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Adjustment Phase

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Scoobies & Stargates". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When Willow joins the SGC, you might think they'd ease her in a little. But no, she's pushed into the deep end with an Atanik bracelet. And it's not until after that that things start getting really strange.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Willow-CenteredEnergyBeingFR133964,81428444,4762 Sep 123 Feb 13Yes

Chapter Twenty-Six

Sam had originally intended to take Cadet Hailey on a brief tour off-world - there was a science mission on a moon orbiting a gas giant that she thought would be just perfect - but there was always the possibility that revealing the existence of demons, magic, and Spike-the-mostly-friendly-vampire might be equal to going to another planet. And, if the Initiative was in as much disarray as one would expect a military operation to be immediately after the unexpected murder of their commander (civilian or otherwise), it would be far easier task involving much less paper work and hassle to get Hailey in.

Having an inside man - or, in this case, an inside woman - could be very useful, because they still didn't know all that much about what the Initiative was actually up to, besides their stated claims that they were re-conditioning vampires and demons. They didn't know what would happen to the aforementioned vamps and demons after that, although Sam thought that any organisation that went to Maybourne and the NID as their first port of call couldn't be all good. And it was doubtful that they would trust any of SG-1 enough to give away any useful information, and if they had tried to kill Buffy, the Scoobies were pretty much out as well. But a young girl just there for work experience after a high up *friend* in the Airforce (Sam was sure Hammond would oblige) pulled some strings to get her there might be just the thing.

Of course, before all of that, Sam actually had to have a conversation with the girl, which she hadn't gotten around to yet. All she'd done was hear about her from her teachers and Kerrigan. It was entirely possible that her attitude problem might be an insurmountable obstacle in an operation such as this. But Sam was a good judge of character (except, as her father kept telling her, even when he became the host to Selmac, in the case of romantic attachments), and she thought that Hailey might just be the woman for the job.

Which was good, because Hailey was just coming in now.

"Cadet Hailey reporting as ordered." Hailey said with a smart salute.

"At ease, Cadet." said Kerrigan, then lent back in his chair and steepled his fingers, clearing giving the floor over to Sam.

"Cadet, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I'd like you to answer them honestly." Sam began. She already knew which path to take from the way Hailey was standing - she needed some shaking up, she was too self-assured. Sam knew that Hailey had been expecting to be expelled from the Academy as soon as she was called in here, and she just didn't care.

"Yes, Ma'am." said Hailey. Of course, the words themselves were exactly what one would expect towards a superior officer, but the tone and the accompanying expression just got on Sam's nerves.

Which might've had something to do with exactly how Sam phrased this next question. "Who the hell do you think you are?" Sam asked, easily assuming the tones she used when one of Jack and Daniel's prank wars got out of hand. Sam didn't need to turn around to know that Kerrigan's eyes would suddenly have widened and that he was wishing that he had decided to film this.

Hailey was taken aback. Good, that was what Sam had intended. "Ma'am?"

"Do you think you're better than us, that you're too good for the Airforce?" Sam repeated sternly.

"No Ma'am."

Sam had Hailey backed into a corner, and everyone but Hailey knew it. The woman's pride was too great to back down now, despite the attitude that she had had upon entering the room. So, if she wasn't going to quit, which Sam was sure she wouldn't, then she would have to accept what Sam had decided for her, namely a place on a science team in the Initiative. Or get thrown out, of course, but Sam was sure that Hailey would leap at the chance to work at the Initiative - once Sam explained to her exactly what that entailed.

Sam was already thinking about how to explain the situation to Hailey - away from Kerrigan, of course - and how to convince Hammond to arrange a place in the Initiative for Hailey before she even began going down the route she had decided the conversation should take.

~*~

Meanwhile, the Scoobies had gathered in Giles' house - including Oz, although everyone noticed that Willow was sitting as far away from him as she could, and conspicuously avoiding looking at him, and Riley, who everyone now knew was part of the Initiative - to discuss the matter of Walsh's death. Only Spike was absent - he had told Giles that he was fed up with having to keep popping over there every night and was looking for his own place. Apparently there was a lovely crypt going begging in a local cemetery, and he needed to stake his claim.

Riley was raring to go demon hunting - although Forrest hadn't been sure as to what had happened to Walsh beyond the fact that she had been killed, apparently only Doctor Angelman and a few top scientists had actually seen the body, and as yet they hadn't released the details as to what had happened yet - but he was sure that a demon must've done it, what other possibility could there be? He knew Buffy hadn't done it (although he still felt niggling doubts on that matter) because she had been with him at the time, and he couldn't think of any other person that might have a reason to kill Walsh.

However, despite the fact that, as far as Riley was concerned, everyone who needed to be here was here - although he would've liked a few members of his team to be present as well - no one seemed inclined to do anything but sit around as though waiting for something. Eventually Riley had enough. He stood up, declaring "Aren't we going to do anything? There's a demon on the loose... who knows how many more people it has killed... and we're just sitting here, doing nothing! What are we waiting for?"

Of course, because the universe has a decidedly theatrical bent, what the Scoobies were waiting for walked into the room at that very moment. "At ease, Lieutenant. They were just waiting until we arrived." said Jack in a calming tone. The last thing they needed was a loose cannon of a soldier on their hands.

What Riley really didn't need right now was another shock. The death of Walsh was bad enough, but to find that the people from the Airforce were still around - worse, that they had to have known what the Scoobies were doing long before he had - really didn't help matters. Why were they still here, anyway? They should've left after Maybourne had apprehended the entity that had entered, according to Maybourne, Ethan Rayne, after it had left - Willow.

Suddenly, Riley had his answer. He knew someone who would've had a grudge against Walsh, after Walsh had ordered her capture, and who by all accounts would have had the power to walk into the Initiative unseen - or even just teleport inside - and kill Walsh without raising a single alarm. It all fitted. Before anyone could stop him, Riley had scooped up Willow and slammed her against the wall. "You killed her, didn't you? Admit it! You're nothing, nothing but an HST!" he snarled in her face.

Jack didn't even look around before slamming an arm out to halt an outraged Daniel from charging the crazed Riley, because he had seen what Daniel evidently hadn't - the gun that Riley had levelled at Willow's stomach. "Look out, he's got a gun." Jack said in a calm voice, so as not to agitate the soldier who had seemingly gone past loose cannon and was well on his way to being a loose nuclear missile.

Everyone who had slowly been edging their way towards Riley stopped when they heard that, and Oz, who had been contemplating letting loose his inner wolf and tearing Riley to shreds, concentrated harder on remaining human. It was a tough job.

Willow knew that she should probably try a spell, but she didn't have the breath to say anything - being slammed against a wall really knocks it out of a girl - and besides, she couldn't think of anything that would get her out of there quickly, and with a gun pointed at her stomach - which even if it didn't kill her outright, it was likely she'd never make it to a hospital - Willow reallywanted to get out of there quickly. Unfortunately, as she no longer had the power of the Atanik armband, which augmented her magic enough that she could escape with a thought, Willow had to rely on her friends to get her out of this one.

Buffy thought she had the best shot at getting Riley to back away. "Riley, that's Willow you've got at gunpoint there. She's not a HST, you know that. Look at her face. Do you really think she killed Walsh? Just put the gun down, Riley, we can talk about this."

"Isn't she? Isn't she possessed by an alien? That's what they told me. What Walsh told me. Why would she lie? No, no, she wouldn't lie. So you killed her, you killed Walsh and you killed Willow, now you just look like her." Riley babbled, sweat pouring down his face and hands wavering - but through indecision or whatever was making him act this way, Buffy couldn't tell.

Daniel realised that he had seen something similar to Riley's behaviour a couple of years ago. In fact, he had been the one who was acting that way. "Jack, I'm thinking that Riley might be a little overdue at the sarcophagus." Daniel said, hoping that Jack would get the code.

Jack did. He remembered the crazy, paranoid Daniel that had resulted from overusing a sarcophagus, and the weeks it had taken for him to get over the withdrawal. So, it would seem that someone in the Initiative was secretly pumping their soldiers full of drugs, and if they were suffering withdrawal symptoms now, then that must mean the drug treatments had ended when Walsh had died. Which mean that the drugs had been given on her orders, which in turn meant that the Initiative almost certainly wasn't the virtuous organisation that its manifesto had made it out to be.

However, Jack didn't have the faintest idea of what to do with the information, nor how to stop the soldier suffering from withdrawal from drugs he hadn't even known he was taking from shooting Willow.

~*~

Spike had found a lovely crypt. It had everything that a vamp could want - well, except furnishings and the like. And as he couldn't eat people anymore, he'd need a refrigerator to keep his blood fresh, which meant that he needed electricity. The place could do with a television too, it wouldn't do to miss out on Passions - and he didn't think that Giles would be any too keen on him continuing to watch it at his place. So, really, the crypt could do with a lot of work, but Spike was sure that he could make it work.

So Spike set about cleaning the place up - the sun was up, so he wasn't going anywhere, and just because he was dead didn't mean that Spike wanted to spend his time in a dirty hovel - when the crypt doors burst open and a pair of commandos came rushing in.

It was hard to say who was more surprised, Spike or the commandos. Either way, it was Spike who recovered first. With a snarl at the fact that he couldn't beat up the pair - he was sure he could make quick work out of them - Spike wrapped his leather coat around his head and dashed out into the sunlight. Thanks to his vampiric speed, he was almost out of range before the commandos managed to pull their act together and shoot at him, and Spike stumbled and almost fell when one of their shots got lucky (if bullets can even be said to be lucky) and caught him in the shoulder, but Spike had been shot before and it didn't bother him overmuch. He kept on running.

He headed for Giles' house to warn the Scoobies that the commandos were out in force, and if possible to convince one of them (preferably Sam, if she was around) to get the bullet out of his shoulder.

~*~

"Riley, look. I know how it feels to lose someone you're close to. Believe me, I've been there. But you have to know that it wasn't Willow that did it. You know that, really, don't you? You just need someone to blame. I understand that, I really do. But Willow's the wrong person for that. You need to find out who the real culprit is. So just put the gun down and we will talk about it rationally, okay?" said Daniel, still vainly trying to get Riley away from Willow.

Abruptly, the window next to Riley smashed and a pale hand reached through it, seizing Riley by the shoulder and yanking him through the window, all before anyone could move. There was an animalistic cry of pain, a gun shot, and another cry of pain. Buffy raced to the door to find out what had happened, but Teal'c merely walked over to the window, surveyed the scene and punched something, then hauled an unconscious Riley and Spike, who judging by the hand clutching his chest, had been shot, into the room.

Spike, besides looking slightly paler than usual (which one might think was impossible) didn't seem worried about his own condition. Probably because he knew that being shot wouldn't kill him. He just looked at Willow and said "Are you all right, Red?" and Willow nodded, rather shakily. Spike then looked at the man who he had pulled through a window (which had given him an unbelievable headache, thanks to the chip) and said, in some surprise, "Blimey, it’s Soldier Boy."
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