Chapter 10: Aliens from the Planet Zom
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines.
Thanks as always for the many kind and stimulating reviews.
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapter 10: Aliens from the Planet Zom
Stargate Command, Colorado, Monday Night October 2007
“What is it, General?” Jack asked and Hammond slid the 8 x 10 picture he had shaken out of the manila envelope down the table to Jack.
“Okay, it’s Carter, Teal’c and me in a green field with some trees. Could be anywhere,” Jack said.
“Anywhere with two moons, sir,” Carter said, standing and leaning over his shoulder and pointing. It’s PXM-329, but I suspect that’s not really the point.”
“So the real point is?”
“It’s an image from our own archive.”
“Unless Daniel got a little careless and mixed it in with some of his vacation snaps….”
“Sir,” Carter pointed again, “it’s stamped with time, date and file number. It’s ours. Sir,” she added to Hammond, “I think there’s a note.”
“So there is.” Hammond unfolded the paper and read out loud,
Dear General Hammond:
I would have preferred to make your acquaintance under less confrontational circumstances, but the moving finger writes, and having writ knocks over the inkwell and makes a mess of everybody.
Now, we need to talk. And we need to talk, now. First, we will need to talk about my people whom you abducted without letting them finish their pie. But there are a couple other items we might want to stick on the agenda. It might save some time if SG1 were to join the meeting.
Blackmail may be an ugly word but we all know it when we see it, right?
The picture goes world-wide in an hour if I don’t call my friends and tell them to hold off. More where that came from every half hour afterwards until I give the cease-fire.
See you in a few or see you on the news.
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack said. “This is getting ridiculous. Airman?”
“The man at the gate, was he riding a pink unicorn? Did he have a pet dragon on a string?”
“No sir. Late model Jag, sir. He was accompanied by a rather striking young lady.”
“Black leather, smart mouth?”
“All right,” Hammond said. “Thank you airman. Dismissed. Carter, is that threat credible?”
“I’m afraid so sir. It would seem that this confirms that we do indeed have a serious security breach. That picture is a very highly classified document. No one outside this base should be able access it, let alone copy it. Also it seems a very carefully chosen item, sir…..”
“How so?” Hammond asked.
“It’s an excellent warning shot, sir. As the Colonel observed, it would be easy to dismiss as simply some soldiers in a field. Only a fairly close observation reveals the second moon, which again could easily be dismissed as a reflection or a photoshopped, fantasy image. A really close, enhanced analysis would reveal authentic light patterns and I expect intricate details of plants not found on Earth. By itself no one would bother, but as corroboration for later documents, it could be problematic. But the immediate problem of course would come from those who already know about the stargate. That would be our superiors, who would no doubt share their concern with us, and the NID who could use it as an excuse to, among other things, vet our security procedures. A little pressure from above and below, but if no further information was forthcoming the picture could eventually be dismissed as a hoax. The blackmailers will have demonstrated the efficacy of their distribution system and they’re willingness to use it, without actually giving up any significant leverage.”
“Does that mean you think they wouldn’t actually release damaging information?”
“I wouldn’t count on it, sir. And my larger point was the fact that the picture was so carefully chosen indicates they presumably had a wide variety of documents to chose from. Photographs are commonly faked with imaging software, and are easily discredited. But if they were to release corroborating mission reports written by people with verifiable Air Force commissions, even service records, or budget accounts….. as a best case scenario we would have to spend a great deal of time and money trying to discredit authentic documents.”
Hammond fumed, searching for the right words, and settled on, ‘Well…. Shit.”
He stood and paced the length of the table and back again, turned to Carter again,
“You don’t think the threat of federal prosecution… ”
“That’s a signed
note, General, threatening to release classified documents. They don’t seem too worried.”
“Sir,” Jack said, “I don’t like being black-mailed any more than you do, but obviously we have to talk to them. Besides we might buy a little time to find some vulnerability. Or if worse comes to worst, it gives us two more hostages. Take a little leverage for ourselves.”
“Jack, you can’t seriously ….”
“Hey, Daniel, they started it.”
“Dr. Jackson, I understand your concern, and believe me I hate to stoop to those tactics and they will
be a last resort. But we seem to be running out of options. I will not have this project destroyed by a couple of characters from a damned computer game.” He picked up the phone.
“General,” Jack said, “be sure and tell them to take his cane away, if he has one. In fact make sure they relieve them of anything resembling a weapon. I may be getting ready for the rubber room here, but I’m staying off the short bus.”
“Colonel?” Hammond asked.
“They may be dangerous, sir.”
“This is all they had on them?” Hammond asked the sergeant who brought the visitors possessions into the conference room.
“Yes, sir. I believe they anticipated being searched, sir.”
Hammond passed the silver handled cane over Jack, “You had a particular interest in the cane, Colonel.”
Jack took the cane, hefted it a moment, tested the balance, frowned and turned the handle, a flag with the word “Stab!” on it popped out of the tip.
“Well,” Jack said, before he could stop himself, “that’s lame… I concur with the sergeant, sir,” Jack added quickly to fill the silence, “I expect that would explain the mousetrap as well?”
“In the woman’s coat pocket, sir. She was … greatly amused.”
“This mean anything to anyone?” Hammond asked, passing a man’s watch around to Carter then Daniel who both shook their heads and passed it on to Jack.
“That would be Deputy Dawg, sir.”
“And nothing, sir.”
“And the crutches?”
“The woman has a cast on her right leg, sir. We gave her a wheelchair.”
Hammond picked up the two cell phones, one a plain dark blue, the other, Hammond thought, was decorated in a manner he thought his younger granddaughter might really like but he hadn’t really expected here. “Well, there’s your pink unicorns, Jack,” he said. “Anything useful on the phones?”
“We couldn’t find a way to turn them on, sir,” the sergeant said.
Hammond picked up his own phone, dialed. “What have you got on the car? … What do you mean you can’t find it?”
Jack looked at the cane again. That’s not funny, he thought. It’s really not, he told himself. He pushed the flag back in place until he heard the little click and it stayed. Then he laid the cane down on the floor next to his chair. Not funny, he told himself.
I am so keeping that cane, he thought. Stab!
Ha. … Not funny.
Watcher’s Council, London, England July 2007
Grateful for the interruption Giles stepped off the treadmill, grabbed a towel and wiped his sweating brow as he dug in his gym bag for the ringing phone.
“Kaitlyn, good to hear from you,” Giles said, “Quite all right, just finishing, doing a little warm down. I’m heading up to the office, go ahead, where are you?”
“Munich,” the witch answered, “Die Bruderschaft der linkshändigen Schlange.
I’ll email the details. This one’s very modern, penthouse offices in a high-rise, very hi-tech security so we’re staying back a bit more. As far as we can tell it’s just a variation on a theme, single leader, Shad will either kill or co-opt.”
“And how are you?”
“I’m okay Giles. It’s a bit scary, I’ve had a bad dream or two, but nothing that felt prophetic. The girls were a bit down after Arles,
having to stand back and let the bloodbath happen was getting on their nerves, but we found a big vamp nest in Schwabing
and they got to let a few frustrations out so they’re good.”
“Anything you need? You’re sure? You’re doing wonderfully Kaitlyn, but don’t hesitate to ask for help, okay?”
“We’re fine, Mr. Giles. Nothing anyone else could do, just wish we didn’t have to be doing it, you know? How are things on your end?”
“Nothing of immediate value, I’m afraid. Do you have any idea how many snake cults there have been throughout the ages? I must say I didn’t. Simply endless. Says something terrible about the human race I suppose, but then most history does. Believe me, if we have a breakthrough you’ll be the first to know. Take care, Kaitlyn. Be well.”
“You too, Mr. Giles. Say hi to Toby.”
Stargate Command, Colorado, Monday Night October 2007
The conference room door opened with a crash and suddenly a wheelchair entered at speed, then screeched to a halt, did a couple quick 360’s and came to stop, rocking back and forth for moment, then settling down to reveal a good sized young man in a rather bright shirt, sitting in the lap of a grinning brunette. The mortified sergeant and three equally embarrassed airmen burst in after them. There was a beat, then the brunette spoke,
“Slowpokes. Hey, check it out, Xan it’s the Admiral and his merry band. I guess they made it home after all.”
The man dropped his head and shook it, said, “Yes, thank you Faith, they’ll take me so much more seriously now, with the dignified entrance and all.”
Maybe we better, Jack thought. He and Teal’c had automatically moved to protect the General when the door crashed, Carter had placed herself in front of Fraiser and Daniel had looked up, vaguely startled. And neither the smartass brunette nor the man in her lap had missed a bit of it. Whatever they were, Jack thought, they were pros.
Then the wheelchair was in motion again, zipping around the corner of the table and doing a sliding quarter turn that brought them up close and personal to the Jaffa just regaining his seat.
“Teal’c, right?” the woman and without waiting confirmation went on, “Love the eyeshadow, dude, that touch of gold really works with your whatsit, there.” She ran her eyes down, focused on his gut. “So you got one of those snake things just living in there, huh? I knew there was something freaky about you, but not that
freaky. So, do you two talk? Does it have a name?”
“Colonel O’Neill is pleased to refer to it as Junior. And no, we do not talk.”
The woman cocked her head to the side and looked at him, “You don’t like it much, huh? So, not like a pet, you don’t take it out for walks or like play with it in the bath or anything?”
“No,” Teal’c answered, ‘it is not… a pet.”
“Bummer. ‘Cause I’d…..”
“Faith, please,” her passenger said , “don’t finish that. I think we’ve entertained the troops enough for the moment.”
“Sure, baby.” She backed the chair up, started moving back around the table. “I wasn’t going to say what you think I was going to say.”
“Sure you were.”
“No I… yeah, I probably was. So I suppose you want to get off now?”
“I think the whole threat things gonna work better if I’m not sitting in your lap, so, yeah.”
Jack, who, with some effort, had managed to keep a straight face throughout the performance settled back in his chair and watched the man extricate himself from the wheel chair, having a little trouble with a stiff right leg. The woman supported him easily with one hand and showed no sign of pain when he bumped the cast. He had a thick scar on his right cheek and turning full face to the table Jack saw that he did indeed have a patch covering his left eye.
He took a moment, looking around, then rolled his shoulders, stretching and looked at Hammond, said,
“Well, now that we’ve concluded the rude personal question portion of our presentation, I guess I should get on to the threats and introductions. General Hammond,” he said, nodding. Then he moved his gaze around the table, greeting each by name until he came to Fraiser, where he paused a moment.
“Okay, you’re not SG1. White coat, furrowed brow … Doctor Fraiser, I presume?” She nodded. “Excellent,”
he added in a passable Mr. Burns, “I was hoping to speak with you as well.” He turned toward Hammond again.
“As I assume you assumed, I’m Xander, the shy retiring one in the chair is Faith. General, since your boys took the Deputy and gave me a nice little tour of some of the back halls of your little maze, I’ve quite lost track of time so I’ll remind you. The picture goes out one hour from the time I handed it in at your gate unless I call in to stop it. And there will be no grace period, General, the young woman with the finger on that button is just itching to make you all famous. Here’s what I want before I make that call. Renee, Jennifer and the two vamps, here all together, in my presence, with all their stuff. That is not negotiable. Once that’s taken care of, we can talk snakes.” He pulled out a chair then and set it aside so Faith could roll up to the table, lean forward and give everybody a nice shot of her cleavage in the low cut tank as she adjusted herself in the chair. Harris pulled out another chair and dropped into it, leaned backwards into a casual slump that just naturally made a career military man’s back teeth hurt.
“Your move, General,” he said.
He was, Jack had to admit, very cool. Relaxed. The whole entrance had to have been a performance and yet he didn’t see any let down, any sigh of relief that it was over. And most people when they made the long trip down into the mountain were at least a little intimidated, even if they were on friendly terms with the natives. This guy had just waltzed in to a hostile enemy camp, made demands and started pulling practical jokes like he did it everyday.
“Son,” A slightly shell-shocked Hammond started, “I don’t think you quite understand where you are or how much trouble you’re in.”
“Oh you’re probably right, General. I usually don’t, otherwise I’d spend a lot of time under my bed.”
“General, if I may,” Jack said, “you said something about talking snakes?”
Harris grinned, “I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Yes, Colonel, snakes, worm things, goa’uld. See, I’m not all stick, I’m nummy carrot goodness too. But that’s for later. And General, I want them all here, with me, before I make the call, you can’t just give the order in the last ten seconds.”
“Son,” Hammond said, “let’s try this again. You do understand that releasing classified information is a crime…”
“Not unlike kidnapping?”
“Mr. Harris, Captain Werner…. Whatever he has become, has information vital to this nation’s security, and we took the necessary steps to prevent the spread of that information. We were well within our rights under the homeland security act. What you are doing is a deliberate violation of that and a number of other federal statutes. The secrets within this base are vital to national security and what you are doing could easily be construed as treason.”
Jack tensed as he saw the woman’s eyes flash, but Harris just winced wearily and reached out with one hand to squeeze her shoulder.
“General,” Harris said, “maybe we could just agree that neither of us is going to be bringing the lawyers in anytime soon? I think we both know that, when it comes down to it, there’s only one law that applies down here and that’s finders keepers. Maybe if we work together nobody has to weep.”
“Son, you may think of this as some kind of joke…”
“Nobody’s joking general,” Harris said with a slight change in tone. “But this is just another day at work for me and I don’t see any need to be all dramatic. You threaten me, I threaten you blah blah blah. Boring. Just understand I’ve been informed that I’m a lousy poker player. So I don’t bluff. The picture goes out on schedule, more to follow. I think the second item is a picture of the gate itself.”
“How did you obtain the picture?” Carter asked.
“We downloaded it off your database.”
” Jack asked.
“Don’t play dumb, soldierboy,” the brunette snapped. “You know who we are.”
“Easy babe, we’re still in the talk softly part, okay?” Harris said. “She’s got a point though, Colonel. Before you start getting all huffy, remember, you came sniffing around our servers first, we just followed you home. …You did pretty good, Major Carter. I’m not a computer guy, so don’t ask me what it means, but Andrew said he gets a lot of yellow level warnings, once a month or so a red. He said you got two reds and a purple, so bravo
… but still, curiosity and cats and all that.“
“You were putting classified information on the web.” Carter said.
“How do you figure?”
“You’re were posting pictures of goa’ulds and goa’uld weaponry.”
“And that automatically makes it classified? That’s a bit rude. I mean I understand you getting pissed about us stealing stuff off of your computers, but that
information we came by on our own, the hard way and if anyone should be pissed about that it’s us. Now, unlike some, I don’t really hold you responsible. We’re demon fighters, we pretty much need to expect the weird and strange, but if we’d known then what we know now… things might have gone a little better. Still there’s a certain faction at the council that thinks you oughta be punished for letting us go in blind like that, and if they’d had their way you’d all be nose deep in toad sputum right now, so count your blessings.”
“Toad sputum?” Jack said.
“Believe it or not, Colonel, it’s worse than it sounds.”
“You saying you actually encountered goa’uld here, on Earth?” Carter continued.
“Hey, you’re the ones with the wormhole, so yeah, Earth for us. Had a bit of a close call, by the way. You want to know how close? We’d just killed two out of three of what we thought were some kind of glow-eyed demons and were just starting to look for the third when the free snake surprise appeared and leaped on Faith and managed to break the skin on the back of her neck before we got it off her and killed it. Now at the time I didn’t quite realize how bad that could have been…. “ he stopped, looked aside a minute, Jack saw Faith reach out and squeeze his hand. “So … my sympathies, Dr. Jackson, truly. But as I was reading the Abydos reports this morning, …
“What?!” Hammond exploded. “How.. Where did you…”
“I’m sorry, General, I thought you understood. We have your files, database, whatever. All of it.
I’m not up on the details, they had to get more storage, do some speed the transfer mojo, but if it’s been on a computer on this base, we’ve got it. Dawnie sent me a summary and a bunch of files this morning. Mostly SG1 mission reports. Fascinating stuff even if the Colonel is the only one of you who can write a decent report.”
“What?!” Carter said.
“Wait a minute,” Daniel said, waving a pen in the air, “The glow-eyed demons. That’s the Zombie Island scenario in your game, right? You’re saying that really happened?”
“Well obviously in the game things change depending on the players, but the basic scenario is true.”
“Zombies. Dead folks walking. But you can think of them as aliens from the planet Zom if it makes you feel better.”
“Yes, well, perhaps we’ll revisit that. I’ve noticed one thing is constant. No matter how many players, even when the demons win…. One goa’uld escapes.”
“So you’re telling us there’s a goa’uld free on the planet.”
“At least one. We didn’t really do a good worm count on the Jaffa. It had been a long day, there were body parts all over the place and frankly it just didn’t occur to us at the time, since we didn’t really know what we were dealing with. It being a big secret and all.“
“Where and when did this happen?” Hammond asked.
“That’s for later, General. After I see my people.”
“Son, if there’s a goa’uld loose on the planet, you need to tell me everything you know about it and you need to tell me now!”
“And you need to remember I’m not under your command, General,” Harris snapped, then softened his voice. “You a citizen, General?”
“Of course I am.”
“Me too, General. And on that basis I figure you and I are equals, citizen to citizen. And I know you don’t see it this way, but as Citizen to General as far as I’m concerned, I outrank you. On this base or anywhere on Earth or any other planets we might visit. Now, I will talk about the worms, I came here to talk about the worms, but first, I’m going to take care of my people. I was under the impression you were a man who might understand that.“
“Your people are in no danger.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
“Are the …vampires… your people?” Daniel asked.
“Not really. But they were in a meeting with my people when you so rudely interrupted. Let’s just say I consider them to be in my custody, and until I release them, they’re my responsibility.”
“So the map?” Jack said.
“Vampire nests, lairs, feeding grounds. The fact that I’m sitting here means that we’re not out making use of that information. So anyone dies tonight … take as much blame as you like.”
“This is just like in the game then?” Daniel said. “A vampire … or other demon can trade information for amnesty ….”
“You do deals with demons,” Jack said.
“Indeed I do do dirty deals with deadly demons, daily. Well, not daily, but I was on a roll there. And I’m here to deal with you, so you know I’m not particular.”
“So just how much of the game is real?” Daniel asked.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, four-eyes,” the brunette half-shouted, “It’s all
real. Goddamn. He’s cute, Xan, but he’s awful slow.”
“Invisible zeppelins over London?” Jack asked.
Harris laughed. “No. And Buffy doesn’t live in a cool batcave under the Vatican, Willow doesn’t live in a mountain meadow surrounded by talking animals and Faith’s bike doesn’t really fly even if it does leave the ground more often than I’d like and…..” he paused, turned to Faith, “You know, I need to ask that weasel Andrew how come GameXander doesn’t have any cool stuff, like a cane that shoots flame or something.”
He turned back to Jack, “But all the demon stuff is just as accurate as we can make it.”
The silence settled for a moment, everyone seemed to take a breath. Jack watched Harris and the girl have some private unspoken conversation, then glanced around the room. He could see the wheels spinning like mad in Daniel’s head as he reassessed the whole of recorded history. Fraiser was re-reading her own report, trying to find, Jack assumed, some loophole, some fact she’d missed that would give natural explanation to the walking corpses in the observation rooms and slam shut the Pandora’s box of vampires and demons and aliens from the planet Zom.
He looked over at Teal’c, wondered, not for the first time what was going on behind the stoic face. From what Jack had seen, Teal’c had come from a rather monolithic cultural background, with fairly rigid hierarchies. On Earth he lived on the base and probably spent more time actually exploring other worlds than the various cultures of the native Tau’ri.
Faith and Harris …. Jack winced, the mental image of T playing with Junior in the bathtub was going to be with him for a long, long time… He wondered what Teal’c made of those two. Would he understand how strange this new world was to the rest of SG1? Would zombies and vampires and demons be just another alien species to him?
Jack had to admit he would be a lot more comfortable with the idea of vampires if he’d run into them on another planet.
He nerved himself to glance at Carter. She was sitting very erect, eyes forward, clearly mad enough to spit nails through three quarter ply. Mad at the effrontery of vampires having the nerve to exist and defy the natural laws she’d built her life on. Mad at Harris’ treatment of Hammond, madder still at herself, if Harris was to believed and it was her own investigations that had led to, again if Harris was to believed, a truly massive, devastating breach of security. Jack sighed. Whatever happened he was probably going to have to spend a lot of energy convincing her not to resign when this was over. Assuming they hadn’t all been court-martialed.
He looked over at Hammond, watched Hammond watch Harris. This, Jack thought, was what made Hammond a good commander. He was focused, the wider implications of vampires and demons existing would have to wait while he dealt with the problem at hand. Jack knew the idea of the US Air Force giving into this kind of blackmail made Hammond see red, but the man did have them by the balls. If he could do what he said he could, the shitstorm could be of force twelve proportions. But if they gave in now, where did it end?
Jack was happy to let Hammond take this decision.
He looked at Harris again. Just another day at work, he’d said. Jack didn’t like to see Hammond dissed ... but that was because he knew Hammond and liked him. He had to admit he might have enjoyed the exchange with, say, Samuels in the hot seat. And he couldn’t fault the man on looking after his own people first. If someone had taken Carter and Daniel like that …. Jack knew from experience he wasn’t above a little blackmail himself if he thought the situation warranted it.
No, he thought, son of a bitch is threatening the whole stargate program, I’m not going to like him. Not even a little, not even with his damn Deputy Dawg watch.
He thought back to the Sweet’n’Hot and Werner’s face changing and the innate instinctual horror he’d felt as he saw the fangs emerge. He thought about the startling speed with which the cute little ice-cream-faced girl had wielded her sword. He thought about some of the things he seen in his brief perusal of the game, he thought of Harris’ scars and the bad leg and the missing eye and the way he and Faith had cased the room. He thought about a goa’uld or two loose on the planet. He thought, you now what would be really, really cool? If Thor suddenly appeared and fixed everything.
The door opened.
“What is it, airman?” Hammond asked.
“Sir, you asked to be reminded fifty minutes after the envelope was delivered.”
Ten minute warning, Jack thought. Still plenty of time for Thor to appear and do his make it all better thing. It could happen.
Maybe on the planet Zom. -30-