Chapt 4: Silence of the Fish
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines
Thanks very much for the many and interesting comments, reviews and questions, keep’em coming. I hope you will forgive me for treating most of the questions, comments as rhetorical and not answering individually, but I think any substantive response would, whether by commission or omission, tip my hand farther than I want to just yet.
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapt 4: Silence of the Fish
Council Headquarters, London, June 2007
“Toby,” Giles said looking from his desk as a squeaking board revealed the younger man’s presence, “What are you doing here?”
“I just came to get my…”
“Who’s with Andrew?” Giles saw the guilt in his assistant’s eyes. “Oh bloody hell,” Giles said, and threw down his pen, rose with surprising speed, headed for the door, and made it all the way out into the hall and halfway down the first flight of stairs before the fire alarm went off.
Inside the main storage vault Andrew was nonchalantly fiddling with his camera on its tripod, just as if there wasn’t a pall of smoke covering the ceiling and a big black circle on the wall where the paneling had been burned away to reveal the hidden, slowly cooling steel.
“Andrew,” Giles said calmly, “what happened here?”
“Ah, Mr. Giles,” Andrew said, turning as if surprised. “Yes, good, I believe I have made a discovery about these strange weapons.”
“What have you discovered, Andrew?” Giles asked.
“That one, the staff, seems to very sensitive to either electrical impulse or bright light because when I triggered the flash it…..” he trailed off, looked down a moment, then took a deep breath, straightened shoulders, clenched his jaw, looked Giles in the eye and blurted out,
“I couldn’t help it, it was supercool and I’m not sorry and I’d do it again.”
“Yes, Andrew,” Giles said gently, reaching out to pat the young watcher’s well-padded shoulder. “I understand. Our fault for leaving you alone with it. You’re not to be blamed.”
Giles stepped over to the table where they had set out the artifacts to be photographed, picked up one of the odd, snake-shaped weapons, handed it to Andrew.
“Here,” he said. “Why don’t you try this one.”
“Really? I mean, cool. How does it work?”
“You’ll figure it out,” Giles said. “Toby will stay and help you. Won’t you, Toby?”
For a moment Toby seemed about to speak, his mouth working as he watched Andrew trying to unscrew the snake head. Then he sagged.
Camp Kendra, Cuba, June 2007
Willow sat at one of the tables by the pool, possessed herself of patience and waited her turn.
She had decided to stay on in Cuba a few days after she ‘ported Giles and Corrie back to London. Ostensibly to give Corrie time to find a new place and move her things, but she knew that wasn’t the real reason. The real reason was that she needed a little, not much, but some, Xander time. Just needed to touch base.
After staying an extra week in Haiti to help Andre and Jean-Luc set up the house that would be the slayer’s base when in Port-au-Prince, Xander and Faith were coming back to Camp Kendra for a few days of R&R. And to pick the four girls who were going to spend the rest of the summer patrolling the islands with them. Which just gave the girls extra incentive to swarm Xander on arrival.
Renee pushed her way in and claimed him first of course, so she could tell him all the important things which had happened to her since he’d seen her last, like how she’d seen a one-legged seagull, and how she’d worn her hair differently for a couple days last week.
Jun Lee had to hike up her bikini and show him how her bullet-pierced buttock was nearly healed and claim the talk she’d told everybody he’d promised her.
He’d seen her there, waiting, and winked, then shrugged helplessly as two more girls pounced and pulled him away to show him some clever move with a sword they’d worked out between them.
“Annoying, isn’t it?” a voice said behind her and she turned and for a moment she didn’t recognize Faith in a pale blue cotton top and matching skirt. The slayer had a heavily loaded plate in one hand, beer bottle in the other.
“And the worst part is you can’t bitch about it," Faith said, setting her plate on the round table and sitting, "‘cause that would just be … bitchy. ‘Cause he can’t help it, and you wouldn’t want him to change, anyway, yeah? Bein’ reasonable fucking sucks, y’know?”
“I’ve heard that,” Willow answered and Faith laughed. They sat silently for awhile as Faith ate. Then after making a small dent in the mound on her plate and finishing the beer Faith spoke again,
“Speakin’ of reasonable, how’s Shad been doin’? She okay?”
“Ummm,” Willow thought back over the past week. “Yes. A little quiet, but she’s always pretty quiet isn’t she? Why, did something happen in Haiti?”
“No, nothing special. It’s just… well, most of the time in Haiti you know, we didn’t have cable, so in the down time, like sitting around after lunch and stuff, Andre and Jean-Luc told us stories about Haiti, the history and shit. And well, it ain’t a fucking Disney movie, you know? Slavery, torture, rape and murder, once around the flagpole and do it all again. And most of the girls were, ‘Oh, that sucks, is there any more roast goat?’ But Shad, it kinda got to her.”
“But surely , where she’s from, that kind of history wasn’t anything new to her?”
“Yeah, well, maybe that was part of it, bringing up stuff from home. But I got the idea that when Xan got her out of whatever fucked up hellhole she was in over there, she just figured that’s the way the world was. All fucked up, some folks had it good and some folks didn’t and she’d caught herself a lucky break and she was grateful, yeah? But now her English is good enough so she can read newspapers and stuff without struggling and she’s starting to look around a bit… see the bigger picture. I mean, it’s one thing to go from Upshitcreek Africa to Cleveland and think “cool.” It’s another to go from Cleveland to Petionville … it’s a pretty country, Red, but it is poorer than Fuck’s poor cousin Fucked. And it ain’t because of the climate, you know? I mean, you think it’s an island out the middle of the fucking ocean, no one would care, right? But everybody’s fucked with them, the Spanish, the French. Did you know freaking Napolean….” She paused, grinned,
“Don’t give me that look, Red, I may not know much but I know fucking Napoleon,
…. He sent troops, in fact according to Andre one of the reasons we got Louisiana is cause he had troops in Haiti and didn’t have enough left to send any up our way. And of course we fucked with them, got all freaked cause when they had the big slave revolt the US was still a slave owning country and we couldn’t have any of that shit, could be contagious, yeah? And the Germans… seriously, Red, what the fuck were German’s doing fucking around with an island in the Caribbean for fuck’s sake? And then we got all freaked by the German’s being there we kicked them out and took over for awhile.. ‘course Andre also said whenever they weren’t being fucked with by outsiders the Haitians got all nostalgic and fucked with each other just to stay in practice.” She paused again, stared up in to the twilight sky for a moment.
“Where the fuck was I?”
“Yeah, right. So that’s thing, it’s frustrating as hell when you want to beat the fuck out of people who been dead for fifty years. Dead and
buried, I mean. Or a hundred and fifty. And Shad, she’s got all this power, she can pick up a damn bus, and there’s nothing she can do about those poor kids running around in rags in the street. I figure as long as she had demons and vamps and zombies to whale on she’d be okay, but maybe when she got back here she might go a little sproing…
“No,” Willow said. “She seems calm enough.” But then, she thought with a pang, maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the quiet one? “She has been reading a lot, Irina’s got an interesting library. Lot of political stuff.”
“Yeah, well, here’s the thing. Xan can always calm her down. And Renee’s good for her, makes her laugh. I just dunno, maybe we need to keep her with us, or need to, you know, send her to meditation school with you, make her learn to keep it together on her own? Hell, maybe send her to Dawn and get her real fired up, yeah?” Faith laughed. “Hey, I need a beer, you want anything?”
“No, thanks,” Willow said and Faith gathered her plate and headed for the house.
Well, Willow thought, a history no, make that a fucking
history lesson, from Faith. Would wonders never cease. A bit dadaist, but still. And Faith, taking care of her girls’ mental health. She made a note to be sure and seek out Shad in the morning, and really listen this time.
And then finally it was her turn, Xander came and took her arm,
“Hurry,” he said, “I threw something shiny in the pool, we might get away if we run for it.”
They walked a little ways down the beach and sat quietly for a little while, Willow leaning on his shoulder.
“So,” he said, “the stately Corinth is of the past?”
“Yes, I sent her back on Sunday with Giles.”
“You’re not overly heartbroken, I take it?”
“No. I’m more sad about not being sad, you know?”
“Uhuh. Not to belabor the obvious, but have you considered maybe hooking up with someone who isn’t magical? Somebody who might think what you can do is cool and not intimidating?”
“Gee, no Xan, never occurred me. New topic, please? Faith talked to me about Shad. She’s changed.”
“Yeah. Oh yeah, now that’s getting confident with her English she’s really….”
“I meant Faith.”
“Yes. Well, they say age and experience will do that. She has a good heart, Will, under all the ‘tude.”
“I’m seeing that… I don’t know if we’ll ever braid each other’s hair, but I’ll try too…”
“It’s okay, Will, things are fine. You get too nice it’ll just freak her out. How is everything in the land of tea?”
“Much the same, Giles says hi, by the way. Sorry he missed you but something was pressing. As there often is.”
“And the peace and nirvana farm, crops coming up nicely? Enlightenment ripening, wisdom a little behind this year but should finish strong if the weather holds?”
She hit him lightly on the arm. “Haha,” she said. “No,” she said, “actually. Not doing well at all really. Sometimes I can see it, Xan, in my mind, like a shining curving road, spiraling ever-upward, a path, the
path, to where the Goddess lives. And I know, I just have to follow, steady as she goes and I will find it, Peace.
And then sometimes I can’t see the way at all. And sometimes it’s a dark road, overrun with weeds and draped with skeletons. The Earth is not a peaceful place Xan. It seems nice and quiet here, but if I listen, if I let myself reach out I can hear the fish screaming as they eat one another and rip at the plants. The coven would have me sit in a meadow and meditate, but, like the famous quote says, a meadow is a battlefield, all the plants fighting and struggling to find their place in the sun. They tell me that’s the point, to learn to find the quiet amidst the war, but I’m not sure they hear what I hear.”
“It’s the damn butterflies, isn’t it?” he said, after a moment had passed. “Wings going all the time, whap-whap-whap. Whap-whap-whap. Whap-whap-whap…”
“Smartass,” she said, “Don’t know why I tell you anything,” but she was laughing.
“Well, maybe you ought to get out of there for awhile. Take a tour of the Slayer houses we’ve been setting up. Meet some of the girls on their turf. Good for both you and them. Spend a little time in a Panama City traffic jam and maybe the grass won’t seem so noisy.”
“I don’t know. Maybe. … I’ll think about it.”
Back at the house she could hear Javier tuning his guitar, then beginning to play. She slid around and draped one arm around Xander’s neck, wrapped the other around his waist, pulled him back against her and laid her face on his shoulder and she listened to the vampire’s light six string melodies dance over the steady bass beat of Xander’s heart.
Stargate Command, Colorado, October 2007
SG1 reconvened in Sam’s lab after Janet Fraiser got fed up with having her living room invaded and threw them out. Initially Sam had wanted to, temporarily, confiscate Cassandra’s computer, but with her Mom’s help, including a threat of extra needles next check-up Cassie won that argument…
“Sam, it’s got all my homework on it. For crying out loud, everything you’re worried about on that computer I downloaded off the internet!”
…but only after promising to delete the pictures and not play the game again until she got the all clear.
On their arrival they had called General Hammond at home only to find he’d already been called in to the base for an emergency. A call to his office revealed he’d left the base on that same emergency but would back later in the day. They requested a meeting at the General’s earliest convenience and set to work.
Sam set about tracing the game servers again, faring better with the tools available to her at the lab. At the same time she began trying to track down and verify the biographical information given on the background screens for the “Scoobies,” starting with “Xander” and “Faith.” After about fifteen minutes she opened a drawer, found an aspirin bottle and took four.
Teal’c began doing background reading on the history of role-playing games, Daniel joined the game as a Junior Watcher named Daniel and was invited to tag along with a group who were exploring an abandoned town on what seemed to be a Greek island. He was attacked and eaten by something called Vrykolakas
within ten minutes but a friendly, if slightly sarcastic text message popped up telling him how to rejoin the group and included a few tips labeled ”Rule Number One: Don’t Die.”
Colonel O’Neill began by reading through a few of the demon descriptions and then, when he saw that the others were fully engrossed in their tasks, pulled up a second screen that featured, among other things, digital air hockey. It was, after all, an online game. He began to study it.
Eventually an Airman appeared at the door and informed them the General had returned and would see them in the briefing room at eighteen-thirty hours.
Simultaneously Sam and Jack checked their watches, startled to realize how much time had passed.
“Umm, Colonel, guys,” Carter said, ‘before we see the General could I run something by you? ‘Cause if he decides to put me in a rubber room I want you all there with me.”
“Ah, Carter, I’m touched,” Jack said. “Go ahead. Teal’c, Daniel.”
“I am listening, O’Neill,” Teal’c replied.
“Daniel,” Jack said. ….. “Daniel?”
“Huh, what? Oh, just sec…. We’ve found some ancient tablets in Hittite…I just want to... “ he trailed of, staring at he screen and scribbling on a notepad.
“Daniel,” Jack said, with exaggerated patience, then less so, “Daniel!”
“Say good-bye to your imaginary friends and listen to Carter.”
“Here,” Carter said, leaning over Daniel’s shoulder, “you can print the screen.”
“Oh, right, thanks…. Just let me log off, I don’t want to get killed when I’m not paying attention.”
“No, wouldn’t want that,” Jack said.
Daniel typed briefly, spun back around, “Yes, Jack, what is it?” Jack gestured toward Carter. “Oh, I’m sorry, Sam, what is it?”
Carter took a deep breath. “First not saying anything yet about…” she paused, forced it out, “superpowers, or vampires or what have you, but these “Scoobies” Xander, Faith, Buffy, Willow and Giles, seem to be real people.”
“What?” Jack said.
“I mean presumably they created the game and modeled the characters after themselves…. But, there seems to be this whole sub-culture, either based on the game, or maybe the game grew out of the sub-culture…but there’s other web-sites and chatrooms and blogs where people write about them as if they were real, with full names. Xander L. Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Buffy Summers, Rupert Giles, who is a British national. Faith… seems to have had a lot of names. The first three supposedly grew up in Sunnydale, California…”
“Wait, that’s the …
“Town that imploded for no apparent reason a few years ago. Yes. And of course a lot of records were destroyed, but the state DMV has records for Harris, Rosenburg, Summers and Giles, Immigration has records of Giles living there and working first as a school librarian, then as owner of retail shop called ‘The Magic Box.’ The IRS records seem to verify that.”
“Wait, you have access to the IRS?” Jack asked.
“Yes, though maybe we don’t need to mention that to the General.”
“Yes, of course, but what I mean …. Can you … make changes?”
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that, Colonel. I was saying, Mr. Giles choice of employment seems odd, given that prior to that he was a curator at the British Museum…”
“What?” Daniel said, then turned and began working at his terminal. Carter went on.
“In the game of course Giles is the head of an organization called the ‘Watcher’s Council’ which apparently does actually exist….”
“Oh, for crying out loud, Carter,” Jack said, turning to his own terminal for a moment, closed the arcade games screen and pulled up a couple from the RPG, read out loud, “The Watcher’s Council World Headquarters is housed in an invisible zeppelin which most often can be found, by those in the know, hovering over greater London, often tethered to Big Ben…..
an invisible zeppelin, Carter?”
In reply Carter set the phone on her desk to speaker and dialed a number, waited, a machine picked up, a voice spoke,
“Hello, you’ve reached the North American Headquarters of the Watcher’s Council, if this is an emergency please scream or press one ….. if this is not an emergency, please leave a message and a method of contact and we will get back to you. If you would like to be contacted by one of the regional offices, be sure to make that request and include your location in the message. Thank you and be safe. ….. beeep.
“ Carter reached out and disconnected.
“Well, so what?” Jack said, “You probably get a call back from some desperate housewife trying to sell you …vampire insurance or, uh, real estate in fairyland.” He reached over to Carter’s phone and pressed redial, waited as the machine answered and the message, started,
“Hello, you’ve reached the North American Headquarters of the Watcher’s Council, if this is an emergency please scream or press one ….. “Aaaauuuugh!”
Jack screamed, and Daniel, who had been hunched over his keyboard leaped up, turned, tense,
“What the hell was that?!”
“I was screaming.”
“Well anybody can press one.”
Daniel turned to Carter, “Should that make sense to me?” he asked, Carter hushed him as what seemed to be girl’s voice answered,
“Watchers, what’s your emergency?”
“Umm, I’ve got vampires,” Jack said.
“How many and how close?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Can you see them? Can they see you? …. Are you in immediate danger?”
The girl sighed. “Sir, this is an emergency line, if you are in genuine fear for your life, I’ll try to help you. Just tell me where you are and what the sitch is, don’t worry if it seems weird or unbelievable, we’d much rather save you from a bit of plastic caught in the wind then find you dead ‘cause you were too embarrassed to tell me what you saw. But if you’re just screwing around, get the fuck off the emergency line. Now, let’s start with your name?”
“Robert Kinsey,” Jack said. “And you are…”
“I’m Vi, now what is…”
“Vi, how much do you charge to save people from vampires?”
“I see.” the girl sighed again. “There’s no charge for genuine emergencies. If you have genuine questions, please call the main number again. I have traced your number, sir, if you call the emergency line without an emergency from this number again we’ll….” She paused…. “I see, we’ll either notify your commanding officer, or, if we happen to be in a bad mood, come out there and shove that phone up your ass. Have a nice day.”
“Wait a minute,” Jack said after a moment, “isn’t that a secure phone? She shouldn’t be able to trace it, right?”
“Well, it certainly should take more than your average caller-id,” Carter answered. “Why, worried it won’t fit?” she added with a smile. And a slightly suggestive gesture.
“Ha, ha,” Jack said.
“The young woman seemed most sincere,” Teal’c said. “Is it possible that these vampires do exist?”
“No,” Jack said.
“But it’s very possible she
believes they exist,” Daniel said
In the silence that followed Carter reached over to her desk and picked up one the many print-outs she had been collecting. “That number is an 800 number that leads to a commercial answering service in Cleveland. This,” she said, “is a copy of Mr. Alexander Lavelle Harris’s current Ohio driver’s license, showing an address in Cleveland, which turns out to belong to the Cleveland Home for Gifted Girls, which is owned by the Watcher’s Council of London, England. You’ll also note it shows him missing his left eye. And that‘s as far as I’ve got, I’ve haven’t had time to check into the others so far. At first glance, Faith seems to be a bit of a ghost, Giles, Rosenberg and Summers are living overseas, I thought I’d wait until we spoke to General Hammond before putting in any official request for information from the CIA. One more thing, Colonel, your clearance is even higher than mine, isn’t it?”
“I think we’re both about as high as it goes, Carter.”
“Would you do a search on the DOD database for any of those names, sir.”
“Okay, that could just mean they were part of some special project,” Jack said after getting the access denied
. “Just cause we have high clearance doesn’t mean we have need to know. Could be diplomatic issues or…”
“That’s my point, sir. You didn’t just draw a blank. Someone
knows something about these people, and they want it kept secret. That means there is something to know.
And now we’re getting to the part I want you guys check me on….”
“So you’ll have company in the rubber room. Oh, I think we’re all there already,” Jack said.
“You remember last week when were stuck in the snowbank….”
“Ohmigod,” Daniel said.
“… and we were rescued by a couple teenage girls,” she laid a picture of Faith from the game on the desk, “and a brunette wearing black leather named ‘Faith,
’” she laid out a picture of Xander with his silver-handled cane, “and her cold California boy boyfriend named Xan,
who had a cane with a blade. You’ll note that, according to the game bios, Faith and Xander are a couple now….
“Yeah,” Jack said, looking at his terminal again, “who ride around on a BMW GS motorcycle with a rocket engine and expandable wings allowing it to fly and inflatable pontoons and a rear tire that can be converted into a propeller ….” But his voice was not quite as sarcastic as before.
“Even such a wonderful vehicle as that would be most unpleasant in the snow, O’Neill,” Teal’c observed.
“And perhaps most importantly,” Carter continued, ‘they seemed to recognize Teal’c as being unusual, and a potential threat, just by looking at him. I have a theory.”
“Do tell,” Jack said.
“These ‘vampires’ in the game, they’re described as having faces that change, eyes that turn yellow… glowing eyes could give that effect. They are also described as people who have been taken over by demons, the same, and yet, colder, cruel, indifferent to human suffering…..”
“Yes, that would make sense. And the time it takes for the blending, that could seem like death,” Daniel added. “Perhaps there are even sarcophagi, that accounts for the stories of Dracula rising from his grave, and needing to sleep in his coffin. And of course the Goa’uld entering through the neck…Maybe they started the stories, or just took advantage.“
“Yeah,” Jack said, really, really not liking where this was going, ‘but the Goa’uld, not really known for hiding in the shadows…”
“Yes,” Daniel obliviously jumping in before Carter could speak, “but what if the only
humans you had ever met were leaders. Politicians, generals, dictators. You have a very different view of humans than you’d have if you had only met, say college professors. Or musicians. Our view of the Goa’uld could be just as skewed. The Tok-ra are different. Maybe there are Goa’ulds who are in between, who are not megalomaniacs like Apophis but not all that nice, either. Content to be monsters instead of Gods. Or small gods. Or hell, maybe they’re just the losers, like Seth. He wasn’t exactly taking the world by storm.”
“And the ‘Scoobies,’ maybe they’re their leaders, who are trying to keep their people in line so they don’t attract too much attention,” Carter said. “Perhaps they’ve made some sort of deal, to limit the damage in return for hosts….”
“Or possibly they are like the Tok-ra, more equally blended man and symbiote who are fighting their more unscrupulous cousins…. That would explain their strength and
their casually human behavior…
“But I did not detect the presence of Goa’uld, and neither, I believe, did Major Carter…” Teal’c noted.
“Well, the “Scoobies” could be something else, or maybe they’re just sufficiently different you didn’t recognize them or they’ve found a way to mask the naquadah. Or maybe they’re still just human but enhanced somehow…”
“So you’re saying that maybe we’ve had a big Goa’uld war going on under our noses all this time?” Jack complained, “Someone would have to know… “
“Maybe someone does. The British perhaps. We didn’t tell them about the Stargate, why would they tell us about aliens? Or maybe they don’t realize they’re aliens? Maybe they think they are
vampires? If we discovered vampires, would we tell the world?” Daniel asked. He went on,
“Who knows about the Stargate, Jack?” Daniel said, smiling, “The people on this base, a few politicians? Does the Army know, the Navy? Homeland Security? If the Air Force can keep secrets, why not the other services? Even if the President knew about both, maybe he’d think we didn’t need to know.”
The Airman appeared in the doorway again, “The General is ready for you now,” he said.
“Oh, I really doubt that,” Jack said, “I really do.” -30-