A/N Sorry about the delay (it's been a lot longer than 2 weeks,) but this chapter wouldn't do what I wanted it to.
SGC Briefing room
The briefing room that he was escorted into was comfortable and showed more luxury than Xander had been expecting. “Better than a chair, desk , bright shining light and rubber hose,” he quipped to himself. The large dark oval table was accompanied by big black leather swivel chairs. In the centre of the table coffee cups sat with with a fresh pot of filtered coffee. Xander dialled up his sense of smell just a touch to enjoy the aroma from the hot beverage, it was rich enough to temporarily brush away the mental cobwebs that plagued him since he hadn't been able to sleep the night before. That would be over 30 hours since he'd had sleep. The night before he had been more concerned with catching the plane to Colorado and last night he'd been so focused on the teenager Jon. To sleep would of meant being without his newly found Guide and the Sentinel had not been ready to be separated even for the purpose of sleep. Even now it had taken a huge amount of effort to leave the boy to recuperate and attend the morning's meeting. As his thoughts returned to his Guide, Xander began fixing himself a coffee.
“Hey Xander.” the young Sentinel turned towards the two men that had entered the room.
“Morning Blair, Jim, would you like some the military's finest ground coffee?”
“Yes,” came the answer from both of the detectives.
“Late night, Detectives?”
“The disclosure forms took some reading and had to be signed in triplicate. I made a few phone calls to my contacts within the Air Force just to get a handle on this situation. We also had to notify both the county's Sheriffs office and Simon as much as we could about the situation here.”
The shorter man added, “We've told Simon that we'll probably be here for the week.” Xander smiled, appreciating the support he was getting from his friends. He handed them their coffees.
“Thanks, guys.” Both Xander and Jim looked to the door before it was opened to reveal General O'Neill and SG1.
“Morning Campers.” called O'Neill as he approach the three men. He indicated that they should all be seated around the table. He sat himself at the head and SG1 sat around him, it didn't escape his notice that when seated Detective Ellison placed Sandburg in between himself and Harris, the side furthest away from Teal'c. He took a moment as the others began pouring coffee, to size up the visitors. The Detectives were pretty different in their styles and appearance. Ellison was over 6 ft tall, was built like a brick house and still carried himself with the bearing of a soldier, if anyone had an image of an advanced human then they wouldn't be disappointed with this man.
Sandburg was smaller, long haired and Jack had problems viewing him as a cop let alone as the companion to an advanced warrior. However his dealings with Daniel and other scientists had given him a healthy respect for people of high intelligence that could and did think outside the box. Just then he felt a shiver and found himself staring into the cold blue eyes of the older Detective, ice was warmer than that gaze. He felt as if Ellison was looking through him somehow, weighing him, judging him. The eyes lost their chill and warmed, with a slight quirk of the lips into a ghost of a smile. If that was some kind of test he must of just passed. A subtle polite clearing of Carter's throat, brought Jack back from the staring contest. Time to get this game started.
“Alright. Since yesterday everything was a bit rushed with the threat by the escaped prisoner and cleaning up all the blood and gore, I'll do the introductions. This is Dr Daniel Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel Doctor Samantha Carter, Teal'c, and I am Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. I am the Commanding Officer of this facility and I've been granted special dispensation from the President of the United States to share classified information of what we do here. As you may have guessed from your encounter yesterday, we are not your run of the mill Air Force base. Over to you Danny boy.”
Xander smiled, the military was so limited in imagination. The Demon hunter teams were numbered the same but instead of SG teams they were HG teams, HG1 and upwards. It stood for Hellmouth Gateway there, he wondered what it stood for here. Pulling his wandering concentration back to the room, he listened as Jack finished his introductions and he motioned for Dr Jackson to take over the first half of the meeting.
“Well in order to explain what happened yesterday I'm going to have to give you a fill you in on the history of this facility. In the 1928 archaeologists found a mysterious object in Giza, In 1994 we were able to translate and activate the device. It took another year until we were able to achieve an open worm hole from our planet to Abydos through what we call the Stargate. After another year we were able to dial other planets and for the last eight years our teams have visited thousands of inhabited planets, most but not all of the peoples that we have encountered have been peaceful. Some have been human or descendants of humans others have not been.” Daniel stopped and allowed the shocking news to impact their three guests. He liked to watch how people handled the news that they were not alone in the universe
The young man from Sunnydale said, “So that snake thingy was an alien.”
“Yes.” Daniel answered, “Over the last 8 years, we have been at war with the Goa'uld. A parasitic race that survives by implanting their larvae in suitable subjects, normally humans. The adult attaches itself to a suitable host and takes over control.” Surreptitiously O'Neill and SG1 observed Xander, his reactions to the life changing news was more of a mystery than the two detectives, it was almost blasé. Ellison was a former Special Operation's officer, and his stoic acceptance of startling facts was expected. Sandburg was obviously reeling from the revelations. Harris was...well Harris was still drinking and enjoying his coffee. Jack was sure that he had heard him mummer about doughnuts at one point during Daniel's presentation.
Blair looked from Daniel to Jim knowing that his Sentinel would pick up the signals that people would give if they were lying, an increase in heart beat, a quick flickering of the eyes. Jim continued to look searchingly at Daniel, then at the military personnel before them before making a small head gesture that only someone who knew Ellison well would read. Dr Jackson was tell the truth. Blair listened as Daniel continued with the tale detailing briefly the situation that Earth now found itself in, the conflict and the opportunities.
“Man,” Blair was stunned, “that's far out there.” Jim smiled as his usually bouncy partner was rendered almost speechless by the revelations. He looked over to where Xander sat drinking his coffee unperturbed.
“I must say, you're taking this rather calmly, Mr Harris.” Jack was already trying to puzzle out the young man.
“In my life, I've seen things. It's just one more thing.”
“Mr Harris, can I call you Alexander?” Daniel asked.
“I prefer Xander.”
“Xander, I'm standing here telling you that not only is there life on other planets but that we have a gate that we use to transport ourselves light years away to other worlds across the galaxy and it's just another thing to you.”
Xander smiled, “Your thing is a really big thing, but it's not as surprising as other things that I've come across and lets leave it at that.”
“Is that why you already have a high level of security clearance?” Carter touched on the part of the Xander puzzle, that had surprised her.
“Yes, but I'm not sure you're cleared to know more.” Carter sat back nonplussed and O'Neill impatiently pushed the topic back from the interesting tangent they were travelling.
“Anyhow, back to what Daniel was saying, there are aliens that we are at war with. The one, you so effortlessly, tore to pieces yesterday, was one of the Goa'uld. They are stronger and faster than humans and we want to know how you were able to throw him around like that. And tear into him like he was chopped liver.”
“I guess I just ate my Wheat-a-bix that morning.” At their blank looks he added, “An English breakfast cereal.”
“It's not because you're an advanced human that Blair called a Sentinel?” Daniel found himself facing three hostile gazes. They hadn't moved but the men sitting on the other side of the table were no longer quite as peaceful. It was as if a hidden switch had been thrown and they now exuded menace.
Blair's protective instincts came to the fore. “May I ask where you heard the term?”
“We've been doing our own research Detective Sandburg, and you published...”
“I did not publish anything. A friend mistaking my work of fiction, for my thesis on Closed Societies sent unfinished work to the publishers for a second opinion. That thesis The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg was in fact my first attempt at writing fiction, Dr Jackson. It caused us no end of trouble until I was forced to retract...”
“We know that you want people to believe that it was fraudulent, however we were suspect that you were protecting your friend Detective Ellison, here. There was the original monograph by Richard Burton, the documented debriefing after Captain Ellison's time in Peru. CIA Rogue Lee Brackett's insisted that former Ranger Captain Ellison was in possession of heightened senses when he was interviewed at length. Your personal history and your arrest history working with Ellison stands out from all the rest. And there's this...”
Jim and Xander both covered their ears as they were assaulted by a large shrill noise that seemed to be coming from the General. Jack opened his hand's to reveal a dog whistle. As all heads swivelled to look at him. “What!” He looked unrepentantly at a sighing Daniel, “We need to move on and I'd rather not argue this all day.”
“Jim Ellison and Xander Harris are Sentinels,” Daniel continued, “and you've been helping them use their senses. I believe that you called it guiding, a companion to the Watchman, also mentioned by Richard Burton.”
Teal'c watched the interaction between the visitors, he too had felt the atmosphere change in the room, and readied himself for a possible violent outcome to this meeting. A person was never more dangerous than when they felt cornered. Detective Sandburg looked the most effected by the revealing.
Blair felt that he'd been kicked in his stomach, it felt like the dissertation had put Jim in danger of exposure again. Even though they'd both agreed to the risks inherent in leaving written work out there for people to find, they needed to help other Sentinels and Guides. Blair felt a touch to his knee, looking up, Jim's face showed acceptance and the emotions he could feel from his Sentinel were only of acceptance and calm.
“And where does that leave us?” asked Jim quietly. Since the meeting had started and O'Neill people had given them a long introduction to the Stargate programme he knew that they wanted something in return.
“It leaves us with an opportunity,” said Jack, “and a problem. From what I understand of the Sentinel's role, there is an ingrained need to protect and we have a need for people to help protect this planet. We would like your co-operation to help us locate other Sentinels and your help in integrating them into the SGC. ” he paused, “Detectives Ellison, Sandburg and Alexander Harris, I have been authorised to offer you all a job here at the SGC, helping us do what we do better.”
Jim met Jack's gaze with his own, “Are we free to refuse?”
“You can refuse, however I'm not going to lie to you there will be pressure for you to help us locate another Sentinel and show us how to guide him and until that comes to pass, Detective Ellison your commission as of 9:00 hrs tomorrow morning will have been re-activated.” There was a reserved silence from the three men as they realised that the military already owned Jim Ellison. Or so the others thought, Jim Ellison knew otherwise but held his tongue as he waited for the Air Force General to lay his cards on the table.
“We're not a threat to you, we just want to learn more about you and...” began Daniel trying to defuse the mounting tension in the room. An us and them stance would not lead to the most beneficial working environment, if he could get them to just...
Jack however cut him off. “What we do here is too important for us not to use every advantage that we have at our disposal. If what you say in your paper is right then there should be someone who wants to help protect the tribe here at the SGC and personally I would rather willing volunteers.”
Carter spoke up. “You could gain your doctorate, Detective Sandburg.”
“I don't care about my doctorate, I care about Jim!” said man snapped.
Again Jim's light touch to Blair's knee helped centre him and Jim surprised him with his next statement. “We'll need to talk the situation over and what ever happens we'll want certain protections and guarantees.”
“Jim?” Blair questioned.
“Chief, let's talk about it later.” Turning to the other young Sentinel, “What are you after from Xander?”
Xander looked up from his second cup of coffee, “I'll have to talk any options over with Jon. After all it's his life too” There was an awkward pause as the members of the SGC traded glances.
“There is a job offer for Xander's but the case is a little different.” Samantha spoke.
“How so?” Blair asked.
“The partnership between you and Detective Ellison has been established for some time, and we would like to observe that. However we'd like Xander to work with SG1. Dr Jackson, Teal'c and myself would learn to guide Xander.”
“Thank you very much,” both Xander and Jim smiled to each other. SG1 had obviously only read Blair's original thesis that didn't contain the role of the Guide. “But I've already chosen my partner.”
Blair stepped in, “Is it Jon's age that concerns you?”
“It's more about who or what Jon is that is of concern to us.” Daniel answered for her.
“What do you mean, what Jon is?” Xander growled, he felt his muscles tense. Were they slighting his Guide.
“There's no easy way to say this but Jonathan O'Neill is a clone of Jack here. I'm sorry he's not the real anything.” There was a stunned silence.
“A year ago, O'Neill was kidnapped and a member of the race involved tried to cover up the theft with a clone containing all of the then Colonel's knowledge.” Samantha spoke into the silence.“However because O'Neill's DNA had been safeguarded against such manipulation by another member of that race, the clone didn't age as expected. Duplicate O'Neill only reached the age of approximately 15 years old, which enabled us to discover the deception.” Suddenly Xander stood, in concern Blair reached for him.
“Xander are you ok?” Jim also stood and both of them touched the young Sentinel to help ground him.
“I need fresh air,” he snapped and stood up intent on leaving the room. They were talking about Jon as if he wasn't even a real person and that made him more than a little angry. How could his Guide work with people who didn't even rate him as much as the Jaffa Teal'c? How could they be trusted to look after Jon's welfare? He needed to check on his friend now.
“Xander,” Daniel's voice cut though the whirling thoughts that were spinning around Xander's head, “I don't really see the problem I have a doctorate in Anthropology and I'm sure that we'd be able to partner you in the field. I'm looking forward...”
“It is non negotiable. Jon is my Guide.”
“We wouldn't try and stop you interacting with Jon as friends, I'm not sure that I can see what your problem is.” Daniel was confused, something wasn't adding up. “There will just be too many issues between Jack and Jon for them to work successfully together.”
“Dr Jackson, what you have in your possession is my early work. There were some aspects of the Sentinel and Guide partnership that I was completely blind to. It goes deeper than just bringing someone out of a zone, it requires a one on one bond for life.” SG1 exchange glances.
“What sort of bond, a soul connection, a link.”
Jack sighed explosively he hated anything metaphysical, hopefully Carter would be able to bring it into the real world. “You've lost me.”
“It's hard to explain, but put it this way a Guide is just as special as the Sentinel and Jon and Xander are already linked. It takes more than a nice sounding voice to pull someone back from a deep zone, it takes a metaphysical connection which only some people can make. Jon is one of these people.”
“There's the likely possibility that if the clone is one of these people then Jack is too.” Startled Xander looked at Jack and his senses honed in on the General, there was nothing special coming from him. No it wasn't possible to replace Jon with anyone else.
“No. I have Jon and I chose Jon, he has a soul and a Spirit guide...” Then he slapped his own forehead. “A baby one.” Suddenly the reason for the young white tiger cub was revealed. “He is real, a person in his own right, and,” he checked again what his senses had told him, “I couldn't anyway. Could I Jim? Jack's not Jon.”
“No, you couldn't.” Jim also looked at Jack honing his senses in on the General. “The General isn't the same,” he agreed with the other Sentinel. He'd only spent very little time with Jon but even that was enough to catalogue him via his senses.
Xander blurted out, “You don't quite feel like him, you're not the same.”
With a slight grimace, and an apologetic glance to his friend Daniel said, “He's just older, a lot older, but this is...”
“No they're different,” Xander laughed without humour. “It's not just their difference in age, General O'Neill is not a Guide, but Jon is.”
“You must be mistaken, General...”
“It's true, this O'Neill is not a Guide.” Jim supported the younger man's argument. Pulling gently on the young man's arm they both retook their seats. “I'd know my own Guide at any age and Xander would be able too as well. I can also tell when someone's a potential Guide. Capital G.”
“How can that be? It's not possible, duplicate O'Neill was cloned by the Asgard. They live by cloning themselves.”
“You're a close match. Like family... like a man that is his brother and father, but you're not the same. Your scent and,” Xander smiled sheepishly, “something's different.”
Blair also smiled. “Face it General, Jon's not identical to you, from a Sentinel's perspective. Therefore he's not your exact clone maybe it's something that can't be cloned. Also it wouldn't be fair to Xander to bond with someone so much older than him, ”
“But this missing element was created when Duplicate O'Neill was made?” Carter was intrigued. A mutation perhaps, or a consequence of the genetic marker they placed in the General.
Xander growled softly still tense, “Stop with the duplicate business, Jonathan has a name.”
“Fine but let's get the facts of this straight. Jonathan is a clone, my clone he belongs to me and the United States Air Force.” Jack was getting a head ache and wanted to cut to the crux of the matter.
“He's only value to you is that he is my Guide.” The darker Sentinel in Xander began to stir as a threat to his Guide was perceived. Xander moved forward and it was only the gentle grounding touch to his arm that kept him from answering the challenge and calmed him slightly as the older Sentinel sat straighter and his cell phone gave a beep. The smile Jim gave the General was quite chilling.
“Excuse me I think that we all need to calm down. I think that this can all be sorted out amicably to all our satisfaction. Well mine anyway.” With that Jim gave a reassuring squeeze to Xander's shoulder.
Jack growled as the phone in the centre of the conference room began to ring and picked it up “O'Neill,” he barked. The following “Yes, sir.” was said with a hell of a lot more respect, “Yes, sir, but...”.....”Yes, Sir.” and to everyone's surprise he held out the phone towards Ellison. “It's General Kinnock for you, Detective Ellison.”
“What on earth have you got yourself into now Ellison?” came the deep bass on the phone. Jim could just imagine the big African-American ,Joint Chief of Staff General ,leaning back in his seat at the Pentagon, waiting to hear of the former Ranger's newest episode.
Meanwhile Jack had crossed over to the briefing room's door and swung it open. In entered two men in expensive, bespoke suits carrying heavy looking attaché cases.
“Nothing you can't help me sort out, Zac. You're just in time.” Jim smiled and turned to the other men, “Turner, Grey good to see you.” The two men nodded their greetings to the Cascade Detective. General O'Neill looked at the men and knew that his morning had just gotten a whole lot more complicated. “I'm sure that this situation can be sorted out amicably now. I'll fill you in later. Oh and I think there maybe a memo to re-activate my commission, can you deal with that, it really isn't convenient at the moment.”
“Keep me appraised.”
“Roger that, Zac.” As Jim replaced the receiver he perched himself on the edge of the table. Turning to speak to the two well dressed men in suits he said, “General O'Neill was just claiming a free citizen of the USA, to be his and USAAF property. What will be your answer to that proposition gentlemen?”
Blair Sandburg sat back and watched as his partner morphed into the other persona he had become aware of only a few years ago James Ellison, person of power. Last night he'd caught a glimpse of this aspect of his Sentinel's personality as Jim had made a steady stream of phone calls after reading the disclosure forms. There was a lot that he still didn't know about Jim's military past, and all the situations that he had been in before the fated downing of his helicopter in Peru 14 years ago, however he knew that his name was probably the first out of the hat to help the Secret Service when the President had visited Cascade some years back. On a day to day basis, all you saw was Jim the cop, and it was easy to see why someone like O'Neill would have thought it easy to take control of the Sentinel. Well he doubted that this tac would be tried again. The archaeologist let his mind drift onto other topics a Stargate to other worlds...
Two hours later Jack watched as the Sentinel's and their Guides left Cheyenne Mountain in a military chopper bound for the closest military airbase, where they would be put on a flight to Virginia. It had not gone as planned the only thing he had been left with was his rank and the knowledge that advanced warriors did exist, however it wasn't all bad news. Negotiations with Ellison would continue at the Detectives time and choosing. Other possible candidates would be looked for and if Sandburg found them willing try the SGC. Jack sighed as he realised that his high handed tactics in regards to his clone had not earned him any friends. Turning around he walked back into the facility he needed another talk with Dr Fredrick Sawyer, just how different was Jon?
Thank you for your reviews they kept me writing. I kept fiddling with this chapter but in the end I just decided to post it as it is, I really hope you like it.