“They still don’t know anything about the Stargate,” Colonel O’Neill said.
“They just know that aliens exist and that we have an agency that deals with them under Cheyenne Mountain. What part of security breach don’t you understand, Colonel O’Neill?” Senator Kinsey sneered as he leaned forward in his seat.
Being back in the SGC felt strange to Hailey, as though she’d been gone for years instead of a matter of days. She sat quietly at the end of the conference table as she listened to the Senator and she idly wondered if the sudden image she had in her mind of snapping his neck were her own, or whether it was part of being the Slayer.
It still amazed her that the government had completely covered up its involvement in the collapse of Sunnydale. The collapse was being attributed to an undiscovered system of unstable caverns. The fact that the background radiation count was actually lower than that of the surrounding area had helped bolster the government’s story.
“Thor made the decision to pick up us on his own,” Colonel O’Neill said. “If there was a breach, you can blame the Asgard. Good luck trying to bring legal action though. I’d guess that he pretty much has diplomatic immunity.”
“You manipulated the situation! You contacted him specifically and requested that he be in that time and that place!” Senator Kinsey’s face flushed.
“I was hoping that he might be able to transport the weapon into place without any need for it to be carried by civilians,” Colonel O’Neill said. He said, “Nobody could have anticipated that the whole town had been stabilized by the hellmouth.”
“You placed a naquadria enhanced nuclear weapon in the hands of a paramilitary group of uncertain allegiance…I can’t think of a better definition of treason.”
Colonel O’Neill shrugged and said, “Oh, I can think of a few. Trying to impede the people trying to save the country long enough so that the enemy has time to take over, for example.”
If anything, Kinsey’s face turned even redder. He didn’t answer the accusation, instead saying “You and your team are guilty of theft, of arming a paramilitary group within the confines of the United States with weapons stolen from the United States military, and of training them in terroristic tactics.”
“Do you have any proof of that?” Colonel O’Neill asked.
“I’ve got the reports of three men directly involved,” Senator Kinsey said.
“Men who ultimately work for you, a person who is known to have a grudge against the SGC?” Colonel O’Neill shook his head. “Wouldn’t hold up in court.”
“You’re saying you’d lie under oath?”
Colonel O’Neill said, “Would you?”
“I’m a United States senator! I’m not on trial here!”
“Neither are we,” Colonel O’Neill said. He opened the file folder in front of him on the desk and pulled the paper on top of the stack. He slid it over to Senator Kinsey.
“What’s this?” Senator Kinsey asked, not looking at the paper.
“It’s a letter from the President,” Colonel O’Neill said.
Senator Kinsey looked down at the paper and he stared at it silently. His face continued to get redder and redder and or a moment Hailey thought he was going to explode. Part of her wished he would.
He shoved the paper back in Colonel O’Neill’s direction and stood up. “I can see I’m wasting my time here.”
A moment later he was gone.
“I understand that you may have divided loyalties now,” General Hammond said. They were alone in his office. Hailey had never realized that his desk was as large as it now seemed to be. “That concerns me.”
“I’m loyal to the United States, and to the SGC.” Hailey said. She was standing at attention in his office. “That’s never changed.”
“But your situation has changed now,” General Hammond said slowly.
“I love this job,” Hailey said. “I feel like I can really make a difference here, now even more than before.”
“There’s been some concern that you’d make a perfect host for a Goa’uld,” General Hammond said. “At this point, no one really has any idea of what you might be capable of, other than SG-1.”
“I’m not bulletproof,” Hailey said. “And most of the System Lords we kill tend to die in explosions, which I’m not immune to either.”
“Then what good are you?”
“I can run forty five miles an hour. I’m at least ten times as strong as I should be, not just for my size, but in comparison to a fully grown male soldier. I heal quickly, my senses are somewhat better than they were before. I sometimes get precognitive dreams. Even if none of that was true, I still have my work as a physicist and experience as an SGC member, such as it was.”
“Would you submit to being tested?”
“More than Janet already does every time I return from off world?” Hailey smiled crookedly. “I’d prefer to avoid unnecessary surgery, but I’d be willing to do my part.”
If her voluntarily submitting to testing prevented the NID from abducting girls to perform their own tests, she’d do it gladly. The discovery that the government was dissecting girls would only enrage Buffy and worse, Willow.
General Hammond nodded. “That’s what Colonel O’Neill said you’d say. Unfortunately, we don’t have a position open for you at this time in any of the regular SGC teams.”
Hailey felt her stomach drop. “Am I being terminated?”
He shook his head. “There’s another position we have in mind for you.”
“Go on,” Hailey said cautiously. She’d hate being cooped up as a researcher in Area 51. She craved excitement even more now that she was a Slayer and she needed to be moving.
“We’ve been following the communications of the organization lead by Buffy Summers, and we have reason to believe that the number of women affected by this is a great deal higher than anticipated.”
Colonel O’Neill had assumed that there might be another thirty of forty girls in the world who had been activated.
“How many?” she asked.
Hailey slowly sat down, ignoring the fact that she hadn’t been given permission yet. For once the general did as well.
“Buffy Summer’s organization is planning to recruit young women from all over the world aggressively. Unfortunately, hers won’t be the only organization recruiting.”
“Their existence won’t be a secret long in the intelligence community, and there will be aggressive recruiting from multiple organizations”
“You’re wanting me to do the same thing for the SGC?” Hailey asked cautiously.
“Among other things. I’d also like you to work as a liaison with Buffy Summer’s group. Without supervision, there’s every chance that the group might become the paramilitary group that Senator Kinsey says they are.”
“They seem like good people, sir.” Hailey said after a moment.
“But they’ve never had this kind of power, and they don’t have any rules to reign that in,” General Hammond said.
Remembering her own foolhardy rush into the midst of a crowd of Bringers, Hailey ruefully had to admit to herself that it was easy to become giddy with power. If Buffy was actually able to gather an organization of hundreds of Slayers, no one knew what it might do.
“She’s apparently also attempting to gather witches and other mystics to her cause,” General Hammond said.
“I’d worry more about those than the Slayers,” Hailey said soberly. “A supersonic bullet will take out a slayer before she knows what hit her, but Willow Rosenberg…she’s scary.”
“I’ve seen her file,” General Hammond said. “And I’m inclined to agree with you. We’ve had preliminary psychological profiles drawn up on all the major players involved and there are some areas of concern. Things that we’re hoping you might be able to help with.”
“They won’t want to work for us,” Hailey said. “Beyond their negative experiences with the Initiative, they aren’t the type to take orders.”
“As a liaison your job would be to make suggestions, not give orders.” General Hammond said, “We’d be willing to improve your position with funding.”
“Get them a nice school in Cleveland,” Hailey said, “And you’ll be able to keep a better eye on them than if they wandered off the grid to live in some place like Scotland or Indonesia.”
“You are in the unique position of being a fellow slayer and having proven yourself in the battles against the First. They know you and are more likely to trust you than someone they’d consider a government flunky.”
“So my job would be dealing with the Slayers, recruiting and flying all over the country?”
“In addition to your current work,” he said. “Captain.”
Hailey opened her mouth to speak and then didn’t say anything. She’d just started in the SGC. She shouldn’t have been up for a promotion for quite some time.
“You are to receive an Airman’s medal and a promotion, should you decide to remain with us.”
An airman’s medal was an award for service members who distinguished themselves by heroic actions, usually at the voluntary risk of life, but not involving actual combat. While Hailey had been in combat, it hadn’t been against a declared enemy of the United States, and considering that she’d been off duty at the time she was lucky to be getting anything.
She was lucky she was going to keep some version of her job.
“Will I still be able to go off world?” she asked.
“On a floating rotation, when time and your other duties permit. We have teams that have injured members at times when the entire unit doesn’t have to be shut down.”
She’d have preferred to stay on a team that she’d get to know, but she’d take what she could get.
“If I can make a suggestion,” she said. “There are two people I think would work perfectly as civilian consultants here.”
“We’ve already extended offers,” General Hammond said. “Major Carter has been quite persuasive.”
“I don’t know how many more secrets you all can possibly have,” Fred said as she signed the non-disclosure paperwork. “We’ve already seen the alien, and I have to say that he was pretty impressive. I always dreamed to be on a ship like that. Do we get to go on spaceships? That would be pretty cool.”
“You haven’t seen cool yet,” Hailey said as Wesley finished signing his paperwork. Neither one of them had definitively signed on yet, but she had high hopes that they might.
Wesley would only work part time; he was fluent not only in demonic languages but in Sumerian and classical Tibetan, both languages that the newly returned Daniel Jackson did not know. They shared several languages in common as well; Phoenician, Greek, Latin and Middle English. This would benefit him in translation work; with luck he would never have to go through a Stargate.
She knocked on the shield covering the window to the conference room, and moments later the blast shield rose. They’d scheduled an incoming wormhole just for this.
As the event horizon formed with an outward whoosh, she could see that Fred’s incredible mind already knew exactly what she was seeing.
“You’ve built a stable wormhole,” she said.
Major Carter stepped forward from the corner of the room and she nodded slightly at Hailey. They’d both seen the look in Fred’s eyes. She had the fever. Now was the time to close the sale.
“In 1928, an artifact was discovered in the Egyptian desert,” Major Carter began.
As she continued to tell the story, Hailey watched Fred. Her eyes never left the Stargate, even after the event horizon closed and the Stargate went dark. Wesley never took his eyes off of Fred.
They’d get Fred, and because of that, they’d get Wesley. Hailey was sure of it.
“And so Colonel O’Neill says “What’s the big deal if thirty or forty more girls get a little bit of a boost. They’re targets already!” Hailey said, and then grinned.
Daniel Jackson looked as though he’d never died. He’d looked surprised at the sudden way that Hailey and the other members of SG1 were always careful to find some way to touch him at least once during every meeting.
“How many of you did you say there are again?” he asked.
“Eighteen hundred at last count,” Hailey said grinning.
Colonel O’Neill looked disgusted. “How was I supposed to know there were only forty because that’s how many could fit in her house?”
“Any luck in the recruiting?” Daniel asked.
“Three girls will be going to the Academy next semester,” Hailey said.
Even as potentials they’d all been unusually athletic and coordinated. From what Hailey could see, Slayers tended to be a little brighter than average, although many tried to downplay their intellectual abilities. Now that they were slayers, it was going to be difficult finding physical exercises that would challenge them.
“Wesley’s going to be their Watcher,” Hailey said.
Colonel O’Neill frowned. “Isn’t that a conflict of interest, considering that he’s working here?”
“He won’t have to follow the orders of the people in Cleveland,” Hailey said. “It’s part of the agreement. Having him work in the SGC means that he’ll be able to train them better for the kind of things we‘ll be facing.”
“It sounds like things are going well,” Daniel said. “So why do you look troubled?”
“When I went to talk to the girls, they were all waiting for me. They’d been having dreams about joining the Air Force and fighting some sort of pale skinned creatures in robes.”
“Maybe they were having some of those racial memories you were talking about?” Daniel said.
Hailey shook her head and then looked down at the table. “I’ve had them too and they don’t match anything I’ve seen before.”
“Aren’t the dreams supposedly sent by the Powers that Be?”
“Part of your old crew, Daniel?” Colonel O’Neill asked mildly.
“I wish I could remember. They wiped everything.”
“That’s what worries me,” Hailey said. “I’ve been dreaming about other girls who would be good to join the program, ones we haven’t heard about.”
“So they approve of us then?” Daniel asked.
Hailey shook her head. “You don’t understand. I’ve been talking to Wesley and the Powers that Be never send their Champions anywhere that they aren’t needed. If they are sending us three or six or nine slayers, it’s because they think we’ll need them.”
“Did you dream anything that might help us at least search?” Daniel asked.
“All I can remember is a single phrase…"Hallowed are the Ori.”
As Hailey knocked another opponent down, she ducked and swung her staff. Two of the men behind her fell to the mat with audible grunts. She was getting better with Wesley’s help, especially since he insisted that she spar with the new Slayers in training as much as possible.
Three more men went down in six seconds and then she turned. Only Teal’c remained.
He knew her moves and he had the benefit of decades of experience as well as superior reach and greater body mass. He still had tricks that Hailey hadn’t yet learned. He lasted three minutes, as long as the twenty men behind her had lasted together.
Finally he went to the mat and Hailey held the staff to his throat.
The generals standing behind her clapped slowly and they looked impressed. They had no need to know that on her monthly visits to the Cleveland house she was regularly beaten by Faith and Buffy, although she was able to beat most of the others. They were gaining on her, however. They had more time to train, and they trained with many different people.
“She’s as good at this as she was on the range,” she heard one General whisper to the other.
“I’ve never seen anyone this fast,” the other said.
“I’d like to see what a team of these girls could do,” a third said.
“We’re recruiting as quickly as we can,” General Hammond said. “Not every girl is cut out to be in the military, no matter what her physical abilities.”
“I’ve heard that the Summers girl is assembling an army,” a fourth said.
“They’ve steered several candidates in our direction that weren’t suitable for what they are trying to do,” General Hammond said, “Just as we’ve steered a few towards them.”
“It sounds like they have more than enough. Why should we send any more?”
Hailey grabbed a towel and wiped what little sweat she had away from her forehead. She then stepped toward them.
“The Watcher’s council acts as a policing organization for the slayers,” she said. “There are currently eighteen hundred girls in the world who can do everything I can do, and some of them are bigger, faster and stronger than I am.”
“We’ve had word of gangs of these girls forming in places around the world,” one of the men admitted.
“If there is a central authority we can bring grievances to, then they’ll be much easier to police. The Watcher’s council has ways of finding rogue slayers that we don’t. Without them we’d be dependent on newspaper accounts of freakish strength and speed.”
Hailey tossed her towel onto the rack. “How many girls out there have been abused? How many of them are angry and ready to lash out? The Watcher’s council gives them a constructive way to use that anger and those energies that doesn’t hurt human beings.”
The generals nodded, and Hailey knew that she had to keep talking.
The government feared what it couldn’t control. The key was to make it think it was in control, even when it wasn’t.
Without this subtle war to win the hearts and minds of the generals involved, there was a strong possibility of a real war later down the line.
“They’ve taken several girls out of Iran and Afghanistan already,” Hailey said. “I’d think you’d rather they control these girls than the Iranians.”
It wasn’t much, but the small house was hers. It was the first time she’d ever felt the urge to collect things, to put things on the walls and to have furniture and a permanent place to live.
It was sad how little real property she’d had to move when she’d finally moved in. She’d been able to get everything into a large duffle bag. She hadn’t even had to ask anyone to help her move; something that Colonel O’Neill had assured her was a common friendship ritual.
She had friends now, Fred and Wesley, the members of SG1, the girls in the Academy. There were people she wanted to have over after work, and so now she wanted to have a place they’d be comfortable in.
So far she’d only managed to acquire a bed and two chairs, but the rest would come in time.
Life had become a series of putting out fires; hurt feelings with the Watcher’s council over overly aggressive recruitment tactics, allaying government suspicions about Buffy Summers and just what she could do.
She’d been fighting the good fight against the Goa’uld in between. The Ori, whoever they were hadn’t shown up yet, but Hailey felt deep in her gut that it was only a matter of time.
Despite this, Hailey was reasonably happy. She was respected by the Slayers, she had friends in Colorado Springs and life was good.
Her cell phone rang.
It was Wesley. “Have you seen the news?”
“I don’t have a television yet.”
“Angel got a new crew together and apparently they’ve been trying to fight the Circle of the Black Thorn from the inside.”
“And it’s on the news?”
“Apparently a demonic army has invaded Los Angeles in an effort to kill Angel and his people.”
Hailey was struck silent for an endless moment.
“Are you still there?” he asked.
“I think we’d all best be getting back to the mountain,” she said.
Her cell phone rang again. Checking the number, she could see that it was General Hammond.
Today was apparently going to be one of those days when putting out fires was apparently going to be more literal than on most.
“Are you in a place where you can transport? The Daedalus is in orbit.” General Hammond’s voice over the telephone sounded strained.
“Let me step inside,” Hailey said. She did so and locked the door behind her. No point in worrying the neighbors by beaming out in public.
“Ready,” she said.
As the white light surrounded her, Hailey couldn’t help but think that this was exactly where she’d always wanted to be. She was on the front lines, making a difference. Her life mattered. She had adventure, excitement, and friendship. Her life was filled with challenges.
Life was good, with the potential of being great. She couldn’t ask for anything more.