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This story is No. 1 in the series "Lt. Buffy "Cali" Summers, USAF". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: After the events of graduation go horribly wrong, Buffy leaves Sunnydale for another future

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Buffy-Centered > Theme: ActionbecuzitswrongFR1831164,5184422117524,5042 Oct 076 Mar 14No
CoA Winner

Chapter 27—Reprieve

Author's Note: Sorry about taking so long to update this story. I have not abandoned it just life getting in the way. Recently a little time has come my way and I'm writing some. So here you go. I hope you like it.

Buffy stared up at the demon who had just announced her death ala Spike from her junior year in high school. That's when old school Buffy was pushed aside for new and improved Buffy 2.0 also known as Cali. Since entering the Zoo, one of the things that her instructors had drilled into Buffy and every other student's heads over and over was that you needed multiple back up plans to cover every possible scenario that you could think of and more to cover those you couldn't. So Buffy and Connie had spent endless hours going over anything that could possibly go wrong when they'd planned Buffy's mission.

Too many times in the past, Buffy had improvised on the fly, usually coming through with flying colors. She still remembered Xander asking how she was going to distract the Master's minions when they'd captured Willow, Giles, and Cordelia. Buffy had told him she was going to kill them all. It had been the definition of improvisation. But it could just as easily have gone the other way if they had more reinforcements or the vampires had been older and tougher than they appeared. Just from her training so far, Buffy could see at least half a dozen things that could have gone wrong. Just as she saw a half dozen things she could have done differently that would have accomplished the same goal at vastly reduced risk. Although maybe not with as much satisfaction, she thought nostalgically. Regardless, this time she had planned for as many eventualities as she could visualize (and fit in one duffel).

That was why she had Ghenar Dust stuffed down in the bottom of her duffel. It was also why she had a plan specifically designed to entice Cain in the event she had a face to face confrontation. Studying the part demon, part human, and part technological face of her enemy, Buffy was thankful for those long hours of planning. Now all she had to do was put her plan into action.

Summoning all of her cool, Buffy casually glanced at her nails, blew gently on them, then buffed them against the sleeves of her greens. Satisfied with their gleam, she asked, “Now why would you want to do that?”

Cain's eyes bulged slightly at her question, but he readily responded, “I have calculated that is a 96.7% possibility that you were responsible for the failure of my operation in Colorado Springs. You have set yourself to oppose me, so I will destroy you first. That is why I arranged for you to be picked up at the airport and brought here.”

He arranged? Interesting. It was always helpful when someone gave away information like that for free. Obviously Cain had input in the running of the base here, possibly through agents or some other method. Getting back to her plan, Buffy sighed. “Oppose, smose. If you're talking about those pathetic vamps that were set up in Colorado Springs, someone needed to put them down before they blew the whole thing open. Unless you're ready to take on the entire US Military right now?”

Cain appeared confused both by her words and her lack of fear of him. “I do not currently possess the resources to oppose the entire US Military, but I will. What was wrong with the operation in Colorado Springs?”

Internally, Buffy winced at the idea that Cain was so close to the completion of his plans, but stayed in character as she bounced slightly on her toes while excitedly explaining, “It was a complete balls up! They were turning people, but not the right people. Then, they didn't control the ones they were turning. I mean, why didn't you have them turning the Academy's commandant? Or if you wanted to start lower, turn some of the officers and teachers? Why turn some pathetic students who immediately went back and tried to do an all you can eat buffet there?”

Cain look murderously angry as he exclaimed, “That was not the plan! They should have identified the targets to turn at the Air Force Academy, then executed those targets, siring them, then having them sire others in turn. Within a short time, enough members of the Academy would have been turned to enable us to kill and turn everyone else. If that had been successful, I would have done the same thing at military bases all over the country. It would have opened multiple fronts in the war I am about to begin, while severely reducing the forces opposing me.”

Horrified, Buffy barely kept her mouth closed. Thank goodness for vamp hijinks! If not for the incompetency of the vampires that Cain had chosen for his operation, she might be fighting for her life right now, trying to keep the Zoo from being overrun. Now she just had to convince Cain not to kill her. Thanks to Cain Scenario Alpha Three (Distraction/Infiltration of Cain's Movement During a Noncombat Confrontation), Buffy had an idea how to do that as well.

“Sounds like you had the right plan, just the wrong people to execute it.”

Cain's eyes gleamed fanatically. “Yes. Vampires cannot be depended upon. They are pathetic creatures, belonging neither to the world of demons or the world of humans. Still, they are all I have to work with. I do have a plan to succeed despite them. I need time to implement my plan.”

Coyly, Buffy said, “I can help you with your plan.”

Cain appeared to really be looking at her for the first time. And not impressed by what he saw. “You? Why would you help me? Despite Colonel McNamara's suspicions, you appear completely human to me. There is only a 31.7% probability that you are not.”

Buffy laughed. “Human? Me? Oh, really?” With that, she hammered her fist into the side wall, deeply denting the odd plasticky material. The impact sounded loud in the confined space. A human wouldn't have even had an effect on the material. It was extremely tough, but luckily, not Slayer-proof. “Also, you seem to forget that I stopped your operation in Colorado Springs. I did that by killing them all personally. Would I have been able to do that if I was human?”

“Interesting. What are you?” Cain did sound interested. Now to set the hook.

“Valnar demon. We appear completely human. That's how we pass. But we're stronger, faster, and far more blood-thirsty than a human. We tend to congregate in the military as it allows our violent natures an outlet.” Buffy had chosen a real demon, although one that was far from common. It took a mystical ritual to positively identify a Valnar, although they did tend to give themselves away as they weren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer. If Cain tried the ritual, she could still pass, it would just require the use of the Ghenar Dust (ugh!). Buffy would almost rather be outed than ingest that stuff. It was an unbelievably disgusting tasting material that would turn her blood green for about a week, emulating the effects of the ritual.

Cain slowly nodded. “You could be useful. If I could trust you.”

Buffy shrugged. “Either you do or you don't. Just out of curiosity, how did you know it was me that stopped your other operation?

“I extrapolated from Colonel McNamara's digital journal that you were dangerous, regardless whether you were human or something else. A short female human was seen entering the club where they were gathered. You fit the physical description of the perpetrator, although you were dressed differently then. You allowed yourself to be lured here when it is clear that the orders you received were illegal and you could have easily refused. That meant you wanted something here. Perhaps to attack me, or to infiltrate my operation, searching for information. Either way, there was a 96.7% probability that you destroyed my operation in Colorado Springs. With your admission, the probability has risen to 100%.”

Buffy smiled admiringly. “I did come here to look up whoever was behind Colorado Springs. Mostly, I wanted to find out why it went down. Now I am satisfied that it was only the execution that failed. The planning was sound. Back to your lack of trust of moi. Tell me how I can earn your trust?”

Cain eyes gleamed with an alien amusement as he grinned showing his teeth, which were mostly human white except for leftmost three that appeared to be made of stainless steel. “I have a way. I will test you.”

“Great! Test me. Are you going to get me out of here first?”

Cain's grin turned cruel. “That will be part of the test. Expect more very soon.”

With that, he strode off, heading back into the Initiative. Buffy felt the tension she had been under slowly drain away. That had been close. Knowing what she did from her visions, she doubted a fight between Cain and her in the confined space of the cell and hallway would have gone her way, despite the short swords she had in her duffel. Buffy would need a lot of room to allow herself to use her speed against the demon. Even then, she just didn't know enough about its capabilities to be confident in defeating it. That chaingun would have been almost impossible to defeat. All he had to do was sit in front of the door and shoot her. One dead Buffy coming up.

Buffy's musing were interrupted by the loud sound of her stomach growling. Now if only those sergeants would just bring her some food.


Riley Finn turned at the sound of his name being called. He gave Forrest and Graham an inquiring look as they walked quickly towards him. “What's up, guys?”

Graham looked around furtively before speaking, “Can we talk to you a second? It's about Cadet Summers.”

Riley ran a hand through his short hair. It took him a second to process what Graham was talking about. Then he remembered. The Air Force Cadet that McNamara had targeted and had shipped here. Why, he wasn't sure. “What about her?”

This time it was Forrest who spoke, “We picked her up at the airport as you ordered. But we put her in one of the old test cells near the emergency exit instead of with the general population.”

Riley sighed. Shit, another complication. Like there hadn't been a hundred since he took over temporary command of the Initiative. “Tell me.”

Graham nodded. “Here's the deal. No way she's an HST.” He shook his head for emphasis. “No way. I don't know what McNamara's hard on for her was about, but we have a damn Chair Force Cadet in holding who doesn't need to know anything that is going on here.”

Riley stared hard at the two men in front of him. “How can you be that sure?”

Forrest stood his ground. “She's just some scared kid. And get this, her cadet sponsor? Colonel Jack O'Neill.”

Riley's head came up. He gave Forrest a sharp look. “The Colonel Jack O'Neill? The one that dropped into Afghanistan and blew up the...” He stopped, since both of the other men knew exactly what story he was talking about and it didn't need to be bandied about in a public hallway.

Forrest nodded. In a dry tone, he said, “The very one. Her being here smells, if you know what I mean.”

Riley nodded. It did smell. It smacked of payback for something in the Colonel's past. Unfortunately, that was part and parcel of what could happen in the intelligence community without sufficient oversight. Which parts of the NID were notorious for. Now it needed to be dealt with. Which left a certain Marine captain in over his head. “Did you log her in? In any form?” If so, it was going to be even harder to clean this up.

Graham shook his head. “No. Like Forrest said, we thought it was better to park her in one of the old test cells. And we used the emergency exit, so there's no record of her presence, visual or otherwise.”

“Good. It stays that way. Let's get through the next forty-eight hours, then we'll send Cadet Summers her merry way.” Riley sighed. At least this was something that shouldn't blow up in his face.

In a concerned tone, Forrest asked, “Everything Okay, Finn?”

Riley nodded. “Yeah, more or less. There's just been a bunch of computer glitches this morning. Then we lost communications. We're going to have to do a complete system diagnosis to get things back up.”

At Graham's wince, Riley smiled ruefully. “Yeah, it's going to take some smuck all day to fix it. That is, if they can fix it. Plus, you know that Washington is going to be seriously unhappy at losing contact with us. Again. And Walsh is freaking out over something to do with Kennedy.”

“And Cain?”

Riley gave Forrest a sharp look, but answered him, “Vanished. But he's got something big planned and with the cells practically bursting at the seams, the last thing we need is that psycho launching some kind of offensive. And, I missed lunch. Again.” This last was accompanied by a wry grin.

Forrest groaned. “Shit! I need to get that girl some food.”

Graham's stern face softened into a smile. “Yeah, and you'll get more of those puppy dog eyes, too.”

“Don't remind me.” Forrest looked at Riley and said, “Stay sharp, marine. Semper Fi.”

“Semper Fi.”

Riley turned back the way he'd been heading as the other two men headed off, bickering in a friendly way.

“You sure you want to give her mess hall food? Why not just poison her?”

I eat that food.”

“I rest my case...”

Buffy heard voices long before she spied the forms of two men leading a third with his hands fastened behind his back. Or as she noticed as they got closer still, two men leading a vampire with his hands fastened behind his back. It looked like she was about to have company of the fangy kind.

The two men, one sergeant and one private, dressed in standard green fatigues and armed with both some kind of high tech taser rifle and a forty-five caliber Colt side arm, stopped opposite her cell, doing a double-take when they spotted her there.

Buffy smiled weakly and waved, “Uh... hi?”

The sergeant gave her a sharp look and asked, “What are you doing here? These cells are supposed to be empty.”

Buffy shrugged. “I was ordered to report to duty here and when I arrived, I was locked in here.”

The sergeant gave her a quick once over. “What's an Air Force cadet doing here?”

Buffy shrugged. “Orders.”

He looked indecisive. Then the private said, “Sarge, maybe we shouldn't be talking to her. She might be a shape shifter or a perception distorter, like that bug lady.”

“Damn. Yeah, I forget about her. She snipped Shepherd's head right off before they got her put down. Stay there and be quiet.” This last was directed at Buffy, who decided to just let it be. It wasn't as if she wanted out just yet anyway. The conditions didn't yet match those of her Slayer dream, with the sirens and strobe lights going off. Until then, she might as well just stay here.

The vampire, who until now had kept quiet, spoke in a slimy, ingratiating voice, “Are you going to be putting me in the cell with the little girl?”

The sergeant barked, “Shut up, you.” To the other soldier, he said, “That's what the paperwork says. To put him in T-3.”

The private shrugged. “It was just a matter of time until they started using these old test cells. I mean, with all of the overcrowding that is going on, I'm surprised it took them this long.”

The sergeant mulled it over for all of five seconds before coming to a decision. “Okay, you're going in that cell. You.” At this, he pointed at Buffy. “Back up all the way to the back wall. Move one inch towards us and I'll blast you. Private Rollins, release the prisoner into the cell at my order.”

With that, the two men, working with an easy familiarity, quickly put the vampire in with Buffy, all the while never providing an opportunity for any hijinks. Buffy admired their speed and professionalism, even though she would have been able to easily take them down herself. As would any master vampire. But against near-fledglings, it was effective.

As soon as the door closed, the vampire went into game face. As the men turned and started back the way they'd come, he smiled cruelly and said in a raspy whisper, “I don't know whether to bite you or rape you first. Maybe both at the same time.” He gave her a disgusting leer, then looked taken aback at Buffy's bored look.

Grossly licking his fangs, the vampire blustered, “You should be scared of me. I'm the last thing you're ever going to see... What are you doing?”

While he had been monologuing, Buffy had casually removed her cap so it wouldn't get knocked off and shook her sleeve to drop the stake she had earlier stashed there into her hand. Then she leaned her shoulder against the side of the cell and yawned. Casually, she answered, “Moi? I was just wondering why everyone's already forgotten me. I mean, I've only been gone ten months. That seems like a such short time to not know who the Slayer is.”

This last was said with cold menace in her voice and the vampire's eyes bulged as if he'd suddenly recognized her. She could just barely hear his whispered, “They said you'd died...”

Buffy gave the vampire a sweet, sugary smile that was belied by her hard eyes. “Nope. Just joined the Air Force. You know, broadening my horizons and all.”

The vampire backed up until he hit the electrified door and jerked away from it in pain. He put his back against the cell wall as far from Buffy as possible. With a sickly smile, he whined, “Look, Slayer, we don't have to do this. We can just share the cell. You can take your half and I'll take mine. I promise to stay far away from you. What do you say?” As he spoke, the vampire glanced over his shoulder as if he wanted to call the soldiers back, but they were long gone.

Buffy gave him a considering look as if she was actually pondering his words. “So how would that work, I'd take this side,” she stated as she glanced towards her duffel. Casually, she gestured with the stake in her hand. “And you'll take that-”

Even as she spoke, the vampire lunged, fangs driving towards Buffy's throat. She let his momentum drive him onto the stake in her hand that was suddenly interposed between them. As he burst into dust, Buffy finished, “-one.”

With a faux sad look on her face, Buffy said, “Sorry, but I don't like to share.” Coughing slightly as she waved her hands to clear the floating dust away, Buffy stated aloud to the now empty cell, “Besides, you don't seem like a very good candidate for a roommate. Leaving the toilet seat up. Hogging all of the o pos. Biting me when I least expect it.”

Idly scuffing one boot through the ashes on the floor, Buffy thought that a collapsible broom and dustpan might be good candidates for her duffel next time. Then she decided it was time to get serious. Briefly, she considered the ramifications of what had just happened, breaking it down like an after action report. A vampire being put into her cell with her shortly after she'd spoken with Cain. It was almost certainly Cain who'd been behind it, probably to see how she handled herself against such a foe. If he had any way of monitoring her, he would have seen how easily she'd destroyed the vamp. And his next test would be much harder. Buffy sat back down on her duffel and began to consider what else he could use to test her, as well as how she might best handle it. She fell into mulling over the resources available to her as she did her best to plan for the next scenario.

Jack stormed into General Hammond's office. He'd already alerted SG-1 to gear up, but he needed official approval or he was going to have to resort to subterfuge to get the team out to California. Plus, they'd have to go without any weapons heavier than a side arm. He was still riding the rage that Maybourne had aroused within him and his thoughts were razor sharp. He came to attention in front of General Hammond's desk.

Hammond looked up and gave him a considering look. “What is it, Colonel?”

“Sir, moments ago I was alerted to Cadet Summers' abduction by elements of the NID based in Sunnydale, California. Something codenamed 'The Initiative'.”

Hammond's eyes sharpened and he gave Jack his full attention. “Who is your source.”

“Harry Maybourne, sir.”

Hammond looked like he'd bitten into something sour as he said, “Maybourne isn't the most reliable person around.”

With utter certainty, Jack stated, “He did not lie to me. He couldn't.” He couldn't help letting a little of the satisfaction he felt at how he'd dealt with Maybourne bleed through.

Hammond looked uneasy and asked, “Colonel, is Maybourne-”

“He's alive, sir. More or less intact. But he won't be bothering us again.”

Jack's ice cold eyes met those of his commanding officer, and an unspoken communication took place. After a moment, Hammond nodded. “I see. What do you need, Colonel?”

“I need permission to assemble my team to mount a rescue. I need a full weapons load out as well as zats and Teal'c's staff weapon. I also need...”

General Hammond said, “Slow down, Colonel. Before you get us involved in an illegal mission on US soil, let me try something else.”

Despite his urgent need to act, Jack hesitated. “Sir?”

Hammond said, “I have a new contact in the NID since the last time we ran up against them. He's their new military liaison and seems more reasonable as well as by the book. Doesn't brook any of those 'off the book' missions they favor. Let me call him and see if we can't get Cadet Summers released without going in with guns blazing.”

Jack felt much of his adrenaline drain away, leaving him tired and cranky. Anger and adrenaline were the only things keeping him going. That made far too much sense and if it worked, he wasn't going to get to shoot any of the people who took Cali. Still, if it got Cali back in one piece, he was okay with it. “Thank you, General.”

Hammond nodded and Jack closed his eyes, leaning back in his chair, trying not to go to sleep. His body desperately needed rest, but he couldn't until he knew Cali was okay. Absently, he listened to the phone conversation taking place across the desk from him.

“General Hastings. General Hammond here.”


“It's regarding an asset in place in Sunnydale, California. The Initiative, I believe it's called.”


“Why my interest? We're missing a Cadet who was targeted by someone assigned to that asset.”


“It's important.”


“Why not?”


“I see.”


“No, that won't be necessary. We will be taking point on this.”


“Contact the President if you believe that to be necessary, but my teams are deploying as soon as I hang up. I don't have time for a jurisdictional wrangle.”

Jack sat up painfully, as his commanding officer hung up the phone, staring at it silently for a moment before meeting his eyes. Hammond said, “They lost contact with their base in Sunnydale, codenamed The Initiative, at 0800 hours today. They can't get through on any channel, encrypted or otherwise. They have to assume it as been compromised until proven otherwise.”

Jack began, “General Hammond, I've already alerted SG-1 for immediate deployment.”

Hammond nodded, although his gaze was sharp. “I see. We'll talk about following the chain of command when you get back. I'm sending SG-14 with you as well since they're already mission ready. Their trade mission to PX-1941 can wait. Take whatever weapons you need, including Zat'nik'tels. Be discrete. This cannot compromise this command. Get in, get the girl, and get out.”

Jack stood up and came to attention, saluting. “Thank you, sir!”

Hammond nodded wearily. “Bring her home, Jack.”

For a moment, bleak rage threatened to overcome Jack, but he ruthlessly tamped it down, drawing on it for fuel, but not allowing it to affect him otherwise. “I will, sir.”

He about faced and headed out to get his team prepped.

Forrest headed back in through the Emergency Exit with a bag of burgers and fries from Burger King in one hand and a drink carrier in the other. Putting down the drinks, he closed the door behind him. Picking up the drinks, Forrest hadn't taken five steps before he realized something was wrong, the raised voices ahead of him being a dead giveaway.

“There is no way you are putting that in here with me!” Angry female voice.

“My orders say to put it in Cell T-3!” Angry male voice.

“Then move me to a different cell!” Angry female voice.

Whatever the male was about to say in response was cut off as Forrest rounded the corner and asked in a menacing voice, “What the hell is going on here?”

He took in the two men escorting a Polgara HST and a wide-eyed Cadet Summers on the other side of the cell door. The higher ranking of the two men, a corporal, tentatively spoke, “Sir, we have orders to put this HST in Cell T-3. Sir, I didn't even know that we had a T series of cells and had to pull up an old schematic of the base to find it. We dragged this thing all the way down from Central Processing, trying not to get skewered, only to find the cell in question occupied by someone who isn't in the database. She claims to be human. And-”

Forrest interrupted him. “Corporal, take the HST back over to the main cell block. Pick a cell that only has two other occupants and put it there.”

“Sir, I'm not sure any of the cells only have two-”

He stopped as Forrest gave him a hard look. “Do as I said.”

“The paperwork-”

Forrest shook his head. “It doesn't matter. And no more transfers to the test cells, understand?”

The corporal's eyes were worried as he asked, “But what do I do with them if there are more transfers?”

“Pick a cell. Any cell. Put them in. And forget anything you saw here. You both got it?”

“Yes, sir!” The corporal barked out. The private's “Yes, sir.” was more subdued, but indicated that he also understood. Carefully they grabbed the arms of the thing they were escorting and guided it back down the hallway, careful to stay out of the line of its forearms.

“You want to tell me what's going on?”

Cadet Summers' voice made Forrest wince as he'd almost forgotten about her while dealing with the two enlisted men. He turned around and met her angry, green eyes squarely. 'Well,' he thought, 'At least she isn't freaking out.' He'd seen hardened special ops who had breakdowns after being assigned to one the Initiative's capture teams. It took a certain 'flexibility' in your thinking to make it here. Funny if an Air Force weenie had it when so many others didn't.

Luckily, he could fall back on need to know. “Sorry, cadet, but that's classified. Are you okay?”

“I'm fine.” The tone was grumpy, but she did look okay.

Then she apparently spotted the bag he was holding and her attitude did a one eighty. Smiling, she asked, “Is that for me?”

Forrest nodded absently. “Yes, as well as these.” Setting the drinks down, he disarmed the door and opened it. He ignored her surprised look at he violated procedure and handed her the bag and drink holder. Forrest watched a moment as she voraciously tore into the food, finishing a burger in four fast bites before daintily licking her fingers, which put a different set of thoughts in his head which he firmly pushed aside. 'Not going there,' he thought as he ignored what she was doing with her pink tongue.

“You do know that I grew up in Sunnydale, don't you?” Summers asked neutrally as she ate a handful of fries, licking off the salt between bites.

Forrest's attention was almost immediately taken off of her tongue and he processed what she'd said, tentatively asking, “So what you just saw?”

She shrugged. “Never saw anything like that one in particular. But we knew to stay indoors after dark. And I did see some pretty odd things during my time here. But like I said, you stayed indoors after dark or went out in groups, which made you pretty safe. Those who didn't...” She trailed off, then shrugged again.

Forrest made a quick decision. Pulling out the small notebook all agents carried, he quickly wrote down a series of numbers and tore off the sheet. He handed it to the girl, who paused in her eating to take it from him. “This is the override code to the Emergency Exit, which is where you came in. If anything happens, sirens going off, or any emergency announcements, I want you to get out of here. Push the number sign, the code, then finally the star symbol. Understand?”

Cadet Summers nodded, then looked up at him and asked, “And the cell door?”

Brown eyes met green and Forrest swallowed. “I'll leave it disarmed and unlocked. If nothing happens, I'll be by sometime the day after tomorrow to let you out. Otherwise stay here. Clearance here is Top Secret and you can't be wandering around.”

Cadet Summers slowly smiled and nodded. “I'll do that, Sergeant.”

Forrest shook his head. “It's actually Lieutenant. Lieutenant Forrest Gates.”

Summers looked at him questioningly, before nodding in understanding. In a friendly tone, she said, “Thank you, Lieutenant Gates.”

He turned to go, then stopped as she gave him an impish smile, then said, “Oh, and Lieutenant? My friends call me Cali.”

'Beats being called Buffy,' he thought in amusement. Aloud, he said, “Take care, Cali.” Forrest gave her a jaunty smile and wave. Then he headed back inside, his attention already focusing back on his job. Maybe he could figure out why someone had finally decided to start using the old test cells as well as who had authorized the transfer.

Jack's eyes were ice as he walked down the aisle in the C-130, assessing his team as well as SG-14. His gaze skipped over guns, ammo clips, and every other mutinae of equipment carried in the field. Everything checked out, but he couldn't relax. He was responsible for something terrible happening to someone he cared about. If it wasn't for who he was, they would never have taken Cali. In some ways, it was Charlie all over again. His mistakes costing someone dear to him. Except this time, there was someone flesh and blood at the end of his journey who would be on the receiving end of Jack's wrath.

Jack met the eyes of his second in command, Major Samantha Carter, who flinched slightly at whatever she read in his. There was no satisfaction within him from her reaction to the side of him that had taken over. Jack knew that he was capable of incredible violence, that when he was thrown into the crucible, his thoughts grew progressively colder and more precise the hotter the action became. It was one of the things that had made him such an effective specials ops soldier. He also knew that if he allowed himself, he could lose any moral compass in the name of accomplishing the mission.

Right now, that was what he wanted more than anything else. To lose himself, to find those who had taken Cali, and to enact vengeance upon them so terrible that it would be whispered about for a thousand years. But he couldn't. Two sets of eyes, one green, the other hazel, stood between him and the abyss. So long as they were okay, he would be okay. However, if something happened to one of them, he wasn't sure if he could stay true to himself or if he would even want to.

Jack felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to meet's Teal'c's gaze. “O'Neill, we will bring back your child. Do not doubt that.”

“She's not my...” Jack's automatic denial stopped. When had he started thinking of Cali as his? On Edora? Even before? It didn't matter. She was his. He gave the Jaffa a look of gratitude. “Thanks, Teal'c.”

Fingers tightened a moment, then released. Teal'c nodded once, the headed back to check his equipment yet again, leaving Jack to his thoughts. Maybe a little bit lighter. Maybe.

Buffy was bored. She'd stayed in the cell as Lieutenant Gates had asked. And wasn't he cute? But there was only so many times that you could count the tiles on the ceiling before you became homicidal. Mostly, she thought about her mom and Colonel O'Neill. She hoped he was going to be okay. Buffy wasn't sure if her threat to the Powers had been effective. But if they didn't believe her, they would when she acted. But she would give them a little more time. Until time ran out. Then she would deal with it. She would-

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

The sudden sound of the siren startled her. At the same time, various orange strobe lights began to flash, some visible from where she sat in her cell. And just audible, almost at the limit of her hearing, there were a strange cacophony of roars and screams that sounded like all the souls in Hell being tormented. Springing to her feet, Buffy knew it was time. Everything matched her Slayer dream, the sights, the sounds, even the smells as she pushed open the door to her cell. This was why she'd come here. To defend those who needed her. To fight what might be the toughest battle of her life. It was showtime.
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