Chapter 3 – Repercussions
(What? You thought it would be *that* easy?)
Sam stopped by Daniel’s home and he still wasn’t anywhere in sight. Probably still with the elders, discussing whatever they needed the archaeologist for. She walked in, and tried to find a place to stash the sword for the time being, until they would be back at the SGC. She found no place worthy, and she was considering ordering something from one of the wood crafters when she distractedly and almost automatically lifted the sword and made as if to sheath it in an invisible scabbard at her back.
Surprisingly, *something* held the sword in place. Sam jumped from the small stool she was sitting at, trying to frantically look over her shoulder. She could feel the sword there, its weight across her back, but she couldn’t *see* the damned pommel, which should be appearing from over her right shoulder. She tried to find a mirror, and she found one in the midst of Daniel’s things. Sam used it to try and see it, but she couldn’t, from any angle. She touched the pommel, and it was there, as solid as it was a moment ago right in front of her. However, it remained invisible. She tried to remove it from the ‘scabbard’, and it came easily in her hand, appearing when it was mostly out of the ‘sheath’.
The scientist in her repeated the process several times, trying to figure out how such a thing was possible. The sword was a solid piece of metal, apparently forged as an entire piece, except for the jewel in its middle. Unless the semi-transparent jewel had another function, there were no apparent sensors or something of the sort that would enable it to sense when it was supposed to be on a ‘sheathed’ position. And the invisibility wasn’t the thing bothering Sam the most. They didn’t have the technology yet, but she knew it was scientifically possible. Having a sword turn invisible and simply be held on *nothing* and be close enough to her body was what made her head spin.
Having no other instruments to check the sword with, the Major sighed and finally did what she intended in the first place, she hid it at her back. And just in time, since Major Tennembaum knocked at the door a moment later.
“Ma’am, sorry to bother you, but we’re having some problems back at SGC, and Gen. Hammond asked me to collect you.”
Sam grabbed her pack and moved to the door without question. “Let’s go, Major.”
“…and that’s the gist of the problem, Major Carter,” came the General’s voice from the radio. “I know you’re on leave time, but you’re needed here.”
“Say no more, General. I’m on my way,” she said, and turned to the Major. “Could you please find Dr. Jackson and explain what happened? And keep Blockade active.”
Blockade was a security protocol that kept the Stargate active, either outgoing to some desert planet or incoming from an allied one, when by some reason the iris was inactive. That way, it prevented someone to enter Stargate Command unauthorized.
“Yes, Ma’am. What about your stuff?”
“Daniel can collect it and bring it to me. If that is all, Major?” she asked.
“Yes, Ma’am. I’m sorry for having interrupted your leave.”
“Not your fault. These things happen. More to us than anyone else I know, but they happen,” she said with a hint of a smile.
Major Tennembaum laughed. “Until next time, Major,” he said, and saluted.
She replied the salute and entered the event horizon.
Twenty minutes after Sam arrived back at the SGC base, the iris was back into working order, so they could disengage the wormhole. That was fairly straightforward, since the iris control and power interface was designed to be quite modular and easy to repair under any conditions, but the small glance that Sam gave to a few other panels back in energy distribution told her they would have a lot of work ahead of them.
“That was good work, Major,” Gen. Hammond said, looking to the now closed iris. They were still under emergency lights and generator power in most of the base.
“Thank you, sir, but it’s not over yet, by a long shot. Some of the distribution panels are only good for the scrap yard. I think I can bring back energy for the control room and the infirmary in a couple of hours, but the rest might as well take a week to fix entirely,” she said, cleaning her hands on a piece of cloth. Thankfully to them, the computers that controlled the dialing mechanism were powered independently and the dialing mechanism itself wasn’t much damaged and easy enough to fix by Siler himself.
“Do you have any idea what could have caused this?” he asked.
Sam shook her head. “The damage is consistent with a massive power surge, but the results aren’t. The naquadah the Gate is made of should have drained it like a sponge, instead of it discharging it to the ground. Besides, it melted the circuit breakers and the panels they were in, however there isn’t any visible damage on any of the cables leading to them. And why didn’t it blow up the dialing mechanism but did so with the iris?”
“It should have?”
She nodded. “With the power needed to do so much damage? It would have blown half the room apart, and the cables would be melt to slag.”
“Could it have been an attack?”
“I don’t think so, sir. Why would the Goa’uld send an attack like that, and not invade soon after? Besides, aside from the Nox, I’ve never seen the gate engage without a chevron sequence.”
“Could it be an attack not
from the Goa’uld?”
Sam thought about it for a few moments.
“I don’t know, sir. I honestly don’t know.”
“Well, carry on, Major. We have people needing to come back home.”
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
Many, many hours later, Sam was finishing yet another panel when someone tapped her back. She turned around to see Jack standing there with a cup of coffee in his hand, his other arm still on a sling.
“Colonel? What are you doing here?” she asked, not even noticing the state she was currently in. Her jumpsuit was blackened from the ashes, her face had some dirt smudges and her hair was a mess.
“I work here, Carter, if you don’t remember,” he said, humorously while she stored her tools in her belt. “I think I remember how you like it,” he said, giving the coffee to her.
“Thank you, sir,” she said, and took a sip from the hot beverage.
“So, how many hours you’ve been playing around?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow.
“Uh… a few?” she said, sheepishly.
“Try close to twenty straight, and this is not counting the time you were awake back in Abydos,” he replied, while she blushed a bit. “The General ordered me, and I quote ‘to escort Major Carter to her bed and keep her there for the next eight hours. By force, if necessary.’ And you know how I hate to disobey an order. Especially one like that.”
The wording and the person who said it made her blush even harder. God, she wasn’t a lovesick teen anymore, she could handle a little innuendo better than that. She shook her head, and turned back to him.
“Do you think I can take a shower beforehand, sir?” she asked, finally noticing her state.
“Well, I don’t think you’ll suffer a court martial for that. Perhaps just a reprimand on your records,” he smirked.
“I’ll take my chances, sir,” she said, smiling.
“Good, I like that in an officer, the ability to ignore orders on a whim. Come on, Carter, I’ll escort you.”
“I don’t think I’ll need…”
“Ah,” he said, lifting a finger in warning. “You won’t escape so easily. I’ll escort you so you won’t become distracted by another space monkey and end up with another half a day awake. Come on.”
She sighed. “All right, sir.”
Sam entered the showers a few minutes later, and she started undressing. That’s when she noticed she had spent the last day and a few hours with her sword attached to her back, and she hadn’t even noticed it there. It hadn’t hindered her movements, and people had touched her shoulder several times, the colonel being the last one. No one had felt a thing
Looking around, she realized she was alone in the bathroom, so she took the sword out of its ‘sheath’, and looked to the blade.
“What are you?”
As before, she went unanswered.
After her shower, the Colonel escorted her the rest of the way until her quarters, asking how the visit to Abydos had been.
“Well…short, sir,” she smiled.
He snorted. “Figures. No snakes this time?”
She shook her head. “No, sir.”
“And the dreams?” he asked, bluntly.
“Still don’t know, sir. Had a peaceful night last night, but I’m still waiting to see. I do feel more relaxed, the trip did some good.”
They had arrived at her door.
“Well, Carter, do I need to lock the door?”
“No, sir,” she smiled.
“Good. See you in eight hours.”
She nodded, and walked in, going straight to bed. She was asleep in seconds, with the sword still attached to her back, out of sight and reach of anyone except her.
A little bit later, Jack was sitting with Gen. Hammond at the briefing room, discussing the best ways to put the base back in working order. What Sam had done had helped them enough to work in a bare minimum capacity, the infirmary and the Gate’s security were already back on. However, all the missions for the next few days were scrubbed, until repairs could be made to a few more sections of SGC. Siler was pointing out what could be done faster, when the red alert alarm sounded, the sound of the Gate engaging on the background.
“Unscheduled off-world activation,” the voice echoed over the room’s PA.
Jack and the General stood up, the Colonel groaning. “Please God, let it not be the Tok’ra,” he pleaded.
“Colonel,” Hammond complained, half-heartedly. Internally, he had to agree with his second in command.
“I’m sorry, sir, but can you imagine Anise coming to visit when half the base is in the dark, and all of the VIP rooms have no working AC?” O’Neill pointed out, to what the General had no good answer.
They arrived on the observation room a few moments later, the iris was already closed in front of the gate.
“We have a GDO signal, General. It’s Dr. Jackson,” the gate operator said. Jack let go of a breath he wasn’t aware of be holding.
“Open the iris,” the portly man said. A few moments later the archaeologist was walking down the ramp, hands cluttered with his and Sam’s things.
“Decided to shorten your vacation, Danny boy?” Jack asked over the PA, after the Gate disengaged.
“Well, I’ve heard what happened, and decided to come back to help out. What can…”
Before Daniel could finish, the Gate started encoding once again. He moved down the ramp in a bit of a hurry, and the red alert was sounded once again. The iris closed, and the wormhole formed, but in the next moment, the iris opened on its own volition.
“Iris open, I repeat, iris open,” the operator said over the PA, voice laden with worry.
“What is it? Something on the circuits?” Hammond asked, while the airman typed frantically on his console.
“No sir, it’s some sort of external energy pattern coming from the gate, it’s holding the iris open. Security Teams 2 and 3 to the embarkation room, I repeat, security teams 2 and 3 to the embarkation room,” the airman said, praying to God that it would be enough in case of an attack.
Before the two teams could position themselves, someone stepped out of the event horizon. A very strange, albeit known, someone.
“Lya,” Daniel said, coming closer to the Nox woman.
Back in the embarkation room, Jack sighed. “Well, at least it’s not the Tok’ra.”
One moment later, a flash of light deposited Thor of the Asgard right in front of them. The Nox and the Asgard had come to visit at the same time.
This was not looking good.
“Colonel, next time, I’d advise you to keep your mouth shut,” Gen. Hammond said.
Back in Sunnydale, Xander Harris was pacing nervously from one side of the waiting room to another, while Willow was sitting close to Oz, her hands squeezing the werewolf’s so hard that the nearly unflappable young man was having a hard time keeping it silent. Cordelia, surprisingly, had kept both her snarkiness and mouth in check, sitting on another chair.
They were all there because of Giles, but Xander was the only one who knew exactly why the Watcher had been admitted to the hospital in the first place. The story he had concocted on a rush put a very heavy book falling on Giles’ head from a tall shelf. In truth, the backlash from his first transformation made Giles hit a wall with enough strength to make him pass out, and a very nasty bruise to appear in his head. Xander de-transformed almost immediately, and due to the nature of the injury, called an ambulance. It took some time and some convincing about no ‘gangs on PCP’ being involved on the attack for the paramedics to appear and extract the British man from the library.
He rode with Giles in the back of the ambulance, his mind in turmoil, the surprise of his transformation forgotten, substituted by deep guilt and worry. Since the Watcher wasn’t bleeding anywhere, the paramedics could work their wonder on him without worry. A neck bracer had been set back in the library, and the paramedics seemed calm, which served to calm the young man somewhat.
And now, quite a few hours later, his funk had come back, multiplied a thousandfold. A doctor informed them earlier that Giles still hadn’t regained conscience, and that the swelling was not life-threatening, but that was as far as he was willing to say for the moment. Besides, now that the rest of the Scoobies had time to think, his lie was starting to unravel. Willow had looked at him oddly several times, and even Cordelia, who most of the time pretended she didn’t care, had shot him an odd glance or two.
He stopped pacing and sat on the ground a few feet from them, and the redhead, being his oldest and best friend, was the first to act, and sat at his side a few moments later.
“It wasn’t a book, was it?” she asked him in a murmur, her face depicting only worry, towards him and their common mentor and father-figure.
Xander sighed. “No,” he said, hugging his knees.
“Demon?” she continued. He shook his head. “It was you, wasn’t it?” she asked, not a hint of a reprimand or disappointment in her voice.
“In a way. I…I did something dumb, and Giles got…like that,” he said, waving towards the inner doors of the hospital.
Willow put a hand in his arm. “From the look in your face, you didn’t do it on purpose. It was an accident, and we’re entitled to do stupid things, we’re teenagers. Besides, we deal with things no human being should deal with, and getting hurt comes with it. It’s just a bump in his head, after all. Another one for his collection,” she said, trying to coach some humor from the situation.
He turned to his oldest and sometimes only friend with a slight smile on his face. “I don’t see you wearing tweed. Since when did you become so smart?”
“It’s now I should say ‘Hey!’ and get all affronted with you, right?” the redhead said, reflecting his small smile.
He laughed a little, and pulled her into a side-armed hug. “Don’t ever change, Will.”
Her job accomplished, she returned to Oz’s side, and murmured something on his ear, while going back to hold his hands. A few moments later, Cordelia detached herself from the uncomfortable chair she had claimed once she arrived, and without complaint, sat at her boyfriend’s side.
Xander looked at her oddly. “What?” she asked crossly, noticing his look.
“Nothing. I-it’s just that…this doesn’t look like you, Cor,” he said, without reservations. The events of the night had crushed whatever filters might exist between his brain and his mouth.
“Why? Because I shouldn’t care?” she replied, incensed.
“No, not that,” he said quickly. “I know you better than that, I know that you care, in your snobbish, snarkish way. What I don’t understand is why you’re sitting here, with me.”
Cordelia looked at him oddly. “I was the one supposed to complain about that, not you. Why are you asking me that?”
Before Xander could answer, another doctor appeared. “Are you the people waiting for news on a Mr. Giles?”
“Yes,” Xander said, jumping to his feet immediately. “How is he?”
“He’s awake, our neurologist is finishing his examination of him, and so far, aside from a slight loss of memory, he’s fine,” the man in white said.
“L-loss of memory? W-what loss of memory?” Willow asked, now really worried, the same feeling being reflected among all of the Scoobies.
“Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon in this type of trauma. He remembers most of today, but nothing of the accident in itself. It should come back with time, don’t worry.”
They all gave away collective breaths of relief. Cordelia didn’t even worry about disguising hers.
“Visiting hours are over, but I can squeeze one of you in. The rest can come back tomorrow, during regular hours.”
“I’m going,” Xander said before anyone could say anything.
“Ok, follow me, please.”
The doctor followed him to the door to Giles’ room, said something about not taking too long, which Xander really didn’t pay attention to, and walked away. The teen actually didn’t know why he offered to come, he figured the last place he wanted to be right now was inside the room with the man…with the near-father they all had and which he injured, almost severely.
Optioning to follow his bravery – or foolishness – he opened the door and walked in. Giles turned to him promptly, with a surprisingly alleviated face.
“Are you all right, my boy?” the British Watcher asked, worry clear in his voice.
“Y-yeah…” Xander asked. “Y-you?”
“Are you sure?” he pressed on.
“Pretty much. It’s not me sitting on a hospital bed, Giles,” he replied, voice lowering as he spoke.
“What, this?” Giles continued, pointing to his own head. “This is nothing. What I wanted to know is what stupid thing you were thinking when you played with things you had no foreknowledge of?” he seethed.
Xander backstepped almost to the door, but his nerve returned. “Look, can I at least explain before you go all Ripper on my sorry ass?”
The teen lowered his head, and started pacing, probably to order his thoughts. He stopped a few moments later, and looked to the older man. “Have you ever felt…incomplete, Giles? Like a part of you was missing?”
“It’s human nature to feel this way. We’re never satisfied with ourselves, so we keep on searching for that something that would make us complete,” the man mused.
“Yes, but have you ever felt that this incompleteness was palpable, like you could almost touch it? Feel it?”
“I wouldn’t know how to answer this properly, Xander. Perhaps once or twice I could have said yes, but this is in the past, and if I remember correctly, we’re talking about you, not me.”
“I’ve always felt this way, Giles,” the teen said, saddened. “I’ve hidden it so well sometimes that I thought I fooled myself, but it was all a lie, and we can’t lie to ourselves. Something was always missing, and with my family being the way it - is, I always thought it was because of them. It wasn’t. Willow and Jessie helped me deal with this somewhat, but the emptiness, that hole was always there. And no, before you ask, they never knew, and I want it to remain like that. I’m only telling you because you need
to know, and she - they don’t.”
Giles nodded, but remained silent.
“When Buffy appeared, she made the hole seem smaller, and today I realized it wasn’t because of her
, but because of what I was doing for
her. I had a purpose, Giles, I was helping her fight. Me
. The class clown, the joker, the child of the town`s drunks, the nobody was helping a superhero fight the bad guys, and he was happy
doing it. Why, Giles? Give me a good reason, the one a sane person would accept as the
reason to fight the Hellmouth?”
Silence remained, this time not out of respect, but because of the lack of words.
“I think I can answer that, G. I fought because, like Buffy, I was predestined
to fight,” he said, and like magic, he pulled the Sword of Power from his back. “And this, Giles, this is my Calling.”
Giles remained silent for a few moments, trying to process what Xander had just told him. With the pounding headache, consequence of the teen’s own foolishness, it was becoming even harder. The Watcher knew enough about a Calling to realize that the teen was probably right, the Powers had chosen another poor bastard to do their dirty work. Another child
, even. Didn't They have any sort of compassion?
“I - I don’t know where to start, Xander, mainly because I don’t know what you did. What I know is that if
you have a Calling, whether it is defined by yourself or by beings far above us, you shouldn’t follow it farther than your own conscience,” the British said, while the teen stored the Sword back on his back. It was a good idea, people frowned upon seeing a bladed weapon of that size, especially in a hospital, and it added another mystery: why it had disappeared as soon as he had apparently sheathed it somewhere?
“How so, Giles?”
He reclined back, so that his head was resting comfortably against a pillow. It wasn't the cure for his headache, but it helped somewhat.
“Slayers are, as you know yourself, very powerful individuals. However, and you know that as well, they’re also teenage girls. Buffy could literally break a man in half with a simple hug, if she so desired. There have been cases throughout the Watchers’ Chronicles where a Slayer was Chosen, and because of several different factors, they weren’t - all there, as the saying goes. Some of their killing sprees could rival Angelus on a good day. In other cases, they didn’t have that many morals or qualms to behave properly, so their views towards killing were highly distorted. So, that’s one of the reasons why the Council fears Slayers Chosen who were out of their grasp, the potential for devastation is too great. We were rather lucky with Buffy, aside from her - unusual behavior towards a lot of situations, I know she feels quite strongly against killing non-demonic individuals. Power, any
power, should be handled very carefully and very responsibly.”
“With great powers come great responsibility,” Xander quoted, the inherent joke lost to the Watcher.
“Quite right, my boy. I know you enough to have my fears allayed as to how and for what you’ll use whatever powers the Sword imbued upon you. However, and bear that in mind always, Power is
dangerous in itself, and Evil always
covet Power; you said that yourself earlier on. You can be their enemy, but you’ll also be coveted as
a source of Power. Slayers are the supernatural world’s boogieman, but they’re also sought by Evil for the inherent Power running through their veins. So, please, Xander, be careful
when using them.”
The teen nodded, seriously. “I will, Giles.”
“I’d like to know more about what you did, but this headache is killing me. Could you please come back tomorrow so we could discuss this further?”
He nodded again.
“Good. Now, promise me one thing?”
“I won’t give my Sword back,” Xander said, gritting his teeth.
“Do you think I would ask that of you? I have a very good reason to believe that this Sword is exactly where it should be, but
to be on the safe side, I’d like to research a bit further. So, what I wanted to ask you is, would you please
not use the Sword’s powers, whatever they are, until I can learn a bit more?”
The brunette seemed pensive for a few moments. “Unless if we’re in great danger for some reason, I promise.”
Giles knew it would be the best he would get, so he sighed and closed his eyes. “Good. Well, thank you for the visit, I hope we can repeat this tomorrow.”
“We will, and I’ll bring some research material for you, if you don’t mind,” Xander said with a smirk which Giles didn’t see.
“I look forward to it. Have a good night, Xander, and stay safe, please?”
“I will. And Giles, thanks.”
“It was my pleasure, Xander. Tell the others I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will,” the teen said, already leaving through the door, heart much lighter than in the last six hours.
The sun was rising in the horizon when the Scoobies finally left the hospital, with a promise to meet later on to visit Giles again. While they didn’t talk about it, Xander knew Giles would stick to the lie he had invented about the book falling on his head, and until they could discuss it, he’d probably keep suffering from ‘amnesia’. Still too wired from the recent happenings and not feeling like going home, the brunette teen started walking aimlessly.
It would only be known as a solid fact later in the week when the reports started coming in and Joe Dawson had time to go through them, but the first hint that something was going on happened last night, when Duncan, Richie and Adam suddenly straightened themselves and looked around. When no one came through the door, they looked at each other, their expression sobering.
The barman and Watcher came closer.
“Something wrong, guys?”
“I don’t know about them, but I felt like a pull
in my Quickening,” Duncan said, getting two nods in response. “It only took a moment, but it was there. It wasn’t like another one of us is closing in, it was more like something was taking
a bit of it.”
Joe looked at them. “I wonder what this means.”
“I just hope this is not the sign for the Gathering,” Richie voiced their worst fears.
“Let’s hope not,” Duncan nodded, looking at his friends and old student sitting at the table with him.
Methos, the oldest of them, just sipped his beer.