Scoobies and a Reject
A/N: This is a sequel to “The League of Extraordinary Women”. It will make a lot more sense if you read that first.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. If you want details on ownership and all that jazz, you’ll want to read the appropriate intros in “The League of Extraordinary Women”.
Daniel Jackson looked over the eight partially empty cardboard boxes on the floor and considered the book in his hand. Archaeology, mythology, folklore, linguistics, or philosophy? Technically, any of the five fields would be reasonable. But what would best represent the book, so he could find it again when he unpacked?
If he unpacked.
If he ever had a place again where he could unpack books like these.
It was all his own fault. It always had been. No one had forced him to go into modern archaeology or European folklore. No one had forced him to do research in the areas he had found most interesting. In fact, his major professors had suggested he consider an area not as heavily trampled, particularly by the British folklorists.
And certainly no one had forced him to reach the conclusions he had, or to insist that he was correct in his assumptions. It was really the last one that had gotten him into so much trouble. But he had persisted anyway. He had written several papers insisting that certain metaphors in ancient texts were not metaphors, but references to vampires and demons. And so he hadn’t gotten tenure, and he had been asked to leave the university, and he hadn’t been able to find another university job.
He really didn’t know what he was going to do, or where he was going to go.
He turned at a knock on his doorframe. The man there reminded him of himself, only older. Similar stance, similar glasses, similar timidity with interpersonal connections. He sighed and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not giving interviews. Or anything.”
The man spoke with a distinct British accent. “I’m not here to ask for an interview. I’m here to offer you a job.”
Well, that was about as likely as Schliemann admitting he ripped off his benefactor and hogged all the credit for discovering Troy. He said, “Pardon my skepticism, but I find it extraordinarily unlikely that you – or anyone else – would be here… now… with a job offer, instead of, say, some sort of participation from that television show World’s Biggest Loonies
. So perhaps you could just leave now. I have work to do here.”
The man reached up toward his face as if he were about to pull off his glasses. Then he stopped. “Let me start over. I’m Rupert Giles. I see that there is going to be some skepticism here, so let me start over. You’re standing there holding Merris, Pryce, and Holoden. You’re looking at a series of labeled boxes. Am I correct that you’re attempting to decide which box to store your book in?”
“Yes. And, if I may say so, this is going to be one of the least interesting pieces of film in history.”
Rupert Giles tapped his cheek in thought. “It really isn’t fair to allocate a book like that to just one of these boxes. Is there a box specifically for cross-cultural works?”
He sighed, “No. I prefer not to work that way. I would end up putting most of the books in that category.”
“Ahh, a splitter rather than a lumper,” Rupert Giles said. “I personally prefer a proprietary modification of Ranganathan’s Colon Classification methodology, and then when I have moved, I have simply preserved the order of the books in the packing.”
Despite himself, Daniel found himself slipping into what some of his professors had called his ‘research mode’. “I prefer the Library of Congress classification system myself, but this is simply organization, not classification.”
Rupert Giles contradicted, “But surely you agree that the basis of Ranganathan and ‘L of C’ both is splitting into categories for purposes of organization…”
Daniel found that he had lost track of the time. He and Rupert filed books away in boxes and argued library science for hours. By the time he thought to look at a clock, it was well after seven at night.
He finally put the last cover on the last cardboard banker’s box. He had all his files in fourteen of them, and all of his books in another forty-two boxes, and his antiques all carefully wrapped in protective cloth and bubble wrap. Except the really fragile ones, which were in their own molded foam cases.
He sighed, “I really appreciate your help, and the chat, but this is going to take quite a while to lug everything downstairs to my truck.”
Rupert smiled and said, “Ahh, I believe this is where I can really provide some utility.” He pulled out his cell phone and made a quick call. “Vi? … Yes, it is I. … No, I most certainly have not been kidnapped! I merely lost track of time while chatting with Dr. Jackson. … No, I really am not interested in hearing about the stores you have been in while you waited for me to contact you. … Yes, now would be excellent.”
Rupert hung up and said, “Yes. Well. My colleague Vi will be here in a few minutes, and she’ll be able to provide far more assistance in moving these boxes than I will.”
Daniel gave him a raised eyebrow. “Is she a weightlifter? Most of these boxes are thirty to forty pounds.”
Rupert smiled mysteriously and said, “Vi is… an amateur weightlifter, in a sense. But she’s one of the stronger people – male or female – I know.”
Daniel was expecting a massive woman who could play a 1950’s Russian weightlifter in a movie. A woman who looked like Tamara Press. He was certainly not expecting a petite, pretty redhead who looked like a college student. A college student who was carrying what looked like a sixty pound refrigerator dolly in one hand like it was a lunchbox.
Rupert said, “Ah, a dolly. Good idea.”
She said, “Oh, that’s for you guys.” She looked at Daniel and shyly said, “Hi. I’m Vi. Giles showed me a couple of your papers. That was pretty ingenious the way you put everything together and worked things out.”
Daniel looked at the dolly and asked, “This is for us? You’re not carrying anything?”
Vi walked over to a stack of five boxes that had to weigh more than he did. She picked the entire stack up by the grips of the bottom box and said, “It’s faster for me to just carry things. The old truck at the loading dock’s yours, right?” And she trotted out like she was carrying a bag of packing peanuts.
“How… How is that possible?”
Rupert said, “You’ve done all the reading. Let me quote you a phrase. ‘Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a Chosen one.’”
Daniel recognized the quote and continued it. “Right. ‘She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.’ Athreya and Marzinian traced the evolution of that phrase from the ancient Sumerian. It’s believed to be linked to the Amazon mythos in Mesopotamia, and also…” He dropped the box he was starting to pick up. “Are you claiming that girl who was just in here is… is the completely legendary Slayer Of Undead?”
Rupert cleared his throat. “We use a different phraseology. We call her the-“
Vi trotted back into the room. “Vampire Slayer. Yep, that’s me.”
“You… I… That…” It took Daniel several seconds to get a grip on his thoughts. “That’s preposterous.”
Rupert merely asked, “Vi, did you already get those boxes into Dr. Jackson’s truck?”
She nodded, “Oh sure, no sweat. The elevator’s about a billion years old, so I took the stairs.”
Daniel managed not to choke. She had just run down three flights of stairs while carrying two hundred pounds of books on her hands? And then she had run back up again, just in the time he had been talking with Rupert? Was that even possible?
He was going to ask her a question about that, but she had already picked up another five boxes and trotted down the hall again.
No one could do that. Even the massive, overly-muscled men in those World’s Strongest Man contests he refused to waste time watching. Lifting the weight was one thing. Moving while carrying the weight was quite another. Running while carrying the weight when it was precariously balanced as well? It wasn’t possible.
Rupert said, “Yes, it seems quite impossible. But the Vampire Slayer has to have the strength and the quickness and the healing factor and the martial arts skills to fight the very things you were fired for writing about.”
“How did you…”
Rupert smiled, “How did I know what you were thinking? Simple. It’s what all of us think the first time we see what a Slayer can do. It’s simply not possible. But when you’ve seen a young woman bend a crowbar into a pretzel, or run across a field at forty miles an hour, or leap onto the roof of a house, you… believe.”
“How can they possibly do these things?”
Rupert pursed his lips. “I hesitate to say this at this juncture, but the answer is… magic. I realize that’s not an explanation. But it’s behind everything supernatural. Vampires. Demons. And the Vampire Slayer. Without magic, none of them would be possible. A vampire is a corpse animated by a demonic presence. That’s simply not possible without magic. Demons couldn’t live in this dimension without it. And the Slayer would simply be another young woman. Sooner or later, you have to accept that magic is a key component of the supernatural.”
Daniel stalled, “I… might need to consider that for a while.” He sat down slowly and stared at the floor in thought.
After a while, Rupert smiled slightly and handed him a manila envelope. Daniel looked up and realized that all the boxes were gone. How was that possible?
Rupert said, “Vi moved everything down to your truck already. Go back to your apartment and seriously consider coming out to Cleveland to see us. The envelope has a plane ticket, as well as map information and phone numbers to contact us. We’ll pick you up at the airport and bring you out to our base there, and we’ll give you the opportunity to see that we’re not tricking you.” He adjusted his glasses and walked out.
Daniel walked down to his battered truck and sat in the driver’s seat. He just stared at the loading dock and thought. Which was more likely? Magic and Vampire Slayers, or… something else? Vi’s strength could be… PCP! Or some other drug. And he hadn’t actually seen
her running up and down the stairs with those boxes. It could all have been done with half a dozen Teamsters doing the work out of his sight.
He stared at the airplane ticket. Could it be real? Was he being set up by experts? If so, why? If not, again why? As he looked around at the boxes now stacked in the back of his truck, he realized what was really going on.
He had given a complete stranger the chance to categorize and appraise almost everything he owned. If he went to Cleveland, ‘Rupert Giles’ – or whatever his name really was – would be out only five hundred dollars for plane fare, and would have most of a day to break into Daniel’s apartment and walk off with perhaps three quarters of a million dollars worth of rare books and antiquities. By the time of the flight, the guy and his assistants could have buyers lined up for everything that would normally be difficult to fence.
He reached for the cellphone in his coat pocket. Surely the FBI would be interested in this ‘Rupert Giles’ character…to be continued