Prologue - Doomsday
Ship of the Line: The Death Star
by Darth Tenebrus
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or any elements thereof, nor do I own the Buffyverse or its characters. Those belong to Lucasfilm/Disney and Mutant Enemy respectively. I make no profit from this save the satisfaction of writing what hopefully will be a good story. WARNING! This chapter contains a scene of genocide.
The assembled Scoobies and remaining members of the SGC stood solemnly at attention in the firing room of the Death Star and gazed at what was once their world. The planet Earth now bore raw, angry scars that crisscrossed the surface of the continents in red and black where the land could be seen through the layer of smoke. That smoke now covered more than two-thirds of the planet's surface, land and water combined, and it was spreading with the prevailing winds at a rate that would soon blanket the entire world that they had until now called their home within another day.
Not that it mattered. The remaining population that had neither the means nor the time to evacuate to the orbiting battle station were doomed to a slow death at the hands of the demons that had overrun the Earth in less than a week. The combined efforts of the Slayer Command and the Stargate Command were not enough to stem the tide. When two hundred Hellmouths opened simultaneously across the globe on 21 December 2012, ISWC Director Rupert Giles had ordered Xander to call in the Death Star to evacuate the planet so that they could transport as many as they could off the planet. General George Hammond, now retired, prevailed upon the SGC's current commanding officer, Jack O'Neill, to persuade the President of the United States and the Congress to make the existence of the Stargate Programme public in order to inform the people about their chances and their options for survival. Money was no longer a factor when it came to the survival of the human species as a whole. The members of the US government that had been cleared for the Stargate programme and had also been selected as part of the subsequent plan to preserve government continuity had already evacuated through the Stargate to the Alpha Site, along with a substantial protective detail comprised of US Marines and Army Rangers.
NASA had been tasked with reactivating the Space Shuttle programme and taking the vaunted ships out of mothballs in order to facilitate evacuation of the civilian population, and the remaining shuttles that had not been destroyed in accidents were working overtime to ferry people to their rendezvous with what, incredibly enough, was a real, moon-sized weapon of terror, that would ironically now serve as the instrument of their salvation. Local aerospace engineering companies were tasked by Presidential mandate to build vast numbers of rocket ferries that would carry people up to the Death Star in droves, and passenger airliners were retrofitted with rocket engines to assist in achieving orbit and retrieval by the Death Star's tractor beams; the engines were meant to get up to orbit only, with one chance to achieve their goal, as there would not have been enough fuel for a second attempt nor a rescue effort. The Death Star's own shuttles were flitting back and forth again and again, carting refugees from the Earth in a mad dash against time and the demon horde. Even the Asgard and the Free Jaffa had been called in to beam people off the planet, some as they walked around in a stunned daze for the horrific circumstances in which they had found themselves, in as many numbers and as quickly as possible with their level of technology. But after a week of tireless, frantic effort from all parties, only a billion people had been lifted off the Earth. That was a miracle in and of itself, but it still meant that over six billion people would die at the hands and claws of creatures that held a burning, deep-seated hatred of innocence and purity. Far better to end all their lives in one instant from the battle station's superlaser and spare them the torment of an Earth become Hell. Let the rest of the universe call them mass murderers and committers of genocide. There was no satisfaction here, and the one who pressed the firing control would likely take his or her own life immediately afterwards.
That was why Xander insisted that he be the one to do it. It was his battle station, his Death Star, and he would use it now in a gesture of mercy; they had saved who and what they could, and he would be damned if he just turned the station around and left the rest to the whims of Hell, to suffer torment and damnation. He would also not leave the task to anyone else, since he would not see another living soul aboard the station have to live with the unimaginable guilt, the unending torment that would haunt them forever. It would have been far better, far more merciful, to simply kill them after they pushed the button. Not for the first time was Xander Harris now grateful for the memories and the personality of Wilhuff Tarkin buried deep within his psyche that enabled him to do the horrific deed.
He looked around at everyone and took a deep breath before he spoke.
"My friends," he began hesitantly, "I can't ask anyone to stay and watch what I'm about to do. I just don't have the words to express it." He paused in contemplation of the magnitude and horror of what he was preparing to unleash in the interest of preserving the dignity of humanity as he prepared to obliterate the world that had been his home. At length he found the courage, however small it may have been, to say the rest of it. "Those of you who decide to remain, please bear in mind that this is in fact the better alternative to abandoning our people to torment and damnation for much longer. We now take our world away from the demons once and for all, even as... as we ourselves lose it forever. "
Xander began to quiver in horror. He could not bear to look at anyone's faces now, knowing what he was about to do. It was only after a long moment that he finally managed to raise his eyes the brief few degrees needed to meet the gazes of the assembled staff and friends before him.
Rupert Giles regarded him with what could only be described as the deepest, most profound sorrow he had ever held for someone. If there could have been any other way to relieve Xander, or anyone else in his entirely unenviable position, the burden of the merciful genocide he was about to commit, he would have happily done so. Alas, it could never have been, and the look in Giles' eyes betrayed his greatest sympathies for the man who, had it not been for a simple change of costume choice that fateful Halloween day, would never have found the strength of character or the moral courage to take the damnable burden upon his own shoulders, would never have learned how to do what no one else in human history could ever have done. Inwardly, he wept for Xander more than the six billion doomed souls on the disintegrating planet below.
George Hammond and Jonathan "Jack" O'Neill were stone-faced as they took the measure of Xander Harris, scrutinizing him with the intensity of an electron microscope yet showing more depth of feeling, more emotion than anyone in their place had any right to feel in the face of such…
There really were no words for this.
Buffy and Willow stood shoulder to shoulder, their faces unclouded by any hint of false pride or anything that could serve as camouflage for the terrible grief they felt for their best, their oldest friend since that first day in Sunnydale High all those years ago. Xander was grateful for the tears that streamed freely down their faces, even as he felt he deserved no such thing and probably never would again. He would likely never want to meet those eyes for a very long time afterward, if ever…
Faith had never felt so much pain before in her life, and she imagined that none ever had before, or would again. Her own relationship with her abusive parents had seemed like it could have gone on forever, and not for once did she envision that she would have preferred it to this, what Xander was about to do. What he had to do. Behind her doe eyes, she wondered, and feared most of all, whether she or another would have to end Xander's life to ease his suffering. He had taken the damnation that humanity would have endured if not for his choice, and he had accepted it for himself, and now he had consigned himself to the commission of a horrible act that would in a single instant preserve the innocent souls of six billion and more from being touched and corrupted by the damned that had broken and spilled forth on the Earth like a virulent plague. She clasped Robin's hand as tightly as she dared without the use of her Slayer's strength that surely would have crushed the metacarpal bones in his own hand.
President Hayes stood with his Vice President, the Prime Minister of England and the Russian President, and all the assembled leaders of the nations of the world, every face slack with shock and grief for the young man in the grey-green tunic and trousers that had taken this on his shoulders, who had accepted that his name would be dyed forever in the pages of human history as the man responsible for the massacre of over six billion innocent souls. They did not imagine or pretend that decades into the future the remnant of humanity would remember that he intended for their souls to remain pure and untouched by the evil that had so horribly disfigured their beautiful homeworld, so thoroughly ravaged it beyond any hope of salvation or repair. They knew beyond any doubt that the name of Xander Harris would be reviled as worse than Adolf Hitler or Caligula before a century had passed. They could not imagine that anyone would wish this on their worst enemy. It spoke volumes to these heads of state that this unassuming young man would have the sheer guts to take this upon himself without any hint of self-interest or self-pity in his heart. There was pity and sympathy enough in each of their own hearts for that…
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity in which the smoke cover seemed to have grown even faster over the slowly dying planet Earth, Xander Harris took a deep breath and let it out loudly, steeling himself against the mind-numbing horror of the task, and he turned and walked toward the firing station just aside from the main screen, each step ringing hollow against the deck, sounding the alarum that signalled Xander Harris's damnation. He looked at the controls with disgust in his eyes, knowing what he had volunteered to do, volunteered so that no one else would have to be subjected to this….this soul-shredding pain. He looked back up at the faces of everyone, with a final expression on his countenance that pleaded with them that he didn't actually have to do it, that somehow there was another way. He met each of their eyes in turn, looking for the words that would save his soul and the lives of the six billion doomed Terrans, that would say he didn't have to now, that he had been brave enough for everyone. More than brave, actually….
A slow, small nod from O'Neill and Giles, as his gaze caught each of theirs in their turn, confirmed his worst fears, and then he began to shake worse than ever. Jack O'Neill had the calm look of a man that had accepted inevitability and the whole terrible melancholy of the moment, thus the calm in his voice as he spoke thus belied the great sorrow in his heart.
"It's alright, Xander," said O'Neill; "go on. Press it."
Xander sighed in despair as he processed those words in his head and in his heart, then he looked down at the actuator that would seal his doom.
"May God forgive me…"
He screwed his eyes shut, and he did not watch his own hand as it pulled the actuator down.
Thirty seconds later, a bright green lance penetrated the Earth to its core and shattered it.
Six billion plus people died instantly…