I WAS going to make you guys wait a little bit longer, but then I got impatient. Also, it's Pancake Day, which is the best holiday of the year (oatmeal spelt-flour pancakes with an avocado tomoato and cottage cheese savour topping: oh yeah!). So Happy Pancake Day! Or Doughnut Day, depending on where you're from.
Betaed by theGlaistig.
Disclaimer: Well, if I haven't owned anything but the plot until now, I highly doubt I suddenly own it all. If I find out I do, I'll let you know.
Wordcount: Don't ask.
Down within the depths of Cheyenne Mountain, General Cameron Mitchell stood behind a plexiglass wall, looking down on the people running back and forth down below – scientists preforming last-minute diagnostics and making sure all the right wires were crossed the right way. He felt a pang in his heart at the memory of the blonde-haired woman that wasn't there. And Sam Carter would've found a way to be there. Hell, she probably would've never left.
The door to the side of him opened and he braced himself for the intrusion into his thoughts. Time to play the diplomat, he thought wryly. He smiled when he turned to greet the witnesses.
"Why good morning," he said. "At least I think it's still morning – it's a bit difficult to tell down here."
"Don't worry, it's still morning," Arthur King replied with a laugh. He shook Cameron's hand heartily. "I trust everything's going to schedule..."
He looked down at the scientists warily. Cameron laughed at the expression.
"Despite appearances, I'm told it is. You wouldn't think you'd need this many scientists to pull a plug, but apparently you do." He shook his head. "Though, I could swear there weren't this many here when they turned the blasted contraption on."
"Well, I suppose we've put our lives in their hands this long..."
Then they were joined by other members of the world leadership and approached for statements by the reporters that were escorted in minutes later. Throughout everything, Cameron kept an eye on Arthur King, the conversation with his former teammates still fresh in his mind. But, no matter how he looked, all he saw was a passionate young man with some very real leadership talent.
Then, it occurred to him to look for Merlin Emrys only to realize with some degree of surprise that Arthur King's aide had been standing just a step beside the International Alliance president the whole time. He must have felt Cameron's eyes on him, because he turned to look directly at him. He inclined his head and smiled. Cameron smiled back, before casually winding his way to his side.
"Don't reckon we've been introduced yet," he said before sticking his hand out to be shaken. "General Cameron Mitchell."
Merlin Emrys raised an eyebrow in amusement, but he took the offered hand and shook it firmly.
"I'm Merlin Emrys, but please call me Merlin," he said. "It's an honour to meet you, General."
"You too." Cameron paused for a moment and scanned the room, wondering why the hell none of the reporters were accosting Merlin after his cryptic statement the day before.
"So... Kilgharrah's a dragon..." he said.
"A very old and powerful one," Merlin added.
"Right, of course. And he forged Excalibur too."
"Well, technically he only tempered the steel as the sword had already been forged by Camelot's best blacksmith."
"Ahh, that makes sense. So... how exactly is a dragon supposed to help us defeat the Ori?"
"Assuming they're still a threat."
"Assuming they're still a threat." Mitchell snorted. "Let's face it, though, we could never be that lucky. Also, I sort of hope they still are, 'cause otherwise the Jaffa'll never let us hear the end of it."
"General Mitchell, you apparently weren't paying close enough attention," he said as he looked at Cameron with amusement. "It's the light that's important, not the dragon. Kilgharrah's flight is only important for what it represents."
Cameron stared at Merlin and then shook his head ruefully. "Sorry, 'fraid you lost me there."
"Tell me, general, do you believe in magic?"
"Magic?" Cameron's eyebrows both shot to the top of his head. "Of course not!"
Merlin nodded, clearly having expected that answer.
"Most people don't," he said. "Of course, 35 years ago, most people didn't believe the Egyptian gods were aliens. Now, if you will excuse me, Leon's trying to get my attention."
Cameron watched, feeling just a bit stunned as Merlin weaved his way to the edge of the crowd, where a tall man with a thick head of brown curls stood speaking into a phone. They spoke briefly and then Merlin made his way back to Arthur's side to whisper something into his ear. Cameron was attempting to read their lips, when an airman came to let him know the scientists had finally declared themselves ready to deactivate the Dimensional Field.
Turning off the device was rather anticlimactic in the end.
One scientist flicked a switch, another turned a lever and two more removed the electrical connecters from its surface. Then they checked energy readings and declared it shut off.
Nothing happened. Which was, of course, a good thing, because it meant there weren't any Ori ships hovering nearby waiting for the Earth to finally un-hide itself.
"Well, that's phase one complete," said Cameron. He saw many relieved faces around the room and, in the corner, he also saw Brigadier General Lovejoy calling the Nevada and Chinese bases to let them know to start their final preparations. "Now, if you'll follow me, let's head on up to the control room to watch phase two."
Phase two was logistically the more difficult one to implement.
It involved launching four ships into orbit to be placed in strategic positions in the Solar System in case of immediate attack. Each ship also carried a beacon, which upon arriving into position, would be launched into deep space. The beacons were to serve as an early warning system in case the Ori came.
The countdown was synchronized with two ships launching out of Nevada and two ships out of Qinghai, China. There were ten more already under construction and five more, which were scheduled to be ready to launch in about two weeks.
After a few last-minute protesters had been evacuated from the premises in Nevada, and all systems were quadruple-checked, countdown control was handed over to the SGC. Sergant Charlie Ferretti read the time loudly into the microphone, ignoring all the voice recorders and microphones pointed in his direction. His voice was steady and his face looked calm and professional, but Cameron smirked as he noticed the young man's left leg bouncing a gallop.
"Lift-off." A pause. "Please confirm. I repeat, please confirm lift-off."
They could see all four ships on the monitors along the far side of the room. They watched the engines fire up and then the blast that meant they'd finally taken off. Moments later, voices sounded over the speakers.
"Nevada here, confirming lift-off one and two."
"Qinghai confirming lift-off three and four."
Then they all watched as the satellites in orbit captured the treks of the four ships. Sargent Ferretti read out the ships' names as they achieved orbit and moved into position. Then he radioed the ships directly.
"This is Stargate Command, please confirm when in position. I repeat, this is the SGC, please confirm when in position."
They waited a few more minutes. Finally, a signal came through.
"Ehem, this is Captain James T. Kirk of the-"
Arthur growled and strode up to Ferretti, snatching the radio out of his hand.
"Gwaine!" he barked into it. "This is not the time for jokes!"
Laughter sounded from the radio.
"Lighten up, Princess. What did you expect when you gave me a ship named Enterprise? I had to do it at least once."
"First of all, Captain Noble, I didn't give you anything. Some apparently very confused people in the admiralty did that – people who I'm sure are very busy regretting that decision at this very moment. If it were up to me, you'd currently be sitting in front of a paper cut-out and talking into a plastic radio!"
"Oh no doubt." There was a wide grin audible in the man's voice. Cameron shook his head and chuckled. If Jack was paying attention to the television right now, he was probably loving every minute of this. "Well fine then, this is Captain Gwaine Noble of the Enterprise confirming position. There, that boring enough for you?"
"Yes, thank you. Position confirmed."
The other three ships confirmed their positions shortly afterwards (although the captain of the Nonoma sounded a bit like he was three breaths away from bursting into laughter). And then half an hour later, they all confirmed the launch of their beacons.
When the beacons entered into position, a cheer rang up throughout the control room.
"General Mitchell," Arthur King called with a wide grin. "Send out the sub-space messages to our allies."
Cameron nodded and smiled. "Happy to do so, sir," he said.
He gave the order and ten minutes later, five messages were sent, letting their allies know that Earth was back.
"Mummy, mummy, come outside!"
Eve looked up from the cookbook she was pouring through. The first thing she noticed was the back door – it was wide open. Alarmed, she jumped out of her chair and ran out. How had that child managed to get it open? She never kept it unlocked.
Eve needn't have worried of course, the little dark-haired girl was standing in the middle of the small garden in the back. Eve paused, looking around. Was it her imagination, or did the garden somehow look more vibrant than usual?
"Nissa, dear, you know you're not supposed to come outside without me," said Eve with a sigh.
"But Mummy, the war is over, you said so," the little girl said, turning around to look at Eve with bright, innocent eyes.
"Yes, but that doesn't mean it's safe just yet, luv."
Eve suppressed another sigh. She sometimes wondered if she'd be this worried if the little girl had been her own flesh and blood instead of an orphan she found on the streets with nothing more than the clothes on her back and a golden chain around her neck with a small 'N' charm dangling off it.
"But, Mummy, can't you hear it?" Nissa grinned widely, the gaps in her teeth making her look a bit goofy. She spread her arms out and spun around. "The flowers are singing! Something wonderful is going happen, I just know it!"
Eve stared at the girl. Then she smiled and shook her head before walking up to her. The girl was lovely, but undeniably odd.
"It is, is it?" she asked.
"Yes!" Nissa stopped spinning and looked up at Eve. "Mr. Patterson down the road told me and the others a story yesterday! About a dragon named Kilgharrah, who breathed fire on a sword and made it into Excalibur! Do you know what Excalibur is, Mummy?"
Eve laughed and knelt down to Nissa's height. "Of course I've heard of Excalibur. It's King Arthur's sword. Did you know that rumour has it, it's at the Stargate?"
Nissa nodded vigorously. Then she suddenly paused and was completely still for a few moments, a small confused frown on her face.
The little girl gasped. "There's something... Mummy, something's coming!"
The bushes at the end of the garden rustled. Eve froze and reached out to grab Nissa, but the little girl was already rushing towards the gate.
Horrified, Eve ran after the child. The gate was thrown open and Nissa slipped out of the garden. Eve heard her squeal and grabbed the heavy shovel leaning up against the old apple tree as she passed. She ran out onto the street and turned, shovel ready to defend her little girl.
And froze, her eyes widening even as her lips fell apart in amazement. The shovel fell out of her hands.
Stunned beyond reason, Eve watched as the little girl approached the blindingly white creature munching on their lilac bushes until she was close enough to tentatively touch it.
"Ms. Roland, are you two al-" she heard her neighbour, Steven Cross, begin, before he too was stunned into silence. "Flaming hell."
As Nissa continued to pet it, the unicorn stopped its munching to turn to look at her curiously. It didn't seem concerned or irritated and nuzzled the little girl, making her giggle with delight. Awed, she petted its forehead, running her small hand up the horn.
There was another gasp from the elderly widow from across the lane, who had hobbled up to see what was going on.
"The girl has a rare gift," an unfamiliar voice broke the silence.
Eve tore her gaze away to look to the newcomer. A tall, elderly man stood to the side of the lane. He wore a long, white cloak and held a tall, wooden walking stick with a gnarled end. Eve wondered how she'd missed seeing him when she'd first run out.
"Who are you?" Eve asked, nearly gasping as she met his eyes. They looked ancient in a way she couldn't have described if she'd tried.
"My name is Anhora."
"Mister Anhora," Nissa said. "Do you know when Kilgharrah will fly?"
The man raised an eyebrow. "Kilgharra? Why, I believe... yes, there he goes now."
The man looked up, into the sky and pointed towards the east. They all followed his direction. There was nothing there at first, but blue sky and white clouds.
Then they saw it, a speck moving in the distance, approaching ever closer. They'd all seen plenty of aircraft: planes and X-ships alike. This had wings. And they were flapping.
"Dear God," Steven said. Suddenly, she heard him running to his house. "Analaise, drop everything right now! Derek, William, kids, all of you get out here! Quick, come and see!
Nissa came to stand next to Eve as they stood silently watching as the dragon flew by.
The morning of the anniversary of the Abydos Expedition began with a beautiful display of colour. Which Merlin had absolutely nothing to do with. Nope, nothing at all... well, maybe a little bit... But he certainly had nothing to do with the beautiful sunny, cloudless sky... mostly.
Merlin could feel the anticipation in the air as the entire planet held its breath.
From his vantage point inside the base's watch tower, he could see down into the paved area being set up for the celebrations. He could also just barely make out the corner of the hanger that currently housed the Stargate. Its large doors had been fully opened to allow the gathered crowd a clear view of it.
Military forces from around the world had sent their representatives alongside politicians and religious leaders. But, what really made Merlin smile, were the ordinary citizens passing through the tight security by the dozens. He could make out what looked like classes of students – high school age, he thought – and parents with children. There was also a throng of walkers shuffling their way towards the seating area.
There were also protestors with large, elaborate placards in front of the base. Arthur and Uther both had been rather annoyed by them, but Merlin and Gwen convinced them to let the protestors be. The Stargate had been the cause of much fear and that fear would not disappear overnight no matter what they wished.
Merlin had told Arthur to simply prove them wrong.
"Merlin?" a voice came from behind him. Merlin turned to Lance with a warm smile. "Brigadier General O'Neill and Doctor Jackson have just arrived."
"Oh good, I'm looking forward to seeing them again!"
Lance frowned. "Again? I wasn't aware you'd met them before."
"Oh, it was a long, long time ago. Another lifetime ago, you could say."
He didn't and Merlin nearly sighed, the hollow pang in his heart had been a constant friend of his for the past 20 years and most of the time he managed to ignore it, but there were times when it made itself known with the sharpness of a fine blade. Lance Grey was a good man, a good friend, but he wasn't Lancelot. Yet. At least Merlin hoped so.
If there was one thing Arthur King was known for, it was his group of friends and advisers. People even called it his Round Table, jokingly saying that in order to become a part of his group one had to bear the name of an Arthurian knight. Janet had broken through that superstition, since whether there could have been a knight named Isaac at the Round Table of legends was debatable, there was certainly never a Janet.
Merlin followed Lance down the halls, his staff occasionally tapping the floor gently.
They walked out of the building and into the sun. He could see the media setting up to one side, getting shots of people as they arrived and speaking to some of them. The military patrolled the perimeters, watching for anything suspicious and still more soldiers hurried about taking care of last-mintue preparations.
Suddenly, Merlin heard a gasp and paused. He looked to the side and into the startled blue eyes of an American Air Force captain. She looked to be in her early thirties with short, cropped hair.
"Uh, captain?" the lieutenant next to her asked.
"That- that's Dragoon's staff," she said. She walked towards Merlin in a daze, eyes fixed on the staff he was holding.
Merlin blinked at her.
"Hmm, and who are you then?" he asked.
She stopped in front of him and shook herself out of her reverie.
"Oh, sorry, sir, I'm Captain Tina Ramirez."
"Tina..." Merlin whispered and then grinned. "I see. Well, then I'm assuming you've kept your promise."
She frowned at him.
"Yes, of course I did. Why do you have- did you know Dragoon the Great?"
"You could say that."
Then she took a step closer and really looked at him.
"You know, I found out later his real name was Merlin and that he worked at the mountain," she said, carefully watching his reaction. "In fact, he actually worked on the Stargate Project. According to rumour, he's the reason for that sword that followed the stargate around."
"Yes, I've heard those stories. Strange about the sword. Must be magic, I suppose."
She snorted and then laughed.
"The other kids at the hospital said he saved my life."
"Really? Well that was certainly nice of him."
"Yeah, it was."
Merlin looked at her a moment and then leaned in to whisper into her ear.
"So, am I cooler than Dumbledore now?" he said.
Tina gasped and stared at him with wide eyes. Merlin smiled slyly at her and then winked before turning back to continue on with Lance.
"What was that all about?" Lance asked with a frown.
"I'll tell you later," Merlin answered.
Arthur was already there, greeting Daniel and Jack, Percival by his side as protection. Merlin had to school his features so as not to give away his shock at seeing the two men looking so much older than he remembered. He knew other people aged, yet it was still a shock whenever he found himself so suddenly confronted with the reality of it.
Arthur turned as they approached and smiled.
"Ah, Merlin, there you are," he said, before gesturing to the two men beside him – two men, who were looking at Merlin with calculating eyes. "This is former Brigadier General Jack O'Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson."
"And I'm Vala Mal Doran," a woman with long dark hair streaked with grey announced, from beside Daniel. She strode up to Merlin and stuck her hand out. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Mal Doran," said Merlin as she shook her hand. "I've read your autobiography; it's quite fascinating."
"Please, call me Vala," she said, looking rather pleased. "You've caused quite the stir yourself."
"You know full well that you have!" Jack growled and waved his walked stick before leaning heavily on it and settled for glaring at him.
"It's good to see you again, Merlin," said Daniel pointedly. "You're looking well."
The corner of Merlin's mouth twitched.
"Again?" Arthur asked with a confused frown. "Merlin, when did you... you never said you'd met Doctor Jackson and Jack O'Neill before."
"So it's really Merlin, is it?" Jack asked. "Not Percival?"
Merlin chuckled. "Nope, that's Percival," he said, pointing to Arthur's bodyguard. "I'm Merlin."
Then someone came to usher them to their places up by the podium in front of the stargate hanger. Merlin went to follow Arthur and then paused, before turning once more to Daniel and Jack.
"Incidentally, my mother's name was Hunith," he said with a slight smile. "And Daniel, that seat beside you is reserved for a reason. Please make sure no one sits in it before the one its intended for arrives."
Then he turned and followed Arthur.
Jack and Daniel stared after him, stunned.
"Hunithson, as in Hunith's son," Daniel whispered.
"That was definitely his walking stick, staff, whatever," said Jack. "The question is still 'how'? I mean, does he have, like, instant fountain of youth powder in his back pocket or something?"
"Oooh, the plot thickens," said Vala delightedly.
Then Cameron arrived to greet them, followed by a steady stream of politicians and military leaders along with various reporters and their entourage.
The steel roof on the hanger was mechanically lowered, so that the stargate was bathed in sunlight and visible to the even the furthest spectators. Daniel and Jack, of course, had VIP seating and thus had a clear view of it and the sword that stood quietly to one side of the gate, still encased in what appeared to be the same concrete that had grown out of the floor of the old gateroom.
Daniel considered the sword. Even from half-way inside a concrete slab, it was obviously a well-crafted sword. They had once tried everything to move it and failed. It wasn't affected by either extreme heat and extreme cold and the concrete surrounding it was resistant to drills, lasers, minor explosives and staff blasts. And, of course, no one could pull it out either – even Jack had eventually gotten tired of the 'nope, guess you're not the king of England either' jokes.
Oddly enough, although it should've been a huge safety hazard, it wasn't . No one had ever gotten hurt because of its presence. Anyone, who came tumbling through the gate at full speed, always stopped tumbling just before reaching the sword and even when rushing around with armloads of equipment, people always somehow avoided running into it without thinking.
Daniel then turned his gaze to Arthur King and Merlin Emrys.
"A leap of faith to believe the impossible, huh?" he said quietly.
"Say what?" Jack asked.
"Just before he left, Doctor Hunithson – Merlin – told me that those people looking into his history would've never figured out the truth, because it required a leap of faith to believe the impossible."
"But Daniel, we've been there, done that," said Vala from Jack's other side. "We've met the Merlin, he was an Ancient. You had him inside of you, remember?"
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Yes, thank you, Vala, that was definitely an experience I would've forgotten about."
"Daniel?" Jack asked, after Daniel had fallen silent for a few moments.
"What if..." Daniel began, his thoughts whirling inside his mind so fast, he could almost hear them buzzing in the forefront of his mind, drowning out everything else. A leap of faith, the truth took a leap of faith, but did he have the courage, after all these years, to make it? "The Goa'uld used pre-existing Earth legends and religions in order to establish themselves as gods of those religions. What if- what if the Alterans did something similar? What if Myrrdin the Ancient took an existing legend of the wizard Merlin and used it as opposed to being the instigator of said legend?"
Jack and Vala stared at him. But neither one of them thought to deny the possibility that his words were true.
"You are as wise as I was led to believe, Doctor Jackson," a soft, gravelly voice said from beside him.
Daniel started and then turned in time to watch a small, slender figure wearing a brown hooded cloak gingerly sit on the seat beside him. He stared at the figure, at first surprised that the individual knew who he was, until he remembered he was more or less a household name nowadays.
"I, uh, thank you?" he said.
Suddenly, a shadow blocked their light. Daniel looked up to see Merlin smiling happily down at the newcomer.
"Welcome, Diamaire, I'm glad you decided to come," he said with a slight bow.
"Emrys. It seemed appropriate for me to be present for the dawn of the Fifth Race," the figure said with an answering bow.
Merlin then turned to Daniel.
"Ah, I suppose I should make introductions. Diamaire, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson, the man who opened the Stargate. Daniel, this is the Diamaire-"
Daniel reached out a hand in greeting, his eyes widening as the person turned to him and placed a delicate, blue-skinned hand with long, almost iridescent fingers into his.
"-of the Furling."
Daniel looked up and met the large eyes of the Diamaire. They looked old and filled with warmth. Like her hand, her head was elongated and her skin an iridescent blue that appeared to glow underneath her cloak. She smiled at him.
"The Furling?" Daniel finally whispered.
"My people have been called many things, but, yes, we once called ourselves that," she said. "Unfortunately, I am the last of my kind and I do not have much time left to me. Emrys has convinced me that, perhaps, it would be nice to leave behind the stories of my people, before we are gone from the galaxy altogether."
"And you want me to...?"
She nodded. "It seems fitting that you, who have met the other three races of the alliance, were to hear and write down my words."
Daniel's eyes lit up like a child's on Christmas morning. "I'd be honoured and delighted to! I spent years trying to find even the smallest shred of your civilization! I-"
"Woah, hold your undomesticated equines there, Daniel!" Jack cut him off. He then turned to glare at Merlin, using his walking stick to poke in his direction. "You knew about the Furlings and never said anything?!"
"Well, I've known the Diamaire for years, but I didn't realize she was from another planet until I started working at the SGC," he said. "And even then, it wasn't my secret to share."
"So, you're not denying you're the same Merlin that worked at the SGC as Doctor Hunithson?" said Vala.
"Of course not, there's no point in doing so." He stopped smiling and suddenly, it was as though they could see his age reflected in his eyes. "I've always hated lying, but it was always somehow necessary."
"You could've just told us the truth," said Jack quietly and Daniel was surprised to hear no actual anger in his friend's voice. "We dealt with weird on a daily basis."
Merlin chuckled and shook his head.
"No, if I'd have told you the truth you would've asked me to prove it and it wasn't yet time. This way, you've drawn your own conclusions and I've merely confirmed them."
"So what are you going to do for your next trick?" Jack asked. "Draw a dragon out of your hat?"
"Definitely not!" He turned and waved an acknowledgement as Lance called his name, one hand on his earpiece. "I hate hats. Well, looks like I'm needed again. I'm sure I'll talk to you later."
After a quick bow, Merlin followed Lance back to the front, to just behind the podium, where Arthur was standing talking to General Mitchell and two other women. Daniel turned back to the Diamaire, excitement of the sorts he hadn't felt in years coursing through his veins.
"The Asgard said they didn't know what had become of the Furling: have you really been on Earth the entire time?" he asked.
The Diamaire nodded.
"We did not want to be found, so the Asgard could not find us," she said. "Neither they nor the Alterans ever truly grasped just how different we were from them."
"What do you mean?"
"I believe some human once said that a high form of technology can appear to more primitive people to be as magic. The opposite can be said of magic." She paused and turned to look at the crowd and then the Stargate. "The Fifth Race is an appropriate name for the Tau'ri. You possess elements of all of the Four Races."
"Really? How so?"
"You have the thirst for knowledge of the Alterans, the desire to protect of the Asgard and a love of nature and desire for peace of the Nox."
Daniel watched her.
"And what of the Furling?"
"Of the Furling... you have our magic."
Daniel's eyes widened. There it was: the big, pink elephant in the room that none of them had wanted to give name to and the Diamaire said it as though it were natural.
"I hear the Nox called you children," she continued after a beat. "But, being a child is not always such a bad thing. Children are capable of believing in things their elders think impossible. Now watch, Daniel Jackson, for what is to happen next is destiny."
Merlin walked away from Daniel talking to the Diamaire with a sense of rightness. Things were finally slotting into place. There was only one, last thing to be done.
Gwen and Janet had apparently finished helping the media set up and were now talking with Arthur and General Mitchell about the protesters outside the gates. Gwen was trying to convince them to let a few of them in so they could watch the proceedings up close. Mitchell thought that was a horrible idea.
Gwen latched onto Merlin as soon as he arrived.
"Merlin, don't you agree? We should let a few of them in, maybe if they can see it up close they'll understand that the Stargate's not the monster they think it is."
Merlin chuckled. "Sorry, Gwen, but I don't think it'll be quite that easy." Then he pointed upwards at the giant screen hovering in mid-air above the audience, already projecting an image of everything happening around the stage and the Stargate. "Besides, they'll see everything well enough from where they are."
"Are they supposed to already be projecting the image?" she asked.
Merlin shrugged. "I told them they might as well turn it on early. Give people something a bit more interesting to look at than an empty stage from far away."
"Putting Arthur on display again, are you?" Janet asked with an impish grin.
Merlin grinned back. "Well, the prat does love showing off. Might as well take advantage of that."
When the expected counter-jibe from Arthur didn't come, Merlin looked at his friend. His breath hitched in his throat when he saw Arthur staring at the sword sticking out of its cement encasement as though he'd never seen it before.
"This your first time seeing The Sword?" Mitchell asked with a knowing grin. "It's a mystery, all right. S'far as anyone's been able to figure out, it's just an ordinary sword, except of course that we can't budge the damn thing. Back when I was still on SG1, we used to joke that if the mountain was about to blow, then the safest place would be next to that sword, 'cause it would probably manage to survive the blast! I rekon anyone who's ever worked at the SGC's tried to pull that thing out at one time or another."
Arthur continued to stare at the sword. Merlin held his breath, reaching his magic into the ground beneath his feet in order to steady himself.
"Arthur?" Gwen asked gently.
That seemed to rouse him slightly.
"That sword..." he finally said. "I think... I think it's mine."
Then he slowly walked over to it. At first he simply touched its hilt with a brush of fingers, as though trying to assure himself it was really there. Then he grasped it fully and pulled.
The sword gave no resistance as it slid out with a quiet, musical ping.
Several people gasped.
Arthur raised the sword up in front of him in awe. Just as it always had, sunlight found the blade instantly and reflected off it so brightly, the sword seemed to glow.
Its light managed to attract the attention of the remainder of the crowd, who hadn't yet been watching the large screen. In the VIP seating, Jack and Daniel gaped along with everyone else.
"Well, I guess he's the King of England," Jack finally said and Daniel wasn't sure whether he wanted to hit him or laugh hysterically.
After a few moments, Arthur lowered Excalibur and blinked.
"Merlin," he finally said, not taking his eyes off the sword in his hand. "When we get back from Dakara, I'm having a set of stocks built in my backyard just for you. I think the neighbourhood children will rather enjoy learning a new game."
Merlin's face split into a radiant smile that made him nearly glow.
"Of course, sire," he said.
Then he looked out at the crowd, which had by now gone completely silent. The story about the sword that couldn't be moved was widely known. It was why Merlin had done it in the first place. However, it was going to take a bit more than that to make people believe. He took a deep breath and called up his magic to him, stretching himself past what he'd done in a very, very long time.
Then he pushed it gently into the land, coaxing it tenderly. The land eagerly answered his wishes and he smiled as he felt it yielding to his power. When people stopped staring at his glowing eyes and started looking behind him, to either side of the Stargate hanger, he knew it was working.
When it was done, Merlin turned to look at the two tall rowan trees now standing on either side of the hanger, several holly bushes surrounding them like an honour guard. He looked out again at the stunned faces and then stepped forward. His eyes flashed as he whispered a spell.
"I apologize for startling you," he said, his voice projecting magically to everyone's ears. "My name is Merlin. To those of the Old Religion, I am Emrys. I have waited fifteen hundred years for this moment, when I could once again be known for who and what I am. I realize that, after all this time, asking you to once again believe in magic is nearly asking the impossible, but it's necessary. Fear is what sent those of us with magic into hiding, into forgetting. I ask you now to set aside that fear."
He paused to take a deep breath. He'd always hated making speeches, hated being in the spotlight, but this wasn't something Arthur could do. Well, he would later on, but not right now.
"We have learned from the Jaffa that the followers of the Ori are still a strong presence in the galaxy, that their influence is nearly that of what the Goau'ld once were. This is an enemy we will have to confront and that won't be an easy task. I'm neither a warrior nor a general, so I'll leave it to them to figure out how such a thing will be done. But to those of you, who are wondering just how we are supposed to fight an enemy that uses technology that seems like magic, I have one simple answer: with real magic."
Merlin grinned and turned to Arthur, who was staring at him as though he was seeing him for the first time. Which, Merlin supposed, he sort of was. As much as that quip about the stocks meant he'd regained his memories, coming to terms with an entire lifetime's worth of memories couldn't be easy.
"The light has shone out of the darkness and now, it's Kilgharrah's turn to fly."
Merlin let go of the projection spell. He took a deep breath, closing his eyes as he reached for the part of him that was dragonlord. The ground beneath him shook as he roared the summoning into the sky.
"O drakon, e male so ftengometta tesd'hup'anankes!"
At first there was silence, then after a few minutes, whispers started breaking out. Invariably, people scanned the skies, wondering what Merlin was looking for.
"So, was something supposed to happen?" General Mitchell finally asked.
Merlin rolled his eyes. "Of course something's supposed to happen. Just make sure, General, that your people don't shoot him out of the sky when it does."
It was, of course, a cameraman with a telescopic lens, who saw him first. By the time Kilgharrah landed, the entire crowd had automatically pulled back several metres. Merlin walked out to greet him.
"Hello, old friend," he said.
Kilgharrah turned ancient, amused eyes to look at him.
"Hello, young warlock," the dragon said, prompting more surprised gasps. He turned towards the crowd and eyed them curiously for a few moments, before turning away. "Aah, so this is the Stargate... what a curious creation."
Kilgharra ignored the small soldiers that had gathered around the the Stargate hanger, trotting up to the giant stone ring to take a closer look.
"Huh, a talking dragon," Daniel heard Jack say. "Well, that's different. Definitely wouldn't have fit that into a hat."
Eventually, the anniversary celebration began. There were speeches, which Arthur opened briefly, before handing the microphone over to Daniel.
When Daniel spoke, he felt a passion of a sort he hadn't in a very long time; he felt a desire to be heard, to make people understand. Partway through, he paused and looked to the VIP seating on his left and saw the Diamaire watching him intently. Then he looked to his right and met Kilgharra's interested gaze. He smiled at the dragon and turned back to the crowd.
And realized that what was happening out in field in front of him was just as important as what was about to happen with the gate behind him.
He noticed the protestors at the gate had become rather silent as they stared at the giant wolf that had somehow managed to get into the grounds. It was sitting atop a large commermorative stone, calmly staring in Daniel's direction. The historical tank behind it had a large eagle perched on the swell of its muzzle.
There were a few children in the back gathered around something Daniel didn't even recognize. And was that old lady in the front row petting a red fox?
He continued his speech, telling the story of the Stargate, of Abydos to a brand new audience. When he finished, he left the podium, excited to tell Jack what he'd seen, when someone grabbed his bicep. Surprised, he turned to see the culprit was a small, young woman with short, brown hair. She looked up at him in wonder.
"Daniel," she said softly. Then she grinned and pulled him into a fierce hug. "I'm so glad you're doing well!" After a few breaths, she let go and stepped back, levelling a heart-breakingly familiar narrowed look. "Now don't you be getting yourself back into the infirmary at least until I've managed to get my MD certification again."
She smiled warmly then and stepped back to leave.
"Well, I'm just going to go find my daughter. Wish me luck!"
Daniel watched her go feeling a little nostalgic, a lot amazed and mostly completely flabbergasted. He sat back down in his chair, unintentionally interrupting the staring match between Jack and the Diamaire.
"Hey!" Jack exclaimed. "Why'd you do that? I was winning!"
Daniel looked at him and rolled his eyes.
There were a few more, mercifully short, speeches before Arthur nodded to General Mitchell, who ordered the dialing sequence. One by one, each chevron locked and the crowed cheered as the gate's backlash erupted outwards.
Arthur and Merlin then led the way to Dakara to meet the representatives of the Free Jaffa Nation as the first true representatives of the peoples of Earth.
Nonoma - the Cheyenne spirit of thunder, sometimes described as a thunderbird and sometimes as a wind spirit. My thanks to native-languages .org for the info.
Qinghai – a province in the western part of China, named after Lake Qinghai, which is China's largest salt-water lake. I chose this particular location after doing a quick Google map search for population density. Due probably at least partially to its location in the Tibetian plateau, this province doesn't seem to be as densely populated as the eastern part of China, so I figured it would make an ideal location for a space ship centre.
I trust I don't have to explain the Enterprise joke to anyone.
"...a high form of technology can appear to more primitive people to be as magic. The opposite can be said of magic." - anyone, who recognized the quote gets homemade donuts (pumpkin with eggnog filling). It's stollen from the Doctor Who episode "The Battlefield" with Sylvestor McCoy. Incidentally, for all you Torchwood fans, this is where Abaddon, the Destroyer, made his first Whovian appearance.
O drakon, e male so ftengometta tesd'hup'anankes! - This is Merlin's dragon-summoning spell as per Merlinwiki. Apparently the language of the dragonlords is actually Homeric Greek, but I decided to use the phontic spelling here instead of using actual Greek letters for two reasons. One, because everyone reading this is likely to recognize it this way and two, because the language of the dragons is supposed to be known only to dragons and dragonlords and Daniel's likely to recognize Ancient Greek so this makes it feel like more of a different language to me.
Wolf and Eagle - Both animals are meant to be representatives of the spirits honoured by Native American tribes. In my mind there are a lot more such beings around on the grounds, but these are the ones that Daniel notices.
Red fox – Not sure if it came across properly, what I had in mind here was a Japanese kitsune spirit. There's only so much time Daniel could take to notice things when he was in the middle of a speech, therefore only so much information I could give in a brief description.
Additional Author's Notes:
Okay, so two things:
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone, who's read and reviewed this story and added it or me to their favourites. Somehow, this story has felt like a journey even though it's not all that long (altough, that may be relative... *looks over at the 300K story sitting next to it*). It's been fun!
Secondly, I know there is A LOT more that could be written around the story I have here. There are sooo many stories to be told. I, however, will not be writing them. To be honest, this ending here is sort of what I was hoping the show itself would do: Arthur and Merlin embarking on the journey to fulfilling their destiny. But it didn't. If anyone feels inspired to write any of those countless stories from this 'verse feel free to do so (Merlin Big Bang is doing writer sign-ups right now over on lj ;P). Just make sure to point back to this story - and please let me know, because I actually would love to read those stories even if I won't be writing them!