Jennifer & the Debriefing, Part III: The DRI
A/N: See chapter 1 for disclaimer, spoilers, notes on AU, and why Xander has his eye back.“I think the entire town may have been subject to a foothold situation for decades.”
Jennifer was expecting an explosion of disbelief and derision. After all, it’s how she would have reacted if she was presented with such flimsy evidence.
General Landry nodded, as if he was thinking it over. Daniel Jackson had that look he got whenever he was thinking so hard he lost all situational awareness. Teal’c looked exactly like he always did – Jennifer was really glad she didn’t play poker against him. And Sam Carter gave her a grin that was almost exactly like the one Sam gave her when she successfully rebutted one of Rodney McKay’s most unpleasant criticisms during her doctoral defense. It was as if Sam was proud of her. Jennifer wasn’t used to looks like that. Her folks – her mom, the guy her mom was pretty sure was her dad, and her mom’s succession of ‘boyfriends’ and husbands – had never been proud of her. Her family didn’t think a girl should do well in school, or go to college, or join the Air Force, or earn a degree in astrophysics, or anything that wasn’t spending her life being barefoot and pregnant.
Colonel Carter smiled, “I imagine you have some more supporting evidence, since you haven’t even gotten to the details on Xander Harris.”
“Yes, colonel,” Jennifer said. “There’s a lot more that was just obviously
wrong about Sunnydale. Get this. The principal of their school was eaten by wild animals during Harris’s sophomore year. In broad daylight. In his office at school. With the door closed and the windows locked from the inside. With no one in the entire school seeing even a single animal in the area. In a town listed as having no wild animal problems.”
“How is that even possible?” General Landry asked.
“I have no idea, sir. But given the extensive cover-ups going on in Sunnydale, it’s possible he was killed elsewhere, left out for the coyotes, and then his corpse was dumped in his office the next day. Or possibly something even worse. We’ve seen stranger things.”
She took a breath and started on her next topic. “Also Harris’ sophomore year, the science teacher was murdered and his headless corpse was found in the school. A few days later, the replacement science teacher vanished. Does anyone worry about this? No. They have another replacement working less than a week later. Corpses turned up on the high school campus about once a month on average, based on the school paper stories. Stuffed in a locker, dumped in a classroom, dead in the showers, an eviscerated body left on the floor in the cafeteria to be found when the lunch ladies arrived in the morning; it seemed to be an unending series of horrors. I’m surprised the entire town didn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder. Xander Harris’s graduating class publicly announced that they had the lowest death rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale High history, and yet as far as we can determine from looking at recorded births, almost half the children Harris went to nursery school with didn’t survive to graduate from high school. Harris’s junior year, the parent-teacher night was ruined by the attack of a ‘gang on PCP’ which according to the story in the school paper had a bunch of people wearing masks or else with deformed faces. Six people died that night, all from ‘barbecue fork accidents’ to the neck, and seven others had to be taken to the ER. The school paper includes the unlikely report of one of the gang members being hit in the head with a fireaxe and running away unhurt. His sophomore year: a student burst into flames during cheerleader tryouts. In the middle of the gym. Junior year again: the swim team suddenly improved their times by ridiculous amounts, and then they all died or vanished in a six-day period. All the events I already mentioned. Heaven only knows how many incidents we didn’t find reported in the school papers.
“And, for a grand finale, the entire town fell into a sinkhole which has no known explanation. The Sunnydale Crater is still being argued about by geologists and geophysicists, since there is still no viable explanation. The popularly accepted explanation of a collapsing cave system makes no sense, given how deep the crater is. Plus, it’s perfectly circular from the air. It’s as if someone had unleashed a massive gravitational singularity roughly three miles beneath the surface, and then just turned it off again once the radius of effect reached three miles.”
She clicked her control again to get back to the pictures of Harris. “So now we have enough background to see Xander Harris’s intel for what it is. Because he has a classified file so secret the file itself is off-line, with tripwires on the file stub to spot people trying to read it. All we’ve been able to find out so far is that it was a project called the DRI, and called ‘The Initiative’ by the people working in it. So the ‘I’ presumably is for ‘Initiative’. As far as we’ve been able to determine, it was another rogue NID op, suckering in U.S. Army forces as their patsies, and it went so badly that no one involved wants to talk about it.”
“How badly did it go?” Sam asked. Jennifer knew that Sam had been involved with some disasters in her time. Jennifer knew Sam had saved the day at a lot of those disasters.
Jennifer said, “The op turned into a massive Charlie Foxtrot. The final day of the op ended with severe losses for the project. They claimed 40% losses. But they lied in an official report.”
General Landry thought for a second and then asked, “Why would they make up such a ridiculously high number?”
Jennifer said, “Because the real number was 80 percent losses and nearly 100 percent injured.” Given that 10% losses was decimation, and even 5% losses was usually considered a catastrophic failure, that got a reaction out of the entire room.
“What?!?” gasped the general.
“How is that possible?” checked Colonel Carter.
Once everyone stopped shouting about how incredible that number was, and what a disaster that operation had to have been, Jennifer went on. “As I said, 80% casualties, based on a computer cross-check of personnel lists and listed deaths. Out of 160 soldiers and scientists in the project, there were only 31 survivors listed as belonging to the project. Plus, along with that list of 31, there were 4 civilians listed who had no business being there: Xander Harris, Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, and Rupert Giles, all of whom have blacked-out files. Presumably, they all had to sign more NDAs than they ever want to see again. But we can’t find out what they did that required every bit of their files to be redacted. The most senior surviving operative is one Lt. Colonel Riley Finn, who is now part of DHS, and is out of the country on Spec Ops. He’s unavailable, and his current commanding officer refused to comment on the DRI.”
Jennifer said, “Given that we can determine from Army records that the dead and injured included even the scientists and desk jockeys, it would appear they had a major foothold situation that overran the base.”
Jennifer looked directly at General Landry, who was kind enough to tell his part. “When Major Hailey came to me with the news that she was being stonewalled on this DRI project, I went straight to Jack O’Neill. He got stonewalled too. In fact, he was told by the President personally to stop sticking his nose into places where it didn’t need to go, and if he ever needed to know what was behind the DRI, he’d get a personal briefing that would make him regret ever asking.”
Jennifer carefully said, “Thank you, sir.” She knew that ordinary generals didn’t go to bat for mere majors, particularly when the President of the United States was telling them to knock it off. She thought she had the best commanding officers anywhere. She only wished there was some way she could ever let people know that.
She said, “As a result of their involvement with the DRI, all four of them, as well as one Daniel Osbourne, have national security clearances.” She couldn’t keep the frustration out of her voice as she said, “In fact, all of them except Osbourne have security clearances higher than mine.”
Colonel Carter frowned, “That doesn’t make any sense, given what you do for us here, unless they’ve been involved with aliens too, or else something just as critical to national security. So who are these kids?”
Jennifer nodded and went on, “Xander Harris was a mediocre high school student who scored well, if not spectacularly, on his SATs. We don’t have a lot of academic records on him since his high school was blown up, but the HMO records indicate his father and mother changed jobs and insurers more than half a dozen times including extensive periods of unemployment for one or the other, and that his mother had to bring him into the ER multiple times during his childhood. The injuries are pretty symptomatic of a battered child. Even the ER doctors noticed it. But apparently social services never did anything about this. However, none of the major scars Doctor Lam has noted were a part of this, since they weren’t on his charts in the HMO files. Then, in high school, in the middle of his sophomore year, the pattern of injuries changed. The injuries became more frequent, but the pattern changed to what looked like brawling injuries, complete with defensive wounds. And he was no longer being brought in by his mother. He was brought in by either Rupert Giles, Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg, or one Cordelia Chase. After high school, he was also occasionally brought in by an Anya Jenkins, twice by Dawn Summers, and once by Tara Maclay. Yes, that
Tara Maclay. Note that these people are the same group of civilians we found from the DRI files, with a few additions. Also note that if they were employed by or directly involved with the DRI, their injuries probably would have been treated by DRI doctors. That didn’t seem to happen.
“Whatever was going on with the DRI, we know from University of California records that Harris worked construction on a UC Sunnydale project for three months after high school. From state licensing bureaus, we know he got his contractor’s license during that period. He apparently worked construction for the next several years, moving up to job foreman and then to owner of his own small construction company.
“Then we get one really unusual piece of information-”
“More unusual than everything we’ve heard so far?” Dr. Jackson asked. But he asked it with a smile.
She nodded. “Yes. In the days before Sunnydale collapsed, he was rushed to the ER by Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. A blunt trauma injury. Something nearly an inch across was rammed into one eye so hard that it cracked the orbital structure in three places. He lost his eye-”
“But XanderHarris has two eyes. He is not wearing a false eye,” inserted Teal’c.