Not Our First Barbeque
Spoiler Warnings: Pretty much everything to do with ascended beings, including much of season 10, and Ark of Truth. Also for Fragile Balance.
Parings: the only serious ship is hopefully completely original
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate:SG-1, clones, or ascended/descended beings, nor do I make any money from them.
And now, the first chapter.
Chapter 1 - Falling Backward
It was impossible to determine how much time had passed. Time ebbed and flowed with the pulsing of the potentially eternal battle. It was her greatest hope that it would not eternally continue. Immortal combat was rather boring and not at all fulfilling. However, there did not seem to be any potential for escape. The energy which comprised the evil one was locked in synchronisation with her own, counteracting any move she attempted.
Energy. That was they key. As an ascended being, she was 'fair game' to her ascended opponent, but if she allowed herself to return to the mortal plane, the evil one had no right to interfere. Existence as a lower being was nothing compared to the state she considered to be godhood, but it was significantly more interesting that this limbo state of constant celestial clashing.
As soon – relatively speaking - as she had formed this idea, she allowed a small portion of her energy – her self – to channel towards the realm beneath. Movement in this direction had not been anticipated, so her adversary could not compensate. Morgan performed the ascended equivalent of throwing a punch at empty air and falling in a surprised heap. The lone Ori – now briefly freed – took this chance to consider her options with complete clarity.
There would be very little of value to which she could return. Her Priors and followers had been brainwashed by evil. Reclaiming her power would be a long and arduous task. Thanks to the interference of SG-1 and Morgan, her empire had fallen and most of her power was gone. Even if she succeeded in escaping from her captor, it was too late to... hmm, too late. That was it!
As she continued to push herself away from her captor and from the ascended plane, she gathered her remaining strength and reached for the past. It was the perfect plan. She would return to Earth long before SG-1 had discovered the Ori, get rid of them, and contact the Ori herself. She could even find a way to access the knowledge of the Sangraal, now that she knew exactly how Morgan had hidden Merlin. With the knowledge – or a convenient slave holding the knowledge – she could destroy the evil ones before they had a chance to help SG-1. And she could destroy the rest of the Ori too, if she wanted.
Since she was still a mostly ascended being in a rather high plane, warping time and space was not impossible. However, it did demand a great deal of attention. More than she could afford. Morgan took advantage of her distraction and lashed out with precision. The escapee felt herself spinning off course, as well as the stinging wound of a loss of a part of her energy. She righted herself and continued on the path she had determined. Morgan reached out to grab her, but she slipped away, being already past half way descended.
Adria struggled towards her destination, as Morgan LeFaye did her best to prevent the escape by caging her as before. It was much too late. They were far beyond the realm of the ascended, and entering the place where mortals dwelt. In trying to stop the former Orici's escape, the Ascended Ancient – or Lantean or Alteran depending on which part of history you take the label from – had been dragged along for the ride. Adria briefly decided she didn't really care.
A bright flash of light impacted on Adria's consciousness as she fully entered what humans call normal existence. A thought flashed across her mind – clothing – before she felt herself being dumped roughly on the ground. The combination of the impact and the shock of sensory input was too much for her unprepared mind, even though she'd lived as a mortal before – or after, as the case may be. She passed out.
Several seconds later, she came to, wondering where she was and what had happened. She was lying on something hard and cold, and covered by something warm and soft. She poked at it and gave it a shove. The object rolled off and landed beside her with a thud.
"Hey, what was that for? That hurt!" an indignant voice shouted from the floor beside Adria in a language resembling Latin.
"Oops," Adria replied, unapologetic. She stretched before slowly rising to her feet. It felt different to her most recent memories as a mortal. Something was slightly off. She looked down at her companion. The distance seemed wrong. She recognised the woman as Morgan, though she looked different to what she had previously. Younger – the woman was definitely younger than she should be. "What happened?"
"You descended. You descended both of us." Morgan sounded significantly displeased.
"So I did," Adria realised. While she could see her companion, it was too dark to see the rest of the room. She overcame this by forming a small fireball in her hands. "How convenient. This establishment appears to sell clothing. I was thinking about clothes as we landed, which explains why we are here."
"Yet you are already dressed," Morgan observed, still rather annoyed.
Adria tapped the stone hanging from her neck. "If you had one of these, you'd look dressed too. Now, let's see if this place has anything in my size." She turned away and looked up and down the shelves with aid of a fireball.
"I believe you'll find that your size is much smaller than you remember," Morgan remarked.
"Of what do you speak?" Adria asked, afraid Morgan meant she had somehow gained weight while ascended.
"Look upon the reversal of time with the reversal of light," Morgan replied cryptically.
Adria then remembered her attempt at travelling back in time. Obviously it had resulted in a side effect which required a look in a mirror. A quick search found such a device, and revealed... "How?"
"Pulling us against the flow of time in such a manner, while we were in the process of becoming mortal, caused our bodies to revert to a younger age," Morgan explained.
Adria stared at the figure in the mirror. She could tell that it was a younger version of herself, but it was unfamiliar, as she had only a few minutes at that stage of life. The knowledge she had been born with had informed her that she was fortunate to avoid adolescence, so having returned to it was a disappointment. "This is quite a mess," she observed, tugging some clothes off a rack.
"It is preferable to eternal struggle," Morgan suggested.
"My remaining power was fading. You would have eventually defeated me," Adria admitted.
Morgan appeared amused. "Do you find that unusual?"
"I don't understand."
"It was not in your nature to admit defeat."
"No. It wasn't. Something is different," Adria realised.
"Do you know what has altered?"
"I..." Adria thought back to her descension. "You stuck at me. Damaged my mind."
"No. Not your mind."
"I don't understand."
"Do you remember why you threw yourself into this time?"
"To... to destroy SG-1 and ensure subjugation of this galaxy and destruction of your kind," Adria answered. She looked guilty, and felt it too.
"Do you still want to do that?"
"Nnnnn... no," Adria answered slowly. Her face clearly displayed vulnerability.
"Remember why you were," Morgn prompted.
"The will of the Ori," Adria quietly stated.
"Yes. All you did was the will of the Ori."
Adria shook her head. "Every choice was mine."
"Every decision was the will of the Ori. Even when they were gone, their will ruled your mind."
"I... I was glad they were destroyed," Adria admitted. She felt this invalidated Morgan's reasoning.
"Any one of the Ori would have been glad to singularly claim their power."
"Oh. So... you released me?"
"Yes. That was my intention from the outset of the struggle. Your attempt to escape gave me the opportunity to act sooner."
"Then I must thank you." However, Adria's attention was quickly diverted. She held up a dress. "All these items have unusual objects attached to them," she noted.
"A security feature to prevent theft. If it is not correctly removed, the clothing will be marked with bright dye, and if it is left on, it will set off an alarm upon removal from the store. An alarm will also sound if we attempt to open any doors or windows. It is a technology of Earth. Many other items and the writing also point towards this being Earth."
"Yes, it should be Earth," Adria agreed. Then, thinking about the security measures, she looked mischievous. "I can see that regular humans would be deterred by this. But not us, of course." She focussed her power on the security tag and it cleanly popped open. "So... we're stealing?"
"We have no other safe or reasonable option. And we'll repay our debt when we can."
"Yes," Adria agreed. She knew it was wrong to steal. Formerly, she would not have thought twice about thievery if it helped the cause. Just like she hadn't thought twice about killing...
"Adria?" Morgan questioned. "You've turned pale."
"So many dead..." the former Orici murmured. "I've slaughtered worlds for a lie, and taken lives simply by wishing it. I'm a monster."
Morgan shook her head. "You realise it was wrong. Now that you can choose, you would take another path."
Adria's eyes took on a faraway look. "Another path," she echoed. "I can take whatever path I choose." The words embodied a new concept for the woman - or was she a girl? She wasn't sure who she was supposed to be. "We're in the past, right? So... I can change my path. The path of she who I was, who is not yet, and will become me."
"No." Morgan stated the word with complete finality.
"No? But... so much death. So much destruction. I can prevent it. I can't let it happen again."
"The Ori will be stopped. So will you. If you interfere, if events are altered, they might not be stopped. Suppose you prevented Daniel and your mother from alerting the Ori to the occupants of this galaxy. They would eventually discover the life here regardless, and attack without warning. And removing the conflict of this world with the Ori armies would cause many other unimaginable changes. While many have died, many others have grown. What has happened, will happen, and it is not our right or responsibility to change it. Besides, there is a chance that an attempt to improve events will in fact worsen them. Suppose meddling with the timeline resulted in the destruction of the Ascended Ancients rather than the Ori."
"I can see the dangers, but how else can I set right what I did?" Adria questioned.
"There is no need for you to do that."
Adria looked desperate. "But… how can I bear living with the knowledge that there is a copy of me slaughtering worlds?"
"You must accept that this is not true. She is not you, and you are not her."
"So… I am Adria, not Orici," the girl suggested. "But who is Adria? All my memories are of someone I am not. How do I discover who I should become?"
"Earth has an institution designed for that purpose," Morgan LeFaye offered.
"It does? What is it called?"
"High-school. But that is a later concern. Presently, we need to select some clothing, leave this establishment without detection, and find lodging and food. Then we will need to establish identities, so I can seek employment and you can begin education."
"While you retain much knowledge, you lack life experience, apart from that of the Orici. High-school will teach you what it is to be human, to live among equals, to relate to the people around you, and to have friends. Since I am an adult and you are not, it make sense for me to be your guardian."
Adria nodded in agreement as she completed her clothes selection. "That sounds worthwhile. And it will not be difficult for advanced beings such as ourselves to incorporate ourselves into this world."
"True, but we must avoid attracting any attention to ourselves. Which reminds me: we must determine what point in time we arrived at. It is very important."
"It is?" Adria wondered, as she checked her new outfit in a mirror.
"Yes. While the Others will ignore us, if we are contemporary with Daniel Jackson during his ascension, he may remember us when he encounters us later, which could dangerously alter the timeline. For the same reason, we must leave this galaxy before your former self ascends. We must also avoid anyone who sees either of our other selves, until the Ark is used."
"It should be easy to find the current date," the newly-formed teenager said hopefully.
Morgan shook her head, looking sheepish. "I don't remember when on the Earth calendar Daniel's descension occurred. We will need to use other indicators to determine when we are in relation to this event. But it is time to leave this place."
"Yes, I've seen enough clothes on racks for one night," Adria agreed.
The pair easily suppressed the security systems and exited the store, leaving no trace of their presence, apart from a few empty hangars.