Disclaimer: I do not own either Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Stargate, and am not profiting in any way from this work. Any material taken from either of the aforementioned series is not owned by me, but instead by its present copyright holders.
Time line: This takes place about two years after Sunnydale collapsed (so around 2005), and I'm largely ignoring everything after the end of Angel. You'll eventually find out what the Scooby gang has been doing during the year since then, but not just yet. As for the Stargate time line, I've shifted it forward so that things which happened in the first Stargate movie (1996) are now happening in 2005. So everyone in the Stargate universe is born about nine years later except for Catherine Langford, who is a very well-preserved 85ish years old). Prologue
Of all places, a castle.
When Catherine Langford had contacted him after he was practically laughed out of a recent conference of Egyptologists and offered him some sort of highly classified job, a castle had not been what Doctor Daniel Jackson had expected. To be fair, he also had not expected that he would need to fly to the United Kingdom, and a part of him had even thought the whole thing might be some sort of mean-spirited jest. After all, exactly what sort of top secret job required a discredited translator of Egyptian hieroglyphics infamous in the academic community for his view that aliens may have constructed the pyramids?
Frankly, a part of him still thought the whole thing might just be a cruel joke. Only the sheer scale of the efforts this ruse would have already required made him doubt this view. After all, private limos, airplane flights and castles were not exactly a dime a dozen. That said, if he had anything to lose, Dr. Jackson never would have come here. However, these days, he had no apartment, no grants and scant hope of any future in the academic community.
As he stepped out of his taxi and retrieved his luggage, Daniel was glad to see a smartly dressed young woman exiting beneath the castle's portcullis.
“Excuse me, miss, I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson. Do you know where I could find Catherine Langford?”
The brunette simply smiled up at him a tad impishly, bright blue eyes quickly taking in his appearance.
“Well, that would be a bit of a trick, as she's still in the States trying to scare up some additional personnel,” the young woman replied, “but as you're supposed to be meeting with me anyways, I'm sure we'll manage to cope somehow.”
A bit taken a back at this pronouncement, Daniel gave the young woman a second look. He had figured her for a secretary or assistant of some description, but apparently this was not the case. Dressed professionally in a form-fitting, but not immodest pair of slacks and a blouse the woman might have looked the part of a young professional, if she were not just a bit too young. Guessing ages was hardly his specialty, but he'd place her in her late teens, or maybe very early twenties if she was a late developer. She also had a Californian accent, which was a bit odd in the British Isles. Maybe he'd been closer to the mark in thinking this was a trick than he'd started to hope, although he supposed that he could hardly afford to burn any bridges if he was wrong.
“Er, right then. Catherine said something about proving my theories right when we talked, so...”
He found himself trailing off again as she smiled up at him in an amused fashion.
“Not quite what you were expecting, Dr. Jackson?”
The young woman then gestured for him to follow her under the portcullis and across a bridge above a large, empty moat, as she continued.
“Try to get used to it. The job we're offering you tends to be full of surprises.”
Smiling awkwardly as he struggled a bit to keep up with his guide while carting his luggage, Daniel asked the foremost questions on his mind.
“I was a bit curious about that job actually. Catherine wasn't very clear on the details. Also, um, who exactly are you?”
“Well, in reverse order,” she replied, glancing over her shoulder at him, “I'm Co-Director Dawn Summers of the project by which we are hoping you will soon be employed, Catherine kept her explanation brief in order to avoid you running screaming, and your job will be translating some ancient, probably Egyptian, hieroglyphics.”
“Run screaming?” Daniel bemusedly exclaimed. “From hieroglyphics?” Considering he had completed a PhD. in the translation of hieroglyphics, Dawn's reply seemed more than a touch ridiculous.
“Not from the hieroglyphics,” Dawn began with another impish grin. “It's where the hieroglyphics might take you that'll have you running.”
Depressing a button in the entryway to the castle, Dawn came to a stop, waiting for an elevator. Turning to face Daniel with an abruptly serious expression, she looked up to meet his eyes, seemingly looking for something.
“Dr. Jackson, before we go any further, you should know that while we will do everything in our power to keep you safe, the sort of things we deal with here at Watchers International can sometimes be either deeply disturbing, dangerous or both. If you don't think you can handle that, then it might be better if we stopped here before you saw anything impossible to unsee.”
The warning left the Egyptologist more than a bit unsettled, but he quickly tried to shrug off his discomfort. He really did not have any other options, so he should at least see what was on offer before he refused it.
“I'm not sure quite what you mean by that,” he responded, trying for unconcerned, although he felt the young co-director saw through him easily enough, “but I'm hardly going to refuse interesting translation work before it even gets started. I mean, Catherine may not have mentioned it, but I'm sort of at loose ends just now.”
Dawn smiled again, but this time the expression was a touch melancholy.
“I understand,” she replied as a fairly bare elevator opened in front of them. “If you're sure, then come along. A few floors down, I'll give you a friendly introduction to our world. Also, don't worry about your academic reputation. Here, it's almost an asset.”
The doors closed, and the elevator quickly and silently descended, leaving Daniel and Dawn to their own thoughts. Frankly, Daniel did not know what to make of his companion at all. Her rather mercurial disposition made the young woman's occasional seriousness all the more disconcerting. The warning had been strange as well, while the aside on his academic reputation was bizarre.
After a moment, the elevator doors opened again on the bottom level of the castle's basement. Walking in silence, Dawn and Daniel quickly strode out of the elevator toward a nondescript door on their left.
Opening the door with one hand, and gesturing for Daniel to precede her with her other hand, Dawn finally spoke up again.
“Right this way, good sir. Your destiny awaits.”
Ignoring his companion's hyperbole, Daniel quickly stepped through the door, barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes. Could she be any more melodramatic? Of course, as it turned out, that he'd resisted this impulse was a good decision, as he would have looked even more ridiculous had his jaw dropped directly following rolling his eyes.
Mouth open and befuddled, Daniel found his head whipping back and forth between the two incredible objects before him, as he ignored everyone and everything else in the room. The left wall of the large room was completely taken up by a pair of bizarre stone rings covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics, along with symbols he had never seen before in his life. Then, taking up the wall directly in front of him, there was some sort of metal ring, covered in many of the same bizarre, unknown symbols.
Startled out of his thoughts by a sudden touch on his arm, Daniel shook himself, as he noticed that Dawn had come up behind him, smiling at his expression. She was not the only one in the room either. An older man with glasses, looking perhaps around fifty years old, a red-haired woman around his age, and a pair of girls around Dawn's age were already present and watching his expression bemusedly.
“Um, um, wow, this, this, is just, I mean-”
“It is, isn't it?” the older man cut in gently. “The find on your left was discovered by an archaeological expedition funded by Watchers International in Giza, during the late 1920's. Some of the symbols are obviously Egyptian hieroglyphics and a few others may be an obscure form of cuneiform, but we have no experts in ancient Egyptian on staff at present. The best we've been able to manage so far is what Dawn would term 'getting the gist of it' using Budge's text as a reference. This is why we are requesting your expertise. As far as the ring at the front of the room is concerned, it was found buried beneath the stone tablets in Giza, and is constructed from a material which, so far as we know, today exists nowhere else on Earth. If the tablets are to be believed, ancient Egyptians thought that it was some kind of gateway. Using Budge, I translated it as 'a gateway to heaven,' but as Dawn insists on humming Led Zeppelin every time I bring this up, I do hope that you can find a better translation.”
Upon finishing his statement, the older man began rubbing his brow, as Dawn started humming a Stairway to Heaven on cue.
“Um, right, um, wow,” Daniel replied, still absorbing the information, the man had imparted. Turning towards a blackboard on which some of the symbols on the stone tablets had been poorly translated, Daniel quickly erased 'gateway to heaven,' replacing it with star gate. “Well, I can at least help you with that last part, Mr. ... er, what's your name?”
“Ah, yes, of course,” the man replied, holding out his hand to shake. “I am Rupert Giles, Watchers International's current CEO. Of course, this particular project is headed by Dawn and Catherine, so we're unlikely to meet regularly.”
Daniel took the man's hand and shook it rather numbly, still half-focused on the two fascinating archaeological finds in the room.
“This,” Giles continued, gesturing to the red-haired woman, who waved a trifle shyly, “is Willow Rosenberg. She has some expertise in ancient languages and cultures, but is mostly here to help us determine the properties of the metallic ring the Egyptians left behind. There are considerable indications that it may actually be some sort of gateway, and if that is the case, I would trust no one more than her to determine its operation. The other two young ladies are, of course, Kennedy and Violet, both of whom are currently acting as security guards. Of course, Willow and Kennedy have other responsibilities which may call them away at times, but this is Willow's primary research project at present.”
“Of course,” Rupert nodded towards Dawn, “you've already met Dawn Summers, who is directing this project along with Catherine Langford. She has also discovered a number of links between these finds and the mythology of a race of Egyptian demons known as the Goold. If you accept the position we are offering, you would also be responsible for helping Dawn master the ancient Egyptian needed to accurately interpret these legends and records.”
“Oh, um, right, sure, the job, I mean, of course I'll accept the job. This is the find of the century,” Daniel responded, already only paying half his attention to the CEO as he began erasing and rewriting the translation on the blackboard in front of him. “So, this, er, star gate, can you tell me anything else about it?”
“Yes, er, well, I could, but I think that I'll leave that to Dawn, as she's more of an expert in its mythology than I am, however, there are a few matters we must settle before we go any further.”
“Yes. Dr. Jackson, you are right in saying that this may be the find of the century, however, for the moment, we will be demanding that you do not speak of it to anyone who either myself, Dawn or Catherine has personally authorized to know about it. I understand that this may seem strange, but it will be a condition upon your employment here, Dr. Jackson. In fact, anything you see while working for our firm should be considered confidential, Dr. Jackson. I hope that this is acceptable.”
Daniel finally began to pay attention to what was going on around him once more in response to Giles' firm tone when he spoke regarding confidentiality. To be honest, considering what they had him doing, the secrecy was fairly odd, and Dawn's earlier warnings about danger and running away screaming seemed even stranger, but it wasn't like he had any better options at the moment. Maybe he could even understand where they were coming from.
This was not the first time he had heard of Watchers International. The firm was quite well-respected among those who dealt with antiquities and archaeological artifacts. Now they had him, a thoroughly discredited linguist, working on an archaeological find which might be construed as giving credence to some of his wilder theories. From the point of view of a corporation's CEO, he could perhaps appreciate why they might want to keep something like this quiet in the short term.
“Right, that'll be no problem. So, when do I start?”
Tapping the blackboard on which he had thoroughly rewritten Giles' translation, Dawn smirked at him.
“It looks like you've already started, so why leave?”
Waving to the older man, the slender brunette exclaimed, “Giles, I can take it from here. I'll catch you up later, K?”
“Of course. Good day, Dr. Jackson,” the CEO of Watchers International replied before departing.
Looking around the room, from a still smirking Dawn, to Willow, whose head was cocked sideways as she peered carefully at his new translation, to the two teenage girls who were supposedly 'for security,' Daniel Jackson was still not quite sure what to make of Watchers International or his new project. Even so, he was working for an antiquities broker translating writings from thousands of years ago. Really, how bad could it possibly be?