Chapt 3: Games People Play
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapt 3: Games People Play
Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 2007
Captain Benjamin Werner was having his usual Friday night steak at O’Malley’s Bar and Grill. It was a good steak. He wasn’t enjoying it much.
The Friday night steak at O’Malley’s was sort of a personal tradition with him. It had started as a special occasion tradition. He’d had a steak there the day he’d been introduced to the Stargate. He’d had that steak with the other dazed and awestruck officers in his class who had successfully passed through the selection process, and finally been told what they’d been selected for.
He’d had a steak after his first Gate trip, he and the other first timers had gone out to celebrate. He’d had a steak when he’d been officially made a member of SG19, that had been with the team. After surviving the mine collapse in P4X-399 he had a steak with the other two survivors. About that time he’d decided that every Friday he was alive was a day worth celebrating, he could generally convince one or two members of his team to share the sentiment. Then he’d started having Friday night steaks with his girlfriend Debra, six months after that he had Friday night steaks with his wife Debra.
About eight months later one of SG19’s scheduled missions had been scrubbed at the last minute and he’d come home early to find a Harley in his driveway and a fighter pilot in his bed.
Now he mostly had his Friday night steak at a table for one. Oh, occasionally one of the guys from the team joined him, but he’d be the first to admit he wasn’t the best company.
It wasn’t fair. Debra had laughed, called him a pencil pusher and a desk jockey, not a real man like her motorcycle hero, her supersonic flyboy. And he’d had to just stand there and say nothing of his true life, wanting to rage,
“That asshole sits in the cockpit and rides around in pointless circles while his computer flies the plane, I travel lightyears across space, explore distant planets, save the world…”
except he wasn’t allowed to say that last part and the first part sounded petty and weak without it.
She’d said he had no passion, was doing nothing with his life. And again he had to stand mute, he even tried to tell her what he did was not unexciting, just classified but she hadn’t believed him.
And she wasn’t the first girl he’d lost that way. She was just the one that hurt. Most girls were gone before he even got close, they’d ask him what he did and he’d say “Deep Space Radar…” and by that point their eyes would glaze over. He had to admit he wasn’t the most scintillating company. But that wasn’t wholly his fault, all the things he was passionate about, that he could have discussed with insight and animation, were classified.
He knew there were guys, like Colonel O’Neill, who could answer the what do you do question with “Not much,” or even a “classified” and the women still just knew he did something cool and dangerous. Werner knew he didn’t have that knack and never would.
Easy enough to say, women like that, he was better off losing. But the women in the program were few, and as a practical matter pretty much off limits. He knew full well there were a few storeroom liaisons going on. But he didn’t dare take that route, not that he’d had any offers. He absolutely lived for what he did and was damned if he’d risk it for a bit of tail. Or for true love, for that matter.
One time he’d had a date with a woman who was actually interested in Deep Space Radar Telemetry, but she’d asked him a bunch of mathematical questions he hadn’t been able to answer and she’d thought him a poser.
He sighed, all in all he knew was lucky. He knew guys who would give their left nut to have his job, most of time he was fully occupied and happy. But Friday nights sucked.
Especially since Debra seemed to take delight in bringing her latest boytoy in for an hour or so, drinking and playing grab-ass at the bar. She was here now. But O’Malley’s was his place and he was damned if he was going to let her drive him out.
For distraction he looked around, seeing who else from the SG teams was there. He saw SG1, their easy closeness like a force-field around their table. SG1, and that meant Samantha Carter. Now that
was the kind of woman… he knew the rumors, she was banging O’Neill, she was banging Teal’c, she was banging both. Werner preferred not the believe any of it, there were always rumors. But one thing was certain, she wasn’t going to be going home with him any time soon.
Fuck it, he told himself, eat up and get gone, go home, see what the TIVO had to keep his mind off the empty bedroom. He looked down, neatly sliced a bite size chunk off the steak, dipped it in the A-1, chewed methodically.
“Excuse me, sir,” a soft voice said. He looked up. She was a pretty woman, light brown hair, striking blue eyes, her shearling coat and conservative blouse covering but not hiding the very nice figure underneath. She was smiling shyly.
“Yes, ma’am?” He started to stand, but she put her hand gently on his shoulder, spoke quickly,
“No, please, don’t get up,” she said. “I know this is very forward of me, but I was wondering if you’d mind terribly if my friend and I joined you?”
Her friend had raven black hair, equally striking eyes, a figure that wasn’t much covered, let alone hidden, and a smile that, despite the bright red lipstick, seemed almost as shy as the first woman’s.
“Please, ladies,” he said, “it would be my pleasure.” He couldn’t help but, from time to time, take a glance over to see if Debra noticed his new company. She didn’t seem to, but by the time the check came, his treat, he insisted, and they all left arm in arm, he didn’t even think to look, Debra quite forgotten.
Camp Kendra, Cuba, June 2007
“If I wanted you dead Nigel, you’d be dead,” Irina said sweetly. “I’m afraid the minders stay outside. I’ll have the cook take them some sandwiches and lemonade.“
Willow stood in a little alcove just off the hall and watched Irina make small talk as her guest was quickly frisked by Javier.
Willow didn’t quite know what to make of Irina Derevko either. In many ways she was just the opposite of Renee. There was nothing free and instinctive about the Russian woman, everything she did was precise and calculated. She was smooth, in control because she was practiced and she calculated quickly, but still if you looked you could see the effort there. She had worked hard to become who she was, was still working hard to fight a losing battle against time.
And she was definitely not naturally inclined toward the light.
Willow thought about what it must be like for her to have the slayers there, taking over her house, young, beautiful, superpowered. In some ways quite pampered, like racehorses. She had seen her watching them sometimes, her face … thoughtful. Beyond that you couldn’t tell with Irina if she didn’t want you to. Not without magic…. And Willow would do that only at the last resort, with a good reason.
And so far Irina had given her none. She had treated Willow herself with unfailing courtesy, even a slight deference that Willow knew did not come easy. Every once in a while Willow felt the woman was watching her… but could hardly fault her for that. Had their roles been reversed, Willow knew she would have been much more intrusive.
And Irina seemed genuinely fond of the girls, her face growing animated watching their antics by the pool, she seemed almost as enthused about the little shopping and fine dining excursions she took the girls on as they were.
If only she wasn’t Faith’s
protégé…. Willow was trying hard, now that Faith and Xander seemed to be a lasting thing, to emotionally as well as intellectually let the past be the past, but the dark slayer still made her nervous. Not that she thought Faith would go bad again so much as concern that her judgment was not of the best. That Faith saw something of herself in Irina wasn’t the most reassuring concept. Oh, well, what was the saying, better on the inside pissing out… Willow shook her head trying to get that metaphor as far away from Irina’s image in her mind’s eye as possible. To business.
She did a quick reveal spell as Irina brought her guest down the hall. He was very much as if sent by central casting, a tall man with a military bearing, but the body gone to seed, jowly, neck roll, a bit of a gut, expensive suit that didn’t quite fit. She let the spell settle on him and it revealed …. Nothing, no concealed weapons, magic or conventional, no listening devices. Irina caught her eye and Willow nodded, then followed as they went downstairs.
Giles was waiting in what had been Irina’s combination bunker and firing range, and had since been converted to accommodate a wider variety of weapons practice. Shad lurked discretely in one corner, toying idly with a dagger.
Irina introduced Giles, there was some small talk about Oxford, then Giles pulled the sheet off the table revealing one each of the strange weapons Xander had gathered in Haiti. The man came alive, his eyes bright, his hands active. He picked up the larger one first, a staff of sorts with a fishlike tail on one end and a heavy bulbous metal tip on the other, and hefted it, quickly found the firing mechanism. On a nod from Giles he aimed and fired at the rather battered pile of sandbags at the far end of the room, which erupted in smoke and flickering fames as the sand fused.
“Oh, I say,” Nigel said.
Next he picked up the smaller metal weapon made to look like a cobra’s head. The man fiddled about for a couple minutes before getting the thing to open into firing position. The test fire of this weapon was much less impressive in appearance, looking like nothing but a bit of electrical discharge. Giles described what they had learned about its effects, but declined to demonstrate. Once had been enough.
Willow was still feeling a bit icky about that. Yes, the poor pigs were scheduled for slaughter anyway, getting zapped unconscious was actually probably much less painful than the sharp knives the local butchers used to slit their throats. Still there was something inherently distasteful about testing weapons on animals. But Xander had said in the fight in Haiti the things had had an effect on living tissue they didn’t seem to have on inanimate objects and they’d needed to know.
One shot to stun, two to kill, three to vaporize.
The pig who’d disintegrated was a waste, but Dayami had assured Willow she’d use everything but the squeal from the second one. Nevertheless it was a step or two backwards on her search for inner peace.
Nigel then had a look at the sort of glove, palm-jewel thing that Faith insisted one of the barons had used a weapon, but was unable to determine how it worked, which came as no surprise, if slayers couldn’t make a weapon work Willow doubted anyone else could.
The initial investigation over, Nigel settled down to a detailed inspection, taking copious notes in long hand on a legal pad Irina provided. On an okay nod from Giles Willow slipped away and left them to it. After a moment of dithering she went to join Dayami in the kitchen. Willow was a little worried that Dayami felt her kitchen visits intrusive, even condescending, but was afraid to say so out of the excess respect for the Red Witch instilled by her aunt. Not that the cheery Cuban woman had done anything but make her welcome. So probably she was just projecting.
She took a deep breath full of steam and spices and went in and was soon mixing batter, listening to the latest chapter in the dispute Dayami was having with one of the women in the fish market, and contemplating the blasphemous thought that maybe this was a truer path to inner peace and enlightenment than all the meditation and communing with the earth and sky the Devon coven prescribed.
She helped Dayami serve an afternoon tea as Giles, Irina, and Nigel convened in the dining room to discuss the latter’s report.
Nigel seemed to take it for granted Irina was in charge, Giles seemed content to let the impression stand and Willow saw no reason to interfere. Nigel seemed to think she was some sort of personal assistant to Irina, which Willow decided was just as well, and took a seat a little behind Irina as if waiting for instructions and listened in.
“I don’t suppose you’re offering them for sale?” Nigel said, and Irina smiled. “No, I didn’t think so. Any chance of telling me where you obtained them?”
“Nigel,” Irina said softly.
“Yes, yes, well, one has to ask. So. Very interesting indeed. To answer your first question, no, I’ve never seen anything like them before. One has heard stories recently of the Americans having some rather radical new ideas, and some odd toys they are very hush hush about. Super secret tests in the Nevada desert and so on. But then one is always hearing that sort of thing. And I must say the Americans aren’t known for having much in the way of whimsy when it comes to weapons design. Those snake things are really quite clumsy, and if there is some technical reason for the shape it quite escapes me.”
He handed Irina the pad with his notes. “Here, take a quick dekko and see if you have any questions. The truly significant item is the power source, which frankly has me completely stymied. I’ve heard of some experiments being done with plasma weapons, but as far as I know, to get that kind of power and make it mobile you’d need a small nuclear reactor. Figure the power source out and you’ve got the real moneymaker.”
He attacked the food then with a sort of controlled frenzy, eating steadily until Irina had finished reading the notes. Irina declared the notes very thorough, looked to Giles who had a couple questions about how Nigel thought the weapons would most likely be used. And then Irina was escorting Nigel to the door,
“Be discrete, Nigel,” Irina said. “I really don’t want anyone showing up at my door saying ’Nigel sent me’.”
“Now Irina, you know me better than that.”
“I hope so. And be careful, I would be genuinely sorry to hear about your body washing up on a beach somewhere. Or simply disappearing.”
“I’m touched. Truly. I’d be really, really touched by a chance to buy a piece of the action.”
“Not this time, Nige. Sorry.”
When they were gone down the hall Giles heaved a huge sigh.
“What is it?” Willow asked.
“You know this means I’ll have to bring Andrew in on this,” Giles said and looked so forlorn Willow couldn’t decide whether to laugh or give him a hug. “He’ll have to come to London and once he sees these things he’ll never want to leave. Probably blow a hole in the storage room and set the whole place on fire before he’s through.”
“Well, on the bright side those snake guns are confusing, maybe he’ll zap himself,” Willow said and saw Giles’ face brighten at the thought.
“Yes. Well, one lives in hope,” Giles said and helped himself to another cookie.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 2007
Captain Benjamin Werner gave some serious thought to stretching, but in the end decided he was way too tired and lay drowsing, smiling happily. For all their very polite conversation and formal, even old-fashioned manners in the restaurant the ladies sure let their hair down in the bedroom. They’d told him they were going to put him through his paces and they hadn’t been kidding.
Best Friday night. Ever. On this world, anyway.
He could hear them standing in the bedroom doorway, looking in and talking softly. He gathered this had been a test of some kind. He was hoping rather fervently that he had passed.
One of them, Dyce, he thought, was saying, “You know what the funny thing is, Let? He’s an awful lot like the Sarge. Bit more education, but pretty much the same, conservative, courteous, steady, touch of melancholy…”
“Takes direction well in bed.”
“There’s that. But I thought we were going for a little change of pace.”
“He prefers noir
“Oh yes, wow, shocking, big difference there…”
“It is actually, but… yes, I see your point. But maybe we just know what we like. It’s up to you, if you want to keep looking….”
“No, no, you’re right. He’s the one we both picked, right off the bat. Must mean something. Shall we?”
They were coming back to bed then, snuggling up beside him, nuzzling his neck.
“Oh, ladies, please,” he said. “Have mercy. The mind is willing but the flesh is plumb wore out.”
“We know, sweetheart,” one said, Letty, he was sure, “you just relax, you’ve been a good good boy, you just close your eyes, that’s a good boy, go to sleep…” she was stroking his hair, whispering in his ear like he was a recalcitrant horse. He sank down, sleepier, their voices lost meaning, became a gentle susurrus, he was floating…
The pain woke him, fast and furious, he tried to throw them off but their grips were like steel and he couldn’t move his limbs at all, barely able to squirm a little, he was filled with horror as he felt them feeding, felt his life pulsing away as his heart raced. He tried to fight, tried to cry out but he had no breath, he felt himself weakening, fading. For a moment the stargate appeared in his mind, engaged, shimmering like the very gates of heaven, he was filled with an over-whelming sadness to think he would never again see a new planet, and then the gate began to fall away like a coin tossed in a murky fountain.
Then he felt movement, he was sitting up, Letty’s voice at once in his ear and miles away,
“No, sweetheart, not yet, not yet, drink first,” he felt his face pressed into soft flesh, tasted a salty fluid on his lips, tickling his tongue, he felt a sudden, raging thirst and began to lick, slurp, then he found the stream and began to suckle madly, hearing better now, her voice,
“Gently, gently sweetheart, there’s no hurry now….. Okay, sweets, that’s enough.”
Felt himself thrust away, for a moment he felt terribly lost, alone and then new hands had him, pulled him in,
“My turn,” a voice said, “Come on, Cap, right here,” and his lips found the fountain, a new fountain, the same and yet just little a different and he drank again.
A second time he was pulled away, but this time he was pushed down, felt them at his neck again, this time when the darkness came there was no interruption in his descent, there was only blackness and then not even that.
Samantha Carter was just reaching to move her knight when Janet Fraiser poked her head in the doorway, said,
“You guys need anything, you know where it is. I’m going to take a nap,” and disappeared again.
Carter saw Cassandra was waiting for the sound of the bedroom door closing before she asked,
“Is Mom okay? She’s been awful tired this week.”
“I’m sure she’s fine, it’s just…” Carter hesitated. Cassie’s clearance was kind of a fuzzy area, born off-planet herself she obviously knew about the Gate and the general operations and it would be silly to pretend otherwise, but that didn’t mean she had a need to know the details of missions. She would never intentionally disclose information, Carter was sure, but it took a bit of practice to always guard your tongue, the kind of practice a teenage girl really shouldn’t be burdened with. “Well, let’s just say one of the teams came back a little changed and your mother had a very heavy research week. But everything’s back to normal now. Including, I’m sorry to say, your chess game. Check.”
“Crap,” Cassie said.
Fifteen minutes later Cassie made a face and tipped her king.
“So, you want to go again or…..” Carter started.
“Actually Sam, I think there’s something I need to show you.” She got out her laptop and turned it on and motioned for Carter to bring her chair around beside hers so she could see the screen. Cassie clicked an icon, clicked skip to bypass the opening graphics, a logon screen popped up and she quickly entered name and password, a window popped up saying something about maps being updated.
“Do me a favor,” Cassie said. “Don’t tell Mom unless you really think you have to, okay? It’s nothing really, but she worries about the stupidest things sometimes.”
“Well, I can’t promise until I know….”
“I know. Just… well, you’ll see. It’s just a game. I know it’s a little weird but I’m not going strange or anything. ”
“What kind of game?”
“An online RPG.”
“Really? I didn’t think you were into those…” Carter saw the pink blossom on Cassie’s cheeks. “Oh.”
“I’m not really…” Cassie said.
“But Dominic is, huh?”
“Yeah,” Cassie mumbled, then straightened, faced the screen. “But it is kinda fascinating. It’s called “Wherefore art thou, Vampyr?
“I told you, it’s a little weird. I mean, I think it’s a little weird. There aren’t really things like vampires and werewolves on this planet, are there?”
“No, of course not. Don’t be silly. So, how do you play?”
“Right now I’m just logged in in observation mode so we can move around faster, but there’s different roles you can play, like Buffy, the Slayer Prime.”
“Buffy?” Carter asked.
“Yeah, but you have to get lucky… There can only be one Buffy at a time and it’s like, first come first serve, and a lot of people want to play Buffy. All the Scoobies are pretty popular.”
“The Scoobies?” Carter said, wondering where in the world this was going and how much she was going to have to tell Janet.
“Yeah, they’re like the main good guys. But you kinda have to be logged in all the time to play them. But it’s no big, there’s lots of other roles and you can make your own. Course a lot of people like to play demons and try to kill them, so if you are playing Buffy you do get killed a lot and have to wait your turn again. But you can be whatever you want, like a vampire or a demon. You can make up your own, or there’s a list of demons each with its own sort of encyclopedia entry, with things like how to kill it and what it likes to eat. There’s like, types of demons, and individual demons with names.” Cassie paused, took breath, tried to regain her blasé tone.
“Or you can be a Slayer yourself. Or a Witch. Even just a human, but that’s no fun. But look, that’s not what I wanted show you. This whole world is really interactive. They’ve got some boilerplate forms you use to like make up your own demons, slayers, even maps and upload them and the webmasters will check them out and if they like them they’ll incorporate them into the game. And people get really into it. Check this one out…. “ A couple clicks brought up an image of a grotesque simian creature, sort of like a gorilla but with an over-large, more human face. With a line of spikes emerging from it’s back and three arms on either side.
“Now look,” Cassie said. “Doesn’t that look like a photograph? See the way it’s leaning on the car there and you can see the reflections in the windows and the pool of water. I mean, if someone did that with photoshop they’re really, really good. I think they must have made a costume and gone out and taken pictures and then maybe cleaned it up a little. And then they’ve written this whole biography, like it’s name is “Irving” and… “Irving?”
“That what it says, and how he was last seen near this marina in Baltimore and may have stolen a boat…. And there’s others, almost like, y’know wanted
posters sometimes. I know, I know, I’ll get to the point. There’s this sort of new island on the map, Dominic said he thinks it may have been there since August but he wasn’t sure… I hadn’t gone there before because it had zombies and things and, well, yuck. But Dominic always likes to check out gross stuff... And well,” Cassie clicked a couple times and brought up an image, “What does this remind you of?”
Carter’s first instinct was to call Hammond immediately, but her second instinct was to think twice before calling a General at home on Saturday. Especially about a picture in a fantasy role playing game. Cassie had said the new island had been in the game for maybe two months already. A few hours, maybe even days one way or another probably didn’t matter. Perhaps the Monday morning briefing would be the best time to bring it up.
She scrolled down, clicked on a couple links to read the information associated with the image Cassie had shown her. Maybe it wouldn’t wait, maybe it was already too late… She should at least get a bit more information together first.
“Cassie, how do I get back to the beginning?”
“Shift F4. And then escape if you want to skip the graphics.”
But Carter decided to let them run this time, Cassie reached out and unmuted for her and tinny music began to play. At first there were animated images of various creatures, heavy on the fangs, munching on screaming, helpless victims. A rather cheesy voice began to narrate, “This world is older than any of you know. Contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons demons walked the Earth. They made it their home, their…. Hell.”
A new character appeared, a girl whose hair and skin coloring seemed in constant flux, and began successfully attacking the fanged creatures, some of which seemed explode, others melted away into liguid pools, the voice went on, “For as long as there have been vampires, there's been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One.”
On the screen the fighting stopped, the fighting girl turned to face the screen and became two girls, then four, then eight until there was a horizontal line of girls across the screen, the voice went on, “Now the One has become Many, No longer does the Slayer fight solely for the World’s Survival but to make it truly safe for humankind. But the War with Evil is never over, with every Victory a new battle looms. Come now, if you dare, and join Buffy, the Slayer Prime, Faith the Dark Slayer, Willow the Red Witch, Xander, Who Sees All …”
With each name a new figure appeared in a dramatic pose, Buffy
a tall thin buxom blonde, dressed as if coming off a runway, holding what appeared to be a wooden stake in a fighting pose, Faith
, a very well-endowed brunette in black leather, brandishing a sword in one hand and a whip in the other, Willow
a redhead with lines of lightning emerging from her fingers, Xander,
a muscular young man in a brightly colored shirt, with a patch over one eye, posing en garde
with a silver-handled cane with a blade…..
Carter hit the pause button.
“What is it? Cassie asked.
“Oh. Nothing. It’s… ridiculous. Nothing.” She hit pause again and the voice continued, “Giles Who Knows All…”
a bespectacled man in a tweed suit holding a book, “And myself, Andrew the Wise, who tells all,”
A handsome, square-jawed male figure rose from the bottom of the screen, animated as if speaking, holding one hand out as if offering the viewer the stake it held, “join us as we crisscross the globe asking the question, Vampyr, Vampyr, Wherefore Art Thou, Vampyr?”
A quiet, female, almost childish voice could be heard then, calling out, “Vampire? Here Vampire…”
which repeated, fading until the screen cleared and the log-on box came up.
Carter read the FAQ, the credits, the terms, and signed up for a two-week free trial membership and with Cassie’s help navigated back to Zombie island and the original picture Cassie had shown her, just be double sure it was still there. It was. Glowing eyes, ribbon device in one upraised hand, done with decent if not great artistry. Pictures of a staff weapon and a zat included in the background information, and this time by pictures she meant photographs.
And, oh yes, the description of men with snakes in their bellies. She had to call someone. Now.
Janet Fraiser woke from her nap and stretched, went into her bathroom and washed her face, pulled on a robe and went down the hall to peek into the livingroom to see if Sam and Cassie had gotten into one of their marathon chess sessions. She was glad Sam could play chess with Cassie, as Janet herself simply didn’t have the interest or the patience necessary for the game.
She took a glance, if they were hard at it she’d just let them play, maybe go read for awhile, she didn’t get much chance to do that these days…. What the hell? She started to ask, then caught herself. Coffee first, she thought.
She found Cassie sitting at the kitchen table reading a book, nibbling absent-mindedly on a sandwich.
“Cassie,” she said.
“Hey, Mom,” Cassie answered. “Good nap?”
“Yes, I feel much better.” She filled the coffee pot with coffee and water in the appropriate receptacles, turned it on and heard the first cough and spit of the steam. She sat down beside her adopted daughter,
“Cassie,” she said, “what is SG1 doing in the livingroom?”
“Playing an online RPG called Wherefore Art Thou Vampyr?”
“No, seriously,” Fraiser said.
“Well, the Colonel is having a little trouble seeing the point of a game with no puck, ball, finish line or much shooting, Teal’c is disturbed by the idea of playing a game with no winners, Sam’s trying to trace the servers and Daniel’s trying to get Sam to stay on one screen long enough for him to read the Sumerian, so maybe they aren’t really playing the game. On the other hand, they are playing their own roles. Matter of definition, I suppose.” -30-
I am not a gamer, beyond taking a look at the cover art and a brief perusal of the wikipedia article I know nothing of Chaos Bleeds
or the other official games. It seems to me unlikely that the graphic intro described above too closely duplicates anything in the actual games, but if anyone knows otherwise I would appreciate it if you’d let me know.
There will be some more description of the game in future, I will try to keep it plausible, if not wholly realistic, but would appreciate any egregious technical errors being pointed out as well.