Chapter 15: Hurry Up and Wait
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 15: Hurry Up and Wait
Kas, Turkey, August 2007
Geb lounged on her throne and twirled the sword. Strange how she felt at home with such a primitive weapon, but its presence comforted her somehow.
Primitive, indeed, but when wielded by this host body, this slayer’s
body, extremely effective, speed and efficiency and instinct rendering the more powerful hand devices and staff weapons useless against her …. Provided always that they did not take her by surprise.
But they would not.
She heard things they did not expect her to hear, saw things they did not expect her to see.
They …. She hated to dignify them with the name of goa’uld …
thousands of years, thousands,
they had lingered on this planet, content with their petty fiefdoms, complacently hiding in the shadows, letting the tau’ri
grow strong around them….
Well that would change now.
Once word had spread that she was coming they’d laid their traps and made their plans, still not understanding … always it was the same plan, the reigning goa’uld would assign a jaffa, or perhaps three or four, to shoot Geb in the back…. …..again Geb felt the rage rise at the very thought… Fools. If you would play God you do not train your slaves to kill other Gods…. The tau’ri may at heart be a servile species, but they are not complete idiots, no need to give them ideas…
…to shoot Geb in the back while the reigning goa’uld was simpering and flattering in the vain hope of distracting her long enough for the jaffa to take the shot. And always she spotted the waiting assassins, always she saw and heard the signals….. always she had moved and had the plotting fool’s dead body at her feet before the snipers could even aim. The jaffa were smarter than their masters. They knew when to yield.
Now the remaining little lords came to her, full of oaths and promises, willing to suffer any indignity if only they be allowed to live on… and so they would. For now. Geb needed them, needed their jaffa, needed what knowledge they retained of the ancient ships, what little learning they had amassed. Fools,
Geb raged again. Thousands of years and they had learned so little. None had known of the slayers, the coveted hok’taur
living in their midst and unnoticed. Only a few had learned of magic and none of those seemed to understand its potential or power. The stupid “Barons” happy to play toy soldiers with their zombies and leave it at that.
Oh well, it had all worked out for the best in the end, the “Barons” weakness had set Geb free, had drawn the hok’taur
to her. Fate. Destiny.
Geb grew restless, it was nearly time, the need was on her again. She could resist it if she wanted. It had been growing in her, slowly, as the dreams had grown more vivid. She did not like the dreams. Sometimes in the dreams she died, and that was never pleasant. She could not resist the dreams except by avoiding sleep. She could resist the need to run at night, but she found she did not want to. This body… to run was pleasure, to go out at night… and hunt. To feel the power as she stalked the ancient graveyards that surrounded the old seaside town, as she had killed ….. nearly a dozen vampires now, and a couple other things
that had challenged her. To make the strike and see the dust, that was ecstasy. They were getting harder to find. When the world was hers, she would set up … a hunting ground, a pleasure park of creatures for her to kill. For the moment the hunt would have to do.
Of course the hunt was useful in its own right. Somehow the word had filtered into the valley and only added to her new-born legend, the Goddess Geb, bringer of life and destroyer of death, so that was just as well. At least it was half true.
On her way out she paused, then entered the witch’s chamber and stood silent, watching the pale form laying still in sleep. The palm of her sword hand itched. One quick swipe at that thin neck…. The witch might believe that Geb was God of the Earth, so that when she channeled the power of the Earth she was only acting as Geb’s instrument. But Geb knew better, she might play God, but she did not fool herself. One swipe of the sword and the springs would dry up and the fruit would wither and those who now knelt in worship would throw stones…
No, Geb still needed the witch. But such power made her uneasy. Just as her first goal once the world was hers would be to destroy the other slayers, she would have to do something about the witch…
But not yet, not tonight. Tonight she would run. And hunt. The power of the slayer within would be enough.
Haiti, October 2007
Samantha Carter was not a happy camper.
She liked order, control, plans, defined missions, cause and effect. She liked action, physical or mental … even if some didn’t understand that sitting at computer keyboard could be a very active endeavor indeed if the mind was engaged.
To be sure she had learned, travelling to other planets, that sometimes you had to go along with strange rules of behavior, she had learned to cope with being in the power of Others … she had learned to cope, she hadn’t learned to like it.
And besides, other planets were other planets, always she knew that if she just completed the mission or survived whatever the threat was and made it home to Earth, things would be back to normal, under control. But she was
And things were out of control, disorganized, open-ended. It was like people and events were deliberately tap-dancing on her last nerve. Except it was worse than that, they weren’t dancing on her last nerve, they were tripping over it and apologizing, or standing on it, oblivious.
There had been the truck ride, for one thing. The driver had had two speeds, an agonizingly slow crawl as he babied his vehicle through stretches of bad road, and flat out hell-for-leather, curve-what-curve?
full speed whenever he hit a stretch of unbroken pavement. Sometimes being able to fully visualize velocity vectors was not that useful a gift.
And then there had been Jean-Luc’s indulgent smile when he realized she had been surreptitiously searching for a seatbelt.
And there had Jean-Luc’s courtly behavior, treating her as if she was some ambassador’s daughter on holiday from her Swiss finishing school, irritating to a combat veteran… and yet she could hardly lash out at the man for purchasing a floppy straw hat to protect her “fair and lovely visage from the harsh tropic sun.”
And a hundred other petty irritants and she had dismissed them as just that, petty. Harris’s laid back ‘it depends ’ answer to every question, Renee’s constant cheery chatter …. Sam refused to let such things get to her.
But now ….. . Now
they’d found what they’d come for, they’d located the goa’uld at large here on Earth and ….. nothing changed. They’d let it go.
“Found her,” Carter had told Jack, “she’s one of the dancers, Teal’c’s keeping track.”
“Did she sense you?”
“I don’t know for certain … but surely she must have noticed us. We’re not exactly undercover here.”
“No,” Jack had said. “Well, go tell Harris, it’s still his show. I think we’re still pretty much just along for the ride at this point.”
Carter had found Harris sitting with the wizened old man, the houngan,
who Harris insisted on including in the conversation. Both men enraging her greatly as they sighed and nodded as if her information was exactly what they had been expecting.
“If you already knew…” she had almost said, but held it back.
“Okay,” Harris had instructed, “you and Teal’c go and make sure she knows you know …. And then you and Jack meet me over there, and we’re gonna have a big fight. Your position is that we kill her now, my position will be that we wait until after the vodoun
is over … and Sam,” he added, giving her the big, lop-sided grin, “no hitting, okay?” And she felt her anger fizzle again. It was another annoyance, the way she couldn’t stay angry at Harris. Annoyed with, yes, constantly, but whenever she was truly angry he would grin and say something goofy and she would lose the heat.
Still it had been good to vent, not needing to fake much for their little stage show she’d laid into him, insisting they needed to secure the goa’uld now…
“You don’t understand the danger,” she’d snarled, “you don’t see the big picture, if there is hidden goa’uld technology here we can not
allow…. “ and then Harris was holding up his hand, looking around, getting the high sign from Andre and smiling again. And making an elaborate stage bow and then posing hands outward inviting Sam to take her own imaginary curtain call.
“She bought it,” he told her, “she ran.”
“Okay, now what?” Sam had asked.
“The girls track her and we mere mortals wait for daylight.”
So, more waiting. By herself. Some of the women had made an overture, but their minimal English was not near enough to bridge the cultural gap, and they ended up sitting in awkward silence. She excused herself and went to look for Daniel who had escaped the dance, only to join Harris and the houngan, and was clearly having a great time passing the rum and listening to the old man tell stories, so she left him to it. Teal’c was off to find a quiet place to do his kelnorim,
not saying as much but Sam deduced he was going to let his symbiote go to work curing a bit of traveler’s tummy. She went looking for the Colonel only to find that he and Jean-Luc had slipped away and were playing dominos with a handful of old men in the village center. They were polite when she approached but were clearly uncomfortable with her presence. She took pity and left quickly, passing through the village and down to the shore. The stars were vivid in the dark sky, the susurrus of the surf mingled with the beating drums, there was salty moistness in the air and, of course, a lingering smell of dead fish.
She leaned against the gunnel of one of the beached fishing boats and thought about the drums. A week ago she would have dismissed the whole thing as primitive superstition. Voodoo
, for crying out loud. But that was before she’d started teleporting and slaying vampires. The teleporting she thought she’d figured out. She was pretty sure there was technology somewhere. Harris’ probably had some sort of hidden communication device, perhaps even an implant … and his “spell” babbling was a coded message to telling the operator where and when to send them. How these people came to have such technology was another question, but it seemed likely it was found, something the Asgard had left behind perhaps, or another piece of Ancient technology, a sort of local version of the Stargate. After all, as Sam well knew, you didn’t have to understand how
the Stargate worked to learn to use it.
Vampires were a tougher problem. Her current leading theory was a sort of symbiotic virus cum bacterium, whether of ancient or alien origin she couldn’t say, that lived off the nutrients in blood, and moved about the host body under its own power, thus supplanting the need for a beating heart to supply the necessary oxygen to the muscles. The tendency to explode into dust she could ascribe to the possibility that the virus could extract and refine oxygen in sufficient quantity and purity to be explosive, a process which would naturally dehydrate the body severely….. presumably there was a chemical reason why wood was the necessary catalyst, the heart because as the body’s largest single repository of stored blood it held a sufficient quantity to propagate the reaction to the catalyst into a full explosion. Presumably beheading had the same effect due to the large veins in the neck. Again the severe reaction to sunlight could be explained the same way, heat energy being applied to almost pure oxygen. The strength and speed could be explained by the efficient supply of energy to the muscles, the altered personality by brain damage suffered in the process of viral/bacterial invasion…. or possibly there was interaction with a sort of viral/bacterial hive mind, as bee swarms are thought by some to be a single entity .... of course there was still the problem of the facial morphing and the fangs… but such things were not unheard of in nature…
The slayers in turn could be explained by a less virulent form of the same virus/bacterium… a vaccine if you would … that instead of taking over the whole body, lived in a more true symbiosis and simply added to the efficiency of the circulation and the refining and distribution of oxygen in the body, hence the strength and speed.
So, it was vague yet, it was just a preliminary theory ...with time and a few specimens to work with in a properly equipped lab Sam was sure she could work out the details… which is where she wanted to be now, instead of sitting here in the dark, wondering idly if animist spirits were not fantasy but actually creatures of living energy drawn by the waveforms created by the rhythmic nature of the drumming. But such speculation was pointless. She wanted her computer, her mind already full of plans for the modeling of her theoretical exploding vampire… but she couldn’t hold it all, she needed to get it written down before she lost the thread.
Next time, Sam thought, next time, I don’t care what the Colonel says about unnecessary weight, I’m bringing my damn laptop and a couple extra batteries.
Their entourage of laughing children suddenly melted away as they approached an especially green slope with an old plantation house visible on the horizon. Jack wondered if that was a bad sign, like suddenly noticing there were no birds in a forest.
“This is where we fought the zombies,“ Harris explained, “the house up there is where the goa’uld played evil barons. The villagers came and buried the bodies, but when a zombie dies it decays fast. Without modern DNA tech there was no way they could identify and reassemble the bodies, so this hillside is essentially a mass grave. Lot of angry spirits, much bad cess to be had. So people stay away.”
“Zombies, huh?” Jack said. “Renee told me about them.”
“Did she now?”
“She’s not fond.”
“I’ve heard that, yeah,” Harris said with a grin.
They walked through an old cast iron gateway observed by two skulls mounted on thick sticks, a third skull lay on the ground and they stepped around it as they passed and headed for the house. Faith, Renee and Jun were waiting on the verandah, along with a black girl in her late teens wearing the latest in manacles and heavy chains and glowering angrily and chewing on her thick cotton gag. It was, Jack thought, a good look for a goa’uld. One of his personal favorites.
“Present for you Admiral,” Faith said as they approached. She reached down and picked up a zat and tossed it to him, “Sam, I guess you can use this,” she added tossing Carter a cloth bag which she opened to pull out a goa’uld hand device.
“But wait ‘til you see the best part, Xander,” Renee said, leaping over the railing suddenly, “we found a mmmfffmk,” she finished as Faith came after her, slapped one hand over her mouth and grabbed her up and held her under one arm like a squirming American football.
“Hey, short stuff, what did we agree?”
Renee sagged. “’Et ‘oo ‘ud ‘ell ‘nder.”
“Do I have to kick your ass?”
“’o.” Renee landed with cat-like grace when Faith dropped her, while Faith in keeping with the feline theme grinned like the cat that ate the canary as she came forward to take Harris’ hand and lead him inside, saying,
“Check this out, baby, this one’s been planning its escape for a long long
Jack held back and let Faith have her moment, but Harris’ exclaiming,
“Well, shiver me timbers,” was too much for his curiosity and he went in to find the couple standing over an old wooden, dirt encrusted crate, its top open to reveal a pile of jewelry and coins that actually were pretty dirt encrusted themselves but Jack had a feeling with a good polish they might glitter a bit.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asked and Harris nodded and grinned back at him,
“Aye, man Jack, ‘tis buried pirate treasure, me bucko, the goa’uld’s gold,
” the dropping the Disney pirate voice added, “Is this cool or what?”
“It’s cool,” Jack said.
“I get to give Daniel
his prezzy, right?” Renee insisted, “You too, Teal’c,” she added, grabbing the big man by the hand and dragging him along beside her as she led the way around to the back of the main house.
“Well, that’s not something you see every day,” Jack said to Carter as the jaffa did a little skip step forward to catch up with his guide. Jack followed after then as Renee led them all down into a large cellar where an even deeper stonewalled pit in one corner of the dank room was lit by a couple sputtering torches. Standing at the edge Jack could see what was once clearly a hidden doorway standing open in the corner of the pit.
“That’s where we grabbed her,” Faith said, “before she had a chance to get inside and shut the door. We had a look, there’s a weapons stash but I hope the rest makes more sense to Dr. Jackson than it does to me.”
Faith and Renee dropped in, but Daniel, Teal’c then Jack climbed down on a crude wooden ladder propped in the corner, to find a distinctly unpleasant odor lingering at the bottom.
“Snakes,” Harris explained, climbing down behind them. “Last time we were here this pit was full of snakes.”
“Oh yeah?” Jack said, “What happened to them?”
“Beats me,” Harris said.
Teal’c found a switch and turned the lights on in the hidden room. Jack poked his head in, there was an open sarcophagus, a half dozen zats and as many staff weapons in a rack, a couple of the walls were covered in goa’uld writing and a set of pigeon-holed shelves were full of scrolls that had Daniel in a lather, pulling them out and glancing at the contents and making happy noises. Teal’c was exploring the walls looking for more hidden openings. Jack took a glance around and, not seeing any snakes, left them to it. He climbed up and went back outside and started to complete the circuit around the big house, pausing to look down the steep slope and out over the peaceful water of the small bay.
So it was true, then, he thought, the goa’uld had been living here on Earth, for centuries, this one masquerading as a pirate, before that, perhaps a slavetrader in Africa, and before that…. who knows. Presumably they had been here since Ra had left. Stragglers who missed the last boat out? Enemies of Ra that had been deliberately abandoned? A garrison that had eventually disbanded? Maybe Daniel would find those answers in those scrolls. Of more immediate concern, if Harris was telling the truth about this one, he was probably telling the truth about there being others, other goa’uld who had been hiding in the shadows. Hiding until, now for some reason, they were emerging, were up to something that had Harris scared. And Harris, Jack had concluded, didn’t scare easily.
He had to admit, despite the logical reasons for their being here he hadn’t really believed, not in-the-gut believed. He believed now. He thought about what Fraiser had told him, one of the slayers had been taken as host. He thought about what Faith would be like with a goa’uld in her head. The sun was well in the sky, the day’s heat was well in place, Jack could feel the sweat running down his sides and back. He felt just a little bit of a chill.
He continued on around the house, arriving back at the porch where Jun was sitting guard over the bound goa’uld just as Andre and Jean-Luc and Harris were returning from their visit to the snake pit. Jean-Luc mounted the steps and reached to undo the goa’uld’s gag.
“You sure you want to do that?” Jun asked.
“I think we need to pose a few questions,” Jean-Luc said.
“Well, good luck getting a word in edgewise,” Jun said.
French sounded odd spoken in the deep harsh tones of an angry goa’uld. After a couple minutes Jack turned to Jean-Luc,
“What’s she saying?”
“She is expounding on the large number of the less appealing members of the animal kingdom who feature prominently in our collective maternal lineage,” Jean-Luc answered. “If you are interested in learning how to curse in archaic French this is a golden opportunity.”
“Well… no, not really, thanks,” Jack said and unhooked his new zat from his belt and took a shot and they all stood a moment enjoying the silence as the goa’uld writhed in pain.
“Ah,” Andre said, “the universal language.”
The morning dragged.
The goa’uld sat pouting in petulant silence. Andre went jogging off back toward the village. Harris took a nap. Jack went with Renee to see a “very important historical spot,” which turned out to be the exact place where Jun Lee got shot in the ass. Then he watched Jun chase Renee around the house three or four times before finally taking her down and engaging in what a yawning Harris said was “Cleveland Style” jiu-jitsu.
“It’s the hair-pulling,” Harris explained.
After awhile the ferocious tangle of fighting girls dissolved into giggles, Renee and Jun looked at each other a moment, then as one rose and ran to leap on Faith who had been laying sleepily in the shade at the side of the house.
Jack was watching this three-way wrestling match with a bit of not wholly prurience free interest when Carter appeared at his elbow,
“Whatchya doin’, sir?” she asked innocently.
“Waiting for your report, Major,” Jack answered, straight-faced.
Daniel it turned out, was in heaven with his scrolls but there had been no more weapons or any sign of a ship or communication device. Right now he and Teal’c were working on transcribing and translating the walls in case there was something of a “Press here to find the secret
secret passageway” message they’d missed.
Two of the village elders came back with Andre, Harris joined them and they went inside to exclaim over the pirate treasure. There was a brief discussion and earnest handshakes all around and the men went off with excited gleams in their eyes.
“What?” Jack asked.
“We have black market connections,” Harris explained, “we’ll liquidate the treasure, take our cut and Jean Luc will open a few accounts for the village to draw from and we’ll set it up to make it look like they’re getting donations from an NGO.”
“They trust you?”
“They don’t have much choice. If the government gets wind of it they won’t see a penny, same if one of the big city gangs gets the word. Besides, they wouldn’t even know about it if we hadn’t told them so…”
“You do this often?”
“Sometimes. I think this is a first for pirate treasure. Lot of times demons and vamps have hoards of one kind or another and it would be stupid to just let it go to waste. On the other hand we don’t want to get a rep for being mercenary, nor do we want people calling us in to clean out some demons just so they can claim the money afterwards. This whole fighting evil thing, it’s not as simple as you might think.”
After awhile, out, Jack assumed, of sheer boredom, the goa’uld began talking quietly to Jean-Luc, who later reported that the gist of the alien’s soliloquy was that, in the first place humans were pathetic mayflies who couldn’t begin to appreciate the grandeur of the goa’uld’s long and eventful life. And in the second place, the other goa’uld who had escaped was young and ambitious and they would rue the day they loosed him on their doomed and wretched world.
“You sure this is an alien?” Jean-Luc said, “Seems a typical demon to me.”
It was late in the afternoon when the fishing boats came into the bay and onto the beach. The girls and Teal’c loaded up the staff weapons and the zats, the treasure…. Then ran around trying in vain to find some sort of waterproof container for Daniel’s scrolls and finally settling for quadruple wrapping them in the curtains from one of the undisturbed upstairs bedrooms.
Harris was his usual helpful self when pressed for a destination, answering simply, “Down to the sea in very small boats.”
Jack was guessing they were about a mile out when they struck sail, loosely tied the three boats together and simply floated, waiting, listening to the slap of the water on the hulls and watching the sun sink down in a blaze of color like it was posing for a postcard. It was actually kind of pleasant. Jack turned to say as much to Carter and saw she was almost vibrating with impatience and thought better of it.
The slayers heard it first, of course.
“They’re heeeere,” Renee announced. Then Jack heard it, the low rumbling of a throttled down engine, he saw the running lights and then the yacht emerged out of the gloom. The engines reversed a moment, then stopped and there was quiet. A rope was flung and caught and the fishing boats pulled in to gather at the yacht’s stern which was occupied, of course, Jack thought, should have known, what else could I possibly have been expecting, by a bevy of pretty girls. And then he heard Faith laughing, and calling out,
“Damn, B, what’d you do, fall asleep on the beach? Check it out Xan, the girl’s burn glows in the dark, bet you can see that puppy from space.”