Chapter 25—The Initiative
Buffy stared at the orders in hands. Well, it was official. Buffy now knew how she was getting to Sunnydale. And it wouldn't be by bus. She was being ordered to the Shepherd Arms Depot, a small army depot for older weapons located in Sunnydale. While she had never personally been there, Xander and Cordelia had liberated a rocket launcher from there for her to use on the Judge. Or as she now knew, an M47 Dragon anti-tank weapon. Dismissing idle speculation about its armor piercing abilities, Buffy focused on her orders. Ugh, she was supposed to be learning inventory and ordinance tracking. The army could make even being ordered somewhere to fight evil boring, she decided. Buffy had no idea how the Powers had managed this one, but it would keep her out of trouble with the other Powers That Be and get her to where she was needed. Hopefully, they had a way to break into a secret military base as well as directions to exactly where it is located.
Of course now she had to decide what to do about Major Carter. Buffy's last meeting with her last week had been brief. And she could understand why, based on how exhausted that the Major appeared. But at the same time, she seemed extremely optimistic. So whatever they were doing to get the Colonel back, it must be close. Buffy remembered their conversation.
Buffy stared across the table at Major Carter, noting her red eyes and the new lines on her face. She looked absolutely exhausted, both mentally and physically, her skin almost gray in color. That was probably why she'd asked for just a short meeting at Arnold Hall. While Buffy would miss her steak, she was willing to cut the Major some slack if she was actually working herself to exhaustion recovering the Colonel.
Major Carter made the first overture. “So, Cali, how are your grades?” She looked slightly chagrined at herself for such a awkward start, but Buffy just spoke normally.
“I currently have A's in all classes except Physics, ma'am. I have an A- there, but I need a ninety-six on the final to receive an A, ma'am. I will do my best on the final, but I do not expect to improve upon that grade, ma'am.”
The Major's tired face creased into a smile. “That's still great, Cali. So English and History are going well?”
Buffy smiled back. “Yes, ma'am. Thank you for speaking with Dr. Lautner and Major Jeffries.”
“You earned those A's, Cali. No need to thank me.”
“May I ask a question, ma'am?”
The Major's face grew guarded, her smile fading. “Of course, Cali. What is it?”
“It's about the Colonel, ma'am. Any news?”
Major Carter shook her head. “No, Cali, but don't worry. I am certain he will be back soon.”
Buffy had perked up at that. “That's great, ma'am. Thank you.”
The Major, while tired, looked happy. Then with a teasing look in her eyes, she asked, “Now why don't you take a minute and tell me about how Recognition went.”
Buffy's eyes widened. “Recognition, ma'am?”
“Even cooped up at the Mountain, we heard something about a Spirit Mission using home-made balloons that caused an air raid warning to be sounded. I'm sure the Colonel is going to want to know all about it when he gets back.” With a faint smirk, Major Carter leaned back in her chair to listen.
The Major was going to be a problem. Hopefully not too much of one. Major Carter had warned Buffy that she was going to be exceptionally busy over the next three weeks. While she could be reached in an emergency, the Major had said that she would most likely wait until she was done with her latest project to reply to any emails.
That suited Buffy just fine. She would sent the Major an email detailing her new orders for the next four weeks, as well as copying Colonel O'Neill. That way, when they found out Buffy had disappeared for a while, she would be able to reassure them that she'd done her best to keep them abreast of what was happening. Of course, that would only work if nothing bad happened while she was in Sunnydale. Like apocalypse bad. If they found out about something crazy happening through the news, all bets were off.
Hopefully the new Slayer would be able to handle things with Buffy just running interference for her. Based upon her dreams, Buffy thought that was her role, but she couldn't be one hundred percent sure until she arrived. And should she warn them about the gun-toting monstrosity that was going to attack them? Was
it her in the dream warning them, or was she just supposed to sit back and take a lesson from what she had seen?
Buffy really missed Willow and Xander at times like this. They would be able to help her plan out things. As would Giles. Buffy could just see him standing there, polishing his glasses and warning her not to take the threat lightly. But they weren't here. So she needed to plan this out as carefully as possible. Carefully wiping dampened eyes, Buffy focused on the task at hand, setting out to create the best plan to deal with any eventuality. She would even add in several fall back options just in case. And be flexible. Especially since Major Cogburn from Military Theory had told them that no plan survived contact with the enemy unchanged.
Connie breezed into the her dorm room. Spotting Cali working on something at her computer, she called out a breezy, “Hey, roomie! I've got news!”
Cali pushed back from her desk and turned around in her chair. Connie noted that she looked a little tired or maybe stressed would be a better description. Which was odd, since throughout the Forty Days and Recognition, Cali had been a dynamo, keeping her and the rest of the squadron going on sheer willpower. They hadn't had a single washout, while several squadrons had lost at least one person to the pressure.
But that wasn't important. At least, not compared to her news. Connie tossed the paper she carried to Cali, who easily caught it before it hit the floor. “Check those out! A's in everything except Physics! And I still got a B+ in that. Beat that!”
Cali's face wore an odd expression for a moment, then she smiled and jumped up, hugging Connie. “That's awesome, Connie! I am so proud of you. I told
you that you were Air Force material.”
Connie automatically hugged Cali back, then stared down into her face, eyes narrowing. “Uh uh. You are not going to deflect me like that. Give it!”
Cali innocently smiled back at her. “Give what?”
Connie repressed her desire to choke her roommate to unconsciousness, both because then she wouldn't be able to find out what she wanted and also because being tossed across the room wasn't exactly something she wanted to experience firsthand. “Grades. Now.”
With a sigh, Cali turned and grabbed a paper off her desk. She handed it to Connie, who read it. Connie turned stunned eyes back to Cali. “How on earth...”
Still wordless, Cali handed Connie another paper. Connie stared at Cali's Physics test with it's big, red one hundred circled at the top. “Holy shit! How the fuck did you make a hundred on your physics test? You thought you barely passed.”
Cali shook her head. “I really don't know. Every question I thought I was wrong on, I wasn't. I'm no genius,” Cali ignored Connie's muttered “That's for sure,” as she continued, “But every guess I made on the problems was right. Even that one with the two cannons firing at each other at different angles.”
Connie was torn between jealousy and happiness for her roommate. Luckily happiness won out. You just couldn't be jealous of Cali. She hugged Cali again tightly, then said, “Congrats, girl. You totally deserve it.” Then another occurred to her. “You do realize that you are tied for number one in our class with five other people as of now.”
Cali glumly nodded. “I know. I would be worried, but I figure next year's classes will fix that problem pretty quickly.”
Connie was perplexed. “What do you mean? What problem?”
Cali met her eyes briefly before looking down. There was little of the usually hyper-confident girl as she quietly stated, “The problem is that I'm really not that smart, Connie. I shouldn't be tied for number one in our class with anyone. It's like I'm cheating them out of what they deserve...”
“What a load of bullshit.” Cali stared at her in astonishment as Connie continued, “I don't know if you really believe that, or you're pulling a 'poor, pitiful me.' But you are not dumb, Cali. I was joking earlier when I said you weren't a genius. I mean, you aren't, but you're far from stupid. Smarter than me, anyway.”
Cali shook her head in denial. “You've only known me for a short time, Connie. Back in high school...”
“Uh uh. Doesn't matter. High school's over. Buffy's gone. Here, you're Cali Summers, best of the best. You're smart, dammit, so stop arguing with me.”
Cali's sheepish grin slowly changed into a smile so radiant that again Connie had to remind herself that she did not swing that way. “I guess I'll just have to tell myself every morning when I look in the mirror that I am a smart, beautiful woman who can do anything.”
Connie shook her head. “I wouldn't do that.”
“First thing in the morning, you have wookie hair. I mean it. It's like a cat's that hasn't groomed itself in a month is perched on your head...ooph!” Connie broke off as she was smacked with a pillow squarely in the face. Quickly, she grabbed her own pillow, but still rapidly lost the impromptu pillow fight. Since she was getting the worst of it, Connie quickly cried, “Uncle!”
A supremely confident Cali looked smugly down at Connie as she lay where she had been knocked off her feet. Connie rolled her eyes as she took her roommate's hand, letting the smaller girl haul her to her feet. “No fair using superhuman abilities on your roomie.”
“You know what they say, Connie. All's fair in love and war.”
“Whoever wrote that didn't have you as a roommate.”
Cali stuck out her tongue, but then grew serious. “I do need to talk to you about something.”
Connie stilled at Cali's serious tone. “What's going on?”
Cali grabbed yet another set of papers off her desk and handed them to Connie. She quickly perused them, then looked up at her roommate. “What's going on, Cali? Is this something that the Colonel arranged before he left? Cause I thought he was getting you into Airborne training over at Ft. Bragg.”
Cali shook her head. “Not the Colonel. Look at the locale.”
With a sinking feeling in her stomach, Connie read the location of the depot: Sunnydale, CA. “Fuck.” Staring straight into her friend's eyes, she demanded, “Tell me what's going on, Cali. Right now.”
Buffy looked at the mulish expression that had taken over Connie's normally sunny face and decided to come clean. “For a while... months, really, I've been having dreams about something happening in Sunnydale. Something to do with some kind of secret lab. I think they're building some kind of Frankenstein's monster there.”
Grimly, Connie asked, “And you're supposed to go there and destroy it?”
Buffy shook her head. “Not exactly. More like, I'm supposed to make sure the people whose job it is to stop it aren't killed. This is the thing: There is another Slayer there in Sunnydale. She's been there since August of last year. She has a Watcher and a group of friends who are helping her. From what I can piece together from my prophetic dreams, I think it is her job to stop this thing. But I've gotten a couple of pointed dreams that tell me that I'm needed there too. Maybe to help. Maybe just to distract the bad guys.”
“And the orders?”
Buffy knew her smile was more of a grimace as she answered, “The Powers way of getting me there. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it has to be. The Colonel set it up for me to be at Ft. Bragg for training session that starts June 19. But those orders never arrived. Instead, I got these from a...” Buffy peered down at her orders. “Major Decker.”
Connie looked puzzled. “Who's that?”
Buffy shrugged. “Dunno. Some Army officer in the Pentagon. It's weird. I mean, it's not the usual source of our orders, is it?”
Connie looked worried. “Cali, you need to be careful. Slayer or not, I don't like this.”
Buffy nodded. “I plan to. That is also where you come in. I need you to know where I'm going. As a back up to my mom. I even sent an email to the Colonel and cc'd Major Carter.”
“Won't she stop you if she thinks something's fishy?”
Buffy shook her head. “Unlikely. She's really busy right now. Couldn't even make Recognition. Plus she warned me she wouldn't be around much for the next month. So I'm probably safe.”
Connie slowly shook her head. Looking straight into Buffy's eyes, she asked, “What is the real risk here?”
Buffy thought about prevaricating, but in the end, decided to answer as honestly as she could, “I just don't know. At the best of times, Sunnydale is dangerous, but during apocalypse season, it's worse. And this thing is nasty. In one dream, it's arm turned into a rotary cannon and killed the new Slayer and all of her friends. It's some kind of amalgamation of technology, human, and demon.”
Connie looked spellbound as she listened. “What does it look like?”
Buffy shrugged. “Butt ugly with one metal glowing eye. The thing that worries me most is that it looks like a thinker.”
Connie appeared confused. “A what?”
Buffy gathered her thoughts for a moment, then plunged in. “Most demons and vampires aren't that smart. We're a lot smarter than them. And even the ones that are intelligent, seem to be lone wolves for the most part. But every once in a while, you run into something that is not only physically dangerously, but is able to control other evil beings, demons, vamps and the like. And it seems to have at least basic ideas about planning, although I don't think it builds in redundancies. Don't get me wrong, they still have the usual disadvantages that all evil beings suffer from.” At Connie's blank look, Buffy elaborated, “They tend to betray each other at the drop of a hat. It's all about the back-stabbage.”
Connie just shook her head. “I fear you. You've obviously spent way too much time thinking about this.”
Buffy shrugged. “When there's world-savage involved, that's what you have to do.”
Hesitating a moment, Connie asked, “When do you have to leave?”
Buffy simply pointed at the report date, which was for three days from today. “Soon, Connie. Soon.”
Buffy stretched before grabbing her duffel bag and shrugging the strap up onto her shoulder, slightly stiff after the long, rough flights the last couple of days. Deciding to try to save Uncle Sam some money, Buffy had opted to catch Space-A flights to her duty posting. Unfortunately, she hadn't taken a couple of things into consideration.
First, Space-A flights could only be ridden where (and when) they flew. Which meant that she had first flown to Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, New Mexico, where she'd had to spend the night. At least she had been able to stay in officer's quarters there, but the town had been a complete bust. She'd gotten there by 1200 hours with the rest of the day to fill. However, the entire town shut down by 1800 hours. While Buffy had enjoyed the couple of hours she spent in the Historic District, having to head back to Holloman by 1800 hours had sucked. She'd been reduced to reading some well thumbed copies of American Bow Hunter that some hardy soul had left for the next occupant. While Buffy had liked the equipment, especially some of the crossbows, killing Bambi wasn't on her immediate or, for that matter, future plans.
The next morning she'd been up at 0400 hours in order to catch the next leg of her flight to El Segundo. At least for that flight, the pilot, a Captain Ray Pickett, had allowed her to spend time in the cockpit. Unfortunately, he had spent at least as much time checking her out as he had showing her his airplane, making her glad she had opted for greens rather than her dress uniform with its skirt. His copilot, Lt. Robert “Boomer” Pedersen had been both nice and relatively non-lecherous, letting Buffy sit in his seat (without him being in it) and even briefly fly the venerable old C-130, nicknamed “Trudy.”
The second leg of her flight had taken hours and had left her in El Segundo with no way to get the rest of the way to Sunnydale where she needed to report. So in the end, Buffy had purchased a coach ticket to Sunnydale and caught a commuter flight the rest of the way.
The second thing she hadn't taken into consideration was exactly how she was going to be flying. Intellectually she knew she was flying aboard a cargo plane, but for some reason she still thought there would be seats like in a passenger plane. Which turned out to be almost true. They were called jumpseats and after a few hours, made her rear end, whichever part hadn't turned numb, ache in ways that Buffy had never experienced before. They made the seats in the puddle jumper she'd flown to Sunnydale in seem positively luxurious.
Well, now she was here and only had to make her way to Shepherd and she was home free. Buffy looked around for a taxi stand, knowing she couldn't rent a car at her age, never mind the fact she didn't even have a driver's license. That was when she saw the clock and realized the time. Hour flight, my ass, she thought, then ran over to a bank of phones, swiftly pulling out two quarters and dropping them into the slot. Taking a moment, she carefully dialed the number she'd memorized.
The voice that answered was surprisingly young-sounding. “Hello?”
Buffy winced as the speaker yelled out, “Notty, it's for you!”
Even through the hand that for a moment muffled the receiver, Buffy's sensitive ears could still hear a voice with a British accent say, “Andrew, never do that again.”
Then the person was on the line and speaking. “Reginald Nottingham here. Who may I ask is calling?”
Buffy took a deep breath, then said, “My name is Buffy Summers. Do you know who I am?”
She could tell that he did by the contemplative silence that lasted nearly five seconds before his reply. In a cold voice, he stated, “I know who you are, Miss Summers.”
“Listen to me carefully. In about ten minutes, a demon, looking like a cross between Frankenstein and Robby the Robot is going to be coming through the front door of your apartment. He's going to kill anyone who is in the apartment at that time.” There, Buffy thought, that should be enough to get them moving.
The voice on the line, however, didn't sound convinced. “Miss Summers, if this is some attempt to split us up so that you can come after us one at a time, it is not going to work. I...”
Buffy almost shouted into the phone. “Are all Watchers idiots? It's the tweed, right? It cuts off the flow of blood to the brain. Listen, Watcher-guy, if you don't get yourself and the rest of your group out of there. You. Are. All. Going. To. Die. Please get out now so that the sleepless nights I have experienced recently don't go to waste.”
“Am I given to understand that you have had a Slayer dream about Cain?”
Buffy's voice dripped with sarcasm as she replied, “Cain, smain. I don't know his name. Big. Ugly. Demon. Arm turns into a gun. Kills everyone. Get out, or at least get the Slayer out. The last thing I want to do is to save the world again, so get the lead out and motor!” With that, she slammed the phone down in his ear.
Across town, Notty stared at the phone in his hand for only a second, before hanging it up. He turned to the others and quickly got them moving. Why had the girl called? What purpose would an assassin for the Council have for saving their lives? He would think on it more later when there was time.
Forrest was bored. He and Graham had been hanging at the Sunnydale Airport off and on for a day and a half now waiting for an Air Force cadet named “Buffy” Summers. Who the hell named their kid something like that in this day and age? After all, it wasn't the sixties anymore. He figured California was still stuck in the flower child phase, although he hadn't been able to fault how gorgeous the women out here were. Banishing that non sequitur from his mind, Forrest wondered if he should check again with their contact at the airport, the one whose job it was to 'lose' the security footage. After thinking about it a moment, he decided against doing so. The previous three times had made the guy both nervous and snarky. Doing so again might make it turn the security back on just to spite them. Shaking his head, Forrest turned to his companion.
“How much longer do you think it will be until Barbie shows up?”
Dark, brooding eyes looked thoughtful for a moment, before Graham shrugged and said, “She'll get here when she gets here.”
Forrest snorted. “That's what you said last time.”
With a wry grin dispelling the gloom from his features, Graham shrugged again. “And that's what I'll say next time and the time after that. Relax. Enjoy the scenery.” This a nod to two attractive young women walking by who exchanged looks with the two apparent Army noncoms.
Forrest looked pained. “I just can't relax.”
Graham gave him a knowing look, but still asked, “Why's that?”
“It's the uniform! Goddammit! I don't mind being an 'agent', although it's kinda odd not being addressed by rank. But making us dress up as ARMY? We might as well be dressed as Canadian Girl Guides.”
His companion looked amused. “They don't want anything to be traced back to the Initiative.”
“It's ARMY, man. Aren't Ready For Marines Yet. I can't believe it doesn't bother you.”
Graham eyed his companion for a long moment, then, in a serious tone, said, “Okay, that's enough. What's the real reason you're acting like a devil pup.”
Forrest snorted. 'Devil pup', indeed. But Graham was right about one thing. It wasn't really the uniforms that was bothering him. He had managed to keep his doubts to himself for a while, which didn't mean he didn't have them, just that he wasn't a pussy, sharing his deep, dark thoughts with his buddies at the drop of a hat. The problem was that he was becoming increasingly disillusioned with what was going on back at base. Forrest had always considered himself by-the-book when it came to his duty. He believed in Semper Fi. He had confidence in the Marines and the chain of command. But after the last few weeks of working with Kennedy and her band of misfits, he'd lost what little remained of the confidence kept after this past year's demon hunting. His world, always so black and white, had been viciously smeared, so that all he could see now were shades of gray. Some light, some dark, but all gray.
Forrest opened his mouth to say something of what he was thinking to his companion when something caught his eye. Something he should have seen earlier. Catching Graham's eye, Forrest nodded towards the bank of phones on the other side of the airport lobby, where a certain Air Force weenie was on one of the phones making a call. Graham looked pained for a moment at missing the obvious, but merely shrugged again in dismissal. At Forrest's brief eyebrow raise, he made a slight slashing motion with one hand. Wait. Forrest nodded in agreement, then metaphorically girded his loins. They were there to take down a potential HST, which didn't leave room for any doubts.
That's when she spotted the two men in fatigues heading her way. One was fairly tall, Caucasian, and positively gorgeous, with dark smouldering eyes. The other was equally tall, African-American, with a shaved head and an engaging smile. Buffy wondered if they were there for her when they took all doubt from her mind by walking right up to her.
“Cadet Summers? Sergeants Miller and Gates. We're here to pick you up and deliver you to Shepherd.” This from the yummy, dark-eyed one.
Buffy was instantly suspicious as there was no way they would have people waiting for her to show up so that they could drive her to her destination. That was for officers only, probably starting with a full bird colonel. But if this was something arranged by the Powers, then so be it. Pasting a pleasant smile on her face, Buffy replied, “Thank you, Sergeant Miller. It is good to meet you both.”
The two men shared a brief grin, then Sergeant Gates said, “You don't need to worry about the Zoomie U speak here, cadet. We all pretty much speak like normal people.”
Buffy immediately knew what the Zoomie U meant and even thought it appropriate. With a sigh of relief, she said, “That's the best thing I've heard yet about this assignment, sergeant.”
While they were speaking, the two noncoms led Buffy towards their vehicle, seemingly coincidentally walking both in front and behind her. Buffy almost rolled her eyes at their behavior, but restrained herself. Like even two of them would be able to stop her if she wanted to get away from them. Arriving at the jeep, Gates got into the driver's seat, while Miller got into the back. As soon as Buffy stowed her duffel and belted herself in, they took off.
“So how far is Shepherd from here?” Buffy had to raise her voice to be heard over the wind noise.
“Not far. We'll be there soon,” Sergeant Gates replied in a reassuring voice, while not actually answering the question.
Buffy was distracted thinking about possible scenarios so that she almost missed the quiet question from the back. “Why did you get assigned here, Cadet Summers?”
Buffy flashed a grin back at the quiet noncom in the back. “No idea, sergeant. My officer sponsor was supposed to get me into Airbourne training this summer, but then this happened. Call it a SNAFU.”
Sergeant Gates flashed her a grin. “No shit? Airbourne? That's pretty impressive. You must be pretty good to be considered for something like that.”
Buffy shrugged. “I was number one in my class on physical, tied for number one in academic, and number three in military grade.”
Gates appeared to be nonplussed at her answer and didn't comment. After a brief moment, Miller's quiet voice again sounded from the back. “Who is your sponsor?”
“Colonel O'Neill,” Buffy blithely answered.
Miller instantly asked, “Colonel Jack
“That's the one, sergeant,” Buffy replied, not realizing what a can of worms she'd opened by mentioning that name.
Forrest sat frozen, his mind a whirl, at the girl's answer. Sneaking a glance at the rear-view mirror, he met Graham's eyes. Another might not have seen a thing amiss, but Forrest had know Graham long enough to see the 'Holy Shit!' look in them. He was feeling the same way as he contemplated the potential shitstorm they were about to wade into.
The intelligence community was a relatively small one. Everyone heard the rumors. Events occur and somehow get resolved. Said resolution usually the result of of a handful of people's efforts, sometimes even of one. That was how legends are made. And “Black” Jack O'Neill was a legend. Forrest doubted he would ever have the clearance to even read a blacked out after-action report of one of Colonel O'Neill's missions, let alone something relevant, no matter how long he stayed in the service. They were that clandestine. More than Top Secret, they were need-to-know only.
Currently, there were even rumors that Colonel O'Neill was involved with something very big up at the Mountain. Something even more Top Secret than usual. Not one concrete fact, but you couldn't help but wonder when someone like him was assigned to what was essentially a babysitter position over a bunch of think tank nerds. It just didn't pass the smell test.
And that was who might come looking when Cadet Barbie disappeared. What was worse, there was a possibility this wasn't even about HST's, but instead some ploy about inter-agency competition, perhaps old rivalries rearing their ugly heads. Forrest had seen certain things and heard of others from older agents. Things that wouldn't and shouldn't see the light of day. Things that were far too shameful and so were consigned to the darkness, talked about in whispers, communicated with sidelong glances.
Silently, Forrest cursed Kennedy and Notty. Both of them had pulled him from his comfort zone, dragging him kicking and screaming, at least figuratively, into the real world, where nothing was as it seemed. Evil wasn't always evil, or even bad for that matter. And what masqueraded as the good guys were actually as black as the Devil himself.
And maybe that girl sitting beside him was exactly what she appeared to be, a Chair Force weenie-to-be, instead of an HST trying to infiltrate the United States military. Forrest badly wanted to pass this one up the chain, but the options had gone from limited to nonexistent. Riley was otherwise occupied, Dr. Walsh was probably actually evil, or at the very least insane, and Colonel McNamara was dead, killed by the very thing Dr. Walsh had created to help them combat the subterrestial threat.
At that moment, Forrest decided that no one needed to know that Cadet Summers had arrived. If he didn't log her in, it would take days, maybe even weeks before anyone took note of her presence. If she was found, then he could produce her 'lost' paperwork. Forrest could park her in a cell and leave her there for now with no one the wiser. Although the current crowding made him reconsider that idea. The last thing he needed was for Cadet Barbie to see the HST's. She might have a nervous breakdown. If they could keep her sequestered and
ignorant, that would be bonus.
Even better yet, they still had the three old test cells near the 'emergency exit'. It was the first part of the original build out completed, when they were still testing how to imprison an HST. Later it was mostly abandoned since it was around a dogleg at the end of a long dead end corridor. They'd never bothered to upgrade the security there with cameras and the door's sensors had long been disabled as it was a great way to bring something into the Initiative without it being 'officially' logged in. In the early days of the Initiative, everything from booze to broads had came in through the back door. It would be the first time they'd brought in a prisoner that way, but that shouldn't prevent it from working. The hardest thing about holding Cadet Summers there would be feeding her. Forrest wasn't looking forward to having to shuttle meals in and waste out. But, Cadet Summers would stay safe and just as important, ignorant of the Initiative and what went on there. And if a certain Air Force colonel came looking and got past the airport disappearance, his ass was covered six ways to Sunday.
Forrest met Graham's eyes again in the rear view mirror. Silently, he tried to communicate what he had just decided. Apparently he succeeded as Graham gave a small nod. With a sigh of relief, Forrest felt days of tension flow out of him. He wasn't going to sacrifice some girl on the altar of orders. Forrest had always wondered what he would have done if he had been a camp guard at one of the notorious Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. What would he have done when told to kill innocent people, to obey orders. Now he knew. At the end of this, Forrest would still be able to count himself as one of the good guys, even if he got bounced for his decision. Hell, even if he paid the ultimate penalty. A calmness descended upon him and he had nothing more to say for the rest of the drive, allowing Graham to carry the conversational load.
SGC, Cheyenne Mountain
Wearily, Jack O'Neill stepped through the Stargate onto the ramp at the SGC. Trying for the proper cocky attitude, he announced, “Hi Honey, I'm home!”
There was actually a bit of applause, started by Daniel, then joined in by many of the other personnel present. Even General Hammond clapped his hands a few times, before gesturing Jack to follow Dr. Janet Frasier back to the infirmary for the standard post ops testing.
“Oh, joy,” Jack muttered, getting a few sympathetic glances from most of those present with the pointed exception of one person. At Janet's sharp glance, he fake smiled and pointing behind her, saying brightly, “Look! Anubis!”
Rolling her eyes at him, Janet muttered something under her breath too low to hear with the exception of “...extra large needle for your mandatory blood test.”
Scowling, Jack followed his nemesis. He knew he wasn't going to avoid this and it was best gotten over as soon as possible. It was just that he was constitutionally incapable of getting blood drawn without lodging some type of protest. At least when he was done here, hopefully in less than the hundred days he was gone, he would be able to see Joyce and check on Cali. Jack had already heard from Carter that Cali had finished with a 4.0 GPA yet again and he couldn't wait to find out what mischief she'd gotten into during Recognition. Carter had alluded to several “incidents” that Jack was sure to find entertaining. It sounded like she'd gotten through relatively unscathed and he couldn't wait to hear about it from her directly.