Where Do We Go From Here?
A/N: Well, here it is, the conclusion of 'Infinity Box', Episode One of 'Infinite Regression'. It's been a heck of a ride getting here and I've thoroughly enjoyed setting new benchmarks for my independent work in hits, reviews, tracking, and recommendations! As readers you are all awesome, and to those who chose to respond in the reviews, my heartfelt thanks. Your feedback has been greatly appreciated and has even helped shape this universe some. As with the preceding chapters, this work would not be near as good without the able betaing assistance of ReadsaLot!
And now the conclusion... Where Do We Go From Here?
“Two weeks?” Willow's eyes shot up from the PADD Joyce handed over.
The gallery owner cum Engineer shrugged. “Maybe three, and that is once we make orbit and take the structural integrity systems in that area fully off-line for the repair work. If necessary, I could slap a patch job on it and be able to give you warp 4 in a day. It could have been worse, at least we can fix this without a Starfleet repair yard. I appreciate you taking it slow going back.”
The Captain shivered at the thought of her ship taking that sort of damage. “Even deploying Kit's emitters around the workspace?”
“We're talking at least a month without the holocrewmen. I only have three EVA rated engineering crew with repair or construction experience. Here's the staffing schedule, and the requisition for parts from the industrial replicator on the Hangar Deck," Joyce went on, handing over the second and third PADDs she had entered Willow's office carrying.
“What about some of the SGC personnel?” Willow asked.
Shaking her head, Joyce shifted in her seat. “I really don't know. Captain Carter is brilliant, and in a year, I could make a hell of an engineer out of her, but first she has to learn our systems. I think at this stage, the best we can hope for is to get a few of their pilots trained on our maintenance craft so they can support the repair by shuttling the new components to us at the nacelle.”
“I'll talk to the General about getting a few volunteers for Xander to train.” Willow picked up her stylus and quickly scrawled her signature across the bottom of all three PADDs. “Your schedules are approved. Take your time, Commander. Our girl deserves the best.”
“She'll get it.” Standing Joyce reached out and lay a hand on Willow's shoulder. “Dinner with Buffy and I tonight?”
Willow looked up.
“I found the ship's kitchen,” Joyce grinned. “Replicated food is okay, but home cooking is better.”
Cocking her head, the Captain narrowed her green eyes and stared.
“Okay... the raw ingredients are still replicated, but I still say I can cook better,” Joyce rolled her eyes. “You bunch of scamps better be on time.”~~~***~~~“Teal'c, check in.”
The burly Jaffa warrior let his eyes roam quickly across the controls of the Death Glider that had just resolved themselves in front of him.
“I am well Samantha Carter,” he replied. “This glider is low on fuel. Please inform Commander Buffy Summers that I shall require the assistance of the tractor beam.”
After the destruction of the two ha'taks, the PROMETHEUS had ended the threat from the remaining Death Gliders via the expedient method of transporting their pilots from the cockpits into a secured cargo bay. The starship's vast hangar deck was now stuffed with recovered Goa'uld fighters that Teal'c and Master Bra'tac had brought aboard.“Understood,”
his SG-1 teammate's voice chirped from the comm-badge. “Do you have sufficient fuel to achieve the approach vector?”
“I do. I am initiating burn.”“Teal'c, Hammond,”
the General's voice sounded in his ears. “That is the last bird in range of the ship's transporters. All remaining Gliders are on random departure vectors from the battle. You've earned a break once you're back aboard.”
Teal'c and his mentor had spent the last three hours beaming from one Glider to the next, bringing them aboard, shutting them down, safeing their systems and moving on. In the process they had recovered over twenty of the fighters that would be shared between the SGC and the PROMETHEUS for study.
“Thank you General Hammond.”
Reaching out he flipped a number of switches on the console. “PROMETHEUS, landing gear extended, engines are off. Ready for tractor beam.”“Acknowledged Teal'c.”
Buffy Summers' voice replied moments before his ship was jarred by the beam. “Tractor beam engaged.”
The shimmering blue energy wave pulled the Death Glider slowly over the still leaking starboard warp nacelle. Teal'c checked his angles and used the thrusters to raise the nose slightly and align with the approaching landing deck. Satisfied he sat back, lifting his hands free of the controls and taking advantage of the quiet moment to briefly meditate. Passing through the hangar deck air shield he roused himself and as the skids kissed the plating his fingers were already dancing across the controls, shutting down the remaining systems.~~~***~~~
Jack looked up as the last Death Glider drifted through the shield and was lowered to the deck. Grabbing up a ladder he jogged across the deck to meet the arriving fighter. With a hiss and the whine of servos, the canopy cracked open and rose clear of the hull.
“T buddy! Welcome home!” The Colonel's grin was completely irrepressible. He was standing on the deck of a powerful starship, complete with huge honkin rayguns and staring at at least two squadron's worth of aerospace fighters. Swiftly turning, he lay the ladder against the side of the glider and scrambled up the rungs.
The Jaffa turned a puzzled expression on his friend. “Is not your home located in Colorado Springs near the SGC Colonel O'Neill?”
Clinging to the rim of the cockpit, Jack waved his free hand dismissively, “Details.”
Leaning into the cockpit like he was studying the controls, he continued quietly. “What do you think of the ship's crew?”
Raising an eyebrow slightly, Teal'c replied equally quietly. “They appear both knowledgeable and honorable. Have they given you reason to think otherwise?”
“No, and yet something comes across hinky. Since when do Starfleet Officers carry Star Wars weapons; why are there so few of them aboard; and why are their senior officers so young?”
“Are these reasons to not trust Captain Rosenberg and her crew, O'Neill?”
“No,” Jack sighed. “But they are questions that need answered if that trust is to grow.”
The Jaffa sat impassively for a moment as the Colonel's concerns slotted into what he knew of the Tau'ri. “Indeed.”
“Daniel's being released from Sickbay in a couple hours. What say the two of us, Sam and Janet give him a 'glad you're well' party in my quarters. Dinner and some light
conversation.” Jack glanced at his watch, “Say, eighteen hundred?”
“I shall be there.”~~~***~~~
“Captain Mitchell!” Xander jogged down the corridor after the Air Force pilot. “Wait up.”
Mitchell glanced over his shoulder, backed to the wall and snapped to attention. “Lieutenant Commander Harris.”
“Xander,” the dark haired teen stuck out his hand.
The pilot grabbed the helmsman's hand and gave it a firm shake. “Cam. What can I do for you?”
“Join me in the Fire Pit?” Xander's eye seemed to dance. “I have something I want to bounce off of you before we ask your superiors.”
“Fire Pit?” Cam's forehead wrinkled.
Xander grinned. “Think 'Ten Forward'.”
“Ah. We've been pretty much restricted to decks 6, 7 and 15.”
Xander guided the young officer to the nearest turbolift, sending them on their way down several decks and forward in the ship. “Yeah, with such a small crew, we've had to close off access to a number of decks for safety reasons. We asked your superiors to limit your people's movements, but we didn't realize they would restrict them to quarters and operational areas.”
“Oh,” Cameron relaxed some as Xander lead him from the lift to the ship's lounge. “So it's okay for us to come here?”
“Sure thing Cam. Deck Ten is primarily crew recreation, with holodecks, gyms and sports facilites. We even have a 24th century regulation basketball court located on Ten Aft.” Xander grinned.
Mitchell's curiosity grabbed hold of him, “24th century regulation?”
“Length and width are the same, goals are 4 and a half meters high and the three point arc touches the side lines at the free throw line and the jump circle at the top of its arc.” Xander shrugged. “We can adjust it.”
“It might be interesting to try it out as is first.” Cam cocked an eyebrow at his companion, “Nothing crazy like moving goals or variable gravity?”
“Oooo, I hadn't thought of including those,” Xander grinned evilly as he waved Cam through the door. “Welcome to the Fire Pit. Grab a drink from the replicator. You might appreciate the synthehol drinks. I'm gonna make sure your superiors know that your people are welcome on Deck 10.”
The Captain checked his watch. With the recovery of the Gliders completed, they had been told they were three days out from earth at their current speed and he did not expect to be flying during that time. Walking to the replicator he ordered a scotch on the rocks and then went to take a seat by the windows, staring out at the wonder of open space.
The thunk of a glass being placed on the table drew his attention as Xander slipped into the chair across from him. “The General is passing the word, so enjoy your exclusive access while you can.”
Cameron laughed and raised his glass. “To being first.”
Xander raised his own glass then took a sip. “Speaking of which, do you think some of your pilots would like to learn to fly some of our support craft? We're going to need some help with the warp nacelle repairs.”
The pilot quickly pushed his drink to the middle of the table.
“Something wrong with your drink Cam?” Xander cocked his head, puzzled.
“If I'm going to be flying...”
Eyes widening slightly in understanding, the helmsman nodded. “Ah. Cam, it's synthehol so the twelve hour rule wouldn't apply. It has a pleasant burn but it is impossible for you to get drunk on it. Besides, we wouldn't start actual flying until we're back in Earth orbit, not that you'd be able to tell the difference with our simulators.”
“That's the truth.” Cam grabbed his drink and downed it. “In that case, can I get you a refill before we discuss flying?”
Lifting his glass, Xander smiled, “Dr. Pepper.”
The smile turned to outright laughter at Cameron's expression.~~~***~~~
Joyce gave a wry grin as her daughter scooped a triple helping of lasagna onto her plate after everyone else had served themselves.
Glancing over at her watcher Buffy smiled. “See Giles, it's so much easier when I don't have to hide the slayer appetite.”
“Now Buffy, the Council has had good reasons for maintaining secrecy...” Giles rose to her bait.
“And so long as they do not provide a paycheck, they will not be the boss of me,” Buffy blew across the steaming pasta.
“Your calling is a sacred duty,” the Watcher countered.
“Shoes, Giles.” Buffy shot back, pointing the fork full of yummy, gooey pasta at him. “Shoe shopping is a sacred duty!”
“STOP!” Joyce ordered. “This is a family
“Yes Mom,” Buffy ducked her head, making a point to enjoy taking the bite from her fork.
Giles too nodded acquiescence, though his eyes were clearly communicating to his slayer that this conversation would be continued.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander exchanged glances with each other, each glad they had reserved one of the holodecks for 20:00 hours that evening. It was time to start getting Giles, Jenny, Cordy and Joyce up to speed on Xander's Vampire Slayer program.
Ms. Calendar,” Xander blushed at her look, “er Kalderash, could you please pass the salad dressing?”~~~***~~~
“I do not understand, O'Neill.” Teal'c looked up from his steak dinner. “Are there not beings within this Federation who have abilities similar to those of Jedi?”
“Similar, yes,” Jack replied. “Actual Jedi, no. We all heard Jonathan on the Ha'tak, he was instructing Commander Summers in the use of the Force and her lightsaber. Jedi are a Star Wars phenomena, not Star Trek I also got a quick aside from Feretti about their first meeting down in the SGC. They weren't surprised at all that we have fiction based pretty much exactly on their previous world.”
“Their ages are strange too,” Sam added. “I'm not sure I buy their explanation that what brought them here changed their ages. I would think that would have been an all or none proposition. Why were only some of their crew regressed in age while others are still full adults?”
“While we're on the subject of weird,” Daniel joined the discussion. “Janet tells me that the ship's doctor is a hologram. But if that's the case, why would she have been flirting with me? I mean, what purpose would that serve in creating a medical tool, even one requiring 'nurturing skills' as her name implies?”
Janet leaned back in her chair, feeling somewhat privileged to have been invited to SG-1's dinner pow-wow. “It is strange, DAWN S made several comments that nearly fooled me into believing she actually grew up in California. So, what do we do Colonel?”
Jack looked around the room at his teammates and Janet. “We do what we always do. Ask questions until we have the answers we need.”~~~***~~~
Standing in the middle of the Library of the Sunnydale High School, furiously polishing his now useless glasses, Giles turned to face the three Starfleet officers who also happened to be his charges. Sitting at the big table, Joyce and Jenny were in a state of shock, while DAWN S sat on the book counter swinging her feet and Cordy leaned against the book cage.
“So you're saying that this ship has a record, as entertainment, of everything Buffy's done for the last year and a half and that record continues for another six years?”
Xander grinned at the flustered Librarian. “That's correct G-man.”
Jenny looked up from her seat. “How do we know the accuracy isn't the result of the spell incorporating all of our memories?”
“We don't,” Willow answered. “But according to these stories, there are things we can check to verify, though the mere fact of our awareness will cause certain things to be different.”
“What kind of things would you recommend could be checked?” Giles asked.
Buffy and Xander exchanged a look.
“Faith and Kendra,” Xander suggested. “Specifically, Kendra was called when Buffy died last May and Faith will be called when Kendra dies next May. Their watchers are Sam Zabuto and Diana Dormer. This is information that I don't believe even you would have had Giles. Perhaps a call to Zabuto to confirm Kendra's status?”
“Perhaps,” Giles replied. “On the other hand, I know both Sam and Diana and the names of their charges. Plus, the spell could have pulled information relating to a called slayer into its form.”
“Woah, wait a second,” Cordelia interrupted, coming out of the fugue she had been in since the demonstrations and explanations had ended several minutes previously. “Me dating the dweeb, no matter how hot he looks in that uniform. Not going to happen.”
“Cordy, that's not the kind of thing we're referring to,” Xander answered while backing away from the brunette. “However, in a year, the IRS is going to go after your parents for failure to pay taxes this decade. Since no-one in your family wore a costume from Ethan's, that is something that can be checked that would be independent of the spell's effects.”
Cordelia turned a thunderous glower on the young man. “WHAT!” Her screech rattled the bulkheads.
Buffy cringed and smacked the helmsman upside the back of the head. “Really diplomatic way to tell her Xan!”
“What about me?” DAWN waved her hand from the counter, distracting the building storm.
“Sorry?” Giles looked puzzled.
Hopping down from the counter, the EMH started to pace the room. “In five years a Hellgoddess by the name of Glorificus will be searching for something called The Key, which is in the hands of an order called the Monks of Dagon. When she attacks them they send the key to Buffy in the form of a sister to protect. Soon after, Joyce dies of a brain aneurysm resulting from surgery to remove a brain tumor. Those are three things we can check. I can perform tests to detect the tumor and treat it while you look into Glory and the Monks.”
“Wait,” Joyce raised her hands. “I'm going to get pregnant and die?”
“No Mom,” DAWN answered. “Magic will be used to place a human me in your life as a teenager, with all the memories included as if you raised me from birth.”
“Mom??? Oh!” Joyce's eyes rolled up in her head and she fainted.
“Ouch. I could have done that better.” DAWN reached up and tapped her badge. “Doctor Fraiser to Holodeck Three.”~~~***~~~
Janet looked at the brain scan of the woman laying on the biobed in the PROMETHEUS' sickbay. Specifically at the very tiny spot above and behind her left ear where the barest beginnings of a tumor were growing. Bare beginnings that would not be detectable by current medicine for years.
“So Doctor,” the stoic ambassador addressed her. “You concur with DAWN S that Commander Summers has a non-standard growth in that location?”
Looking back at the monitor and then down into the worried blue eyes of the Chief Engineer, she nodded. “Yes, I do. However, DAWN assures me that she has the means to treat this non-invasively and with absolutely no long-term impact beyond elimination of the growth.”
Turning back to the holographic doctor, Janet narrowed her eyes. “I think someone here owes me an explanation. Even with your technology, there is no way that this tumor would have been detected unless we were specifically looking for it. Joyce admitted to showing no symptoms that would have prompted such a search and a simple faint wouldn't have prompted one either. You knew exactly what you were looking for and where. Why?”
Giles glanced at Willow and Buffy, his hands unconsciously slipping his glasses out for more polishing.
“We should address this with the General,” the Captain suggested. “With the immediate crisis behind us, perhaps now is the time for full disclosure.”~~~***~~~
Willow looked around, taking in the occupants of the main briefing room. Down one side of the table were the Scoobies and Joyce. Down the other side of the table were SG-1, Feretti of SG-2, and Doctor Fraiser, with the General sitting at the opposite end. Beside Hammond was Major Davis, who had returned aboard that morning after the PROMETHEUS had sent the runabout STYX ahead to collect him for the meeting.
With carafes of coffee and trays of snacks laid out along the table Willow locked eyes with General Hammond and indicated for everyone to be seated.
“As some of you have begun to suspect, there is more to our story than what we have shared with you so far. How we came to be here with such a limited crew is frankly rather far-fetched, and we fear you will not believe us when we share it. For this reason, Ambassador Giles has assembled some documentation for you pertaining to certain treaties that your government is signatory to regarding a very specific set of circumstances and a Non-Governmental Organization known as the Watcher's Council.”
Sudden side-long looks by Hammond and Davis focused on SG-1, Feretti and the Doctor. It was clear that they knew something and that they believed that the others were not privy to that information.
Giles took in the looks between the General and the Pentagon liaison. “Gentlemen, as watcher to the active slayer, I am within my rights to authorize the informing of those in this room as to the contents of the briefing papers and the subject matter of our upcoming discussion. However that information is covered by the referenced treaties and the applicable laws relating to non-disclosure.”
Major Davis skimmed through the first page of the folder, recognizing the appropriate clauses before nodding to the General.
It was somewhat surprising when Feretti was the first one to reply. “Desert Shield, my unit was deployed for security at a forward airbase in the western desert and we had a problem with guards disappearing. I got a look at something
as it was driven off by the massed fire of a group patrol and sent in a report. Following afternoon, this group came over from a neighboring British unit, they had a young girl with them. That night the team let the girl walk into the desert alone where our men had been disappearing. She came back scratched, bloodied and with a broken arm, said 'it's done' and they left. I asked around about them afterward and was told by one of my British friends to keep my nose on my job or the Council might take offense and that I really didn't want them to do that.”
Major Davis cleared his throat. “Major Feretti, this conversation is about to delve into areas that are classified at the highest possible levels. If you can give me a verbal commitment, we can take care of the paperwork later. The same holds for Doctor Fraiser and the members of SG-1.”
“Sir,” Ferretti replied. “If this is about protecting the people who face down the things I encountered, you have my solemn word.”
Colonel O'Neill and his team exchanged looks before voicing their own agreement along with that of the Doctor.
Willow looked over at Giles and Buffy who both nodded.
Giles replaced his glasses over his eyes and looked at the three Americans. “The Council knew that the highest levels of your military and government were aware of the supernatural. I guess it is therefore not surprising that officers associated with another hidden threat would be 'in the know' as it were. I assume that your familiarity with the subject includes the acceptance of the use of will over the force of nature?”
The Pentagon liaison nodded. “If you are referring to magic, I have seen practical demonstrations that have convinced me of its veracity. Are you trying to say that magic is what brought you here from your home dimension?”
“Not precisely,” Willow replied. “Five nights ago this ship did not exist in any universe. As near as we can tell it is a precise duplicate of the actual USS PROMETHEUS from the dimension our memories call home. It was called into existence when a chaos mage cast a spell on our hometown that turned everyone into the characters they dressed as for Halloween, assuming some part of their costume was purchased from his shop.
“Much as the shows of Star Trek are entertainment in this universe,” the Captain waved her hand to encompass the Scoobies. “Apparently, the lives of those of us who are from Sunnydale are entertainment for the people of that universe. That's how we knew to look for Joyce's tumor.”
Jack shook his head like the idea was a rather annoying fly. “So what makes you so special that there would be entertainment based around you?”
Buffy cleared her throat before glancing over at Giles. “I'm the Slayer.”
The General and Major Davis both blanched at her admission.
“Ah,” Daniel raised his hand. “That is the second reference in the last several minutes. What's a slayer?”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Giles opened the folder and flipped through several pages. “Page four in your folders will give those details the Council is willing to share. In a nutshell, The Slayer is the chosen one, a mystically enhanced warrior. She is the one girl in the entire world imbued with the power to battle the forces of demonic evil, the vampires and reduce the swell of their number.”
“Wait, those are just legends, ancient myths tied to the Goa'uld occupation...”
Jack groaned, “Daniel.”
The archaeologist's face became mulish at Jack's interference. “But...”
“Later. We have two more days for you to argue history with the Ambassador,” Jack ordered firmly. “So you're entertainment there and they're entertainment here. Makes me wonder where we fit in.”
“We could perform a search of our library database,” Xander offered. “Though it is not all inclusive there might be some reference to a show, even if the show itself is not present.”
Cringing slightly, the General slowly shook his head. “While the metaphilosophical implications of this discussion are probably fascinating, we have drifted rather far from our purpose. Specifically, Captain, you called this meeting to provide full disclosure about yourself and your crew and to clear up the discrepancies my teams have noted and reported on.”
Willow glanced nervously at the table-top, for a moment appearing every bit the teenage girl. That was quickly subsumed as the Starfleet Captain aspect of her persona squashed her angst. “General, we are exactly what we appear to be. Buffy and I are both sixteen. The young lady who so impressed you on the bridge, she's really twelve. At the same time, every member of my crew, except for four, have memories covering years, if not decades, of training and service in Starfleet. Of those four, one dressed as a Jedi and retains at least some of those abilities, the second is Kit's Mom who went as a Babylon5 security officer, the third is the uncle of our other twelve year old and a trained police officer, and the final person is an acquaintance of ours who got swept up in this adventure and has made it her job to remind us that this
is our reality and not the one that I have 40 years of memories from.”
George was rocked back in his seat by the revelations. “I see,” his expression somber yet thoughtful. “May I ask where you are really from?”
“Sunnydale, California,” Joyce answered when no one else spoke up.
Turning to look out the window as the stars slowly drifted by, the General attempted to absorb the impact. “This changes some things.”
“Does it?” Joyce asked.
“Your command crew are all children,” he answered quietly.
“Major Feretti, how old was that girl you mentioned?” Joyce growled.
“I'm not sure. Maybe fifteen?”
“At fifteen, my daughter burned down her high school gym to save the lives of her classmates.” Joyce snapped.
Buffy's eyes widened. “Mom.”
“FIVE MONTHS AGO SHE DIED!” Joyce yelled. “If it wasn't for her best friend knowing CPR she wouldn't be standing here today! These kids
have been fighting for humanity for over a year already and that is without counting the memories we all acquired four nights ago!”
Grabbing her mom, Buffy pulled her into a fierce hug. Over Buffy's shoulder Joyce fired off a final shot. “General, my daughter is the Slayer. On average, they live fourteen to eighteen months from their calling. You'll excuse me if I believe she's a little safer here.”
George looked over at the very young Captain. Focusing on her eyes, he could see the sixteen year old girl, but he could also see the experienced diplomat, the consummate warrior and most importantly, the Starfleet Captain. “This is why you wanted to hold this part of the conversation up here away from our recording devices.”
“It is. If we told you this on your base, and it was recorded, then your superiors would put you in the untenable position of having to refuse our help and trying to take our ship.”
“By telling you here, you have ability to entertain a third option.”
“Treat us like you were going to before you knew,” she answered.
The SGC officers looked puzzled. “How is that a third option?” Feretti asked.
“There are only twenty-two of us aboard a ship that normally crews over nine hundred,” Willow answered. “With the help of holographic crew we can fly and fight, but in the long-term I need trained personnel and I believe that your organization can provide them.
“In exchange we can assist you with reverse engineering of captured technology, such as the Death Gliders currently crowding my shuttle bay, while advancing your own sciences at a reasonable pace to enable you to begin building the ships you will need to defend our home. All personnel you provide will be trained to the highest Starfleet standards of knowledge, skill and conduct and then be available to crew your own ships.”
“Your proposal makes a lot of sense,” the General replied. “Though I still don't like the idea of the two twelve year olds being aboard when you go up against whatever is coming.”
“General, Federation starships are designed to deploy for extended tours with the crew's family aboard. Those kids with interest in a Starfleet career have always been encouraged to participate in available training. In fact, numerous ships over the years have been saved by the timely intervention of someone you would consider a child. PROMETHEUS will keep us safe. Besides, if we lose up here it won't be any safer for them down there.”
Hammond seemed unconvinced.
“Tell me General, if you woke up tomorrow and found yourself in the body of a sixteen year old, would you accept it if someone told you that you could not come to work and instead had to go back to school?” Willow asked. “A school, by the way, that is socially and scientifically hundreds of years out of date to the knowledge and experience in your head?”
George closed his eyes and regretted that his antacid bottle was securely locked in his desk, several hundred thousand miles away. “Okay, I am willing to accept that this is your ship and your culture, insofar as it applies to the memories and experiences each of you have acquired. I also understand your desperate need for personnel. Based on what I have seen over the past several days, I believe we can work together for the good of our home.”
Willow stood, walking down the length of the table and reaching out to take the General's hand. “Sir, it will be an honor.”
“Ambassador Giles, after you and Major Davis are through pounding out the particulars of our agreement, I would appreciate a full briefing on Miss Summers' situation. If she is going to be taking a permanent role with the PROMETHEUS then it might be worth considering offering her the support of the SGC in fulfilling her duties as the Slayer.”
Giles nodded, knowing that if he did not, a very irate mother of the aforementioned slayer would make his life a true living hell.~~~***~~~
Standing on the hangar deck of the PROMETHEUS, her command crew stood at attention in their formal uniforms, lining the approach to the runabout STYX. One of the junior helmsmen was standing watch on the bridge while holocrewmen manned the stations. Bosun pipes sounded over the speakers as General George Hammond stepped through the hatch onto the deck, Major Davis two paces back off his right shoulder.
“Crew attenTION! Commander SGC departing!” First Officer McNally barked out.
As one, the crew snapped to attention as the General marched the length of the deck to the open door of the runabout. Stopping in front of the petite redheaded figure at the end of the line he smiled as she rendered him a near perfect salute, which he returned. “Captain Rosenberg, you have a fine ship and a crew that is worthy of her.”
“Thank you, Sir,” she replied. “We wouldn't have been near as successful without your people's help.”
“No, but without your ship and your crew our chances were not good at all,” George answered, reaching out his right hand. “I look forward to working with you again Captain.”
Willow's eyes twinkled as she reached out to shake his extended hand. “As do I General. I'll have your SG teams home in two days, though I'd like to keep a few of the pilots a bit longer. Some of them look to be fair hands with our workpods and we do have a warp nacelle to rebuild.”
“Consider them TDY to your station for as long as you need them Captain,” Hammond released her hand and climbed the steps into the STYX followed by Major Davis and Lieutenant Commander Harris.
Tossing off a cocky salute, Xander punched the button to close the hatch. “Back in an hour Wills.”~~~***~~~
Several hours later, setting the bottle of Tylenol on his desk, George slowly shook his head as he read the message that had been left there by his adjutant. Downing a pair of the tablets with a swallow of water he reached for one of the phones on his desk, punching in a number from memory and letting it ring.
“AJ? George. I need your help.”FinNext time on Infinite Regression – Rocks and Shoals
Admiral Chegwidden steamrollered through the collection of desks. “Harm, Mac. My office!”
The Navy Lieutenant Commander and Marine Major leaped from their seats to follow him.~~~***~~~
“Colonel O'Neill, Captain Carter, Dr. Jackson, Teal'c.” George looked up from the letter sitting open on his desk at the four members of SG-1. “It pains me deeply to do this, but pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, under articles 81, 86, 88, 90, 92, 95, 98, 108, and 133 you are each hereby relieved of all duties and remanded to custody pending resolution of the charges brought against you.”
“Senator Kinsey managed to get the entire book thrown at us, Sir?”
“Not quite. He couldn't make Mutiny stick because you did not attempt to usurp my command.”~~~***~~~
“So we're through?” Deep emotion etched painfully across his face.
Reaching up, Buffy lay a hand against his cheek. “I prefer to believe that we're just going on different paths for a while.”
“What if...” His response was stifled as her hand drifted around to lay over his lips.
“Biiig windows with lots of sunlight.”