The Willow Cometh
A very loud, very annoying buzz filled the air, dragging Willow from her peaceful slumber. Not being able to immediately place it, she opened her eyes only to find the world tinted with red. Squeezing her eyes shut again, she mentally counted to ten before reopening them. Slightly confused by the redness dominating her vision, she brought up her right hand to swipe across her forehead and almost sighed with relief when she felt the mass of hair lying across her face.
With an annoyed huff of air, she pulled her hair to the side to see an electric alarm clock not two feet in front of her. She quickly identified the electronic monstrosity as the source of the annoying buzz, but she was frozen in shock and could do nothing but stare at it. She made no move at all except to use her suddenly wide-open green eyes to catalogue every detail about the offending item in question.
It was only about three inches tall and eight inches wide. The coloring was black with red, segmented numbers flashing across the face. She could see the tiny red dot next to small white letters forming the ‘a.m.’ symbol. The numbers themselves were a six followed by two zero’s. All in all, it was simply an ordinary alarm clock. The disturbing and very frightening thing about it was: she was absolutely positive that she had never laid eyes on it before in her life.
Suddenly, a long, very male, very naked arm drew her attention as it reached across her body and slapped at the top of the alarm clock several times until the buzzing died away. A soft grunt of exasperation sounded behind her as the arm withdrew slightly, only to fall across her waist, pining her in place.
Desperately, the woman in question wracked her brain trying to remember the previous night. She could remember going to the Bronze with her friends and having a few social drinks, but she was positive that she hadn’t drank that much. Buffy and Xander had spent the night with her, dancing and having a good time. It was at this point that the woman lost track of her evening. She couldn’t remember anything past the third or fourth dance, while the dance itself was kind of fuzzy. What had happened last night?
Slowly, but carefully, she used her hand to grasp the offending appendage. When nothing happened, she lifted it gently and slid her body off the bed. Dropping the man’s arm, she spun around, hoping for some sense of familiarity. Nothing. Her eyes darted around the room, but nothing was familiar to her at all. It was obviously a man’s room, judging by the organized piles of clothes. She could only guess that one pile was clean while the other was dirty. To her left was a steel door, an observation that left her somewhat shaken. It was flanked on the left by an old, wooden desk literally covered in books. On the right was a set of bookshelves crammed tight with books, both old and new. The wall in front of her had a wooden door that stood partially open, displaying a sink and toilet sitting morosely on a stained, linoleum floor. The wall to her right was featureless except for a few posters of the Pyramids of Egypt held up by tape and tacks. The wall behind her held a large dresser; several drawers still open displaying their haphazard contents to the world at large. All in all, except for the steel door, it was a typical dorm-style room.
She turned her attention to the man still sleeping in the bed. He had the soft features of a scholar rather than someone who did hard physical labor for a living. She could see the indentations on his nose that spoke of glasses. His dark hair was unruly and she idly noticed that it stuck out in all directions, giving him a soft appearance. Judging by the muscles on his arm, he wasn’t an athlete, but he wasn’t a wimp either. He had enough strength in him arms to indicate that he could take care of himself in a confrontation and often did, if the small scratches on the back of his hand was any indication.
She bit her lip, wondering what to do next. Reaching a quick decision, she nodded her head and padded lightly over to the alarm clock. A quick examination revealed to her that the snooze feature must have been activated earlier rather than turning the alarm off. Finding the alarm switch, she quietly deactivated the feature with a slightly shaking finger. Exhaling a sigh of relief at the time she had just bought for herself, she stepped back away from the bed.
“First things first, Willow.” She whispered to herself, her green eyes scanning the carpeting all around the bed. “Find your clothes and then get out of here. Then you can panic all you want.” A thorough examination of the floor on all sides of the bed and under it revealed a puzzling fact, her clothes weren’t anywhere to be seen. Furrowing her brow in thought, she began a second examination of the room, looking for the outfit that she knew she had been wearing the previous evening, the one that Buffy had talked her into wearing: a pair of black, tight leather pants and a black, leather top that was almost a sports bra with silver buckles holding it together in the front, a pair of black, leather, biker boots, and a black, leather collar to complete the theme that Buffy had insisted ‘was so her.’ Nothing. The items in question wasn’t anywhere in sight.
A quick search of the bathroom revealed that it, too, was empty of her possessions. Frowning, she rubbed her aching head, trying to hold off the impending pain that had blossomed suddenly. Each move that she made had serious repercussions in the flaring pain that seemed to pound steadily deep within her brain. She was slightly puzzled, because the pain was unlike any hangover that she had ever encountered before.
Growing frustrated, she sighed, only to freeze in place as her eyes darted over to the figure still lying in the bed that had grunted in return and rolled over. A quick decision, a small chant, and a piece of her power shot out of her out-stretched palm to impact the sleeping man to insure his continued slumber. Nodding in satisfaction, she completed one final scan of the room before sighing yet again.
“I don’t care if it’s for personal gain… I’m not going home without my clothes.” She grumbled to herself. Finding a relatively clean section of carpet, she sat down and crossed her legs. Placing her forearms lightly over her knees, she closed her eyes and carefully pictured the clothing that she had worn. Once she was satisfied with her mental picture, she began a chant that she had memorized long before but had never used. Her voice resonated powerfully around the room as the power built quickly within her body. An eldritch glow lit her hands as they performed complicated patterns in mid-air in counterpoint to her vibrant voice, which was still ringing off the concrete walls. Steadily, the power built, but her well-trained mind held its focus, never once leaving her mental picture to dwell on something else.
With a small shout and a final hand gesture, the power that had been building flashed outwards; filling the room with a bright, white light that would have blinded anyone who had been observing. Instead, the energy flying through the air had coalesced in front of the redheaded witch to form a horizontal portal only twelve inches across. From out of the portal, first her leather pants, followed by the other items, fell to the floor in front of her. When the last item was accounted for, the portal snapped shut with a loud popping noise.
Willow frowned, feeling how drained she had become from the spell. Quickly taking inventory of personal reserves, she was alarmed at how little power remained within her for her use until she managed to replenish it. Shaking her head to clear it, she quickly drew on her clothes. Debating on whether to wear the collar or just to carry it, she could just imagine Buffy’s reaction if she allowed her shyness to interfere with the look the blonde had tried so hard to create. Rolling her eyes in frustration, the witch fastened the collar around her neck and rose to her feet. Walking to the door, she paused for a moment to cancel the sleep spell she had cast earlier and examined the room carefully for any clues as to where she was. Nothing. There was nothing at all that was even slightly familiar to her.
With a quiet sigh, she opened the steel door and stepped quietly through it into a well-lit corridor. The corridor ran in both directions, more steel doors lined both sides of it. A quick glance at the one she had just walked through revealed a nametag set on the wall beside it: Dr. Daniel Jackson. Well, at least she had the name of the mysterious man. She shook her head in disbelief once again before studying the corridor and wondering in which direction to go.
“Halt! Stand where you are!” A loud voice rang out behind her. Turning around, she saw a soldier brandishing a firearm in her direction and staring directly at her. Frowning, she checked behind her to make sure that it was actually her he was threatening before returning her attention to the man waving his weapon in her direction. She watched impassively as he raced towards her, only to slide to a stop when he was about ten feet away from her.
“Get down on the deck!” He snapped at her, pulling his weapon into his shoulder and sighting down the length of it.
“Why?” Willow asked, her hearing picking up additional people approaching from behind her and the doors along the corridor opening, only to spill more people out into the crowded walkway.
“On the deck, now!” He screamed, his eyes widening slightly as the adrenaline thrummed and burned through his veins.
“Lady, get down right now before he shoots you!” A strong, male voice sounded out from behind her.
She was tempted to look over her shoulder, but managed to restrain herself. Now she was beginning to grow irritated. She had woken up in a bed with a stranger, had no memory of actually meeting him, and had lost her clothes. No, she was not in a good mood. A quick flick of her fingers in the soldier’s direction and his weapon crumbled to dust in his hands. She almost smiled at his horrified expression, but the panic that filled the corridor demanded her immediate attention.
A quickly muttered spell to ward off bullets later, she spun around to see an older man brandishing a pistol at her. When he saw her eyes, now black with the power hissing and sparking within her body, he pulled the trigger twice. He was expecting her to collapse in a bloody pile, but his shock was plain to see when his bullets smashed themselves into an invisible barrier not two feet in front of the witch. Without thought, he sent the rest of his supply of bullets towards her, hoping that one would get through. None did.
Willow narrowed her eyes and waved her hand to send the press of people sliding down the hall away from her, bumping against both each other and the walls on their impromptu journey. Screams of pain and fear battered at her ears, causing her to frown as her headache throbbed painfully. Stepping forward, she was surprised to feel a hand fall on her shoulder and give her a sudden, hard jerk. Throwing out her hands to avoid falling down, she managed to retain her balance as the strange hand spun her around to face her mysterious stranger. The soldier who she had disarmed was now standing in front of her, glaring down into her black eyes. His expression was grim and determined as his other hand, balled into a fist, exploded into her face. The pain and shock of the strike stunned her for a split second, as the world seemed to tilt crazily for her as her body fell to the floor. She could see the ceiling of the corridor in front of her eyes and quickly determined that she was falling, but there was nothing she could do to stop her fall. Her last thought was of the soldier that had struck her before the back of her head was slammed into the floor, stealing any sign of consciousness from her.
Generals of any branch of the armed services are not usually known for their sense of humor when awoken in the middle of the night. Generals who were personally responsible for not only the safety of their country, but were single-handedly responsible for the safety of their planet live in dread of this happening. Waking up the general in charge of Stargate Command before the sun has arisen will do nothing but alarm him, despite desperate assurances that the situation has been handled. Needless to say, this was the case when Colonel Jack O’Neil woke General Hammond from his well deserved rest to report the fact that their home base, one of the most heavily guarded installations existing in the world to date, had not only been successfully infiltrated, but that the infiltrator had been caught on the way out having apparently already succeeded in whatever clandestine assignment they had been assigned.
The Colonel waited patiently outside General Hammonds’ room while the latter proceeded to dress in his uniform. Wincing in time to the colorful insults coming from the older man, Jack made mental notes to remember a few of the more choice curses coming from his commanders mouth for later use on his own. If there was one thing he appreciated more than the talent of talking about complicated things in a simple way, it was the art of cursing. He viewed it as a rare but natural gift to the soldier. It was something that the modern soldier could share with the ones that had come previously and form a bond between past and present… a sense of tradition. After all, he mused quietly, it was the right of every soldier to complain, no matter how well things are going. If a soldier was at home on leave, thousands of miles away from their unit, that soldier would most likely complain to anyone who would listen about the unfairness he had to suffer through caused by the brightness of the sun shining or the speed of the wind. He remembered something that his morale instructor had told him back during his academy days: a happy soldier is a bitching soldier. It was a lesson that the younger O’Neil had taken to heart and applied happily to each and every command that he had ever taken.
“What do we have?” General Hammond snapped out as he exited his room. He didn’t look to the side to see Jack fall in stride next to him, nor did he have to check to see if he had been heard. Such things came naturally to the man after so many years of commanding men.
“Danny woke to find a naked woman in his bed this morning. He turned off his alarm and pretended to sleep to see what she would do. She got up, searched his room thoroughly at least twice to include his latrine and then he passed out. He said that he’s never seen her before in his life and he doesn’t have a clue how she got into his room, much less his bed.” Jack paused for a second to organize his thoughts before continuing with the emergency briefing. “Sergeant Grimes was conducting a routine sweep through the residential section and spotted her standing outside Danny’s door. He told her to hit the deck twice and then his weapon just… disappeared.”
The General paused in his tracks and faced the younger man, his face showing his shock. “What?” He asked, trying to organize and process the data he had just received.
Jack nodded his head in agreement and then began to speak, “Yeah, if I hadn’t of seen it myself, I would have sent him to the Doc to get checked out. But there it was, big as life. His weapon just sort of… disintegrated… into dust or something. Carter swept up a sample from the floor for analysis, but we still don’t know what happened. Anyway, after our infiltrator did her thing on Grimes’ rifle, she spun around to face the rest of us and I saw her freaky eyes.”
“Freaky eyes?” The General inquired, his mind still stunned.
Jack nodded again. “Yeah. Solid black. Almost like glass or something. Anyway, I double tapped her with my pistol and expect her to take a dive, right? Didn’t happen. I saw those two slugs flatten out in mid-air like they’d hit something hard like steel, but there wasn’t anything there. When the slugs dropped to the floor, I emptied the rest of my clip on her and got the same result. Next thing I know, me and everyone else is flying down the hall bouncing here and there and off the walls and shit. I’d estimate that she threw all eight of us at least twenty feet down the corridor, sir… and all with a little flick of her wrist. Grimes told me that he ran up behind her and clocked her one on the jaw. We can at least be lucky enough that she has a glass jaw.”
“Where is she now?” The General asked.
“Janet has her doped up in sickbay. I gave her the authority to keep her knocked out until you decided what you wanted to do with her.” Jack told the older man.
“I wouldn’t expect a Goa’uld to be taken quite so easily.” Hammond mused.
“You’re right, sir.” Jack hastily assured him. “If she were Goa’uld I’m pretty sure that we’d still be fighting her. Nope, she’s as human as you and me.”
“But what about her eyes? Didn’t you say that they were solid black?” Hammond asked sounding confused.
“They were. I know what I saw, sir. Carter saw the same thing, so it wasn’t a hallucination. But by the time the Doc had her tied down on a stretcher, her eyes were perfectly normal.” O’Neil replied.
“I don’t know about you, Colonel, but I haven’t heard of too many perfectly normal humans who can do what you described.” The General stated dryly.
“Yeah, and I can agree with you on that. But by the time the Doc examined her, all the freaky stuff wasn’t happening anymore. As far as she can tell, our girl is one hundred percent human.” Jack stated calmly.
General Hammond sighed as he resumed his steady pace towards sickbay followed by the Colonel. “I really hate these little mysteries you keep bringing me, Jack.” He shot the man a mocking glare as a way of easing the tension a little.
“That’s why you get paid the big bucks, sir.” Jack happily responded.
“Whatcha’ find out, Doc?” O’Neil called out loudly as he and the General strolled casually into Sickbay without pause. He, or course, ignored the way Doctor Janet Fraiser flinched and almost dropped the test tube she held in her hands, showing how startled she had been because of his actions. Hammond simply glanced skyward as if to pray for strength from God in a desperate bid that his Colonel would one day grow up to the maturity levels of… oh, say a teenager?
“Sir.” She nodded slightly in acknowledgement of the two men. She carefully placed the test tube into a rack and turned around to face them. “First of all, she’s human.”
“Even with all the freaky stuff she did earlier?” Jack asked, lifting an eyebrow in disbelief. A slight hesitation preceded her nod of confirmation.
“Is there something bothering you, Doctor?” The General asked, not missing the pause in her response.
“On the surface, she’s just like you and me, sir. But when I did a complete DNA workup on her blood sample, this was the result.” She told him, sliding a small stack of papers into the bald man’s hands. He flipped idly through them for a few moments with Jack leaning over his shoulder.
“Um, Doc? What’s all this stuff mean?” Jack asked, not looking up from the paperwork.
“It’s just… these results are impossible to achieve using the sequence analyzer that we have here at the base.” Janet explained, shrugging her shoulders.
“Why are they impossible, Doctor?” Hammond asked, finally meeting her eyes and seeing the hint of worry hiding in their depths.
She drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out. “Okay, you know that human DNA is made up of four basic chemicals, right? Those compounds are thymine, adenine, cytosine, and guanine. You have them mounted on long strands of complex sugars and proteins, but the whole structure is to heavy and fragile to exist stretched out, so it coils, like a spring, until you need it for replication.”
“Yeah, learned that in high school biology class, Doc. What’s so weird about our girl here?” O’Neil asked, looking over the sheets of paper she had handed to them earlier. “I’m not seeing anything really freaky here.”
“Her DNA contains two additional unknown compounds and the support structures are laced with sodium and some type of phosphate. Throw in the fact that her DNA doesn’t exist in a coiled state and I get a little worried.” She responded dryly.
“What does that mean exactly?” The General cut in, used to their behavior.
Janet sighed and shook her head. “We don’t know. Every single one of us has a different theory, but there’s really nothing we can prove one way or another.”
“Could she be some sort of Goa’uld science project?” Jack asked, turning around to study the redheaded form lying on a bed in the observation room. He idly noted the IV that was plugged into her arm along with the two heavily armed guards under orders not to take their eyes off of her for a second.
“She could be, I suppose. Or she could be some sort of shape-shifter, another alien species, a defective clone, or the Easter Bunnies distant relative.” Janet shrugged in frustration. “We simply don’t know anything about this sort of thing. There were some earlier studies done during the opening phases of the Genome Project trying to project estimations of gene therapy, gene manipulation, and things like that. Not one of those studies looked at anything like this as a possibility.”
“Thank you, Doctor. You’ve been… helpful.” General Hammond smirked at her. He wasn’t too surprised to see her smile back and shake her head slightly.
“Anytime, sir. We just love unsolvable puzzles down here.” Janet replied.
“So… the big question would have to be, do we let her wake up?” Jack mused, scratching his neck without turning around to face them. He kept his eyes on the infiltrator, as if to pry out her secrets himself.
“She could be considered a danger to the base.” The General said thoughtfully, moving into position to stand next to the younger man. “However, we can’t keep her sedated forever. Sooner or later, someone’s going to want to question her.”
“Plus, we don’t know what damage, if any, the sedatives are doing to her system. There’s just too many unknown variables there to deal with.” Janet chipped in. It was a well-known fact that the health and welfare of her patients was always her first priority, regulations be damned.
“True.” Hammond nodded his agreement. “Get another squad in her and then wake her up.” He ordered the Doctor, waiting for her to leave the room before continuing to speak to his second in command. “I want you to personally interrogate her in the same room we use for the Goa’uld we capture. Have Carter or Teal’c standing by to flood the room with gas at a moment’s notice. Use any means necessary to keep her secured. If it looks like she’s going to break free… put her down. Hard.”
“Yes, sir.” Jack nodded, watching the General leave. He turned his attention back to the figure in the other room. He noticed that the kid looked awfully innocent when she was asleep. Still, he could remember her turning around with her black, freaky eyes staring at him. He didn’t bother to suppress the shiver of dread that shot down his spine at what was to come. He wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
Willow let out a low groan of agony as consciousness once again invaded her senses. A large headache was pounding behind her temples, sending little jolts of pain to her sensitive eyes. Her jaw felt heavily bruised, as if someone had almost broken it. Her whole body was stiff and her bearing was tired.
With a frown, memories started flashing against her still closed eyelids. She could remember waking up nude in some strange mans’ bed. She remembered summoning her clothes, walking out into the hallway, and apparently loosing the fight that had occurred there.
Sighing, she opened her eyes to find herself in a somewhat featureless room with white walls. She was lying on a military cot alongside one of the walls. Turning her head to the side, she could see that the opposite wall had a large mirror built into it. The wall at her feet held another steel door, but this one looked to be for keeping a prisoner locked away rather than privacy.
Another groan was ripped out of her mouth as she sat up and swung her legs towards the floor. The pain in her head flared up and pounded severely inside her head. One shaky hand was raised to gently massage her forehead as she shut her eyes. The other hand helped to prop her body up.
After several minutes, she lowered her hand and looked upwards to see three long fluorescent tubes burning brightly behind a metal grid work designed to protect them. Looking down at her body, she let loose a gasp of indignation. Instead of wearing her leather outfit, she was dressed in the type of patient gown one would find at any hospital that didn’t care about their patient’s privacy to any degree. Letting loose a squawk of dismay, her hands flew behind her to find the edges of the gown and draw them close.
Her eyes flew frantically around the room, trying to make sense of what was happening. Her thoughts turned to enemies past and wondered if these people were connected to the Initiative or some other secret government group. After all, the soldier that had decked her in the hall was definitely a soldier, not some overpaid security guard.
A sudden metallic ratcheting sound drew her attention to the door as it began to open. An older man, somewhere in his mid to late thirties walked into the room carrying a plastic chair. Without glancing at her, he set the chair down in the middle of the room, sat down, and started staring at the clipboard in his hands.
The redhead looked him over carefully, searching for any sign of recognition. His short hair was dark with blonde highlights. His face had a roughened appearance and it looked like he needed a shave. He was wearing an olive drab uniform with the shirt unbuttoned exposing a black t-shirt. On the over shirt, the name O’Neil was embossed over one pocket while U.S. Air Force was over the other. A silver leaf of some sort decorated his collar, but Willow had no idea what it meant. She was startled when he started to speak.
“My name is Colonel Jack O’Neil.” The man told her, raising his eyes to lock onto hers. She shivered at the coldness she saw in his impassive stare. “You were caught within the confines of a highly secured military base without any authorization. I think it’s only fair to warn you that you could face up to twenty years in a federal prison for this.” He paused for a second, clearly reading the fear that raced across her overly emotive face before she managed to clamp down on it. “Right now, our primary concern is how you managed to infiltrate this base and how you were able to accomplish what you did earlier.”
Inside, Willow was panicking. Oh, Buffy was going to kill her when she got home. She snorted to herself. Oh, yeah. She was in so much trouble when she finally got home… not only from Buffy, but Xander and Giles were going to let her have it, too. Now, how was she going to get out of this? Because she HAD to get out of this and get home and find out what had happened to her last night. Why didn’t she remember anything?
“How did you manage to get down to Doctor Jackson’s room?” The Colonel asked, lowering the clipboard to rest on his lap. His eyes bored into the younger woman’s without remorse.
“Um… I don’t know?” Willow quietly told him, lowering her eyes to look at her lap. Slowly, she brought her hands from behind her back to wring them together.
“You don’t know.” Jack repeated, cocking his head to the left as he continued to stare at her.
Silently, Willow shook her head and closed her eyes tight. Fervently, she was praying with all her might that this was some sort of bad dream that she would wake up from soon.
“Why don’t you take a guess?” He asked, scratching his throat as his gaze turned thoughtful.
“I… I… I…” The girl tried to say, only to seemingly collapse in on herself. Her shoulders slumped downwards, her head dipped even further forward, and her hands were being wrung so hard that the fingers were turning white.
“Okay, we’ll try something easier. According to this, your name is Willow Rosenburg. Is that correct?” Jack asked, pulling an item off the clipboard and tossing it on the girls lap. Willow opened her eyes to see her driver’s license lying there. With shaking hands, she picked it up and examined it before closing them again. Nodding her head, she closed her hands around it tightly, thankful for the familiar object in such terrifying surroundings.
“Interesting. According to the California authorities, not don’t they have any record of you, but the town you supposedly live in doesn’t exist either. To make things even more fun, we found out that your license number is the wrong format for the state of California.” He smirked at the young woman’s shocked expression as her head snapped up to stare at him. “It appears that you don’t exist, Miss Rosenburg.” He added, cocking his head back to the left slightly and maintaining eye contact.
“I… No… No… not… I…” She stammered, her whole body shaking. He watched as her skin went deathly pale and her eyes rolled upwards. Without another sound, Willow Rosenburg passed out on the cot.
“Well… shit.” He cursed, turning his head to stare at the mirror on the wall behind him. “Now what?”