Xander and the Whole Megillah
A/N: See chapter 1 for disclaimer, spoilers, notes on AU, and why Xander has his eye back.
Xander stepped into the curtained-off area and climbed back into his clothes. He was really curious about the last two tests they had run on him, because he knew enough about modern medicine – from rushing injured Slayers and Watchers and mages to hospitals – to know that no hospitals on earth had gizmos like those last two. But the gadgets were clearly technology, and not weird magical stuff. Plus, they didn’t set off any of the protective spells he had on him courtesy of Willow and the Coven.
When he stepped out, he just had to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
The nurse giggled and said, “You are so much like General O’Neill.” But she said it in a way that made him think these people really liked O’Neill. And he’d heard the name O’Neill a couple times already. A Pentagon bigshot who used to be a major player down here, and was Carter and Daniel Jackson’s boss. From what Vi’s father said, the guy was probably into black ops before that. He figured the call center had worked up a profile on the guy already. He was just hoping he’d live long enough to hear it.
The two MPs led him down the hall and into the elevator. One of them explained, “You’re gonna get to meet the general now.”
“Okay. Which general would that be?”
“General Landry. Colonel Carter’s his 2IC.” Xander knew enough military lingo from Riley and that old Halloween possession that he knew a 2IC was a ‘second in command’. He didn’t think the Air Force had many women in positions that important. He had to wonder just what Colonel Carter had done to get all those shiny medals and all those big promotions. It had to be more than being really good at Deep Space Radar Telemetry. He was just really hoping it wasn’t ‘makes nice with evil demons and lets them eat babies’ or something like that.
They went down to level 27. The further down they went, the more worried he got. He knew the bottom levels would be where the most secret part of the evil lair had to be. That was always the way demons worked. Except Wolfram and Hart, who also had exceptionally evil crap in the very highest levels of their skyscrapers.
He pretended he wasn’t worried as he walked along with the MPs to a big, shiny conference room with open doors. Whoa. Wait. Open doors? This wasn’t an interrogation room, or anything like that. And the doors didn’t even have any runes on the edges to pen you in. Were they planning on using ordinary soldiery stuff to keep him where they wanted? His faint soldier memories said this was nothing like that. No, he was guessing this was the ‘big’ conference room for big, important guests. He wasn’t sure why he was in it, though.
The MPs had him walk on in. Carter, Daniel Jackson, Teal’c, and the doc were in the room with a big, burly general and a petite, tense female major. The little major reminded him of Buffy, for some reason. Maybe it was her size, or her ‘tude. The general reminded him of a big, friendly bouncer Xander had met in Oxnard years ago.
Dr. Lam was showing them her clipboard, so he assumed they were getting the lowdown on his scars. Or at least as much of a lowdown as he was willing to give them.
The general didn’t try to pretend otherwise. He said, “That’s a lot of scars. I guess we won’t be sitting around after dinner playing ‘who has the biggest scar in the room’ with you here.”
Xander caught the ‘Jaws’ reference and grinned, “Maybe we need a bigger boat.”
The general grinned back and extended a hand. “Hank Landry. Since you’re not in my chain of command, you don’t have to call me ‘general’.”
He shook hands. The general was strong and friendly, not ‘crush your hand to show who is boss’ grouchy. “Xander. Since I’m not in your chain of command, you don’t have to call me by my last name.”
Everyone sat down, and Xander waited for the big interrogation to start.
Instead, Colonel Carter leaned forward and said, “We already checked, and your clearance is high enough for us to tell you what we’re really doing in this project. Frankly, your clearance is as high as mine, which doesn’t seem possible.” He tried not to smile, since it looked like she was kind of torqued off about that. She said, “We just need you to sign these NDAs, so you know you can’t talk about this to anyone outside the project without going to prison. Then we’re going to tell you some less sensitive aspects of our project, and then you can fill in the blanks about what Anise told you.”
Xander looked over the NDAs pretty carefully. He’d seen some pretty tricky ones. The ones from The Initiative were just chock full of little booby traps that Giles and Willow had spotted. Unfortunately for the Army boys, Willow just magicked them out of the contracts before the Scoobies signed. He couldn’t do that. At least he didn’t have to offer up his firstborn male child as part of it – he’d heard about some of the really nasty NDAs from Wolfram and Hart.
He took his time and made sure to read every single sentence, just in case. But they were pretty straightforward. Pretty much just ‘don’t tell any of our secrets or else you go to jail forever and we’re really not kidding about this.’
He figured everyone would get really cranky waiting on him, but no one did. Doctor Lam and the little major left. Dr. Jackson and Colonel Carter worked away in notebooks they’d brought with them. Xander snuck a couple peeks, since they weren’t really trying to hide anything. Jackson seemed to be working out something in ancient Greek, and Carter was doing something that was all math and Greek symbols and letters, and totally didn’t look anything like anything demonic. Well, she was supposed to be an astrophysicist. Teal’c sat like a stone statue. The general pulled out a couple folders of his own and read through them. Boy, these guys were nothing
like the nervous losers The Initiative had sicked on the Scoobies with their
Once Xander signed on all three pages, Colonel Carter gave him a big smile. She said, “I’m glad this went so well. Because you really need to know what you and your friends have been fighting, and you really need to know that we have expertise you’ll want to bring in.”
Whoa. Wait. These people though they
knew what was what? They probably didn’t even know the real truth about The Slayer. Xander said, “Didn’t you guys learn anything from The Initiative?”
Carter frowned, “The DRI? We can’t even find out what the initials stand for. The most we could find out is that the highest ranking surviving officer is one Lieutenant Colonel Riley Finn, who is out of the country on spec ops and not available for comment.”
Xander grinned, “Wow, Riley got promoted? Sweet. No one bothered to tell me, oh no, don’t bother letting Xander have the know-age, but still that’s of the good.” He filed away the fact that they didn’t know anything about the DRI, which even the demons they let visit ought to know about.
He noticed that Carter recognized his diversion for what it was, and she let it slide. For now. Instead, she had Daniel start talking. He showed Xander a photograph of the astria porta
that looked just like the drawing in Giles’ mythology books, except with a lot more detail. Oh yeah, he was right, these dorks were running around loose with the astria porta
. That couldn’t be good.
Daniel shifted into what Xander instantly recognized as the dreaded lecture mode. Giles had nearly the same mode, just with more tweed and a British accent. Daniel said, “In 1928, an Egyptian archaeological expedition unearthed a round cover stone, and underneath it a strange annulus that was made of a material they couldn’t identify…”
As Daniel explained how a British organization had ensured that the big ring went to the USA so Hitler’s boys couldn’t keep it, Xander got the wiggins. ‘A British organization’ connected with archaeology, huh? If this wasn’t the Watchers’ Council, he’d eat his old eyepatch. He should have known this would turn out to be the fault of Travers and his band of dysfunctional tweed-wearers. Even if it happened too long ago to be Quentin’s fault.
Maybe it was Quentin’s grandfather’s fault.
Carter interrupted, “So what you and your friends have been fighting aren’t ‘demons’, but an extraterrestrial threat that the SGC has been fighting for twelve years.”
And that was when it all finally clicked into place. Xander stared at her. “Wait a minute, you mean the astria porta
isn’t a portal into other dimensions, it’s a gate to other stars?”
Carter calmly nodded. “Other planets. Earth-like planets with populations stolen from Earth over the last seven to eight thousand years. There are millions of people out there who became the slaves of aliens who posed as ‘gods’. We’ve freed a lot of the planets out there, but we’re still trying to free the rest. And there are other threats out there besides Gou’a’uld, and plenty of them make the Gou’a’uld look like playground bullies. But if you’re fighting the same thing we are, only on Earth, then you need to know what you’re really facing, and you need our help.”
Xander just stared at her for long seconds while he thought everything over. He was still playing this by ear. Aliens, and not demons. Actual aliens! No wonder they acted so weird when he accused them of… Oh man, if they stopped and recalled everything he’d said, they could figure it all out. He had screwed up so massively.
Unless they were running a huge con on him, and it really was demons who just looked like they could be aliens, or maybe even humans. Maybe they did know about the DRI, and they did know about the Slayer, and they were busting their chops to keep from getting Slayed. He finally said, “So Anise’s ancestry is originally human, and now she’s from another planet, but she has that weird non-human vibe, plus the freaky lightshow behind the eyeballs? How does that work?”
Carter went into a detailed explanation about the Tok’ra and the Gou’a’uld. And it fit together a lot better than what he had been assuming. Damn, what if it really was aliens? That made the thing about Carter’s father make sense, for a start. But that meant that Freya was the woman he had been making love with, and Anise was the symbiote who was along for the ride. But Freya let Anise be in charge most of the time, and it was Anise who was big on the scientific researching. Wow, that was a little too ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ for him. He wondered if Anise would get the joke if he called her ‘Jadzia’. Probably not.
And there was the whole thing with Vi not getting a Slayer vibe off Teal’c or Carter. Vi was really sensitive to demon-y badness. He had been so certain she would be able to identify what Teal’c was, and she didn’t even get all Slayer-y around him. Which meant maybe Teal’c really wasn’t a demon. Crap, if he had put the NSAWC on the radar of a bunch of alien hunters, there were going to be problems.
Carter looked at his expression and added, “I know your group is used to working on its own, but we have expertise in fighting alien threats like what you’re facing. And we have equipment you don’t. You really need to let us help you.”
Xander finally frowned, “Damn. I need an okay from my people before I can talk to you about what we’re dealing with, because it’s not
aliens from outer space. And we have people who would give their right arm to find out the real scoop on the Gou’a’uld in ancient Egypt. Not to mention that Andrew and Emily would wet themselves with excitement if you showed them your ‘stargate’, so don’t. I’d never hear the end of it. I’d be living with ‘Wormhole X-Treme!’ every day for the rest of my life.”
He noticed that Carter winced slightly, and Jackson did a little Giles-ish thing with his glasses. And it dawned on him. “Holy crap, you ARE Wormhole X-Treme! What, is it disinformation, like the Soviets used to pull?”
Carter was nearly blushing as she explained about Martin the alien scriptwriter and Jack O’Neill’s ‘work’ on the set. Xander gasped, “So you’re Major Stacey Monroe, and you’re Dr. Levant? Teal’c is Grell the robot? So where’s your Colonel Danning?”
Carter said, “Pentagon.”
Teal’c said, “He is no longer a colonel, XanderHarris.”
Oh. It was this Jack O’Neill himself. The guy really was a smartass. Xander wasn’t sure how ‘promoted all the way to general’ and ‘gigantic smartass’ went together, but he figured O’Neill and his people must have saved the planet enough times that the bigwigs in the Pentagon decided to overlook some stuff. That would sure explain how Carter got all those medals and promotions. He was pretty sure from his Soldier Xander memories that women weren’t allowed to serve in combat, but it sounded like these people were kind of ignoring that rule and Carter was making them look good for doing so.
Daniel smirked, “And just how do you know so much about this show?”
Xander dropped his face into his hands and confessed. “Andrew. Andrew is the biggest geek on the planet, and this is his favorite little-known sci-fi show ever. He has the extended boxed DVD set, which has the three shows that aired, and the four shows that were filmed before the cancellation was announced, with
director and actors’ commentary. So now I’m guessing the extraordinarily good special effect of the departing spaceship wasn’t a special effect at all?”
“Nope,” Daniel smirked.
Xander pleaded, “Gimme another NDA so I won’t ever mention any of this to Andrew. I don’t think I could stand the geekgasmic consequences.”
Daniel and the general laughed, but Carter stayed serious. So Xander just went on, “Look, the NSAWC has a few really ancient books that deal with the Gou’a’uld ‘demons’ and the revolt against them, and there are some confidential pieces in them. But we ought to be able to get some translations of the non-confidential sections to Daniel.”
Dr. Jackson looked like he was going to have his own little geekgasm at that news. It took Carter and the general both to calm him down enough to continue the discussion.
Carter said, “If you have people who can
translate materials like that, then we should set up some sort of information exchange just for text translations.”
But there was no way the NSAWC would go for that. Far too many of their translations would be chock full of words they couldn’t let the SGC see, like demon and apocalypse and vampire and Slayer.
He could see that Carter and Jackson really wanted to know what the heck he was dealing with, if it wasn’t their aliens. But how was he going to break it to them? Was he going to be allowed to break it to them? Maybe Plan H was ready to go. The Clevelanders had had enough time to get everything to the corporate jet and fly into Colorado Springs already. And if Giles and Buff and Will gave them permission to run Plan H, then that was all the permission he needed. He knew a team out of Cleveland ought to be able to fly from airport to airport in three hours or a little less, so maybe, if he just stalled for a little bit, there would be a surprise package for him up top, and…
Just then, an MP opened the door to the hallway. “General Landry sir, sorry to interrupt, but there’s a rental van up top for Mister Harris. The driver, a young woman named Evelyn Fyffe-Davis from the NSAWC, says she has a corpse
we need to see. There’s a coffin in the back of the van. We took a peek, and it’s not a sarcophagus. It’s an ordinary wood coffin.”
Okay! Xander rubbed his hands together and said, “Showtime!”