Disclaimer: Stargate and Buffy are both owned by groups and individuals who have no relationship to me at all.
If they’d known about the dreams, Stargate command never would have hired Lieutenant Jennifer Hailey. Mental health was important enough in the ordinary military, where men with guns in high stress situations were dangerous.
In the SGC, the fate of the world could literally hang on the decisions made by a single officer, and so the mental health of those officers was of utmost importance.
Jennifer had known better than to tell them; her mother had been schizophrenic and there had been some concern about including her in the SGC. Only Samantha Carter and her own status as resident genius had gotten her application through the process, even if she’d already been through the Stargate once as a cadet.
She’d known how to lie on the tests; being well read, she’d managed to fake the psychological tests that officers were subjected to on a yearly basis.
No one had actually asked her if she’d dreamed of monsters, and so she hadn’t actually had to lie.
Waking suddenly, Hailey was alert and her hands trembled with adrenaline. Her breathing had sped up, but she hadn’t actually cried out.
She could hear the breathing of the others, and she lay still for a moment. She listened intently. Camping under the skies of an alien world wasn’t like spending time in the woods back home; a brown bear was the least of her worries.
Beginning to relax, she rolled over and stared at the camp fire. Grogan was standing watch at the entrance of the cave exactly as he should be, and there wasn’t any sign of what had woken her up.
Memories of fire from the sky flashed across her mind and she shuddered. She could still hear the screams of the dying, of people being pulled into darkness and savagely killed.
She could almost smell the scent of burning flesh.
Fangs and golden eyes flashed across her consciousness and she rolled over and sat up.
It had felt real.
Rising to her feet, she moved quietly across the cave floor. She wasn’t going to be able to sleep again tonight. She knew that much from a lifetime of dreaming about monsters. She’d be on edge for the rest of the night, and so she might as well take her shift early.
She and her teammates were at the front of the cave, with the civilian specialists further behind. It was obvious that none of them had ever been camping; from the amount of general complaining, she’d begun to wonder if some of them had been outside a lab in years.
Carefully stepping over the sleeping forms of two of her teammates, she approached Grogan from behind.
“Grogan,’ she said.
He didn’t speak and she stiffened. He was supposed to stay awake throughout his shift; if he’d fallen asleep, he’d put them all in danger.
Moving more cautiously, her hand reached for her belt knife.
“Grogan!” she repeated. She felt uneasy. Grogan had always been a light sleeper. She’d wondered more about him than the others realizing that she had a problem.
Of course, most times being off world had brought a curious sense of peace, a respite from the nightmares. It had left her much more willing to undertake mission after mission even as the others were ready to take personal time for families and friends.
Some feeling deep down in her gut had her pulling the knife free. It was all that saved her as the tentacle exploded from Grogan’s back.
“Move, move, move!” Hailey screamed.
The scientists moved with a frustrating slowness, even in response to what they could see was coming from behind them. They hadn’t done well on the five mile run back to the gate, despite having been required to meet minimum physical standards before being placed on the mission.
Firing her P90 in short, controlled bursts; she waved the men past her. On the other side Satterfield moved ahead slightly, concentrating his fire so as to give the last of the scientists more time.
Checking to see that they weren’t being flanked, Hailey stepped forward as well. Between them she and Satterfield were able to keep the creatures attention long enough for the last of the boot steps from behind her to disappear.
“Go,” Hailey said.
“You go,” Satterfield said.
With two of their team dead, they were the last ones on the planet. Satterfield had a family, children, a wife.
Jennifer Hailey had no one.
“I’m the ranking officer,” she said. If they didn’t make a decision immediately, they were both going to die.
He nodded shortly and backed away toward the gate, leaving her in front and exposed.
As one of the creatures wrapped it’s tentacle around her leg, Jennifer Hailey wished she’d carried at least one of the grenades Lieutenant Elliot had used to slow the things down to give the rest of them time to escape.
Instead she fell backwards, landing heavily on her shoulder. She switched her weapon to full automatic and her finger spasmed around the trigger.
At that distance she couldn’t miss.
It moved through the darkness with the certainty of a predator. It was fast; even if she’d had her weapons Hailey wasn’t sure she’d have been able to hit it. She ran as fast as she could, but it never seemed to lose pace with her.
She saw it in the trees; its skin mottled black and white. It screamed and she instinctively ducked and tolled.
Rolling into a break in the trees, her eyes moved back and forth.
The blow from behind was unexpected, and as she rolled and tried to grab for anything she could use as a weapon, she felt her arms being pinned down by a grip that was stronger than anything human.
It took her a moment to realize that the figure above her was a woman painted with mud, her hair wild and matted. The look in her eyes was bestial, with little of humanity to be seen.
She snarled down at Hailey, who would have had more success at getting free if she’d been pinned by a jeep.
The woman bent down and sniffed at her.
“It’s not your time,” she said finally. A growl rose in her throat. “But it will be."
Waking up in the infirmary was the last thing Hailey had expected. Seeing the dull gray walls and hearing the familiar sounds of the medical machines, Hailey took a deep breath. The smell of disinfectants and rubbing alcohol was reassuring.
Her body ached; she could feel an abrasion on her thigh, a puncture wound in her shoulder and it worried her that she couldn’t feel her leg below the knee. A glance downward showed the silhouette of a foot beneath the blanket, so amputation seemed unlikely.
Satterfield sat slumped in the chair beside the bed. He had a three day growth of beard, leading Hailey to believe it was at least two days since she’d lost consciousness. The possibility of a concussion was worrisome, long term effects were likely, and her genius was her main selling point to stay in the program.
There wasn’t any point in keeping a physicist who couldn’t think.
“How long?” she asked. It was the expected question, and the rasp and dryness in her voice confirmed that it had been a while.
“Two days,” he said, confirming her guess. “There was some kind of neurotoxin; it put you in a coma.”
At the sounds of the klaxons announcing the gate activation, she blinked.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“They’ve hit Los Angeles,” he said. His face was grim, the kind of grim she hadn’t seen since a year before.
He reached down and picked up a small television from the floor. It was small enough to fit in his lap.
“Grogan managed to hook up a transmitter from the rooms so we could keep up with the game before…” he paused and shook his head. “I’ve been keeping up with CNN.”
Turning the small television in her direction, he glanced back through the curtains. “Don’t tell Frazier I’m doing this. She probably doesn’t want you upset until she can take a gallon of blood.”
Hailey felt the blood drain from her face as she saw what was on the screen. Even muted, the continuous scroll along the bottom of the screen managed to tell the story.
It was the pictures that were worth a thousand words, though. There on the screen were images sent out by people on the street, of fire falling from the sky and people being pulled into alleys even while the cameras were rolling.
She’d always assumed that her dreams were nothing more than the delusions of childhood mixed with her fears of the very real threat of the Go’ Goa'uld.
On her worst days she’d wondered if she wasn’t sliding into psychosis, much as her mother had.
It had never once occurred to her to have wondered if her dreams were real.