Disclaimer:Buffy the Vampire Slayer
is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television and others.EVE Online
are owned by CCP GamesStargate SG-1
is owned by MGM Television, Double Secret Productions and Gekko Film Corp.Betas:
Allen Baker, Greywizard and S.D. Cambron. They really helped.Note:
I had to rewrite minor parts of chapters 10 and 11, I didn't like the errors I made, and direction I was going.
Kinsey was busy.
The past week had been a rollercoaster no one could have foreseen. At least that was what his advisors had told him, before taking their own advice, and abandoned ship.
Kinsey was a smart man. Ruthless, and ambitious, but those traits were a strength in his opinion. This is also when he knew that there would be no coming back from this debacle, his political career most certainly over once this came out. While he’d love to put the blame elsewhere, and there was plenty of blame to share, he had to admit that he’d managed to let greed for a potentially massive payoff get in the way of his ambitions and his decade long planning and maneuvering for the most coveted seat in government, the Oval Office.
The latest blow had been the coup of finding actual alien hardware stashed away in a cave in Sunnydale. He didn’t believe in coincidences, but he could not find anything pointing to this to be a setup.
Yet, it obviously had been.
So far, he had received very little intel from the operation in Sunnydale, just that everything had seemed to have gone smoothly.
At least, that is, until the first convoy had been ambushed by an unknown force, of unknown size and capability.
Maybourne had stated that the ambushing forces must have been substantial, since the convoy was silenced in literally seconds, with the only indication that something had happened being the failed check-in they had agreed upon using, once they hit the open road out of town.
Having missed the first check-in, Maybourne had sent out an advance scout to make sure the road had been clear. A completely devastated convoy was not what they had expected, and they were planning on adding more firepower to the last one, trying to run the blockade.
That was the last message he received from Maybourne.
He hadn’t heard anything since then, and had to assume that everyone had been killed, or worse, captured. The artifacts, alien or otherwise, were lost to him.
He finished taking the papers and archives he knew would be a problem, should anyone find them. Blackmail material, secret agreements and projects. He still had one of those secret projects left, hopefully still safely tucked away by now.
Kinsey looked back at his office, and with a sigh, closed the door, and hurried back to his car. He still had so much he needed to do, and probably not enough time for it. He headed home.
Xander and Willow had been very interested in the news Jack was bringing, and insisted on going back to the airport.
“No wonder he had us promise not to do anything aggressive before having heard the entire story,” Xander sent to Willow on their internal comms.
“Would you really have blown up Washington?” She was afraid to ask, but then again, she had to. Xander had changed over the past week. She couldn’t really blame him. They all had. Nothing major, but in many subtle ways: Slightly more assertive personalities, slightly more sure of themselves.
“No.” Xander replied. “At least, not all of it.”
And, it would seem, a lot more aggressive when the situation called for it.
She didn’t know what frightened her the most. Xander’s answer, or that she couldn’t really find it in herself to fault him for it.
A call had come from the airport, about an unknown civilian having dropped off a very frightened Air Force Colonel, whom O’Neill identified as Colonel Harry Maybourne, and as being the one behind the operation earlier that evening. The description of the civilian fit Angel perfectly, but why or how he was involved at this point, they couldn’t figure out.
“Willow, what do you say? Should we go to the airport again, or remain here and let the Air Force take care of it?” Xander finally asked.
She thought it over for awhile. “I don’t know. I really want to go there, but I don’t want to leave Buffy behind a second time, either.”
“I know what you mean.”
Their dilemma was resolved for the moment, when the doctor came out and informed them that Buffy was waking up. Xander was at the bedside almost immediately, while Willow took a little while longer, her armor being heavier and slower.
Buffy tensed up for a few seconds when she saw the two armored figures approaching, until her Halloween memories caught up to her, and she recognized them for what they were.
“So you did make it to the ships after all,” she smiled at her two friends, who were both annoyed that there was no way for her to see their faces.
“Welcome back to the land of the living, Buffster,” Xander said happily. “How do you feel now?”
“Like I’ve been run over by a truck, then dumped into a meat grinder,” she answered, while rubbing her chest where she’d been hit. “Why aren’t I dead?”
They both considered to how to answer that question, knowing they had an audience. It was Willow who came up with the answer. “Xander used one of the Medical units on you. And from the looks of it, just in time.”
Buffy leaned back a little, nodding. “And what about my pod? Did you rescue it as well?”
“No, they got away with it. We haven’t gotten around to scanning for it just yet, but we did bring a spare in a shuttle when we came back.” Willow paused for air.
“And the’ - ehh...” Buffy looked at the people standing behind her friends.
“Ships?” Xander finished her sentence, “They’re safe. We parked them somewhere between Mars and Jupiter.” He looked at her for a few seconds. “Uhm, I’ll be right back,” and quickly left the room.
Willow looked at the direction Xander had gone, then back to an equally confused Buffy. They’d ask later.
“Are you up for a little trip?” Willow suddenly asked. “They think they may have a lead on who did this,” she said as she half turned towards the people behind her, waving her hand in their general direction.
Without even answering, Buffy started to get out of her bed, pulling off all the medical monitors as she did so, the doctor rushed forward.
“You shouldn’t even...” he began, and stopped when she glared at him. “But...how are...you really shouldn’t be able to stand,” clearly conflicted between what
he knew and what he was looking at.
“As you can tell, we are not exactly from around here. And Xander’s tool is supposed to patch up an injured soldier in a matter of minutes,” Willow explained, foregoing the lengthy details about the nature of those soldiers.
“Where are my clothes?” Buffy then asked, pulling on her hospital gown, frowning.
“Maybe this will help. I grabbed some spares from your ship,” Xander said as he placed a bag on Buffy’s bed. “I’ll leave you two lovely ladies alone for a while, to get dressed.” He then grabbed the audience and pushed them out of the room with him.
Only a few seconds later, Buffy was heard yelling, “Xander!”
He made the mistake of sticking his head back into the room, to ask what was wrong, only to quickly pull back and slam the door shut. Jack looked at him. “What’s wrong?”
Xander just stood to attention, lifted one hand and said, “I swear, your honor, she called my name, I just wanted to help.”
“No way!” Jack was trying not to start laughing.
“It’ll probably never be an issue for you, but a word of advice Jack. Never, even accidentally, walk in on a girl strong enough to bench press a sedan, when she’s naked.” He then knocked on the door, as he said, “Buffy, you called?”
He was answered by a dull thump on the door.
It was Sam who finally clued them in. “When you brought her clothes, did you remember everything?”
“Everything? ...Aww shit!” he finally muttered.
“Aww shit is exactly right.” Buffy said, walking through the door, pulling at her pants. “This is going to chafe.” She looked at her friend, “It was sweet of you to remember the clothes, but you really should have asked Willow to do it.”
“I’ll remember that.”
“Please do. At least you made up for it with this.” she patted her new CAR-9 with a smile.
Buffy turned to Jack. “I hear you caught the guy who did this?”
“We did. Or rather, a civilian did. Last we heard, he won’t stop whimpering, scared of even his own shadow.” Jack answered.
Carter looked at him. “That doesn’t sound like the Maybourne you described earlier.”
“Indeed, it does not.” There was no mistaking Teal’c’s dry remarks.
Jack was about to suggest they head to the airfield, when Buffy pushed her way past him, looking sternly at Teal’c.
Staring at him, she asked “What are you?” She just kept looking, studying. “I’ve never seen your kind before.”
Jack had seen that look before. Buffy was looking at Teal’c the same way he’d seen Carter study a new artifact, with immense curiosity. He decided it was time to relocate.
“I think we better take this elsewhere, most people here are not cleared for that security level.”
Willow pushed her way through the crowd. “Let’s fly, then. We’ll have all the secrecy we need up in the air.”
“Uhm, Willow, do you think that’s such a good idea?” Xander wanted to know. “These people do not have the protection we have.”
Willow just continued walking. “Sure, I’m getting the hang of it now.”
“Hang of it?” Carter muttered to Jack, not liking the sound of that statement.
It was several hair-raising minutes later that they were moving slowly through the night sky, more or less hovering a hundred meters off the ground.
“How long have you been flying this?” Carter wanted to know.
“Twenty minutes,” came the reply from Willow. “Don’t worry, I haven’t really crashed yet.”
That did not do anything for the Air Force pilots on board.
Xander decided to settle their fears. “She only leveled one
aircraft hangar the last time she landed at the airport.”
“So, what are you?” Buffy finally asked Teal’c.
They spent the remainder of the trip, with Jack and Teal’c filling them in on the current state of affairs in the galaxy.
Jack was about to ask her why they had never encountered the Goa’uld, when Willow announced their arrival at the airport.
This time, Willow managed to land the drop ship next to the C5, without any problems. They all left the ship and were met by Colonel Barnes. The military personnel went through their usual greetings and salutes, before they were escorted over to Maybourne.
The man was barely recognizable as the Harry Maybourne, who had been leading the salvage operation of their pods. His clothes were in tatters, but the most drastic change was in his face. The haunted look, and twitching at every shadow, told a tale of near inhuman horror.
“Who did you say dropped him off?” Buffy asked the people tending to the frightened Colonel.
It was Willow who answered. “We think it was Angel.”
“Angel?” Buffy frowned. “But why would he... I need to make a phone call.”
“Ah, Buffy,” Willow interrupted her before she could storm off looking for a phone. “It’s 2 AM. I think everyone you might want to call, are asleep already.”
Buffy looked at her, and deflated. “You’re right. Sorry.”
“And Buffy, you really should sit down and relax. You may feel fine, but you were almost dead not half an hour ago. Even with your - you know what, that is not something to take lightly,” Willow continued.
“Right.” she answered, looked around and spotted a table with refreshments. And coffee. “I’ll just go over here, then.”
Meanwhile, Xander had been talking to the medics and Jack. “So you’re saying that the most likely backer of Maybourne is this Senator Kinsey?”
“We think so, but we don’t have any conclusive proof. The NID was a civilian committee charged with overseeing top secret projects. Kinsey was the chairman of that committee, but tying him to this is not going to be easy.
Xander sighed. “So, we can’t take him down, and detain him.” He looked over at Maybourne, thinking for a while. “Let me try something,” he said, and left Jack behind.
He crouched down in front of Maybourne, letting him see the armor up close. “Who do you work for?”
The only response he got was a brief flash of defiance.
“Senator Kinsey seems to think it was you who screwed everything up.”
That got more of a response. “Kinsey!” Maybourne all but shouted, before sliding back, muttering many unkind things about the Senator.
Xander slowly moved back to Jack. “I think that settles it then.”
“That is not enough for a court of law, at least not in this country.” Jack looked at Maybourne. He couldn’t believe that the simple tactic had worked. It spoke volumes about the Colonel’s state of mind. What the hell had scared him that much?
“Unfortunately, I know. And he’ll probably go free as a result.” Xander were seething.
“And he’s in DC.” Jack tried to calm the youth.
“Not a problem,” he replied.
Xander called Willow over and filled her in on what they knew. And what they didn’t.
“We can be there within the hour, the MCC will be detectable for some of the journey, but at this point I think it is vital to show our hand. And no, I’m not about to start with an orbital bombardment just yet.” He looked at Jack, smirking, even if the Colonel couldn’t see it. “I assume you’d rather forgo us dropping a few tons of hypervelocity antimatter projectiles wherever this Kinsey lives?”
Jack was floored. “I would prefer you didn’t do that. Anywhere,” he finally managed to answer.
“Good, I’ll hold on that option, but then I need your help on a precision strike. I need to know where he lives, and about any occupants inside his house.” Xander didn’t like the ultimatums, but at the moment bluffing was probably his best option. They simply didn’t have heavy orbital strike capability just yet.
“If we do this right, we can get him with minimal, possibly even no, casualties. At least, we’ll try.” Xander finally started, trying to calm O’Neill. “You and your team are welcome to join up on the trip there.”
“No,” Jack replied firmly. “I’ll be willing to help you get one back at the bastard, We, meaning my team and my organization, have a few scores to settle ourselves, but I can not
allow a full on assault.”
Xander looked at him, the tone of the Colonel’s voice had managed to break through the sleep deprivation and anger induced fog clouding his mind. It took him a few minutes to think it through, before he nodded towards the Coffee table, “Mind if I have some?”
With a sigh of relief, Jack nodded and started to walk to the table, not bothering to check if Xander was following him.
As they walked towards the coffee, and Buffy, Xander undid the seal in his helmet, it came loose with a hiss and a couple of popping sounds, as the various systems, integrated into it, disconnected from the main body of the armor. Buffy had already seen him approaching and removing the helmet, and poured a couple of cups of coffee for them.
“Thanks, Buffy. I really need this, it seems,” Xander smiled, as he sat down, making sure the coffee machine was still within reach. “So, Jack. I assume what you are saying, is that if I were to go after Kinsey as I had intended, you’d be honor and duty bound to stop me.” He didn’t bother to frame it as a question, the tone of Jack’s voice had said what needed to be said.
“Correct. I hate the bastard, and if I knew I’d get away with it, I’d have no trouble punching him in the face, or give him a good kick. But an all-out assault is out of the question, I’m afraid.”
“How about a message then?” Buffy asked.
“That depends on the message. As I said, anything that could be seen as an assault, and tied directly back to us or you, is out of the question. What do you have in mind?”
Buffy looked at Xander, “I know that I have an Algos docked in my Nyx, it’s already fitted for orbital strikes. If I only use one of its guns, it should make a big enough impact to get noticed, without leveling the entire neighborhood. Any eye witnesses should have no doubt it came from orbit, but there should be no real evidence pointing to us afterwards, just a big hole in the ground.”
Jack interrupted before Xander could reply, “Again, leveling his house is not an option.”
“Not his house, though he might need a few new windows at worst, and if I’m not mistaken, a new paint-job. I’m thinking of hitting his lawn, or even better, a flower bed. It’ll send two messages at the same time. We can hit what we aim at, and if he doesn’t back down, he can’t stop us from repeating it.” Buffy explained.
Jack looked at Xander, “I thought you said an orbital strike would glaze over a city.”
Buffy was the one to answer though, “He did, and he’s right. But the Algos is ‘only’ a Destroyer, and while it can carry some very large weapons, the ammunition I’m planning on using is low caliber, designed to strike smaller targets, like small installations, tanks. Also good for a house or a lawn.”
“I’m not saying I’ll be ok with it yet, but if you do this, what kind of damage are we talking about?”
“We can choose between four basic types; explosive, thermal, EM and kinetic. It is the kinetic one I think will be best for this. It’ll just make a nice hole, and throw up a lot of dirt.”
Jack thought about it for a while, as they were just sitting there, drinking their coffee in silence. “I can’t say I like this. But I have to say I like this option better than the alternative though.”
“So, no Independence Day reenactment on the Capitol, check.” Xander replied. “So, how are we doing this? If we are going for this. I want him to pay, him and Maybourne. ”
“And I want my Pod back.” Buffy stated adamantly. “And I think I might have an idea.”
It took them about an hour to plan the ‘message’ sufficiently for Jack, and later the rest of the SG-1 and 6 teams to their satisfaction. Colonel Barnes, the leader of SG-6, and the now deceased Lieutenant Brooks, had been adamant that he was included in the planning.
Xander had not been the only one who had needed to be talked down from doing something irreversible that night. Apparently Barnes had been very close to changing not only Maybourne’s religion, but gender as well, when Angel had dropped the exhausted NID Colonel off earlier. The Sunnydale trio and SG-1 had all been bordering on hysterical laughter, when that story had been relayed.
It had taken not only the remainder of his own team, but all of SG-3 and most of the other Air Force personnel to keep Barnes away from Maybourne. Luckily, for Barnes, they succeeded.
Buffy had needed only about one minute to make Maybourne cooperative, though she needed ten to make him understand the message they needed him to deliver.
“Jack,” Buffy approached the Colonel, “Is Maybourne very religious?” She asked, with a wide grin on her face.
“Not particularly, that I know of, why?”
“It just seems that mentioning angels makes him very cooperative.”
“Gee Buffy, I can’t imagine why,” Xander laughed.
Willow stuck her head out of the drop ship, and yelled, all who are going to DC, please step aboard now.
Jack nervously eyed the drop ship, Xander noticed. “No, not in that,” Xander reassured him, “though we will need it to get to the MCC.”
“Mobile Command Center.” Buffy stepped in, having been filled in by Willow while Xander had been talking to Jack. “You brought an MCC here?”
“We had to, we needed the armor, I thought I told you.” he answered.
“No, you didn’t, I thought we were going for a shuttle.”
“We are. But we really should get the MCC back in orbit first,” then knew exactly what he had to do. “It should have more clothes, even the, ehrm, items I forgot. And more guns.”
That got both Buffy’s and Jack’s attention. Xander just looked at Jack, shaking his head.
“Ready to leave? I’d prefer to have this done before sunrise.”
On their way to the drop ship, Buffy came up to Xander. “Look at you; Mr. Commander,” she teased.
“Please, Buffy,” he replied almost at a whisper. “I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. I’m letting the memories run the show for most of it. Personally... personally I’m terrified and shaking like a leaf on the inside here.”
“Don’t worry, if you need someone intimidated, I’ll be there,” she half joked. “Believe it or not, I think you’re doing fine, even if you casually mentioning that you were capable of, and willing to, level half the eastern seaboard, might be a little overkill.”
They all got on board the drop ship. Carter had gone to the C5 and put on a parachute, and even brought a parachute for each of the rest of them.
“We should be back in orbit shortly,” Xander announced once they were aboard the MCC and got underway.
He was still in armor, but had changed to a slightly different one, the helmet hanging at his side. He waved Jack over.
“Jack. I’ve talked to the others, and we think it’s only fair to say this upfront,” he started. “I know you’ve been making remarks about some of the weaponry we have here. I’d probably have done the same had the situation been reversed, but truth to be told, this is about the most basic we have, none of us are really trained as soldiers, mercenaries really. We, Buffy, Willow and I, are really pilots, in space. It is a completely different skill set needed, as you can probably understand.”
Jack nodded. “You don’t become a good marine, just because you can fly a fighter jet.”
“Exactly, but that is just one part of it. I need you to understand just how devastating our weaponry can be. Not because we plan on using it against you, but because of how massive a problem it would create if people like the ones running the NID, got their hands on it. A well trained soldier using our advanced equipment would essentially be unstoppable by anything Earth based military could throw at him, short of a nuke, or just a very big bomb.”
Jack wasn’t happy about the direction this was going, but could see part of the point. He still had to try.
“Look, we are barely keeping up out there. For better or worse, we have managed to kick a hornet’s nest...”
Xander interrupted Jack with a quick laugh. “That is just being human, Jack. We are nothing if not adept at stepping into trouble, especially when we really don’t want to. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s genetic.” Xander sobered up a little. “I’m not saying we’re opposed to helping. But look at it this way; it’s really not that different from the policies the US themselves have when it comes to weapons proliferation, even towards their NATO allies.”
“So what you are telling me is…”
“No technology transfer just yet. At least, not beyond the small or basic items. Like the medical tool, you seemed to think your doctor should have.”
Jack paled at the thought, then he saw Xander smirking. “Funny! So what are you thinking of then?”
“Let’s start with the CAR-9.”
Xander pulled his pistol from the holster. “These. The CAR-9 Scrambler Pistol. 740 rounds per minute, if you can pull the trigger fast enough, but sadly only 12 rounds in a magazine. Some of these for your off-world teams should help you, correct?”
Jack had to agree. A pistol that made even airborne staff weapons look like firecrackers would help their teams immensely. The limited magazines could be an issue, but not an insurmountable one. “It certainly will. But why only a pistol?”
“You fired a few rounds with the one you got from Buffy, right?”
“And you noticed the blast of heat coming off it when you did. That is the plasma super heating the air around the weapon. Now multiply that by a factor of... say five...”
“And you need the armor just to protect you from your own weapons,” Jack finished the sentence, “Point taken.”
“And that is still just the light
weapons,” Xander started, when he was interrupted.
Buffy’s voice came over the PA, “The shuttle is leaving in ten minutes.”
“We better get ready. Get your team and join me in the main hangar bay, and I’ll have some more of the CAR-9’s ready. We’ll talk about the rest later. Once I feel I can trust you and your organization better,” Xander finished.
“Trust?” Jack had to ask.
“It was still the US government, in some form or another who tried to take our pods. You were there for more or less the same reason. At least you would have been had you found the pods first.”
Jack didn’t bother to protest. The kid was right after all.
“They were our only means to get off this rock, really.” Xander looked Jack straight in the eyes. “I took a chance with you, when I let you have the other two pistols, and told you to take care of Buffy, something I was forced into by circumstance, to be honest.” He took a breath, giving Jack a few seconds to let it sink in, before continuing, “But, you haven’t abused that trust or disappointed me yet. So, I’ll take that as a positive sign, and a good start. And to be honest, you did save me from myself earlier.” He gave the Colonel a crooked smile.
“Come, let’s get your team’s gear upgraded a little.”
Someone asked about Buffy's clothes: