Hammond waited patiently, for the now officially 6-member SG-1 to return from their mission. They had dialled in, and apparently, Daniel and Xander both had recovered a lot of archeological-related manuscripts and the like.
To the point that even a minute after gate activation, they hadn’t yet come through. MALP video feed let them know it wasn’t anything bad though, so they were patient enough.
Finally, the FRED they’d requisitioned for the transport came through, along with Jack holding it’s remote control, then Cordelia and Sam, both discussing something, and then Daniel, then Teal’c and Xander. The latter pair were deep in discussion, one that Daniel was only adding to occasionally, as Hammond watched from the side as the team, minus Jack who went to stand with him and watch, slowly moved away from the gate, as it shut down, and out of the room.
After a minute, Jack smiled and gave a very brief rundown of the basics.
Then, being dismissed, Jack went after the group, intending to save Xander from getting too much into the geeky stuff.
-- Daniels’ Lab
“You can read this?” Daniel asked.
Xander and Cordelia both nodded. “This one’s Sumerian.”
Cordelia pointed to another, and named the language it was written in.
Daniel was honestly wondering how good at the languages they were, given Xander and Cordelia kept saying that they were only “Passable” at them. Whatever that actually meant.
“And this, Giles, helped you learn in just 3 years?”
Xander nodded. Many in the Archaeological community had already heard of demons and found proof they existed. Only those who didn’t believe that ever ended up in Sunnydale. The rest, who believed, well, would you go there if you knew it was a wretched hive of scum and villainy? No Obi-wan jokes, please.
So Xander was honestly unsurprised when the tale about Daniels’ theories getting him on the “Project Giza”’s radar was shared.
Demons was not new to Daniel, not at all.
“Oh come on, Indy, you think I’d not pick up a smattering of these languages, from all the research we did?”
Oh yeah, Xander had fun with certain comparisons too.
“Hmm... I do believe I had good reason to call you doofus, Doofus.” Cordelia joked.
“Hey, look who’s talking, Miss head Cheerleader whom everyone thought only had a two-digit IQ number.”
“Everyone?” She asked, nostrils flaring.
“Almost. Not me. Nosirree.”
Daniel watched the two trade barbs, and smiled slightly.
Their relationship was an odd one, even now.
And relationship it was, even though he thought only he could see that.
Unbeknownst to him, Hammond and Jack had already had a chat with them about that, but couples on the same team had been allowed on condition that it not interfere with their work at the SGC for quite a while now.
Not that there were many couples. Only three, including them.
Given the low number of teams, that was actually considered a little too high. But given SG-1 was now 6 members, rather than another team with another two members in addition to the pair... no in that view, it wasn’t.
Slowly, Xander and Cordelia began to work on the translation of the manuscripts written in the languages they knew the most. Which wasn’t by much, considering the consistent need to check multiple books written in multiple languages.
Jack casually strolled in, “Hello campers.”
He saw what his newest members were doing, and frowned. “Not putting them to work already, Daniel?”
“They know what they’re doing, Jack.”
Unnoticed, the pair continued their conversation as Xander and Cordelia worked on the translations, only trading the occasional barb between them.
“Xander knows some Sumerian.”
“Some Sumo What?”
Sighing, Daniel pulled off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Sumerian. It’s an ancient language.”
“Ah. Old dead Language. You don’t look surprised to learn that, though.”
“The man who taught them some ancients languages... he has a reputation in the ancient history circles. A former curator at the British Museum of Natural History.”
“He was the librarian at their high school.”
“From Curator to Librarian in a Californian High school.” Jack frowned. “One where the town mayor was evil.” He muttered, lower. “Doesn’t sound right to me.”
“I think I know why, Jack, but you wouldn’t believe me.”
Jack frowned, but couldn’t question Daniel anymore when he got called away.
“Thanks.” Xander spoke up.
“Thanks for deflecting there.”
“Well, you know what I mean.”
Daniel nodded, and continued his work.
“Chaos Mage?” Faith asked. “What do you mean?”
“A mage who is deep into the dark arts, and interested in only sowing Chaos, Faith.”
“I got that, but by doing what, exactly?”
“They are, regardless of their skills with the dark arts, a rather grey, neutral sort. They are neither Good or Evil, not exactly. They will do good, if it so benefits them, or, as in my personal experience before being your watcher, if they are not yet too far down the slippery slope that is the dark arts, if they are especially moved emotionally by a wrong.
“But, they will do what appears to be evil things. Nothing directly harmful, but has potential. One example of such is the Halloween in Sunnydale before either of us arrived there. The one where Alexander became a Soldier. One Chaos Mage had enspelled all of the costumes in his shop, with the intention that on Halloween night, the wearers would become that which they were dressed as. Ethan Rayne is a powerful Chaos Mage, but with how far his power was spread, it was deemed by the council, rather doubtful that anyone could retain any particular notable level of knowledge from that which they had become.”
“Compounded that effect by intention. Afterward, for awhile he retained most of the knowledge, only by continual reinforcement through Possession rituals that were, by association with other rituals, otherwise deemed dark in of themselves. However on their own, the rituals Xander habitually performed, allowed him the time to slowly assimilate the knowledge into himself, until eventually, as was the case when we both met him, he didn’t need the rituals anymore, the knowledge firmly entrenched in his mind, as if it were his and not the creation of Raynes’ spell.
“Everyone else, Faith, largely forgot within a month, and after two, as Buffy had informed me when I learned what I now know on this, had forgotten the events of the night almost entirely.”
“They vaguely recall, as they would their own memories of long past forgotten events. In any event, without the sort of assistance on the part of those being changed that Xander did retroactively, it is also doubtful that any chaos mage with that level of shared power to each of those affected, could truly become what they wish to be.”
“What do you mean?”
“How many children do you think were dressed as Dracula, or any of the fictional variations at the very least? How about those older who were dressed as specific characters from their favourite books, films and TV Shows?”
Faith thought on that, and said, “So if it was enough power, we’d have had, what, a dozen Jedi and some John McClanes?”
“Star Wars and Die Hard.”
“Oh, quite. Yes, that is a perfect example, Faith. And from what was shared about what costumes he had seen, there should have been quite a number of Jedi with all the powers thereof. Except, there wasn’t.”
“But Red was made a ghost.”
“Not any particular hard effect to attain, merely an enforced Astral projection.” Wesley countered. “Which Even I have the power to do if I was so inclined. Which, enforced as it is, I am not. I do not have the, dark, disposition to do such a spell on another. However, with preparation, I can do that.”
“So the power shared was enough to make willow a ghost, of sorts, but not give anyone ‘powers’? Like that of a Jedi, or other?”
Wesley nodded. “However, with more power to share, or less people to share it across, the more accurate the costume representations.”
Faith paled. “How many Darth Vaders would we get?”
A slight chuckle, Wesley indicated a list of items, and spoke, “I believe the chaos mage is ensuring that will not happen. He may be dark, but he is not stupid, whomever he is.”
“This Ethan, guy?”
“Perhaps, perhaps a copycat. Even I had heard of the incident, before even hearing fellow watchers talk about Ruperts’ report on the matter.”
“But, less people, that means...”
“Yes, he’s going to target a small town.”
“Which one? There’s loads.”
Wesley got back to work, before he got into a transport companies’ logs a day later, and realised a phone call to their friends down south was needed.
“He or She is headed to... Palmer lake. Some 5, 6 miles north of the Air Force Academy.”
Faith looked at him, and said, “Call X and Queen C?”
-- Palmer Lake
The Chaos Mage smiled sweetly at the children buying from his store. It was only a modest little thing, in a very small town. The opportunity for chaos was so, so wonderful. He knew the child who got the Luke Skywalker costume was going to be rather surprised the morning after Halloween.
Although he knew the after-effects of the spell wouldn’t last for long, and eventually even the memories would be gone... maybe a year or two down the road.
When a much older customer came in, walking with an odd swagger, one that spoke of power, he wondered who he was, but no matter.
He was surprised at the request for a custom order, for two at that, a pair...
Hmm... he wondered what he would want with 2 sets of a big light to stick on his chest, and two smaller ones to stick in his palms...
No matter. Just one more bit of Chaos to sow in the too-quiet town of Palmer Laker, Colorado.