a portal out of the universe back to the one ruled by immature gods whereupon they would then hop back to their home reality with their prizes in tow.

Tzintchi helped Asukhon haul Zeruel through while Reigle aided Mislaato with Lilith. While they were heading through Asukhon commented, “That was awfully generous to give them the Lance.”

“Oh, I have a plan with regards to that,” Tzintchi noted slyly.

Rolling her eyes, Asukhon asked, “When do you not have a plan?”
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Two: Diplomacy

The Outsider stood before their group, smiling faintly in a disconcerting way, waiting for them to come to a decision on his proposal. They all knew of his kind, and had thanked their lucky stars that until this moment it had been impossible to cross the barriers between realities like this. But now this creature had come to them.

By some fortunate stroke of luck the Outsider had come from a strange branch of its family tree so while it was a psychopathic killer with no concern for those that stood in the way of its goals, it actually didn’t believe in maximum collateral damage as a goal and it seemed like it could be downright pleasant to its allies and followers.

Of course, it was still from a group known for pathological lying, so they didn’t particularly trust it despite its protestations that it was really quite friendly.

But all of this left them in a rather unpleasant dilemma. This creature had, by all rights, achieved what it had by its own merits, and by their laws they had no real right to restrict its actions, especially since it did not exactly exist on the same plane as them. Similar, but not the same. Of course, it was also evil. And did they really want this thing and its fellows running about their back yard?

But then again so were their own cousins and so far they had not done anything to impede their actions. The Outsider had very carefully planned its presentation too. It knew that the current majority refused to intervene in the mortal realm even with their own existence threatened. It had also told them straight up that it was brutal and unforgiving to its enemies and courteous to its allies, and while they still did not quite believe the latter statement, they very much believed the former. While they could probably restrain the Outsider, the chaos in their own ranks would be devastating as the interventionist faction would take this as precedent and gain possibly enough popularity to form a majority.

They could not let that happen.

“Very well, we have considered your offer. So long as you stay out of our affairs on this plane you and your allies will be permitted leave to explore the mortal realms unhindered and unimpeded,” the leader said to the Outsider.

“And should the mortals take to worshipping my master and his queens?” The Outsider asked.

There was a moment of hesitation before the words were said, “If it is their choice then you may lend them what aid you may desire.”

“I thank you, my master will be most pleased to hear this news,” the Outsider said happily before vanishing back to the realm where it resided in this universe.

All assembled wondered if they had just made a terrible mistake.

In her lifetime Shilash had witnessed many incredible things. She had seen fire rain down from the gods to punish the wicked. She had seen strange foreign men in odd clothes that seemed to make them blend into the trees come to her village to say that the deities she had known all her life were in fact false gods who had tricked them into worship with fancy devices. And then she had seen the deathly pale man walk into her village and say that all that refused to follow his words would be destroyed. Confused, by so many conflicting messages in such a short procession of years, the village had refused to give an answer.

And now Shilash was probably the last member of her people, a great plague having struck them down. She had been one of the last to suffer infection, and now she was crawling half delirious through the forest surrounding her village, her entire world on fire and in pain.

And now an angel knelt before her. Shilash’s eyes could not focus, but she could see the radiate beauty of the creature before her, her skin milky white and glowing with the greenery of the forest. Shilash cried at the wonder of it all.

“Hello Shilash of Karadesh,” the angel told her softly.

Shilash just smiled, it was all she could do.

“You have suffered much my dear, and you have endured it so well. You have lost everything, even hope, and yet you still keep moving forward. Your beauty stuns me,” the angel said. Shilash would not say that she was beautiful now, what with the various ugly sores upon her body, but she was in no position to argue.

“Would you like to follow me and my mistress?” The angel asked.

Shilash nodded.

“Thank you,” the angel said before leaning in close to kiss Shilash upon the forehead.

The most incredible sensation filled Shilash as catastrophic pain welled up within her such that she thought she was going to explode from the agony, but then it went up over a wall and she realized that while the pain was still there, nothing could compare to it anymore. She opened her eyes and despite the spoilt milk colouration that clouded them over, she could see, she could truly see for the first time in her life.

She had been blessed by the angel, the sickness within her body transformed from a curse into a blessing. What wonders her flesh now held and what compassion! Her once frail, selfish frame was now strong and durable enough to carry so much life. She would carry her own children in her womb, why not the children of flies in her flesh?

The angel of rot next to her smiled. “Welcome into the fold of Reigle sister, I am Lady Charity, designated servant in this galaxy.”

“We must return to the village, there may still be others still alive who we tell of this blessed occurrence,” Shilash said excitedly.

“Nothing is beyond Reigle or those touched by her gifts,” the angel said with a smile. “Even those who have perished can still help in our struggle.”

SG-1 had seen some appalling things since the arrival of the Priors in the Milky Way, but by far this scene topped anything they had ever witnessed. Immediately beyond the exit of the Stargate was a field of butchery that not even the Goa’uld had ever engaged in. Dozens of headless, flayed corpses had been strung up or nailed to crude supports as a very clear “Keep Out” sign. Watching from the monitors in the SGC of the MALP telemetry, the flagship team of humanity could only imagine the smell.

It was, however, Teal’c who first pointed out the obvious. “Do the followers of the Ori not burn those that defy them?”

Frowning, Mitchell said, “Yeah, the Big T is right. This doesn’t fit the Ori MO at all. They don’t leave warnings like this; they either convert a place or wipe it out.”

His face deeply furrowed in shock and confusion, Daniel finally said to Walter, “Zoom in right… there.” He then pointed to an area on the screen beneath one of the corpses. The technician obliged and the camera zoomed in on the spot Daniel designated, at which point they realized that something was very, very wrong.

Piled up in a small heap and soaked in blood and hacked up in places were several copies of the Book of Origin. This was not a warning from the Ori; it was a warning for the Ori.

“Someone obviously wasn’t a fan of Origin,” Mitchell commented dryly.

Frowning even more deeply now, Daniel pointed out, “The locals on P4X K79E are a peaceful, agrarian society dominated by the Goa’uld for millennia. They don’t have the sort of society that would react this way.”

“Teal’c could one of the various mercenary or rogue Jaffa groups have done this?” Mitchell asked.

“Unlikely, but possible. Such mutilations were seen as a waste of time by most of the Goa’uld when they already had most worlds terrified of them,” the stoic Jaffa said clinically.

“Either way it looks like some outsiders came in after one of the Priors, killed anyone who looked to be turning to the Path of Origin and then left the bodies there as a message to the Priors and anyone looking to follow them,” Carter said.

“Which means that the next time a Prior shows up the bastard will fall on the locals like a ton of bricks. We had better find out who these maniacs are before they do this again,” Mitchell said before turning to General Landry and asking, “Sir, permission to take a team through the gate and see if we can get the locals to tell us who did this.”

“I agree. We have to stop these people before they make things worse for everyone, us included, but you’re taking SG-3 and SG-12 with you. Whoever did this had numbers and willingness to kill and mutilate those that stood in their way. You’re taking plenty of firepower with you,” General Landry told them.

“All right team, let’s gear up,” Mitchell said only somewhat enthusiastically.

The smell was indeed as bad as they had expected. Every member of the teams were veterans of combat, the original members of SG-1 more than probably any other human on the planet as they had been engaging the Goa’uld and now the Ori for the better part of a decade on an almost regular basis, but the smell of a battlefield was different from this. Decay had set in, but without the skin to act as a barrier to escape there was little bloating.

Strangely enough, despite the savagery inflicted upon the bodies, little blood was spilt upon the ground, indicating that the killing and mutilation had taken place elsewhere. Not entirely unusual. What was unusual was the fact that little blood had been smeared upon the various supports holding the bodies, indicating that perhaps the bodies had been actively drained before being strung and nailed up.

Slipping into the woods, the SG teams slowly and cautiously infiltrated forward towards the location of the nearest settlement on this world. While unlikely, there was still the possibility that whoever had done this was still here and…

All thoughts the SG team were having trailed off when they crested the final hill and discovered the region around them utterly deforested, the timber having been used to construct a massive wooden palisade about the village. People were toiling away to finish clearing the land, hauling up roots and digging trenches and burning wood to make charcoal. What had once a peaceful, agrarian village was rapidly being turned into a fortified camp bustling with industry.

“My… God…” Mitchell muttered while surveying it all.

“Should we make contact?” Carter asked.

“Some of the woodcutters have wandered out further and they don’t appear to be supervised. We could probably approach one quietly and ask about what is going on,” Daniel suggested.

“Sounds like a plan,” Mitchell said before motioning for several of the Marines from SG-3 and 12 to accompany him and Daniel while the others stood on watch.

Selecting one man partially obscured by scrub that had yet to be cleared away, the two of them revealed themselves several metres away before Mitchell said to the woodcutter chopping enthusiastically, perhaps even over enthusiastically, at a tree, “Howdy.”

The man whirled about in an instant, his axe held high and threateningly before his eyes caught up with his motion and he immediately stopped. This also let SG-1 get a good look at him for the first time, and to their horror a large, ragged series of cuts had been made on his forehead, forming an eight pointed star. The wounds looked fresh an untended to, for blood still trickled from partly formed scabs to clot upon his eyebrows.

Upon seeing them, the man immediately said, “The Tau’ri!” before dropping his axe and falling to his knees, crying out, “Blessed be the Lady!” He then ripped open his shirt and began clawing at his chest, revealing a series of brutal scars from previous similar wounds.

“Whoa!” Both Daniel and Mitchell cried out simultaneously while rushing to the man’s aid. As they tried to restrain him in his frenzy, he fought back for a moment before he calmed down a bit and said, “Oh… I am sorry my friends, I was merely overjoyed to be chosen for this great honour. Yes, great honour.”

“So you decided to start clawing yourself?” Mitchell asked incredulously.

“Bloodshed does please the Lady, although her envoy counsels against excess. Thought must be coupled with fury, which is why she welcomed the envoy of the King. He was the one who foretold of your coming! You are the changers of ways, the great hope for the galaxy! He said you would come, and any who met you were to welcome you as brothers! The Lady’s envoy agreed! Come, come!” The woodcutter said, nearly working himself into a frenzy again.

“Uh… I’m not sure if we want to go into your village right away,” Mitchell pointed out.

Nodding, the woodcutter said, “Yes, the King’s envoy said that you would be wary and cautious. He said you would rightful fear an ambush, so any who met you should only bring you to the gates of the village, where you would be safe with your weapons against us and we could speak as equals. Is there one named Daniel Jackson amongst you?”

Frowning in bemusement and confusion, Daniel said, “That would be me.”

Smiling broadly, the man looked ready to go into another fit before he said, “The King’s envoy said to give you special regard, for you were amongst the wisest of all beings in the galaxy! Wiser than even the builders of the Chappa’ai!”

Looking both confused and slightly flattered, Daniel asked, “Why did the envoy say this?”

“Because you would not have let them into this galaxy,” the man stated, sending a chill down Daniel’s spine.

Before more questions could be asked the radio crackled to life and the commander of SG-3 said, “Lt. Colonel, we’ve got Prior activity at the village.”

The Prior stood before the defiant village in a nearly apocalyptic rage. The only thing that kept him from destroying this entire place outright was the fact that whenever he tried to open the minds of these people to find out who had done this outrage, something began whispering blasphemies into his mind, telling him lies about the Ori.

Raising his staff high into the air, he shouted out, “Who has done this?”

The gates to the village opened and out stalked a young woman wearing primitive bronze armour and holding a wicked looking axe. What skin was visible was coloured bright red, and sticking out from beneath her horned helm was a long banner of vermillion hair. Strangely enough, the only thing that was not some shade of red or bronze was a solid black band of iron about her neck that appeared to have been permanently welded on. She smiled wickedly at the Prior, revealing teeth sharpened to razor points before she said, “I am Lady Justice, envoy for my Queen to these people, and I convinced them to turn away from your false path. Some were not so willing to cooperate and sadly the conflict grew violent. We disposed of their corpses as is our new custom.”

Raising his staff, the Prior said, “All those who refuse to walk the Path of Origin must be destroyed.”

“Before you attack, could you say it?” Justice suddenly asked.

The Prior looked confused for a moment, hesitating at the strange request.

Rolling her eyes, Justice said, “You know, that catch phrase you guys use with that hollow, monotone voice. I want to hear it.”

“Hallowed are the Ori?” The Prior asked in confusion at the insanity of the woman before him. He knew that those who rejected the Path of Origin were sick animals in need of putting down, but this was a new low.

“Not like that! You need more gravitas, you need to say it like you mean it, like you’re about to commit genocide and need the empty words to soothe what’s left of your humanity lest you think about the consequences of your actions,” Justice said indignantly.

Now the Prior needed to say the words just to focus himself away from the madness. Lifting his staff, he let awful white light leak from the crystal as he intoned, “Hallowed are the Ori.”

“Awesome! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!” Justice cried as she leapt into the air.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Three: Introductions

Whatever the Prior and the SG teams watching had thought was going to happen most emphatically did not. The Prior’s staff flashed with white light for a moment before Lady Justice was completely unaffected, her axe flashing through the air to cleave the staff effortlessly in two and remove one of the Prior’s hands. Bright red blood spurted through the air and stained the Prior’s robes as he fell to the ground in complete shock at this absolutely unexpected turn of events.

Lady Justice grabbed the Prior by the hair and hauled him not quite up to his feet, but up far enough that all of his weight was hanging by the scalp.

“The Ori are weak and you are a fool for following them!” Justice told him as she raised her axe high.

For the first time since he had been chosen, the Prior knew fear. All the powers he tried against this abomination did nothing, and whenever he tried to reach out for aid from the Ori he only heard mocking laughter and a voice telling him that his gods were not there.

SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!” Justice screamed out at the top of her lungs before bringing her axe down hard on the Prior’s neck, severing his head with a spray of blood. His body began to spontaneously combust, but the flames could not reach the head, instead twisting away from the hand that held it as if the fire was afraid of Lady Justice.

Considering what had just happened, it probably was.

Holding the slightly charred and very bloody high above her head, Justice let out a terrific bellow that was joined by all of the villagers watching. She also held the severed stump of the neck above her face so that as the remaining blood drained from the skull out of the severed blood vessels it poured down upon her face and there was little doubt that she was drinking the blood of the Prior.

The SG teams looked a little green at the sight before them, especially the way the villagers seemed to be ritually mutilating themselves in their victory frenzy. The woodcutter they had found finally lost it in the throes of religious ecstasy and ran out into the open field, crying out enthusiastically, “The Tau’ri are here! Blessed day, the Tau’ri are here!”

“Well there goes the element of surprise,” Mitchell mutters darkly before he waves for SG-1 and half of SG-3 to get up and follow, saying, “Look casual boys and girls.”

Walking out of the tree line, the SG teams causally walked along the scrub land towards the woman that had just taken apart a Prior without breaking a sweat. Admittedly, she appeared to be somewhat specialized towards killing Priors as she was using an axe and wearing antique armour, but she was frightfully fast and strong and if she got amongst them it could quickly turn into a bloodbath before they could bring their guns to bear.

As they drew nearer, Lady Justice lowered the severed head and nodded courteously to them, saying, “Ah! The famous SG-1, we have been expecting you.”

Coming to a stop at what was a relatively easily defensible position, the SGC personnel spread out into a neat military formation that would maximize their ability to bring fire upon attackers from the direction of the village, especially Lady Justice, while still keeping an eye on other avenues of attack.

Clearing his throat, Mitchell then said, “You’ll forgive us if we would prefer to stay out of range of your axe for the time being.”

Laughing heartily with a fierce, throaty bark, Lady Justice said, “Of course not! You are no fools, we expect nothing less.” Tossing the Prior’s head casually to one of the villagers, she said, “Here, put this with the others.”

Slinging her axe across her back, Justice then removed her helmet, revealing the fact that the horns were not in fact attached to the helmet but grew directly out of her forehead, which caused the SGC members to realize that her skin was at the very least dyed red rather than painted. Her eyes were little orbs of red and black. But other than the eyes and the teeth and the horns and the colours she looked like a normal young woman who should probably being going to school at some nice university rather than tearing apart Priors and drinking their blood. It was distinctly more creepy and disconcerting for the SG teams than if she had been some sort of monster. Monsters they could deal with.

“While it’s not exactly of an introduction, you seem to know us already, and we heard your name during that little spat with the Prior, so I guess with that out of the way, the obvious question is how exactly you did that,” Mitchell asked.

“Of course you would ask that,” Justice said with a smile. She then touched the iron band about her neck and said, “My Queen made this for me before she sent me on this mission, to protect me from the powers of the Priors.”

“Who is your queen exactly?” Daniel asked.

“She is the Lady of War, Asukhon,” Justice said, the name somehow seeming like it should have a crash of lightning and the panicked neighing of horses accompanying it.

“Never heard of her,” Mitchell said.

Grinning lopsidedly, Justice said, “Until the Ori invasion, she preferred to keep a low profile.”

“She’s an Ancient, isn’t she?” Daniel asked bluntly.

“Not quite, but if you wish to think of her as an ascended being, then that is one way of thinking of her. Or any of the others,” Justice explained.

“Others?” Mitchell asked.

“My master and two others share power with Lady Asukhon,” a man said as he languidly strolled out of the village. He was an odd, Asiatic looking young man wearing long blue and gold coloured robes and an unruly mop of black hair framing a faintly smiling face. A strange aura of almost perceptible static and vertigo seemed to surround him, as if there was something very wrong with him but to actually place what exactly that might be was impossible.

“And you would be?” Mitchell asked.

The young man said something… or cleared his throat.

“Gesundheit,” Mitchell said.

“That was my name,” the young man said.

“Oh,” Mitchell stated.

“Technically Lady Justice’s name is equally difficult to pronounce, but it means justice so she just went with it. Mine means forethought, which doesn’t quite have the same ring, so you may call me Prometheus,” the man said.

“Prometheus, right. So you’ve got Lady Justice here and you mentioned two others?” Mitchell asked.

“Yes, Lady Charity and Lady Compassion. They are currently on other worlds performing their own missions. In fact, we all have separate missions and for the time being we have little interest in communicating with each other, so I can’t exactly say where they are,” Prometheus explained.

Raising an eyebrow, Daniel asked, “Then why are you with Justice here?”

Grinning broadly, Prometheus said, “I was waiting for you to come here. Lady Justice is rather blunt and obvious, and would not fail to get your attention.”

Justice looked down at herself for a moment before she grinned and said, “I try.”

“And you want what with us exactly?” Mitchell asked suspiciously, ignoring the little by-play from Justice.

“I have a gift for the Tau’ri,” Prometheus stated before calmly reaching into his robe and pulling out a small flattened egg shaped object that sits in his palm. Pressing a button on the side caused the top to fold open and for a series of holograms to begin to play, showing a series of schematics for weapons that looked remarkably like something produced on Earth.

“What is it exactly?” Mitchell asked cautiously.

“Detailed plans for building coherent light weapons of sufficient power to be useful to you,” Prometheus stated. “Would you like me to come over and hand it to you, or would you prefer I stay back and let one of the villagers bring it to you?”

“I hope you don’t mind if we take the second option,” Mitchell said.

Beckoning to one of the closer villagers over to him, Prometheus passed off the object and the man, who appeared to have ripped off one of his own ears recently, rushed over to SG-1, absolutely thrilled to have been honoured with the task. He quickly handed it off to a waiting Carter before scurrying back to his fellows, who were all beaming proudly.

Giving Carter a few moments to look over the device for any traps and then look through the schematics within, Mitchell then asked, “So what’s it look like Sam?”

It took a little while for Carter to absorb the knowledge, but one she realized exactly what she was looking at she exclaimed quietly, “Holy Hannah! Cam, these schematics detail how to completely revolutionize the way we use lasers. These weapons are better in every possible way. They’ll hit harder, shoot faster and straighter, have more ammunition, and are more durable than any other weapon we’ve ever encountered in the galaxy. Even the power cells are more efficient and rugged than most weapons their size would warrant. And its not just the schematics for the weapons… it’s the schematics for the tooling to make the weapons and detailed theory behind the operation and… wow… just… if we got these ten years ago, before we found the Stargate we could have begun production in under a year. With all of it together… Cam, we don’t even need to hide most of this, it’s well within our technological level while still being better than anything else we’ve seen on the subject.”

“I see you like it,” Prometheus stated. “The technology comes from a civilization that was very concerned with making robust, reliable weapons for its troops. I have access to designs for other, more powerful weapons, but I fear that you will have to negotiate for those.”

“Who are these people?” Daniel asked.

“That is a very long story, but the short answer is that they no longer exist. And no, our masters and mistresses had nothing to do with why their civilization no longer exists. They simply inherited the knowledge from the last survivors of those people,” Prometheus explained.

“Okay… so let’s say we wanted to negotiate with you folks, want exactly do you want from us?” Mitchell inquired.

“Oh, not much really. The promise of religious freedom to practice our ways and convert anyone willing to our beliefs would be nice. Of course, we would not break any laws in the practice of our worship,” Prometheus explained.

“Unless of course they start it,” Justice pointed out.

“Now Justice, you are the rightly appointed leader of this village and the Prior and those that followed the Path of Origin threatened members of the village. By all accepted standards of law you were merely carrying out your duty as the leader of a sovereign government to protect those under your rule,” Prometheus said. Daniel and Mitchell frowned at that little speech as it had obviously been intended for them, while Carter was still busy looking through the schematics for the laser weapons.

Teal’c however was the one to respond, “I do not believe that the Tau’ri or the Free Jaffa will be comfortable with another religion spreading in the galaxy after the Goa’uld and Ori have shown us the horrors of false gods.”

“Indeed,” Prometheus said, making them all wonder just exactly how much he knew about them. He then added on, “But we have power and wish to spread it for the benefit of all in the conflict against the Ori. That will bring others to us; others who will wish to emulate us and will want to know of our religion. Surely the Tau’ri have been asked to spread their religion to those they have liberated before?”

SG-1 shifted uncomfortably at that. While as the first contact team they tended to move around too much, the issue had come up far too often with the diplomatic teams working with local populations afterwards. It was a touchy subject and official policy was still hazy as to handle it. So far there had been no proselytizing but try as they might to avoid the subject, there were several populations that had converted over to earth religions- or approximations of them from what they had learned through inquiries to lay people- that had sprung up around the galaxy.

Fortunately Teal’c came to their rescue. “Indeed they have been asked, but they have not made it their mission to do so.”

“Neither will we, we simply feel that in times of religious extremism and fear we would prefer to ask first rather than risk unfortunate misunderstandings later,” Prometheus replied. He then added on, “And that is just a formality request in any event, a symbolic exchange of good wills. What I truly wish to obtain is industrial capacity from the Tau’ri and Free Jaffa to help uplift the worlds that fall under our protection. We have access to much knowledge, but not the capacity to use the majority of it to the full extent.”

“So you want us to build your laser guns for you, and in turn we get to keep some of them,” Mitchell summarized.

“That would be one way of looking at it,” Prometheus admitted. “But those negotiations are for another day, when you have your diplomats around. For now though, please take my gift as the gesture of good will that it is. You can contact me on this world whenever you wish to begin the haggling.”

As the SG teams retreated from the village back to the Stargate, Justice asked, “Well?”

“They’ll do what we need them to do. Even if the individual members of SG-1 are smart enough to realize how evil we are, the governments are too short sighted and greedy to refuse the technology we have to offer,” Prometheus said with a grin as he dropped the illusion that kept them from opening fire on him on sight for looking like Anubis.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Four: Games

Tzintchi watched impassively as Asukhon moved another three Prior pieces off the board and put them on her scoring table, while meanwhile Reigle continued to add zombie pawns to her forces.

“You’re overstretching your ability to command your forces Reigle,” Tzintchi pointed out.

Grinning rottenly, Reigle asked, “Are you saying I should spawn more overlords?”

Rolling his many eyes, Tzintchi replied, “Very funny, but we’re not going to that reality for the time being. You still have to find a good place for our little British Invasion game.”

“Asukhon is still bickering with me over that one little place because even though there is all this disease she argues that because they’re angry diseased maniacs they should fall under her overview,” Reigle said.

“You’re just bitter that I’m winning this game,” Asukhon replied as she tallied her score.

“Priors are cheap. Sooner or later they’re going to drop a battleship on your head or throw a bomb through a gate and then where will you be?” Tzintchi pointed out.

“I’m not the only one with plans my dear,” Asukhon stated slyly. “Again, you’re just bitter because you’re currently in dead last.”

“Quite. But when I get my agent on to Earth then by the rules I can send another one into Pegasus, alone. Not only that, but the Tau’ri forces have some of the best warships in the galaxy, and the SGC has some hugely high scoring pieces as personnel. Plus the industries and population of Earth makes it a lucrative position to build an army from,” Tzintchi pointed out.

“He’s teching up instead of rushing like you two,” Mislaato said as she moved her piece amongst several pyramids and stalks of corn. “As am I, but I’m moving faster than him.”

“Speaking of technology, we need to test the Stiletto at some point. Do we enter it here or in some other location?” Tzintchi asked.

Frowning, Asukhon said, “It is only a frigate in need of a shakedown cruise, and this reality has weapons capable of damaging it. We will eventually enter the Stiletto into this game, but for now we need something a bit easier to check for any potential problems. How’s about… here.”

Asukhon waved her hand and the board shifted. Looking at it, Tzintchi frowned and said, “That’s a lot of gods in play.”

“They don’t care,” Asukhon said with a shrug.

“They should be condemned in any case,” Reigle said quietly.

“Oh?” Tzintchi said while examining all the pieces, a small grin forming on his mouths.

“They have not the decency to call their own apathy what it truly is, and they confuse inaction with righteousness. It annoys me that they think of themselves as followers of you when they truly belong to me,” Reigle explained.

Laughing at that, Tzintchi said, “Ah, lovely sentiments as always dear.”

“Besides, these guys will be easy enough to crack while still offering just enough challenge to warm up on, which is to say that we will massacre them without it being entirely effortless,” Asukhon said.

“Always with the massacres my dear, always with the massacres. Very well, we shall test the Stiletto in this reality. Shall we be business-like or approach it like a game as with the others?” Tzintchi asked.

“A game dears, a game. The Stiletto should be able to take on fleets of nearly any size in that reality, but where is the fun and learning in that? No, if we truly wish to practice in anticipation for the C’tan, we must hone our skills appropriately. Let us pretend that the warships of this reality are equivalent to ours ton for ton and act accordingly. The game will to be to score as much as possible before a final battle is forced, one where the Stiletto would be outgunned if it were here. At that point we end the charade and leave that reality and the shattered hulks of its space ships behind,” Mislaato suggested.

“I like it,” Tzintchi said.

“You do both realize that ton for ton the Stiletto out masses most fleets in that reality with its armour, let alone the rest of its equipment,” Asukhon pointed out.

“It will be a big battle,” Mislaato said with a shrug.

“It might boot the gods of that place out of their complacency,” Reigle said.

Shrugging, Mislaato said, “We’ll just promise to leave them alone, they all seem rather isolationist. Hmmm… they could even prove useful to our game. The Necrontyr can call upon their gods to help them; we should not leave such things out of the equation.”

“Agreed,” Tzintchi said. “Also, despite the fact that they have been chomping at the bit for actual combat, neither Toji nor Kensuke will be assigned to this mission. Despite the low risk, they are too important at this stage of the game.”

“Agreed,” the three goddesses said.

Tzintchi picked up a small model of one of the ships from this reality. It was such a fragile thing really, but by the standards of the locals it had done much and earned itself a legendary name. He then drew forth from the ether a model of the first ship to exit the slipways and compared them. By their standards the Stiletto was just that, a thin blade meant for stabbing at the kidneys of the enemy when they were not looking. To those it faced it would be a behemoth nearly twice as long as their ships and nearly a hundred times as massive.

The fight would be interesting to watch indeed.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Five: Launch

The Stiletto was a marvel of engineering, designed and built within the first twenty years since the ascendance of the gods as a test bed for the merging of Imperial, Eldar, Chaotic, and Angelic technologies and systems. While no where near as cobbled together as say the construction of the Prometheus by the Tau’ri in a neighbouring universe, to a certain extent the only thing holding the damn thing together was a concerted, active raping of the laws of physics by various daemons and a bit of the WAAAGH inherited from Gork and Mork. It was, at the moment, an unsightly blend of adamantium, wraithbone, and biological components, at least to the sensibilities of the builders. Outsiders with no knowledge of what an ugly kludge it was might be fooled though.

The ship’s name was well deserved as it was long and thin by the standards of the ships to come, but it was still a little over a kilometre and a half long and approximately two hundred metres wide, although the armoured, triangular bow of the ship was a bit wider than the rest of the ship. There had in fact been some discussion as to whether or not to name the ship the Dart or the Arrow before the Stiletto had won out. The enormous ram prow was smooth and sharp except for the torpedo launchers and the Eldar pulse lance they had managed to fit within that ran nearly the entire length of the ship. Behind the ram prow the main body of the ship was a collection of armoured “ribs” that added structural support while giving some protection to the various weapons emplacements mounted along the sides, before terminating in the bulge at the back that was the main drive systems.

All in all, the ship carried an absolutely ridiculous amount of equipment, one of the biggest reasons the designers were unhappy with it. It was a frigate with a punch equivalent to a light cruiser. Okay, the torpedoes were undersized, and the various technologies employed allowed for a great deal of miniaturization, but the thing was still over equipped for its size. It had shields and holoprojectors, and it carried the blessings of all four gods. The thing was absurd.

Then again, when the gods demanded a test bed for the blending of the various technologies, you didn’t exactly tell them no. At least they had been reasonable enough to wait for the testing of the nova cannon until the shipyards were capable of building ships of a more reasonable size to mount that sort of thing.

Of course, the presence of reliable Warp taps in the form of greatly modified S2 engines, jokingly called S3 engines, and a plasma reactor meant that they could just support the power needs of the engines, the pulsar lance, and the shields. All other systems were drew their energy from individual S2 engines or clusters of S2 engines for some of the more power intensive systems. The one thing the engineers all felt happy about on the project was the fact that now that they had the S2 engines working reliably their high power to volume ratio meant that they could put a lot of back up systems in place. The Stiletto could take a tremendous amount shit kicking and still keep firing.

And that was before the biological components were factored in. While mostly hidden from the rigours of space, the fact that the bio components were of Angelic origin and reinforced by Reigle meant that they could take nearly as much punishment as the wraithbone components, if not the adamantium ones, and the regeneration meant that damage control to those components was automatic and frightfully fast.

The interior of the ship was of course the sort of nightmare one would expect from a ship built to the glory of Chaos gods, featuring the sort of techno-organic feel that would scare crap out of most people. With all the S2 and S3 engines drawing energy from the Warp, Tzintchi had found it trivial to warp the interior in a non-Euclidean way that made anyone not permitted aboard doomed to become hopelessly lost. Mislaato had produced a haunting psychic siren that would not only mess with the heads of anyone trying to get inside, but with most people, especially psychics, within about a light second of the ship. Aside from strengthening the entire ship with her own brand of endurance, Reigle had also made sure that all the organic components could excrete her own brand of the Destroyer Plague. Aside from ensuring the general blood thirst of the gunners, Asukhon had made sure that the security and boarding teams were all dedicated to her and thus would be walking blenders in the close combat of ship boarding action.

The crew, aside from the various daemons bound to the structure of the ship, were all drawn from the cream of Earth’s crop, including a squad of Space Marines from each of the six extant chapters, giving the Stiletto a little over a half company’s worth of the best soldiers Earth had to offer, as well as covering most of the specializations. The Sons of Toji and the Sons of Kensuke had each sent a veteran tactical squad; the Bearers of Reigle had sent their only Terminator squad; the Reavers of Asukhon had sent an assault squad, not that they had many marines that weren’t geared towards some form of assault; the Whips of Mislaato had sent a heavy weapons squad; and the Heralds of Tzintchi had sent a psychic squad.

All in all, the ship was such massive fucking overkill for its first assigned mission that the captain found it downright funny.

“So these are the things that the gods wish us to practice upon?” The captain asked.

“Yes ma’am… err… sir… uh… what exactly should I call you?” The rating who had handed the data slate to the captain asked in some confusion.

Chuckling, Captain Rong-Arya said, “The convention is to use feminine pronouns to comply with the host body. Now, return to your duties.”

Thirty-one years ago in the remnants of post Second Impact Shanghai a poor family gave birth to the girl Rong Xun, who was just starting to be recognized by the government as a child prodigy when Third Impact occurred. While her education initially faltered in the ensuing disaster from the loss of two in three people and she nearly perished from starvation or violence several times, she managed to preserve and survive until the first armies of the gods had stormed across the Sea of Japan two years later and pacified the region.

As she cowered in the remnants of a bombed out hovel, soldiers and daemons and Marines massacring the “armies” of the warlords who had taken control of the city, the great god Tzintchi had himself identified her as a psyker and had her brought back to Japan for training with her gifts.

Around the same time the only officer in the Indian Army who had seen both Second and Third Impact and lived to tell the tale decided to officially announce that he was throwing his lot in with the new gods. A cagey old bastard by that time, Arya Prayang received great favour from the deities for not only making the right choice, but preserving much of the industry and population under his area of control by not engaging in petty fighting like so many other places on the planet. For that he was elevated to the rank of Divine Marshal Arya, Governor of the Province of India.

When he had died ten years later due to long term complications of a wound suffered during the Unification Wars, instead of being consumed by one of the gods, his soul was instead elevated to the level of Daemon Prince. For a time he was quite happy with his new existence, but soon the itch to get back into the material world for an extended period began to prick at him and he asked to bind with a host.

Around the same time the now adult Rong volunteered for the daemonhost program to further her own career as an officer in the military. While her initial application requested that she be bound to a Black Pharaoh or possibly a Valkyrie, when told that a former Grand Marshal turned Daemon Prince was interested in binding with her because of her scores, she had immediately jumped at the opportunity.

The process had been painful for both involved and dangerous for Rong, but in the end Rong-Arya emerged, thrice bound daemonhost, with both minds left intact and functional. Rong was a brilliant tactician and skilled precog, while Arya carried enormous reserves of power and more cunning and logistical insight than most other people on the planet.

The saying went that old age and treachery beat youth and enthusiasm every day. Of course, no one had ever anticipated the utter lethality of the combination. Of course the transcendent intellect and the ability to see the future weren’t exactly hindrances in the whole officer material thing. At first Arya had been a bit annoyed by the fact that he pretty much had to go through officer school and climb the rankings again, but once he realized how much fun screwing with superior officers was he got along just fine with the system.

And now Rong-Arya was a captain aboard the first ship to be built on Earth, a great honour and opportunity and if they could accomplish this mission properly then they would surely be on the fast track to become the first admiral in the fleet. Also, with the rise in rank and skill had come the unshackling of the bindings upon them as Rong’s body grew powerful enough to contain Arya’s power. At long last with the promotion to captain had the last binding been removed from the pair.

Now they sat upon the command throne of the Stiletto and watched as the final preparations for launch were made with burning eyes. Smirking, they said, “Lieutenant Striker, please adjust power flow to the number four engine down by 0.4%.”

“Yes ma’am… huh… we were just starting to get a slight resonance in that engine,” the piloting officer reported.

“I know. Please make a note and have it sent to high command. They want to know about everything that happens, especially potential equipment problems,” Rong-Arya ordered.

“Done ma’am. Final docking clamps are now away, and we have clearance to leave the yards,” Lieutenant O’Hare, the communications officer, said.

“Excellent. Bring us out of dock with manoeuvring thrusters and then engage main engines at 1% until the yards are clear of our engine wash, at which point I want us brought up to 75% thrust,” Rong-Arya ordered.

“Aye-aye ma’am,” Striker acknowledged as he fired the manoeuvring thrusters that accelerated the frigate at a gentle 0.1G for two seconds before cutting off and letting inertia carry the ship the rest of the way out of the slipway that had birthed it, carrying it out over the brilliant blue orb that was Earth. Once free from the chaotic jumble of ever growing space stations and work platforms the enormous conical exhaust ports at the back of the ship began to glow a weak blue-white as charged particles were hurled away at ludicrous speeds. Almost immediately the ship leapt forward and began to rise away from the planet.

A few short minutes later Lieutenant Striker reported, “We are now clear of all orbital structures, increasing power to 75%.”

Where the thrusters had only been glowing feebly before, now they flared into brilliant life and the Stiletto shot off like a shell fired from a cannon, accelerating rapidly towards the speed of light before relativity started to kick in.

“Message received from the science ship Iliad. They send their greetings to us and praise the gods for what we represent,” O’Hare reported.

“Send thanks to them and apologize that we cannot assist with the repatriation,” Rong-Arya ordered, causing a grin from those in the know. There had been much talk of asteroid mining for ship construction in the past two decades, but first they had to get the science of nudging about the huge chunks of rock down first. Thus the Iliad had been given the tasking of figuring out how to do that by moving 617 Patroclus out of the Trojan node and into the Greek one, and visa versa for 624 Hektor as part of a “repatriation” project that would finally end a little bit of nomenclature confusion amongst the Trojan asteroids about Jupiter.

“All systems functioning properly captain,” Striker reported.

“Very well, slowly bring us up to full thrust, I want to see how the engines handle it,” Rong-Arya ordered.

“Aye-aye, ma’am. Bringing us up to 80% thrust,” Striker said as he entered the order to increase thrust. As the ship continued to increase its acceleration, all went well until they reached 95% thrust, at which point the deck plates began to rattle ominously.

“Report!” Rong-Arya ordered.

“We have a resonance build up in engine four,” Striker replied.

Frowning, Rong-Arya thought for a moment before they said, “Increase power by 0.5% every ten seconds until the resonance ceases or we reach full power, at which point kill all power to the engines.”

A little less than a minute later and the shaking stopped along with all rumble from the engines. As power had been increased the shaking had only become worse until finally all power was cut.

“We cannot engage our engines to full power, this I find troubling, especially as our mission will take us into combat. I want to know not just why engine four is resonating, but why only engine four is having this problem while on low power idle or at 95% power or greater,” the captain demanded.

“The engineers are already working on it ma’am,” Striker commented as he poured over the various read outs at his station.

“Message has been received from high command. They note that we have stopped due to engine trouble, but say that the Stiletto is already overkill for the mission and 90% engine power should be sufficient,” O’Hare reported.

Precognitive superiors were always amusing, as Rong-Arya liked to show. Nodding, they said, “Very well, the engineers have three hours to examine engine four before sending off their findings to high command for further analysis. After that point we will carry on with the mission.”

Three hours later and a hole of sickening blackness opened up and consumed the Stiletto, carrying it into the Warp where the will of the gods opened a path through the multiverse to their destination.

By some coincidence or malicious design on the part of the gods, the Stiletto dropped out of the Warp four hours later almost on top of one of the few ships in the universe bigger than it as it was making a routine stop to gather fuel for its reactors from a gas giant.

“Huh… I thought those guys weren’t supposed to be in the operation sector of space. I hope we didn’t drop out of the Warp in the wrong location,” Rong-Arya commented.

“Star charting report that we are in the correct sector,” Lieutenant Burke, the navigator, reported.

“Then these boys are far from home,” Rong-Arya noted while examining the read-outs for what would have been considered an ork warship with odd aesthetics back home. It was like a huge conglomeration of piping and conduits and cables and other such things packed together into a cube three kilometres long on each side.

“Receiving transmission ma’am, frequency modulated radio signal with probable visual and audio components. Looks like we don’t have compatible communications gear otherwise,” O’Hare said.

“Can we translate the signal into something useful?” Rong-Arya asked.

“Audio only for now, still working on the video component,” O’Hare said.

“Let’s hear what they have to say then,” Rong-Arya replied.

There was a brief moment of static before an oddly modulated voice said, “We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ship. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to serve us. Resistance is futile.

Raising an eyebrow, Rong-Arya commented, “Confident little bastards aren’t they?” Thinking for a moment, they summon forth their full daemonhost might before announcing, “We are Chaos. Raise your shields and give us a good fight. We will sacrifice your souls to our gods. Your culture will burn. Resistance is amusing.

There was a short pause before the reply arrived, “Chaos is irrelevant. Fighting is irrelevant. Souls are irrelevant. Gods are irrelevant. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

“They are powering shields and weapons ma’am,” Lieutenant Xavier, the sensor officer, noted.

Dropping the creepy echo, Rong-Arya ordered, “Full power to weapons; bring us about to line up the pulsar lance on them.”

The bridge crew immediately snapped into action, the ship thrumming into combat mode as shells were loaded, capacitors charged, and torpedoes were readied. Hymns and chants rose up amongst the crew as promises of spilt blood were made to the gods. The various daemons bound within the systems began to cackle with glee as the prospects for slaughter grew.

“Shields are at maximum strength, holofields are active, all tubes and cannons are loaded, and all beam weapons are charged,” Commander Ichiro-Faust, the tactical officer and a fellow daemonhost, reported smartly.

“Fire the pulsar lance, half charge, and surprise me as to where exactly you hit. I want them asymmetrical,” Rong-Arya commanded.

The entire ship shook as the massive laser weapon fired, impacting on one of the sides and moving up and over, cutting through the shields and hull as if they weren’t even there until eventually an entire corner of the cube simply broke off. Secondary explosions wracked both pieces, the detached corner eventually exploding into shrapnel, while the rest of the cube managed to get the fires and detonating munitions and reactors under control.

“They appear to be attempting to affect repairs ma’am,” Xavier noted.

“Amusing. O’Hare, please open a channel,” Rong-Arya said idly. Once he gave them the nod, they said, “We overpower you. Prepare to die.

Power is irrelevant. Death is irrelevant. We will adapt. You will serve us. Resistance is futile,” the Borg replied.

“Do they have shields active?” Rong-Arya asked.

“Negative,” Xavier replied.

“Commander Ichiro-Faust, please ask the Bearers to board them via teleporter and forcibly shut them up,” Rong-Arya ordered.

“With pleasure ma’am,” Ichiro-Faust said with a grin. Faust was a daemon of Asukhon after all, so the pair greatly enjoyed slaughter.

Ten minutes later O’Hare said, “Report from the Bearer squad ma’am. They say that combat there is like fighting civilians… arthritic civilians at that apparently. They grow bored and wish to return to the ship before they waste too much time.”

Rolling their eyes, Rong-Arya said, “Very well. Please turn to present the starboard broadside, and when the Bearers are back aboard obliterate these pests.”

As the bridge officers went about their duties Xavier reported, “Ma’am, I believe we have identified their method of communication, it appears to rely on sending signals through what we thought was a useless interface layer between real space and the Warp, a sort of subspace if you will. There is a huge amount of bandwidth being sent towards the other side of the galaxy, although it will probably take several years to arrive.”

“So they’re trying to tell their friends all of our little secrets are they? Well, that will end in a second,” Rong-Arya noted before looking at Ichiro-Faust.

“The Bearers are aboard ma’am,” the tactical officer stated.

“Fire the starboard broadside then,” Rong-Arya stated.

In an instant dozens of gigatons converged upon the cube, which had yet to bring its shields back online after the lance strike. It was sitting motionless relative to the Stiletto, meaning that it had absolutely no chance to avoid the awesome destructive forces hurtling towards it. For a brief instant there was a bright light, and then there was nothing but a rapidly expanding and thinning cloud of plasma tens of thousands of kilometres across.

“Let’s get out of here then, shall we?” Rong-Arya said in a bored tone. “Set course for the designated target and then enter the Warp.”

A few minutes later the Stiletto disappeared from the now uninhabited system in a flash of unreality.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Six: Visitations

Captain Jean Luc Picard ran his hand over the armrest of his chair somewhat wistfully. While grateful for having the seat, it still wasn’t quite his. The Enterprise-E was a fine ship, but Picard certainly knew what Montgomery Scott had meant when he said that this was not his ship. His thoughts however turned in upon themselves as he realized that despite the fact that he had still not worn his own character into the ship yet, the most important thing towards making it home was the family that lived in it, and for that he thanked all of his lucky stars that the casualties from Veridian III had been as light as they had been.

“Sir, there is a message from Starfleet for you, coded private,” the communications officer on watch at the time announced.

Nodding, Picard said, “I will take it in my ready room then. Riker, you have the watch.”

Standing up, Picard went moved just off the bridge to his ready room. At the moment the door sealed behind him, there was a flash of white light and Picard felt his head and shoulders slump as he realized that no family was quite complete without the annoying uncle who showed up from time to time to disrupt the regular order.

“What is it this time Q?” Picard asked as his ready room chair spun about to reveal the impish cosmic being. Picard’s expression however transmuted from annoyance to apprehension and fear when he saw Q’s appearance.

Q was wearing the old standard Starfleet captain’s uniform, but it seemed inexplicably more sinister than it ever had before. The red of the uniform seemed off, almost as if it were achieved by soaking the fabric in blood rather than dye. The collar pips had also been changed, the circles replaced by small, abstract symbols that had the vague appearance of skulls. The communicator was completely different, an eight-pointed star that somehow seemed to squirm about if Picard took too long to look at it.

But worst of all was Q’s face. Gone was the near persistent smile, the look upon the face that said that Q was really just playing some big joke upon the puny humans. He had only ever looked like this when he was about to put humanity on trial.

Q said in the sort of dead serious voice, “I really must apologize for some of my earlier words Picard, humans aren’t quite as bad as I might have implied.”

Frowning, Picard said, “Somehow I a get the feeling that you have more to say than that.”

“I do, but the Continuum wishes to stay out of what is to come, and only our prior ‘friendship’ lets me get away with giving you a rather vague warning. Now, while intentional vagueness for the purposes of giving you just enough information to make it look useful in retrospect is part of my style, this time I would actually like to give you more to go upon if not for other circumstances,” Q said.

Picard felt something like a block of ice drop in his gut. This was completely uncharacteristic of Q and the Continuum, and while he was certain they would deny it, it almost sounded as if they were afraid.

“We are afraid, although not in a way you would understand,” Q said, plucking the thought from Picard’s mind and causing him to feel even more ill at ease, a sort of terror creeping up his spine at the thought of anything scaring the Q Continuum.

Elaborating, Q said, “There are things out there that you cannot imagine, things that would break your mind to even catch a glimpse of. Even if your crude senses were capable of perceiving the full glory of a Q, your mind would be incapable of understanding what you see. Most beings like this are… while not exactly benevolent, they see little to no need in interacting with lesser beings, or with other such groups. And then there are the others…”

Q frowned and then gestured to the computer terminal integrated into Picard’s desk. “There is a message waiting for you here that will lead you into a situation that will test everything you and humanity are made of, that will lead you to question everything you think you know. Not all that lurks between the stars will lead to some grand adventure where the sides are clearly delineated by black and white. And not all times will you find yourself standing on the side of the line you thought you were. Good bye Jean Luc, I hope we meet again.”

With a flash Q disappeared, leaving Picard feeling numb and weak about the extremities. He tottered over to his chair and dropped heavily into it. In all his encounters with Q, he had never left it with such a feel of doom. Q played pranks or tried to discourage him from what test was set before him, but there had always been a sense that they had what they needed to overcome. Q had not seemed certain that even he could deal with what he warned of.

Starfleet had known of various entities like the Q that wielded powers high above them for centuries, but they all seemed to have their own version of the Prime Directive that kept them out of the affairs of younger species. What if there was another group that did not behave in such a way? The thought of Q without restraint or even his own twisted sense of right and wrong sent shivers up and down Picard’s spine.

It took him a few moments to compose himself, before he felt the old courage began to seep back in. Q was a trickster with an often malicious bent to his pranks or trials, but so far they had always overcome. They had to overcome; there was simply nothing else to do. Time flowed on and forward, and so must they.

Opening the message from Starfleet, Picard quickly read it and he began to wonder exactly what the twist would be that got Q involved. There was a scientific research team in the Damocles Nebula that had gone missing a week ago and since that was less than a day out from their current position, Starfleet requested that the Enterprise try and figure out what had happened. It was probably just a mechanical failure of some sort, but the region was mostly unexplored due to a general subspace disturbance around the nebula, so there was a chance something worse had happened.

With Q’s dire warnings in mind, Picard had to fight for a moment to push down all sorts of imagined nightmare scenarios. He had a job to do; he would not let other factors cloud his judgement or the performance of his duties. He did wonder why the message had come over a private channel when he noticed that a small flotilla of Cardassian ships had flown into the nebula a few days after contact was lost with the researchers. It was somewhat suspicious even if the timing was wrong, and clearly someone in Starfleet Command was worried that there were other things afoot in Damocles.

Closing down the message, Picard left to make the necessary preparations to head into the Damocles Nebula.

Rong-Arya sat on their command throne watching the swirling patterns of the nebula on the main view screen. This area of space was strangely agitated, the Warp beneath it frothing with whip tide currents of energy that leaked over into real space, although it had been nothing they couldn’t handle. AT-field theory combined with Gellar field technology had produced remarkable refinements in protection against Warp storms, and it wasn’t like there was anything actually living in the Warp that wasn’t allied with them.

It was strangely comforting to them and many of the officers, the ones who had been to the Palace of the Gods as part of their academy training, a reminder of home. While the strategic consideration from the storms disrupting travel by any enemies had been the primary factor, the swirling cyan blues and bruise purples inflected with ribbons of baleful yellow had been an added bonus for making their base of operation this nebula.

As if listening in on their thoughts, the little bundle lying upon their lap squirmed and cooed happily. Stroking down the little one’s head, Rong-Arya asked, “How goes the clean up?”

“We should have the finished feeding the bodies into the nutrient processors within the hour, but scrubbing down the blood and anything the Bearers left will take a little longer,” Ichiro-Faust reported.

“Good, good. At least those fools will have served some purpose,” Rong-Arya said while beginning to bounce the child up and down on their knee.

“Well, other than serving quite nicely for our mission,” Ichiro-Faust noted.

“I would be quite happy to pick a fight with anyone that amoral any day. That it is our mission to slaughter these scum is merely a bonus in my opinion,” Rong-Arya noted.

“I agree, I mean, we’re supposed to be the forces of fucking evil out here, and even we were like, 'Get off your fucking asses and do something!’” Striker noted with contempt while at his station.

Shaking their head, Rong-Arya finally, with some reluctance, handed off the six month old girl, the only survivor of what once been the United Federation of Planets Research Station 6-Alpha-47B, assigned to watch the region they called the Damocles Nebula in general and the development of a native species dubbed the Syracusans by the crew of the Stiletto.

Emphasis on the word “watch”.

The atmosphere of Syracuse II was being rapidly stripped away by excess solar activity triggered by the Warp storms that plagued this region of space, and would result in the extinction of the Syracusans within about fifty years. Considering that the Syracusans were currently just figuring out the basics of metal working, they didn’t stand a chance.

When in surveying the region for the suitability of a base the Stiletto had discovered this world and the Federation research station stationed on the innermost moon, they had asked why nothing was being done for the natives.

The answer about the Prime Directive and it not being the Federation’s place to interfere had really pissed off the crew of the Stiletto, especially Rong-Arya, who had lived through two lifetimes of people suffering due to the apathy of others. The gods could be cruel, capricious dicks with a passion for slaughter at times, but they stuck to their followers and instilled the same sense of loyalty throughout all layers of society.

You don’t leave people in the lurch. You don’t betray people. And if you’re going to hurt someone it had damn well better be intentional.

To Rong-Arya, you didn’t sit back and let genocide happen, you either left people alone or you started a massacre supporting one of the sides.

The research facility was cleansed before they even had time to get off a report about a first contact situation, the only survivor being the only being under the age of majority and thus innocent of the crimes of the adults.

Then the Cardassians had shown up. They had been more along the lines of people that Chaos could get to like, but unfortunately for them they had soured what could have been a great new relationship when they discovered the religious aspects of Chaos and the fact that the Stiletto intended to transfer as many of the Syracusans off their dying world as possible. Apparently the Cardassians found such sentiments as being weak and immediately tried to bully Rong-Arya into a new deal.

Of the seven ships sent there, only one escaped the sudden change in the relationship dynamic and only then because there were only six squads of marines to go around. The one escapee was quickly hunted down and gutted before being left to drift as a hulk in the nebula at one of the choke points these ships FTL drives had to navigate, a warning to others.

In navigating the Damocles Nebula, the Enterprise had come across a drifting Galor class cruiser of the Cardassian Union surrounded by a drifting debris field that had most likely come from the section of hull that was completely missing, apparently punched out by weapons fire. There was also a cooled cloud of residue that had probably once been the main reactor for the dead ship.

“Life signs are negative,” the tactical officer reported. Picard did miss Worf, but his former tactical officer had been reassigned to Deep Space Nine shortly after the incident with the Nexus, along with a few others from his crew.

Beside him, Troi winced slightly as she held her head. Glancing at her, Picard asked, “What do you sense.”

Gritting her teeth, Troi replied, “There is nothing left alive here, but I sense an echo of pain and fear and… and laughter. There was a powerful, malignant presence here once Captain.”

Looking at the image of the drifting hulk, Picard asked, “Are any sections of the hull still pressurized?”

His fingers dancing across the ops station, Data reported, “Sir, there is insufficient atmosphere to sustain life, but the majority of the ship does contain a rarefied atmosphere indicative of a slow leak rather than explosive decompression. The ship may still have been pressurized as little as three days ago.”

Absorbing this information, along with the fact that the ship’s warp core had detonated outside its hull and Troi’s impressions it added up to one fact. “They were toying with them.”

“Sir?” Data asked.

“Whoever did this was not intending to kill the Cardassians outright. Any weapon that could punch through their hull like that could have easily been pointed at engineering and destroyed the ship instantly. No, they crippled the ship and then…” Picard let the thought trail off. Whoever did this could have done all sorts of things. They could have left the Cardassians there to die, but there was the risk that they could have done found some way to slip away.

Making a decision, Picard ordered, “Riker, take Data and an away team over to the ship and see if you can find any survivors hidden from our scanners or salvage some information from the computer on what happened here.”

“The Cardassians aren’t going to like us snooping around there, sir,” Riker pointed out as he got up to prepare for the mission.

“I know, but we can leave the diplomatic soothing of rumpled feathers for later, what is important right now is looking for survivors and answers,” Picard replied.

“Excuse me captain, but I think I need to seek medical attention,” Troi said while holding her forehead in pain.

“Of course, dismissed,” Picard said. He frowned as his counsellor fled for sick bay. If just the residue of whoever had done this, what would an actual meeting do?
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You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Seven: First Contact

With a glow of light and a hum that was lost to the rarefied air, Commander William Riker and Lieutenant Commander Data along with a small detail of security officers, beamed into the remains of the Cardassian ship. Wearing heavy environmental suits, they were protected from the lack of oxygen while the phaser rifles in their grasp would protect them in case their sensors were wrong and something sinister still lurked in these halls.

Almost immediately after materialization finished the magnetized boots on their feet locked them down on to the decks, artificial gravity having failed long ago. About the Federation crew bits and pieces of the ship floated, loose detritus left over from the battle set free.

The first signs of conflict aboard the ship happened when a severed hand, frozen solid as life support failed, floated into view. Running a tricorder over it, Data stated, “It is Cardassian sir.”

Glancing at the hand, severed mid forearm, Riker asked, “What do you think caused that sort of damage.”

Peering at it intently, Data then replied, “The wound appears to have been caused by a rapidly moving serrated edge, possibly consistent with a device used for the felling of trees in the 20th and early 21st centuries called a chainsaw.”

Riker looked at Data funny before he asked, “You think a lumberjack could have done this?”

Making an approximation of a shrug, Data replied, “It was merely conjecture.”

Continuing on towards where their records indicated the computer core should be on a Galor-class cruiser, the team then found out that the invaders had been to the computer core before them. And that the Cardassians had made a last stand there, dragging various pieces of equipment in front of the door to form a barricade to try and hold off the attackers. Judging by the dismembered, exploded, and partially incinerated bodies, it had not helped.

Droplets of blood floated in the void like red hail that was throwing a tantrum and refused to fall, although on one of the larger undamaged walls a strange symbol, an eight pointed star, had been painted there in the gore of the dead Cardassians. Data was the first to ask, “Why are you all looking away?”

“What?” Riker asked.

“In the past thirty seconds you have looked at the symbol painted on the wall seven times, but you have not maintained visual contact for longer than 0.72 seconds. The other members of the team have had similar behaviours,” Data said by way of explanation.

Dumbfounded, Riker found his eyes slipping towards the symbol again, and while he found the mere thought of someone using another’s viscera for the purposes of graffiti repulsive, he did find that there was an almost intangible pressure trying to drive his gaze away, a pain at the back of his eyeballs that told him that there was an awfulness to looking at the symbol beyond the surface ghastliness of its creation.

Looking away, Riker then found that despite the pain, there was now a sort of siren song begging him to look back at the symbol, but this he fought. He now knew that the pain he felt was his mind’s way of telling him that there was something deeply wrong with the symbol.

Backing off, Riker ordered, “Data, scan that symbol, but be careful, it appears to be causing the rest of us pain just to look at it.”

Cautiously approaching, Data ran the tricorder over it before he quickly took several steps back in surprise and reported, “There is some sort of subspace disturbance associated with the symbol, a very powerful one at that too, although very short range so we did not pick it up with the Enterprise’s sensors.”

One of the security men examining the remains of the barricade suddenly said, “Sir, I am getting some rather unusual readings from these remains. I have evidence of high energy neutron and gamma ray bombardment along with ion implantation of deuterium, tritium, and helium. Sir, if I am reading this right someone fired a directed fusion weapon at this barricade.”

That raised some eyebrows. The smallest directed fusion weapons Starfleet knew of were mounted on star ships. A hand held version was ludicrous, not just in the technology it implied, but in the fact that anyone would ever feel the need to actually build something so overpowered as a hand weapon. There seemed absolutely no need in Riker’s mind for a personal directed fusion weapon.

And yet someone had vaporized this barricade with one.

Entering into the room containing the remains of the computer core, the team immediately began searching through the floating debris for any data storage units that had not been smashed, reduced to slag, or otherwise damaged beyond the possibility of salvaging data from it. The hunt turned up very little, although Data did succeed in restoring internal monitoring.

At which point everyone with a functioning stomach had to turn away from the monitor.

“It would appear that whoever was not killed in the initial combat action was herded into the cargo bay, where it was flooded with waste from the recycling tanks and they were then left to die. Judging by the pattern of infections, many of them had open wounds before the cargo bay was flooded, possibly from earlier fighting,” Data reported clinically.

“Switch it off Data, we’ve seen enough,” Riker said while trying to hold down his gorge. They had never seen anything so wantonly brutal in the entire history of exploring space. The Borg were fairly horrible, but at least with them there was a sort of clinical coldness to their actions. This was… this was savagery simply for the sake of it, the product of a sick, diseased mind.

Data interpreted Riker’s command as an order to switch to another point in the ship, this time the main cargo receiving area. This time one of the security men did throw up, his helmet flooding with his lunch before automated systems started drawing the liquid away from his face. Still, hacking up phlegm and mucus from his lungs, Riker immediately had him beamed away to the sick bay.

Of course, the transport would probably just cause further stress for the poor man.

The controls for the transporter lay scattered about, the safety interlocks all removed so it could be experimented with without the computer trying to automatically abort a transport into solid matter. The entire cargo bay was a tapestry of mutilated flesh, the product of the invaders beaming the crew into walls, other crew members, or just causing them to rematerialize wrong. Some of them even appeared to have survived for a time before being put through the procedure again.

“Commander, there are records here showing that two other cargo bays had recordings taken of them, although what exactly was recorded has been purged,” Data reported.

“Shut the whole thing down Data, we don’t need to see any more. I think we have what we need,” Riker said as they assembled together what little material they had gathered. He then signalled the Enterprise to beam them back.

Picard was deeply troubled by what his away team had discovered; especially the symbol that sounded suspiciously very much like the one Q had been wearing on his uniform. Had that been some form of subtle warning about the nature of what they faced. Still, despite what they faced, they still had a mission to complete, and so they continued further in to the Damocles Nebula and Research Station 6-Alpha-47B.

Dropping out of warp in orbit above the second planet in the system, they discovered six more Cardassian warships already in orbit, but they could immediately tell that the ships no longer belonged to the Cardassians.

For one every one of the ships had been painted with an eight-pointed star, and each one held a different collection of unpleasant looking sigils in addition.

“Captain, their shields are down and their engines are running on low power. I would guess from life sign scans that they are currently running on skeleton crews,” Data reported.

“Hail them,” Picard ordered.

After a moment, Data replied, “No response sir.”

Troi suddenly spoke up and said, “Captain! I sense-”

Whatever Troi had to say was cut off by her going into a sudden seizure, dropping from her seat as her whole body went into convulsions, froth and blood spewing from her mouth, her eyes solid white with pain. Another member of the bridge crew, a Vulcan, also dropped to the ground, and while not quite as bad, he did start screaming and desperately chanting out Vulcan meditation lines.

“This is the bridge, we have a medical emergency!” Picard said while tapping his communicator and getting a hold of the bridge.

“This is Sick Bay, we have reports from all over the bridge flooding in,” Dr. Crusher announced.

At that moment space seemed to unfold and vomit forth a ship, a lurid device of black and white, shaped like an arrow or blade of old and of a distorted, organic Gothic architecture. Statues of dull metal dotted the hull and depicted half molten figures wailing out in agony or various demons and monsters of a more superstitious age doing unspeakable things to each other. The entire thing seemed to be a dedication to all that was loathsome and unclean in the universe.

They had undoubtedly discovered the cause of all of this suffering.

“Hail them,” Picard said angrily.

After a moment Data said, “No response sir, but we are picking up a frequency modulated radio signal originating from the ship.”

“Radio?” Riker asked incredulously. It seemed laughably unlikely that a ship that big and with a drive system that they had never encountered before would use radio for communication.

Thinking for a second, Picard said, “Can you display it?”

“It appears to be audio only sir, but yes, we can communicate with them like this,” Data replied.

“Very well, make it so,” Picard ordered.

Data hit a few keys and then over the bridge’s speakers a weirdly distorted voice said, “Repeat, we use very different communications gear, this is the closest similarity in equipment we have. Please respond.

“Well that clears that up,” Riker mused, trying to add a bit of levity to the situation. It fell rather flat considering what these people seemed likely to have done.

Frowning, Picard replied, “We hear you. Identify yourselves.”

Ah… excellent. We will send you codec information for translating the video signals we use, but until you have those, allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Captain Arya-Rong, Unbound Daemonhost and client to Tzintchi the Nine Fingered and Chaos Undivided, respectively. We have command of the Stiletto, the ship you see before you,” the voice on the other end said.

“I am Captain Jean Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise of the United Federation of Planets and I ask you what exactly you are doing about this world,” Picard demanded.

“We have finished translating their video codec sir, we can have visual contact now,” Data said.

I heard your underling, we are ready to transmit and receive whenever. As to your question, we are currently finishing the cleaning of the habitation modules and are beginning to ship over the natives from the planet below to take up habitation,” Rong-Arya announced.

Picard’s blood rain with fire and ice as he feared for the researchers who had been on the research station. He immediately demanded, “What of the people living on the station?”

At that moment the video kicked in, revealing Rong-Arya and the bridge crew of the Stiletto. Rong-Arya appeared to have once been a young Asiatic woman, but now a small set of vestigial horns kept her short black hair out of her eyes, which burned with intense yellow fire. Literally. Her uniform was made of some sort of leather bleached a stark white and cut to a curve hugging standard, set with several symbols, some of them what appeared to be rank insignia and service awards, while that same awful eight pointed star seemed to serve as the identifying symbol for her people.

Sitting about her were numerous crew set with extensive cybernetic implants that wired them in to their stations. The sheer sight of it made Picard recoil in horror at the memories of the Borg, although he quickly clamped down on the reaction.

Ah… excellent, video. To answer your question, we slaughtered everyone guilty of inaction in the face of genocide on that station, sending their unworthy souls to whatever gods they believe in for judgement of their crimes. Their homes shall go to those who they refused to help,” Rong-Arya announced.

Picard blinked. He then practically shouted, “You killed them all! There were over a hundred scientists and support staff on that station!”

Rong-Arya shrugged, “There are over twenty million sentient beings on the planet below whose only chance of survival as their planet’s ecosystem is destroyed is advanced space flight technology, which do not have the time to develop.

It suddenly dawned upon Picard what had happened. “You broke the Prime Directive!”

Rong-Arya snarled, revealing ferocious teeth before she spat out, “On my homeworld hundreds of millions of people died because no one cared to interfere after a disaster, and if not for the actions of the gods I probably would have eventually suffered the same fate as my best friend, which was to be gang raped at age eight! Entropy is a fundamental aspect of the universe, but it can be staved off with action. If all you do is sit around and say ‘It is someone else’s problem’ then things will only get worse. I will personally rip the throat out of the next person who spouts off to me about the Prime Directive and drink of their blood until their body stops twitching.

Picard was shocked and appalled that this Rong-Arya could have compassion for others while also being so utterly amoral and vicious. Picard decided to try and different tack, “We have the Prime Directive for a reason. In the past when cultures of wildly differing levels of advancement have clashed, the lesser has inevitably suffered greatly for it.”

So the loss of culture and the suffering of individuals during the transition are preferable to extinction?” Rong-Arya asked.

Picard said nothing.

Now hear this Federation scum, and hear it well. We are Chaos. We are anger, despair, lust, and scheming given form and motion. We are righteousness, love, passion and hope given action. We are all things. We chose to help these people because we want to, because we can. We choose to slaughter our enemies like vermin because we want to, because we can. Now, you have a choice too. You can return to your Federation and return with supplies to help build these people a new home, or we can take it from you. You have 48 hours to leave, discuss things with your superiors, and return the answer to with our demands or we resort to force,” Rong-Arya said.

“Now-” Picard was cut off by the Stiletto firing a shot across their bow with their main gun. The majority of the beam actually missed them, but there was enough bleed off that the whole Enterprise was knocked about.

The tactical officer shouted out, “Shields are down to 40%!”

Go Picard, tell your Federation of the glories of Chaos and the horrors of defying us. Oh, and my aides tell me that you fear our appearance, something to do with the Borg. Please take these as tokens of our appreciation then,” Rong-Arya said with a sneer before waving a clawed hand dismissively to someone off screen.

Immediately the air began to pop and bang with the appearance of heads being teleported onto the bridge through the weakened shields. They thumped and rolled as they hit the decks, and one wandered down to Picard’s feet, the single still organic eye set in the pale skin looking up almost pleadingly into Picard’s eyes.

The Enterprise retreated back into the nebula at full warp.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Eight: Turnabout

The first ever lasgun to roll off the Area-51 production lines sat on the conference table at the SGC like the proverbial forbidden fruit after a bite had been taken, the lump of metal and plastic all but staring at them accusingly over what they had done. The construction had been frighteningly fast, much of the tooling required already being in existence in one form or another somewhere else.

As far as SG-1 was concerned, it was too perfect. Daniel in particular was displeased with what sat before them.

“I’m not saying it’s not useful, it’s just that I do not trust the source. Oh, I’m sure that the first couple of trades and gifts will be in our favour, but as time goes on the price will get steeper and steeper. They’ve pretty much admitted to being untrustworthy,” Daniel argued.

“I know what you mean, but I think that they’re trying to intentionally put us between the proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they appear to be violent, scheming psychopaths who we would want to think twice about jumping into bed with… while on the other hand they appear to be violent, scheming psychopaths who we would want to think twice about making enemies with, especially with the Ori and guys like Baal running about,” Mitchell pointed out.

“It is indeed a conundrum. There have been other rumours stirring amongst the Free Jaffa of late, of strangers offering incredible things and promises of aid against the Ori. There is even talk that there is a woman offering freedom from reliance upon symbiotes and tretonin,” Teal’c reported.

Scowling somewhat, General Landry said, “As much as I agree with your judgements, I’m afraid that the congressional oversight committee has decided that trade with Prometheus is too good to pass up, and they request that you go meet with him.”

Daniel’s frown deepened and he said, “I was afraid that you would say that. I would also like to point out that I think our new ‘friend’ Prometheus knew that you would say that too.”

“Now I know that he sent us a message two days ago saying that he wanted to meet us elsewhere because his friend Lady Justice was attracting too much Prior heat to make meetings safe, but will we just be meeting him off world, or are we to escort him somewhere else for negotiations?” Mitchell asked.

One corner of his face twitching upward, Landry said, “You can at least be relieved that the oversight committee did take to heart the fact that you did not fully trust him and thus any meeting would take place at the Beta Site.”

“Where he will be polite and shower us in gifts of technology, slowly gaining our trust until such point as he gets an invite to Earth. I can feel it, he wants to get here and take something from us, I just don’t know what,” Daniel muttered darkly.

“As much as I appreciate your insights Dr. Jackson, I’m afraid that my hands are tied on this one, and unless you want to start an interplanetary incident with some very powerful people by taking drastic measures of your own, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Landry replied equally darkly.

“I doubt simply shooting him would actually do anything,” Daniel noted before he tilted his head towards the lasgun and asked, “So are we going to be bringing that off world with us?”

Shaking his head, Landry replied, “No, we are still doing full field testing, but there is currently a great deal of pressure to start moving the weapon into service by the end of the year for our special forces teams the advantages it offers over conventional weapons are so great.”

“How exactly are we going to spin this one by the way?” Daniel asked.

“We’ve already been introducing some of the new derivative power technologies to the public at large, not naquadah generators of course but some better batteries and the like from the technologies we have already. With the theory we have for the new laser technology we can select one of our front companies to announce the discovery and then within a year we should be able to have the public convinced that this sort of weapon is feasible,” Carter explained.

Sighing and shaking his head sadly, Daniel said, “It’s all so reasonable, isn’t it?”

“Please! Be reasonable!” Netan cried out in horror and anguish, all of his pride and arrogance gone, reduced as he was to this pitiful, begging state. It had been a long hard fall from where he had once been, and far, far too quick for his liking, as there had not even been the fun of years of decadent living to make him soft to blame for this situation.

No, in less than a month this damnable woman had swept to power in the Lucian Alliance and now here she was sitting upon his throne, leering down at him.

Lady Compassion, as she called herself, wore clothing more suited to some slave dancer girl than a mercenary warlord, her entire attire consisting of little more than a strip of black leather that barely contained her ample breasts and a long, dark purple loincloth coloured similarly to her hair that had a tendency to fall in such a way as to just barely remain decent. It had the effect of distracting others from what she was truly doing as the men were too busy drooling and the women too busy trying to cause her to spontaneously combust.

Holding a delicate, wide brimmed glass in her hand by the stem and swirling about the amber liquid within, Lady Compassion smiled and said, “Netan, I hold in my hands and entire plant’s worth of the active psychoactive chemicals in kassa dissolved in pure grain alcohol. This is enough to kill a three hundred pound Jaffa warrior in his prime a dozen times over. Including the glass, this drink is probably worth enough to put a down payment on a Death Glider if you found the right market.”

She then downed the entire drink in a single gulp and crushed the delicate glass in her hand, causing shards to lacerate her long, delicate fingers and palms. Alcohol and kassa extract mingled with her unnaturally dark red blood and pattered against the floor. The smell was rich and metallic and heady and all in attendance found saliva rushing to their mouths as the little drops hit the floor.

Grinning too broadly, Lady Compassion said, “Netan, I am not a reasonable woman, so why do you throw your pleas upon something that does not exist?”

Rising so smoothly and seductively from the throne that it was almost obscene, Lady Compassion picked up a long, thin, slightly curved sword from where it lay and sashayed down to him, licking her lips in anticipation, her eyes going wide like a drug addicts after just getting a fix.

“Netan, I am Lady Compassion, it is who I am to feel the pain of others and attempt to help them. Your kassa idea was wonderful, but you had so little insight as to how to use it. It is not to be given to the highest bidder when so many crave it; it is to be given to all so as to make their lives better. Not so much that it destroys them, but just enough that they will follow whoever controls the kassa. Netan, you caused much suffering and planned to cause much more. Netan, I have caused you much suffering, and plan to cause much more,” Lady Compassion said as she slowly circled him, drawing the tip of the razor sharp blade across his flesh with feather light precision, only just cutting the very surface of the skin.

With a deft flick Lady Compassion drew a deep line across Netan’s back, cutting deep into the muscles along his left shoulder, cutting right down to the scapula in places. Crying out in pain as he lost much of the control of his left arm, Netan suddenly found himself unable to do anything else as she was suddenly next to him, suffocating all thoughts with her scent. More than just the smell of drugs or perfume, it was an inherent bouquet that seemed to bypass the nostrils and act directly upon the brain.

She bit into his ear, the act intensely painful as his flesh parted beneath her inhumanly sharp teeth and yet somehow intensely sensual such that the sound Netan let out was trapped somewhere between describing intense pleasure and searing agony. She then whispered, “I can feel your pain Netan. The problem for you is that I like pain.”

Those in attendance watched Lady Compassion take apart Netan over the course of the next seven hours, and none could say that there wasn’t at least a glimmer of jealousy in their hearts that their former leader should be blessed with Lady Compassion’s tender mercies so.

Passing her blood soaked blade off to a servant girl, Lady Compassion said in a bored tone, “Clean that please.”

Practically oozing onto her throne, Lady Compassion then drew her right thumbnail across her left wrist, letting her own dark blood mingle with the already browning gore from Netan. She then reversed the ordering of the implements and then held out her hands for her followers. She said to them in an urging tone, “Come, drink of my blood, and eat of my flesh, so that I might open the gates of paradise for you.”

As the mercenaries and warlords all kneeled before her in reverence rather than the fear most had known from the Goa’uld, Lady Compassion wondered how much she would be able to piss off the Tau’ri that still had religious faith when they found out about this.

In another layer of reality in another universe Asukhon looked at the board they had set up and watched as Mislaato finished consolidating her hold on the Lucian Alliance and scored bonus points for being the first one to acquire ships, while Tzintchi continued to push his tendrils outward into various subversive cultures that would welcome him without truly understanding what he was until it was too late.

They could all see where the game was going. Her early lead was about to evaporate as the others built up a larger industrial and tech base while she still languished on a few backwards worlds and her largest stronghold teetered precariously on the brink of destruction.

Tzintchi glanced at the game while absentmindedly spinning together strands of alien genetic code for one of his projects. Noticing the movement of the pieces, he said, “I do hope you have a plan dear because I do believe that is a squadron of Ha’taks lead by a Prior appearing over your world.”

Lady Justice sat atop a throne of hundreds of skulls, the result of the many battles in the past few weeks between those who had dedicated themselves to the Eightfold Victor and those who followed the Path of Origin. Some of the skulls were from the Asukhon’s worshippers, but the large majority were from those that worshipped the Ori.

The village had long ago been evacuated by all but the stoutest of warriors, and even then the greatest ones amongst them were elsewhere, tasked with rebuilding the pack when this group met their end. Those that remained were arranged in a very specific manner, whipping themselves, drawing blood to please their goddess, staining the soil red with their fervour. Already a few members of the congregation of violence had collapsed; their bodies unable to take the strain the self-flagellation and religious ecstasy put upon them.

Lady Justice looked up at the sky just in time to see the first dots of light falling towards their position. She smiled a shark toothed smile.

In orbit the Prior watched with grim satisfaction as the blasphemers disappeared beneath a searing ball of white light. While the use of the unhallowed technology of this galaxy was repugnant, attacking through the Stargate had been simply impossible with that demon guarding the other side. In the balance, using Ha’taks as instruments of divine punishment was far less offensive to the Ori than allowing the demon and her flock of evil to survive. Of course, such creations of wickedness would have to be abandoned now that the job was done, but still…

Down below on the planet the fireballs from the orbital bombardment started to dim, far sooner than they should have. The mushroom clouds began to change and distort, their colour shifting to an awful blood red, spreading out across the planet like some sort of sickness.

An image of something horrible happening began to form in the Prior’s mind as he tried to read the strands of the future.

“Destroy that cloud!” He cried out in fury to the followers who had provided the ships. They complied obediently and sent more shots raining down upon the primitive, undefended world below. For a time the burning air drowned out the darkness, but these new shots too were consumed, and the cloud began to split and form geometric patterns.

Stalking angrily up to the controls of the flagship, the Prior shoved the Jaffa out of the way of the Pel’tak and began personally commanding the bombardment. The unhallowed technology of this heathen galaxy was just feeding energy into what was taking place. Something sacred and pure would be necessary.

Power flowed through the Prior and into the ship, transforming the yellow-orange blast from the cannons into elongated arrows of brilliant white flame that lanced down into the planet, burning away the unholy taint spreading across the surface. Wherever the Prior turned the guns the touch of the Ori drove away the demon’s blasphemous presence. But already much of the mark it was making had been completed. More power was needed. More power. More…

The Prior had not even noticed the point where he had burst into flames without burning, such was the strength of the connection with his patron Ori that the ascended being had actually manifested through him to provide enough power to purify the planet. They did however notice when a very annoyed and insistent cough cut through their focus.

Standing in a ring about the Prior were a dozen Ancients glowing with soft white light in contrast to his bright orange fires and looking very, very pissed.

It was at that moment that the Ori who had manifested just realized that it was alone and outnumbered by several orders of magnitude in a hostile galaxy.

“You know, we let your agents operate unhindered as you were not technically breaking our laws, right up until this moment,” the lead Ancient said before the group surged forward and mobbed the interloper, dragging him screaming off to the higher planes for his punishment for violating their laws of non-interference.

Aboard the ships all that had seen what they just had suddenly found their decision to throw their lot in with the Ori looking considerably less well thought out than they had originally considered, while the rest of the ships continued their last order and tried to destroy the sign.

Down below on the planet the spell Lady Justice had crafted using the sacrifice of her followers reached completion. While not normally one for such trickery, Asukhon was nowhere near as inflexible on the idea of magic as her predecessor Khorne had been. Thus as a final ‘Fuck you’ to the Ori, Lady Justice had created a planet wide graffiti mark, a grand illusion of bloody clouds to taunt her foes.

Of course, the fact that the mark she chose was one that if it received a large influx of energy from say an Ascended-boosted orbital bombardment it would do something more than just create a short lived illusion was not entirely coincidental. The Ori had, in their panic, burned a grand symbol into the planet in continent sized strokes and provided all of the energy needed.

Reality broke down, unzipping about the world. Lightning cracked across the sky and the seas turned to blood as the Warp began to boil forth in skies above, swallowing the planet whole.

Tzintchi swore in seven thousand languages simultaneously as he watched Asukhon’s plan unfold before he glared at her odiously.

Blinking her lashes at him in false lady-like modesty, Asukhon said, “Now my dear, they did it to the poor Tau’ri with their first supergate, there is no reason turnabout can’t be fair play. Besides, you should feel flattered I stole something so clever from your play book.”

As he picked up one of the Ori figures and tossed it onto her scoring table and then conjured forth a Daemonworld, a freaking Daemonworld, he asked, “How many points is that?

“Considering I made sure it would still be connected to the Stargate network, more than you’ll likely ever get,” Asukhon said sweetly.

Tzintchi swore again.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Nine: Temptation

Kyon had a headache. Trying to juggle schoolwork and keeping Haruhi entertained was really starting to wear him thin, especially now that Yuki kept giving him updates on some of the things that had been flitting in and out of their universe because Haruhi had decided that she wanted to meet creatures from other universes.

Yuki had given him The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft shortly after their meeting with the creature and he had wondered why she would want to meet anything from another universe when there was the possibility that it could very well be anything like what had come out of that man’s mind. Especially since from what Yuki had been saying to a large degree the guys using their universe as a transfer station were worse.

Kyon made damn sure though that he kept that book well away from Haruhi. It did no good to give her any new sorts of crazy ideas, especially ones that could potentially end with gibbering madness and people being eaten. The cave cricket had been bad enough.

His mind was so weary that it took him a moment to realize that he was doodling on his paper. Glancing down, he found that he was trying to work out how exactly to construct the name that the creature had given him. He immediately scribbled it out, not trying to dare the universe to make things worse for him. Still, the damn sounds that thing had made picked at his brain, like an open wound on the inside on your mouth that would go away if you just stopped tonguing it, but trying to ignore it only brought more attention to how much it bothered you.

Tzintchi. What an odd name, although he supposed if you squinted at it you might be able to call it a mangled version of Shinji or something like that. Definitely a difficult word to get right. What characters would be needed to properly construct those sounds? It would…

Kyon paused as he looked down at what he had written, before angrily scratching it out. He had been warned that the names and symbols could get into your head. These things were corruptors, insidious and powerful and…

Kyon felt a peculiar and unfortunately familiar gaze boring into the back of his head. Turning about, Kyon found Haruhi looking at him funny, the sort of annoyed inquisitive stare that said, “What on Earth are you doing Kyon and why haven’t you included me yet?” while simultaneously insulting his intelligence.

“Kyon, what are you doing?” Haruhi asked him in an annoyed tone.

“Doodling,” Kyon replied honestly while trying not to sound nervous because that would indicate that he had something to hide so therefore something Haruhi would want to see because it was her business to butt into every aspect of Kyon’s life whenever possible just because she could get away with it.

“Let me see,” Haruhi demanded.

“I…” Kyon did not have time to try and deflect her attention before she reached past him and snatched away the piece of paper he had been doodling upon.

Glancing over it, Haruhi then shrugged and said, “You’re not very good at this are you?”

Angrily snatching the paper back from her, Kyon shook his head said, “I wasn’t trying to make it good, which is why I kept scribbling stuff out.”

Sniffing disdainfully, Haruhi said, “And that word was just weird. Tzintchi? I’ve never heard of that before.”

Kyon’s blood ran cold. If he said that name three times it was supposed to summon forth some form of representative to talk to. If Haruhi said it… the possibilities for destruction were endless.

Glancing side to side and noticing that the walls of reality still looked solid, Kyon said, “That’s not how you’re supposed to pronounce it.”

Shaking her head, Haruhi said, “No, it looked like you were very deliberately going for Tzintchi.”

That was two. Come on, think Kyon! Deflect her attention.

Shrugging, Kyon replied, “I was just combining random stuff. Say, did you hear about…”

“Come on; tell me why you were trying to write ‘Tzinchti’? What does it mean?” Haruhi asked.

Three. She had said it three times. Kyon winced and braced for the tentacles to start, but when after a second of nothing happening he finally said, “Alright, it’s the name of an evil character in a book I read, but it’s originally from another language so I was trying to figure out how to spell it. It’s no big deal.”

Haruhi didn’t seem convinced, but she was satisfied with that and left the matter alone. Seeing as how the universe failed to implode, Kyon was just as happy otherwise.

He had almost forgotten the entire incident until he got home later that day and his sister said, “Kyon, you have mail!”

What his sister handed him was a post card of the biggest, richest hotel in the area with an invitation in lurid, flowing writing on the back for Kyon to come meet his ‘Internet friend’ Tzintchi for lunch on the weekend, which was conveniently the next day.

Oh. Crap.

Kyon arrived at the hotel lobby and immediately felt rather shabby, what with the rich décor and expertly dressed staff. Surprisingly though, as soon as he walked through the door holding the post card and looking annoyed and confused one of the staff in a crisply starched uniform approached him and asked, “Are you Kyon-sama?”

Kyon blinked a few times before he said, “Uh… yes, my name is Kyon.”

“Your friend Shinji-sama said to expect you. He is waiting for you in the restaurant, and he also anticipated that you might not be able to meet our exacting dress code standards, so he had an outfit prepared for you. If you would come this way,” the man said, leading a bemused and befuddle Kyon to a private washroom where a richly cut and tailored suit of western fashion was waiting for him with an attendant there to help him. While Kyon waived off the attendant, he did discover that the suit fit him perfectly and showed all of the signs of having been hand tailored specifically for him in the past day.

Once appropriately attired, Kyon was lead to the restaurant section of the hotel where he did a double take when he thought he saw Yuki sitting there only to realize that it was in fact another pale, blue haired girl with a closed off, bookish expression, although she looked considerably more expressive than Yuki when Kyon had first met her. She was wearing a modest blue dress.

The other guests at the table included a thirty-something woman in a dark-purple, almost black, strapless dress that matched her hair with a simple silver cross hanging down and almost plunging into her ample cleavage; a girl with long, vibrant red hair and an expression of supreme smugness in a shimmering scarlet dress; and lastly a quiet, reserved looking young man wearing a suit of identical cut to the one given to Kyon, only coloured dark blue with a slight indigo trim in places to the conservative black and white given to Kyon.

Despite the finery and richness and the elegant, public setting, Kyon could not help but feel his skin crawl in reaction to being around these people, if that was even the appropriate word for them. The hotel staff all seemed oblivious, but Kyon could feel the aura of menace radiating off of them.

He was now in the presence of predators.

“Hello Kyon-san, how are you today?” The young man asked.

“Tzintchi I presume?” Kyon asked while he sat down, a chair pushed forward for him.

“If you wish you can call me Shinji, or possibly Ikari-san if you really feel like being formal, seeing as how I am using this old form. Or technical as how I am borrowing this old form, as are my lovely associates,” Shinji said.

Feeling distinctly uncomfortable, Kyon said, “And your friends?”

“Katsuragi Misato,” the older woman said in a way that simultaneously gave Kyon a serious case of the willies while also made him feel warm all over.

“Ayanami Rei,” the pale, blue haired girl said in a quiet, flat tone.

“Asuka Langley Soryu,” the red head told him with an arrogant grin.

“We are… how to put it so that you will understand properly? We are… avatars I suppose you could call us, projections of the gods into this reality. We are simultaneously more and less than the servant sent to deliver our message to you. You can thank your friend Haruhi for our ability to be here by the way,” Shinji explained.

“I… see… Ikari-san,” Kyon replied, intentionally trying to distance himself as much as possible from these people.

Shinji grinned slightly while folding his hands together in front of his chest, the smile somehow not reaching his eyes. He then said, “You think us evil and wanting to do harm to you and the ones you care about.”

His expression hardening, Kyon replied, “I know that you sent a warship through here to some other universe just so that you could bully the inhabitants.”

“Bully is an inappropriate term. ‘Massacre the pathetic fools’ is far more appropriate,” Asuka interjected.

“Now, now dear, we’re here to reassure our friend here, not scare him,” Shinji said.

“It is the truth,” Rei pointed out calmly.

Shrugging, Shinji replied, “Yes, but it is not the whole truth. Yes, we deployed our ship with the intent of picking a fight, but not to start a fight.” Shinji then turned back to Kyon and said, “Do you know what the population of my home world is, not counting immortal creatures such as daemons?”

Kyon stared at Shinji before he said, “No.”

“Two billion. In the past eighteen years with some encouragement in the form of very generous social programs we have managed to more than double that number from a low point of about 950 million a few years after a group of psychotic old men tried to kill everyone and only by hijacking the process for the purposes of our own apotheosis did we prevent the extinction of the human race,” Shinji explained slowly.

“Fifteen years before that the same group of old men wiped out half the world’s population to set up for the final killing stroke,” Misato said with cold anger.

“Where we come from, none but the very young have not known hardship and horrors in their lives. It is exceedingly rare for anyone over the age of twenty to have a complete family, and uncommon for even teenagers. We are vicious and predatory, make no mistake, but we are human. We will obliterate with extreme prejudice anything and anyone who stands between us and our friends and families. Mother bears have nothing on us,” Asuka stated.

“And we understand that the same goes for you,” Shinji said. “This is why we leave you alone.”

“Haruhi might wield absolute, omnipotent power, but you are the real deity in the equation seeing as you are unaffected by her power. You are the one constant in the universe that which was carved into the slate of the blackboard that Haruhi writes upon. But one word from you to Haruhi and the whole universe would be rewritten. And yet you care about your friends and family too much to let them be erased like that, so you fight to preserve what is. We applaud your nobility,” Misato said, and then the four of them all gave light applause to Kyon.

“We applaud your nobility because we have none ourselves. We might have our own twisted morals and rules of conduct, but ultimately we are greedy, vicious monsters. We are all that is wrong with humanity given form… and yet enough intelligence to realize that ultimate indulgence in our own baser desires would be counter-productive in the long run. We straddle the fine line between benevolent dictators and competent evil overlords. But we respect you Kyon, we respect what you sacrifice to put up with Haruhi,” Shinji explained.

“But since we are corruptors, we must ask you; how much longer can you keep this up, how much more can you take, what are the limits of your nobility?” Rei asked.

“Even before we arrived here, we have always been with you. We are emotion. How often have you grown furious with Haruhi? How often have you wanted to just give up and let her destroy everything? How often have you wanted to selfishly harness her powers for your own will? And how often have you wondered if Haruhi’s demands might take a more… twisted turn?” Misato said.

“Would you like to hear a tale Kyon-san?” Shinji asked.

“What is it about?” Kyon asked nervously as he tried to keep some mental distance from these creatures. Even when they told him awful things, things that should repulse him, he could hear the terrible logic in their words.

“It’s about a race of creatures we call the Eldar. Their civilization lasted for millions of years, bringing them to the pinnacle of art and technology. Their people lived nearly immortal lives with not a care in the world, protected from the outside universe by their vast powers. Do you know what happened to them?” Shinji asked.

Kyon kept quiet.

“They grew bored. For generations they had no great trials of war or disease or famine to test them. So they turned inward and they created great works of art and civilization. And for a time this satisfied them. But when you live for thousands of years and your history stretches back for millions, with your civilization extending across tens of thousands of worlds, then you will have possibly hundreds of Da Vincis, Leonardos, and Picassos all living at the same time, with hundreds of thousands more in the past. Soon everything will have been done and there will be no way to compete. So they grew bored again. They needed new entertainments, new excitements, and new arts to pass the time. Soon for the immortal Eldar the only thing that could soothe the dullness of eternal life was death. They began to experiment in pain and death, creating horrid works of art of unimaginable cruelty. For thousands of years the filled the void of their lives with the worst excesses of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, until finally all that negative emotion came around to bite them in the ass. They literally birthed a god of hentai, a god that they proceeded to destroy the creatures that gave it existence,” Misato finished off.

“How much longer do you think you can keep Haruhi from growing bored?” Shinji asked maliciously. “More so, how much longer before she starts to think of men as something more than women with penises and flat chests? What happens when she starts to want things that you don’t want to give her? You have already seen how badly she treats Asahina-san, and how willing all the other members of the SOS Brigade are to acquiesce to her demands. How much longer before her harassment turns from thoughtlessness to play?”

Kyon wanted to say that was impossible, that they had been doing great so far, but could he say the same thing a year from now? Two years? Ten? Would they have to spend their whole lives keeping Haruhi from growing bored with existence? Could they keep providing her with new, interesting distractions that were healthy?

“We are the temptations of life: avarice, wrath, apathy, and lust. To fight us is to be human. To embrace us is to be human. We are also the virtues of life: hope, valour, joy, and passion. To desire us is to be human. To fail to live up to us is to be human. We are the dreams and nightmares of an entire species made flesh. We know what you live through, we know more than what you have lived through or ever will live through,” Shinji said.

“And we can teach you to fuck three girls up the ass at the same time and blow their minds,” Misato said crudely.

That snapped Kyon out of it, causing him to angrily slam his hands down on the table while rising. Without another word he turned and left. He had very nearly fallen for their words, had very nearly wanted to know more, wanted to see if they could offer him any way out of the pains, and joys, that living with Haruhi offered. They were monsters trying to seduce him, and he had listened to enough of their poison.

Before he got out of earshot, Shinji said, “We will be here. Even if you throw us out of your universe, lock the door and throw away the key, you will never be rid of what we represent.”
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Ten: Raid

Rong-Arya glanced down at the antique pocket watch in their hand, snapping it shut just as the second hand reached the designated point. “Forty-eight hours, times up. Lieutenant Burke, please put in the course to the nearest Federation world.”

While the rest of the crew made final preparations to jump to the Warp, Rong-Arya had a yeoman bring the child, renamed Glory from whatever her unworthy biological parents had called her, to the captain. Under normal circumstances Rong-Arya would berate anyone else for bringing a child aboard a warship, but in this fragile universe the Stiletto was the safest place there was.

Holding the tiny child up, their clawed hands not so much as leaving a scratch upon the smooth, unblemished flesh, they let the child see their face. At first the fires that burned within them had scared the child, but as she came to know them the fear had turned to joy. Joy that was reciprocated. Arya’s wife and children had died in the wars following Second Impact, and Rong had only the vaguest memories of her own family, consumed by the holocaust of Third Impact so very long ago. To raise a child was a blessing.

Tendrils of thought caressed the child’s mind, feeling the tiny mind just beginning the first steps of growth that would transform it from something barely above that of an animal into a sapient mind bursting with thoughts and emotions and possibilities. A thought crossed Rong’s mind and Arya quickly agreed with it. Glory and the Syracusans were the same. The Syracusans had the potential of all sapient species, but they were young and vulnerable, babes in comparison to civilizations such as the Federation and the Cardassians. But instead of caring for and nurturing the young, those two groups saw nothing of worth.

Indeed, what use is a newborn child?

Far too soon though the ship exited the Warp and Lieutenant Burke announced, “We have arrived captain.”

“Any opposing warships?” They asked.

“None ma’am. No ground installations detected either. The system is for all intents and purposes undefended,” Lieutenant Xavier announced.

“Pathetic. Take us into orbit about the world and begin launching transports for the surface. Lieutenant O’Hare, please begin transmission with that subspace communicator we recovered,” Rong-Arya ordered.

“We are online… I think… stupid piece of junk,” Lieutenant O’Hare muttered while fiddling with the controls to the stolen short range communication system. “And… by the gods is this set-up retarded. Alright, we appear to have contact with the colony on the planet.”

A static filled image appeared on the screen of a middle aged man of central Asian descent, this once dark hair turned to salt and pepper while his skin was weathered and cragged from long hours of hard work in the outdoors. Just for that he immediately had more respect from Rong-Arya than the pampered dandies they had slain on the research station.

“I am Administrator Nurlan Fomenko, identify yourselves and your reason for being here,” the man said with not a trace of fear or anger, just the tone of a man who was trying to protect his people. More points to him.

We are Captain Arya-Rong, Unbound Daemonhost and client to Tzintchi the Nine Fingered and Chaos Undivided, respectively. We have command of the Stiletto, the ship you see before you,” Rong-Arya said, giving the standard formal greeting.

“That answers who you are, but not what you are doing above our world,” Nurlan pointed out.

Chuckling, Rong-Arya dropped the pretentious echo and said, “I can see you are a man of the mould of the old Federation we have read about. I like you already.”

“And I don’t like people who appear over the world I am in charge of with ships I can’t get good readings on who don’t answer my questions,” Nurlan said in an annoyed tone.

Bursting out into full blown laughter, Rong-Arya said, “I really like you. Alright, we’re here for your standard raiding and looting. You have things we need that we can’t particularly pay for, and we want to send a message to your government.”

“You’re surprisingly amicable about this,” Nurlan said.

“You’re surprisingly calm,” Rong-Arya pointed out.

“Panic gets people under my watch killed,” Nurlan replied.

Nodding, Rong-Arya said, “Alright then, unless this is an attempt to lure us into a false sense of security and then ambush us, you get to live. Actually, we’ll just crucify you if you try anything and leave enough of your people alive to take you down, I like you that much.”

Blinking a few times at this declaration, Nurlan asked wearily, “What do I need to do to keep my people alive?”

“We want all the mining equipment you have, food, some of those fancy replicators, and some fusion reactors. We don’t trust any of that antimatter shit you guys seem fond of on your star ships,” Rong-Arya listed.

Hanging his head, Nurlan said, “So everything that makes a colony run.”

“More or less, we probably won’t take everything; we only have so much room in our cargo bays after all,” Rong-Arya said cheerfully.

“I’ll tell the people. Most of them won’t like it, but its not like we have the force to put up even a token resistance,” Nurlan said sadly.

Warlock Hakim could still feel the sway and buckle of the drop ship in his body, but that too was slowly fading with each successive mission. With each passing day his body continued to atrophy while his mind expanded to take its place. Such was the fate of a Herald of Tzintchi. Every last member of the chapter was psychic to some degree, with rank being determined by power and ability as much as tactical insight. But unlike the old Thousand Sons legion, with the Heralds the powerful psykers were the ones that turned to dust. As their powers increased their bodies could not grow to accommodate them, so they had to rely on their armour to bind their spirits to the mortal plane. With Hakim only a Warlock, about equivalent of a sergeant in another chapter, he was about half flesh and half fine sand, although which half was which tended to not stay fixed from moment to moment.

His battle brothers burned brightly in his witch sight around him, their sorcerous energies contained to varying degrees by the wards upon their armour. It still amused Hakim to this day that the design of their armour, of their entire Chapter, was taken directly from a group in the Old Way built from the ground up to fight Chaos. If it hadn’t been for the naming conventions of the other chapters, the Heralds of Tzintchi had very nearly been called the Chaos Knights.

With a thump the shuttle touched down. The Stiletto did not have the capacity to launch ships in the midst of combat, but it did have assault shuttles for the Marines and larger transports for ferrying goods and materials about, and all of them had been deployed for this mission. With the barest of nods, Hakim ordered his men out of the ship, force weapons at the ready, safeties off their storm bolters.

Leaving the shuttle in crisp military perfection, each brother covering two others, Hakim took point and began to lead them away as the shuttle took off from the drop zone to cover them from the air. Reaching out with his senses, Hakim announced, “Shoulder halberds, parade formation. Remain alert though.”

Snapping into rigid formation, the Marines began to follow behind Hakim as he advanced towards the settlement.

“Oh and when the time comes, let me handle it,” Hakim ordered.

Administrator Nurlan stood a proud but defeated man in the main town square of the primary settlement, the majority of the town’s population turned out in the streets about him, fearfully watching as winged craft from the ship above circled like waiting sharks. Then the cries began to lift up as the invaders came into sight.

Their species was unknown, clad as they were in armour, but presumably similar to the horned creature he had in the communications with the ship sitting far above, ready to rain annihilation down upon them if they resisted. These creatures were giants, each one standing between two and a half and three metres tall, covered head to foot in enormous blue armour set with gold trim and awful symbols and sigils that seemed to crawl and squirm across their frames when the eye caught them in the periphery. Bizarrely enough, they were all carrying ornately decorated halberds, as if melee weapons had a purpose in an age of directed energy weapons and star ships. Still, Nurlan would not want to face one of those things.

Coming to a stop in front of Nurlan, the lead soldier announced in a tinny, booming voice, “Greetings, I am Warlock Hakim of the Heralds of Tzintchi, and I am here to ensure that you comply with our demands.”

“It is not like we have a choice,” Nurlan replied wearily. Damn the Federation for leaving them so unprotected out here on the frontier.

“You could fight us,” Hakim pointed out.

Almost as punctuation someone fired a phaser at the hulking, armoured giant, striking him dead in the centre of the chest. The off-yellow beam flared brightly for a second before ceasing, showing that it had failed to scorch the paint.

“Excuse me for one moment,” Hakim noted before raising his right arm, displaying that there were a pair of excessively large gun barrels attached to the top of the gauntlet. With a monstrous roar Hakim opened fire, sending a pair of rounds into the building where the phaser shot had come from. With a dual crack, whatever the warlock had fired exploded, causing the windowsill to give way and dump the young man who had fired defiantly at them.

Walking up to the sprawled out figure, Hakim hauled the man, boy really, to his feet. Nurlan drew in his breath as he realized who had done in. It was Michael McGregor, a hot head who was always blabbing on about how the Federation should take a stronger stance with the Cardassians despite the fact that the boy was only seventeen and really knew nothing about life or military matters.

Dazedly looking up at the armoured titan, Michael suddenly realized just how big Hakim was, towering over him by at least a metre, if not more. Hakim stared down at him through his helmet visor before he said, “Nice try, but next time use something other than a flashlight.” He then backhanded Michael, which while it was rather lackadaisical looking it still picked the boy up off his feet and tossed him a good half metre, the sound of the lad’s jaw snapping clearly audible to the frightened onlookers.

Taking one last look, Hakim shrugged and said, “He’ll live. Brothers, make sure we take him with us afterward.”

Turning back to the crowd, Hakim then said, “Well now that that is done with, let’s move on to the main event, namely the taking of hostages.”

There was a startled gasp and collective cry, but the giant held up his hands in a placating manner and said, “Now, now, when using hostages as living shields it pays to keep them in good health so that any would be rescuers are less inclined to decide that risking their lives to free them is worth it. So do not worry, we will be keeping your children quite safe.”

“Children!” Nurlan cried out angrily.

“Yes, any child below the age of about five Earth years will be taken hostage. Children really tug at the heartstrings of sentimental sops like the leaders of your Federation. Now, will this be a safe, civilized transaction or will we have to make some windows and orphans?” Hakim replied amicably.

Nurlan glared at the giant for a moment before he completely broke down and collapsed to his knees. He said dully, “I wish I could fight you, I really do, but I can’t even offer my own life to buy the rest of my people theirs, can I?”

“Nope, but the captain is really impressed with your attitude. You’re not a coward, but you’re not stupid either. We’re actually thinking of offering you a job,” Hakim said.

“What?” Nurlan asked incredulously.

“The children are coming with us, no questions asked. However, if anyone wishes to follow, well who are we to stop them? In fact, we need people to help with working your technology. Now, I will preface it with the point that you’re going to be the equivalent of slaves if you follow us, but you will get to see your children on occasion, and if you work hard and earn our trust you might even be freed,” Hakim explained.

Looking around the assembled faces, Nurlan dropped his head again and said, “I have failed as a leader and protector for these people, and so if it will make up for it in some small way I will accompany you to ensure our children’s safety.”

“Good show man! Have a brochure,” Hakim then reached into his belt and pulled out a small piece of folded plastic and handed it to Nurlan. On the front was a picture of a smiling, cartoon-like man dressed in a red jumpsuit with grey trim, giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up while in bold English letters the tile was, “Chaos: FUCK YEAH!”

“You have a brochure?” Nurlan asked in bemusement.

“You would not believe how useful those things are after you’ve conquered an area. Actually… yeah, I do believe that as Administrator for honourably surrendering while keeping your population and industry intact you are eligible for one free mutation of your choice off the list in the back. I recommend picking now before you get a random one,” Hakim explained.

Turning the brochure over in a sort of bizarre haze, Nurlan looked at it before he furrowed his eyebrows and asked, “Prehensile genitalia?”

“It’s a very popular choice, although if I was in your shoes and had my pick from that list it would be awakening psychic potential, but that’s just me. Considering that you’re probably going to be put on hard labour detail, enhanced endurance or bulging muscles might be a better choice,” Hakim said.

“Are you people insane?” Nurlan asked.

“You can’t imagine. Anyway, enough dilly-dallying, it’s time to start marching everyone who doesn’t want to part with the kids into the transports. Come now, I don’t want to have to shoot anyone, cleaning blood off a screaming toddler is no fun at all,” Hakim said while the rest of his squad began to form a perimeter and herd people out of the settlement.

In the end every couple with young children, most of the elderly, and a few relatives or people of power followed Hakim away, leaving behind the young couples without children yet or the older ones who had children already grown enough to make it past the cut off point. It was a brutal process that separated friends and extended families that had been working to make the colony thrive for nearly two generations, but it was better than having immediate families torn apart.

Nurlan seriously wondered which group was worse off as the shuttle doors sealed, cutting him off from the air of his home.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Eleven: Unexpected

A man sat alone in his jail cell, contemplating life, the universe, and everything. Mostly he was doing this in an attempt to figure out a way to get out of this cell, but the guys in suits in charge of him had made sure that he could not perform even the smallest of spells, keeping his hands bound and his mouth firmly closed. So he was left with trying to figure out how to free himself under such constraints.

He had resorted to silent prayer to the various gods in the hope that someone would decide to help him out for a laugh. So far it wasn’t working. Extending out with his mind as far as he could out into the ether, he suddenly heard a small ‘Pop!’ in his mind and thought to himself, Well you’ve done it now Ethan, you’ve given yourself a stroke.

For a moment there was a slight ringing before he heard a voice in his head say, “Thank you for calling the gods of Chaos. Due to the increased traffic load from various missions we have implemented an automated system to better serve your needs.”

Bloody hell! Even the gods were modernizing these days! An automated call system didn’t seem very chaotic to Ethan, but then again he supposed that if they wanted to inflict pain and insanity on the unworthy then this was definitely the way to go.

“If you wish to file a report, please think ‘one’ now… you have thought ‘one’. Taking you to mission report thought mail,” the voice on the other end said, causing Ethan to curse. Asking someone to not think of something was a sure fire way to get them to think about it, although he had a sneaking suspicion that this system wasn’t exactly made for humans. He would just have to try and keep his mind calm and empty.

Of course at that point one of his captors decided to check in on him and demand to know what he was doing.

“Automated keyword check has detected ‘captor’ in your report and signs of stress. Have you been captured?” The voice inquired.

Yes! Ethan thought.

“Checking… checking… please remain patient… checking… systems indicate that there is minimal Warp interference in your location and you can be safely recovered. Would you like an extraction?” The voice asked.

Bloody hell yes! Ethan thought on first impulse before he could realize that he had no idea who exactly was on the other end of the line and maybe sitting in his nice cell would be preferable to being taken somewhere else.

Unfortunately by then it was too late and Ethan Rayne, chaos mage found himself yanked through a hole in reality toward an unknown destination. The transit lasted only a few seconds, during which time he was exposed to the blackest darkness and a sense of coming apart at the seams, as if he were unravelling to fill the void before he was vomited back out into reality.

Of a sort.

Ethan found himself lying naked in a heap on some sort of stone tile floor in a small domed chamber, his magical senses all screaming at him that something was very, very wrong with this place. His fears were confirmed a moment later when a group of heavily armoured demons wielding enormous axes entered the room. It was impossible to describe to the uninitiated, but he could taste the fact these creatures were completely unlike the bog standard demons back home.

These were pure blooded demons. These were Old Ones, or at the very least the elite soldiers of Old Ones, and as such were about as far out of his league as it could possibly be. On his best day with full planning and the back up of a small army he might be able to take one of these monsters, but naked and alone against six he was completely screwed.

The demons looked down at him with some confusion before one of them in particularly ornate armour said, “You’re not one of ours.”

Ethan was quite amazed that the voice sounded feminine rather than evil, but he did not really have time to remark upon his surprise before he was hauled to his feet, the demon saying, “The gods will want to talk with this one.”

Ethan found himself frog-marched out of the bare chamber into a lurid, macabre realm of bizarrely twisting corridors adorned with strange sigils made of writhing, viridescent flames and solid blocks of coruscating light. Every colour imaginable, and a few that weren’t, were present in abundance. The whole place was a riot for the senses.

As the soldier demons carried him along, the population density began to increase. There were all sorts of creatures, but the terrifying thing was that aside from a profusion of the demonic there were also a huge number of humans of every possible description going about various forms of business, bearing the sort of marks that showed that they had dedicated themselves completely and utterly to whatever deities these demons served. He even saw several people walking around who were clearly possessed.

Eventually they brought him before a set of great metal doors that had to be at least ten metres across and forty high, constructed of iron, brass, gold, and what appeared to be flesh and set with rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires to create a grotesque series of scenes that Ethan could not comprehend but seemed to involve excessive amounts of dismemberment.

With barely even a creak the great doors opened, revealing a swirling maelstrom on the other side, at the centre of which was an enormous stepped pyramidal structure upon the top of which was an enormous throne structure. Four figures were upon the throne, three of them sitting upon the legs or lap of the fourth.

When the figures had such things as laps and legs.

It was impossible to describe them properly, for each moment they were something different, and many of their forms defied human definition, but one common motif was of a man in his prime with three beautiful women, a pleased sneer upon his face.

As they approached, the forms stabilized, presumably for Ethan’s benefit. The four figures disentangled themselves from each other, allowing them to rise, the man coming to the forefront to take a closer look at Ethan.

“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” The man asked. From his gaze Ethan felt that he probably already knew everything there was to know from Ethan, but wanted to hear it for the benefit of the others in the court.

“We found him in one of the emergency recovery chambers,” the lead guard stated.

Feeling the eyes turn upon him seeking an explanation, Ethan stuttered out, “I… ah… appear to have… well… err… called the wrong number, magically speaking. Terrible misunderstanding you see, and… well… I… uh… yes. Yes. Total misunderstanding.”

“Your coming here was foreseen, Ethan Rayne,” the man stated.

“Bullshit,” one of the women behind him, a redhead, stated.

Turning upon her in annoyance, the man said, “Dear, I’m trying to cow the mortal here, and you’re not helping me maintain the proper air of all knowing superiority.”

“All knowing… sure… if you were really all knowing then why was it that…” The red head began before he cut her off.

Not the time my dear, not the fucking time,” the man said.

The purple haired one, who appeared as a sexy, sexy MILF raised a finger and said, “Actually, today’s orgy is scheduled in five minutes.”

The man paused before conjuring up a pocket watch and saying, “Well what do you know?”

“See? Not all knowing,” the red head pointed out.

“It is his brand of prop humour,” the blue haired albino woman said.

“Shut it,” the red head spat.

“If this is a bad time I can come back later,” Ethan suggested.

Glancing back at him, the man said, “You wish. Anyway, since someone had to go and ruin my aura of omniscience, I’ll get right to the point. You weren’t supposed to be able to get into that line and that error was fixed but we are very impressed nonetheless… unless of course you were and I’m just fucking with your mind.”

“Pro-tip, he probably is fucking with your mind either way,” the red head pointed out.

Glancing back at her to give her a baleful stare, he returned his attention to Ethan and said, “Getting back to the topic at hand, we would like to offer you a job Mr. Rayne. As a so-called worshipper of chaos, we would like to introduce you to the benefits of big ‘C’ Chaos and hope that you will take them back to your home dimension.”

“Uh…” Ethan said nervously.

“You don’t have to answer now, the orgy is getting ready to start, so maybe you should tell us then,” the man said, waving his hand to beckon forth a large group of scantily clad women. Smiling, he told them, “Please take very good care of our guest here.”

Ethan felt like the man who had jumped out of a plane without a parachute only to discover that his fall was broken by landing in a pool at the Playboy mansion.

Somewhere across the multiverse a dark command room only vaguely illuminated by the monitors of various screens suddenly lit up with various warning lights and the low chatter of technicians going about their work was drowned out by warning klaxons suddenly activating. There was an immediate, brief panic as everyone tried to figure out what was going on before professionalism kicked in and they began sorting out what had tripped all of their alarms.

“Incoming transdimensional shock wave!” One of the technicians announced.

“Inform the fleet,” the officer on duty ordered. “Do we have a source yet?”

“It’s coming from the direction of Wild Space!” One of the technicians announced.

Everyone felt a shiver at that announcement. Wild Space was the border land of universes about the horrific realm known as Chaotic Space. Chaotic Space had been sealed off an unknown number of eons ago by some ancient people, but despite their skills the almost non-stop dimensional rifts within Chaotic Space had a tendency to bleed out into the surrounding realities, making navigation in the dimensional sea a trying task. For the most part Wild Space never saw patrols, making it something of a haven for pirates and outlaws insane enough to take the risks.

That said a dimensional rift had not been recorded in Wild Space for hundreds of years. It required an enormous amount of energy to disturb the dimensional sea in any significant way, and Wild Space was not sufficiently disturbed to normally generate those sorts of forces.

The entire command room rumbled as the shockwave passed over their observation post, but they already braced for impact and were on a fixed point, so the fact that they felt anything at all was worrying.

“Shock wave has passed, communications are returning. Beginning triangulation with other outposts…” someone said.

There was a gasp of horror as the results were displayed upon the main holographic projector. Entire universes were presented as points of light like stars in the sky trailing tangled webs of unrealized timelines behind them, creating the impression of a constellation of jellyfish floating in the void, forming great arms and clusters of being.

And shunted off to one side, out on a branch of existence far from everything else, was the stain that was Chaotic Space, sealed off from everything else by the great works of an elder civilization. And the triangulations showed that the shock wave had come from within that damned place. Already their sensors were picking up tangled skeins of madness reaching out, ensnaring other cosmoses within Wild Space.

The officer did the only thing he could. He said to his communications officer, “Get me the TSAB Headquarters.”
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Twelve: Toil

Anise stared at the computer terminal with weariness and some degree of self-disgust. Freya tried to console her, but was too tired and busy trying to keep their eyes open to be of much help. Still, the fact that her host was trying to calm her down was enough to get Anise to settle down a bit.

The Tok’ra were doomed, that was the only way to put it. They had not had an influx of fresh symbiotes in thousands of years, and with the confirmed death of Egeria a few years ago the Tok’ra had truly known that they were amongst the dying. The days of their species were numbered, and the truly sad thing was that their cousins had a chance of outliving them if they learned to keep their heads down. At least they had queens so they could propagate their numbers.

And there was nothing they could do about it.

Between Anise and Freya they were not quite sure where the thought came from, just that from the ether they suddenly were struck with an idea. An incredible idea that gave them pause for a moment.

They brought up the various genetic maps they had access to and began to look at them intently. Perhaps Egeria had one last gift to give the Tok’ra… yes… yes… she could see it now. It was all so simple…

Anise and Freya had been up for a long time already, but they suddenly had a burst of energy as they began to work, doing all of the things that would allow them to complete their idea. Not only did they have boundless energy, but all of the stumbling blocks they expected to meet crumbled as they worked, complex knots untangling before them. It was incredible.

As they worked, they never saw the shadow flickering across the room, or the way it seemed to be whispering to them, telling them the answers when they could not think of one, and when they left the theoretical and actually began mixing chemicals, the shadow seemed to make sure that everything worked the way it should… or in some cases the way it shouldn’t.

And then they had it. They had it in their hands. A serum that would, theoretically, transform a regular symbiote into a queen capable of reproducing and continuing the Tok’ra as a species. It would also help the Free Jaffa immeasurably, as Tretonin production was still lagging badly behind eventual demand, but access to friendly Tok’ra larva would help them to make the switch.

All that was needed was a test subject.

The shadow whispered into their minds, telling them that there was no better subject than them. For the briefest of moments their scientific instincts rebelled against the impulse, but those thoughts were quickly overwhelmed with a rush of pride and vanity. The serum was perfect! They had made it perfect, and their reward should be to become the new queen for the Tok’ra!

Before self-preservation instincts could kick in again, they downed the serum with one quick gulp.

Only once it was within their system did they realize that they had just made a huge mistake.

“Umm… I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but was there a mistake at the printers?” Nurlan asked meekly to the young woman assigned as the den mother for the hostage children. While Nurlan wasn’t amongst those who had regular contact with the children, the few women who had been allowed to remain as caregivers usually used him as an in between with their Chaos captors. The fact that most of them were so mutilated that it was impossible to tell their species probably had something to do with it.

The young woman, a master chief petty officer named Francine who apparently considered flaying herself repeatedly and wearing her own skin a fashion statement, looked at the items in question and asked, “Do you have a problem with Momma Will Kill for You or Oh the Things You’ll Crush?”

“Aren’t they a little violent for children?” Nurlan asked.

“Come on, we went to a lot of trouble to remember these books for the kids, and besides, they’re classics… sort of… I’ll admit they haven’t been around that long, but I mean, I read these books to my kids when they were babies,” Francine replied.

Nurlan blinked and looked at her before he asked, “You have children?”

“A boy and a girl so far, and I hope to have more when this tour is over,” Francine stated proudly.

“And you read to them about disembowelling people or how they could grow up to become warlords?” Nurlan asked, horrified.

“Who wouldn’t kill for their children or want them to grow up strong?” Francine asked, equally horrified in her own way.

“Well… uh… your culture is very different from ours. I don’t think even the Klingons are this violent,” Nurlan stated.

Shrugging, Francine replied, “We are who we are. We live in a world of emotion, and we feel everything so intensely. We love our children with every drop of our souls, and we will rain down with great anger and vengeance any who would attempt to poison or destroy our children. I devoted myself to Asukhon shortly after my first child was born, for she is the patron of young mothers and defender of babies and toddlers.”

“I thought she was a war god,” Nurlan asked, dredging up what little knowledge he had of these people’s macabre pantheon of deities.

Francine paused and thought for a moment before she said, “Imagine if you will an army of mother grizzly bears trying to get to their cubs, and you will get a small inkling of the way Asukhon and her followers wage war. Brutal, direct, and designed to put down as many motherfuckers as quickly as possible so that they will never, ever rise to threaten our cubs again.”

Nurlan was disquiet for a moment before he asked, “So what do you think about this whole abduction thing your superiors are doing?”

“I like it,” Francine said with a grin, showing off her sharpened teeth. “Your Federation needs a swift kick in the ass to remind them that some things are worth fighting for, worth dying for. I fight for my children, and I want to see others fight for their children, not just roll over and die, even if we’re on opposite sides,” Francine said.

“So you don’t think what I did was a good idea?” Nurlan inquired timidly.

“Are you kidding? Surrendering was the best option you had. There’s fighting ferociously with no holding back, and then there’s just being stupid. You’re still alive and your kids are still alive, that means you still have a chance of kicking the shit out of us one day and getting them the fuck away from us,” Francine said.

Nurlan furrowed his brows and said, “You love children and yet you agree with kidnapping them. You espouse violent action and yet speak of restraint. Are these not contradictory?”

Shaking her head, Francine said, “Your Federation really has cut off the balls of your people, hasn’t it? We don’t harm kids, we might use them as human shields, but we hate hurting them physical, emotional, or psychologically. We have some huge issues with that sort of thing. We believe that when you fight you shouldn’t hold anything back, but we believe that until you actually start to fight you should use restraint and careful judgement.”

Nurlan supposed that that made some sense, but he still could not really understand these creatures, they were like night and day to the culture of Federation. Where the Federation was calm, sober, and rational, these people were wild, mad, and insane. Of course, where the Federation was sluggish, detached, and sometimes downright apathetic towards things these creatures were quick, active, and passionate about everything they did.

Having given him a few moments to absorb that, Francine said, “Well, now that we have that issue sorted out, back to work with you.”

Sighing, Nurlan shouldered his pick-axe and said, “I’m going, I’m going, no need to get out the whip.”

Again, these people were paradoxical, in that while they had technology far beyond anything the Federation could even dream of, they also forced those they had abducted into brute manual labour and used lashing and beatings to get what they wanted. Although the manual labour bit was somewhat understandable as they had more bodies than mining gear and they were on a bit of a schedule.

The innermost moon of Syracuse was being mined out to provide more extensive habitation for the natives of the dying world. Already many of the primitive aliens were being transported off their world and brought to the habitats formerly inhabited by the Federation research team, or stationed aboard the Cardassian ships that had been captured. Still, that was a population of a few thousand out of millions, much more room was needed.

So they had begun to dig. Syracusans that could be trained received preferential treatment and usually got the better equipment, but as more gear was replicated it trickled down to the captured Federation personnel. Nurlan had refused any of the mining lasers or plasma cutters, saying that until everyone else had one he would suffer with them and swing a pick at the hard stone walls. It had been becoming frighteningly easier as time had worn on, and he knew that his body was being changed by the power of Chaos. Genetic engineering and even certain forms of genetic therapy was verboten in the Federation, and yet with no apparent mechanism these beings of Chaos were twisting his body into something new, something that could swing a pick axe hard enough and repeatedly enough that he was starting to outperform some of the people with advanced equipment.

It terrified him on a fundamental level.

It terrified him because not only was his body changing, but he was starting to like it, starting to enjoy the feeling of power rippling through his body as he drove his pick into the stone and watched it crumble before him. These creatures were trying to turn him into one of them.

And it was working.

Shortly after meeting with Prometheus and him giving them the technical and industrial plans for the fabrication of a form of personal body armour that could shrug off a staff weapon blast with a reasonable degree of success and would laugh at the armour piercing rounds of most personal weapons on Earth, the enigmatic creature had suggested that SG-1 take a return visit to P4X K79E.

After checking the planet with a MALP, the mission had been required as everyone wanted to know what the hell had happened to the world. It wasn’t everyday that a once temperate world became a barren wasteland with no apparent sun providing the scarlet illumination.

While the MALP’s sensors had not detected any toxic chemicals in the air, the members of SG-1 immediately wished that they had brought along full NBC gear, for the smell was revolting, the sort of iron and copper scent of spilled blood, but it permeated everything in sight. Everyone had immediately donned gas hoods just to be safe, but even those were insufficient to block out that cloying stench.

The ground had also changed, becoming hard, scorched glass that sliced at their boots. There were signs that some people had been walking on the ruined landscape in bare feet, leaving behind trails of blood. And there were a lot of trails, all leading in one direction. Following along, SG-1 rounded a hill and discovered just how horrific this world had become.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were labouring to craft some enormous effigy in the landscape, carving out an enormous pit in the rock in the shape of some sort of humanoid figure. Already a scaffold was going up over the pit, presumably the top half of whatever mould they were making. But only half the people were working on the mould, the rest were lining up, whipping themselves with cat-o-nine-tails and screaming out devotions as they approached the pit. And once they arrived at the pit they knelt upon a block of solid obsidian and had their heads swiftly cut off by an axe wielding executioner.

Somehow, that was not the worst part. After the headless corpses were drained of their blood they were hauled to the back of the line where the bodies began to twitch and regenerate, until finally the people gathered up the whips still clutched in their hands and got back in line to do it all over again. Repeatedly torturing someone to death and then resurrecting them with a sarcophagus was something that SG-1 could understand, but this self-inflicted monstrosity was so far beyond them…

“You like?” A voice behind them asked. Whirling about, weapons at the ready, they discovered a bizarre, grotesque creature had somehow just appeared behind them. It was… it was… it…

It wasn’t actually attacking them, just staring at them with a strange, almost child-like expression. That was a start at least as their brains tried to process what exactly they were seeing.

Finally, after several seconds of staring agape at it, the details began to work out. The only relatively constant thing about the creature was that it was a humanoid skeleton about five metres tall, although it was hunched down to stare at their level. Rather than being solid though, the individual bones were made out of collections of skulls or parts of skulls, all stained blood red. The skulls were fused into solid masses in places and lashed together in others with long, grotesque tongues that continued to twitch and writhe. Overlaying these ‘bones’ were various muscles and tissue that only seemed to appear when they were needed, materializing out of thin air and decaying away when no longer required. Only the face seemed to stick around for long, but even then the flesh seemed to have been stapled onto the head.

For a long moment there was silence as the creature stared at them curiously before it frowned and said, “You don’t like. You don’t like momma’s work.”
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You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Thirteen: Transplant

Ah, it was good to be home! While it had been fun in the Palace of the Gods, more fun than a berk like him deserved really, everything came with a price that needed paying. Ethan was currently working to pay off his time of debauchery amongst a group of people who had a library dedicated to their books on the subject. Fortunately for Ethan, he was one of those rare, lucky individuals who had discovered a career where he could do what he loved and get paid for it. In exchange for power and the chance to bang the hottest birds an entire dimension had to offer, all he had to do was spread chaos. Not even big C Chaos, just chaos and mayhem in general! He had more or less been given free rein to cause trouble back home whatever way he wanted.

Best of all, he had a chance to both make up for a few of his earlier indiscretions and to shake some of his pursuers. The gods had some rather interesting abilities with regard to time, and boy had that been a trip trying to wrap his head around how they had come to be! But that meant that they had deposited him not back in his cell with the fine blokes of the US Military after his little prank with Ripper, but instead he was back in time a few years, just a few days before one of his crowning moments as a chaos mage.

It had been quite a shock to see his younger self prancing about, and if not for the assurance by the gods that he existed outside normal causality, he would have been rather wary of attempting anything like this, although the thought of the damage he could do with a temporal paradox did intrigue him on some levels. Still, he had taken great pains to avoid letting his other self know of his presence.

That would spoil the joke!

Unbeknownst to the younger Ethan, the shipment of costumes he intended to enchant had been intercepted and modified. The gods had given him a set of symbols, no real explanation as to their meaning, and the order to distribute them discretely amongst the costumes. Their explanation had been breathtakingly simple really. The original spell had been based upon the association of the costumes with concepts: a gun does not make a soldier and a dress does not make a lady. By adding the symbols extra energy could be drawn into the spell and it could travel beyond its bounds. The effects would be… unpredictable.

Just the way Ethan wanted it.

Of course, he had been more or less in the dark about which symbols to use, but he had decided to go with the general rule that the more bestial looking the symbols went on the monster costumes while the more human ones went on the various props and costumes that would not produce such an effect. Of course, it was just guesswork, and the results could be quite interesting.

As night fell and all of the kiddies went out on the street, Ethan sat a good distance away from his shop on the roof of a small convenience store where he had a good view of the action. By his measure his younger self should be completing the ritual right about…


He could feel the waves of magic as old Janus did his handiwork, and then the unexpected surge of power as his alterations threw a monkey-wrench into the works, tapping into a source of power more raw and wild than anything this world had ever seen. Magic could do terrible things to the minds and bodies of the unprepared, but it rarely tried to actively eat the practitioners. The admixture of this universe’s magic and the power of the Warp was… unstable, to say the least.

As the flaming remains of the costume shop rained down over the town, Ethan knew that all of his old pals looking to make him pay up his debts would now think him part of the fine ash floating the air, which was technically true, but it meant that Ethan now had an extra layer of secrecy and thus protection. He idly mused about what would happen to the spell now that the bust of Janus had been destroyed, but it seemed that the raw cable of energy was still connected to the costumes and was taking its energy now directly from either the Hellmouth, the Warp, or some combination of the two.

This would make things interesting.

Unbeknownst to Ethan, the list of symbols provided to him had primarily been drawn from Imperial and Orkish sources, with a bit of Eldar and Dark Eldar iconography thrown in for good measure... with one notable exception, and even that had originally been Imperial. The mishmash of ideas and metaphors produced random results, although in general there were suddenly a huge number of waist high orks running about smashing, stomping, chopping, and shooting things as their kind was wont to do, along with numerous Imperial citizens of varying description. There were however three very important people affected by the spell.

The spell struck a young woman wearing the long, exquisite dress of high nobility, and under normal circumstances would have transformed her into the sort of brain dead sop who would have been worse than useless under these sorts of circumstances, but included with the dress had been a small signet ring with a stylized ‘I’. Suddenly the dress became an order of magnitude more baroque and complex while also concealing the sort of body armour that would shrug off .50 bullets and a variety of compact weapons. And instead of emptying a mind of all capacity for active thought and assertion, it was filled with the sort of cutthroat, razor sharp intellect that could survive the dangers of the Imperial Inquisition for a century.

The spell had a bit more work with another young woman nearby, as the metaphors were a bit more stretched, but the semi-sentient energies quickly found the form that they desired. The sheet she had draped over herself was meant to represent a ghost, but in one corner the symbol of the Officio Assassinorum changed the form significantly, from a literal spectre into a metaphorical one. But which temple? As the spell sought more information, it noted that the woman underneath was wearing clothing significantly different from the simple sheet expressed outwardly. A ghostly assassin that wore a different form on the outside from the inside. The spell had enough to work with and wrapped the young woman in the sheet, morphing it into a form fitting uniform that could change shape along with the body underneath. Weapons materialized about her as the spell made the finishing touches on the Callidus Assassin.

And then there was the final member of the group, a young man dressed as a soldier bearing a plastic gun with a small mark hidden upon its surface. This was perhaps the hardest one for the spell to work with as it needed to do the most modification. Had Ethan chosen differently then the young man probably would have ended up just another Ork or Guardsman, but the symbol demanded something more. The gun warped and changed, growing larger and more powerful to fit with the pride and honour associated with the symbol.

As the spell did its work, its energies danced up and down the continuity of the young man’s life, finding the hardships he faced and the stoicism in which he met them, even against impossible odds, and his maiming against a superior foe in the future. It made a decision. The young man’s honour, courage, and loyalty in the face of the monstrous could only truly be expressed by one member of the group to which the symbol upon his gun belonged.

The spell changed him.

Willow’s mind was afire as she struggled with the memories of two lives, to try and reconcile what was happening. Her own mind had been shoved to the background, to watch as another entity took over, but unfortunately that entity was one used to and accustomed to creating, assuming, and discarding identities at will while keeping track of her own core personality.

Sadly for the assassin known as Natalie she almost immediately realized that she was the false identity and that the true identity was the one shoved into the background. As she did not really know what was going on her training immediately prompted her to bring forward the true personality to assess the situation. Unfortunately Willow did not have the proper knowledge on how to control the polymorphine in her blood, and the spell resisted the transfer, forcing a war between mind, body, and soul as all three struggled for dominance, with ironically the mind and soul each trying to shove responsibility upon the other.

Through the haze and pain of this mental and physical struggle, a harsh female voice barked, “Assassin! By order of His Imperial Majesty’s Most Holy Inquisition come here!”

With survival instincts to control the polymorphine, the willing of spell, Willow herself, and now obedience training all kicking in, Natalie immediately snapped to attention and focused upon the one who claimed to be an Inquisitor. The true identity told her, “That’s Buffy! Where did she get that laser pistol? Or learn to use it like that?”

While Willow thought about that Natalie focused upon the numerous orks swarming about the Lady Inquisitor. The Inquisitor was engaged in close combat with the greenskins and thus use of the neural shredder would be ill advised. A quick analysis however showed that the phase sword and poisoned blades would be sufficient against this mass of gretchin.

The inner voice screamed that they were just children, under a spell like them, causing Natalie some confusion. Did the operational parameters call for minimal casualties? Such things were not unheard of, but holding back against ensorcelled orks seemed like an unlikely order.

While this internal conversation was taking place inhumanly fast reflexes and instincts took over as the assassin crashed into greenskin horde, phase sword dancing about and inflicting death and destruction while poison tipped blades found their way into soft flesh, adding to the deadly toll the Inquisitor’s laspistol was inflicting upon the horde. The inner voice screamed to stop, but within a few seconds it was all over.

Until of course the corpses on the ground began to melt away into mist, revealing human children from the broken pile of greenskins, unconscious but otherwise unharmed and intact.

Natalie would have blinked in surprise had such an emotional response been part of her personality that had not been scrubbed clean by years of training. So this was what Willow had been talking about. This also explained the confusion. Apparently she was under the effect of some foul witchery too.

Having access to some of Natalie’s memories, Willow wisely failed to comment on the witchery remark. What she did manage to do however was force Natalie to grab the Inquisitor’s hand as she moved to level her gun on the sleeping children and finish what was started.

“Stop,” they ordered, Natalie amazed at the audacity of telling an Inquisitor what to do and Willow amazed that she was actually fast and strong enough to stop Buffy from what she was attempting to do.

The Inquisitor glared daggers at them and said venomously, “You dare to give orders to an Inquisitor? I’ll have you executed for this!”

Natalie listened to what Willow had to say for a moment before she said, “You are not an Inquisitor; you are a changeling as I am.” As punctuation she morphed her features to match those of the Inquisitor perfectly for a moment before shifting back.

The woman’s fury deepened and she hissed, “You presumptuous bitch!” She then turned her hand slightly to present the face of a large ring on her hand to Natalie/Willow. Natalie knew what a digital weapon was and thus had enough time to dodge the blast, although at such short range avoiding the strike from a plasma based digital weapon was rather difficult, forcing her to leap back to avoid the splash of ravenous energy.

However, before the Inquisitor could call upon any other tricks, a gauntleted hand grabbed her wrist and gently yet firmly pulled her away. Both assassin and inquisitor turned their attention towards this new comer and immediately boggled in religious confusion at the being they saw standing before them.

It wasn’t quite right, at least according to the art, the spell incapable of causing the full suite of physical changes, instead retaining the majority of the features, but the spirit inhabiting the body shone through nonetheless and both of them could immediately identify the deific being that had ended their conflict by that alone.

Oh, and the armour and wings didn’t hurt the identification either.

“Sanguinius!” Both cried out in awe.

Grinning sadly, the Angel said, “I am afraid that the assassin is correct good lady, in that you are both changelings, as am I. That ground transport over there has a mirrored surface, gaze into it and tell me what you see good lady.”

Released from the demigod’s grip, the Inquisitor went over to the vehicle and looked into the mirror mounted on the side and gasped at what she saw. “What sorcery is this? This is not my face!”

Nodding, the Angel said, “Sorcery indeed. Someone has crafted an awful spell that has bound our likenesses to the bodies of the innocent for their own sick amusement. I detect the foul works of Chaos here.”

“What… what are we?” The Inquisitor asked, clearly shaken at the implications of this. She had fought her whole life to keep free of the taint of Chaos and heresy, only now to find herself the product of it.

“We are fleeting things, abominations in truth, but that does not mean we cannot aid those of this world. We must destroy this spell and free all of those ensnared by its foulness. It will unfortunately mean the end of our own existences, but that is a small price to pay to restore order and peace to this place,” Sanguinius explained.

“How must we do that Lord Primarch?” The Inquisitor asked.

A dark look crossed over Sanguinius’ face and he said, “We must destroy the focus of the spell, a task that will require all of us but that none of us will achieve.”

“Is this one of your fabled visions Lord Primarch?” The Inquisitor humbly inquired.

“It is, but even if we fall victory is not impossible. Come, we must go, every moment we wait the destruction grows worse,” Sanguinius ordered, and Inquisitor and assassin fell in behind him, honoured to know that they could serve unto death at the side of the Emperor’s most beloved son.

In the ruins of the costume shop the only unsold prop sat in a pile of ash on the ground. A set of Freddy Krueger style claws, they had the addition of a single staring eye, the Eye of Terra. Without the bust of Janus to serve as the focus for the spell, the writhing energies had grounded themselves in the claw. With no costume to form, the torrent of power flowing through the prop was forcing the formation of something, someone, that had caused the deaths of trillions the last time he had been counted amongst the living.

Horus was rising.
I love learning. Teach me. I will listen.
You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Fourteen: Throw Down

It was a bad day to be a member of the supernatural community. Halloween was supposed to be their off night, the one time of the year where they could put their apocalyptic plans on hold, kick back with a beer and have a poker game and not get any funny looks from their peers. It hadn’t exactly been always like that, but with so many human kids running about there had been a mutual agreement amongst the various demons and such that unless they wanted to draw attention to themselves and bring down the full wrath of several billion pissed off people, hunting on Halloween was a bad idea.

Unfortunately tonight some tosser had gone and pulled some seriously bad mojo and now Spike was trying to keep Drusilla from tearing herself apart in a fit as whatever magic was at work interacted badly with her already screwed up head. Finally the spasms seemed to subside, although perhaps that was because she was locked in tetanus, her back arched painfully while her eyes were tiny pinpricks surrounded by white.

As Spike tried to keep her, still, he heard a whimper that sounded like a word escape from her clenched jaw. Leaning in closer, he heard her squeaking out, “…kitten no more… tiger! Tiger! Tiger has wings. Tiger… tiger… stop the One Who Sees! Stop her! She’ll kill us all!”

Spike rolled this around in his mind for a moment, trying to divine some meaning from the madness. One thing he did know was that Dru liked to call that twit who hung around with the Slayer ‘kitten’, so he supposed that some thick headed berk was trying to end the world again and the Slayer and her little band of dimwits were involved.

Spike sighed. He hated it when some idiot got it in their head that they should go beyond talking tough and actually try to end the world with all of its lovely walking meals and football games and pints of beer and… sigh… and of course he had to act like a complete tosser and actually have to team up with the good guys to try and stop the idiots. Unlife could be so trying at times.

Pointing to some of his best muscle, Spike said, “Alright, you lot, you’re with me, the rest of you stay here and guard Dru. Some idiot is trying to muscle in on our turf and we’re going to have to throw them out on their ears. The Slayer and her mates are probably already trying to give the berk a good thrashing but I just see that as chance to kill two birds with one stone.”

Thus Spike stepped out into the violence of the night.

Iral crouched over the body of the mon-keigh bitch he had stalked down, watching as she faded in and out of consciousness from the pain of having her face flayed off. Such a pretty little thing she had been too, which made her screams all the more delicious. She would last a good while yet too, for Iral had been exceedingly careful to not touch any of the larger blood vessels.

Hmmm…. what to do next? The mon-keigh body had so many spare parts she could lose a few more and still survive. Perhaps… perhaps…

“Cease your playing dark one,” an imperious female voice said behind Iral. Amazed that he could be surprised, he whirled about whilst drawing in the shadows to his frame. Standing behind him, well out of range of his knives, was an accursed member of his kin from a Craftworld, a Farseer if he had the iconography right.

The Farseer held up a hand and said, “If you have it within you to do so, I would speak to you in peace dark one. What I have to say concerns us both.”

Iral considered it for a moment. If he could close with the witch he knew he could take her, but the blasted seer had judged him perfectly and she could no doubt summon forth some damnable magic to prevent him from completing any strike he made. Hissing angrily, he said, “Say your words witch.”

“In your play have you stopped to consider why we are here on this world, surrounded by humans and greenskins?” The Farseer asked.

Iral grumbled but admitted, “No.”

“Look at yourself in that piece of glass over there,” the Farseer commanded, pointing to a pile of shard from a shattered window.

Iral considered this for a moment before he slowly backed up towards the glass, never taking his eyes off the Farseer until he delicately picked up one of the pieces and glanced at it with one eye. He immediately devoted his entire attention to the dim half reflection he saw there.

This is not my face!

Gone were his proud, noble Eldar features, so sharp and cruel, to be replaced by the disgusting, fatty softness of a mon-keigh child. He touched his features and for the first time noted that beneath his gloves his fingers were the fat, stubby digits of a human as well.

“What trickery is this witch?” Iral wailed.

“Not mine. Some fool has summoned us here and bound our spirits to these disgusting mon-keigh bodies,” the Farseer explained.

“I will eviscerate the one who has done this to me!” Iral cried out in fury.

“And then what? And then what dark one? When the spell that binds us ends, what will happen to us? Will we return to our bodies? Will we have bodies to return to? Or will we be destroyed?” The Farseer asked.

That gave Iral pause. If there was one thing all Eldar were after the birth of She Who Thirsts, it was survivors. The Dark Eldar and their Craftworld brethren took very different paths and hated the other for it, but they both clung to their existences with everything they had.

“Do you know witch?” Iral asked.

“I do not. I will need time to examine the spell, to see what it will do, but there are already those on the move that wish to end it, to end us. That cannot come to pass until we can be sure we will not be extinguished along with the spell… or worse,” the Farseer explained.

“And you wish my help,” Iral asked.

“It is preferable to trying to get the mon-keigh to be reasonable,” the Farseer said contemptuously.

“Very well witch, but know that I am watching you,” Iral said as he stood up.

“As am I dark one, as am I. Come now though, we must make to the centre of this magic and stop those who would end it and us,” the Farseer explained.

Sunnydale was burning, the orks having gone on a rampage and engaged in numerous fights with everything that moved and wasn’t an ork, and even some things that were orks. While those wearing enchanted costumes were simply knocked out when their false forms were killed, those not affected by the spell were not so lucky, and already the town stunk strongly of blood and smoke.

Willow mused within Natalie that this would take quite a bit of explaining to do tomorrow.

Already the tides were turning against the forces of destruction. Sanguinius had taken to the air a short time ago and let out a call to rally all forces loyal to the Emperor to him. Already they were receiving an influx of people from all walks of Imperial life, from hive city drudges and mutants to robed Techpriests and members of the Ecclesiarchy, all drawn by the promise of the Angel.

While Natalie took up the point, slipping from shadow to shadow, Sanguinius and the Inquisitor, named Bella, organized what they had to work with into a fighting force. Sanguinius alone was probably enough to win the day, but with his expert leadership he soon had a formidable force organized, and they began to drive into the heart of the blazing city, slaying everything that stood in their way, liberating many from the curse upon them.

Wiping out an entire squad of rampaging greenskins with her neural shredder, Natalie watched as Sanguinius’ face turned increasingly sombre and furious as they approached the centre of the storm. There was something waiting for the Lord Primarch, she could tell.

Finally he called a stop and said, “Come out of hiding jester.”

Dropping out of the shadows a grotesquely costumed figure hiding behind a ghoulish mask stalked towards a short distance before stopping and saying, “Most impressive winged one, most impressive indeed.”

“Say your piece jester, time grows short,” Sanguinius ordered wearily.

“It does. I have only this to tell to you,” the Harlequin said before launching forward into the crowd about Sanguinius, shuriken pistol hissing death and its Harlequin’s Kiss leaving liquefied remains behind as the alien ripped into the ranks with impossible speed and grace. Sanguinius and Natalie both became a blur of motion as they rushed to stop the Harlequin, but it was already too late for the majority of those they had gathered about them.

Sanguinius was the first to reach the agile Eldar, at which point the creature discovered that the fury of a Primarch made its own power seem truly pitiful indeed. With a single hand Sanguinius grabbed the Harlequin and dashed it against the ground, the force of the impact punching a hole down to the sewer beneath. As the magic that had given life to the Harlequin in this world faded, it did not even need to dissolve the body into a mist first the Eldar was so utterly destroyed by the force of the blow.

Glancing about, Sanguinius found that only Natalie and Lady Bella were still fit to continue, the rest having been reverted back to their original forms by the treacherous xeno. He then muttered darkly under his breath, such that only Natalie could hear, and even then she doubted she should have, “Thank you.”

Forming up, he glanced at the two women still at his side and said, “Come, the final battle lies ahead of us. Two more of that creature’s cowardly kind are still out there, and they make for the same objective as us. You two must stop them while I handle what is to come.”

Nodding, assassin and Inquisitor took up flanking positions as they wondered what was to come next. Turning a corner onto a street, they discovered the remains of an entire block of buildings set on fire by the obliteration of what had once been the costume shop. And standing at the centre of the inferno…

Natalie and Bella both made the sign of the Aquila in warding as Sanguinius bellowed out, “HORUS!

The devil himself turned upon the group, all four metres of him. Unlike Sanguinius, his power was not restricted by being confined to a merely human frame, and was instead being incarnated into the vile creature that had laid siege to Terra. His form still flickered at times, still not full manifest, but once complete this world would not stand a chance against the greatest monstrosity Chaos had ever spawned.

“Well, well, it seems that one of my little brothers followed me through the void to this place. Only a pale shadow of him it would seem,” Horus said with a sneer.

Glancing at the women at his side, Sanguinius said, “Stop the Eldar, you are no match for him. Stop them with your life, and do not let the witch speak.”

Then with a roar and a rush of his wings, Sanguinius launched himself at the monster that commanded this holocaust, bellowing a war cry. For a moment the two watched transfixed as the two deities collided, the impact of their weapons and their armoured bodies shaking the earth.

And then the Eldar arrived on scene, a Farseer and a Mandrake. The Farseer hissed and cried out, “You fools! You’ll kill us all!”

Lady Bella glanced at Natalie and said, “You deal with the Mandrake, I’ll take out the witch.”

Natalie agreed and sprinted off to take care of the Dark Eldar hunter. Bella immediately got the Farseer’s attention by shooting her in the side of the head with her lasgun. While the alien armour protected the prophetic witch, it certainly forced her to focus upon the Inquisitor. Natalie soon lost track of their battle though as she leapt into close combat with the Mandrake.

Imperial Callidus Assassin versus Dark Eldar Mandrake, it was one of those rare, fabled duels of the ghost versus the shadow as they both sought to tear the other apart. No mortal human could follow their blazingly fast moves as they lunged, spun, countered, and parried. Between them, Natalie probably had a slight advantage as she only needed to be lucky once with her phase blade and she could disarm her opponent, but they were nearly evenly matched in terms of skill and dexterity, and the way the Mandrake could cloak itself in shadows gave it an extra layer of protection that evened the fight just enough to keep it from being over in an instant.

Of course, this fight was utterly overshadowed by the duel of the Primarchs, the rematch of the aeons as Horus and Sanguinius laid into one another with the sort of fury that blew out flames with the shock of impact and turned concrete into fine powder. Arcs of lightning danced off the interaction of power weapons, and sparks were thrown up from armour as actual hits were landed.

Throwing Sanguinius off of him, Horus sneered and said, “You are weak brother! I will kill you this time as surely as I did the last time we fought!”

Spreading his wings wide, Sanguinius turned a tumble into a graceful landing and bringing his own weapon to bear, he said, “It is true brother that this frame cannot bear all of my strength, but this is not the last time we fought. You are weaker as well, and I have no exhausted all of my strength slaying your minions for weeks on end without rest. Come, let us finish this!”

Grasping his blood red sword with both hands, Sanguinius brought it up to a ready position and hurled himself once more at Horus, the Angel once more hurling himself as a thunderbolt at the Devil who betrayed their father. Horus swung his mighty power maul at the oncoming charge and the two godly weapons met, energy crackling between them, until, with a mighty explosion, Horus’ weapon shattered. Continuing forward, Sanguinius rammed an armoured shoulder into his brother’s chest. With an awful crack of ceramite and adamantium Sanguinius’ shoulder pad shattered while Horus’ breastplate cracked down the middle. The Angel, having the much smaller body mass, bounced back several metres, but even mighty Horus could not shrug off such a blow, and he was instead forced to back, his armoured feet stumbling for purchase on the ruined ground.

The battles between the others were going about as well, with Natalie having stabbed the Mandrake in the leg with one of her daggers, but having taken a hit from one of its poisoned weapons in the exchange. Her whole body was on fire, the poison sapping her ability to control her own form, but with typical Dark Eldar inefficiency the toxin was designed to cause pain more than incapacitation. The Mandrake was clearly losing sensation in its leg and thus slowing down considerably. This let Natalie take a quick glance over at the battle between the Farseer and the Inquisitor.

The sight was one lost upon Natalie, for somewhere along the line the two of them had closed to close quarters and engaged in a vicious brawl that left the smoking remains of weapons scattered about them. A shattered shuriken pistol lay next to a broken laspistol, while an empty inferno pistol sat next to a molten wraith spear. With no other weapons, the two of them resorted to going hand to hand, a fight where the Farseer had better dexterity and experience, but the Inquisitor curiously had far greater strength. The result was a great deal of clothing and armour ripped apart.

The fact that the two of them had wandered into the spray from a ruptured fire hydrant merely indicated that whatever author of fate was in charge of this scenario was as juvenile as he was twisted.

It was at that moment that Spike and his cronies decided to leap into the fight with Bella and the Farseer.

Natalie took all of this in with a single glance before returning her attention to the Mandrake. The cowardly xeno could see the situation turning against it and was clearly trying to make a retreat, but powerful poisons flowing through its blood had already taken its strength from it, and with a single swipe from her phase sword Natalie removed the crown of its skull from its head.

The Dark Eldar blinked a few times before dissolving to mist and leaving a burly, brutish looking young man wearing a pirate costume lying on the ground in its place.

As the Farseer and the Inquisitor struggled with the vampires, Natalie tried to make for them before the Inquisitor decided the battle for her. Turning her ring hand down so that it pointed into the puddle on the ground from the breached hydrant, she activated her digital weapon. A ball of brilliant plasma arced down into the ground, flash vaporizing the puddle, the concrete, and some of the water in the sewer beneath in a blast that killed her instantly and flash scalded the Farseer, causing fatal burns. Several of the vampires struggling with them took too much heat for their undead bodies to stand and spontaneously combusted, leaving behind little more than fine ash.

Thrown back by the blast, Spike saw the still standing Imperial assassin and the duelling demigods and decided that he had done his bit in shutting up the witchy bitch and hastily beat a retreat, accompanied by the only one of his flunkies still alive.

It was at that time that the poison finally overwhelmed Natalie’s self control and she fell to the ground screaming as the chemicals already in her blood stream began to rip her apart.

Covered in wounds and his armour practically falling off him, Sanguinius glanced up at Horus and said, “This ends now.”

“It does brother, it does. You may have done me more hurt than last time, but you are surely the worse off and you are alone,” Horus said.

“That I am brother; that I am. I am the last one affected by the spell, and do you know what that means?” Sanguinius asked.

Horus looked at him curiously.

“It means that when I die the spell is over and you vanish,” Sanguinius spat before reversing his grip on his sword and plunging it into his own chest.

What? NO!” Horus cried out before stumbling, the magic that had created him already starting to come undone.

Smiling, blood on his lips as he sank to his knees, Sanguinius grinned and said, “We were only ever fleeting things brother, two ends of a whole. And unlike you, I would rather die than let you continue for eternity.”

Sanguinius then keeled over, fading to mist, his sacrifice complete. Horus’ bellow of rage faded away as he crumbled away to nothing, leaving behind only a set of plastic razor claws.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Fifteen: Aftermath

The group sat in the library very quietly, no one wanting to really say anything about what had happened the night before, especially now that they knew what the extent of the damage was. Not the full extent though, that was something still being counted. So far the full toll looked like several million dollars in property damage from the burning and the looting, along with dozens, possibly hundreds dead. While the usual blind eye the population of Sunnydale turned towards such things was still in affect, the fact was that this was quite simply an event that could not be ignored, especially by the outside world. While the mayor had managed to talk the state and federal government from sweeping in with the National Guard and declaring martial law, the situation was still grim and the casualty count still rising.

It was also awkward and uncomfortable for the Scoobies as there was the unasked questions between them all of what had been left behind by the beings that had occupied their body. They could see it in the little things in each other. Willow had suddenly developed poise and grace of the sort that indicated that she was innately aware of everything she did down to the minutest detail, in stark contrast to her bubbly, borderline-klutzy personality. Buffy on the other hand had buried her nose in one of Giles’ grimoires, a complete turn around from her previous behaviour.

And then there was Xander, who alternated between looking like he had the sort of cool, calm, collected sort of pride and arrogance that said that he felt like he owned the planet and looking like he just realized that he was acting that way and suddenly felt self-conscious and annoyed about it.

Then of course there was the layer of guilt and horror liberally spackled on top of everything else. Aside from just the local damage, there were the memories of the others to contend with, and the fact that all three of them were killers at the core. Killers from a universe that made life on the Hellmouth look pleasant, in fact downright cheerful and optimistic.

Willow was the first one to break the silence when she asked, “How long for you guys? Natalie, that is to say the assassin woman, was about sixty and had been training from birth.”

Buffy looked up morosely from the book laid out in front of her and said, “Bella was a hundred and forty and she had been working for the Inquisition since she was twenty.”

Both of them looked at Xander, who sighed and said, “There are a lot of memories in there, but… somewhere between two hundred and a thousand years of near continuous combat. Sanguinius himself forgot more about interstellar warfare than anyone on this planet actually knows. And now I have most of the big details stuck in my head. It’s… it’s…”

Buffy made a disgusted face and said, “I know what you mean. Bella… Bella probably personally tortured to death more people than I’ve staked vampires.”

“Natalie killed dozens… hundreds of people and then assumed their identities, inside and out, just so she could get close to other people and kill them. One time she poisoned a mother just so that she could approach a three year old child prophesized to lead an uprising. It… it…” Willow looked close to breaking down in tears.

Giles had just watched in appalled silence as the teens under his care began to talk, but finally he said, “Good lord, who were these monsters?”

Xander shook his head and said, “Giles, that’s the worst part. For all the horrible things they did, I don’t think anyone of us can truly hate the people whose memories we share. Sanguinius was a soldier, a warrior, a leader of men, and while he killed millions… billions even… in his campaigns, it was to liberate and unify the galaxy to protect it from the horrors that would prey upon them.”

Buffy nodded and said, “Bella… Bella did horrible, horrible things, but she did it because there were worse things out there that she had to stop, no matter the cost. I want to say that there should have been a better way; that she should have upheld higher ideals, but in her culture Bella was considered an idealist, and for all the people she murdered or tortured or had executed, she probably saved entire planets from being plunged into a hell dimension or enslaved and butchered by evil aliens. It’s hard to hate someone for that.”

“I… I… I almost pity Natalie more than anything. She never had a chance to be human enough to decide. She was brainwashed since birth into being the perfect, utterly loyal killing machine. She never thought about what she did… she just did it. Killing people to her was the same as staking vampires for us and…” Willow couldn’t finish the sentence as she immediately made a rush for the doors of the library but failed to make it as she violently became sick.

The point hit hard amongst all of them. They had seen through the eyes of monsters, people who did terrible things that offended every aspect of their morality, and yet they could not fault them for their actions. It was depressing to think about. While none of them would condone acting all cuddly with the next vampire or apocalypse demon they met, there was a sudden moral dissonance. It might be necessary to kill a man eating tiger, but once you saw through its eyes and felt the hunger in its belly, could you really fault it for its actions?

Suddenly the majority of the Slayer’s job description felt less like fighting the forces of evil and more like animal control, with all of the depressing implications that conjured up. Stabbing things that looked human was hard enough as it was already, not being able to despise them was even worse. They were monsters, but they had no real choice to be monsters. True, some were worse than others and could be categorized as evil…

And yet when you had the memories of people who did worse and yet could not call evil, what then? Perhaps motivation was the key, or enjoyment of the activities, but even then all three of those people had often taken pride in their work. It was… it was… hard. Hard to sort it all out.

While everyone else tried to help Willow, Xander found himself standing back, a melancholy look on his face. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to help; it was just that he had something else that he had to deal with, something that would put an uncomfortable distance between him and all of his friends. Because while he had some of the most abstract memories of committing atrocities as a military commander, he had a few deeply personal ones.

Like the final fight against Horus. The original Horus, and the ghastly way he had slain Sanguinius. And what had happened to Sanguinius’ sons, the Blood Angels afterward. And how that was in him too now. He had it there within him, that lurking psychic scar that opened him up to power beyond understanding. Just behind his eyes the Black Rage lurked, and if he ever succumbed to it, he could probably tear apart Buffy in his frenzy. He did not have the already super human strength of a Space Marine, but then again none of the Blood Angels had been touched so strongly by Sanguinius’ spirit either.

Of course, far worse for Xander than the Black Rage was the Red Thirst; the animalistic desire to not just kill but to feed, to rip apart the foe and let their hot blood trickle across the tongue and down the throat. It was a sickness, one that Xander would struggle with for the rest of his life, and considering that of the group he probably hated vampires the most, the fact that he now suffered from their affliction was so bitterly ironic.

Xander could already feel his gorge starting to rise, his anger building at seeing his friend hurt, and then that fact pissed him off. He knew that he could bring a lot to the whole saving the world business, but he would trade it all to be the happy-go-lucky guy in the group who knew how to make his friend Willow smile, not the dark, broody guy with the superpowers and the arrogance to match. Angel already had those bases covered.

Xander suddenly felt sorry for the poor bastard, which annoyed him even more. He had to get away before he hurt someone. The fact that he was mad enough that he felt he needed to leave angered him as well, and he had to exit in an absolutely foul mood, his face dark and stormy.

As he left the library, thoughts of ripping off the limbs of the one who had done this to him and his friends, he soon found that everything about him was some sort of annoyance that made him want to lash out. The noises of the school, the bleating of the sheep called his peers; it all disgusted him and made him want to lash out. Only the knowledge that if he let his anger boil over that he would Hulk out and never return to Bruce Banner kept him from giving in to the impulses that screamed at him to make them all shut up.

Then, amongst the prattling of gossip amongst those so shameless as to not have been humbled by the disaster last night, he heard something that stabbed him in the gut and made him pause.

“Did you hear? One of those drugged up freaks last night cut off her face,” one of the Cordettes said in disgust and horror.

“Looks like poor Cordy won’t be Homecoming Queen this year,” Harmony snickered.

Had she been paying attention to him, Harmony would have seen Xander’s head swivel like a tank’s turret towards her before locking on with utterly murderous intent. Within seconds those who had a feeling for danger, which was a good chunk of the school considering the sort of subconscious survival instincts required to last long in Sunnydale, had vacated the area.

For the briefest of moments Xander could picture it in his mind’s eye, the stupid bottle blonde bitch hurled through the nearest window, the glass shattering into razor sharp shards that cut and lacerated her, robbing her of her shallow beauty, letting her know that it wasn’t a god damn joke to laugh at other people’s pain like that.

But down that path lay the Dark Side.

For just the briefest of moments Xander’s anger cracked at the absurdity of that statement and how nerdy he was to think of that, which was just enough to turn his head away from the shallow bitch. And once he was no longer looking at her he had nothing to focus his anger upon and it dissipated a little, still there, but not focused into a laser fine point.

Xander walked away. He just walked away. It wasn’t worth it. I just wasn’t worth it.

Then Snyder showed up. The troll was about to open his mouth when he discovered Xander making eye contact with him and abruptly forgot what he was going to say. For a brief moment they stared at one another before the little weasel said, “Right then, I think you got the message,” before he scurried away to find someone less likely to beat him to death with his own arm to torment.

Xander left the school and immediately began to run, just to exert himself. He had been surprisingly fit since shortly after he had joined with Buffy in fighting the undead, but now he had the lingering power of what amounted to a demigod running through him, and he wanted to burn it all up. He ran, and he ran fast; overtaking cars in residential zones fast.

At first he ran without conscious thought, simply running for the sake of feeling the burn in his lungs and muscles and the air whipping across his skin, but soon he realized that his subconscious was leading him towards the hospital. Cordelia was a friend, an odd sort of friend, but still a friend, and she was hurt.

Slowing down as he reached the hospital, Xander tried to figure out what to do. He couldn’t really help, just stare and gawk, but… but he had to see her. He would figure out the rest from there.

The hospital was overcrowded, and the staff overworked with all the injuries inflicted last night. The already overworked staff were having a rough time of it and all Xander had to do was ask for the room number for Cordelia Chase and it was given, no questions asked. There was no time to ask questions.

When Xander found her, Cordelia was lying unconscious in her bed, tucked in tight and hooked up to a variety of monitoring devices. Her entire face except for about her eyes, nose, and mouth, were wrapped in thick bandages, stained yellow with medicine and leaking fluid.

Brother Castor stared up at him, a grim smile on what was left of his face after he had caught an ill fortuned round from an Ork gun with his plasma gun. Despite the fact that his hands were missing, he was blind, and his head was nearly reduced to a skull, he still exuded an aura of good cheer.

“We got them my lord.”

Xander blinked and tried to shut out the ghastly memory. Cordelia’s pain was just beginning as the skin grafts and surgery would soon begin. Sanguinius had seen thousands of his brothers maimed in every possible way over the centuries, and he, and now Xander, knew all the things a man had to go through to be returned to health after something like that.

But he also knew that there was a species out there that had a tendency towards the sort of behaviours that would so horrifically mutilate a beautiful young woman. Willow had fought one last night. The Dark Eldar. The creature that had worn Larry like a suit.

Xander knew what he could do for Cordelia.

Leaving the hospital, he ran back to the school, although at a more sedate pace this time as he carefully thought about what he was going to do when he arrived. He was going to make sure Larry’s face never haunted Cordelia again.

Stalking into the school, Xander hunted through the halls seeking the jock football player, until finally he found the young man. Lightning quick, he shot his arm out and grabbed Larry by the neck and hauled him off his feet with supernatural strength granted by unnatural rage. Larry looked down into Xander’s eyes from his position nearly touching the ceiling.

…break his back over your knee and hurl his carcass off the Eternity Gate into the howling hordes to let them know what pitiful creatures they truly are and…

Xander fought back the memories of Sanguinius and instead said, “I know what happened last night Larry, even if you might not want to remember. I know that it wasn’t your fault, which is why you’re still alive. But it used your face, so your face isn’t welcome here anymore. So convince your parents, however you need to, that it isn’t ‘safe’ to live in Sunnydale anymore. Got me?”

Larry nodded once.

Xander put the football player down ever so gently before giving him an exhausted look that said Xander did not have the patience to look at Larry any longer, and the suddenly timid looking boy scampered away in fright.

Xander then found the nearest chair to sit down in, and which point he practically collapsed from mental and physical exhaustion. Despite looking effortless at the time, lifting up Larry had taken a lot out of him. Seeing Cordelia like that had taken a lot out of him. Every minute of his life since last night had taken a lot out of him.

This was going to take some work.

The giant’s eyes opened with a snap, bright yellow light burning off them with feral power. Grumbling slightly, he turned to his companions and said, “Come Freki, come Geri, my brother has shown me the path to the Tree of Life.”
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Sixteen: Further Aftermath

Buffy noted Xander leave after Willow had her little break down, but said nothing. While she and Giles helped Willow, Buffy’s brain quietly whirred away, putting together little pieces of information. It was actually scaring her the way things were working. The memories from Bella were a bit muddled and faded, but she could still grasp them, and some rose unbidden, her subconscious grasping at them for the tools to deal with a situation. And the old bitch had a huge number of mental tools to play with.

Already they had given Buffy enough information to fear for her sanity. She could easily develop multiple personality disorder if this kept up. There was her somewhat ditzy, valley girl persona, finely honed in the bitch-fests of Southern California high schools but then severely warped by the impact of having to shoulder the burden of being the Slayer. Then there was the Slayer itself, a wild, impulsive thing that liked to smash things. And now there was the Inquisitor, a cold, hard, machine-like persona designed to ferret out secrets and weaknesses. The mixture was unstable, especially due to her resistance to fully embracing the Slayer and now the Inquisitor.

She feared the monsters in her, but the Inquisitor was now telling her that if she did not embrace these facets of her personality she would break. The Slayer was part of her and if she did not control it, it would run wild on her. In fact, it often did because she did not have the mental strength to truly control it. How often had she run off without any idea what she was getting into only for it to bite her, sometimes literally, in the ass?

She needed to get her act together, not just for herself or the sake of the world, but for her friends. Willow had a head full of memories of an Imperial Assassin, creatures who could not exactly be described of as human and who did things that a young, mostly innocent girl really should not have to think about. Xander… Xander had the memories of a demigod stuck in his, along with who knew what else. They all needed to learn to deal with these memories, or they would all suffer because of them.

The Inquisitor part of her, ever devious, pointed out to the valley girl that even if they came from different cultures with different styles, they both had a refined taste in fashion, so there was at least some common ground there.

Having to admit that despite being an old lady and playing by slightly different rules, Inquisitor Bella did know how to put together a good outfit. She then started shuffling through the memories looking for anything to help Willow out. Somewhere in there she found the knowledge that Bella had on the Temple Assassins.

She then wished she had checked earlier because it was all so simple.

Taking Willow in a hug, Buffy asked, “Willow, who are you?”

Willow blinked a few times before sobbing out, “I don’t know!”

“Does the assassin know?” Buffy asked.

“What?” Willow replied, confused by the question.

“The memories from the assassin. What do they say about who you are?” Buffy said.

Willow paused for a moment before she said, “They… they… they say that I am me. I…”

“You were possessed by a Callidus assassin, correct? She could assume new personalities so completely that even psychics had a hard time telling her from fakes, right? She would say things, do things to further the mission that might be completely opposite to her personality, and yet she remained true to herself and her mission, right? So use that, use that training, that undeniable sense of personality to help you. You are Willow, you are not an assassin; do you hear me?” Buffy said.

Nodding, Willow said a little more firmly, “I think so.”

“Alright, let’s go help you clean up there,” Buffy said, helping up her friend. She then added on, “Maybe you can help the rest of us too. I know Xander could probably use some help with that too. He’s got the most memories to deal with you know.”

Nodding, Willow said a bit more happily, “Yeah… yeah, I could really help him out.”

Giles looked concerned as Buffy led Willow away to the nearest washroom, but he didn’t say anything at the moment, instead giving Buffy a silent Watcher glance that said that he would talk to her later.

The First Evil was pissed in a way that was hard to describe in mortal terms. That little spell that had gone off last night had tapped into the Hellmouth to draw much of its power and it had been a huge power hog. While not enough to actually destabilize the Hellmouth that was because the inhabitants had been drained by the spell. Out of the thousands of Turok-Han within the Hellmouth, two were left.


Worse yet, in the balance of Good and Evil, that little episode had not significantly changed the scales, and in fact may have tipped it a little towards Evil, meaning that the First was probably going to be even more limited than before.

It would find who had done this. Oh, it would find them and make them pay

Mayor Richard Wilkins III was pissed in a way that was hard to tell behind his eternally smiling façade. He would never show it or rant or rave or, horrors forbid, swear, but all of his subordinates were tip-toeing around him for fear of his eerily pleasant yet still deadly wrath.

What had happened last night, it threatened everything he had worked for, and made him look bad both to his constituents and to the various demons he had contracts with. This was something that could not be tolerated. Oh no, it could not be tolerated at all.

His resources already told him that the centre of the ruckus last night had been that two-bit chaos mage Ethan Rayne, but the man had neither the power nor the lack of self-preservation instincts to do something so destructive. Someone had interfered with his spell. Someone powerful and skilled at hiding their tracks, as all the auguries and divinations that had been cast so far said that Ethan Rayne was the only one involved in the spell.

That meant that they were looking for a chaos mage or mages, because only one of them would be crazy enough to pull a stunt like that, of immense power and skill to not only interfere with the ritual but cover their tracks that effectively afterward. Unfortunately the Mayor thought that he already knew all of the chaos mages with that much power and had made deals, unbreakable deals at that, with them to stay out of his sandbox. This meant that he was dealing with a chaos mage who had somehow managed to rise to power without drawing the sort of attention that went along with being a super powered lunatic.

The Mayor was looking for a contradiction, a paradox. Perfect. Just perfect. That was what he really needed right now, to have something that should not exist running about causing him trouble while he was trying to do damage control on the town and with his contacts.

Sighing, he pulled out his memo pad and began figuring out what he would need to do today. Another press conference, reassuring the governor that everything was under control, acquiring the Tome of Tal’nach’elb, and reviewing his list of virgin sacrifices. Yeah, that should do for the rest of the afternoon.

Buffy watched wide-eyed as Xander lifted the terrified Larry into the air and could not help but think of how just a few days ago she had been the one keeping the bully off Xander’s back. After the nearly petrified football player ran scurrying off to get the hell out of town, Xander glanced about to see if anyone had seen him before a look of utter self loathing washed over him.

Stuck to the shadows with decades of experience on how not to be seen while trailing someone, Buffy tried to think of something to say to Xander. Part of her wanted to berate him for being stupid, but another part knew that it wasn’t his fault he had the memories stuck in his head, had the power stuck in his body.

That however left her wondering that if he could have some of the supernatural power left over from having Sanguinius stuck in him, what else might be left in them? Skills and knowledge was one thing, but what about physical things? Bella wouldn’t really add much to Buffy physically, but for her friends who had their bodies inhabited by super humans, what could they now do?

It was something worth exploring, although the majority of Buffy rebelled at the thought of using her friends like mere weapons, although the Inquisitor part pointed out that a lot of her objection was probably pure ego talking, seeing as there was a piece of her that would feel threatened at the loss of her ‘special’ status as Slayer if her friends became super powered. That of course was silly, seeing as how if all three of them were on equal terms they would all be safer and there was less chance of them dying at a critical time and the world ending.

Buffy frowned sourly at the thought before squashing it. She had bigger fish to fry. So she followed quietly behind Xander until he collapsed in a chair from exhaustion, at which point she moved up to talk to him.

Looking up, Xander’s face fell and he looked down ashamed to say, “You saw that, didn’t you?”

Buffy considered for a moment before she said, “Yes. I suppose all I have to ask is why?”

Still staring at the floor, Xander fidgeted for a moment before he said, “Because I was angry at Larry for what the thing wearing him last night did. He hurt Cordelia, he flayed off her face! When Cordy recovers she’s not going to want to see him ever again, so I made sure she never would. I wanted to hurt Larry so bad, and it took every fibre of me to not tie him into a pretzel and then go on a rampage. Oh God Buffy, I’m so scared right now.”

Xander then hugged himself tightly and shuddered as if he had stepped out into a Siberian blizzard in one of his regular Hawaiian shirts.

“Listen Xander, you’re not alone. Willow and I, we went through the same thing, and while I’m sure you got the worst of it, we can help you… especially Willow. She probably now knows the most of any one of us about having a firm grasp on her identity and controlling her emotions. We can all help each other out here.”

Finally looking up, Xander let a smile cross his face and he said, “Look at me here, being given the Xander-speech about how I have friends by Buffy. Last night really did a number on us, didn’t it?”

Buffy’s first instinct was to be insulted, but that calm, cool part of her that had been forcibly inserted last night held her back and let her now that her friend was hurting and looking for anything humorous to soothe his wounded mind. And in retrospect it was grimly ironic.

Nodding, Buffy smiled and said, “You’re right, and let me tell you, it’s a pain in the ass, so can we work on making you more Xander-y so we can go back to our normal roles? Being the one pouting is so much more fun than being the one trying to do the cheering up.”

Laughing now, Xander said, “Great! Now I think you’re doing my job better than I am!”

“Come on, we need to get some donuts and ice cream and watch some stupid comedy movies,” Buffy offered.

“No chick flicks,” Xander warned with dark seriousness before his face cracked into a lopsided grin and he said, “Okay, maybe one chick flick if I get to choose a guy comedy.”

“I think we use that as a point of negotiation. Come on, let’s go get Willow and Giles,” Buffy said.

Rising unsteadily on still exhausted legs, Xander posed heroically and said, “To the library!”

Inquisitor Bella lay stripped and naked, a restraining collar about her neck as she lay in front of a council of her peers, who all stared down at her. She gritted her teeth against the pain of the past several weeks of poking and prodding and psychic contact as they had determined whether or not she had been tainted by her experience. Finally she would hear the decision that had been made. While she showed no fear of her fellows, Bella’s heart was clutched with terror. After all, she had been the one to call for this trial.

“Inquisitor Bella de Lancourt, you asked for a trial to test you for corruption after you claim to have had your soul removed from your body by foul sorceries. You have endured every test set before you with the honour and dignity befitting an Inquisitor… or the skill of a master liar. We now stand ready to deliver our judgement,” Lord Inquisitor Stamos declared. “Do you have anything to say?”

“My fate is in the hands of the Emperor, I shall not protest your decision either way,” Bella replied.

“Good. Then you should know that our testing shows that you have been affected by the foulness of Chaos sorcery,” Stamos said.

Hanging her head, Bella said, “Then I await execution.”

Stamos held up a hand and said, “You have been affected, but not tainted, there is a difference. Your story of being drawn against your will into the body of another has been confirmed by a Callidus Assassin who called for an emergency mission abort with a similar tale… and by a request to spare you from the Chief Librarian of the Blood Angels.”

Tears of joy began to well up in Bella’s eyes as she heard that. “Then my story…”

“It would seem that you are one of the most blessed people in all of His Imperial Majesty’s Imperium, if you truly did see Lord Sanguinius,” Stamos said, the barest hint of a smile creasing his ancient and deadly serious face.

“I expect that the Blood Angels will wish to speak with me then,” Bella asked.

“They do indeed. From this point onward all rights and privileges as an Inquisitor have been restored to you. Guards, please release the lady and give her something to restore some of her dignity,” Lord Stamos ordered and a pair of Inquisitorial storm troopers detached themselves from the shadows and went to release Lady Bella.

As she had her restraints removed and a sheet to cover herself, Bella let the hard look of an Inquisitor return to her eyes and she said, “I hope I will not sound presumptuous if I request the chance to get to the bottom of this, especially if it at all portends the return of Lord Sanguinius, or Emperor protect, the Archenemy Horus. I only wish I could have seen the end of their fight.”

“I would expect nothing less from you, and you will receive all the support we can muster. This event must not go unanswered. We will find this world and learn what importance it holds,” Lord Stamos said with absolute certainty.

Bella nodded. The Inquisition was going to find Sunnydale.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Seventeen: Kids

The bizarre skull monstrosity continued to leer down at SG-1 until the sun dimmed for a moment, causing all to look up and see a vast set of leathery wings attached to a familiar frame. Banking tightly, Justice quickly spiralled in to land next to the giant creature, her armour loosened from before to allow for her wings, revealing some more bestial features, most notably the cloven feet that really completed the picture of a demonic figure from mythology.

Frowning, Justice said to the creature in a stern voice, “Kali! What are you doing here?”

The creature frowned and said, “I wanna see momma’s work.”

“Do you have any idea what your parents will say when they find you here? Do you have any idea how much trouble you’ll be in? Do you have any idea how much trouble I’ll be in if I don’t bring you back immediately?” Justice reprimanded.

Looking simultaneously ashamed and defiant, the creature called Kali said, “If you don’t tell them, they won’t know to get mad.”

“They’ll find out young lady! I’m sure that they already know that you’re gone, and you can’t hide from them, they’re far too perceptive for that,” Justice said.

“But… but…” Kali said, starting to pout.

“It’s no use trying to talk me out of it. Now stay here while I contact your parents!” Justice ordered, causing the giant monster to sit down and sulk.

Turning to SG-1, Justice said, “Sorry about that, little Kali here should be at home but she seems to be a bit too interested in what we’re doing here.”

“Which is what exactly?” Daniel asked in an appalled tone.

Grinning with a shark smile, Justice said, “We’re building an Evangelion!”

There was a brief pause before Daniel said, “That’s what Prometheus negotiated so hard to be declared legal?”

Glancing over at the pit and the line of people being decapitated and regenerating, Justice shrugged and said, “We’ll each build them differently, and that’s not the final product. The final product is a fifty metre tall combat cyborg capable of shrugging off nuclear bombardments. We’ll be using it as a weapon against the Ori.”

There was a long silence before Mitchell held up a hand and said, “Daniel, I know you want to say it, but just don’t, okay?”

“You mean that little sentence that goes something along the lines of oh, ‘I told-’” Daniel began.

“I said don’t say it!” Mitchell hissed.

“You funny,” Kali commented.

“Also, could we get a little info on the giant pile of skulls with the mind of a child, and maybe the whole ‘Ninth Circle of Hell’ motif you have going?” Mitchell asked.

Snorting, Justice replied, “The Ninth Circle in Dante’s Inferno was a very cold place, the blasted ruin here has more in common with Sixth or Seventh Circle.”

Daniel raised an eyebrow at this knowledge of Earth mythology before he pointed out, “That didn’t exactly answer our question.”

Waving it off, Justice said, “Yeah, yeah. Alright. Introductions first. Kali, this is SG-1; SG-1, Kali. Named after the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, she is one of the children of the gods. And when I say child, I do mean it literally as she is only about the equivalent of a three year old in terms of development.”

“Okay. And the landscape redecoration?” Mitchell asked.

“Blame the glassed ground on the Ori; they were the ones who decided to bombard us. As for the sky and the fact that you can no longer plot this world in real space, well, that’s our little secret,” Justice said with a false innocent smile.

“Justice made this place a Daemonworld!” Kali announced.

Holding the bridge of her nose in exasperation, Justice said, “Kali, we’ve been trying to avoid using the D Word around here because it scares the locals.”

Pointing to the giant horror and then to Justice, Mitchell said, “Between her and the wings, I don’t think you could hide that fact much longer.”

Looking up, Justice said, “Well, we could kill you all to keep it at secret, now couldn’t we?”

Justice immediately had four P-90s trained at her head, but she gave them all a dirty look and asked, “Do any of you honestly think that those will slow either one of us down?”

As always, Teal’c was the King of One-Liners. “No, but they will almost certainly sting.”

Justice held out for a good three seconds before bursting out into gales of laughter, collapsing to the ground, clutching her side.

“I like his humour,” a soft, feminine voice said behind SG-1. Whirling about to train their guns on this new threat, they instead discovered two naked young women, one deathly pale with blue hair, the other a red head of similar features to Justice, only less demonic.

Somehow the fact that they looked more human did not reassure SG-1.

Two things immediately happened. The first was that Justice snapped to her feet and gave a crisp salute. The other was that Kali cried out, “Momma! Mama!”

“KALI!” The red headed girl roared, causing the demon to flinch and SG-1 to take a step back. “Do you have any idea how worried you made us when you ran off like that? You’re not supposed to leave the Palace without an escort, but to come here of all places? You are grounded for the next decade!”

The pale woman turned to SG-1 and said calmly, “She’s being literal so you know.”

“But!” Kali began.

“No ‘buts’ from you missy, I-” It was at this moment that several glowing white figures materialized out of thin air. The red head turned to them and cried out, “FU-dge! Reigle, you deal with the locals, I’m not done chewing out our daughter.”

“Yes Asukhon,” the pale girl said before turning to the ascended beings and nearly falling apart from the rapid decay that overtook her that resulted in what appeared to be a corpse that had died of plague, smallpox, Ebola, and cancer simultaneously before being buried in rotting garbage for several days and yet was somehow still animate. Raising a placating hand, Reigle said, “We apologize for the intrusion, we were just here to get our daughter back. She is but a child and does not understand the laws she broke by coming here.”

The leader of the Ancients looked amongst them and said, “We can see that, and note that you are taking measures to correct the problem, so we are willing to ‘let this one slide’, but you are pushing the boundaries of our agreement.”

“We can assure you that our presence here is in no way intended to undermine your authority in this galaxy, and we will not influence any of the activities done by our agents that could be construed as a direct intervention, in contravention of your laws of non-interference. Perhaps a small token concession on our part to show our sincerity?” Reigle suggested while Asukhon continued to yell at Kali in the background.

Frowning, the leader of the Ancients replied, “Perhaps.” Glancing at the Evangelion pit being constructed, he said, “That can’t leave this planet.”

Pausing in her rant, Asukhon whirled about and assumed her full daemon war god persona and shouted out, “WHAT? How is that fair? Reigle is here too and I don’t see you punishing her.”

Reigle turned to Asukhon and said in an annoyed tone, “Are you trying to undermine both our positions?”

“I’m just saying…” Asukhon growled out.

Sighing, the Ancient just said, “Alright, how’s about no using Evangelions on non-Daemonworlds?”

Pausing for a moment, Asukhon said, “That actually helps me… sort of.”

Scowling, Reigle said, “We will have to discuss this with the others first, but something along those lines will probably be accepted.”

Turning back to Kali, Asukhon said, “See what trouble you got your mothers into? Not only that, but we missed watching Sunnydale get blown up because we were out looking for you.”

Pouting, Kali said pathetically, “I’m sorry.”

“We are leaving now, but we will be in touch,” Reigle said before fading away. The assembled Ancients gave the situation a few glances before they seemed satisfied and similarly disappeared.

Taking one of Kali’s enormous fingers in her own hand, which somehow managed to dwarf the giant skeletal structure, Asukhon said, “Come along Kali. Also, thank you Justice for calling me.”

Then they too faded away.

“What the hell was that?” Mitchell asked once the need to run screaming towards the horizon subsided.

Unclenching from her pose in salute, Justice said, “Those were the gods, here! What an honour! What a horror! Oh, you are lucky mortals that they did not show you their fully majesty! To see such a thing would drive a lowly daemon like me to my knees in awe and drive you all mad with the splendour!”

“Those two were the gods you worship?” Daniel asked sceptically. He then found a rather large battle-axe resting against his throat where a moment before it had not been there.

“You are lucky I am under orders not to kill you, for I would pluck out your tongue for such insolence any other time. Yes, those were two of our four gods, Asukhon and Reigle. I am a servant of Asukhon, an extension of her will given sentience and individuality, so any insults directed at her are also directed at me,” Justice told him.

“Ah,” Daniel replied nervously as the axe was drawn away from his neck, the razor sharp blade not leaving so much as a nick on him despite the tingling close proximity it had been with regards to his major arteries.

Seething, Justice pointed across the hill and said, “Just… just go for now. Prometheus will undoubtedly fill you in more next time you meet, but right now I need to kill something I’m so mad, so I suggest you not be near by when I start working out my frustrations.”

“Taking the hint,” Mitchell said before getting his team the hell out of dodge. Or was it dodging out of hell?

Far, far away in cosmic terms, in a large, airy apartment that got lots of sunlight, two very different mothers from the two goddesses were having a sit down chat with their daughter.

“So Vivio, the two of us are going to have to go away for a while because of our jobs, and you can’t come along because it’s too dangerous,” Nanoha Takamachi explained to her adoptive daughter.

“We’ll only be gone for a few weeks at most though,” Fate Harlaown, her god mother, added on.

“So you will be good while staying over with your grandparents, right Vivio?” Nanoha said. “Your Uncle Chrono will be sure to stop by too.”

Vivio looked like she was trying not to cry, but looking between the faces of her two mothers she quickly burst into tears and buried her face in Fate’s chest to hide them. The both of them sighed as they wrapped the girl up in a hug, and both felt awful for lying about just how dangerous the mission was. The fact was that the Hayate-Fate-Nanoha circle normally terrified the TSAB leadership because of the magical and political power they wielded, so to have them assembled again less than a year after the Scaglietti Incident showed just how scared they were of the threat from Chaotic Space.

Of course, they also knew that so long as they had something to come home to, nothing would keep them from getting back to Mid-childa, not even a hole torn in the multiverse.

The TSAB was sending its best agents into the breach.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Eighteen: Conference

The Time Space Administration Bureau’s First Military Expeditionary Force had been assembled in only about two weeks since the shockwave had washed over their territory, although since the command crew was basically just Lost Property Riot Force 6 reconstituted with the purpose of investigating the probable release of Chaotic Space into the multiverse at large. Only the two most junior members, Erio and Caro, were not present as their skills these days were better suited to rebuilding than investigation and prevention.

Leading the operation was Colonel Hayate, promoted in the year since the Scaglietti Incident, with her Wolkenritter all present as her bodyguards, or more aptly for Vita and Signum enforcers, along with the Unison Devices Rein and Agito. The seven of them alone had the firepower and resources to conquer worlds if they so wished, but fortunately for the multiverse Hayate was more interested in helping others than laying waste to civilizations.

Of course the fact that she was being sent on a mission to the furthest, most dangerous part of the multiverse indicated what the higher ups thought of the ridiculous amount of raw power she had at her fingertips.

The division head of Investigations was Fate, assisted by her seconds Teana and Shari in coordinating nearly two dozen non-commissioned investigators. They would be the ones, hopefully, doing the majority of the grunt work as the searched for answers to what had happened. In addition, the archaeologist and scholar Yuuno Scrya had been added to the team to complement their raw research ability.

And then there was Captain Nanoha, leader of the combat platoon, which she had hand picked from all of the soldiers who had successfully passed through her advanced training regimen. While it was hoped that they would not be needed, Wild Space often housed outlaws and pirates, and almost nothing was known about Chaotic Space, so bringing along extra firepower was always useful. In addition, Subaru of the Disaster Planning and Humanitarian had been added in at Nanoha’s request to make sure that they had some specialized ability to handle whatever disasters they might find out there.

Already they were in transit aboard the heavy frigate Eventide. A smaller ship than the cruisers most of them had worked on before, it had a specialized dimensional keel to aid in manoeuvring in the heavy currents in Wild Space while still being big enough to mount an Arc-en-Ceil. It and its sister ships had been designed to deal with the threat of actual military forces being built up in Wild Space, and with the Scaglietti Incident even more had been commissioned to ensure that no one like him could ever hide out there with some forgotten super weapon and not fear obliteration.

Since it was going to be a long trip, Hayate had decided until now to give the full briefing and begin the strategy session. Everyone already knew the broad details and knew the risks, but the entirety of the story had yet to be told.

Bringing up a holographic image, Hayate displayed the three dimensional map of the multiverse. Mid-Childa was a glowing point at its centre, an arbitrary distinction really, while the various territorial, allied, administrated, non-administrated and unexplored universes were spread out like glowing, colour coded stars in the void. On the part of the map labelled ‘Wild Space’ the tiny spheres that represented whole universes began to smear out, trailing tendrils behind them, while in the centre of Wild Space there was a vast black hole labelled ‘Chaotic Space’ with an ugly red marker that red ‘Probable Breach Point’ on the edge.

Pointing to the red marker, Hayate said, “This is our target, an unexplored universe that only has a cosmological catalogue number U7W-1T4. Two weeks ago, by our reckoning, a massive dimensional dislocation occurred there, sending shockwaves all across the multiverse. Scans though indicate that while this universe exists just outside the boundary of Wild Space and Chaotic Space, the energy for the dislocation came from beyond the Great Wall, the barrier that separates Chaotic Space from the rest of the universe.”

Clearly her throat, Teana waited to be acknowledged before she asked, “What do you mean by ‘our reckoning’?”

Frowning, Hayate explained, “In normal space, including interdimensional space, time is linear and aside from the effects of relativity, it all runs at the same speed. In Wild Space, and presumably more so in Chaotic Space, time is a more slippery thing and can run at many different speeds. Alternate realities form, and it is possible to move between them, or even back and forth along them. Unfortunately this causes a great deal of stress in space and time, hence why experimentation with time travel elsewhere is banned by the TSAB. There is some speculation that Chaotic Space was originally formed when a civilization experimented too heavily with time travel.”

“Who could have done that?” Subaru wondered aloud for a moment.

Everyone turned to Yuuno, but he just shook his head and said, “We don’t know. Some scholars think that it was Al-Hazard that created Chaotic Space and the Great Wall around it, while still others think that Al-Hazard created just the Great Wall in an attempt to contain the destructive energies within. However, there is a growing body of evidence that Al-Hazard was built by survivors from an even earlier civilization whose downfall may be related to the formation of Chaotic Space.”

Fate, Yuuno, and Nanoha all shared a silent look at the mention of Al-Hazard. Nearly twelve years ago Fate’s mother had nearly destroyed a vast swathe of the multiverse in her attempts to find and enter the near mythical lost civilization of Al-Hazard using the Jewel Seeds. Even worse, all of them had already picked out the point on the map that indicated where Precia Testarossa had made her fortress in the border of Wild Space where she hoped that lost civilization might still be hiding.

“So basically we’re dealing with something made by people who may have been myths of myths of the Belkans and its breaking down,” Teana summarized in a horrified tone.

“There is another option,” Yuuno said. “It is also possible that there is something alive in there and they are trying to get out.”

Hayate looked at him strangely before she asked, “I thought that the leading theory was that there was a raw dimensional void in there. Nothing could live in that.”

“Nothing that we can imagine, no,” Yuuno corrected. “It is possible that there are pockets of stability within the void where life could exist, and now that we actually have confirmation of something coming out of Chaotic Space that seems more likely.”

“But they couldn’t be intelligent. The Linker Cores in higher order life tap into the energy inherent between dimensions, and without a Linker Core, even an undeveloped one like in non-mages, true sapience is impossible,” Nanoha pointed out.

“True, but again, that assumes life like ours. There are some theoretical models that show that energy could be obtained from a dimensional void, enormous amounts in fact, it would just be significantly more dangerous to draw from,” Yuuno explained.

“So we are going into a barely explored, mostly patrol-less region where it is difficult to navigate to look at a malfunctioning artefact of an ancient civilization that could destroy civilization as we know it if things go wrong, and there are potential aliens waiting in the wings for us?” Teana summarized.

“Sounds like Tuesday with this group,” Signum said dryly, causing everyone to look at her in shock for coming up with a line like that.

Still, not one to be outdone, Vita replied acidly, “Nah, the stakes are higher than that, this is definitely a Friday job. And if we screw up we’ll have to work overtime on the weekend too.”

Snickering and giggling at the humour between the Guardian Knights, the whole team had a good laugh before Hayate shook her head and said, “All right people, let’s get to the planning, this mission is important.”

Deep in the Palace of the Gods, so far below the surface of what used to be Tokyo-3 that it was no longer technically on Earth it was so deeply submerged in the Warp, the deities watched on as two combatants sparred for their pleasure. In all the myriad worlds open to them, precisely four beings bore the Mark of Chaos Ascendant. The first and foremost was the God Emperor Penguin, who sat in his golden armour along with his finely dressed court in attendance of this match. The second and third were the Primarchs Toji and Kensuke, of which the former was a member of the match.

The fourth mortal to bear the full blessings of the gods was the other combatant, and she had been granted such a boon not for particular valour, but to survive in this place and because of her particular qualities that gave her a great deal of potential. If all went well, she would be the trump card in the coming conflicts.

The match was quite even, although if both parties stopped holding back for fear of harming the other, or more importantly some of the frailer members of the audience, it would probably rapidly devolve into a win for Toji, simply because he had far greater experience, despite the fact that the new girl had been given a full extra four years of training in the past three months since her discovery, a boon the gods had granted by bending time to their whim.

An adamantine and bone scythe collided with a modified power fist and the air exploded into an enormous shockwave from the conflicting psychic energies emanating off of them. Already several dents had been blown in the floor, and a few of the penguins were looking decidedly ruffled. Finally deciding that enough was enough, Tzintchi waved the contestants off and said, “That is enough. I can see that neither one of you wants to lose, but we don’t want you both to cut loose fully. I my eyes both of you have won this match. Toji, by demonstrating your superior martial skills as always. Ali, by demonstrating just how much you have learned.”

Ceasing, the two of them bowed and said, “Thank you my lord.”

“You’ve grown so much since we’ve found you, Little Ali,” Mislaato said proudly, while wiping away a maternal tear made of concentrated heroin.

“I would not have survived without your help, it is the least I could do to train as hard as I could for you,” Ali replied happily while brushing a lock of long, blonde hair made almost white pale by the Warp energies coursing through her veins. “You have given me so much, and so many people have helped me along my path.”

“Yes and your next assignment will be to travel out with Toji to Bloodhaven, the world Asukhon has converted into a Daemonworld,” Tzintchi explained.

Perking up, the four metre tall armour clad giant asked, “So finally you are letting me out there on a military campaign.”

Nodding, Asukhon said, “Of sorts. Frankly in terms of a ground campaign most of the enemies in that universe are either so pathetic or so small that the forces Reigle has already gathered would be enough to overwhelm them if not for space superiority.”

“But Bloodhaven is also the first place any interested parties from the far part of the multiverse where interdimensional travel is not restricted to Haruhi’s domain or a Hellmouth world would go, which means that Ali should meet them,” Tzintchi explained.

Toji frowned for a moment before he asked, “Are you…”

Shaking his head, Tzintchi said, “This is most emphatically not a babysitting mission. Your overall goal will be to coordinate the ground campaigns such that enemy space superiority is not a factor. This will be good practice for you in anticipation of when we turn our attentions to the Necrontyr.”

“With this new travel, why do we not simply find a universe far from them and let them have this one? Not that I advocate running away per se, I just want to know your reasoning with this,” Toji asked.

“Because of the other Chaos Gods,” Reigle said quietly.

Rolling her eyes, Asukhon said, “Well that was informative.”

Shaking his head, Tzintchi said, “Quiet you two. Alright, the long answer is that there exist alternate time lines, paths to universes where the Old Gods did not perish, and they would overwhelm us as we are now. The Necrontyr Great Warding actually shields us from them, as while we can survive in it, they can’t. So first we must build up our infrastructure and then bring down the Great Warding before we can do anything that would draw their attention directly to us.”

“Which is why Mr. Schemes Within Schemes here changed the symbol list for that Ethan guy to none of our symbols, just to lead the Imperium and Chaos in the opposite direction from the majority of our activities and didn’t tell us,” Asukhon growled.

“You would have objected to getting them involved so early in the game,” Tzintchi groused.

“Yeah, well, I think its pretty fucking convenient that Kali ran away to Bloodhaven just in time for that little switch to happen,” Asukhon growled dangerously.

Holding up a hand, Tzintchi said, “Hey! I would never endanger one of the kids!”

“Was the emphasis on ‘never’ or ‘endanger’ there? Because Kali never actually went anywhere dangerous, she just wandered away from home,” Reigle pointed out.

Tzintchi shut up at that.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Nineteen: First Convergence

The mind of Tzintchi the Nine Fingered was a complicated thing, one that even the other gods had trouble working out at times. This was one of them. He had been moving his pieces about very carefully since the games had begun, often times failing to seize upon advantages that the others did not see because they would hinder him later. He had also subtly, and not so subtly, been moving the pieces of his peers to his own advantage.

For all of his swearing when the scoring had been added up, he had been the one moving Asukhon towards the construction of a Daemonworld. He had been intentionally goading her into coming up with something more clever than “Blood for the Blood God!” and had managed to get her to pull of something as brilliant, and as obvious as that.

Why? Because the division between the various realities was artificial and there was a barrier in space and time where the only breach point to the outside multiverse was the one where Haruhi reigned in ignorant supremacy. Someone had built a containment system for an entire branch of the multiverse.

And yet Ali’s story indicated that those living out there were ignorant of who had actually built the barrier. Tzintchi needed more data. He needed to learn more about those living on the outside. So he had moved Asukhon into sending up a massive “We’re here!” signal. If it came to violence, then she would be the best suited to the task while he could remain in the background and observe.

It was why he had begun the rebirth of the Tok’ra. They were born survivors who were good at keeping their ears open, and if it all went to hell in that universe, they would be the ones most likely to somehow make it out alive. And be indebted to him for saving their race. The Tok’ra were his back-up plan for data gathering.

Threads of fate were coming together as one into a complex pattern. Tzintchi could not see all of them, but he could see more than those travelling them. If he had done this right, the Ori should launch their full assault on the Milky Way right as the outsiders showed up. With Mislaato’s agent having been helping to upgrade the Lucian Alliance ships, the fight would be significantly more interesting than if things had been allowed to run their course originally. Also, the Tau’ri had managed to conserve a considerable amount of resources that they might have otherwise lost in the conflict due to the Ori reprioritizing.

Then again the Ori had also decided that maybe just four motherships might be insufficient for the coming campaign.

Tzintchi watched as the pieces on the board moved, and then a new one appeared.

“Do they honestly think that a black hole is going to hurt my Daemonworld?” Asukhon asked in disgust as the Ori collapsed the star that P4X K79 had once orbited.

“No, but it might power their shiny new supergate,” Mislaato pointed out.

“Ooooh! So they’re finally going to give me a real fight! This is going to be fun,” Asukhon said with glee, rubbing her hands together in anticipation.

“You may borrow my armies,” Reigle stated quietly.

“Half of them are already there, but yeah, making sure the important people aren’t swamped would be nice,” Asukhon said casually.

“I’m deploying the Lucian Alliance’s capital ships,” Mislaato said.

“Hey! It’s my world, you can’t just barge in,” Asukhon snarled.

“Technically with Toji and Ali there, something you agreed to, we all have a stake in that world. I am informing the Tau’ri and the Free Jaffa, if they don’t already know, about this development,” Tzintchi said while smiling.

Asukhon glared at him but shook her head and said, “I expected this when you proposed sending those two over there. Very well. Also, clever strategy, if a rather cowardly one. No matter what happens after today, you lose nothing.”

“What can I say? That I saw this coming and waited to develop up my own forces in that universe?” Tzintchi asked.

“You could have told us,” Asukhon groused.

“Oh where is the fun in that my dear?” Mislaato asked while chuckling. “We are playing against each other as much as against the locals. If Tzintchi had some advantageous knowledge in our game, why should he share it with us if he doesn’t want to?”

“Because it would be a nice thing to do?” Reigle asked.

Bursting out laughing, Tzintchi said, “Alright, just for that my dears I will let you see one of the cards in my hand. I have ensured that the Warp about Asukhon’s world is still relatively calm, unnaturally still in fact, even for that tame place.”

“I had noticed that, I thought you were just screwing with me somehow, but I couldn’t actually figure out what the point was so I let it slide. What are you doing?” Asukhon asked.

“If I’m right, we should get extra reinforcement right when we need it,” Tzintchi said enigmatically.

Asukhon looked at him, opened her mouth to say something, before shutting it and shaking her head. Eventually she said, “Forget it, I’ll just tell Toji to get ready for a planetary assault. I expect the Ori to have some sort of trick up their sleeve for this one.”

Tzintchi took another look at the way the strands of fate were twisting. This was going to be fun!

The journey out into Wild Space had been a long, difficult one, taking a full two weeks as the Eventide had been forced to dodge about the various interdimensional storms that had been kicked up in the already unstable region by the dislocation. For some, this meant many long, boring, tense hours of waiting. For those with combat profiles, this meant special training missions with Captain Nanoha.

Fortunately for the combat teams, the “White Devil” did not push them too hard as she did not intend to exhaust or injure them before the actual mission. Unfortunately for them, Nanoha knew very intimately exactly what actions would hurt someone or leave them excessively fatigued and could push them to their very limits and not one step further.

And now they were at the target location, sitting in interdimensional space in orbit above a world that had been shoved out of normal space by unimaginable forces. The surface of the planet was massively scarred, once green and brown plains and forests reduced to ugly black craters hundreds of kilometres across. The seas had also turned blood red with some sort of pollution, and the readings on the scanners were very strange.

For one thing, while they were picking up signs of activity on the planet’s surface, there were very few life signs… and whenever they tried to focus their scrying equipment on any of the life signs they did pick up, they only got white noise and static, as if something was jamming them.

There was no other option but to send someone down to the surface to try and make contact with the locals. The only question now was who to send?

Fat had considered for about half a second before glancing over at Nanoha and Fate and shrugging. They were diplomatic… enough… neither one of them had a tendency to start shooting anyway. Well, Fate more so, but still. The two of them should be able to handle a basic first contact scenario, and if things escalated out of control they had the best chance of getting away safely. Sending only two young women might not garner much respect depending upon the culture of the locals, but at least it wouldn’t panic them like a larger group might.

With any luck it would be Fate making the friends and not Nanoha, seeing as how no matter what happened, that would probably involve an international incident.

Shaking her head at the thought and reassuring herself that it would be alright, Hayate ordered, “Fate, Nanoha, I want you two to teleport down to the surface and begin recon and contact with the locals. See what you can find out.”

“Yes ma’am,” both of them said while saluting.

Hopefully this would go peacefully.

The three battlecruisers available to Earth at the moment, the Daedalus being in another galaxy, dropped out of hyperspace in a triangular formation, the Prometheus at the centre while flanked on either side by the Odyssey and the Korolev. Dropping out around them were almost two dozen Ha’taks from the Free Jaffa Nation rallied by Teal’c for the defence of the galaxy.

Almost immediately their sensors lit up with unknown contacts, a group of ten Ha’taks who they did not recognize. Shields had already been up and weapons hot, so in less than a second the entire formation had locks on the unknowns, but almost immediately a general message was sent out by the unknowns.

“Attention forces of the Tau’ri and Jaffa, these are the ships of the Lucian Alliance, and we mean you no harm. In fact, we come to offer you aid at repelling the Ori,” a somewhat glazed looking official announced.

“And how exactly did you know about the supergate?” Daniel asked.

“Lady Compassion told us that it was a mission given to her directly by the Goddess,” the man said with a somewhat vacant smile. He was almost certainly on something.

“Great, fighting religious fanatics with religious fanatics,” Mitchell muttered.

“Have you done anything to the supergate since arrival?” Carter asked.

“No, we only arrived shortly before you did. The Lady said that there would not be time to prevent what is coming, only to confront it,” the man replied.

Almost as if on cue the supergate energized and formed a version of the regular wormhole created by a Stargate only a thousand times greater. The man said, “And so the symphony of destruction begins. We attack the moment something emerges from the event horizon.”

The channel clicked dead as the Lucian Alliance ships began to move about, forming a roughly semi-spherical formation away from the other ships. There was a tense moment as nothing else happened, and then the nose of the first Ori ship poked out through the event horizon.

The rest did not make it.

As one all ten Lucian Alliance Ha’taks opened fire with all main guns on overcharge. With any other force, this would not have worked, but Lady Compassion had spent the last several months perfecting the systems and crews of these ships. Every single shot fired arrived within a tenth of a second on a spot about two metres in diameter, a tolerance tighter than the Tau’ri demanded in space combat.

The amount of energy was simply too much for the shields of the Ori mothership to take and they quite spectacularly failed. Within the ship the entire shield generator was turned to molten slag by its capacitors having their energy handling limits exceeded by an order of magnitude. Of course, it was a moot point as the remaining energy from the barrage flooded the bridge and instantly vaporized the Prior commanding the ship, as well as utterly destroying the main weapon system.

Half a second later, the next Ori ship, somehow not anticipating that their enemies would turn the gate into a shooting gallery for their ships, emerged and rammed straight into the drifting hulk of the first ship. While its shields handled the physical impact adequately, it also blinded the pilot to what was happening.

This ship took two salvos to destroy as the Ha’taks had not had time to bring their guns to maximum possible charge, with the first salvo knocking down the shields while the second completely removed the main part of the ship, leaving only the remains of the hoop-like rear drive section to drift in space in front of the gate.

The third ship exited into the debris field of the first two ships and the incoming fire from not just the Lucian Alliance but the Jaffa and Tau’ri ships as well. That many ships firing on a single target meant that the unnatural coordination of the Alliance ships was unnecessary as the last ship was simply overwhelmed and shredded by the relentless fire.

A fourth ship did not appear. Instead, the gate was quiet for a moment, a huge debris field drifting about it quietly while the defenders sat on the other side, waiting for something to come through.

It took several seconds for anything to happen, but after a short time of tense waiting the sensors on the Prometheus picked up dozens of fast moving and accelerating contacts heading away from the gate, hidden by the debris for the first part of their journey.

“Fighters, clever,” Colonel Penderghast commented. “Scramble all 302s in the fleet and get our rail guns ready for point defence. Move us to cover the Lucian Alliance ships; they’re the ones who know how to hit hard.”

In short order the Prometheus and the Odyssey, followed willingly by the Korolev, moved to provide anti-fighter cover for the Alliance ships, while Death gliders out on CAP were already engaging the Ori fighters.

As bad as it was though, every member of SG-1 pointedly refrained from questioning whether or not the situation could get worse. It could and would in the most unexpected way if experience had anything to say about it.

In another but nearby dimension on the world dubbed Bloodhaven, a young girl of perhaps age twelve on the outside, probably younger, was sitting on a blasted outcropping of rock that had flowed like liquid at one point. She was patiently waiting while Toji arranged the ground defences for maximum effect. She was waiting for their guests.

She was, to say the least, different looking. She had been born with a fair complexion and blonde hair, but circumstances had bleached her skin an almost ashen alabaster tone and her hair the finest platinum blonde. When set against the black cloth and leather of her outfit, these made her look even paler, which all added up to contrast quite strikingly with her irises, which actually glowed a little with the power bubbling up within her.

Grasped in one hand was a scythe that was somewhat oversized for her but that she would no doubt one day grow into. Crafted of adamantium and decorated with the long bones from a human, right at the joint where the blade met the pole portion there was a large purple crystal.

As a large yellow circle set with various magical runes sprang into existence on the ground in front of the girl. The crystal part of the scythe said in a disembodied female voice, “I know this mage…”

Standing up, Ali tried to look calm and serene as was befitting her honoured status while a touch of excitement started to enter her heart. Could the gods have been so great as to have granted her this opportunity?

In a flash of light two figures appeared in the centre of the circle. Both were young women, one brown haired and the other blonde. Ali’s eyes looked with the blonde haired woman and they evaluated each other. If one did not know the story they might think that Ali was a clone of the woman their features were so similar. The truth was of course much stranger.

Ali’s staff broke the silence when it said in a mournful tone, “Fate…”

Immediately brightening up, Ali cried out, “Little sister!”
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Twenty: Brawl

Fate stumbled back, her eyes wide with shock while she tried to regain her composure at this completely unexpected revelation, but her knees were as weak as if someone had just punched her the in the gut. She tried to get something out, but all that she said was, “What?”

Nanoha for her part could only stare on in shock at the incredible distress her best friend was going through, and the incredible, impossible reason for that shock.

“Fate…” the scythe said again. “I’m so sorry.”

“M-mother?” Fate asked, on the verge of breaking down in one form or another.

“Yes Fate, it’s Precia, and I am so sorry,” the scythe replied.

“Momma got a stern talking too over what she did to you,” the little girl who had been waiting for them stated.

“Why is she a scythe?” Nanoha asked in horror while Fate tried desperately to keep herself together. Precia had featured in her fondest dreams and her worst nightmares over the past eleven years. For her mother to just say she was sorry and that she loved her was one of her most desperately desired things in life.

“Technically momma isn’t the scythe, she’s just bound to it as punishment for what she did to little sister Fate,” the girl, Alicia said. “Oh, and to help look after me!”

Fate clutched at her head and stomach as she tried not to burst out crying or throw up. “This- this is impossible! You both died!

“Only momma died, and even then, not fully. My stasis pod sheltered me in the Warp until the gods found us. They restored me to health and recovered momma’s soul,” Alicia explained.

“So you’re really Alicia?” Nanoha asked incredulously.

“You can call me Ali!” The girl said proudly. “The gods sent me here to meet whoever came to find out about this world, and they sent me my little sister! They really want to meet you.”

“They truly are great beings. They made me realize that I had two daughters-” Precia began, but that was more than enough for Fate, who promptly screamed and collapsed to the ground.

“Little sister!” Ali cried out, rushing over to Fate, but a warding hand from Nanoha kept her away.

With a few quick gestures Nanoha immediately had Fate teleported away while requesting someone else to come down to assist. Looking at Alicia- Ali- she said, “I think your sister has had too much excitement for one day. She’s spent a long time getting over the fact that both of you died, only for you to both show up now.”

Ali frowned, but the disembodied voice of Precia said, “I understand. It will take time for her to understand what has happened. Just tell her that I have come to terms with my actions. I love both my daughters and wish that I could go back in time to fix the mistakes I made.”

Nodding, Nanoha said sternly, “She will appreciate that, although you should know that she has had an adoptive mother for many years who has already told her that.”

Precia was saddened for a moment before she said, “Then I wish to meet this woman and thank her for raising such a fine young girl.”

“Now could you tell me what is going on?” Nanoha demanded.

Ali nodded and was just about to speak when a different voice emanated from the staff, obviously as some sort of radio function. It was a deep, imposing male voice that said, “Ali, we’re going to need you to get airborne, something weird is going on.”

The Battle of the Supergate had been… it had been going. So far it was a stalemate as while the defenders of the Milky Way had prevented any more motherships from getting through, neither could they actually do anything to the ships on the other side of the gate, nor in fact do anything to the gate itself. So far the battle had degenerated into a delicate balance in the fighter combat. If enough fighters got through to threaten the Lucian Alliance Ha’taks, or even distract them from their overwatch, then the Ori could start shoving through more ships.

Considering that enough firepower to slag several continents had been poured into them, the fact that the Ori ships were debris and not expanding balls of diffuse gas spoke rather much of their defensive capacities. They probably had offensive abilities to match too.

So far the fast firing Tau’ri railguns had been reaping a fearsome toll on the Ori fighters, convincing them to stay well away from the trio of battlecruisers, but unfortunately Milky Way fighters were outnumbered ten to one, with reinforcements for the Ori arriving through the gate as fast as they took losses. With the Tau’ri providing close in defence for the Alliance, the Jaffa were putting up an impressive wall of flak about the gate, trying to destroy fighters as they came through. Unfortunately, sheer weight of numbers had already grounded the surviving 302s, all their munitions expended, including reloads from the ships, and the Jaffa were down to a scant few death gliders left, the rest having been shot down already. Only the Lucian Alliance’s death gliders were still putting up a good fight, their piloting weirdly synchronized and skilled while their weapons systems seemed to have all been upgraded for faster firing.

Still, it was a delicate numbers game, and all it took was for a single change in variables to tip the balance one way or another. The system almost immediately started to tip the instant PD turret #3 went silent on the Odyssey due to total ammunition expenditure. It wasn’t that that gun itself was particularly important, it was just that within the next thirty seconds 75% of the remaining railguns on the Tau’ri ships also ran dry, so that was the exact turning point.

When the guns went silent on the Tau’ri ships the Ori fighters immediately began to swarm in closer, firing bolts of bright blue energy that splattered harmlessly against their shields while moving in to harass the Lucian Alliance ships. Scores immediately died as the Alliance’s own PD turrets began firing, but the damage was done. Ha’taks were in many ways designed almost as inefficiently as possible, so a significant chunk of firepower that had been keeping the noses of the Ori from peeking out the gate was now diverted to swatting down fighters.

A new Ori ship surged through the gate before it was pummelled into oblivion. But with its death one ship managed to slip through unmolested and get off a shot with its main weapon, sending a brilliant beam of yellow-white light out to cut straight through a Jaffa Ha’tak with a single hit, immolating it in an instant. This monster was also brought down under the combined fire from the defensive fleet, but two more had already cleared the gate.

The Ori fighters had been almost completely cleared away, reinforcements having halted in favour of getting through more capital ships, but by now the character of the battle had radically shifted. Now it was a ship to ship fight and the Ori had the better ships. Still, whoever had command of the Alliance ships was skilled in the arts of battle beyond anything that had ever before been seen in the Milky Way. Fire continued to be concentrated on tiny points on the Ori ships, collapsing their shields. But as more and more Ori ships came through the gate and began ripping apart ships with their fire, the barrages could no longer take down the shields completely, merely overwhelm the energy buffers for a few seconds.

The Tau’ri however had copied the trick the Ori had used to get so many of their fighters through the gate by sneaking several of their naquadah enhanced warheads through the debris field and then turning off their motors. For a time the Alliance ships would knock down the shields and there would be a conveniently placed twenty gigaton warhead sitting next to the ship. Eventually though they wised up and started shooting any bit of debris that got too close.

Twenty Ori motherships had emerged from the gate by the time they stopped coming, but twelve had been utterly destroyed by the tactics displayed during the battle, as only at the end did the numbers turn in their favour. The necessity of using a Stargate meant that for a few seconds each mothership had to fight alone against such overwhelming odds that their technological advantage was useless.

But with each Milky Way ship that fell, the numerical advantage diminished and the ability to take down a single Ori ship became a more difficult task. Each ship lasted longer and more of its fellows could get past the gauntlet that was exiting the gate, allowing more of the defenders to be taken down.

Of the eight ships that emerged, four immediately broke off and headed towards the other side of the ruined solar system, while four lined up, weathering the remaining fire effortlessly, and took up a stance best described of as a firing line.

“What do you think, would right about now be a good time to kick up Warp storm about Bloodhaven and boot that ship into real space?” Tzintchi asked the other gods.

“You are such a bastard,” Asukhon groused.

The Eventide had thought that they were safe about the strange world trapped in interdimensional space, thinking from all the observed data that there was some sort ‘Eye of the Storm’ effect going on about it. So the sudden turbulence that began to occur caught them off guard.

“We have to stay close if we want to pick up Nanoha and Vita!” Hayate cried out as distorting space-time began to toss the Eventide about.

“We need to revert to normal space before we’re stuck, colonel! We’ll still be close enough if we remain within the same solar system,” the navigator announced as he put in the commands to the computer.

“Do it!” Hayate ordered.

“I think they should arrive… right here,” Tzintchi said as he manipulated space and time about the tiny warship.

The sudden appearance of the Eventide just under the firing line of one of the Ori ships as it was firing was a bit of a shock to all parties involved. The beam struck the frigate’s shields, splashing off the enormous seal that formed in open space for a second before punching through and clipping the top of the ship. Damage was superficial, but it still scared the crap out of everyone onboard and confused the hell out of the Ori.

“Who the hell are they?” Penderghast asked incredulously while getting his ship out of the way of the next shot. The first one brought against the Prometheus had nearly knocked out their shields, and if it hadn’t been for the sudden appearance of this mystery ship their shields probably would have failed completely.

Hiding behind the as of yet undamaged Korolev, the Tau’ri considered their options. They were out of ammo and had no way of actually hurting the Ori ships, but no one wanted to abandon the battle quite yet. For one thing, they were still able to evacuate many Jaffa with their Asgard transporters, and for another they did not want to abandon anyone to the coming slaughter.

The Ori for their part seemed content to figure out what exactly to do, seeing as they were in no real rush. Meanwhile the other four ships began to do something weird in the space where Bloodhaven should have been. The four ships arranged themselves in a square pattern in a potential orbit and then aligned their ships so that each one’s main weapon could fire through the rear hoop section of another. As one they all fired.

For a brief second a gigantic loop of energy formed in space, each ship adding to a superconductive cycle until finally a world began to ripple into existence within their ring. The Ori were going to draw Bloodhaven back into a place where they could get at it.

Asukhon finger the model that represented the Eva on Bloodhaven and grinned in a feral manner, showing off too many teeth. “Not today boys. Not fucking today.”

The Prior aboard the unlucky ship only vaguely saw his death coming as it rose out of the atmosphere; a dull grey spear bisected down the middle into two points. During the operation his shields had to remain down, but even if they had been up they would not have protected him from the phasing ability of a copy of the Lance of Longinus. The massive weapon impacted the ship right in the middle and ripped out its engine in a spectacular fire ball. The supercharged beam was also knocked out of alignment and flash vaporized the next ship in the formation before the entire cycle collapsed.

Two of the four ships tasked with cleaning up the remaining Milky Way defenders immediately broke off to assist in finishing the job while the other two decided to ignore the newcomer for the moment. It was small and the Ha’taks could still threaten them a bit if they all focused fire.

Meanwhile, the Ori took advantage of Bloodhaven being partially drawn into real space by deploying swarms of specialized fighter-bombers carrying payloads of ring transporters. Hundreds of them in fact. With the supergate properly oriented, they could beam through thousands of troops a second.

Ali had taken off in flight and Nanoha, joined by Vita in replacement for the now comatose Fate, had followed in an attempt to figure out what was going on. Of the two, Vita was the first to raise the subject when she said, “Where in the hell are we going?”

“Air superiority mission,” Ali said simply. “I’m currently the only air mobile unit in our order of battle capable of engaging the enemy. We would really love it if you two helped out though.” She then pointed high into the sky where numerous streaks from re-entry fires marked the strange, fragmented sky.

Pausing in her flight, Ali summoned forth an indigo circular seal to act as a firing platform. The sigils present on the flat disc of energy were a bizarre mix of Mid-childa script and other, stranger symbols, along with what appeared to be corruptions of Japanese kanji to Nanoha’s eyes.

Pointing her staff, her mother, at the oncoming streaks of fire, Ali’s facial expression changed from quietly innocent if somewhat unsettling to excessively enthusiastic. A quartet of smaller seals formed in front of her and bright blue points of light crackling with electricity coalesced at their centres.

“Lightning Flak Assault! Fire!” Ali cried out, and suddenly the four seals began spitting out rapid fire orbs of energy, which proceeded to do as the name suggested and created a wall of flak in the sky where the enemy fighters were incoming. Secondary explosions soon followed.

“What should we do Nanoha?” Vita asked nervously while she watched Ali marching her shots up and down the line of machines.

The question however was answered for them when the enemy began firing on their position and did not seem inclined to distinguish between the three of them.

“Defend ourselves and Ali too. I don’t think Fate would be pleased if we stood by,” Nanoha said while holding using a Round Shield to protect against the barrage of blue-white energy bolts hurled their way.

In short order pink and red fireworks joined Ali’s blue in blowing Ori fighters out of the sky. There were however, far too many of them coming in on two broad a front for the three of them to knock down every one of them and dozens got through to drop their pay loads on the barren ground below.

Taking a quick glance at what had happened Ali then let out a high pitched, psychotic cackle and cried out, “You should have brought bombs!” She then broke away from her fixed position while calling out, “Toji, they’re landing troops!

The response from her scythe was a low pitched chuckle.

Nanoha and Vita shared a significant look at that.

For his part, Toji had brought along a company of his own personal chapter along with a company from each of the two successor chapters, the Bearers and the Reavers. That gave him three hundred marines, a few dozen daemons, an Evangelion, and a couple million plague zombies with which to fight an unknown number of enemy troops with air support.

Toji smiled. Unless the enemy ran right into the zombies that made the fight a massacre rather than a complete and utter curb stomp. Considering that only the Priors or the aircraft had a hope in hell of actually damaging his marines or the daemons, the bastards should have stayed off this world.

He was almost tempted to exclude the Evangelion from combat to make things from getting too one-sided, but he needed it providing cover against precision orbital bombardment, so it would be involved anyway. He would have preferred to just have it knocked the ships out of orbit, but unfortunately the hastily constructed copy of the Lance had not held up against the detonation of the ship it had destroyed.

Cheap Japanese knock-off Toji thought with intentional perverse irony.

The first order of business would be to prevent the solidification of the enemy’s lines by disrupting their staging area. There were two forces especially well suited to that: the Terminators from his Sons, and the assault squads from the Reavers. They had the speed to get in close before the enemy could formulate a defensive line, and the hitting power to prevent them from doing so.

Toji was so glad he had decided to wear his Terminator armour today.

Clamping down his helmet to secure him from the corrosive effects of the Warp, Toji ordered in a somewhat metallic voice, “All right boys, we’re fighting guys more fanatically than us. Let’s go teach them whose gods are stronger!”

That got a laugh from his men right before he activated the teleporters. There was a brief discontinuity as they were hurled through the Warp, but then with a bang of displacing air they appeared in the midst of the Ori staging area as hundreds of men in battle armour were pouring out of dozens of ring transporters every second. They were given a brief look at the war gods in their midst before the shooting started.

Storm bolters, heavy flamers, reaper autocannons, and assault cannons all combined together in an instant to create a circle of death where the Ori troops simply ceased to exist as men and began to exist as a fine mist of blood and ash.

Meanwhile, nearly across the horizon the Reavers began their assault, loading up into what was quite possibly the most insane device ever devised by man. Shortly after their founding, the Reavers had asked the question, “How do you do a drop pod assault without a ship in orbit?”

The result had been to build a mobile double barrelled rail launcher capable of hurling two marines at a time almost ten kilometres through the air before they fired their jet packs to slow down to a safe speed and land on top of their enemies. Even more insane, they had already scrapped the first production run in favour of a magazine type system and specialized capacitors that allowed them to -with proper preparation- put an entire squad into the air in about five seconds.

The Reavers had brought four of these monstrosities against common sense.

Of course, the only reason that they actually survived the acceleration involved was because their armour incorporated gravity and inertial dampers based off of Eldar flip belts, along with several other tricks.

While the Ori soldiers in the middle of the formation ran and screamed from the unholy, invulnerable beasts that had suddenly appeared in their midst, the ones on the outskirts only warning as to the doom falling upon them was the sound of jet engines firing and the whirring of chainsaws.

Oh, and of course the screams of “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

Hayate had watched in horror at the battle around her and had made her decision. With the dimensional dislocation going on, they could not escape to interdimensional space, and when stranded in the middle of a fight with no way to escape, her only options were to pick a side or do nothing at all and hope no one shot at the Eventide.

On the one side, she had the hoop ships, who while she was willing to give the benefit of the doubt for damaging her ship due to her rather unexpected arrival, she had witnessed them destroying ships unable to do anything to them. On the other side, she had seen strange, pyramid shaped ships firing at the hoop ships, and blockier ships actively catching shots from their less well defended allies. Those ships weren’t even fighting back, just covering the retreat of the others.

Hayate had been given the key in her hand for a reason. That reason was to defend her ship, not to start wars. But she had a feeling that once these hoop ships finished off the others, they would come for her. She would make sure that they would not have that chance.

“Activate the Arc-en-Ceil. Target the hoop ships to prevent the destruction of the other side,” Hayate ordered as she inserted the activation key.

Outside, ahead of the pronged bow of the Eventide, large magical containment rings began to form, designed to channel the destructive power about to be unleashed in a focused manner.

One of the hoop ships paused in its targeting of one of the few remaining pyramid ships to consider the Eventide. The targeting of the Arc-en-Ceil had left the frigate pointed slightly between and below the plane of both of the ships, so a direct attack was ruled out. In fact, with the positioning of the containment rings, if they did not understand the magical technology at work they may very well have thought that the TSAB vessel was attempting to engage some form of propulsion.

Eventually the ship decided that they did not want them to finish whatever it was that they were doing, even if it was just escape, and began to orient to bring its main gun to bear on them. That solidified Hayate’s assessment in her mind and she turned the key.

The Eventide fired and a point in space simply buckled and folded in on itself. The distortions rushed out at the speed of light before tapering off a hundred kilometres from the epicentre. Matter was torn apart atom by atom, and the two Ori motherships simply stopped existing, reduced to a cloud of cold free atoms scattered about the remnants of this dead star system, to in time be consumed by the artificially created black hole powering the supergate.

As for the supergate, it abruptly shut off, the disruption of local space-time automatically tripping the safety overrides.

Every ship paused and gaped in horror and awe at what that little ship had just done. Across the system the remaining Ori ships ceased their action to draw Bloodhaven further into real space and instead turned as one to take care of this new and unexpectedly dangerous threat.

“We won’t be able to recharge before they get here,” one of the bridge techs reported. “And all of the ships are staying at least two hundred kilometres apart. A single shot from one of their guns will overwhelm our shields.”

“But not theirs,” Hayate noted with pride and awe as the battered defenders took up station about the Eventide, ready to defend them with their lives. They did not even have compatible communications protocols, and yet these people would protect them.

Interesting…” Tzintchi stated while he let the Warp storm dissipate as quickly as it had begun. A star ship sized distortion cannon. He would have to ask the engineers about that one.

“Colonel! The dislocation is clearing up!” The sensor officer reported, surprised at the shortness of such an intense event.

“Begin charging the engines. I want us out of here as quickly as possible!” Hayate ordered. “I also want Nanoha and Vita back on board at the first opportunity.”

The entire character of the battle changed for Nanoha the moment that Ali took a glancing hit from one of the fighter-bomber’s cannons. It was a very slight hit that was mostly absorbed by her magic, but Ali had clearly taken some damage. But instead of crying out in pain, Ali had snarled in a fashion very out of place for a young girl. What she had then done had cemented the niggling feeling that what was going on was not right. The ground fighting had been brutal, but Nanoha was not adverse to lethal force and she understood that in war people died. She didn’t like it, but the fact that the people that Ali was working with were killing others did not disturb her.

What Ali did however scared the living fuck out of Nanoha.

Taking off in pursuit of the exact craft that had wounded her, Ali caught up with it and plunged her scythe into the front, peeling it open like a tin can to reveal the pilot inside and then causing him to tumble out of his rapidly disintegrating craft. Ali pursued him as he fell flailing and screaming from the sky, letting him look at the ground for a while before she buried her blade in his gut and then stopped, leaving him suspended from her scythe like a worm on a hook.

She then cried out, “Soul Stealer!” and a set of ugly sigils appeared around her right hand. Cackling loudly she shoved her hand in the struggling man’s chest and ripped out his heart. But that was not all she pulled out, for even as she ripped her scythe out of the now dead body and let the two halves tumble to the ground, a faint blue, transparent outline of the man remained, centred about the still beating heart in Ali’s hand.

She then bit down into the heart like an apple, squirting blood all over her pale face while the outline screamed in psychic agony and dissolved.

Nanoha and Vita watched all of this in mute, wide eyed horror while Nanoha clutched her chest in memory of eleven years ago when Shamal had stuck her hand through her chest to drain her Linker Core.

It was Vita who screamed out, “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO!

Turning and looking at them in innocent confusion despite the still hot blood sticking to her face and hair, Ali then said, “Battlefield medicine. I ate his soul, and its energy healed me up. See?” She then pointed to the area where she had been hit and indeed she was healed.

“You’re insane!” Vita cried out.

“Why would you do something like that?” Nanoha asked in confusion.

“Because I can,” Ali replied with a shrug. “Now we have a battle to get back to.”

“I don’t think so! I suddenly wonder if maybe the people you are fighting aren’t the good guys here!” Nanoha announced.

Ali paused and then bared her scythe menacingly, flicking off some of the blood before saying, “You’re Fate’s friend, and you shouldn’t be saying things like that. You should be with us.”

“Ali, do not push the issue, they do not have all the facts,” Precia warned.

“No momma! No one stands aside, no one does nothing! Everyone acts! That’s Chaos! That’s who we are. Now pick a side!” Ali shouted out angrily before moving her scythe into a ready position.

“You killed a man and ate his soul! We can’t be allied with anyone who does something like that!” Nanoha replied while she and Vita took up their own guard stances.

“Then die!” Ali cried out, launching at them.

“With the charge time for their weapon, those people won’t be able to get off another successful shot, especially now that the Ori know what to look for,” Carter pointed out.

“So far they’ve saved two Lucian Alliance and three Free Jaffa Ha’taks, and the Korolev. I think that deserves a little more of our time,” Penderghast stated. So far only the Prometheus and the Odyssey remained, the other ships having already escaped to hyperspace once their battered drives were ready. If the other ships had not been given the breathing time from the destruction of the two ships and the shut down of the supergate, it was doubtful they would have escaped.

“Sir, the supergate is powering up again!” The sensor officer shouted out over the sound of the damage control crews suppressing fires on the bridge.

The four motherships remaining almost immediately turned back around to the planet they were working on getting back into real space.

“I’ve got a bad feeling that we’re about to meet something we won’t like,” Mitchell muttered.

Just barely clearing the bounds set by the supergate, this latest monstrosity was a good two or three times more massive than the other ships and significantly more solid, not having the large space wasting hoop at the back. Its main gun looked capable of one shot killing one of the smaller Ori ships.

“Always with the super weapons,” Daniel muttered.

“Okay, valour and honour are all well and good, but we can’t do anything against that. Helm, get us out of here,” Penderghast ordered.

On a somewhat more optimistic note at least the last thing they saw before leaping to hyperspace away from that monster was the unknown ship making a similar get away.

The fight in the air above Bloodhaven had turned into a three way brawl between the Ori fighters, the TSAB ‘diplomats’, and Ali. By far the Ori were taking the worst of it, as whenever they tried to take pot shots at the either of the other two sides they kept getting turned into atomic vapour.

And while Ali had plenty of raw power and tricks that no one from the TSAB had ever seen before, she was unfortunately outnumbered and ultimately outgunned. Against either Nanoha or Vita she might have been able to force a draw, but with both of them she was slowly being worn away. Worse yet, the cartridge system was something she could not counter.

So Ali changed the conditions of the scenario. She dived down out of the sky, breaking the sound barrier during the fall before abruptly flattening off, skimming about two metres above the ground in the middle of the slaughter occurring below as three hundred space marines tore through thousands of Ori soldiers. Not missing an opportunity, Ali let her scythe reap a grim harvest through the ranks of those who followed Origin, slowing down slightly until she stopped above a cluster of particularly gigantic marines, one of them squeezing an old man in his enormous fist until marrow squirted out of his bones.

Vita, being the close-combat specialist, was the one who fell into the trap while Nanoha could only watch on from a distance.

Ali threw out a hand and cried out, “Banshee Wail!” which caused an enormous outburst of sound and light that caught Vita completely off guard, blinding her senses.

The marines beneath her were not so affected though, their helmets and sensor suites quite handily filtering out the interference.

A single shot range out.

Graf Eisen hit the ground and skittered away while the one who had taken the shot caught the nearly bisected body with his enormous gauntleted hand, being careful not to crush the tiny frame.

“She lives!” Toji cried out to Nanoha. “I know not why, but she does… at my whim! Go, retreat from this place before your presence makes me change my mind!”

Tears running down her face, Nanoha began to line up a head shot on the giant, but he simply moved his hand so that one of the troops could point a massive flamethrower at Vita’s unconscious body.

“Do you think you can kill both of us without killing your comrade?” Toji asked. “If you leave, she will get medical attention. If you stay, we can wait right here until she bleeds out. Your choice.”

Nanoha hesitated and then ran.

“Thank you Toji, but are we really going to help here?” Ali asked with a sour look on her face. “She is our enemy.”

“You have much to learn little one. Especially one how to corrupt people,” Toji said before surveying the battlefield. The sky had been completely broken apart now, the dull red provided by the Warp replaced with a starlit sky faintly illuminated by the ring around the planet.

The ring transporters had gone silent, and Toji chuckled. “Clever, but not effective enough. Status report, how quickly can we get our forces within a one kilometre radius?”

Listening to his communication network, Toji smiled and said, “Perfect. Evangelion, I request you come to this location immediately. We’re getting out of here.”

“What? How?” Ali asked.

“A little trick we learned from one of the Angels. We can’t go very far, but fortunately the gods had enough foresight to establish a base within range of this move,” Toji said as the forces under his command assembled as he had ordered, especially the gigantic Eva.

Once he was satisfied they had everything they could recover, he said, “Commence Operation Leliel.”

In orbit the massive Ori dreadnought took up position in orbit above the battlefield, its main gun charging up to full power; superconducting rings about the primary emitter glowing white with the barely contained energy. Bloodhaven would trouble the Ori no more.

The dreadnought fired a massive lance of energy that stabbed down into Bloodhaven and immediately boiled off the atmosphere where it struck. The rock beneath the beam went from solid to liquid to gas to plasma in a few thousand seconds and immediately expanded outward in a massive pressure explosion that ripped up a continent sized hole. Still the dreadnought continued to fire, boring down towards the core. It did not make it before the capacitors gave out, but it did punch a hole thirty-five kilometres deep and five kilometres wide, although the eventual final crater would be much wider and shallower. Already the tectonic plates of the world were collapsing inward, ripping the surface of the world apart while ejecta from the blast and the sudden surge in volcanic activity was already darkening the skies.

The Ori let up their attack and settled into a brooding orbit about the star they had killed, not making much of a deal even when Bloodhaven once more sank into the Warp. They did not care. The planet was dead as it could be without detonating a ZPM on its surface.

Or so they thought.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Twenty-One: Meanwhile

The effects of Halloween night had far a far ranging impact all across the multiverse, most notably for a certain god of plotting who had not seen it coming. Tzeentch was still actually trying to figure out what had happened, as the event in question had not affected any of his agents, and he had yet to sink his claws into anyone who had. What was really annoying was that it was sending mortals out of their nice, predictable tracks and causing him some grief. True, Tzeentch always had a back-up plan, but sometimes the results didn’t come out as well, and an interlocking plan that took two thousand years to set up properly could come crashing down because a street urchin sneezed three seconds too early.

Of course, that was just the standard stuff. What was really bothering him was the fact that he had lost track of Leman Russ. Primarchs were not the sort of things a schemer could just lose track of; if they weren’t safely contained then they could do enormous amounts of damage.

The big, unsubtle, plan wrecking oaf was probably wandering the Webway somewhere. He’d done that a few times before, but each time Tzeentch had known the Primarch’s objective and destination and so could work around him. He would have to drop some hint to Ahriman next time the sorcerer was…

Oh… crap!

All things considered, Ahriman had been having a good day, leading his band of sorcerers and their attached armies of obedient, soul bound soldiers in shooting up the Eldar Harlequins and interrogating a few of them to try and refine the location of the Black Library further. It had been about average for that sort of thing, which of course meant that he gained little to no new information, but when your plans ran on thousand year time scales, it didn’t pay to be impatient about day to day affairs.

He was really starting to get irritated by the shadowseers though. Tricky bastards kept trying to get through his mental defences and confuse him with illusions and other such psychic shenanigans. While he felt quite confident in his status as the most powerful sorcerer in the galaxy, nay, the universe, Ahriman did have to admit that alien scum were skilled at what they did.

He was just better.

The problem was that they liked to layer their illusions, using multiple different physical, holographic, and psychic methods of hiding what they were really doing, so that getting to the core of what was really going on required peeling back multiple layers, with each successive layer designed to make you think you had found reality. It was exquisitely Tzeentchian, but still could get annoying when it came to actually fighting against the Harlequins.

Take for example the current situation. He had encountered a group of Eldar at a junction in the Webway running away very quickly. To him, that screamed ambush, but the question as always was in which direction? The obvious mind said that the ambush was set up down the path the Harlequins had followed, but truly any direction was possible, even from behind him.

The first step in deciphering this trap was to figure out what elements were real and which ones were false. The first element of course was figuring out if the Harlequins were real, which was not as simple as it sounded. Oh sure, he could just fire at them and see which ones dropped, but that often wasn’t a very good indicator and sometimes they wanted him to open fire. With a slight nod of his head as he sent his mental powers to unwind the strands of illusion, and abruptly about half of the Harlequins disappeared.

The gigantic warrior with the oversized two handed sword and the rhino sized wolves at his side was a new twist, Ahriman had to admit. Apparently they wanted him to think that one of those damnable Space Wolves had found their way into the Webway and was chasing them.

Now the question was whether or not this was an illusion meant to distract him or an illusion meant to conceal another force. Interesting dilemma, for if they timed it right they could potentially catch him off guard if he chose wrong. What to focus on?

The answer of course, was neither option, as getting caught in false dichotomies was an easy way to get killed. In a scenario involving two options, the Eldar invariably chose the fourth one, so Ahriman would have to pick the fifth to derail this entire thing.

Ah, of course, his back! The attack would come from the rear while he decided on…

All of this occurred in about half a second, at which point Ahriman suddenly considered that maybe, just maybe the Harlequins had been chased by a Space Wolf. The thought occurred to him as he was hurled through the air by the impact of the warrior’s sword on his armour. All things considered he was rather fortunate that the man had cleaved through two of his best sorcerers before striking him or he would have been bisected as surely as those unfortunate bastards.

Raising a hand, Ahriman tried to engulf the burly, hairy warrior in a storm of electricity, but unfortunately all that seemed to do was annoy the man and draw his attention, something that should have been impossible…

Unless of course Ahriman had just tried to attack a Primarch who had survived for ten thousand years in the Eye of Terror fighting daemons and traitor marines every step of the way and had a particular grudge against sorcerers of Tzeentch, in which case Ahriman was probably about to be obliterated body and soul.


Now that the traitorous scum had been eliminated, Leman Russ could go back to considering those foul xenos that had shot at him and drawn him into this place. Wiping off his sword, the last thing other than his Wolf Brothers that he had left since he had started his journey, Russ surveyed the location. He instinctively knew that he was in the Warp somewhere, but it seemed like he was just in some sort of tunnel made of stone.

“Thank you, Son of the Emperor,” a disembodied voice told him.

Growling, Russ spun about, weapon at the ready while he scanned out with all of his sense. He knew that the xeno that had uttered those words was around here somewhere…

“Please, we mean you no harm,” the voice replied.

“Lies,” Russ spat.

“It is true. We led you here because we desired you to remove that pest Ahriman of the Thousand Sons, something we knew you would do if we showed you in the right direction,” the voice said.

Snorting, Russ asked, “And do you expect some favour from me now for this service you have provided me?”

“On the contrary, it is we who owe you,” the voice replied.

“Forgive me if I don’t believe you xeno,” Russ said.

“Look at your feet,” the voice said. Glancing down with one eye while not taking his attention away from anything else, Russ noted that there was a small box at his feet. Gesturing to Freki, he let the wolf pick it up for him so that he would not have to stoop and lower his guard. Taking it from his brother, Russ flicked it open and discovered that it was an antique compass.

“What is this?” Russ asked.

“A most interesting device, nearly as old as your Emperor and from the same place. An artefact of your world, it is a compass that is as true as the heart of the one holding it. It will lead you to where you want to go, even if you do not know where that place is. Only your world it led men to treasures of all sorts, but when your kind began to explore the stars it truly came into its own. It is greater than an Navigator for it can steer you clear through any Warp current or storm, and it can even open up new paths,” the disembodied voice explained.

Russ considered the compass for a moment, and noted that it was pointing solidly in one direction, which was straight into a wall.

“So you’re saying that if I follow this compass it will lead me to what I want most?” Russ asked sceptically and incredulously.

“Eventually. It may lead you to the places you need to go to get to your final destination first,” the voice said.

“And where does it think I should go now?” Russ asked with a sneer.

“To find the world of Sunnydale where your brother’s soul fought,” the voice answered.

Surprised, Russ barked out, “What do you know of such things?”

“I know that I was there that night, caught in the same evil snare as your brother, although I believe he knew what was coming and chose to follow the path of the spell anyway simply to stop the Great Enemy from gaining an inch of influence elsewhere. I know that I helped him to end the spell by freeing many from the curse, and he repaid the favour by smashing my body to a pulp, as I had hoped he would,” the voice said.

Russ considered his words carefully before he tilted the compass so that it was pointing down. “And how will it help me when it is so limited?”

“Just follow where the arrow points,” the voice replied.

“What? Into the ground?” Russ asked.

“Sure,” the voice said with the verbal equivalent of a shrug.

Lowering himself, Russ was shocked to discover the ground begin to buckle and distort as he brought the compass closer. Tilting it away, the surface immediately ceased bowing inward like a piece of melting plastic suspended over empty space in the centre. It was only when the arrow pointed at the walls, floor, or ceiling did the affect occur.

“Follow it,” the voice prompted.

So Russ followed it, his wolf brothers following him, as he blazed a new trail into the Webway before it rapidly vanished.

Once Leman Russ had disappeared, the Harlequin who had been speaking to him detached from the walls, the illusion dropping while the rest of the troupe joined up. Peering down at the new path, they considered following, before deciding that giving the Primarch a better head start would be a good idea. A couple of hours.

Glancing about at the corpses of the Thousand Sons soldiers ripped apart by the ancient warrior and his wolf companions, the Harlequins upped the wait time to a day. Maybe two.

Seeing the broken corpse of Ahriman, ten thousand year old soldier who had slowly been closing in on the Black Library, and was now out of their hair forever, the troupe realized that a celebration was in order. One that would take at least a week.

Of course, they would need a good tracker for that. Maybe ask one of the Craftworlds or an Exodite colony to lend them a ranger or two. Then again, that could take a while. A month maybe. Still, there was so much to do that the delay seemed inevitable.

Across the galaxy every seer with at least some degree of long term power suddenly discovered that they had a rather large headache as lines of fate began to twist up and tangle as a key player vanished from existence. While in most places the changes were minimal and thus the headaches minor, for those like Eldar Farseers, the unexpected death of Ahriman was like getting a thunder hammer to the side of the head.

For one Farseer in particular, it was just the continuation of a months long headache. Ever since that night she had seen fate slowly spinning out of control. She understood how small changes could generate enormous results when allowed to continue long enough, and pretty much all the players in the game of fate knew how that could work for them or bite them in the ass.

But this was different. This wasn’t a butterfly flapping its wings at the wrong juncture, this was someone shelling the forest where the butterfly resided, and no one had noticed the bastard setting up the artillery, which was really more of a disturbance than the butterfly anyway.

And now that everything was falling apart, all the seers with precious little plans were running about in a blind panic because everything was going to hell, which was only adding to the damage. This was little c chaos and it was driving Big C Chaos nuts! Unfortunately, it was also driving the Eldar nuts!

Finally the Farseer had had enough. It was time to go find those Harlequin idiots and get them to show her what they had done. Somehow, she suspected that they had probably found a way to that bloody Mon-keigh world that had started all of this. And when she got there, she was going to introduce the architect of this headache to a new world of suffering.
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Twenty-Two: In Medias Res

Picard sat quietly, picking over the remnants of the Chaos base and examining the various artefacts with an archaeologist’s trained eye. The pragmatic part of him was trying to say that this would give the Federation valuable insights into a dangerous culture that could help them to better understand them in any future encounters.

The rest of him said that he was trying to run and hide, metaphorically, from the memories of what had happened.

Still, looking at the various bits and pieces left behind by a year’s worth of habitation and a rapid evacuation, Picard did not think that understanding these people was possible. As far as he could tell, they had created the so-called “Year of Chaos” for fun.

What an awful, terrible year it had been for the Federation. First the Stiletto had shown up in the Damocles nebula, then the war with the Dominion had broken out, and then the Borg had shown up again! The only silver lining was that the Stiletto had aggravated the Cardassians as equally as the Federation and when the Dominion had blitzed through the wormhole their first order of business was to try and clear up the biggest threat to their operations: the only ship in the quadrant capable of moving undetected and at unimaginable speed.

Well, the fact that the Borg had been largely uninterested in the Federation this time around was also something that many had counted their blessings on, but the fact was that the greatest threat to the existence of the Federation had successfully established a route to the Alpha Quadrant.

Emphasis on had. Those that followed Chaos seemed to enjoy simply fighting and the Borg had been quite thoroughly kicked out of the Alpha Quadrant. For now. Of course, they would probably be back, especially since they had no idea that their target had disappeared to parts unknown.

Sighing, Picard shook his head to try and banish the wool gathering tendencies and to focus upon the inscriptions he had gathered from one of the temples, trying to decipher the underlying meaning. The language itself was terrifyingly in a form of English, but it was filled with confusing metaphors and paradoxes. Just like the people in general he supposed.

These people had access to technology that made the Borg drool, and yet they often used it intentionally in archaic and primitive ways. For example, the inscription he was reading had been, according to analysis of debris, carved by hand into the stone wall using polylaminate titanium-steel chisels with diamond edges, and wooden hammers. The chisels were absolute overkill considering the fact that the hammers and muscle power had been the limiting fact, and for the fine work required the sort of industrial grade system that would have actually found such a chisel useful would have not worked.

The worst bit was that they had apparently made the chisels on site because they also had fusion cutters capable of better precision work at a higher speed elsewhere.

It was almost as if they enjoyed a certain degree of inefficiency. So far the best hypothesis was that the one who had made the chisels had quite simply been showing off.

Of course, showing off appeared to be a major part of the culture of these people. Again, with these inscriptions, there were accompanying pictures to depict what was happening, and as the process had gone on at least two of the artists had got into some sort of bizarre contest where they tried to increase the baroque grotesqueness of their work.

The overall story was apparently a creation one, and it was highly unpleasant, although considering some of the other things they had found, just being unpleasant was actually a high point. It detailed the rise and fall of entire pantheons of gods and the people that worshipped them, and all of them seemed to be extraordinarily evil. One set, called Star Vampires, apparently ate stars for sustenance, people for pleasure, and had apparently killed everyone who worshipped them and turned them into walking corpses. They were at war with a number of different pantheons, who were in turn at war with each other. Every one of these gods seemed to demand the sacrifice of sentient life, except for a pair mentioned in passing that seemed to just enjoy breaking things. There was also vague mention of a Great Devourer that had been trying to kill and eat everything in its path before the end came.

At that point the story got weird. Apparently the Star Vampires had been on the verge of victory when all of the other gods had put aside their differences long enough to destroy the world, including themselves, before reincarnating into four mortals, who were now the current gods worshipped by Chaos, but apparently they had aspects of all the others as well.

It was a long, bloody, violent story that told of many, many great ages that had come crashing down due to the actions of others. Picard had the feeling that these people were a splinter colony of another group who had run to escape a devastating war. Various comments during the brief moments of communication with them indicated that they had very recently gone through a phase of great suffering.

But that didn’t make sense! This was a rich, complex mythology filled with strange symbolism that indicated roots in a pre-FTL civilization, and yet these people had technology far in advance of the Borg. They should not have incorporated recent events into their mythology; they should have already known that there were no such things as gods.

“Oh, are there now?” A familiar voice said behind Picard.

Whirling about a touch too quickly, Picard winced and clutched at his still healing right arm before hissing out, “Q!”

Wearing a more typical Starfleet uniform than the last time they had met, the trickster alien said, “So charged, mon capitaine. I must say that I am impressed with your actions a month ago. Very clever. Very noble. It took a great deal of courage to do what you did, and I salute you for that.”

“And it also led to me being trapped here,” Picard said while waving with his still healthy left arm to the dimly lit storage room where he had taken up residence, rummaging through the abandoned bins for the ration packs that had been left behind.

“If it comforts you any, you saved a great number of lives. I mean, from my perspective you all live about the same length of time as cockroaches so a decade or two here or there seems all rather inconsequential,” Q said before lounging on one of the pallets.

Frowning, Picard was about to say something when he suddenly thought about what was happening. Glaring at Q, he said, “You would not come here to mock me while I wait for the life support of this base to run down, that’s not your style. You like to taunt me, but you always have some sort of lesson in store.”

Moi?” Q said with clearly fake offence. “Trying to teach you primitive apes anything is quite beneath me, and I must sadly say, above even my considerable talents. Of course, since you seem to occasionally get lucky and learn a lesson, even if it was not one intended, I suppose I could ‘throw you a bone’, as the colloquialism delightfully goes.”

Getting up, Q picked up a statuette Picard had been studying, cast from bronze and allowed to develop a bright green patina. It featured an ethereal young woman coiled about a gigantic warrior in sexual embrace. Smiling wryly, he said, “This statuette has bothered you since you saw it, and not in the same way that some of the symbols in this place hurt your eyes. There is something about it that you cannot quite place, something familiar.”

Picard glanced at it and admitted, “Yes, there is.”

“What part of it picks at your brain, like a scratch on the roof of your mouth?” Q asked.

Taking the idol from the alien entity, Picard looked it over once more before he said, “It is the warrior. It is like I have seen him before.”

“You have. When you pulled the little stunt that got you stuck here, you saw him in the halls,” Q explained.

Picard blinked and looked at the statue again. Yes, he had seen a face like that, but the man it had been attached to…

“It was that man who was nearly twice my height!” Picard cried out. He then remembered where he had found the statuette. It had been in a secluded cave, far too small for that giant to have ever been.

“Bingo. This is an icon featuring him and his wife, ahem, consummating their marriage,” Q explained.

“Curious. I had thought that this was a fertility icon when I first discovered it, but-” Picard began.

“Actually, it’s not a fertility icon. It’s a contraceptive icon,” Q corrected.

Blinking, Picard said, “I suppose that does explain why there were unused barrier contraceptives scattered about it, but that while I can see a tribal society picking a great warrior to serve as the inspiration for fertility, I can’t see them turning a living warrior into a contraceptive icon. Of course, a tribal association doesn’t make much sense for these people as not only do they possess technology in advance of our own, but they show clear evidence of knowing how to maintain and even adapt what they already have to new uses, which implies that they should have a more advanced social model.”

“What if they do have a more advanced social model and they do know what they are doing. What if I told you that the contraceptive idol you carry was constructed by a society that had long ago discovered the scientific method and in fact had already excised itself of the majority of its superstitions,” Q asked, somewhat mockingly.

Frowning, Picard considered the question before him. Finally he began talking, more to himself than to Q. “Everything produced by sentient life must have some purpose, even if that purpose is immediately, or even ultimately, useful from the perspective of an outsider. Typically something such as this would have religious or spiritual or ritual purpose. The shape of its construction leads to the idea of being somehow associated with sexual activity. The fact that it was found in association with contraceptives lends credence to the idea of the idol being believed to somehow enhance the power of such items. However, since one of the subjects is living, therefore his presence is either an invocation or a mocking, while…”

Picard paused, winced at his own stupidity, and he asked, “The woman is one being invoked, isn’t she?”

Smiling wryly, Q replied, “That took longer than I had come to expect from you Picard, for shame.”

Examining the idol once more, Picard said, “She has certain… ethereal qualities despite being cast from bronze. Could it be that she is the dead wife of an honoured warrior and her presence in the idol is meant to represent the undying love between them while also indicating that conception is impossible?”

Shrugging, Q replied, “It might be something like that, but your thinking is still so limited, seeing everything as if the culture that had made that statuette was less advanced socially than yours, despite the fact that they are clearly more advanced technologically.”

“With all their barbarism and superstitious behaviour that makes it hard to believe. While the Federation has full freedom of religion and culture, these people wage war as if their gods had given them direct orders to do so…” Picard trailed off as Q’s grin became wider.

“There are no gods!” Picard demanded.

“What about those with omnipotent, or near omnipotent in the case of some, power? What if they let others call upon them for aid, what if they gave orders to those that followed them? Would they not meet the traditional requirements of deities?” Q asked mockingly.

“Those beings are not true gods; they are just those with greater understanding of the universe abusing the power they have obtained. I have met such creatures before, including you Q, and to a one they are all charlatans and liars,” Picard replied angrily.

Slapping his right hand to his chest, Q said mockingly, “You wound me Picard! To think that I thought so highly of you, relatively speaking of course, and you still do not see what is in front of you. Who said that they lie?”

Picard blinked, and then looked down at the copy of the inscription he had been studying before Q’s arrival, and felt a chill pass over him. He now knew so much more about what they were facing.

“The powers of Chaos… the gods that these people worship… they were ordinary people up until recently, weren’t they?” Picard asked.

“It is what the inscription said,” Q replied with a shrug.

“Ordinary people suddenly imbued with incredible power from highly destructive and predatory beings,” Picard continued.

“One more step mon capitaine,” Q urged.

“And instead of preying upon the remnants of their people, they instead help them while making them equally predatory. They possess incredible powers and understanding of the universe, and they share it with their worshippers while commanding them to go forth and conquer. They are… they are worse than the Borg. Most every other time we have encountered an ascended race they have ignored us, but this sort of encounter…” Picard trailed off.

“They literally see you all as target practice, nothing more,” Q stated. “If they want to, they can conquer the entire galaxy within a few centuries and make sure that they rule for the rest of eternity,” Q stated grimly.

“How can we stop them?” Picard asked desperately.

We can’t. Even the Continuum does not wish to attack their gods directly, as while we might win on our turf they have demonstrated an ability to carry grudges capable of outlasting cosmoses. You however might be able to use your new insights in some surprising ways,” Q replied.

“Oh and how will I use these insights trapped down here?” Picard asked irritably.

Q raised his hand and said, “You don’t even need to worship me for this one.”

He then snapped his fingers and both he and Picard disappeared in a flash.
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You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

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Chapter Twenty-three: Lost

“Where in the Warp are we?” Rong-Arya asked while unsteadily climbing back into her seat, the deck gravity pitched at an odd angle making it rather hard to move properly.

“Sensors indicate that we are no longer in the Warp,” Lieutenant Xavier reported.

“Okay, then where are we, in general?” Rong-Arya asked somewhat irritably while examining the restraining harness for her chair. She had only managed to get it partially buckled up when they had made their violent transition to the Warp, so the clasp had torn free. A regular human would have been killed on impact after such a violent event, but as a daemonhost Rong-Arya wasn’t even bruised.

“Unknown, the spin of the ship is preventing us from getting a clear look at the stars,” Xavier replied.

“Well then stop the damn ship from spinning!” The captain snapped irately.

“Engines are in full shut down, and full reports have yet to come in from the engine room. Cold starting the Gellar field has also overloaded numerous systems, but circuit breakers are being reset and fuses are being replaced as we speak. The surge did overload a few systems before the circuits broke, hence the lovely blue smoke, but surge protectors protected all systems we can’t easily replace,” Striker reported.

“Estimated time to engine restart?” Rong-Arya asked.

“Optimistically? Half an hour. The fact that we’re not being smeared into a fine paste by the spin means that the inertial compensators are still up and running, so damage was not too severe. Realistically though, we’re looking at just sitting here doing damage control for hours, days if you want me to be pessimistic,” Striker said.

Frowning, Rong-Arya said, “Keep me updated then.”

“Would you look at the size of that frakker?” Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace said in a low whistle as she kept her Viper in guardian formation with the Raptor doing the bulk of the recon work on this mysterious ship that had appeared on in deep space three light seconds from the battered Colonial fleet.

“Laser range finding indicates that it’s about 2.3 km from bow to stern, but whoever built it certainly isn’t home anymore. It’s making a rotation along its axis central about once every ten seconds, more than enough to pulp anyone unfortunate enough to be inside the majority of it. Surprised it hasn’t ripped itself apart yet,” Sharon ‘Athena’ Agathon reported.

“I’m kind of glad of that. The frakking thing looks… well, evil I suppose would be the best term,” Starbuck noted as they flew beneath the enormous ship as it drifted through space.

Insane is probably a better word for it. That thing on the front? It’s a ram prow if I’m looking at it right and it has chunks of debris stuck to it meaning that it has been used recently,” Athena replied.

“A ram prow? What the frak is this, a frakking joke?” Starbuck asked incredulously.

“If it’s a joke it’s the weirdest frakking one I have seen ever. I mean, some of these telemetry contacts don’t make any sense. I’m reading things that are either fighter launch tubes or gun ports. And I’m thinking they’re gun ports because the smallest things that actually look like guns are bigger than the main guns on the Galactica,” Athena replied.

“Are you trying to tell me that this thing has frakking point defence guns bigger than our main guns?” Starbuck asked.

“Hey, I’m just reading off the telemetry here. Huh… looks like a may have found the main hangar,” Athena said, growing quizzical towards the end.

“Can it hold the frakking Galactica?” Kara asked sarcastically.

“Actually, no. I think it has less hangar space than we do. I’m guessing it’s not a dedicated carrier,” Sharon replied.

“Think we can get anything useful out of it?” Starbuck asked.

“Maybe if we could get it to stop spinning, but otherwise its just going to drift here forever, with no one able to get inside without going squish,” Athena said with a verbal shrug at the end.

“What about the toasters?” Starbuck asked.

“They’ll go crunch then. If it has joints, the G-forces will take it apart. It’s impossible for anything to survive for long in there,” Sharon said confidently.

“Huh… Captain, at first I thought it was an anomaly in the antennas, but we are definitely being scanned with radar and range finding lasers,” Xavier reported.

“Really?” Rong-Arya asked, perking up and going into full combat mode. “Hostile?”

Shrugging, Xavier said, “Hard to say, but the search patterns are fairly lazy and the energy output a touch low so I’m guessing it’s a targeting system being used for survey. I could be wrong though.”

“Lieutenant O’Hare, begin wide band radio hailing. Let’s see if there is anyone to talk to out there,” Rong-Arya commanded.

Athena looked at her telemetry display. She looked at it again. She double checked with her ECO, who was the one doing the scanning work directly. Finally she said, “That’s frakking impossible.”

“What?” Starbuck asked over the radio, which was picking up some interference.

“The ship is trying to talk to us,” Sharon replied in astonishment and horror.

“I thought you said that was impossible!” Starbuck cried out.

“It is! It’s spinning too fast for anything living or mechanical to still be functioning. Frak, the antennas broadcasting the signal should have been ripped off their mounts! But I’m picking up a frakking transmission,” Athena cried out in frustration.

“What’s it say?” Starbuck asked.

“I have no idea, its gibberish. Definitely a language, but not one I can make out,” Athena said. “Here, let me contact Galactica, see if they want us to reply.”

“Picking up radio transmission from one of the targets to a location beyond our current resolution in this spin,” O’Hare reported. “Decryption protocol has already broken through their key… their computer technology would have been considered laughable back before Third Impact if that’s what the call encryption.”

“Contents?” Rong-Arya asked.

“Unknown language… possibly derived from Greek. Running it through the universal translator,” O’Hare replied, grinning as he interfaced the computer with the best piece of technology they had taken from the Federation. Rule one of interstellar diplomacy: develop good guns before you develop fancy toys or the first guys you meet might take those toys from you instead of talking.

Listening in on the conversation for a moment, O’Hare said, “Looks like they’re asking their superiors for what to do. Should we butt in?”

Rong-Arya considered for a moment before saying, “Patch us in.”

O’Hare’s grin nearly managed to equal his captain’s.

Admiral Adama had been listening patiently to Athena going on about impossible ships, as if finding a monster bigger than a battlestar drifting and spinning in deep space wasn’t impossible enough, but now she was saying that it had somehow started transmitting despite the fact that it should be impossible. Sighing patiently, he was about to ask if she had considered the possibility of automated systems when something impossible happened.

Attention unidentified vessel, please state your affiliation and purpose for approaching our ship,” a deep voice, oddly affected by reverb asked over the channel.

Everyone on the bridge paused for a moment before Adama asked, “Unknown contact, this is a secure Colonial military channel. Please identify yourself and what you are doing on it.”

We asked first, and this channel is not secure to us,” the voice replied, causing a thrill of fear to jump through everyone. The Cylons could crack their codes, but it took time. Time that that should not have been available.

“The channel was encrypted, and I don’t care who you are, you had to have deliberately cracked into it,” Adama countered.

Fine, so you have us. We are Captain Rong-Arya of the Stiletto, the ship you are currently examining. So now we ask again, who are you and what are you doing here?” The voice said.

Adama did not recognize the name of the ship as it was in a foreign language, or at least he thought he didn’t recognize it because he thought that he heard a word that sounded like ‘stiletto’, in which case it was the worst ship name ever if given to a monster like that.

“Captain, I am Admiral William Adama of the Galactica and the Colonial Fleet. As the duly appointed military leader of these people, it is my responsibility to know whether or not you constitute a threat to us,” Adama stated.

Oh, we very much represent a threat to you, in the same way that a whale represents a threat to a minnow. Now, if you mean an active threat, well, that very much depends on whether or not you decide to start shooting at us,” Rong-Arya replied.

Frowning, Adama said, “You’ll find that I prefer to finish fights rather than start them.”

We’re sure you do,” Rong-Arya said somewhat derisively. “Now, we might as well ask this, but do you know where exactly we are? And we mean star coordinate wise. We’re a little lost.

“I would rather not disclose that information at this time,” Adama retorted.

Fine. How about the way to Earth, if you’ve heard of it? That would help us orient ourselves enormously,” Rong-Arya asked.

The bridge held its collective breath for a moment, hoping against hope for the next words to be all their dreams come true. Thinking very carefully, Adama asked, “Why do you want to know the way to Earth.”

Its home,” Rong-Arya said.

“Ow! The channel just exploded into shouting,” O’Hare said while wincing at the input into his neural jacks.

I guess they were looking for Earth,” Rong-Arya said with a shrug.

Once Tigh managed to get the bridge crew to settle down with his cyclopean stare, Adama cleared his throat and said, “I will admit that we too are looking for Earth, but we don’t actually know where it is.”

Sighing, Rong-Arya said, “So much for doing things the easy way then. We’ll have to slow down our spin and orient by the stars before trying to get off a signal.

Frowning, Adama asked, “About that, my officers say that you should be spinning too fast to survive. How exactly are you doing that?”

The spin is only about 70-80 Gs in the worst places, easily compensated for,” Rong-Arya replied.

“What do you mean ‘compensated for’?” Adama asked.

As in we have inertial compensators that keep us all from going squish when we engage our main drives or go through manoeuvres,” Rong-Arya replied.

“You have this technology?” Adama inquired.

It’s pretty fundamental. A ship can’t pull 10,000 Gs without some form of inertial compensation. By the way, thanks for telling us you don’t have that sort of thing,” Rong-Arya said laconically.

Mentally smacking himself, Adama replied, “Thank you for telling us the acceleration specs of your ship.”

Not bad, although just by looking at your fighters I think we can outrun your missiles from a dead start. Anyway, as a denizen of Earth, I suppose I should ask you why you are looking for it,” Rong-Arya replied.

“I do not want to disclose that information to you at this time,” Adama replied.

Alright then. Oh, you might want to tell your people to stand clear, my conn officer just informed me that we can use our retros to slow down our rate of spin,” Rong-Arya said. “We will fire our engines in 60 of the units represented by the time between these two beeps.” There was then a set of two computer generated beeps one after the other.

“Athena, Starbuck, get away from that ship now,” Adama ordered, and the two pilots rapidly agreed.

A few light seconds away the nose of Stiletto was consumed in blue white fire as one of the retro-thrusters fired counter to the direction of spin. To the Galactica it looked like the ship had just detonated a city-buster nuke right next to its bow.

“What was that?” Adama cried out.

Our engines… ah, much better. Hmmm… damn, we are off course!” Rong-Arya commented.

“What?” Adama asked.

My navigation officer just ran an analysis of the stars against our catalogue, and we are on the wrong side of the galaxy from Earth. This’ll take a day or two to sort out,” Rong-Arya answered.

The wrong side of the galaxy? Damn it!

Hmmm… nice ship. You guys do good construction… for what you have to work with anyway. A bit battered though. The battle scars look nice, but you could definitely use some time in a dry-dock,” Rong-Arya commented out of the blue.

“You were scanning us,” Adama asked while glaring at his own sensors officers, who all threw up their hands in confusion. They had not detected any active scanners.

A bit. Tell me admiral, how many refugees do you have aboard those ships?” Rong-Arya asked.

“For the safety of my people I refuse to disclose such information,” Adama replied firmly.

Oh. Well, I just asked because Earth is a little empty after a series of nasty incidents, so we could probably use the extra people, especially if you have knowledge of building, maintaining, and living aboard space-based objects,” Rong-Arya replied, before adding on, “Oh, and so you know, I broadcast that last statement on an open civilian channel as well as this military one.

Adama blinked before he felt a touch of rage well within him. He demanded, “What are you trying to do?”

Sow a little chaos, that’s all. Maybe now that the cat is out of the bag you’ll be willing to talk a little more openly with me.

“What. Do. You. Want?” Adama hissed.

I want to learn things Admiral; it is what my original mission was about. So I want to know why you are the only warship, and a battered one at that, in a refugee convoy looking for Earth,” Rong-Arya asked.

Glaring at the microphone as if he could cause the voice on the other end to spontaneously combust, Adama admitted, “A race of robots called the Cylons, who I presume you haven’t heard about, attacked our worlds and killed billions. We’re almost all that is left, with a few scattered survivors being enslaved by the Cylons.”

Interesting… see, now that you’ve told me that, I, as a former refugee myself, will now offer to bring you back to Earth and personally eviscerate any Cylon that dares come near you. We won’t come back for you, so it’s a limited time offer, but I think it’s a pretty good deal. We protect you, bring you to our home where we have plenty of living space and need more people, and generally everyone wins,” Rong-Arya offered.

Adama was taken aback by this sudden change in mood, but he quickly regained his footing and said, “That sounds very generous of you, but I hope you won’t be offended if I have to pass such a decision off to the civilian government and point out that we don’t really know you and we have reason to be paranoid.”

Ha! It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you! Don’t worry about it, we’re not a group used to having people swoon over us right away… running screaming in abject terror, but we’re really a bunch of softies under all the armour plating and spikes,” Rong-Arya said, causing everyone on the bridge of the Galactica to look a little worried.

“You’re not helping to sell your case here,” Adama pointed out.

Look, it’s like this: the best way to win a fight is to never start it. If your enemies fear you so much that they wet their pants at the mere mention of your name, then it pays to have an ‘evil’ reputation. So in battle we’re all about the dismemberment and blood drinking and decorating ourselves in the skulls and flayed skins of our enemies, but we’re really quite nice to the conquered civilian populations. Imperialist as all fuck, but atomic wastelands don’t aid the war effort the same way as functioning factories and a population who have noted a rise in their standard of living since conquest do. Of course, we don’t explain it that way to most people because it takes a while and hampers our ability to scare people. You on the other hand, well; we want you to join us, so it behoves us to explain just what you’re getting into. In this case it will probably be warm beds, plentiful food, open skies, and government sponsorship to sit back, relax, and have lots of kids. Seriously, that’s the average life of a person on Earth. Oh sure, you have to work too, but it’s not the life of a refugee, I can tell you that,” Rong-Arya explained.

“You know, the last bit almost erased the first bit,” Adama said in disgust.

Trust me, we’re not that bad. Also, we get lots of neat abilities. For instance, these Cylons you speak of will be arriving in thirty seconds. Our main reactor will not be online for… several hours. This will get interesting,” Rong-Arya said somewhat smugly.
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You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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Re: The Open Door (megacrossover)

Post by Academia Nut »

Chapter Twenty-four: Corruption

She sat comfortably in an advanced wheel chair with integrated monitoring equipment and IV lines, wrapped up snugly in warm blankets and a nurse at her side at all times. Under most circumstances this would be considered sumptuous treatment, but a tiny part of her mind noted that this was all to keep her controlled. That the chair was a cage as much as transport, the nurse a jailer as much as healer, and the chemicals in her blood chained her as well as healed her.

Unfortunately that little voice got smaller and smaller each day, not just as the pharmaceuticals wore away her will to resist, but as the desire to resist these people faded with all the things they did for her. They cared for her, honestly and truly, and it was hard to hate someone who did that. And hate was the only emotion she could use in warding against them.

Sure, they had been the ones who had shot her in the first place, but technically she supposed that she and… and… someone… had kind of attacked first. But once they had her in their captivity they had treated her fairly and given her excellent medical treatment, including the replacement of all the organs blown out of her abdomen by the bolter shell. They had explained everything they had done to her, even the psychological tricks they were using to subvert her will.

For example, her ‘nurse’ combined the modern medical term and the original term, a pun that had been somewhat lost on her until it had been explained. They had then explained that aside from the fact that it was fairly standard for female nurses to actually breastfeed patients, the act when combined with some of the pharmaceutical agents in her blood, some of them manufactured within the nurse’s body, they would regress her mind into a more child-like state where it would be easier to shape her opinions.

They were such insidious bastards, but when she was half asleep on hypnotics and had a touch of hallucinogens in her blood and she was being held up against a warm bosom like a babe, it was really hard to think ill about her captors. Or to even feel that what was being done to her was a bad thing.

Or, as her nurse said while Vita was suckling away, “We learned our lessons quite well from those who came before. Machiavelli was wrong, it is better to be loved than feared. It is harder to make someone love you than fear you, but it is also harder to break those bonds. Chaos will shower you in gifts and love, and all we ask is that you love us back.”

And as narcotic laced human milk flowed over her tongue, Vita found it hard to disagree. These Chaos people were sick, twisted psychopaths who got a kick out of dismembering their enemies, but they were also lovely, gentle people towards their friends and family. They were also perverted to the extreme and other such lovely things, but they expressed those sorts of things differently depending on who you were, so that patients got breast fed by large bosomed women and enemies in the midst of battle got… tentacles. That was all they had explained to her, smiling too broadly about it, letting her fill in the blanks.

Somehow, after getting to know them, she actually doubted it was as bad as the let on. They seemed to enjoy letting people think the worst of them so that they could pleasantly surprise them later.

For example, in most cultures, large numbers of heavily armed and armoured soldiers wearing way too many skulls invading a children’s hospital would be cause for concern, but here it was a way to cheer up the patients.

Of course, the patients needed cheering up, considering how many of them were here. A few days ago, if she had counted the rise and fall of the sun properly, there had been a sudden massive influx of wounded and sick children to the hospital, something the nurses had been commenting on. Aside from the noise and crowding level suddenly jumping up, it had also affected Vita’s treatment schedule, meaning that she was significantly more lucid than before.

Then again, they probably wanted her lucid for this demonstration. Those that safely could be moved had all been brought out to the bright, green, well maintained front lawn where a number of terrifying looking soldiers were waiting, along with a strange batch of other people. Set with her wheelchair to one side, Vita was afforded a front row seat and a good view of the crowd of children.

About half to two-thirds of them weren’t actually human, although it was hard to tell with some of them because except for a few cosmetic differences they didn’t look very alien. For some, it was just some pointed ears or funny looking foreheads, although there were also a large number of stranger children. That species seemed like humanoid birds/reptiles, with tough, leathery skin and a crest of feathers on the head instead of hair. They also seemed to be suffering from the most diverse collection of ailments, from broken bones to amputations to nasty looking diseases, where the others seemed to all be suffering from burns for the most part.

Once everyone was there, one of the doctors came forward and said, “Now I know you’re all scared, it has been a trying time for most of you, especially the last few days since you were transferred here. Many of you want to know where your parents are, and we are trying to get into contact with them if possible, but that is rather difficult at the moment. So for today we’ve decided to put on a little show for you to let you all know what you can expect in the future. Call it a ‘career day’ if you will, as some of you are already reaching the age where you will start making decisions about your life.”

Glancing over, the doctor gestured for a semi-familiar face to step forward. It was one of the men often seen patrolling the grounds, a formidable young man with an extensive network of scars across his face, dressed in gear that would be better suited to quelling a riot with extreme prejudice than patrolling the grounds of a children’s hospital, but that was just how Chaos ran: overkill was not just a word, it was a way of life.

“Hey kids! My name is Officer Bradley, and you might have seen me making sure no bad people try and get in here. What you might not know however is that I’m not just a guard here, I’m actually a police officer and in the army reserves. Now, a lot of you are new here, so you might have been hearing all sorts of rumours about the army, and the military in general. Well, I’m here to dispel them and set the record straight. You are not, repeat, not required to join the army. That is volunteer only. As a citizen, what you are required to do is be part of the reserves. Now, some of you might be asking what that means. Being part of the reserves means is that you are taught how to help the regular army if we ever need to defend our homes. Isn’t that great?” Officer Bradley explained to the kids.

It was interesting seeing the reactions among the children. Some responded with fear and trepidation, while others nodded sagely or even looked eager, and it seemed to be mostly divided along species, and thus most likely cultural, lines. One girl held up her hand and asked, “What about girls? I hear that they don’t have to go into the reserves.”

Just by her attitude alone Vita could tell that she was local. Most of the other humans were still cowering from the whole affair.

Chuckling, Officer Bradley replied, “Well little lady, that’s depends on what exactly you want to do with your life. The gods have mandated a large population increase, so any woman who has three or more children by her twentieth birthday can opt not to join the reserves to instead concentrate on raising her kids.”

“Does that make us ‘walking baby making machines beholden to a husband’?” The girl asked, obviously quoting an adult at the end there.

Laughing, Bradley said, “Well now maybe I should pass it over to Sister Roxanne here.”

Taking a step back, Bradley let a woman take centre stage, one who was decked out in a wide degree of religious iconography and carrying a very large sword strapped to her back. Smiling, she said, “As the good officer said, I am Sister Roxanne, a priestess to the Female Trinity, and I was asked to come here to dispel any misgivings the girls in the audience might have about their futures. The gods ask that we be fruitful and multiply, and they back up their request with many tax breaks and social programs for women who have large families, but they do not force pregnancy and marriage upon women. Three of the four gods are female, and they would not tolerate a male dominated society like that. If they so choose, women like me can become leaders, both spiritual and material, or technicians or engineers or soldiers or any of the careers a man can do. Yes, it’s a little bit harder than if you take a more traditional path, but then again, men don’t have to join the reserves either if they wish to pursue a few of the special careers open to both sexes.”

A smallish man with glasses and extensive cybernetic work coughed lightly in the back. Turning, Roxanne offered the stage to him, and he stepped forward. Grinning broadly at the crowd of children, the man said, “I guess this makes it a good time to step in. My name is Dr. Walberg, although I’m not a medical doctor like the fine ladies and gentlemen that are taking care of you here. No children, I’m a researcher who uses knowledge of the universe, either granted directly by the gods or obtained through experimentation, to help create a new and better tomorrow. In the past twenty-five years since Third Impact we have made incredible strides forward in all areas of science and technology. Improvements in surgery and cybernetics are what will make sure that many of you will be able to run and play with your friends instead of being crippled for life. Extensive factory and farm automation is what will allows so many to live lives of luxury, pursuing arts and even greater sciences for the glory of the gods. Of course, getting the doctor title takes a great deal of work, and in their wisdom, the gods grant any who wish to pursue such schooling a reprieve from serving in the reserves or starting a family. Not all people who take up such paths will make it, but they are not punished, just asked to pick a new path for their life.”

One of the alien children finally had the temerity to raise a hand, and Dr. Walberg immediately acknowledged him. Stuttering a bit, the feathered boy asked, “What of us who are new to the might of your gods and magic?”

Grinning, Dr. Walberg said, “You will of course be caught up as best you can, and allowed to choose your path in life as if you were any other citizen. We need all the people we can get, be they human, penguin, or…” Pausing, Dr. Walberg looked over to one of the doctors, who whispered something in his ear. Continuing, the scientist said, “Or Syracusan. Although I should note that most of what we do isn’t magic.”

“That would be where I should step in,” said one of the large, armoured men in the back. Bowing out, Dr. Walberg let the blue and gold giant step forward for his turn.

“Now as I understand it, some of you might have already seen some of my brothers, so I understand if you are scared by my appearance, but you really have nothing to fear. I am a Space Marine, favoured of the gods, and some of their highest, most sacred laws forbid the harming of children. No, you should know that I or any of my brothers, from any of the chapters would gladly die to protect you. That out of the way, I was asked to come here to speak not just for the Heralds of Tzintchi, but for psykers in general. Psychic powers are one of the crown jewels for humanity since the ascension of the gods, and those of you who demonstrate a capacity with such things will be greatly rewarded in whatever career you follow, for while the training to control your powers is more difficult, the benefits speak for themselves,” the marine said before casually flicking out a hand and causing a sword lunge aimed at the back of his head to stop dead. “Precognition and telekinesis are but two of the many benefits. In the case of the Heralds of Tzintchi, our psychic powers grow to the point where… well…”

The Herald then let the telekinesis holding the other Marine back drop, causing the sword to plunge through his helmet, emerging out the other side. There were numerous cries of fear from the assembled children, but the Herald just held up a hand and said, “Don’t worry kids, I’m alright.”

This actually caused a segment of the audience to start crying more.

Sliding his sword out of the Herald’s head, the man who did it said, “Don’t fear children. That was just a show, so you could see what Tzintchi’s might can do. Brother, if you would remove your helmet?”

Removing his helmet, the Herald allowed everyone to see what was beneath his armour. Or rather, what wasn’t. Instead of flesh and blood, there was a collection of faintly glowing sand assembled into a shifting facsimile of a human head. The marine with the sword passed his weapon through the Herald’s head a few times to show that it did no damage.

Sheathing his weapon, the marine said, “That was just a demonstration of some of the things the Heralds of Tzintchi are capable of. Vast psychic power and physical immortality are but a few of the abilities they gain. However, if you are a human male, sorry aliens and girls, it has to do with simple genetics, and you think you are good enough to challenge the entry tests for the Marines, there are other chapters to consider. As a member of the Sons of Kensuke, I represent the ‘armoured fist’ of the marine chapters. Our Primarch has long sought to ensure that we acquire the best equipment, and by far we have the most armoured vehicles around. Tanks, skimmers, gunships, you name it, we’ve got it. Our personal forges were in fact the ones that designed the World Raider assault tank, which I understand saw use by Primarch Kensuke in the Defence of Bloodhaven. So if you are interested in getting to use the best, most powerful tanks available in the service of the gods, the Sons of Kensuke are the ones to talk to.”

Stepping aside, the Son of Kensuke allowed a garishly decorated marine carrying what looked like a cross between a chainsaw and a guitar with enormous amplifiers on his shoulders to step forward. His helmet off, the children could see the broad grin permanently carved into the marine’s face. Looking over the crowd, the marine asked, “How many of you here like to have fun?” The marine waited for a few in the audience to timidly raise their hand before saying, “Well, in the Whips of Mislaato, we have fun all the time. Every day is a party, even when fighting… actually, especially when fighting, because we’ve figured out how to turn music into a weapon, so every fight rocks! Not only that, but how many of you wish you weren’t hurt? A lot I bet. Well, Mislaato teaches us how to turn pain into pleasure. For a Whip of Mislaato, getting scratched is like being tickled! Doesn’t that sound great? Actually, doesn’t this sound great?”

The Whip then began to work on the guitar, producing an impressively fast and complex number that quickly had all of the kids watching in rapt awe as he worked his armoured fingers up and down the massive guitar, producing a song of inhuman power and emotion before he turned to the group behind him and hit a power chord that caused one of the other marines to more or less explode, causing all of the children to squeal in fear.

Picking himself up off the ground, the marine so struck said, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” This time, unlike when the Herald took the sword through the head, there was actually a smattering of applause. The kids were starting to get into the show, starting to understand that no one was going to get hurt.

The marine who was downed by the Whip looked like a complete and utter mess, like he had been shot repeatedly and then left in a septic tank for a month, certainly not the sort of guy to be let near a children’s hospital, but the doctors were utterly unconcerned by his unsanitary appearance. Clearing his throat of some serious phlegm build up, the marine said, “For a Bearer of Reigle, wounds like that don’t hurt at all, and they don’t slow us down. Reigle’s gifts are many, and she above all of the other gods will love you no matter what you do. The world is changing rapidly, as many of you know far too well, and some people can’t keep up with that much change.”

The Herald of Tzintchi coughed smugly.

Making a small, annoyed hum, the Bearer continued, “But if you ever feel like you’re falling behind, don’t fret, for Reigle will be there to catch you when you fall. Not only that, but as a follower of Reigle, especially as a Bearer, you will be helping out everyone on the planet. Reigle controls all of the disease on this world, and so long as she has followers who can serve as repositories of all the sickness in the world, no one else has to get sick. Ever. Isn’t that amazing kids? For those of you born off world, that means that you and those you love will never catch a cold or get cancer or suffer from a plague as long as Reigle is around… unless of course you choose to follow her, in which case you will not suffer or die for all the little things you carry in her name. Their life will become your life, and visa versa. It’s great!”

Another marine shoved a chainsword through the Bearer’s gut and activated it, sending rotting meat flying everywhere, but the Bearer just gave the thumbs up and said, “No pain! Don’t try this at home of course, but if you join the Bearers, or Reigle in general, this sort of thing isn’t even that inconveniencing.”

Taking his sword out the Bearer, the marine flicked it clean before giving the Bearer a high five and taking his turn at centre stage. “Hey kids! I’m a Son of Toji, the do everything chapter. Unlike all of the other chapters, we emphasize elite, physical prowess in all things. So where our fellow First Founding chapter the Sons of Kensuke like to drive around in tanks a lot, we prefer to just run as fast as tanks. We might not be as tough as the Bearers, as psychic as the Heralds, as quick as the Whips, or as ferocious as the Reavers, but we also have none of their weaknesses. We can run, we can jump, we can shoot, and we can most definitely score, where the other chapters might only be able to do one or two of those things really well but not the others very good. For example, the Bearers and the Heralds are both really slow; the Whips are by far the most fragile chapter-”

“Says you,” the representative from the Whips interrupted, sticking out his tongue, which got a few smattered giggles from the kids.

“…And the Reavers are the worst long distance shots in existence,” the Son of Toji finished.

“Who needs long distance accuracy when you can close with the enemy faster than Tzintchi did against Ramiel?” The final marine to speak, decked out in red and bronze armour and wielding a massive chainsaw axe, said. The Son of Toji gestured, and the man shrugged before coming forward.

“I am a Reaver of Asukhon, as some of you who know the chapters might have already guessed. That means that I am very, very angry. All the time. No exceptions. Even now I am furious; although I should note that I am not angry at any of you, so don’t be scared. No, I look out at you, and I see the wounds on you, and I want to fly into frenzy. Kids should not suffer plasma burns. Kids should not be in hospitals. Kids should be out and about playing in the sunshine with their friends and family. When I see you, it makes me want to beg the gods for a chance to go back through the portal and start tearing apart Borg until there are none left. That is what it means to be a Reaver of Asukhon.”

The Whip snorted in disbelief.

“Okay. Being a Reaver also means that we have to get creative with the psychic powers that keep popping up in our ranks despite having very little to do with them. We do things like this,” the Reaver then vanished with the sound of air imploding inward to fill the vacancy left behind before reappearing next to the Whip and punching the marine in the face, then leaping impossibly through the air in defiance of gravity to land next to the Herald and try to head butt the psychic in the face, only to get a wave of telekinesis for his trouble.

Very quickly it all descended into a brawl between the various marines, each apparently trying in earnest to kill the others, but as the children watched it soon became obvious that it was all one big play fight as no one ever got hit by any weapons unless they could take it like the Herald or the Bearer, and even then those two only got hit in non-essential areas.

After a few spectacular minutes of whirring saws, humming blades, teleportation, flipping, jumping, and really good if destructive music that left everyone in awe, all of the marines spontaneously turned such that they were all in a line and bowed, eliciting cheers and applause from the audience.

They had made their sale. Now every little boy would want to be a Space Marine when he grew up, and everyone was now thinking about how they wanted to worship the gods. Tzintchi with his psychic powers, Mislaato with her fun loving attitude, Reigle with her self sacrificing endurance, Asukhon with her righteous wrath, or some mixture of the four.

As Vita was wheeled back to her private room, she could not help but be impressed by how comprehensive their society was. Everyone had their place, had a path to follow, and everything worked. It might be some sort of twisted version of a regular society, but it worked. It might be called Chaos, but while individual members were allowed freedom overall it was very orderly.

“Wasn’t that a nice presentation Vita?” The nurse taking care of her asked.

“Nice,” Vita said groggily, the chemicals in her blood keeping her from saying much else. She then added on rather sadly, “Too bad it doesn’t matter to me.”

“Oh now, just because you opposed us at one point doesn’t mean you can’t become a citizen and enjoy all the rights and benefits as well as bear the responsibilities that come with such a lofty position,” the nurse said reassuringly.

“No. I mean grow up. I’m stuck like this… forever,” Vita said morosely.

“Oh. You mean that weird stasis effect, the one that let you live through getting shot in the gut with a bolter. The gods are suppressing it right now, so you will indeed grow up,” the nurse said happily.

What?” Vita cried out, trying to stand up but finding that her muscles and bones had not knit enough to allow her such freedom of action.

“You’re going to grow up Vita. I don’t know how long you’ve been in a body that young, but already you’re aging. In a few years you’ll be an adult, able to do all of the things adults do,” the nurse explained.

Vita fainted, partially from shock, but mostly because her system was so doped up she did not have the strength to stay conscious after such a world shaking revelation.

This changed everything.
I love learning. Teach me. I will listen.
You know, if Christian dogma included a ten-foot tall Jesus walking around in battle armor and smashing retarded cultists with a gaint mace, I might just convert - Noble Ire on Jesus smashing Scientologists
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