Chapter 15: The Key of the Matter
I'm staring at Buffy and Dawn, not quite believing my eyes. I guess now I can understand why they were so adamant about us not testing Dawn earlier to see if she had the Ancients' gene, though the thing I still don't understand is why they said they weren't sure. Come to think of it, that's just one of a number of things that don't quite make sense here and I am now more determined than ever to get to the bottom of this.
What can I say? When I woke up this morning my world made a lot more sense than it does right now and that is more than a little frustrating, especially because somehow I don't think it's going to go back to making sense any time soon. When I woke up this morning magic didn't exist and neither did demons and vampires. Sure, I was used to dealing with aliens on a daily basis but those were a different matter. Even before I saw the stargate I knew chances were there was life on other planets so the adjustment wasn't quite so big, but this?
These are fairy tales and yet the evidence is staring right back at me, making me realize that my absolute answers were in fact anything but.
"So you are essentially Buffy's clone," I say, even though I already know the answer.
"Sort of," mutters Dawn, not looking particularly thrilled by the reminder.
"But why would someone want to clone Buffy in the first place? I mean, I know she's a slayer but somehow I don't think they were trying to create another slayer... and why don't you look like her?" I ask, almost accusingly.
"It's a long story," replies Buffy.
"Then give me the short version," I say, not willing to allow them to brush me off quite so easily.
"It doesn't really matter," she insists.
"Somehow I don't think so," I say, knowing a delaying tactic when I see one. That these people don't fully trust us is still pretty obvious and I know that the only reason we even found out about this was because Dr. Giles slipped, but now that I have something to hold on to there's just no way I'm letting go.
"Fine, you want to know? A few years ago a hell goddess named Glorificus was looking for a way home and at the same time a bunch of monks were looking after the key to her dimension. Knowing that they didn't stand a chance against her, the monks decided to hide the key where it would actually be safe. Back then the key was energy but the monks gave it form, they made it human and sent it to me knowing that I would protect it with my life," growls Buffy.
"What do you mean 'they made it human'?" I ask, not quite knowing what this particular story has to do with anything.
"They sent the key to me in the form of a sister... and they altered my memories to convince me that Dawn had always been there... they altered all our memories," she says, glaring at me and I realize that making anything that could possibly be interpreted as a threatening gesture against Dawn right now would be a mistake... probably the last one I would ever make.
"So what is the key?"
"The key is energy. Once upon a time it had the power to open a portal between dimensions, but that power no longer exists. It could only be used once at one specific moment in time and that moment is long gone, but that does nothing to change the fact that Dawn is real now. She is human and she is my sister."
"So she is a potential?" I ask, realizing that Buffy is still on high-alert and trying to bring the conversation back to a safer subject.
"As I said, we don't really know," jumps in Willow.
"But if she is essentially Buffy's clone then she has the Ancients' gene, right?" I point out, still trying to make some sort of sense out of this very partial tale.
"You said that the Ancients' gene is the mark of a potential, so how can she have the gene and not be one?" I insist.
"We don't really know. Genetically speaking she should be a potential --we know that-- but magically speaking she doesn't really register as such," she explains.
"I think what happened was that when the monks created her, they sent her to Buffy for protection but they couldn't take a chance that she would someday be called so they may have shielded her from the calling. That would explain why she doesn't really register as a potential, even though she should be one," says Tara, who I've notice doesn't usually say much.
"That could also explain why she doesn't look like Buffy either!" exclaims Willow, unfortunately I'm not quite following her reasoning.
"I'm afraid I don't understand," I say, blinking almost as fast as Thor.
"Actually it's pretty simple," says Willow. "You see, the monks 'created' Dawn and they sent her to Buffy for protection but in order to keep her safe they had to take a couple of additional steps. First of all, as Tara said, they had to make sure that in the event of Buffy's death she would be effectively shielded from the calling. Turning her into a slayer would have been a death sentence and they knew it. In addition to that, if they wanted to hide her, they had to avoid anything that would attract too much attention to her. That means that turning her into a mini-Buffy was never really a viable option."
"Yes, not to mention that if they'd tried to make me a mini-Buffy you would probably have needed a magnifying glass to find me!" says Dawn, sticking her tongue out at her sister.
"Hey!" growls Buffy, glaring at Dawn and I'm suddenly hit by just how real the interaction between the two of them feels.
"Guys, come on," says Willow, before turning her attention back to me. "The thing is that if they had made Dawn into a younger but identical version of Buffy that would have attracted someone's attention sooner or later. As a result I think that somewhere in the spell they used to create her they must have added a glamour. Of course, since I'm not sure what spell they used in the first place I can't be absolutely certain but..."
I shake my head at that explanation, not so much because it doesn't make sense but rather because I have to admit that all this talk of magic confuses me. I can't deny what I've seen these people do but at the same time a whole lifetime of convictions can't be brushed aside so easily. Besides, even if I could, that would still leave me struggling with their explanations because I don't have the necessary parameters to make sense out of them. Does Tara's explanation make sense? Willow claims it does but I honestly can't tell.
What I can tell is that these people seem to see the world from an entirely different perspective, in fact they almost seem to inhabit a completely different world and that is something I'm having a hard time trying to come to terms with.
The problem is that their world seems to have collided with mine and that means I have no choice but to deal... and then get myself some answers. Of course, that is easier said than done, especially because I don't even know where to begin. In addition to that there's also the fact that --even without the magical aspect of these people's explanations-- there are quite a few things I have no choice but to consider, things I had never really bothered to think about before.
It's funny how I had never even considered that there might be some parallels between Goa'uld and Asgard in terms of their survival strategies but now that the similarities have been pointed out to me, I can't help but to acknowledge them. I mean, I had never even questioned the Asgard's need for fresh DNA. The explanation Thor had given us had seemed reasonable enough up until now but today he said something that made me realize that there may well be more to this story than we had been led to believe: Thor said that they had tried to recreate a healthy Asgard DNA sequence base for base but that the resulting bodies hadn't been viable.
That is a telling little detail.
Of course, now that he's mentioned it, I can't help but realize that given the Asgard's knowledge of genetics that should have been the logical solution, one far easier and more reliable than requesting the help of a species as 'primitive' as our own... the only problem is that that logical solution failed. The logical solution turned out to be nothing but a dead end.
That is the part that's bothering me, the part that says that --from a scientific perspective-- there's no way to explain that failure... not unless there was something missing, something that went beyond the basic DNA, something their scientists couldn't duplicate. There is no doubt in my mind that the DNA the Asgard had artificially engineered for themselves was perfect from a genetic perspective and that means that the problem must have been elsewhere. That means something had to have been missing, something that had nothing to do with the DNA itself.
I freely admit that up until now I had found all this talk of souls to be more than a little disturbing. It was, in a metaphorical sense, alien to me. I lived in a world ruled by science... now I'm struggling with an unexpected past tense. I used to live in a world ruled by science, but the fact is that in such a world a healthy DNA sequence should have been enough to enable the Asgard to create a healthy clone but that didn't turn out to be the case and that --I can't help but acknowledge-- is something science just can't explain.