Interlude: Good, Bad, and Ugly Part 3
Interlude: Good, Bad, and Ugly, Part 3
October 13 - 21 Location Unknown
If there was such a thing as a universal truth, it would be the saying 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. This saying had been proven true by a number of beings in the wider galaxy and by the Goa'uld race as a whole. Not to mention having been proven true by any of a number of human despots, dictators, and tyrants of all descriptions.
The men currently gathered around a wide oak table were not world leaders. Despite this, they were all men of considerable money, power, and influence. Unlike many other powerful men (and no few women) through history, they had chosen to wield that power in secret. Like the Watcher's Council, this choice did not make them any less dangerous than their better-known brethren. In fact it made them more dangerous because no one knew their names, their faces, their deeds. There was no one, not even the paparazzi, to bring their deeds to light and demand an accounting. They moved in the shadows, controlling and twisting events to their specifications and generally getting their noses in where they were neither wanted nor required.
They called themselves the Trust.
The Trust's interests were wide-spread and had far-reaching consequences. While the men at the table were not public figures of power, they counted amongst their operatives no less than ten leaders of second and third world governments and innumerable lesser government agents of varying descriptions, business moguls, and scientists of varying calibers. Through these persons, the Trust further had control of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of persons who were under the control of Trust operatives but not themselves aligned with the Trust's purposes.
The last few years, an increasing amount of the Trust's time had been dedicated to trying to deal with the SGC in particular and the wider universe in general. Trying and, much to their frustration, largely failing. The failure was down to two things. The first problem was that none of their better operatives had been able to secure positions in the Mountain. Oh, they had operatives in place, but they were all lesser operatives, low in military rank, scientific prestige and/or security clearance and therefore kept ignorant of far too much to be of any real use. Most things the Trust found out from these operatives, they found out after the fact, when little to nothing could be done about the information.
The Trust had, of course, formed their own teams and gone on their own missions in secret, but this had not gone well, and that had largely to do with the second half of the SGC problem. The second problem was that Hammond, and *especially* O'Neill, were past masters at getting themselves out of jams, ignoring orders they didn't like, and otherwise making themselves pains in the ass. SG-1's record of finding out about and wrecking the plans the Trust tried to put into action spoke for itself.
The rumors of a young clone O'Neill that had sprung up a few months previously had gotten the Trust's attention. When those rumors had been confirmed, plans had been put together to attempt to kidnap the clone. What they would do with it from there they had not yet decided as there were several options. One option being trying to figure out how the cloning was done. Others advocated investigating O'Neill's genetics for a variety of purposes. Still others suggested re-training the clone and then using it to neutralize O'Neill in hopes the clone would have more luck than other Trust operatives. Retraining being the polite way of saying 'breaking and brainwashing'.
The Trust had been meticulous in their planning regarding acquisition of the clone. They had opted to treat the task as if they were attempting to acquire O'Neill himself, just to be on the safe side. The first task had been to separate the clone from its watchers. This had to be done slowly and carefully as O'Neill was keeping a loose eye out on the clone's welfare and anything too overt would garner O'Neill's attention. That was the last thing they wanted. Unfortunately, just as this objective had been accomplished and specially trained operatives prepared to move in and acquire the clone, a third party had shown up. SG-1 had been disconcertingly quick to arrive and meddle in the matter despite the Trust believing they had cut off that line of communication. The Trust had immediately withdrawn its operatives and begun investigating the third party. Interestingly, the third party had turned out to actually be a third and fourth party.
The identities of all involved had been cause for much speculation. What interest a Slayer and its Watcher could possibly have in a clone, they couldn't comprehend. Especially when said Slayer and Watcher traveled a considerable distance outside of their usual territory to acquire the clone. Even more interesting was the fact that this Watcher and Slayer seemed to have slipped the Council's chains.
Ellison's involvement had just made matters all the more interesting. Ellison was on the surface just another military grunt and thus of little to no interest to the Trust. That he had been judged as being uniquely unsuited to recruitment to the Trust's cause had made him of even less interest. He would never even have entered their collective awareness as an individual if it hadn't been for two rather interesting facts.
One, he survived the destruction of his unit, an action which had been authorized by the Trust in an effort to continue to destabilize the region the unit had been sent in to police. Worse, he had gone on to carry out the policing his unit had been sent to do, resulting in the region stabilizing. This had resulted in him being marked as completely unsuited to recruitment to the Trust.
Second, there had been more than one anomaly as regarded Ellison since his return from Peru. Rumors had reached the Trust. Nothing they were willing to put any amount of belief into without confirmation from a trusted operative, but that were consistent enough to pique their interest. Ellison had been put under a fairly relaxed and benign observation until such time as something of interest and/or use had been discovered. There had been several incidents since then, but each one could be explained by superior detective skills, sheer stubbornness, or other completely normal factors.
Now, the three groups had united. The reason for the union escaped the Trust. At first blush, there was nothing to connect the three groups. Interest in the situation had only increased when the clone had been removed to Cascade for a time with the evident permission and assistance of SG-1. Ellison had been reported as having the clone, the Watcher, the Slayer and several other individuals of no particular initial interest or note in his home.
The lack of interest in the peripheral individuals had altered swiftly when it was discovered that all and sundry were being taught by Ellison and the clone. Better, some of the less sensational rumors regarding Ellison seemed to be true. Better even than that, it seemed the clone had developed an abnormality similar to Ellison's, as Ellison and his roommate had been seen instructing the clone on more than one occasion. The clone, Watcher, Slayer, and the rest of that group then moved to Sunnydale. Ellison had been reported as having made two trips to Sunnydale since the group's move.
Investigations into the peripheral individuals bore no truly interesting fruit. Sandburg generated some small shred of interest due to his intelligence, but he was the only one. The two children were completely unremarkable in all respects. The third child that joined the group once it returned to Sunnydale was actually of more interest than the first two. Her father had been marked as a potential recruit for the Trust, as he had proven himself to be of sufficiently flexible morals and fiscal acumen to potentially be of use. There was some interest in discovering if the daughter was of a similarly useful stripe.
The Trust had discussed these developments in earnest, and had eventually decided to attempt to acquire the clone from Sunnydale. The town's unique environment would assist them in this matter, as deaths and disappearances were a nightly event. It had also been decided to, as the saying went, kill two birds with one stone.
The Trust had long wished to acquire a Slayer. They now knew that there were two - how that had happened they neither knew nor cared. They were, though, disturbed that their Council operative had known about the second Slayer, but not that the other Slayer and Watcher had slipped the Council's control. Either that or they had known but not reported the matter. Either way, the operative was going to be reprimanded. The Trust had also long wanted to study the myriad of demons they knew to exist. They were now in a position to be able to do all three things in one fell swoop.
They had begun to redeploy some of their operatives, and the personnel under the control of those operatives. Certain of their scientists, and a number of their military operatives had been reassigned on paper to remote postings. The personnel were then diverted to a Trust-controlled base. Once there, they were debriefed as to their actual assignments, and any problematic subordinates were quietly disposed of. Fortunately there had only been one or two problematic subordinates, all in the military units, as the memberships of those units was not as easy to control as the scientists' groupings were.
One of the Trust's construction concerns had acquired a disused college dorm on the Sunndale University campus. Renovation of the interior had begun immediately. The college, and the town in general, were under the mistaken belief that a new fraternity had moved into town in the wake of the recent disbanding of a previously established fraternity.
Construction of the sub-surface labs and holding facilities had also already begun, though that task was going far slower than the renovation of the dorm itself. They had to be careful and slow in the disposal of the earth excavated, and had to sneak in the equipment and supplies needed to build in the spaces that were being dug out. Garnering too much attention would blow the entire operation, and having the sort of equipment and supplies a sub-surface base required in order to be built just laying around for all to see would have gotten them entirely too much attention.
Once they were in place, the team's main remit would be observation and capture of as many of the nightlife of Sunnydale as possible. Once acquired, various experiments would be conducted by the scientists depending on the creature involved. Their secondary remit was to observe and acquire one of the Slayers and the clone. That task was going to be rather more difficult than acquiring various demons. The Slayer, whichever was captured, would have to be entirely alone before being captured. Easier to do for the one Slayer with a normal Watcher, but the Trust was hoping to capture the atypical Slayer. The clone would by far be the most problematic to acquire, as it never seemed to go anywhere alone. Still, the attempt was to be made.
Today's meeting was taking place to peruse the progress of the project, and to discuss the latest news from the SGC, since the two things were tangentially related.
"O'Neill and the others have been seen in close conversation far more than the norm of late." One man said. "This is either them discussing the clone and its new situation, or them coming up with some new way to drive us all to drink."
"I still say we should eliminate him." Another man said.
That got a snort. "It's been tried." A third man reminded. "And failed spectacularly. O'Neill is a canny bastard." And while none of them would ever say it, the more practical-minded of the lot would admit that O'Neill was beyond their reach.
"What if we arrange for his promotion? No one would countenance a General of any rank on field maneuvers." Someone else offered.
"We would then run the risk of him stepping into Hammond's shoes." Was the rejoinder.
"Not if he was recommended for the Homeworld Security post. He would then be almost completely isolated from the SGC, within our reach and influenceable by any of a number of means."
That gave everyone in the room pause. "It just might work." Someone said. "But I recommend that we study the situation more fully, and develop all possible scenarios so we have plans to deal with them if the decision is made to go through with the idea."
There was general agreement around the table.
From there, the discussion moved to general SGC matters, and attempts to circumvent or take advantage of various situations. Especially now that the Goa'uld were on the run. The bulk of the high-ranked Goa'uld were projected to be dead or their power bases broken within the next few years, at the rate the SGC was going. The resultant destabilization of the entire galaxy was something the Trust could potentially take advantage of in numerous ways, so they were not inclined to attempt to stop the SGC when it came to that particular mission. Other matter of concern, however, did need to be dealt with, and various plans were put together in order to do so.