Chapter 6: POV
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines
Once again…… thanks very much for the many and interesting comments, reviews and questions, keep’em comin. (Some great, LOL suggestions, only wish I could use them all, but the story dictates.) 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
Chapter 6: POV
Stargate Command, Colorado, October 2007
Quiet. No, there were noises, a little in the distance. He raised his hands, pushed gently against the enclosing vinyl, found the zipper. I’m in a body bag. And… I’m not panicking…why is that? Drugs? I like to think of myself as generally calm in a crisis but there are limits, my heart should be racing..……. Wait a minute.
He took a deep breath and held it… and held it …. And held it. He let it out and laid still. Okay, that seems to be optional.
He was remembering… the women. At his neck, feeding. He grabbed at his throat. No, seems okay. Feeding. He remembered drinking. That’s ridiculous.
But his hands went to his face. Ouch. Sharp. Okay, still feeling pain.
More carefully this time he explored his face. Fangs. Bumpy forehead. Why a bumpy forehead? Okay. If is a dream eventually I’ll wake up. For now. .. vampire?
It felt …right. He pushed at the vinyl, it parted easily, either they’d used a pretty shoddy bag or … he clenched his fist. Strong. He could feel it. He twisted around in the tight space and found the door and pushed with slowly increasing effort and with a slight screech the catch gave and the door swung open. He could see again.
He dropped lightly to the floor and stood, stretched, he was a little stiff. He smiled thinly at the thought. He was on the base, he could tell by the smell. I’m in that little room just off the infirmary we all know about .. and try to ignore. He sniffed again. Blood. My blood….dry.
In the corner a file cabinet, he broke the lock and pulled it open. My…. Personal Effects. Okay, the shirt’s had it, but pants, shoes…. Passcard, ID. Dogtags. Wallet. …. No car keys…?
He went to peer out the door. Bright… No, not really, lights were on normal…even low night levels, but he could see … like a cat. Like a creature of the night. He could hear voices, laughter. Smell warm bodies…. The stand-by medical crew, they would be in their break room, on-call in case an emergency came back through the gate …. But no one else moving around, so, must be night, late night even, week-end. He eased out into the infirmary. It was a familiar room, everybody spent time there after each mission. He thought a moment, trying to remember …. Yes. He crossed the room quickly, opened a closet and withdrew a white coat and pulled it on, buttoning it up to cover his bare torso… Less noticeable now but still have a problem, need to see how obvious the fangs are. He hurried into the nearest bathroom and looked in the mirror. Whatthehell?
He held his hand up. He could see that. Not invisible. He waved it in front of the mirror. How? Okay, no reflection… my clothes too? How?
For a moment he was caught up in the physics problem, light refraction? Phasing…. Then stopped himself. Later, no time for that now. Have to use touch, he felt his fangs… pretty big, he decided, noticeable. Maybe a surgical mask… He felt them move… I wonder….yes.
They retracted, his face felt smooth, normal, he relaxed … oops. Okay, going to take a little practice. In out, in out, in … hold it. Hold it…
He heard footsteps, sensed movement, opened the door a crack and peered out. Someone was going into Fraiser’s office, opening one of the cabinets, she turned, he could see her face.
Samantha Carter. Normally when he saw her his heart raced, just a little, pathetic really but still, hope springs eternal… or maybe not. Heart not racing, he was …salivating.
The urge hit him strong, thirst like he’d been in the desert for days….
She’d found what she’d came for, she was turning toward the door … now, while she’s alone. He started forward, then instinctively shrank back as another figure appeared. Carter stiffened, shrank back herself with the same instinct, standing by the desk with her hands behind her back like a kid caught in the cookie jar. Yasmine. She who made Fraiser seem like a pussycat.
“Who’s in there!” the big woman demanded. “Sam Carter, I might have known. It’s Saturday night, for God’s sake, Carter, you oughta be out making some big strong man lick your thighs, not skulking around here…. Let me see your hands. Don’t give me that, rank don’t mean shit when you come through that door, Missy. Give me…. Oh. Aspirin. Okay then. But you go easy on that too, it ain’t candy. And go home. If you won’t get laid at least go dream about it.”
He watched Carter scuttle away, Yasmine stomped back into the break room, and he moved …. Quickly, very quickly indeed, this part was…. Cool. He was in the hall, he could smell Carter’s trail lingering in the air, he followed after, closing…
“Hey, Sam, there you are …. Got a sec?”
“Sure, Daniel, what is it?”
Damn. He clenched his fists. He had the strength, he could… kill them both. No, not now, if one got away, even if just long enough to sound an alarm... He needed to get out of the base, needed time to figure out his situation. He was trapped here.
He needed to get to the lockers, needed to …. Get past the two geeks who were standing there talking like they might do it forever. He looked around…. A storeroom. He broke the lock quickly and went inside, grabbed a clipboard and some paper off a pile and went back out into the hall, striding along with steady purpose, staring at the clipboard he went past them, throwing Carter a casual salute as he passed, she nodded vaguely out of habit and ignored him.
He paused a moment in front of his own locker, reached up and ran his finger along the nametag. Captain Benjamin Werner.
Still a Captain, he thought, the military wasn’t like marriage. It wasn’t ‘til death do you part. It was beyond. Death meant you truly belonged. Inside there were fresh underwear, BDUs. He stripped and redressed, looked around. SG16 was offworld so…. He broke into Major Odom’s locker, searched a moment, found his car keys and his ID/passcard. Just in case.
It was foolish, but he couldn’t help himself, he went down, to the gateroom.
“At ease, sergeant,” he barked quickly as the duty officer started to rise. He stood at the window, looking at the stargate. It had become his life, going through that strange metal circle. Maybe this was his last chance… maybe he should go through now. No, that wasn’t it. There wasn’t a planet he would rather be on … It was the going to new ones that he would miss. He tried to make his heart beat manually, the way he’d learned to retract his fangs. No go. Maybe a pacemaker… He pictured the scene, saw himself saluting General Hammond, “Captain, heard you were dead.”
No, maybe he could fool Hammond, but Fraiser… But so what. He was different. So was Teal’c, they let him
stay. Maybe he should just go to Hammond now. Surely a man who didn’t need to breathe, with superstrength, would be useful. It was tempting. But he was hungry. That might prove awkward.
And they would dissect him. Put him in a cage. Study him. Maybe even turn him over to NID. He needed to know more. Maybe later, when he understood it himself, if he could give them answers, he could find a way back. It wasn’t desertion, can’t go AWOL if you’re dead, right?
He had no trouble reaching the surface, people came and went at odd hours all the time here, security didn’t think twice about a grumpy officer heading home in the middle of the night. It wasn’t like he was chatty with the guards at the best of times. He found Odom’s Bronco in the long term parking, unplugged the block heater, started up the engine. Now what. Home? That could get complicated…
Then suddenly he knew what he had to do. He grinned, put the vehicle in gear and started down the mountain, fiddling with the radio. He found a country station, smiled to hear ol’ Willie Nelson singing, Yesterday is dead and gone and tomorrow's out of sight.
And it's sad to be alone. Help me make it through the night.
Rome, Italy, October 2007
“Maybe we should get some sleep and look at all this with a clear head.”
Andrew and Dawn stared at one another and started laughing. Nobody was sleeping tonight. Well, Giles would, but it was a close thing, she had the number half-way dialed before she remembered the time and decided a few more hours wouldn’t make any difference, let the man sleep.
Andrew got up, mumbled something about washing his face, she gave him a quick hug, then went to look closer at his discoveries, peering at the image of ….. a ‘goa’uld.’ Yuck. She looked around at his room with the full size mural of the Star Wars cantina scene on one wall, the Deathstar on the ceiling, the Silver Surfer and Galactus sharing space on the other wall with a floating city lit by twin suns and populated by various larger than life characters from the comics on the shelves…
And he finally discovers an alien and it’s basically it’s a vicious, intelligent tapeworm. Poor Andrew. Even the ‘Alien’ alien would be better than that.
She did a quick double-check of his of work, making sure he hadn’t left a trail. Nothing leaped out at her. Maybe later to be sure they’d hit it with Willow’s total invisibility spell. But he’d done a good job. She started to poke around randomly in the files he’d downloaded. He was right. There was an immense amount of raw data here. She went to make coffee.
They sat side by side, learning the odd pathways of the Air Force filing system, reading reports and tracking down stills and video, Andrew began to cheer up, stopped grumbling underneath his breath and began to make little happy noises, with the “Yes!”’s and the “cool!”’s. There were pictures from other planets, there were aliens that weren’t worms. Crystal people. Robots… at one point he leapt from his chair, dancing around the room with excitement,
I knew, I knew it, I knew it…”
There were the remnants of long dead alien societies, mysterious artifacts and strange technology. Peaceful superbeings who could raise the dead and cloak whole cities. A galaxy filled with habitable planets and human societies ranging from stone age to advanced in ways not yet understood.
Even the worm things… once he began to understand the whole freaky symbiote thing with the Jaffa, and the mature Goa’uld being the ancient Egyptian gods and the Johnny Appleseeds of the human galactic diaspora … became more interesting than disgusting, Jabba the Hut writ small and slimy.
There were spaceships shaped liked pyramids. Hyperdrive.
It was all he could do not to write a few hundred, “Told you told you told you!” emails.
But first he had to deal with Dawn. Her face a coruscating parade of joy and excitement, and anger. And absolutely white hot incandescent rage.
First there had been the whole “Wow!” and “Holy Shit!” factors. And then for a while she’d got caught up in the whole Egyptian thing, trying to compare Jackson’s notes with what she remembered of her studies of Egyptian myths and prophecies, recognizing the ‘Goa’uld’ language as images thought in Watcher circles to have been a lost demon language …she could hardly wait to dig up those text’s and start translating now she had a key….
But reading Jackson’s notes and the Egyptian Abydos connection drew her attention back to the recent history of the chappa’ai. The anger started.
Actual working wormholes. Alien life. Knowledge to reshape the way we view the very nature of our own existence in ways that hadn’t happened since…. the Renaissance? The printing press? Language itself? Ever?
And the vile selfish bastards had the unmitigated gall, the inconceivable arrogance to keep it to themselves, secret, hidden, a private playground where they blundered clumsily about waving sharp sticks and seeing value only in that which mirrored their own violent selves.
For years now the narrow brained fuckers had been exploring new planets and meeting new races and then jerking off over the cool new toys in secret in their own dank little cave.
Greeting the universe with nothing but eager guns and few token eggheads as if they and they alone represented the whole entire freaking Earth.
She’d calm herself and read for a while and try to ooh and awe over the beguiling landscapes beneath alien skies, but the soulless militarese in which they couched such miracles would set her off again and she have to stand and walk and rant and rave…. “Fucking arrogant fascist bastards…..”
“Cowardly conceited paternalistic white male …..”
Andrew would intervene, speaking gently, soothing,
“I know, Dawn, I know, but they’ve done some good things too…”
“I know, Andrew, but just because this, what’sisname, O’Neill person isn’t a complete asshole like his bosses doesn’t mean the whole setup isn’t fucking evil.”
“It’s not the Initiative
, Dawn, they’re not out capturing aliens and torturing them.”
“Golly. No systematic torture. What magnificent self-restraint. I guess they’ve learned their lesson and will never ever do it again. I trust them, don’ t you?”
“Dawn. It is dangerous out there,” Andrew pulled up a screen of reports on Apophis, “Real dangers that threaten the world just much as the Hellmouth does. We need to be able to defend ourselves from alien aggressors. Not to mention possible diseases, bacteria.”
“Of course, Andrew, I’m not stupid. We need security and defense, of course we do. A controlled environment. The military has to be involved. But you don’t put the damned military dogwankers in charge,
and you don’t let them keep it their own little secret and don’t even
try to defend that
“Dawn,” Andrew pulled up another screen, pulled a picture of two moons hanging low over a purple sea, “Ohhh,” he said, “Pretty. Look, Dawn, pretty, pretty….”
She stared at him a moment, then snorted and hid a grin, stepped forward and hugged him.
“I’m sorry, Andrew. I’m spoiling it for you, aren’t I? This is your big ‘I told you so!’ day isn’t it? It is wonderful. Magnificent. Amazing. Aliens. Space travel. In our lifetime. Tell you what, I know I was going to do it earlier, but I wasn’t thinking. You should be the one to tell Giles. And then when he hangs up I’ll call him and tell him it’s really true, and make him call back and apologize, okay?”
The peace lasted for nearly a half hour, then the muttering started, “Short-sighted nationalistic bureacratic hypocritical…..
“Deathloving neanderthal military whores……”
And then suddenly she went silent, then sent something to the printer. Then while the printer was making it’s usual odd cranking and wheezing warm-up noises she left the room and came back with her laptop. She opened some files on her computer and began making some comparisons with the printouts. Then she stood and went to the far end of the room and gave vent to her entire, extensive, multi-lingual vocabulary of profane words phrases and concepts with accompanying gestures of emphasis.
She took a deep breath and came back and sat down beside him, spoke softly.
“I will have those bastards on a spit Andrew. We’re going to send those files to every newspaper magazine and blog on the planet with an email address. I’m going to track Willow down on her little walkabout and we’re going to whip that Stargate away and set it up in Times Square or something and fill that mountain with Cat’s bile and toad sputum and let the fuckers swim out.”
“Whoa. Okay,” Andrew said with hands raised, “what brought this on?”
“Did you read Jean-Luc’s report on the Haiti clean-up? You know, the one where Xander came back with the cool guns you shot the storage room up with?“
Andrew smiled, “Those were cool…. Er. Well, I may have skimmed Jean- Luc’s a little. I read Xander’s.”
Dawn smiled tightly.
“Yeah I love Xander’s reports too, ’Bunch of Zombies on Hill. Killed them. Freaky glow-eye demons with free snake surprise inside. Killed them. Also killed free snake surprise. Partied.’
Jean-Luc’s was a little more detailed. Including the part about Faith getting bit on the back of the neck by one of the snake things before Xander pulled it off her.” She handed him her laptop and pointed.
“Don’t you get it, Andrew? Those things, those Goa’uld, they are here. On this
And because those arrogant bastards are so tight with their little secrets we didn’t know anything about them. We weren’t expecting mind controlling parasites to be leaping out of dead bodies and we came thisclose
to having Faith being taken over by one of those worms.” Her voice broke just a little. “You just stop and think about that for a minute, Andrew. …Then give me one reason why we shouldn’t blow their little secret to hell and back.”
Andrew shut the laptop and set the printout aside, and sank to his knees in front of her and took her hands in his and looked into her wet eyes and spoke softly.
“Dawn, you’re talking about seriously pissing off one of the largest, most heavily armed, technically sophisticated, trigger happy military forces on the planet. And remember, I stumbled into this by backtracking one of their people who was poking into our business. We have to be very careful about this. I don’t want to be sitting here when a smart bomb comes through the window and the next time I go to Cuba I want to have mojitos in Havana not sergeant’s boot in Guantanamo.“
“We can take care of ourselves.”
“Sure Dawn, we could take few girls and ‘port into the mountain and slit a few throats. Or we could do it in Washington. But we really don’t want to go there if we don’t have to, do we? Nobody wins that war. And Darth Willow is like the proverbial gun that you never point if you’re not going to use it. It’s one thing to have her wipe out a secret base in a distant jungle. A major base in the heart of the States is something else. We’d have to scorch the earth. If we use her just to scare them we only make her a target for assassins. We don’t want that, do we?”
Dawn smiled thinly and shook her head. Andrew went on.
“They don’t know we know. We need to arrange more storage and get the rest of data copied to at least a couple back-up sites. Then we have leverage. A little insurance. Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum.”
Dawn nodded. “Well, don’t even think of asking, but I can tell you from experience that it’s a lot easier to grab their balls after sneaking up from behind than after spitting in their face.”
“You just want to blackmail them into giving you a trip through the wormhole,” Dawn said.
“Well, yeah. And back. I want them to have a reason to bring me back, okay?” he grinned. “We need to talk to Giles, and this time, we really do need to get some sleep before doing anything major.”
“Okay, but we have to let our
people know, now.
“Yes, I agree. Why don’t you write up a memo, we can have Giles pass it on to the watchers and slayers. And I’ll update the information on the game. And Dawn, tell you what, I’ll make it look like the new information came from a player in Beijing. That should get their knickers in a twist.”
A little later Dawn felt a hand on her shoulder as Claudio squatted between them,
“Watchya guys doing?” he asked.
“I’m writing a memo about aliens infesting the earth,” Dawn said, “Andrew’s being all wise and stuff. It’s a little disturbing.”
Colorado Springs, Colorado, October 2007
Debra Werner lay awake staring at the ceiling feeling … a bit spacey. Major weird day. Ben was dead. Hard to believe that, really, he’d been so…. Solid. Steady.
She knew people thought she’d only married him for the steady paycheck, and she had to admit, a O-3 pay with the likelihood of more and damn good retirement bennies had been a factor, the best any her circle had ever managed before was an E-9.
But it wasn’t just that. Maybe it never really had a chance but she’d be convinced herself she was ready to settle down, be a good wife to a good man. An Officer and a Gentleman. And Ben was that. All the little things, old fashioned things, opening doors, pulling out chairs he did automatically. He was quiet, he listened to her talk, which was a rare thing. He never talked about his work, said he couldn’t, and seemed genuinely to regret it. She’d spent a lot of time sitting in bars listening to guys tell stories, she figured she’d developed a pretty good bullshit detector and he didn’t ping at all. She figured in time, little by little he would let her in.
But he never did. He went to work, sometimes he was gone for a day, sometimes for weeks. His body would change… lose weight, gain weight, maybe a tan. But he was the same. Always the same. He listened to her tell him of her day… and the more she talked the more she felt overwhelmed by the nothingness of what she had to tell him. Hung out with yadda yadda, went shopping with yadda yadda. She went back to work, but somehow tales of real estate sales lost their dramatic punch in his presence. They went to dinner, watched a movie, had fairly athletic if unimaginative sex and that was her life and she began to hate it. She could feel herself becoming mean, petty, better a fight than another quiet night of nothing. She went back to her old life, hanging out in bars waiting to be entertained. She knew in her heart she had wanted to get caught, wanted him to lose that cool and rage at her, scream at her, fight for her, she’d lashed out, tried to provoke him…. But he had simply gone cold and turned away and was gone, he might as well be on another planet.
And now he was dead. Murdered. The sheriff had come. Routine investigation, he’d said. On TV when they said that it was bullshit, but she knew the sheriff didn’t believe for a moment that she was capable, either of doing it herself or getting Billy to do it. He’d asked if he could look around, she’d said sure, why not. He’d checked the kitchen and the bathroom, and of course he’d found her stash box sitting out on the dresser in the bedroom and rolled his eyes and hinted that the Air Force people might be along later with a search warrant and maybe they wouldn’t turn a blind eye. She’d wanted Billy to hide it for her but he was paranoid they were being watched and kept going on about how a drug bust would fuck up his career and lose him his wings. Then he’d taken off. Chickenshit.
So she’d gone to flush it and decided that was a terrible waste that she minded terribly and she made up a couple serious mega blunts and sat on the back porch smoked the whole stash. Sure enough the Air Force had shown up all stern and serious. She didn’t remember too much about that. She remembered that she’d laughed a lot. And the Air Force, not so much. Then Billy had come slinking back to take advantage of her malleable condition. And now it was the wee hours and she was laying awake and really really wishing she’d hidden one of the blunts in the backyard, they never even looked out there.
Someone was knocking. Steady. Unrelenting. Finally she got up and went to the door, flung it open,
“What the fu…”
Ben. Dead Ben standing in the porchlight, looking puzzled, doing some kind of mime thing in the doorway. Must be dreaming.
“Ben… they said you were dead.”
“Nope. Just resting. Can I come in for a minute I need to talk to you about something…”
Something about the way he was staring at her made her hesitate…
“No-o, I think maybe you should come back in the ….”
“Who the fuck is this…?” Billy appeared behind her, belligerent and sleepy. “You know what fucking time it is? Get the fuck outta here, man.”
Ben stared at him a moment, then smiled and turned back toward driveway. “That your truck?” he asked.
“What’s it to ya?”
“Shame about the paint job,” Ben said, twirling his key chain.
“Billy, no,” she tried to grab at his arm, but it was too late, Billy lunged out the door and Ben took him like he was a ninety-pound weakling and threw him down and Debra heard a brief surprisingly high pitch scream and stared in horror as Ben dived down on top of him and….. No. She wasn’t seeing that. She wasn’t.
Suddenly a strange woman appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Ben and pulled him away, using some kind of wrestling hold to offset his weight as he struggled, another woman came running up and began pulling at Billy’s legs, trying to move him back toward the door,
“Help me,” the woman called, “Hurry, help me get him inside, please.”
Debra looked at her, she seemed frightened, her blue eyes pleading as she struggled with Billy’s bulk,
“Hurry, help me, please,” the woman gasped and Debra stepped outside.
Leticia held her nose and made the woman shower, then tied her to the bed while in next room Ardyce admonished the Captain for his sloppiness, then forgave him on the grounds it was his first. Ardy brought the Captain in. She and Ardy each took one of the woman’s legs and held them wide as they let him enjoy the moment, let him tease her neck and breasts before moving down to find the throbbing vein in her thigh. Letty kept one hand over the woman’s heart, listening for the warning signs,
“Captain,” she said. For a moment she thought he was going to resist her, but he backed away and sat up, looking at her, his eyes bright, lips wet.
“Yes, baby, I know,” she said. She leaned in for a deep kiss, a taste of the woman’s blood, he reached for her and she was tempted, but there was no time. She eased him away. “Not now, hon,” she told him. She reached in her pocket, pulled out new toothbrush and a tube of paste, handed it to him. “Go clean up. We’ve still got a busy night.”
The woman was awake, but in that dazed state the shock and the blood loss left them in. Leticia gave her sharp but not too hard slap to wake her, went to vamp face and when she was sure she had her full attention said,
“You want to live, my dear?” The woman nodded. “Good. You had a fight with your friend and he drove off and you never saw him again.” She waited for the nod. “You never saw us. You never saw the Captain.” Nod. “You be a good girl and you can live happily ever after. We’ll come by, check on you from time to time, there may even be little money for you.” Nod. “Tell anyone about this and I’ll rip your heart out and eat it like an apple while you watch. And die.”
“No, please, no.”
“Then be good.” Leticia untied her, eased her down, kissed her forehead and tucked her into bed.
They threw Billy’s body into a snowy ravine, it would be found in the spring, if at all. They left his pick-up at the truckstop just outside of town with the keys in the ignition, they did the same with Odom’s Bronco at a gas station on I-25.
Leticia checked her watch, leaned her head out the window, sniffed for the first warnings of dawn. No, they had time yet, if they were quick. At the Captain’s house he packed quickly, Ardyce stood at his closet, shaking her head.
“You understand, you have to wear civvies for a while, grow your hair out a little.” He nodded. He took some clothes, a few books, a picture of his mother, his small cd collection. His medals. One small suitcase and a garment bag for his dress blues. He looked around, shrugged and led them back outside.
At the ranch he was introduced to a growling Buster and Keaton, who came around with a little cajoling from Letty, eventually allowing him to feed them the dog treats Ardyce supplied. Inside they took him down through the trap door to the basement, there was a TV and dvd player, a desk, a La-z-boy and a big four poster bed with satin sheets.
“You’ll be staying here a few days,”Leticia explained, “It’s going to be too dangerous outside for a newbie for awhile. Then we’ll help you find your own place. Now, you have questions?”
Leticia let Ardyce play teacher and started back upstairs, pausing just a moment to catch her friend's eye, asking, “Are we sure about this?”
Ardyce nodded. “We’re sure.”
Upstairs she peeked out the window, the very first rays of morning light were trickling across the sky. She sat in her rocker and braced herself and took the plunge. She pulled out the throw-away cell phone she’d purchased, with cash, just for this occasion. She dialed, it rang, a machine picked up, she heard,
“Hello, you’ve reached the North American Headquarters of the Watcher’s Council, if this is an emergency please scream or press one …..”
She waited for the beep and left a message.
Stargate Command, Colorado, 2007
Jack wasn’t much given to whistling a merry tune, but if he was he would have been. He was feeling good. He’d got home relatively early the night before. The TIVO thing had worked properly for a change and recorded the Friday night hockey game and he’d managed to get through all of Saturday without anyone telling him the score. And just to ice the cake the Avalanche had won with a goal in the last minute.
He’d let himself laze in bed a little in the morning, the early cartoons had featured both the one with the singing frog he rather liked and a Foghorn Leghorn segment.
He’d done his usual calisthenics, then stopped for a big greasy breakfast and bit of flirting with a cheerful blonde waitress at Hattie’s Diner. Outside the day was bright, sunny, the sky was a brilliant blue and wide-open. Vampires seemed a long way away. Down in the dark belly of the mountain, he thought, it was easy to let the imagination get the better of you.
His phone rang as he was lingering over coffee, Hammond’s assistant requesting his presence at a meeting, but he’d been expecting that, so it didn’t much mar his mood.
He came ambling into the conference room with a cheery, “Hey guys, what’s up?” sat and looked around and felt suddenly rather like a kitten in the dog pound.
Only Teal’c, who was his usually stoic self answered him with a civil “Good morning, O’Neill. The rest glared at him with varying degrees of the rage and resentment of the tired and angry for the rested and cheery. Carter looked like she’d been awake for three years, the rings under eyes giving her a seriously raccoonish appearance, a thought Jack urgently suppressed with some effort. Daniel was actually resting his forehead on his coffee cup, Dr. Fraiser was awake but not particularly happy, Hammond looked like he might explode.
“Well, let’s get to it,” Hammond said, nodding at his assistant to bring up some stills from the surveillance camera to illustrate his narrative. “We’re all here because I called Dr. Fraiser and asked her to come in this morning to take a look at a dead body. Now I find I owe her an apology for wasting her time because it seems that early this morning the dead body got up, got dressed, saluted Major Carter in the hall, paid a visit to the stargate and walked out.”
“Okay, this time when we call the council maybe we should leave a message. And maybe Daniel should do the talking?” Jack said.
“Oh, did I say that out loud? Sorry.”
“Now, I don’t know whether to reprimand Colonel Talbert for not leaving a full team on Captain Werner’s house or commend him for leaving cameras but we do have this.”
A monochrome surveillance video appeared on the monitor. Due to the time lapse photography the scene of Captain Werner packing his things with his two female companions looking on played like an old silent film minus the scratches and the piano accompaniment.
“Not too shabby for a dead guy,” Jack said. “I’ll just…. shut up now,” he added under Hammond’s glare.
“Colonel Talbert faxed those pictures to the local law enforcement for help with identification, and just before this meeting I received a call from Sheriff Johnson. It seems that Ardyce Almquist and Leticia Kearney are what’s known as local characters. Eccentrics. Quiet. Keep to themselves mostly, but they’ve been around for a long as anyone can remember.”
“You mean they’re crazy?”
“No. It seems crazy people don’t own nice pieces of ranchland that have been in their families since the homestead days. Crazy people don’t buy a new jeep every year from the local dealer and donate the old one to the sheriff’s office.“
“So in the course of your investigation, Jack….”
“My investigation, sir?”
“I’m sending Carter and Dr. Jackson home to sleep if I have to have Dr. Fraiser sedate them. You may have Teal’c and Colonel Talbert will supply any warm bodies you need. Find out everything you can about these two…. Eccentrics. The sheriff would be obliged if you would be circumspect in your investigation, and if you find it necessary to approach them directly, polite. Now, I’m
telling you, Captain Werner or whoever or whatever
walked out of this facility this morning is privy to highly classified information and it is of utmost importance that we contain it, so you do whatever you have to do… Nevertheless it never hurts to listen to the men with experience. The sheriff also said you should be careful, it seems Ms. Almquist has a tendency to go around with a six gun in a quickdraw holster, and a sawed off shotgun in a shoulder sling.”
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“Yes. I mentioned that to the sheriff and he said, and I quote, “You tell her.” We meet back here tomorrow at 0800 hours. Good luck, Colonel. Dismissed.” -30-