Chapter 3: Captain Picard
WARNING: I have taken major flak on this chapter, and now that I've sat back, really listened, I'm setting it aside. I'm not sure when I'll have the right open mindset to sit down and really reevaluate it and rewrite it but I WILL be rewriting this chapter, possibly quite heavily. Read if you wish, but be aware that this chapter is officially dead, left up only as a placeholder until I can do a rewrite.NOTICE:
I am officially retiring this story. The flak I got, long down time of my muse on it, and the inspiration of another SotL response idea I have been working on for several months have motivated me to admit defeat on this. I shall leave the current chapters hosted, and if someone would like to request permission to take this specific concept/story and continue it in their own way I am open to such requests. I will post the prologue to my new SotL response sometime this week.
I do not own the series or characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stargate SG-1, or Star Trek. This story is a work of fiction written for fun and not for profit. It is only allowed to be posted on tthfanfic.org.
Ship of the Line: Sovereign
Chapter 3: Captain Picard
Last time, on “Ship of the Line: Sovereign”…
Looking up into their eyes she found a pair of determined faces, and instantly knew that if she didn’t choose her next words very carefully then things could likely go to hell in a hand basket very quickly.
“Would it help if we said we come in peace?” She heard Jack say from behind her. Turning around slowly and resisting the urge to groan, inwardly thanking whatever deity was watching over them that the duo hadn’t shot them yet, she found Jack collapsing the Zat, dropping it in the zero-g of the umbilical, and raising his hands non-threateningly above his head.
After a few moments of silence Jack noticed that both of the apparent Starfleet officers loosened up as the men behind him both followed his example.
“Um, so I guess this is the point where I should be saying take us to your leader?”And now for the continuation…
Bridge of the Enterprise
Xander sat in the captain’s chair on his bridge, thinking. Around him various crew members, almost entirely the result of running holographic programs, busied themselves at their workstations. This gave both the illusion that he had a functional crew, but also presented a loophole that enabled the computer to operate and manage many systems through a holographic extension. All of them were dressed in the new uniform variation he had selected rather than the ‘space pajamas’ of the twenty fourth century.
Jonno stood behind him at tactical, transporter controls having been rerouted to his controls. The slightly artificial young man was keeping a constant eye on the communications between the shuttle and Earth as well as on the locations of all life forms onboard the shuttle. He was also, per Xander’s orders, maintaining a constant transporter lock on the two ‘guests’ currently being escorted at phaser point to his bridge.
He glanced to his left once, to confirm that Dawn was in place at the piloting station and focusing her attention on her controls. The younger teen had expressed a desire to undergo further training in engineering and command skills and tactics rather than to be relegated to medical, so when the uniforms had been replicated he had arranged for her to receive a command red uniform with the rank pips for an ensign.
Dawn at mock-pouted at this but he had insisted that for now she would hold the rank of Ensign until he could arrange for the others to run her through an accelerated training course. Beverly’s experience and memories would stand her in good stead, but there were key gaps in her knowledge that would make her a liability in Command unless they were filled in.
A chiming from his computer console informed him that the turbo lift was about to arrive with his ‘guests’. He touched the control pad and activated a planned subroutine. One of the Lieutenants stepped forward, handing him a PADD and remaining at attention while awaiting his perusal. It was at this moment that the doors to the turbo lift slid open.
Oz stepped forward first, leading the way down and to the open space between the captain’s chair and the piloting and navigation stations. He stood calmly, a stoic look on his face as he kept his phaser aimed down but at the ready. He was followed by two figures wearing NASA space suits with their helmets removed and held in their hands. The first and taller figure looked to be in his forties, Air Force haircut and military attitude. He was also looking around the bridge with only the faintest hint of surprise, masking the surprising amount of joy on his face.
The second figure was shorter but certainly not short. She had relatively short blonde hair, obviously military as well by her hair and bearing, and was looking around in open awe and interest. The particular glint in his eye was something he recognized and he immediately knew he was dealing with a scientist here.
Xander noted all these things out of the corner of his eye while he poured over the PADD before him, containing a simple set of requisition requests from the computer needing the Captain’s approval to allow the reconfiguration of a specific cargo bay.
After making his guests wait for two minutes, noting the nervous behavior of the woman and the continued joy of the man at being onboard the Enterprise he finally marked his authorization on the bad and handed it back to the holographic Lieutenant. She stepped back and turned on her heel, immediately marching to the turbo lift and disappearing as the doors closed behind her. Xander knew that as soon as the doors closed the PADD would transmit his authorization to the ship’s computer before both it and the Ensign shut down, disappearing from the turbo lift.
Xander turned his attention to the pair in front of him who stood flanked by Oz and Cordelia. Jenny had taken the seat once held by Deanna Troi and he knew that she had her senses extended towards the two, searching their emotions and for any sign of deception. He regarded them with a stoic, cold, objective eye. They had both been disarmed at the airlock, willingly handing their weapons to their teammates before being allowed on board. The Doctor and Giles were currently at the airlock, keeping an eye on the shuttle through the umbilical and supplementing Jonno’s scanners in observing the activities of the shuttle crew. Xander was leaving no opportunity for them to try something hostile.
Finally he decided he had made them wait enough, and they have shown respect and a diplomatic bent by waiting quietly and patiently, even if the woman did seem to be fighting to not ask questions. Xander stood up slowly, crossing his hands behind his lower back as he observed them.
“I am Captain Alexander Picard, Captain of the Enterprise
. Who are you, and why did you attempt to board my vessel?”
The tall brunette man blinked at him before cracking a confused smile.
“Picard? I thought you’d be balder.”
The blonde woman looked at her companion with utter horror and shock while all around the bridge everyone stopped working. Xander was aware that they were all waiting for his response. He looked the brunette man straight in the eyes, maintaining his composure as he let the silence continue before finally replying.
“To tell you the truth, I thought so to, but apparently chaos deigned to leave me my original hair.”
Around the bridge several people snickered before returning to their tasks. The brunette man’s stance immediately relaxed and the blonde woman just kept looking between them before letting out a groan.
“Holy Hannah, there are two of them.”
Everyone on the bridge laughed at this and Xander finally let his stern, stoic composure drop. Smiling he took a step forward and offered his hand to the brunette man, who he was now certain was the leader of the two.
“Captain Alexander Picard, USS Enterprise.” He said politely, introducing himself once more but letting his attitude show a friendly face.
The brunette man took his hand, shaking it firmly but not trying to turn it into a battle of wills.
“Colonel Jack O’Neill, US Air Force. The woman with me who I can attest is currently dying to ask you some questions about this ship is Captain Samantha Carter, also of the US Air Force. She is also perhaps the best scientist we have on staff and with a security clearance high enough to be selected for this mission.” Jack replied with a smile.
Xander caught Jenny making a hand sign out of the corner of his eye. Jack was telling the truth, but he was leaving something out. He was too familiar with Captain Carter for their presence to be random selection from the forces.
“I’d say it’s a pleasure to meet you, Colonel, but to be perfectly honest your approach to my vessel has resulted in several of my senior crew and me losing sleep. I apologize if any of them have been too grumpy while escorting you here.” Xander sent Cordelia a wink as he said this.
Cordy grunted in response.
“Now, given that introductions are done with, why don’t we take this discussion into my ready room. It is much more comfortable than having you two stand here in the middle of my bridge, and we can take our time there.” With a nod and a wave of his hand he indicated the door off the side of the bridge. Cordelia and Oz escorted the two Air Force personnel into the ready room while Xander trailed behind, talking lowly to Jenny.
“So, telling the truth but leaving something big out, right? Like how they detected us so quickly without there being any mention of us in the news, or how they managed to rush a space shuttle launch so quickly just to try to board us but keeping that out of the news as well? There is definitely something more to the story.”
Jenny nodded in agreement.
“Join me in the ready room. I’ll dismiss Oz and Cordelia to guard the room from outside. This will hopefully make them feel a little more at ease and not as threatened. Join me but stay silent until directly addressed. Keep an eye on them and inform me of anything you sense. Use a PADD under the table to send messages to the embedded display at my seat.”
Jenny nodded again in acknowledgment.
“As you wish, Captain.”
Xander took a breath and then returned a smile to his face before he entered his ready room, making his way to his seat at the table before subtly activating the embedded display that could not be seen from the other side of the table. With a pleasant smile he motioned to the seats opposite him while Jenny took a seat by his side.
“Please, take a seat. We’ll probably be here for a while. Lieutenants, please wait for further orders outside.”
Oz and Cordelia nodded before exiting the room while the two Air Force soldiers took their seats, slightly uncomfortable due to their bulky suits.
“Now, before any other discussion let me explain some things to you. Hopefully this will answer some of your questions. Yes, this is the USS Enterprise
. It was built at the San Francisco Ship Yards. We are not here as the result of a warp drive accident, temporal rift, or an accident. In fact, until two days ago this ship, for all intents and purposes, did not exist.”
Xander smiled at them and the confused looks on their faces.
“In fact, if you were to attempt to quantify the existence of this ship by science you find no answers, because science was not involved at all. Two nights ago something happened in our home town. We’re still not entirely sure what it was, as when the incident ended we found ourselves coming to in the medical bay onboard this vessel. What we do know is that all of us were dressed as characters from Star Trek for Halloween. At one point we all blacked out, only to come to onboard this ship. As our memories began to clear we remembered BEING the people we went for Halloween as, including transporting up to the Enterprise
just before whatever spell was cast ended. Only, while it returned control of our bodies to us, it did not apparently undo the physical changes we had undergone.”
Xander couldn’t help but smile as their confusion deepened, and Carter looked like she was about to explode. He continued on before she could start asking questions.
“Thus, this ship is here as the result of a spell. We don’t know who cast it, what its ultimate purpose was, or why the ship did not disappear when it ended. We have spent the past day adjusting to the memories left behind and taking stock of our ship. If don’t believe me about this being the result of magic, well that’s your own problem. Magic exists, it is real and not explainable by science. I have witnessed it too many times to not believe in it. Arthur C. Clarke may have had a good idea, but people always interpret it to mean that magic doesn’t exist. That is a mistake. Magic exists, it is real, and generally is not of the good.”
“A ship can’t just appear out of nothing!” Carter bit out, finally being pushed too far by his calm statements and acceptance of impossible facts.
Xander just eyed her balefully.
“I beg to differ, Carter. This ship was brought into existence by magic. There were no crew onboard, save for those of us who transported up from the surface. This ship is real, as you can attest to. It’s not my problem if you don’t believe the truth when you are given it.”
Xander turned his focus to Jack, deciding he was the better one to directly work with than the far too rigid minded scientist.
“Now, what this means, Colonel, is that my crew and I have experienced the entire lives, including inheriting the skills and knowledge, of our Halloween counterparts. For all intents and purposes I AM Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I am also Alexander Harris, teenage son of the town drunk. Given the memories I have, and the responsibility for this ship that I have inherited thanks to Halloween, I have chosen to forgo my previous life. Thus, I am Alexander Picard, Captain of this ship. The rest of my crew is still dealing with their new memories, but given the events of the past twenty four hours I feel confident they will agree with me that this ship is a greater responsibility than our former lives.”
Xander turned to face Sam.
“What has happened here WAS the result of magic, Captain. That is IRREFUTABLE. There isn’t a single member of this crew who did not KNOW that magic was real before Halloween and is not certain that a spell was the result of our transformations. However, if your mind is too rigid to accept that fact, then think of it this way. Some sort of trans-dimensional power skewed reality in a localized area. A ship and crew from another dimension had their entire beings momentarily blended with and overlaid with our own via some sort of transphasic reflection. When whatever was causing this distortion was ended, the minds of those reflected left, but the physical changes and additional memories remained.”
Xander sat back in his seat.
“Now, before anything else, and before you ask any questions I’m sure you have, I do apologize for not responding to any attempts by Earth to hail us. We assumed we would have more time before being detected or approached, and all of us have been busy taking stock of our ship and ensuring we didn’t have to worry about a possible Warp Core breach or some other unexpected danger. With only a handful of crew I had to make do with who I had left and we had a lot of work to oversee.”
Jack nodded in understanding. He knew how much work went into maintaining the birds the Air Force flew, he didn’t even want to consider how much work a ship the size of the Enterprise
“Well, thank you for explaining that. There are a whole lot of Generals and politicians downstairs who have been running around like chickens with their heads cut off in worry that you might be a hostile force.”
“Yeah, I guess having a ship this size suddenly appear in orbit is probably a bit of a scare. My question is why there hasn’t been anything mentioned in the news yet.”
“Well, that’s because you were detected by our deep space telemetry systems. As far as we know you haven’t been picked up by any civilian group yet, and actions have been taken to prevent that occurrence.”
Xander raised an eyebrow at this.
“And by what right is that being done?” He asked, his voice going slightly cold. “What right does the US Air Force have to try to hide our existence from the rest of the country, much less the world.”
Jack sat up straighter at the sudden coldness in Xander’s voice. It made him realize that Xander may look like he was in his late teens, but he was obviously no boy. He suddenly felt like he was sitting across from Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, one of Starfleet’s finest captains and a very, very capable and determined man.
“Well, for starters it’s being done by order of the President himself, not the Air Force. Especially as we had no idea what was really going on and whether or not you were a hostile force it was decided, I presume, to avoid causing excitement or a panic unnecessarily. As to why we are here, well I am not too proud to admit that I was probably only selected due to being Carter’s superior officer.”
Xander glanced down and saw that Jenny had sent a message.Lying. He certainly knows why he was chosen, and it wasn’t just because he was Carter’s superior.
Xander narrowed his eyes.
“You’re lying, but that’s alright. You can keep your secrets. After all, I’m not about to give up all my secrets either.”
Sam looked a bit confused and put out that this teenage boy was calling her CO a liar so directly and confidently. Jack merely glanced between him and Jenny before smiling faintly.
“Let me guess, she went as a Betazoid?”
Xander inclined his head slightly.
Jack nodded back and straightened up.
“Ok, fine, you accept that we have secrets we aren’t going to spill. I’ll do my best to only tell the truth, omitting things but not lying to you. I do know why I was selected to be sent up to board this ship, and it IS because I am Carter’s CO, but the reason I’m her CO is why I was selected.”
Xander nodded after Jenny sent a message confirming that he was telling the truth, and that while he was uncomfortable that someone might be reading the edge of his mind and his emotions he understood Xander’s caution and did not blame him for it.
“Good.” Xander said.
Sam looked like she wanted to ask something, but it was Jack who spoke up.
“Now, I guess the first real question I have to ask is, what are your intentions?”
At this Xander grinned.
“Now THAT is a topic of discussion now isn’t it?”
He sat back in his chair, smiling.
“Technically, the Federation does not exist in this reality. In fact I can count the total number of Starfleet personnel currently in existence on one hand. Trying to simply rebuild it isn’t the answer. Earth isn’t a unified people, and I have no idea if any of the allied races I remember even exist in our reality. Earth is too fractious to build the Federation, and as such my crew and I are on our own, operating under our own judgment.”
Xander paused before continuing.
“Even more so, while I am no longer bound by the Prime Directive to the same degree as my predecessor, I remember all too clearly the horrors that violating it can bring. If I were to give my technology or this ship over to Earth I would almost certainly be sealing the doom for our species. That does not mean that I cannot begin plans to use our scientific and medical knowledge to help alleviate some of the worst problems on our world. We have four centuries of medical knowledge, knowledge from dozens of races, which Earth currently lacks. We can help develop and spread cures to a number of diseases plaguing the world, as well as help with development of better crops in order to help prevent world hunger. We can also help accelerate technological development a tad, especially on critical recycling technologies that would help ensure that the Earth isn’t turned into a toxic wasteland.”
Xander paused to let this sink in. It was obvious that they still wanted to ask him for access to his ship’s technology, most likely weapons technology as they were both soldiers, but his mind was made up on that front. Sixteen years of his life he may have been an American, but over fifty years of his life he was Starfleet and Federation first and French second. America, to him, had no more right to lead the world than Lithuania or Morocco.
“Now, I’ll have the Lieutenants escort you back to the airlock and you can rejoin your fellow soldiers on the shuttle. You can reassure the President that we are not a hostile force.”
Xander paused and stood, walking towards the door before turning and continuing.
“You can also take a message to the UN for me. In one week, next Saturday, I’ll beam down a representative to meet the UN General Assembly in session at their headquarters in New York. My representative will beam to the floor of the assembly room at precisely twelve thirty local time. My representative will carry our first message to the world as a whole, and will be tasked with beginning to establish diplomatic relations with Earth as a whole.”
“The week gives me the time to ensure that my crew doesn’t accidentally fire off a photon torpedo while trying to work on the ship. It also gives your President and the rest of the UN time to decide how to announce our presence to the world.”
Sitting at the table Jack and Sam both sat in shock, similar thoughts running through their heads.He’s going to announce their presence to the entire world? That’s going to cause chaos, and will probably lead to the Stargate program having to go public as well. There will be no way we’ll get access to weaponry to fight the Goa’uld with if that happens.
“This ship and my crew, we will be a beacon of hope to the world, a sign that the frontier of space is truly opening, a chance for humanity to reach for the stars. Once diplomatic relations are established we can work with the UN to begin establishing the support structures that will be required to support the colonization of space by humanity.”
Realizing the only chance he had to get this Captain Picard on their side and prevent the public revelation of the Stargate program Jack stood up, beginning to speak.
“Captain, there’s something you shou-“
“No, Jack!” Sam yelled as she shot to her own feet.
Jack turned to look at her, a determined look on his face.
“Carter, he needs to know. If our superiors try to punish me for telling him then I’ll just have Picard here beam me up and I’ll join his crew, but he needs to know.”
Jack turned to Xander, his gaze steely and determined. Xander responded instinctively, his body language shifting as he channeled his inner Jean-Luc.
“I don’t know about any of the races you remember encountering, but there most certainly ARE alien life forms out there. Thousands of years ago a parasitical alien race pretending to be gods conquered Earth and used us as slaves. Eventually humanity rose up and threw them off our world, but not before they had used a device called a Stargate to transport thousands of humans to a thousand different worlds. They established populations there and for over ten thousand years they have bred and used humans as slaves.”
Xander looked contemplative. This sounded far too familiar to him. Then he realized, it wasn’t from Jean-Luc’s memories, it was something he remembered reading in one of Giles’ dusty old tomes.
“You are speaking of the Astria Porta then. We always assumed that it was some sort of magic, not a scientific device. And that means you are referring to the Goa’uld, those of the glowing eyes. The records mention them, that they used humans as hosts before they were cast out of our world. There were some who didn’t manage to escape that have been hunted and killed over the years, but there are a couple like Set, brother of Osiris, who have not yet been found.”
Jack and Sam stared at him dumbstruck.He knew about the Goa’uld.
“How the hell does a teenager know about the Goa’uld? We didn’t even find out about them until someone figured out how to activate the Stargate a few years ago.”
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” He said. “And the less spoken of on that front the better. Needless to say, there are nonhuman threats on our world that have been kept in check for thousands of years, far before the Goa’uld ever visited our world. The last time the government got involved it became a disaster, one I’d not like to see repeated.”
Xander paused before continuing.
“Needless to say, I am aware of these Goa’uld, though form your reaction they are apparently not a small threat on a single planet somewhere in the galaxy?”
“No, and we’ve kind of pissed them off. We killed Ra a few years back, and his brother Apophis has a grudge against us for getting his First Prime to defect and causing him no end of problems.”
Xander observed them.
“Last time I checked, it was illegal for the United States to go to war without a vote by Congress. As I do not recall ever seeing a mention of Congress voting for war against an alien race should I assume that your knowledge of the Goa’uld is the result of some deeply classified black project? One not entirely authorized to be involved in a war?”
Jack reluctantly nodded.
Xander narrowed his eyes as he frowned.
“Congratulations, you can inform Congress and the rest of the world that you initiated a war against a superior enemy without even your own government’s full knowledge or consent. That’s not considering that you are ONE nation in a world of hundreds. What RIGHT do you have to start a war on Earth’s behalf without informing the rest of the planet.”
Xander felt is anger rising at these people.
“At least that explains why the team sent to investigate our ship was all Americans. You are involved in a war with an alien race and you haven’t even informed your allies.”
“I’m a soldier.” Jack said, keeping his calm as he realized that things could suddenly become even worse than what he had been trying to prevent. “I follow orders. If I tried to tell the world about a war against an alien race being fought from inside a mountain I’d end up in an asylum, if not disappearing into a military prison. I am proud of the work we do, and I certainly feel it’s the right thing to do. Around this galaxy millions, perhaps billions of humans are oppressed and enslaved by alien snakes who crawl into your body and take control of you. The wife of one of my best friend’s was taken as host by Apophis’ queen. A boy I consider as close as a son was implanted with the spawn of that same monster. I am proud of what we are doing, and not once have I questioned the moral rectitude of what we are doing. The motivations of other branches of our armed forces aware of our project, certainly. But what we do out there, on the front lines, it’s the RIGHT thing. It’s not the easy thing, it may not even be the legal thing, but it is the RIGHT thing.”
Xander observed him for several long seconds before a faint smiled graced his features.
“There are four lights, Colonel.”
O’Neill blinked in confusion before catching the reference.
“Even when challenged with direct proof on the illegality of your actions, you did not let it change your opinion. In fact, it draw out YOUR opinion as a person, not the party line of your operation.”
Xander motioned towards the table.
“Shall we continue. If you are telling the truth, which I am inclined to believe given what I know, then you’re purpose here isn’t simply to secure an unknown ship that appeared in orbit, but to secure technology or allies in your war against the Goa’uld.”
Xander returned to his seat and gave them a stern look.
“I am afraid to tell you, that you are out of luck. As long as your operation is run by the military of a single government, one KNOWN for their arrogant opinion that they know what is best for the world and have the right to direct and police it; one who’s historical actions involving native populations does NOT lend me to expect the best of your interaction with other races and civilizations, then I will not be sharing any of my technology with you. You have no proper civilian oversight or administration. You have no oversight by the UN and are directly under the control of the US armed forces.”
Sam spoke up.
“Yes, but we have some of the best scientists in the world working with our program. If you gave us access to your ship I’m sure we’d be able to understand it very quickly, and we’d be able to use it to defend Earth against the Goa’uld and strike back at other worlds.”
“Ixnay with the ipshay.” Jack bit out the side of his mouth at Carter. Xander had to fight the urge to laugh at the Colonel’s use of pig Latin to tell his subordinate to shut her trap.
Xander’s face turned cold, because no matter how humorous Jack’s response was, Carter’s comment had pissed him off.
“Captain, we may have a small crew at the moment, but we have taken steps to ensure the smooth operation of this ship WITHOUT outside help. While my intentions are to eventually get suitable people trained up as crew for this ship, I am most certainly NOT giving the US military or their scientists access to it. I am NOT giving you my weapons and technology, and I am most certainly NOT giving you MY ship.”
Xander took a breath to calm himself down, waiting for Carter’s response. Would she be smart and pull back on the topic, or would she dig herself into a deeper hole?
Jack cut Carter off with a motion.
“Zip it Carter, you are just making things worse.”
Jack turned to regard Xander.
“You’ve admitted you are a US citizen, Captain. This ship and everything onboard certainly counts as advanced weaponry and scientific equipment. I’m also positive that you will have substances onboard that are considered illegal under Federal law. Now, I’m not telling you my opinion or what I’d do. From what the show depicted Captain Picard was a very stand-up guy, someone who cared about people and did the right thing. I have no doubt that you will do what you feel is best for the world as a whole, and that you will do it after discussion with and advice from a panel of advisors selected from the nations of the world. But I am certain that the politicians above us will try to take this ship and everything onboard from you by applying the US legal code to you if you don’t hand it over.”
Xander smirked at this, his eyes darkening.
“Then perhaps you better carry a message to your superiors. Tell them that if they attempt such, or attack, harass, kidnap, or otherwise interfere with or harm our friends and family, then we will begin the systematic destruction of the US armed forces and the federal government in retaliation.”
Xander’s eyes narrowed further as a dark smirk began.
“Starting with whoever the hell gave the orders to harm or kidnap our families.”
Xander leant back in his chair and his entire demeanor seemed to brighten.
“That, of course, is the stick. It’s also only relevant if someone becomes stupid and tries to take this ship from us or tries to blackmail or otherwise influence us. We may have been born Americans, most of us at any rate, but we have more memories as Starfleet personnel than we do of being American citizens. We have memories of how this factionalism can lead to a world destroying itself, and we KNOW from our history that America is not an altruistic nation that has the best interests of the world in mind.”
Xander typed something into his concealed console.
“The sheer arrogance of America in starting a war with an assuredly superior alien force is mind boggling, and even more so the arrogance that you think twentieth century scientists can just come aboard a twenty fourth century ship using technology operating on science and principles you haven’t even discovered yet and just reverse engineer it is galling.”
The door opened and a young Ensign walked in, her face stoic as she set what appeared to be a small box on the table in front of the two Air Force soldiers. Jack recognized it after a second as an Original Series era communicator. He was so surprised that he almost didn’t realize that the girl who had set it before him and then exited the ready room couldn’t have been older than thirteen or fourteen.
“I just had my crew replicate this with special modifications. It will transmit and receive only on a specific frequency connected to our ship. It will work anywhere on the planet. If you attempt to open the casing, or apply any scanners to it, the power cell will detonate, vaporizing it and anything within twenty feet.”
Xander gave them a hard look.
“Jack, I like you, you’re honest, you have a good sense of humor, and you honestly believe you are doing the right thing. Even more than that, you spoke up when you felt that what your country would try to do, and what Carter was trying to do, were the wrong thing. I do not, however, trust anyone else you work with and for. If they ignore my warnings about this communicator, any deaths will be on their hands. I wash my hands of it as I have not only given you damn fair warning, but am taking what I consider reasonable steps to protect myself, my crew and my ship. This communicator will allow you to speak directly to me or whoever I have monitoring its frequency. When you reach the surface you personally will deliver this to the President. If I do not hear from you within the next twelve hours, regardless of whether you have reached the President yet or not, then I will detonate it and wash my hands of you and your program. You will tell your President to use it to contact me, and you will tell him that this unilateral action by the United States is NOT acceptable. If they want to have any involvement with my plans for the defense of this world, and the advancement of the human race as a whole, then he will be prepared to listen to me demands.”
Xander looked Jack directly in the eye.
“And Jack? If he does not agree and meet my demands, which I assure you are nothing unacceptable to anyone with any hint of common sense, then I will contact the UN directly, and inform them of the activities by the US. When I do so, the US representative to the UN will also be thoroughly humiliated when I demand he be removed from the room, as America will be considered officially a hostile nation by me and my crew.”
Jack nodded his head. He understood what Xander was saying underneath.
America could no longer continue running things on this. Xander intended to get the rest of the world involved. If the President wanted to keep this from becoming public, and keep America having a role in things, then he had to work with Xander and agree to his demands. Otherwise Xander was going to reveal his ship, the Stargate program, and publically humiliate both the President and America.
“Now, I’ll have the Lieutenants escort you back to your ship.” As if on cue the door open and one of the pair, the woman Jack had noted possessed forehead ridges like a Klingon, motioned towards the door with her phaser. “Once you are onboard your shuttle and have moved off we will engage our Impulse engines and move behind the moon. We’ll maintain position on the dark side of the moon while we wait for your response. Remember, twelve hours.”
Jack nodded and stood before holding out his hand to Xander.
“For what it’s worth, Captain, I’d like it if things work out so that we can work together. As much as I might wish we had toys like this, I’d rather not see the destruction of our world, and if you just gave this over to us I have no doubt it would end up being used against other countries.”
Xander smiled and shook his head before motioning to the door.
As they were about to leave he spoke back up.
“And Captain Carter.”
When the blonde scientist turned around he continued.
“Don’t ever speak to me, or any of my crew, as if you are smarter than us. I do not know how smart you are, you may well be more intelligent than I am, but this is our ship, our home. We understand the science and technology behind her. We understand the differences between it and what you currently have on Earth. Don’t ever put me in a position where I feel I can’t trust you, or else I’ll have you beamed into space. Your intelligence doesn’t give you the right to demand things from me, or to threaten me and my crew.”
Carter wanted to argue that that wasn’t what she was doing but Jack grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the room. The doors closed behind her leaving Xander and Jenny behind. The room was silent for a moment before Xander relaxed and Jenny finally spoke.
“I don’t think the Captain meant anything by her comments, it feels more like she is simply used to being the smartest person in the room. I think your young age might have influenced her, causing her to forget that behind those dark eyes are the memories of a fifty plus year old Starfleet Captain with more accolades than I can count.”
Xander sat and considered for a moment before replying.
“And the Colonel?”
Jenny replied calmly.
“Sarcastic wit, covers the pain in his life by throwing himself into his job. Likes to let people assume he isn’t as intelligent as he is. He is determined, but he was being completely open and honest. He felt no anger at your threats, I think he understood the underlying messages, and was actually amused by your threat to the politicians. If we had to trust anyone down there to act on our behalf, it would be him.”
Xander nodded and then closed his eyes, contemplating their options.
“Once they have been escorted off the ship seal the airlock. Have Oz take piloting and navigate us behind the moon once the shuttle has moved off. Once we are in position I want everyone to go back to sleep and get some rest. I’ll sleep in my chair, Jonno or the Doctor can wake me up if there is anything of note. I want to ensure that I am available when we are finally contacted.”
“Are you sure that we will be?” Jenny asked.
Xander smirked. “Confident, if only because Jack would feel guilty if some idiot blew themselves up because they didn’t believe his warnings about the tricorder.”
Jenny nodded and stood up heading to exit the room. She paused at the door thought, cocking her head and speaking more softly.
“I’m proud of you, Xander. Your grades in school were nothing to look at, but rather than collapse under the pressure of the responsibility you have had forced upon you, you’ve taken command and looked out for all of us. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome Jenny. Now go, and make sure everyone gets some rest once we are secure again.”
Jenny nodded and exited the ready room, leaving her captain to rotate his chair and stare out over the curve of the Earth and the stars above it, contemplating their future.
Onboard the shuttle Columbia
“Well Jack?” Daniel asked as he helped his friend and CO remove his helmet on board the shuttle Columbia
. “How did it go?”
Daniel was smirking slightly at Jack.
Jack sighed and floated in the center of the module.
“Well, they aren’t going to start firing on the planet, that’s a plus. On the downside, they are going to force the President to reveal the existence of the Goa’uld and the Stargate Program to other nations. And trust me, if we don’t agree to their plans, they are just going to beam down in front of the UN General Assembly and do it themselves.”
Jack sighed and then started chuckling.
“They also provided the carrot and the stick. Apparently the Captain’s plan was to slowly accelerate human development and help initiate the colonization of space. Once we mentioned the Goa’uld he appears to have changed his plans slightly, but he is basically insisting in establishing of UN oversight and multi-country operations. I can’t wait to see the look on Maybourne’s face when he hears that if we want any access to the ship’s technology or their aid that the program will be taken out of the hands of the Air Force.”
“Um, Jack, won’t they just consider, I don’t know, attacking? Or kidnapping the family of the people up here for blackmail?”
“Hopefully not after I tell them Xander’s stick. If anyone tries that he’s going to start eliminating any and all threats in retaliatory strikes. And apparently he’s going to start with the President if it happens. I think his intention is to make it clear that he is not to be trifled with, and that the President damn well better keep his house in order.”
Jack quit laughing and turned contemplative.
“One thing worries me though Daniel.”
Daniel looked at him curiously.
“What’s that Jack?”
“His reaction when we mentioned the Goa’uld. I mean, sure the guy has the memories of Jean-Luc Picard so the existence of aliens doesn’t faze him, but when we described the Goa’uld he actually knew what we were talking about. He was talking about old records and kept saying ‘we’ as if he was part of some group. He said that not all the Goa’uld left like we thought and that they’ve apparently hunted some of them down in the past. He mentioned demons and nonhuman threats on Earth as well but said that the government shouldn’t be involved, that they’ve kept them in check.”
“And he insisted that this ship was created by MAGIC.” Sam added, still disbelieving Xander’s claim.
When Daniel didn’t respond for several seconds Jack looked over at him, his own face turning to shock as Daniel’s face had turned completely pale.
“Daniel, are you alright?”
Daniel swallowed before speaking, his previously calm and confident voice low and shaky.
“Jack, you know how you don’t talk about all those covert missions you used to take? About the things you’ve seen and done?”
Jack nodded in confusion.
“Well, this is sort of like that. Um, you see, there are…secrets, about the world that pretty much everyone in the archaeology field knows about but never discuss. When I first started as a graduate student my Professor took me on a dig near Giza. Everything was going alright, we had found the tomb of some First Dynasty prince he had been looking for, and then we opened the door into a hidden chamber. He took one look inside and slammed the door shut. He then ordered us to gather every single cross and holy symbol we had and fill the hallway to the door with them after barricading the door.”
Daniel swallowed before continuing.
“Once we had done that he made a call. Six hours later night had fallen an old Englishman arrived with a teenage girl. She couldn’t have been older than fifteen but she was kitted out like some kind of medieval assassin. Silver knives, crossbows, an axe that I couldn’t believe she could possible wield, and a dozen carved wooden stakes. The man asked my Professor where the ‘bloodless ones’ were and when he pointed into the tomb the man simply nodded and took up station outside the entrance. He filled a long vessel with liquid from a canteen and ordered two of the diggers to hold the ends, ready to dump it over the entrance at his command, and then he took up station with a crossbow aimed right at the entrance. Then he SENT THE GIRL IN!”
Daniel was shaking.
“She was barely fifteen, and he sent her into somewhere that held something that scared my Professor shitless. Twenty minutes later we heard the sound of running feet. I assumed it was the girl, but instead this…thing ran out, immediately falling to the ground in pain as the diggers poured the liquid on it. The figure had yellow eyes and a deformed face, fangs like some sort of vampire and the liquid was burning him. The Englishman simply sighted along the crossbow and shot a wooden bolt into the thing’s heart. It exploded into dust right there before me. A few minutes later the girl, slightly bruised but otherwise no worse for the wear, walked out with a confident grin on her face. She thanked the Englishman for taking care of the one that got past her, had him bandage the one wound she had on her arm, and they left back into the night.”
Jack and Sam were looking at him in disbelief but he continued on.
“I asked my Professor about it, and he simply told me that there are dark things in the world. Creatures of myth and legend, magic, it’s all real. He warned me that it is better left alone, and that everyone in the field eventually learns about it and is taught not to mess with it. You call in the specialists he told me and gave me a number. He told me that if I ever encountered…if I ever encountered vampires or magic or demons, that I was to call the number. I got curious once and discovered that the number was registered to the Special Projects division of the British Museum. I didn’t even know they HAD a Special Projects division.”
Daniel looked Jack straight in the eye.
“I’ve only ever had to call that number once, when I found markings similar to those that had been scrawled on the inside of that chamber the creatures were in. An entire team showed up that time and a day later the entire sight was destroyed by explosions. The official reports said that we triggered an ancient booby-trap that collapsed the site, but those of us there knew the truth. That as much as my belief that the Egyptian Gods had been aliens is what ruined my career.”
Daniel swallowed and spoke to Jack.
“Jack, this kid, he’s too young and if he’s living in America it doesn’t make sense, but he sounds like one of them, like a Watcher. And if they know enough about the Goa’uld to not be surprised and to recognize the name, I think we can trust him as an ally.”
Jack and Sam kept looking at him like he was crazy.
“Magic, monsters, their all real Sam. There are things that can’t be explained by science, and I’ve found it’s better to simply not try.”
UC Sunnydale, Dorm Room
A young blonde woman stood in front of her mirror, observing herself critically. It was early morning, the sun having risen only a few minutes earlier, and she was once more considering the changes she had undergone. Across the room her roommate continued to snore the day away.
“Why did this happen to me?” She asked herself as she examined her eyes.
Two days ago her eyes had been chestnut brown, unremarkable. Now they were a brilliant blue that almost seem to shine. Her skin had become smoother than it had ever been in her life, her hair was several shades lighter than the dirty blonde she had grown up with, and that was just the obvious outward changes.
Two days ago she had been on her way to a costume party on campus. She hadn’t really wanted to go but her roommate had dragged her along. She had reluctantly gone, buying a costume that had at least made her feel good about herself. She was short, extremely so, and also extremely intelligent. She had always been teased and insulted because of her height and her intelligence, so she chose the costume of someone who reminded her of herself, only without what she saw as her flaws.
She had gone as Kara Zor-El, also known as Supergirl and cousin to Superman. A bright blonde wig and blue contacts had finished off the costume. She had arrived at the party, gotten a few wolf whistles from some drunken frat boys, and then blacked out before she even had a drink.
She had come to on the roof of a house. She had rolled over before realizing where she was and falling two stories to the ground. Despite this she had come away without a single scratch. In fact, after a few tentative experiments, she had discovered that she could bruise or penetrate her skin with anything.
She would admit to herself that she panicked, though to anyone else she would deny it til the day she died. When she tried to enter her dorm building and accidentally ripped the door off its hinges she felt relief that no one was around to see her and had rushed in to her room. She hadn’t left it all day, instead working very carefully to figure out how to control her strength. She was at least confident now that she wouldn’t hurt anyone, but that led her to thinking about her second problem.
She didn’t just have some of the powers of Supergirl now, although so far she was only sure her intelligence had been improved to presumably Kryptonian levels and her strength increased in addition to her invulnerability, she also had all of her memories in her head. They were slowly sorting themselves out, including the events of Halloween after she blacked out, and she found herself wondering just how she was going to cope with this. On one hand, she remembered Krypton, and another Earth, and being Kara Zor-El. On the other hand she was also-
Her thoughts were interrupted by her cell phone ringing by her bed. Her roommate groaned and sleepily demanded she turn it off. Sighing she picked it up and opened it, stepping into the hallway as she answered it.
“Hello? Yes this is Jennifer Hailey. What? No I don’t want to change my long distance provider.”
Sighing she hung up the phone.
What was she going to do about this?