Author's Notes: Welcome all to my grand experiment! For the first time ever, I'm posting a story BEFORE it's finished. I have the next two chapters written, but after that, it's free for all! I'm going to take all suggestions/ideas that I can and fit it in; YOU are going to help shape this story! I DO have the ending set, and a few things in between, but I'm going to have several weeks/months of fic-time to fill ;) Thanks to NoCleverSig, loyal beta and friend.
Note: SPOILERS for "Tempus" ! DO NOT read until you've seen that wonderful, beautiful episode!
Copyright MajorSam, 2011
Helen Magnus was excited. Very excited. She was glad she was alone; because the bounce in her step and the smile on her face wouldn't be appropriate were here team present.
It was 3:29 in the afternoon on August 27th, 2011, but the hot, Armenian afternoon didn't penetrate into the cave Magnus was currently exploring. In fact, she'd had to put her brown, leather jacket on over her light, linen blouse and khaki pants. She'd been wary about the mission at first. The last time she'd discovered an ancient cave with evidence of vampire habitation she'd almost freed a mad vampire queen bent on planetary domination. But so far no traps had been sprung, no hidden doors had enveloped her, and no crystal stasis pods had appeared. She let herself relax as much as she ever could in the field while her adventurous, scientific mind appreciated the wonder of her discovery. The markings on the walls had started only a few feet into the main tunnel. She'd immediately sensed that something spectacular was inside. She was sure Nikola would be insufferable when he found out his information had been correct. She still didn't know exactly how he'd come to know the location of the cave, which did worry her, but she knew better than to directly question the vampire. She accepted the fact that she'd find out eventually. Until then, she was willing to go along with it.
As Magnus stepped out of a musty tunnel into a vast, domed ceilinged chamber, she knew why Nikola had been so eager. He'd travelled with her to Armenia, but after much debate, she'd convinced him to stay at the hotel. While he could be useful in escaping any traps, he'd be more likely to set the traps off in the first place, either by his over-exuberance or his vampire physiology.
Magnus did a full 360 degree scan of the chamber she'd found, her eyes wide. The cavern was vast, and its floor was covered in a thick layer of dust. When had anyone last walked through this space? Hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago? She could easily imagine a throng of vampires, graceful and arrogant, gathered in this hall, planning their next conquest. The cave's rounded walls were pocketed with window-like alcoves which were carved into the rock itself, each one spaced barely two feet apart. Within each alcove was a flat ledge, about four feet high. Every ledge held an object. Helen did a quick count, and found there were more than four dozen in total. The objects were as diverse as they were plentiful; Several were shiny, a few were dull, some glowed, while others remained shaded. She couldn't even begin to guess their purpose.
She'd found an ancient, vampire museum.
This was definitely the perfect way to spend her birthday. She'd been more than thankful to her team for not bringing it up. 160 candles would have been bad enough, she didn't think they were quite ready to deal with 273. This cave was much better than cake. The potential knowledge that dwelled in this treasure trove almost made her head spin. With Praxis destroyed, this chamber could hold the most advanced technology on Earth. Any one of these artifacts could turn out to be instrumental in balancing the war between the now surface-dwelling abnormals and humans. Even the cavern itself seemed to be mystically engineered. The alcoves were all perfectly carved, the floor smooth, and the walls elaborately decorated. The walls themselves looked like normal rock, yet emitted a phosphorous light that was far from natural.
Magnus walked up to the first alcove on her left, careful of her footing just in case. On a pedestal lay a small, golden sphere. Perfect in shape and smoothness, its surface looked oily, and when she stared at it, it seemed to come alive, undulating and shifting. She found herself mesmerized, dropping her pack by her side. Slowly, the surface of the sphere rippled outwards until a shape started to appear. Magnus' lips opened in shock as her own face started to take form. She blinked rapidly and stepped back, shaking her head. Her reflection vanished, and the oily surface stilled.
"Let's not get too excited," she berated herself. She had no idea what these devices were meant for. She decided to conduct an initial survey, document and describe each item, then return the next day with appropriate supplies for safe containment and shipping. She clicked on her radio to update Tesla, but as she should have guessed,, the signal was too weak to penetrate so far underground.
Ah well, she smirked. Let Nikola fret a while longer.
She quickly tied her long, dark hair into a ponytail, tossing it behind her back and out of the way, then reached into her pack and started taking out writing supplies. The scratching of her pen on paper echoed across the walls, and she felt an uneasy tingle. Despite being 273 years old, she felt like a child who'd stumbled into that one room in the house her parents had always forbidden her from. She ignored her unease, and continued to work. Half an hour later, she was writing down the dimensions of a large, crystalline cone when she heard a soft, whirring sound. She frowned, turned around, and saw the little golden sphere poised perfectly still in mid-air, mere inches from her face.
"Oh my," she breathed, taking a step back. The cone behind her suddenly lit up. A mechanical noise echoed down from the top of the cave, and a red light shot out of a jade mask that lay in an alcove on the other side of the cavern. The light separated into 10 separate beams spread across two feet. The beams hit the floor at Magnus' feet before travelling up her body. She felt warm. The entire process took about two seconds. Her last thought before falling unconscious to the floor was:
I'm going to kill Nikola.
Magnus gasped, eyes flying open, bolting upright, reaching out to grasp the wall to balance herself. She exhaled heavily, mouth open, eyes wide. She felt… good?
More than good, she felt fantastic!
Her vision was sharp, her smell keen, and she could hear every whisper of sound in the cave and the tunnel beyond. She stood up in one, graceful movement. She looked down. A body lay sprawled and unconscious on the ground beside her. It looked remarkably like her… Helen Magnus.
That was interesting.
She bent down, rifling through the pack that laid beside the body until she found a mirror, and looked at herself. She was definitely Helen Magnus, with all the memories, emotions, and experience that came with her 273 years. She looked at the prone body again and felt an irrational swell of hatred. They were both Helen Magnus, but the conscious woman knew that she was the superior version. She closed her eyes and felt a sense of purpose filling her. She grinned, and her face rippled with a dark light, emanating from within. She opened her eyes and looked down at the other Magnus. They were wearing the same outfit, but the body was wearing a watch. She looked down at her bare wrist, and then walked towards the body. It was still breathing. She kicked it. It stirred, but didn't wake. She knelt down, removed its watch, and put it on her own, slim wrist. She hefted the pack onto her back as if it weighed nothing. In reality, it weighed a great deal. She hadn't known what to expect in the cave, so prepared as best she could.
The cave lay at the bottom of a valley within the Armenian mountains. There was a road close by, and with the right vehicle, she was sure she could have made it all the way to the cavern, but a car parked in the middle of the valley would look much to conspicuous. She didn't want anyone knowing she was there. She'd driven for a while out of the city of Akhtala, but left the car and walked the last five miles. With a last, derisive look down at her double, Magnus let loose another kick, right into her ribcage. The body grunted, but didn't wake.
"Pathetic," the standing woman sneered. Then she turned around, and strode out of the cave.
A while later Helen Magnus awoke, groaning. Her head pounded, she felt sick, and shooting pains tore through her stomach and ribs. She slowly hoisted herself up onto her hands and knees, vision swimming. She clutched her stomach with one hand while the other splayed on the ground to balance herself. She frowned at her wrist, her fuzzy brain coming to focus on one thing: her watch was gone. Blearily, she looked around. Her pack was also missing. She gritted her teeth, falling a bit to the side so she could sit down and lean her weary body against the smooth wall. She wracked her mind for answers. The sphere. Light. Sound. Darkness. She sighed. None of that explained why her watch and pack were missing. She rubbed her forehead, wincing as the pounding continued. She reached out to her side for her radio, but found only cold ground and dusty air.
The radio had been in her pack.
She knew it was of no use right now, but she wanted it out and ready so she could call Nikola as soon as she found signal. She resigned herself to the fact that she would have to head back to the hotel, restock supplies, and return to the cave the next day before she could start figuring anything out. She planted her hands on the ground and pushed, but her wrists gave out and she fell back down.
Why am I so weak? Shewondered. God, I'm tired… She felt her eyelids growing heavy.
No, stay awake! You have to get to Nikola, you can't sleep. If you have a concussion…
Her head slumped against her shoulder and her body went slack, sliding a few inches down the wall, completely unconscious.
The other Magnus approached the opening of the cave, stopping to prepare herself to emerge into bright sunlight after so long in the murky caverns. Then she had a thought. She almost laughed as she removed her pack, dropping it to her side and kneeling down. This will certainly make things easier. She opened one of the outside pockets and brought out her cell phone.
Thank God for the satellite reception I had Henry set up, she thought as she dialed a number she hadn't thought about in years. She hoped it still worked. It rang only twice before she heard the click of someone answering.
"The owls are in season, but I won't shoot them down," she said quickly.
There was silence on the line, and she feared they would hang up. Had the code changed since she'd last used it? No, she didn't think so. These people stuck to some traditions as though their lives depended on it.
"Who? Where?" a smooth voice, heavy with a Russian accent, finally replied.
"I'll give you the satellite coordinates in one moment. I have a present for you."
The voice grunted.
Thirty miles away the source of the voice's eyes grew wide. Then they narrowed. His lips curled upwards revealing perfect, white teeth in a smile that graced his handsome but cold features maybe once every five years.
A minute later Magnus ended the call, placing the phone into the pocket of her khakis as she shrugged off her soft, leather coat. She folded it carefully and added it to her pack. She was glad to be rid of her pathetic double so quickly. There was only room for one Helen Magnus in the Sanctuary Network, and it was herturn at the wheel. On her walk out of the caves, she'd rapidly reviewed the status of the Network, and found it wanting. She had a lot of work ahead of her to get it running as it should be, and she couldn't wait to begin. When she walked out into the light, there was a bounce in her step and a smile on her face.
To be continued…
Yes, my working title for this fic was called "Repli!Magnus" – all of you Stargate fans know what I'm talking about ;)
We obviously haven't seen how the Sanctuary is dealing with the abnormal insurgents, but I'm pretty sure it's going to last the whole season, thus I'll be kind of dealing with it in my own way in this fic. I won't be following season 4 exactly, but will probably make mention of it. I will of course address the whole "I just spent a mysterious 113 years alone" issue as well!
And btw, if James Watson thought our present-day Helen Magnus had no humanity… oh James, you ain't seen nothing yet ;)