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Posted August 6, 2006

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Fan Fiction: There's No Place Like Valos Cor

Title: There's No Place Like Valos Cor

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG-13.

Summary: B:tVS, SG-1. Xander arrives at the SGC bearing gifts. 3500 words.

Spoilers: B:tVS post-"Chosen", references to A:tS Season 2, Stargate SG-1 through 9.20 "Camelot" and 10.03 "The Pegasus Project".

Notes: Written for the TtH Summer 2006 ficathon.

"So, tell me about this guy we're supposed to be meeting?" Mitchell asked as he and his teammates-- probationary and otherwise-- sat around the conference table in the briefing room waiting for the General and his guest. "Alex something?"

"Xander, actually," Daniel replied, reading from the file spread open on the table in front of him. "Apparently he prefers that over any other diminutive of Alexander. Last name of Harris, works for an international organization with very high connections in the British government, high enough to be in on the know about the SGC."

"Kinda figured that part for myself," Mitchell commented with a smirk. "What with him actually being here, and all."

Daniel shot a quick, unamused glance over the rims of his glasses in the lieutenant colonel's direction, then went back to reading from the file. "The organization in question, known generally as the IWC and in certain circles as the International Watcher's Council, has been in the market for certain types of artefacts for a very long time. Anything with legendary mystical connections tends to come to their attention sooner or later, and they have very deep pockets. When I was researching other possible items in which a Goa'uld might have hidden in stasis on Earth after the incidents with Hathor and Osiris, my investigations hit a dead end in their vaults more than once. They never responded to my inquiries."

"And you just left it at that?" Vala asked, incredulous. "I know you have Asgard technology; why not take simply go in there and take the whatever it was for yourself?"

"Because that would be wrong?" Daniel said lightly, raising his eyebrows at her, then answered the question more seriously. "Also, as I mentioned before, at least some of the upper management of the IWC are aware of the program and a lot of the discoveries we've made over the last several years. They'd suspect us, especially as the items that would disappear would be the same ones I'd asked about previously, and they have too much power politically for us to anger them over a few small artefacts that probably aren't even actually dangerous. Don't worry-- if I'd found anything really urgent, I would have asked the General to bring it to the attention of the Oversight Committee."

"Still, we should probably ask about them while a representative of the IWC is actually here," Sam said earnestly.

Daniel nodded, smiling at her. "I plan to."

"For what purpose has he come?" Teal'c asked, frowning thoughtfully.

"I'm not really sure," Daniel said, flipping further through the file, "but he brought something with him in a large box; it had to be quarantined up top for awhile while the SFs checked it out. Walter saw them bring it in, but he didn't get to see what was in it."

"Maybe it's something to help us against the Ori," Vala commented, perking up. "Maybe they have something the Ancients left behind-- maybe even Merlin's weapon."

Daniel shook his head. He'd had that thought himself, then dismissed it as unlikely. "I doubt it. The Sangraal is a lot smaller than whatever it is Mr. Harris brought with him, and it's highly unlikely that Merlin's weapon would have been brought to Earth. None of my research so far points to any other resting place for it than Castiana or Sahal-- or, as Morgan Le Fay called them, Taoth Vaclarush and Valos Cor. Still, you might be right about it being something the Ancients left behind. Why else would they bring it to us now?"

"Looks like we're about to get the answer to that question," Mitchell muttered, then rose to his feet as the door to the briefing room opened. The others followed suit, watching as General Landry entered, followed closely by a dark-haired man about Daniel's height in civilian clothes with an eye patch covering one eye. Daniel recognized him from the photograph in the file, though he seemed a lot-- livelier, perhaps?-- in person.

Harris glanced quickly around the room, quickly taking in all five of them as the General began introductions; it was an threat-assessing look, implying things about him that hadn't been present in the file Daniel had in front of him. His interest was piqued-- and when Sam froze beside him, drawing in a deep, shocked breath, his curiosity rose even higher. Who was this guy, really?

Harris nodded his way through the introductions, then moved to the open seat between the General's and Sam's. Before he sat down, however, he turned to Sam with a lopsided grin. "Congratulations, by the way," he said. "Weren't you celebrating being promoted to Major the last time I met you?"

Sam blushed crimson. "Not exactly. I'd been visiting my brother in California not long after I was promoted, yes-- but I was in Oxnard for other reasons."

"You've met before?" General Landry asked, glancing between the two of them, voicing the question that was burning in everyone's minds. Daniel hadn't seen Sam this embarrassed in a very long time.

Sam stared down at her hands, drew a deep breath, then looked back up, visibly steeling herself. "Once," she said. "And not exactly under the kind of circumstances where we could have got to know each other better--" She glanced at Harris at that, then winced and covered her face with her hands. "Oh God, I did not just say that."

Harris was chuckling. "Nothing says thank you like dollars in the waistband," he joked, then shook his head. "Sorry. This is kind of awkward, isn't it? You know, the only reason I even agreed to strip that night was because I never thought I'd see anyone from there ever again; I usually worked in the kitchen."

"You're a stripper?" Vala blurted, looking him up and down as much as she could from her seat across the table. "One of those Tau'ri who get up on a stage and take all of their clothes off for money? Well, well. You must have something really special hidden under all that loose clothing."

Surprisingly, Harris didn't seem embarrassed at all by the exchange, though his smile saddened a little. "That's what Anya always used to say," he said, then shook his head. "And no. The only reason I was at the Fabulous Ladies' Nightclub in the first place was because my car gave up the ghost in Oxnard in the middle of my road trip, and that was the only place I could find a job to earn the money for repairs."

"A nightclub?" Mitchell remarked, eyebrows raised in amusement as he stared across the table at Sam. "Sam, you've been holding out on us."

"It wasn't like it sounds," she said plaintively from behind her hands.

"Sure, sure," Mitchell teased, then glanced over at the General and sobered up a little, straightening in his chair.

"Perhaps we can save the rest of this fascinating discussion for later," Landry said, folding his hands atop the conference table. "If we could get the meeting underway...?"

"Sorry, sir," Harris said, finally taking his seat. The humor fell from his expression, and everyone else at the table quickly followed suit, though Daniel caught more than one sidewise glance thrown at Sam and then at the civilian. They'd all be grilling her about him later, that was for sure, especially since Harris had to have been a teenager when they met, judging by the birthdate in his file.

Harris had a manila envelope with him, from which he removed several sheets of paper covered in writing and a short stack of photographs. From what Daniel could see from the other side of Sam, the writing looked to be in a foreign language, and one he didn't recognize, at that; considering that he spoke nearly thirty languages now and could get by in a dozen others, not all of which were Earth-based, the fact that the script was entirely unfamiliar to him was... unusual.

"I don't think I need to explain to you what these pictures show," Harris said wryly as he handed one to each of them.

No, he certainly didn't, Daniel thought, staring at the image of a Stargate standing on a stone platform in a green field edged with trees. The image itself wasn't that unusual; what was unusual was the source. Though there weren't any specific geographic or botanical anomalies visible that pointed the location out as definitively extraterrestrial, he knew the photograph couldn't have been taken on Earth, and a quick comparison in his memories of planets the SGC had visited with grass near the Stargate quickly ruled all of them out of the running; each of them had significant features which did not show up in this photograph. So how did a civilian from Earth have access to an alien artefact-- in its native setting? All he could think of was that one of their allies had been dealing with other Tau'ri behind their backs, and that was an unsettling thought.

"It is a chappa'ai," Teal'c said, stating the obvious.

"And I'm guessing that's your word for Stargate?" Harris said. "Or-- Doorway to Heaven, or whatever you call it. I wasn't exactly listening when Giles explained the whole thing."

"This isn't what you brought with you," Daniel murmured, still staring at the photograph. "The box wasn't big enough." But it was big enough for... He looked up sharply. "A DHD?"

"A big, metal mushroom shaped thing with symbols all over it and a big red button in the middle?" Harris replied, shrugging. "Yep. Giles said he'd heard you used to have two, but one blew up and the other ran out of batteries, or something."

Daniel glanced over at Sam, remembering all the times it would have been useful to have a DHD in the past-- it had so many internal protocols that they were unable to properly duplicate with their dialing computer, nor completely understand. Though being able to bypass a DHD's features was sometimes to their benefit, they could learn a great deal from a working DHD, and having one handy for instances when the dialing computer just wasn't adequately doing the job would be a great help. Not as great as they were hoping for-- it wasn't something that would directly help them against the Ori-- but certainly useful.

"How'd you get your hands on it?" Mitchell asked. "I was under the impression the SGC was the only legitimate Earth-based group who'd set foot on other worlds."

"That's kind of complicated," Harris said. "Um. I don't suppose any of you have heard of a world called Pylea?"

Vala stirred in her seat at that. Daniel glanced at her in surprise, then smiled wryly at himself; they all forgot sometimes that she'd been host to a Goa'uld queen for an unknown number of years. One who'd ruled worlds, and might well have useful information for them, if you could pick it out of her usual stories and exaggerations.

"Qetesh knew of a planet by that name," she said slowly, frowning. "By the time I became her host, her consort Reshef had been missing for a very long time. He settled a large group of human slaves on Pylea millennia ago, but there were other races already native to the planet that were harder to tame. He took a host of Jaffa back to teach them obedience and never returned."

"I have heard of that planet as well," Teal'c intoned, solemnly. "It is one of those that have passed into Jaffa legend-- places to be avoided if at all possible."

"Reshef," Daniel said, meditatively, studying Vala's haunted expression. "Also called Reshpu, or Rashshaf-- a Semitic god of war and thunder, later adopted by the Egyptians. Usually represented in the form of a warrior holding a shield and spear in his left hand, and a club in his right; on his head he wears the White Crown, round the base of which is bound a turban. Above his forehead, projecting from his turban is the head of a gazelle."

Vala nodded. "That's him, all right."

"A gazelle?" Harris asked, raising his eyebrows. "Is that kind of like a hart?"

"A hart is a deer," General Landry explained unexpectedly, shaking his head. "A gazelle is a member of the antelope family, and usually a lot smaller." At the surprised glances of the others around the table, he shrugged his shoulders expressively. "What? I hunt."

Harris shook himself. "Good," he said. "Though I guess it doesn't really matter where the Wolf, Ram and Hart came from; any way you look at it, they don't belong here."

"What do wildlife have to do with anything?" Mitchell asked, frowning.

"They're the guys that controlled Pylea up until a few years ago, through a bunch of priests that called themselves the Covenant of Trombli. Some of my friends managed to open a portal there-- kind of like one of your wormholes, except without the big metal ring-- and arrived in time to help overthrow the old regime and free the humans."

"Wait a minute," Sam objected, stabbing at her copy of the photograph with an index finger. "You're saying you managed to transport people to another planet without using a Stargate or a ship?" she asked, incredulously. "How could that be possible?"

"Well, it wasn't me," Harris said, throwing up his hands. "But, yeah. Something about trionic speechcraft altering the dynamic reality sphere-- Willow tried to tell me about it once, but I didn't really understand it. You'll have to ask her if you want an actual explanation. All I know is, it works. Speak the magic words, poof goes the big swirly blue thing, and whoever's standing in front of it gets sucked to the other side."

"Trionic...?" Sam said, then paused as she seemed to stare into the distance through the wall of the conference room. "Where have I heard that... Oh! 1989-- Lutzbalm predicted it in Zurig. Of course, they laughed him off the stage at the time." She still looked skeptical, but far more receptive.

Mitchell snorted and glanced over at Daniel. "Yeah, and that's not in any way ironic," he drawled.

Daniel rolled his eyes in return.

"Anyway," Harris continued. "The guy they put on the throne there got deposed, but not before he found out a lot of interesting stuff in the archives, and he brought some of it with him when he came to Earth a year or so later. The Council met up with him recently, and he shared what he knew. Giles recognized your ring-thingy in his books right away."

"So how were you able to get your hands on it?" Vala wanted to know. "If your friend there was deposed-- surely their government would have objected to your coming in and taking it from them? Not that I'm speaking from experience, or anything."

Harris shook his head. "Nah, they always used the portals when they wanted to get anywhere; the priests had an interest in keeping Pylea tightly under their control, so they kept the knowledge of how the 'gate worked to themselves, and no one else ever got it to work. It's a ways away from the nearest village; we had no trouble getting to it and making off with the DH-whatever. The gate itself was too big to take back with us, but it'll be pretty useless to them without the controller. We figured that would be safer, and more useful, with you guys."

"So where's the catch?" Daniel asked, pensively. "You're not just bringing this to us out of the goodness of your hearts," he said. "And even if you were--" he glanced at Landry, "--you wouldn't be dealing with us. With SG-1."

"Smart guy," Harris said, grinning appreciatively.

"I told you they'd catch on," Landry said, eyes twinkling.

"So what is your true purpose here?" Teal'c asked, staring intently at their guest.

"Whoa," Harris said, staring at him. "You're kind of like Oz, aren't you? Don't say much, but there's a lot behind it when you do." He blinked. "Anyway, the DHD was just to get me in the door. No way did I want the NID to know what I was really carrying-- I remember the Initiative way too fondly. Not." He shuddered, then reached into the front pocket of his jeans. "Not to mention some of the guys on our own side."

Sam, Mitchell and Teal'c all stiffened a little as he pulled his hand back out, clasped around something small-- but Daniel, mind rushing ahead, drew in a deep breath. Surely it couldn't be...? Heart racing, he watched as Harris opened his hand to expose the item resting on his palm.

"Is that--" Vala asked, staring first at the blood red jewel, then at Daniel.

"The Sangraal," Daniel breathed, awed.

"And you said they couldn't possibly have Merlin's weapon," Vala said, smugly.

"Oh, we didn't," Harris said, shrugging. "Like I said, Groo brought a lot of stuff back with him. This was part of a necklace he brought for, um, a friend of mine who's dead now. Dawnie was really the one who figured it out-- it seems like, at some point between Reshef getting his ass kicked and the Covenant of Trombli taking over, there were free human villages on Pylea, and the one nearest the Stargate was named Sahal. Dawn was translating some of Groo's books and remembered that name when Giles was doing our monthly board meeting slash teleconference about the latest threats to Earth." He gestured at the pile of papers still on the table in front of him. "This is a copy of that chapter from the book, though I'm not sure you'll be able to read it."

"Can I...?" Vala asked, reaching for the gem, then pulled her hand back at the General's reproachful look. Harris handed it to Sam instead; she held it for a moment, lifting it up to examine it against the light, then handed it reverently to Daniel.

The minute his hand closed around the gem, he could feel it; the Sangraal was a conduit for a deep well of energy, resonating on a higher plane than most humans were capable of sensing. Perhaps it was a tiny vestige left behind from his two experiences with Ascension; whatever the reason, it allowed him to identify the object with certainty.

"This is it," he said, then took a deep breath. "Of course, we have no idea how to use it yet..."

"But this is an amazing step forward," Sam said. "Mr. Harris--"

"I know, I know, why?" He shrugged. "Believe it or not, we're in the business of saving the world, too, and this is one threat we're not equipped to handle. We're pretty sure the Powers that Be, the guys that give us our marching orders half the time, are these Ascended people you've been dealing with-- and we're not really sure what side they're on. So, we're passing the buck. Just make sure we all come out of this Ori thing in one piece, and we'll call it good. Oh-- and if you ever run across any girls with abnormal strength and agility, give us a call."

"And that's it?" Mitchell asked skeptically.

"That's it." Harris nodded firmly.

Daniel handed the Sangraal back to Sam-- undoubtedly, she'd want to run a lot of tests on it-- and revised his immediate plans to go back to Camelot to do further research. He wouldn't be looking for the location of the Sangraal anymore-- he'd be looking for information on how to use it.

The meeting broke up quickly after that, and Harris left to go back to his hotel. He promised to return the next day, to share any other details he had about these "Powers that Be" or other useful artefacts Groo might have had, and exchanged a last glance with Sam that made Daniel wonder if her phone bill with England was about to significantly increase.

"So," he said as the others stood up to file out of the room, throwing a glance over his glasses at Sam. "The Fabulous Ladies' Nightclub, huh?"

She colored again. "Don't you dare tell Jack," she hissed between her teeth.

"Only if you promise to tell us everything," Mitchell said with a rakish grin.

She narrowed her eyes at him, then sighed. "Okay, okay. Team night?" she asked. "My place, pizza and beer?"

"Ooo, sounds like fun," Vala said, rubbing her hands together.

"Indeed," Teal'c commented gravely, though his eyes were twinkling.

She looked longingly back down at the Sangraal clutched in her hand, then bit her lip. "I suppose we can lock this up in the lab for one night," she said.

"It'll still be there tomorrow," Daniel assured her. "And we'll all feel better for an evening off. Hey, and Cassie's in town this weekend, right? Invite her over, too."

"Are you kidding?" Sam asked. "She'll tell Jack."

Daniel just chuckled as they walked together out of the room.


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