How to Win Friends and Influence People
A/N Our friends from Stargate are back, and we bring in another crossover from the works of Tom Clancy. As always, I have no proprietary claim to BTVS, Stargate, anything that came out of Tom Clancy's head, or anything else that could possibly generate an income. I do have proprietary claim to a pocket full of pretty shells I collected on the Outer Banks, but they're not much for generating income either.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
Miskatonic University, April 21
“So that’s basically how the meeting went, any questions,” Xander asked. He and Faith hadn’t seen Dawn or Oz over the weekend, so Xander was catching them up on what had happened, and he was learning about their little adventure as well.
“Do you think they’ll go for it,” Dawn asked
“Not immediately, no; but I’m willing to bet Buffy’s shoe budget that this time next year we’ll be actively recruiting.”
“That soon, why?”
“Because unless things take a serious upturn, they’ll have to dip into the endowment funds next year to cover the budget short-fall; that’s a first for this place and it’ll shake em up.”
“No chance we’ll have to shut the doors is there?”
“Nah, the endowment fund is huge, but the precedent of using it to cover the operations budget will force the board to re-think how things are going, and we’ll get our shot then.”
“So what kind of ground work do we have to lay before they give this thing a try?”
“Well there’s a couple of things; first I want to hire Clem as a graduate assistant…….”
“Graduate assistant, you mean he’s got a degree,” Dawn asked incredulously.
“Yeah, BA in History from Washington and Lee.”
“How’d he manage that?”
“Correspondence courses and on-line stuff, anyway the other thing we need to do here is get the students ready, so in class for the rest of this year and next we’ll emphasize how there are different types of demons and how some of them are just folks with different biology. That should make things a little smoother the year after. Now as long as we’re talking ground work, there’s something else we need to consider.”
“That is,” Oz asked.
“Getting governments ready to accept this, because as much as we don’t want to admit it, one school isn’t gonna change some senator’s mind.”
“I can’t believe you’re actually suggesting that we talk to the government, don’t you remember the Initiative and what they did. You’ve gotta know that there are still people all around Washington with that kind of mentality.”
Xander held up his hands in a calming gesture to try and head of hurricane Dawn. “I remember very well what they were capable of, but we are gonna need friends in high places if this is to work. Now to do this properly I’m gonna need your help Dawn.”
“What do you need me to do Xander?”
“I want you to do a search for the right kind of people to tell; in all the major powers and in countries where there’s a lot of demonic activity.”
“OK, what am I looking for?”
“We need someone who’s well connected and high enough to influence policy but isn’t a politician. I want a pro, someone who’s doing a job not running for re-election and who knows how to keep his or her mouth shut; oh, and no journalists either. We don’t want to become some side-show that’s used to sell papers. Take a couple of weeks and see if you can scrape up three or four in each country; if you can, we’ll see about approaching them.”
“I’m still not sure about this X; I mean I wasn’t there for the whole Adam fun and games, but government is government and we can’t afford to have this blow up on us.”
“True, but if this is gonna work we’ll need more than just a campus full of students, we’ll need someone who can represent us in Washington and the other capitals, someone they’ll listen to.” Xander looked at his three companions, “I don’t like it either and I wouldn’t be pushing this if it wasn’t necessary; but I honestly don’t see any other way.”
“I know Xand,” Faith said, taking his hand, “but you gotta admit our contact with the government hasn’t been too hot over the years.”
“True enough, but I still think this is something we gotta do; I mean if you all have an alternative, I’m willing to listen; but we’ve gotta do something, OK?”
Three head shakes was all the reply he got and the others got up to leave as he went back to the pile of tests that were on his desk.
Xander was still deep into grading tests when he heard someone clearing their throat. Looking up he saw Dawn leaning against the doorframe to his office and smirking at him. “What’s up Dawn?”
“Took you long enough Xander, I was there for at least five minutes.”
“Sorry, I was marveling at some of our students’ rather inventive bullshit.”
“Tell me about it,” she looked around quickly, “you got a minute or two?”
“Sure, have a seat and tell me what’s on your mind.”
Dawn eased into the room and shut the door, after that Xander noticed her muttering something that didn’t sound like English.
“What’s with the mojo?”
“Just a little noise dampening spell, you don’t mind do you?”
“Nah,” he said, leaning forward. “Now what is it you don’t want Faith to hear?”
For whatever reason his correct guess shook Dawn up so much that she lost track of what she’d wanted to say and now was just sitting there; mouth opening and closing like a landed trout. Ever since Faith had shared her letter, Dawn had known that this moment would come, and she’d been preparing for it. But now that it was actually here, it was proving to be much harder than she’d anticipated. She closed her eyes and bowed her head and tried to find the inner calm that Oz had been helping her with; once she had it she opened her eyes and looked back up at Xander. “So, you and Faith, huh?”
“Yeah,” Xander replied. “I mean I know it isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue, but considering our histories, it wasn’t a given either. What do you think about it?”
Dawn hadn’t been expecting that question; it took her a moment to shift her mental gears, “I’m scared actually.”
“Because if things start to go south with the two of you, then I’m afraid I’ll get stuck in the middle and have to decide which of you I’m still gonna be friends with, and I don’t want to lose either of your friendships.”
“I see,” he paused. “Do you think we’re making a mistake?”
Part of her wanted to scream ‘YES’ while jumping up and down, or maybe while jumping the desk and putting him in a lip lock but in her heart Dawn knew that she and Xander were never going to be anything other than friends; so she suppressed that part of her brain and considered the question. Did she think the two were making a mistake, after all; neither of them were the poster kids for healthy stable relationships but at the same time it could be said that they had needed time to mature before they were ready for something like marriage, she certainly knew that was the case for Faith. This thought brought another question up, was Faith, the original wild child, ready for s steady monogamous relationship; heck, was she able to have a steady monogamous relationship. When they’d been in Cleveland the three of them had been so tight that it was scary at times, almost like they were three bodies sharing one soul and one mind, but now Dawn found herself excluded because she wasn’t able to use the damned book and a rift had opened up that hadn’t been there before. But there was no rift between Faith and Xander, and to be honest the rift between them and Dawn was pretty darned small. Dawn realized that mentally she was still running in circles, so focus; did she think Xander and Faith were making a mistake……… “no, I honestly can’t see either of you being with anyone else. Faith has so many trust issues with guys that I could only see her with you, Oz or maybe Giles; and you are friends first with so many of us that I could only see you expanding that for Faith or Buffy. So given those realities I suppose that this was inevitable.” Xander looked at her for a moment, his eye glittering with something; she didn’t know if it was mirth, anger or something in between. “What?”
“Did it hurt to say that,” he asked.
Dawn started to give a rather nasty reply, but she saw that he wasn’t being mean, he was honestly curious; taking a breath she bit out, “yeah, it did.” She looked into his eye and asked what she’d never had the nerve to ask before, “did you ever wonder about ……..”
“You and me, yeah I did; quite a bit actually. The first time was when you were about thirteen; your mom was giving me a hard time your crush so I told her that if I was still un-attached when you turned eighteen then I’d be a lucky man. She just gave me the most stunned look I’ve ever seen from her and then she started to get all red, like she was gonna just kill me and I was getting real nervous, but then she took a breath and said that if that occurred then she wouldn’t stand in the way. Honestly it was the best compliment I’ve gotten in my life and even though I wasn’t serious when I said it, I started thinking about it later that night and I was really liking where the old thought process was going. So that was always kind of buried back in my sub-conscious, but it would surface every now and again. But then something would happen that would push the notion back down. I guess over the years the thought just stopped coming back, despite what a beautiful woman you are, and I don’t mean just in looks. Honestly if something happened to Faith and Oz and you and I ended up spending a lot of time together than I could see myself falling for you pretty easily, but I honestly don’t think we were ever meant for that; call it fate, rotten timing or whatever, but I don’t think we were meant to be.”
Dawn had been surprised that Xander had even considered her in that way, let alone had the nerve to say it to her mother, but reluctantly she was forced to agree with Xander that they were just never meant to happen, “that still leaves me in the middle if the shit hits the fan between you and Faith.”
Xander leaned forward, looking a bit angry, “do you honestly think that either of us would stoop to making you choose sides if things go wrong?” He snorted, “I know we’re not perfect, but I’d like to think that we’re a bit past High School tactics.”
Dawn cringed in her chair a bit, Xander was right, there had been the inevitable disagreements when the three of them were running Cleveland, however, none of them had ever let it interfere with their friendship; that had actually been one of the rules there, right up beside ‘Don’t Die’ and Dawn felt a little small for forgetting that. “Your right Xander, I’d forgotten, it’s just the whole idea of you and Faith gives me the wiggins, I don’t think your making a mistake, but I do think it’ll take me a while to get used to it.”
“Fair enough,” he said, and then an evil smirk bloomed on his face, “you wanna be here when I tell Willow; I could put it on speaker phone and we can listen for her to pass out.”
Even though she didn’t want to, Dawn laughed, “are we gonna place bets on how long before she does?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“Then count me in,” she stood and taking a step forward hugged Xander close and kissed his cheek. “You be good to her Xander, cause you’ll get no sympathy from me if you screw it up.”
Xander gave her a smile, “if I do screw it up, you think she’ll leave anything to be sympathetic for?”
“Probably not,” Dawn said after a pause. “I guess that’s a pretty good reason to make sure you treat her right.” And with a kiss on the other cheek and a lingering thought of ‘what if’ she walked out of his office and back to her own.
SGC, April 30
Samantha Carter looked calm and relaxed, but it was a facade. She was getting ready to try a power source that shouldn’t work, supplied by people who shouldn’t be able to do what they did and controlled by nothing more than phrases in a language that Daniel was still learning; at the moment Sam was so tight that if someone were to cut a loud fart, she’d jump four feet in the air. She had finished the unit about forty eight hours ago, and after a long sleep, facilitated by Janet; they were trying it for the first time. Sam leaned forward and flipped a toggle. “OK Daniel, turn it on.”
Daniel Jackson just nodded, then muttered a phrase in a language that few humans had ever spoken, then he left the lab; he found the whole process fascinating, but what he really wanted to do was to return to Miskatonic. Daniel had rarely found people that were at his level, it made things tough at times because no-one could really understand his point of view; but now he knew where such people were and he longed for more contact. ‘Maybe I can take some leave time,’ he thought as he headed up to the control room.
Sam barely acknowledged Daniel’s arrival, she was too busy looking at all the readouts; they were unanimous in saying that everything was working normally. She turned a dial, “power usage at 20 percent,” she said: checking monitors the whole time. They had hooked the supply unit up to some equipment that just pulled a power load, while this was happening the scientists were monitoring ambient temperature, how swiftly the unit reacted to changes in demand, and of course, how much it could supply. Sam was taking her time because she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Despite the increasing load, there was virtually no temperature change in the room, the unit wasn’t losing any power as heat, the reaction to change was virtually instantaneous, and finally the unit was showing no signs that it was running out of juice any time soon. Finally she couldn’t justify running things for any longer, so she shut the experiment down. The entire control room had kind of a ‘Holy Shit’ attitude going; no one could believe what they had just witnessed. In the midst of all the congratulations Daniel walked over to Sam and whispered, “so what are we willing to trade for more of those storage units?”
Sam looked startled but then quickly slid into thoughtful, it was an important question; it would be interesting to see what kind of answer her superiors would supply.
Miskatonic University, May 5
“So is that the list Dawnie dug up for ya?”
“Yeah,” Xander said glumly.
“So what’s the problem,” Faith asked as she sat down.
Xander sat there for a moment, trying to put what he was feeling into words. Finally he said, “I know that this is something we need to do, and when we were just talking about it I wasn’t worried, but now that I’m looking at a list of the people we’re contacting, well it’s just a lot more real all the sudden and……..”
“And now you’re not as sure as you used to be.”
Xander just nodded.
“Honestly X, I don’t see what the rush is?”
“It’s just that the more friends in high places we have, the easier everything will be; and God only knows when the whole hidden world wont be so hidden. So I figured the sooner the better; but now I’m not so sure.”
“Well these are some powerful people with incredible resources, what if they decide to make their careers by having us taken or something like that.” He held up a hand to forestall Faith’s protest, “I know that all of these folks were picked for their integrity, but power is a great tempter.”
“And you’re afraid that one of us might get hurt during the whole thing?”
Xander looked down at the desk, “if it was just me, then I’d do this in a heartbeat, but I can’t stand the thought of you or Dawnie or Oz getting hurt because of my decision, not to mention any of the slayers, watchers or even helpful demons.”
“What the fuck X, we put it on the line every day, or at least we did till we came here, and the slayers are still putin’ it on the line. And even while we’ve been here we’ve dealt with some hairy shit. Hell, life is just a risk, as for this,” she gestured at the list, “I figure riding in a car with B driving is a hell of a lot riskier than telling some muckety mucks that demons are real and people fight them.”
Xander looked away in embarrassment, “I suppose.”
“Tell ya what though, if you’re having the heebie jeebies because of this, then do a test case.”
“Pick out the guy you think’ll give us the most trouble, and if we deal with him OK, then we tackle the rest.”
Xander nodded once, then stood and leaned across his desk and kissed his fiancé. “I knew there was a reason I loved you so much.” he muttered in her ear. “That’s a wonderful idea.”
“Cool,” Faith replied. “Now you pick out the unlucky bastard, and then we’ll figure out how to rock his world with the least amount of risk.”
“Now there’s a plan I can get behind,” then he looked back at his desk. “Oh, and we’ve got some other business to attend to as well.”
SGC, May 5
There was a brief flare of light, and suddenly there were people where people hadn’t been just a second ago. Nothing was said, but quickly flashlights were turned on and the lab was examined, equipment photographed and written records copied. Not wanting to find out if security had been improved since they’d been there last, the two intruders quickly drew a pattern in the corner in chalk, as soon as the corner was glowing the taller of the two placed an index card on what they’d photographed and the shorter one left a small box on the floor. Mission completed, the two left through the glowing corner; thirty seconds later the ‘erasure’ spell that had been put on the box activated and the pattern was hopelessly mired, the light in the corner went out, but almost immediately the light in the lab turned on, and men with guns were bursting in the door.
Sam had been alerted about the break in almost as soon as it happened. As she stalked down to the lab, the other members of the command saw her face, and parted like the Red Sea. She nearly ran into the lab, swearing vengeance if anything had been damaged. “Report.”
“Not much to report Major, nothing seems to be missing or even out of place. We’ve got some chalk lines in one corner and a card on a piece of equipment and that’s it. Whatever it was that triggered the alert was so small that it caused no damage. Honestly I’m surprised that we were able to detect it.”
Sam just nodded in acknowledgment as her eyes scanned the lab, she grimaced a bit when she caught site of the corner, those were the kind of lines she’d expected and guessed that whatever had blurred them was so they couldn’t be followed. Cautiously she walked over and picked up the card, the message was simple; “We have more power sources; feel free to open negotiations at your convenience.” The card was emblazoned with the crest of Miskatonic University.
Miskatonic University, May 6
“OK Oz, can you just kinda bottom line it for those of us who are not one with the math.”
Oz grinned at his friend and said, “well from what I could tell, three dozen of those things should handle all of their power needs for a hundred years. Now that is assuming that SGC/NORAD is the only facility we’re talking about, otherwise we’re clueless about what they’ll need.”
“Cool, well we can spare that many, so what I need from you all is a list of what we want for those things.”
“Why don’t we just give em to em X?”
“They’d never trust us if we just gave em away, this way they’ll figure that we’re getting something out of the deal and will leave it at that.”
“So what is it we really want?”
“The plans for the power converter of course, anything beyond that is gravy, but we need a big enough list so that doesn’t stick out.”
“You don’t think that’ll stick out?”
“Not compared to some of the stuff I’m gonna ask for.” He looked over at Faith, “like a honeymoon on another planet, you get the idea.”
Understanding the direction he wanted them to go in, the three others all got introspective looks and matching grins.
“Now,” Xander said, pulling everyone’s attention back to the here and now. “I figured we’d do first contact tomorrow morning, so everyone be here at six thirty, ready to go; any questions?”
This was a topic they’d discussed quite a bit, and none of them had anything to add.
Langley VA, May 7
Dr. John Patrick Ryan really liked his job. The recently appointed Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency enjoyed the challenge of hunting down the troublemakers in the world and stopping them before they disturbed what little peace there was in the world. In a way he was still doing the same job that he had when he first arrived at CIA, but now he had access to more sources of data, and more assets to deal with what he found. The only regret he had was that as one of the highest ranking intelligence officers in the world, he really wasn’t ever surprised anymore. He closed the door to his 7th floor office and just had time to realize that maybe he should re-think that opinion as the stun gun hit him.
Ryan realized that he must have lost consciousness because the next thing he was aware of was that he’d been duct taped to his chair and that four undertakers were lounging around his office. Well undertakers were his first impression, there were four people dressed in Edwardian style black suits but none of them looked either old or cadaverous. There was a short man with some rather shocking blue hair, two brunettes; one tall and willowy, the other shorter and curvier and finally there was a man with dark hair and an eye patch. Ryan figured he was the leader because he was the one that started talking when he noticed that Ryan was awake.
“Good morning Dr. Ryan, sorry about the stun gun, but we wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t be interrupted during our little chat. Let me assure you that you’re in no danger, my associates and I are only here to have a private conversation, then we’ll leave.”
“An area that we believe you need to be made aware of; and even though some of the information concerns domestic issues, there are serious international implications; that’s one reason we’re here and not the FBI.”
“And what is it that I’m not aware of?”
“A population living in this world, one that is un-acknowledged and ignored by authorities, but one that could cause a world of havoc with their revelation.”
“Really, and why are you making me aware of this now?”
“We’ll get to the whys in a minute, right now we need you to focus on the what.” He gestured to the slim brunette. She stood and started towards his desk, her voice was young and vibrant, but the tone was one of old knowledge, “the world is older than you believe, and contrary to your Catholic upbringing it didn’t start out as a paradise ……..”
Ryan looked around his office, trying to dismiss what he’d seen and been told; unfortunately his eyes kept coming back to two things, a crowbar that had been bent into a pretzel and an open folder. It was easy to call these people lunatics, so long as he ignored the evidence in front of him and that was one thing he couldn’t do. A large part of his meteoric rise at CIA had been his sense of the truth, his ability to be able to tell if a piece of information was bogus or not and right now that sense was telling him that these people had been completely straight with him. He looked up into the rather sardonic gaze of the leader, “this is a lot to take in.”
“Yeah, it is; and we don’t expect you to buy this right off the bat. But a guy with your resources should be able to back check a lot of it; you should be able to find the right rocks to turn over.” He smirked even harder, “there’s a few in that five sided building down the road. The one thing I will ask is that you don’t go looking for these things, not unless you’re with a couple of us, or with a squad of armed infantry.”
The blue haired guy stepped forward. “When you want to know more, call us here,” and he handed Ryan a plain card with a phone number on it, that was all.
“So what happens now,” Jack asked.
“Now we leave,” the one eyed man replied. He turned back to Ryan, “one other thing, if you show the information in that folder to anyone else, they won’t see it; it’s been . . . . . protected.”
“What will they see,” Ryan asked intrigued despite himself.
“Whatever you’d find most embarrassing without being illegal; a Britney Spears fanboy scrapbook, or a catalog for bondage wear, that kind of thing. You see we trust you and only you right now,” he turned back to look Ryan in the eye, “don’t make us regret that.” He turned and moved towards the corner.
“I’ll be curious to see how you get past everyone.”
“Who said anything about using the doors,” the sultry brunette asked. Ryan could see past her that the willowy girl was drawing something in a corner of his office; his attention was pulled away from that when he heard a “snick” close to his ear. He turned and blanched at the sight of a rather large switch blade in the sultry girl’s hand. “Be cool, I’m just gonna loosen ya up some, can’t have you tied to the chair all day, could get messy,” she said as the knife sawed most of the way through the tape holding his right arm down. As she moved away he started to struggle with the bindings, only to be distracted by a small, whooshing noise. He looked around, all four of them were gone, and the diagram that they’d drawn in the corner was mostly obliterated. He sighed and sagged back in his chair for a moment; he’d talk to John and Ding about this they might know about stuff like this, and get the techies to see if they could back track the phone number or pick up any physical evidence. But first he had to get loose.
Cheyenne Mountain, May 7
Jack O’Neill had had enough and he stalked towards Hammond’s office. When seeing his face, the SGC personnel realized that they had very pressing business somewhere on the other side of the base. As far as Jack was concerned the bozos from Miskatonic had pushed it too far. These guys might be powerful but they weren’t untouchable; and waltzing in and out of a top secret base like they owned it was just asking to be touched. He knew that Hammond had been told to lay off, but the General hadn’t specifically communicated that to his subordinates; so Jack figured it was up to him to express the displeasure of the SGC, not that he’d advertise the fact. He knew he had some leave coming, and he figured he might just take Teal’c fishing up around Boston; he left it unsaid that fishing wasn’t the only thing he’d be doing there.
May 10th, Langley VA.
Dave Simmons was going nuts. He’d been tasked by the DDCI to crack the mainframe for Miskatonic University. He hadn’t been told why, but rumor had it that the folks there were a bit off, and CIA was looking at their foreign connections. Well for what ever reason he had the job, and now he was failing spectacularly and he didn’t know why. Several times he knew he was close to getting it, then he’d suddenly find himself somewhere else; the IRS mainframe, a Mexican porn site, the Hannah Montana fan site, even his own home PC. If anyone had told him that a search had been transferred the way his had, Dave would have said they were mistaken. But he’d been on the receiving end of it, and the mechanics of it alone were driving him crazy.
“Any luck,” a voice asked from behind him.
Dave gave a rather un-manly squeak and jumped in his seat. He turned and looked at John Clark, “don’t do that man; you almost gave me a coronary.”
“So ya got anything,” Clark asked, looking very unrepentant.
“Nah,” Dave said, turning back to the screen, “every time I think I’m there I get sent somewhere else.”
“No idea, I would have said it’s impossible, but it’s happened about half a dozen times, so I’m starting to believe it.”
John Clark stood back up, thanked Dave and headed back up to Jack’s office.
“Sorry Jack, their system wasn’t crackable.”
“Any idea how that’s possible.”
“It shouldn’t be, with the system we’ve got we should be able to crack any system in the world, the fact that they can defeat it says a lot.”
“You think I should talk to them?”
John thought for a moment, “yeah I do Jack, everything we’ve found out about them has come up golden, there couldn’t find any reason for them to pull a hoax like this and from what we’ve found out about the Initiative, it sounds like the folks that approached us are the pro’s from Dover in this area. If these folks say that there’s a threat out there, then I’d give em the benefit of the doubt.”
“Thanks John,” Jack said and sat back in his chair, what he’d just found out only confirmed what his gut had been telling him. The idea of talking to them both thrilled and frightened him because he somehow knew that his life would never be the same after.
May 13th, Miskatonic University
Xander had been grading some late papers and was now going over a review sheet for the final when the door slammed open; since Faith did that at least once a week in an effort to startle him, Xander didn’t even look up at first. When he did he didn’t see Faith, instead there was an older man with salt and pepper hair and a large black man wearing a rather disconcerting cowboy hat. He sat there silently as the two walked into his office and closed the door. The way they were standing reminded him of Riley Finn, and now he knew who these two men were, the remaining parts of SG-1.
“Do you have any idea how long a stay in Leavenworth you’d have for breaking into a top secret facility?”
“Not really Colonel, in point of fact I’ve never been inside Cheyenne Mountain, so in that regard your question is moot. Now would you and Mr. Teal’c care to sit down?”
“No thanks, we’d rather stand; and just so you know smart ass, if I can find one bit of evidence that links you directly to the break ins, then I’m gonna be the one slamming the door on your cell. You and your people are threatening the security of this nation, and I won’t stand for it.” After a second Teal’c added, “how were you aware of our names XanderHarris?”
“Good to know,” he said, meeting Jack glare for glare. “Now if you would look at this please,” Xander slid a folder across his desk towards Jack. Jack picked it up and as he was reading Xander turned to Teal’c and answered his question, “actually there’s very little about your organization that we don’t know. You wouldn’t be up to answering some questions would you?”
“No, I would not XanderHarris.”
“I understand; secrecy and all that, still what we do know sounds fascinating.”
“It is that,” Teal’c replied.
After one paragraph Jack turned white as a sheet, as he turned the pages his expression bounced between profound fear and profound rage. Reading over his shoulder, Teal’c rumbled, “this could be most damaging O’Neill.” Not wanting to openly agree, Jack finished reading the folder, then tossed it back on the desk and yelled, “what the hell is this?”
“This is my insurance policy Colonel, if you do anything to hurt either my staff or this University; I’ll make you a star faster than you can blink.”
“No paper in the country would be allowed to print that.”
“Maybe, but what about papers outside this country, heck; what about governments outside this country. You’ve got a gateway to the stars under that mountain and you’re keeping all the other kids from having a turn, I doubt they’ll be real understanding about that. As you can probably tell, I’m not really a fan of having the military in control of something like this, so if you wan to push this then all I can say is ‘Go ahead, make my day’,” Xander rasped out in his best Eastwood imitation.
Jack just stood there, almost vibrating with anger; this little twerp thought he had them checked and mated and there wasn’t anything that Jack could do about it. ‘We’ll see about that,’ Jack thought as he shook his head.
“Now if you want to sit down we can discuss the situation like rational men and make sure that personal feelings don’t screw this up for either of us.”
The nonchalant, almost dismissive way that Harris spoke was the final thing needed to set Jack off; with a growl he reached across the desk and jerked Xander up by his shirt collar. “I think it’s time you started to realize the position that you’re in,” Jack hissed out as he drew his pistol. “Now I’m gonna tell you how things are gonna be, understand?”
“Colonel, loose the gun and the attitude now, while you still can.”
“I asked you a question, now what’s it gonna be.”
“Fine, have it your way,” Xander said, rolling his eye. Then he looked squarely at O’Neill, “say goodnight Gracie.”
Jack moved his face back a little, confused, “goodnight Gracie,” he muttered; sounding as though he really wasn’t sure what he’d heard.
“Good enough,” Xander said with a wicked grin and waved his left hand in front of O’Neill’s face.
Jack didn’t even have time to wonder what was happening before he hit the floor. Seeing what was happening, Teal’c lunged towards Xander, but suddenly there was a puff of powder in his face, and after the briefest inhale, he was joining Jack in the land of Nod.
Jack came too to the sound of music; actually, he realized, it was The Sound of Music, the opening song was unmistakable. Without opening his eyes he tried to assess his situation. From the way the sound echoed, he was in a smallish room and sitting in a very uncomfortable chair; he tried moving his limbs, but only his left arm was able to respond. This confused him more than anything, ‘why secure my whole body but leave an arm completely free,’ he wondered. Figuring there was nothing else to learn, Jack opened his eyes. He was in an office that looked a lot like Daniel’s, there were books everywhere; in fact the TV was sitting on a pile of rather large, old looking tomes. Teal’c was in the same predicament as he was, however the Jaffa had his right arm free as opposed to his left, but like Jack everything else was securely duct taped; there was also a small table sitting between their chairs. He was about to say something when their captor walked in. Jack took a look, then did a classic double take; the guy(?) looked to be a mass of wrinkles, like a walking Shar-pei, complete with floppy ears.
“Oh hey, you’re awake,” it said
“Who or what are you,” Jack replied, honestly not having any idea what the answer would be.
“My name’s Clem, I’m a grad student here.” He looked seriously at them both “you want pop corn or cheese doodles?”
“With the movie, you want pop corn or cheese doodles; all we got is Coke to drink unless you want water.”
Clem stood there with a smile on his face and Jack had to wonder if this was real or if he was still unconscious and his brain was having a little fun with him. “Popcorn’s fine,” he finally answered; Clem (whatever he was) smiled and turned his attention to Teal’c. “I would like to try cheese doodles,” the Jaffa rumbled. Clem’s smile remained unchanged as he bustled out of the office.
Jack looked over at his team-mate, “any chance of you getting loose?”
“No O’Neill, despite the freedom of my arm, the rest of me is bound most securely, and I have no access to a cutting device.” He looked back at Jack, “do you think you might obtain your freedom?”
“Nah buddy, we seem to be in the same boat.” He sighed, “I guess we’re gonna have to wait till the let us go.”
“Do you believe they will?”
“Sure,” Clem replied as he re-entered the room, “but right now Dr. Harris, Ms. Faith and Ms. Dawn all have classes, so you’ll have to wait till they’re done.”
“You could hear us,” Jack asked.
“Hey, these things aren’t decoration,” Clem replied as he gestured towards his ears. “Now, just behave and I won’t have to get mean.” As he placed the snacks on the table between the two men, Jack noted that his hand was the size of a catcher’s mitt, “I don’t like to get mean,” he muttered.
“Not a problem guy, we’ll just sit here and watch the movie.” In truth Jack didn’t want to find out what this guy’s idea of mean was, however there were things he was curious about. “Hey Clem,” he asked.
“Yeah,” was the distracted reply.
“Where are you from?”
“Yeah, but I couldn’t stand the winters so I moved to California,” he turned and gave Jack a glare. “Shush, I love this part.”
They were just to the part where the nuns sabotage the cars when the office door opened up to reveal two brunettes, one was curvy and the other was more slender, but both had very annoyed looks on their faces and Jack realized that he might not get out of this as unscathed as he thought. He took a moment to take a sip of Coke to clear his throat; out of the corner of his eye he caught Teal’c trying to clean the orange ‘Cheese Doodle’ residue off his hand.
“So is this the guy,” Faith asked, her gaze never leaving Jack.
“Yes,” Clem quietly answered, he could tell that Faith was angry, and an angry slayer wasn’t something he wanted to be around. Sensing his discomfort, Dawn acted.
“Thanks for keeping an eye on them for us,” Dawn said as she helped the very nervous demon up and shepherded him towards the door. “Now why don’t you go wait in Xander’s office and we’ll finish the movie later.” Grateful for the out, Clem quickly left.
While all this had been going on, Faith just stood there glaring at Jack. For his part, Jack had dealt with powerful beings before, whether they were human or otherwise but none of them compared to the woman in front of him. She wasn’t physically imposing; not tall or broad or heavily muscled but there was something there that set off every danger signal he had, something fundamental as though she were a tornado in human form. Trying to defuse the situation he asked, “any idea how Harris knocked me out?”
“Probably, but that’s for later, right now were gonna talk about why you’re here.”
“Ummm, got lost looking for a fishing spot,” Jack tried.
“God, save the bad jokes for Xander, at least he’ll appreciate em,” Faith groused. “My guess is that you don’t like us looking over your shoulder.”
“Is that what you call it,” Jack shot back, “I call it violating national security.”
“Po-ta-to, po-tah-to,” Dawn said. “Now remember a few things; first you all came to us and we chose to help, second you wouldn’t have the technology or the means to use it without our help, and third, we’ve had our fill of government types that think they’re all powerful so we’re just making sure that what we gave you isn’t misused.”
“What do you mean, misused?”
“Used to kill, if that happens then those deaths are partially our fault, and that’s something we’re not willing to accept; so if you don’t play nice with your new toys, well then we’ll be there to smack your hands.”
Jack sat back and digested what the girl had said, he could understand their wanting to monitor what was happening, and he knew that if they’d gone through normal channels, well they’d still be waiting this time next year and probably the year after that. It still rankled him that they could come and go as they pleased, but he was smart enough to realize that there wasn’t anything he could really do about it, at least not yet. He sighed deeply, “understood; I don’t like it but understood.”
“Great,” the curvy brunette said but her happiness didn’t reach her eyes. “Now while Dawn there makes the travel arrangements, there’s another matter we need to discuss.”
Jack turned his head a little to watch the slender girl move to a corner of the office, but his view was interrupted by a hand grabbing his chin and turning his head so he was looking directly into a pair of furious brown eyes, “like the fact that you shoved a gun in my fiancé's face.”
“Uhhhh sorry about that,” Jack said, not trusting his voice to say much else.
“OK,” Faith said after staring for a moment into Jack’s eyes and being satisfied with what she saw there. “I understand wanting to send a message, and since you’re here to do that it would be a waste to miss the opportunity.” She stood back and picked his 9 mm off of the desk. Jack watched as she ejected the clip and cleared the chamber, then she proceeded to bend the gun into a horse shoe. “You want to send a message, well here’s your message,” she said, getting back in Jack’s face as she put the gun in his lap along with a letter. “DON’T FUCK WITH US,” she roared. Jack really wanted to say something, but his eyes kept flicking back to his now useless gun, so for once he kept his mouth shut; however Teal’c responded with a muttered, “impressive.”
Faith got behind his chair and started pushing it towards the corner where Dawn had been drawing. Before she really had a chance to get started, Jack stopped her.
“What ya want?”
“That guy Clem, what is he?”
“He’s a great guy,” both Faith and Dawn replied.
“I’m sure, but is he human?”
“If you mean homo-sapiens then no, but if you mean the traits that make up a human being, then he’s more human than most.”
Faith started pushing again, and again Jack stopped her. “How’d he do it?”
“How did who do what?”
“How did Dr. Harris knock us both out?”
“What was he doin when ya came in?”
“Then he probably used the pen of doom on ya.”
“The pen of doom, what the hell is that?”
“Its an old fountain pen that he got somewhere, he won’t tell me where; that he can put a couple of things in. Did he wave his hand in front of your face?”
“He probably jabbed you with the pen while you weren’t looking. My guess is he’s got some kind of knock out juice in there that he picked up in Africa. What’d he do next?”
“He then blew powder in my face,” Teal’c rumbled from his chair.
“Yeah, that stuff’s called the ‘Yellow Lotus’. Xand knows a guy in Tibet that can get it for him.”
Jack wanted to ask more questions, like were there any after effects but he figured that he’d already gotten all the answers that he was gonna get. Jack could see that the corner was now glowing and he felt the chair picking up speed. He closed his eyes, anticipating smashing into the wall, then opened them as he felt himself rolling across a differently textured floor; he was in the gate room. He looked around as Teal’c joined him and assessed the situation. He was taped to a cheap office chair with his gun bent like a U and needing someone to get him loose and currently there were about two dozen people looking at him, including his commanding officer. It wasn’t the most embarrassing moment of his life, but it was definitely in the top ten.