Into the Weird
Disclaimer: None of this is mine.
Their new teammate was weird. Daniel watched as she walked off; there was something inhuman in the way she moved. She reminded him of a stalking cat. Actually, when he thought about it, Buffy seemed like a cat in a lot of ways: vain, willfully ignorant of the desires of others, had to be cajoled rather than ordered, showed flashes of wisdom and a selective intelligence, moved with boneless grace, and seemed to be tuned into something that no one else could feel. When she came through the Gate, she’d said she was “getting tuned.” Maybe she meant that literally. After all, she had claimed that her hok’taur abilities were a product of magic. Maybe…
But Daniel had more pressing things to worry about. He turned away from the new enigma on the team and focused back on videotaping the ruins. The writing made no sense. It didn’t even utilize a familiar writing system. The language was not derivative of anything human, which indicated alien origin – possibly a species they hadn’t encountered before. So how had Buffy recognized it? Not that he was convinced she had; however, it would be shortsighted of him in the extreme to discount what she said just because she liked to play dumb.
The pictures were the most interesting. They seemed to tell a story of some sort with one picture per pillar. He thought they went in order sunwise around the circle, starting nearest what looked like an altar of some kind. The first picture was of a man dressed in a loincloth and headdress kneeling before a naked woman with crazy hair and a scythe – perhaps, like some Earth cultures, these people had a Grim Reaper figure with a scythe for reaping souls? The second picture seemed in line with that hypothesis, as it showed the same crazy-haired woman using the scythe to kill a bunch of people. The third showed the woman on top of a pile of corpses while the man in the loincloth was once again kneeling in the corner.
There were seven in all, and the seemed to tell the story of the woman. In every picture she was shown naked with her scythe, except the last one. In the seventh picture, the man was ripping out her heart and her scythe was shown broken in the background. According to Buffy, the text accompanying the image claimed that the woman was somehow a cleansing force, possibly related to darkness.
Daniel suddenly had a bad feeling about this place. He couldn’t explain it, but there was something about the images and the text that got his hackles up. He clicked on his radio.
“Guys, I think we should head back.”
“What is it Daniel?” asked Sam. He saw her straightening where she stood across the ruins, suddenly more alert. She and Teal’c immediately began jogging toward him, weapons at the ready.
“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “I need to translate this and I,” he paused, knowing he was going to sound ridiculous. “I don’t think we should be here when the sun sets,” he admitted reluctantly.
There was a moment of radio silence, then Buffy added, “Daniel is right. This place is giving me the wiggins. I think we should tactically retreat. Now.”
It was hard to tell over the crackling radio, but Buffy sounded extremely tense.
“Did you find something, Buffy Summers?” asked Teal’c over the radio. “Do you require assistance?”
Sam and Teal’c reached Daniel as he finished packing his equipment back into his bag. They were both alert, keeping an eye on the surrounding area.
“Where is she?” asked Sam. “She shouldn’t’ve wondered off.”
Daniel shrugged. He hadn’t thought there was any danger when she’d left, and she’d only been gone, he glanced at his watch, ten minutes. That was barely enough time for Jack
to get in trouble – there was no way Buffy could get in trouble faster than Jack
The radio clicked on again. “Maybe,” said Buffy. “Like Daniel said, we need to g.t.f.o.”
Teal’c turned to Daniel with a raised eyebrow, but it was Sam who obliged with a translation. A moment later the blonde emerged from the tree line, running to join them. Daniel felt his adrenaline kick in. Running never signaled good things.
Buffy slowed as she reached them, looking around agitatedly. “So? What’re we waiting for?”
As they walked back to the Gate, everyone was quiet and on edge. Sam and Teal’c both had their guns up, and Buffy was prowling ahead. Like always, Daniel found himself in the middle of the group, trusting his safety to his better trained teammates. He was fully capable of taking care of himself, a point he was quite vociferous about when confronted with Jack’s assertions of his martial incompetence. Still, he knew his strengths. Burdened as he was with his equipment, he was the least able to respond to trouble and historically the most likely tofind trouble if allowed to take point or guard their rear.
They Gated back to Earth with little fuss, though their early return was bound to spark Jack’s curiosity. Daniel wasn’t looking forward to explaining that he and Buffy “had bad feelings” about the planet. It seemed like a pretty flimsy excuse for aborting a mission, even one as non-essential as this one. Maybe he should stick to the “so excited to translate I couldn’t bear to be away from my lab for one more minute.” Jack wouldn’t buy it, not with Sam and Teal’c’s reports, but it might be worth a shot.
And speak of the devil.
“You kids are home early,” said Jack. “Let’s debrief in ten.”
Sam wasn’t sure what was going on, but whatever it was had her on edge. Both Daniel and Buffy were acting strange. She didn’t know Buffy very well yet, but the other woman hadn’t seemed like the type of person to spook easily. Add to that the fact that Daniel tended to have reasonably good instincts as long as women weren’t involved, and Sam figured that getting off that planet quickly had been the only option. Now that she was safely back on Earth, however, the situation was starting to irk her. SG-15 had vetted that planet. Of course they’d only been on the planet for a few days, and checking out a planet hardly guaranteed its safety, but they’d stayed the night and nothing horrible had happened to them despite Daniel’s vague warning.
They met back in the briefing room ten minutes later, enough time to shed their vests and weapons and collect their thoughts for the general. Jack was already seated at the head of the table, his feet stretched out as he leaned back in his chair. After a quick observation of formalities, she sat down to wait for the rest of her team. They chatted for a few minutes until Buffy and Teal’c entered at the same time, and Daniel came in a minute later.
“So, how did it go?” asked Jack, leaning forward in his chair and getting straight to business.
“That’s hard to say, sir,” she replied, glancing across the table at Buffy and Daniel. They were both looking stubborn. “We didn’t encounter any overt danger; no aliens, technology, flora, or fauna. We left in a hurry because of something Daniel and Buffy translated.”
“Wait, Danieland Buffy?” repeated Jack, looking at their new civilian with a frown. “I thought we hired her because she beat up Teal’c.”
“The ruins were in a language I don’t recognize,” said Daniel, sounding annoyed. “Buffy recognized the writing well enough to translate a few phrases. That paired with the stories told by the pictures… I went with my gut and decided we should stay off the planet until Buffy and I can work out what the ruins say. It might be nothing,” he finished, though he sounded like he didn’t really believe that.
“Or it could be something,” said Buffy. “After I saw the writing, I went to run a slightly wider perimeter. There were signs of recent activity that don’t look like they were left by the other team. You know, unless the other team decided to disembowel seven cows and arrange them in a perfect circle with the entrails forming a star.”
Sam stared at her. Disemboweled cows? Who would do something like that? And more importantly, why hadn’t Buffy reported it immediately? Not to mention, they had down a fairly extensive sweep when they had arrived and they’d seen no sign of any activity; how far out had Buffy gone? She’d been gone for less than 10 minutes, according to Daniel. And why hadn’t she reported back to Sam so that she could make her own assessment?
“Carter?” inquired Jack. She turned to meet his raised eyebrows.
“Sorry sir,” she looked back toward Buffy with a frown. “This is the first report I’ve heard. I didn’t have the chance to inspect the scene myself.”
She liked Buffy well enough, but she was used to working with military precision. Even Daniel had learned the protocols and knew what he should and shouldn’t do off world. Ignorance could be forgiven the first time as long as everyone survived, but it could not be allowed to happen again. As team leader it was her responsibility to know everything her team knew so that she could make informed decisions.
Buffy looked momentarily confused, then she turned bright red. “Shit,” she said. “I’m so sorry Sam, I wasn’t thinking. I’m… used to working on my own, or being the leader. It won’t happen again.”
Sam nodded her acceptance of Buffy’s apology and looked over at Jack just in time to catch his speculative look pointed at Buffy.
“Summers,” he drawled, “I think you and I need to have a chat. Stay after.” Then he turned his attention to Teal’c. “Anything to add, big guy?”
“No,” replied Teal’c. “I was not aware of any danger, nor did I see any trace of Goa’uld activity on the planet. When Daniel Jackson and Buffy Summers indicated that we may be in danger, we left.”
“How long will it take you to translate the rocks, Daniel?”
“They aren’t rocks,” said Daniel, “and it depends on the availability of reference materials.” He held out his hand toward Buffy.
Buffy shrugged. “I can’t promise much, or quickly. Best case scenario there will be books we can borrow. More likely, we can bring in an expert. We may have to travel either way; most of the Council’s books predate the printing press and are too delicate to ship.”
Sam hid her smile as Daniel immediately lit up at the prospect of getting his hands on multiple old books. She resigned herself to the likelihood of Earth-bound travelling in her near future. Jack clapped his hands and pushed away from the table.
“Carter, alert the technicians that the planet is to be put under quarantine, so to speak. Teal’c, see if any of our allies know about the planet or the people who lived there. Daniel, get to work. Summers, stay.”