Disclaimer: Stargate: SG-1 and all related concepts are the property of MGM, while the character of Spike belongs to Joss Whedon and James Marsters, among other people (Also, the original idea for this story came from Jedi Buttercup's 'An Unexpected Gift', so I don't own it either, although I have put my own spin on things, and have been given his full permission to use his idea)
Feedback: I'd appreciate it, of course
AN: For the dating system, I'm just ignoring all the dating for Buffy and Angel and making it that Sunnydale collapsed a few days before the events of this chapter, which, for Stargate SG-1, takes place in the early part of Season 10
The Ghost in the Team
Staring at the vast field of rubble and dirt before him, the other members of the clean-up team Buffy had requested from the remnants of the Initiative program after the culmination of the battle with the First Evil, Riley found it hard to believe that he'd once spent almost two years of his life in the town that had stood here before this whole mess happened. He had expected the damage to be great, of course- you couldn't exactly destroy a portal to Hell itself without expecting some serious damage as a result- but he hadn't exactly expected it to be on quite this scale.
Who'd have thought it? he mused to himself as he stared at his surroundings, a grim expression on his face as he tried to pick out where the university had once stood. It was a foolish thing to be nostalgic for, he knew- he'd been brainwashed and nearly died as a result of their experiments on him- but, as bad as his memories of it had been at the end, the Initiative had been the whole reason he'd come to Sunnydale in the first place. No matter how dark a time it had been for him in his life, he didn't like to think that something that had played such an important part in his development as a person should be reduced to just a pile of unidentifiable rubble.
Even if it had culminated in the (At least temporary) destruction of something that- according to Buffy- was the First Evil in all of existence, it still seemed to be a pretty big sacrifice to him. All those people who'd lost their homes… their livelihoods… maybe even their relatives… when the town had finally collapsed, preceeded by the First's minions stalking the city in an attempt to eliminate the Slayers-in-training… it really got to him.
This was why he'd never accepted that offer to transfer to the so-called 'Stargate program' after he'd left the Initiative. He'd been approached by the commander of the base at the time- a General George Hammond of the USAF, he recalled- shortly after his first departure from Sunnydale, given a briefing on the program and asked to participate, before being left with the necessary forms to sign to determine whether or not he'd accept the position and given a few days to consider it.
If he was being honest with himself, Riley had to admit that the offer had been a tempting one. He'd been experienced enough at dealing with strange phenomenon to probably rate command of his own SG team when he got there- he may have only been a Captain, but the stuff he'd encountered more than made up for his lack of an official rank- and he could have even been allowed to choose what planets he visited to avoid having too much pressure stuck on him all at once.
In the end, however, when the deadline came to respond to the forms, he'd decided not to do anything and left the forms unsigned, baring the form for the disclosure act that prevented him discussing the SGC with anybody not already in the know. There may not have been that much difference between demons and aliens- both were non-human life forms who generally seemed to treat humans the way humans treated cows or pigs, as just something that was there to keep them alive- but, as far as Riley could see, there was at least one specific difference.
If nothing else, at least demons typically operated on a smaller scale than aliens did. It was hard fighting either, but at least when you lost against demons, they only killed the immediate attackers, and, in the majority of cases, even the worst demons only wanted to kill thousands of people in a certain area; big numbers, but within Riley's mental limits anyway.
The kind of enemies the Stargate program dealt with on a regular basis… Riley had heard a rumour that one of their foes had once wiped out an entire planet just for allowing Earth to set up an observatory on their world to monitor a nearby black hole, and they hadn't even met that particular foe yet.
He didn't want to have to deal with that kind of thing on a regular basis. Demons were brutal, but at least if he failed in most cases, he'd only have to worry about his unit dying. With the loss of the Hellmouth, one of the easiest ways of triggering the destruction of Earth no longer existed, and, in any case, most demons were more interested in killing smaller groups of people rather than destroying the world itself.
The lives of people in terms of three to six-digit numbers, Riley could handle; he'd proved that to himself often enough, such as when the gang had been forced to stop Adam from unleashing a zombie army on Sunnydale from the Initiative. The people who would have died if they'd escaped onto Sunnydale were a problem, but at least they probably wouldn't have made it out of Sunnydale without the military managing to stop them, even if it would have been with something like a tactical nuclear strike.
But when you increased those numbers to incorporate the population of entire planets… well, he wasn't sure that he could have done it, particularly not on a regular basis. The occasional apocalypse he'd dealt with while he'd been part of the gang had been more than enough for him; indeed, it was part of the reason he'd been thinking of leaving the city even before he and Buffy had those… problems with the vampires (Much as he hated to think about that time of his life). If the SGC ever needed help in an attack on Earth or something like that, he'd be prepared to oblige and help out, but he wasn't sure if he was capable of coping with the kind of stress the SG teams had to handle on a long-term basis.
No, it was best if he just kept doing what he was doing at the moment, doing what he knew he was good at, continuing-
His eyes widened slightly as he saw something gleam underneath a pile of rubble nearby. Curiously, he walked towards the gleam, taking care to keep one hand near his weapons. The Hellmouth itself may have at last been closed, but he was uncomfortably close to the very centre of the pit that had replaced Sunnydale, and didn't want to take the chance that something may have decided to hide at the heart of the destruction to wait its chance to strike back. His hand hovering anxiously over his gun, Riley slowly moved towards the source of the gleam, relaxing slightly as he saw that, whatever it was, it wasn't particularly large, so he doubted it would actually do anything to him. As he reached out to it, he noticed that it didn't appear to be glowing any more strongly as he got closer to it, suggesting that at least it didn't react to his presence. Reaching out, he brushed some of the dust off, took hold of the object in question, and then lifted it up to study the object closer.
It was a large gem of unknown type, a clear colour with a faint orange glow in the centre- presumably the source of the gleam he'd seen originally- hanging on a simple gold-coloured chain made up of numerous links. The gem itself was surrounded by grey links, consisting of both thin silverish 'wires' and a similar design to those that formed the chain around the neck, some unknown writing around the edges of the metal, but, apart from the fact that it was at the centre of this total mass of destruction, it didn't seem to be all that threatening.
Wait a minute… Riley thought to himself, as he strained his mind to recall what details Buffy had given him about the recent destruction of Sunnydale and the weakening of the First. If he recalled the information he'd been given correctly, in the final battle with those 'Turok-Han' (Or Uber-vamps, as he recalled somebody describing them), Spike had used an amulet that Buffy had apparently acquired from Angel to trigger some kind of… chain reaction in the Turok-Han. As a result, the entire Turok-Han army had been totally incinerated thanks to Spike exposing himself to the sunlight, spreading the energy from Spike to the other vampires, before the entire Hellmouth collapsed from exposure to the energy that had been collected and focused by the amulet…
And, at the same time, Riley now recalled, had severely crippled- if not actually destroyed; it was rather unclear what had happened- the First Evil… a non-corporeal life form that had been around since at least the beginning of the Universe.
A non-corporeal life form…
Much like what he'd heard was presently being faced by the Stargate Program.
Admittedly, the reports he'd heard seemed to indicate that these beings had been human once, but they were still beings who lacked an actual body and still managed to have some influence on the world.
If this amulet had managed to defeat a non-corporeal being who'd been around since the beginning the universe, and had literally been the personification of evil, maybe it could help the SGC work out a means of dealing with these 'Ori' things they were facing at the moment. He may not want to have to actually deal with those things himself, but those men and women who were capable of coping with everything that the universe had to throw at them… well, if he could help them out, he felt like he had a responsibility to do so.
It was like back when he'd initially lost his strength when he was working with Buffy, or a conversation he once had with Xander shortly before he left Sunnydale; you didn't help out in the fight against evil because you wanted recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. He wasn't going to ask for anything by giving the SGC access to this amulet; he could only hope that, in some way, his actions made a difference in the current war against the Ori.
Well then, he said, smiling slightly as he studied the amulet in his hand, I guess you're going off to Colorado then.
Even as he turned away from the centre of the destruction and began to walk back towards the location of the clean-up crew's assorted trucks, he didn't spare much thought as to the reason for the strange glow that still surrounded the amulet; he just put it down as part of the object's powers and left it at that.
He could never have suspected that, by sending that amulet to the SGC, he would be giving the Stargate Program access to more than just a potential weapon against the Ori, but a new member of the organisation who would go on to change a great deal in the Ori war…