Disclaimer: same as before. Description of Council team paraphrased from Tenhawk’s Finest Hour, another excellent series and author.Cleveland bound
Captain Schuler was finding fewer things to enjoy about his job but riding on the CR-20 Troop Carrier was one of them. The impressive craft was an incredible improvement over the Blackhawks and Osprey transports. Whoever came up with these things was a genius. While about as comfortable as a C-130, it provided a ride that cruised past the sound barrier and was faster than any troop transport he’d ever been on. Having his two friends along was a nice bonus.
Lieutenant Steve Sumner, Schuler’s pilot and friend, looked back and just shook his head. First Sergeant Hank Masters sat nearby manning one of the Crate’s guns. “How come you rate the VIP treatment, Cap’n?”
“Don’t know, maybe I just pissed off Cody with my sterling attitude. The top brass seem real steamed with the recent cluster. Personally, I think he just wants us non-Clones out of the way for awhile.”
“Now you know what it feels like to be a minority, Captain.” The grinning African-American Lieutenant replied. “’Course with all the clowns in service, we’re all gonna be a minority soon too. Have you found a way to tell the difference between the clowns and clown officers yet?”
Hank answered, “Of course, the colors on their shoulder pads denote rank.”
“No, you can tell who the Clown officers are by the stick up their ass.” Steve replied with a laugh.
Richard Schuler laughed along, grateful for his two surviving friends, enjoying their familiar banter. This was what was missing from the “New Army”-- the camaraderie between fellow warriors. The clones or “clowns” as Steve fondly and pejoratively referred to them, appeared too organized, too obedient, too much. They didn’t know how to loosen up and have a brew when on down time.
“So what’s the plan, Cap?” asked Steve.
“I’m supposed to find a Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and just interview him on what he knows about his prior bosses. We’re cleared to land in Cleveland airport. The higher ups really want to expedite this investigation.”
Hank asked, “What do you think really happened, Cap? Think that girl picked the lock or something?”
“I think one of those clowns forgot to lock the doors and now they’re looking for any excuse to blame it on a non-clown.” Steve piped in with a derisive snort.
“All indications show the doors were locked. I don’t know what to think.”
“Anyone know a good place to eat in Cleveland?” Steve asked.
“I don’t give a shit, so long as it ain’t another chow hall,” replied the First Sergeant.Cloaked Tok’ra Vessel orbiting Earth
The arrival of SG-1 via another Tok’ra vessel happened without incident or detection. Jacob was surprised only by the additional presence of Colonel Harry Maybourne. Harry argued that he would be an excellent contact for those NID members who were still loyal to the old USA. Unable to counter that point, Jack O’Neil reluctantly allowed Maybourne along, insisting though that he only come along as an adviser, excluded from the chain of command.
As soon as they arrived, SG-1 swung into action. Samantha Carter was responsible for contacting those in the hacker community and organizing them into an information source.
Daniel Jackson had the responsibility of contacting those in the academic field and discovering what the mood was and their loyalties. Jack was working to compile a list of old friends in Special Ops who were still in service or retired. Teal’c spent his time in training or kel-noreem, the Jaffa meditation exercise. Except for Teal’c all of them were setup at terminals that the Tok’ra managed to somehow connect to the Internet.
“Jack, there appears to already be some form of organization in the community. They call themselves -- get this -- the Rebel Alliance.” Sam stated. “I’ve been invited to an online discussion about my possible recruitment.”
“You mean the nerds are already organized?” Jack replied with raised eyebrows. “ See what you can find out and if they’re interested in sharing. How are things going with you, Daniel?” he asked while trying to stifle the visual of ‘Revenge of the Nerds.’
Daniel explained, “Well, you do remember since I made my theories known about the origin of the pyramids, the academic community pretty much ostracized me and considered me a crackpot.”
“What about that group that warned the President?” Harry asked.
“President Hayes mentioned that it was headed by Quentin Travers.” Daniel answered.
Jack wondered, “Weren’t they briefed recently on the Stargate’s existence?”
“Only Quentin Travers was cleared. I don’t believe the organization knows.” Harry replied. “What’s happened to them?”
Daniel turned his to screen and related what he was reading. “They’ve been added to the Terror Watch list. Recently a member was arrested and being held for deportation in Boston.”
“Was?” Jack raised only one eyebrow this time.
“Well, they somehow escaped and there’s currently a manhunt underway for them.” Daniel pulled up their photos on the display. “Isobel Horrocks and Faith Lehane-Horrocks have an All-Points Bulletin issued for them. The NID wants them alive real badly.”
“Daniel, see if you can tap into any info on their whereabouts. They sound like potential recruits.” Jack ordered before turning to Harry Maybourne. “What do your sources say?”
“I’m still waiting to hear back from some of the people I still trust. One of them, a Captain Richard Schuler, is apparently on assignment to Cleveland to interview someone named Wyndam-Pryce.”
Wyndam-Pryce?” Daniel asked surprisedly. Maybourne then nodded indicating he was interested in how Jackson knew this person.
“He was once with the Council until a few months back when some sort of fallout occurred. Last known address was also in Cleveland.”
Jack turned to their Tok’ra friend and smiled. They had a lead.
“Jacob, it looks like we’re Cleveland bound. As soon as Daniel can get us a location for Mr. Pryce we can land somewhere down there. I’m not eager to meet any of Harry’s friends yet.” Jack replied.
“Schuler was never NID, Jack. He was regular military. Worked his way from enlisted to NCO to become an officer. He’s a real mustang; not many of those. He turned me down when I offered him a position with the NID. He’s now part of one of the domestic HST hunter units.”
Jack replied with a smirk. “He turned you down? Hah, I like him already. Monster hunter, huh? Looking forward to meeting him then. Since he already deals with the weird, aliens shouldn’t be too far off.”
Selmak, Jacob’s symbiote replied, “Indeed, we can meet with both parties and see where their loyalties truly lie.”
“Alright campers, full gear, blasters and zats for everyone. I have a feeling this isn’t going to be all tea and crumpets.” Jack ordered.
Jacob Carter prepared to land the cloaked vessel in Cleveland, Ohio.Cleveland Airport
A Council Retrieval team is composed of ex-members of the British Special Air Service and the Special Boat Service, as well as members of other elite units throughout Europe. They are specialized for dealing with supernatural threats in addition to the Slayers. This time their mission was to capture, or kill if she resisted, Buffy Summers, the Slayer. Her watcher, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce was to be considered expendable. The six-man team arrived at Cleveland airport in plain clothes, their weapons and equipment already sent ahead to their contact person who had hidden it in a cache that only they would know. Their arrival did not go unnoticed.Detention Facility, Boston
“Commander, how long until Captain Schuler makes contact with Mr. Pryce?” McVae asked.
“He should make Cleveland in a few hours, sir.”
“Contact the garrison commander in Cleveland and have him dispatch combat troops to Mr. Pryce’s address. Have them stay a discrete distance and only to move in after Captain Schuler clears the area.”
Cody shrugged and replied, “I will inform Captain Schuler.”
“No, tell him nothing about the troops. Let’s see what information your captain can acquire from Mr. Pryce first. Afterwards, the troops can move in and arrest Mr. Pryce and anyone else found with him. Cleveland airport facial recognition scanners have identified a handful of ex-British military mercenaries that could be Mr. Pryce’s ex-employers trying to keep him from talking. We’ll compare what he has disclosed voluntarily to Captain Schuler, the rest we’ll acquire using the new ‘mind probes.’ I’m eager to see how they work. Prepare a craft, Commander; I want to be in Cleveland as soon as possible.”
“Yes sir. I’ll have a CR-20 prepped for transport.” Clone Commander Cody nodded and left the room.
Silently, Special Agent McVae stared outside the window. He had learned to trust his instincts, which were responsible for his acquiring his infamous reputation. He laughed to himself when he remembered the shocked look on that pathetic couple from his last case when the defense’s secret witness failed to appear, leaving them no choice but to plea bargain.
His instincts now told him that Mrs. Horrocks would attempt to contact Mr. Pryce. The troops moving in would easily capture not just Pryce but Horrocks and Faith as well. He would no longer need the divide-and-conquer stratagem. He would need to get to Cleveland tonight. Something important was to happen that would mean another promotion. The thought put a smile on his face as he strolled toward the launch pad.Outside Wesley’s apartment
“What do you mean he’s not home? We come hundreds of miles and he’s not home?”
“Faith, we’ll just have to come back. For now, let’s get something to eat. We’ll come back later and wait for him.”Outside the Summer’s apartment
“It appears no one is currently home. If Jonathan’s directions are correct then this apartment is where Miss Summers lives with her mother, a Ms. Joyce Summers. If I remember correctly, her Watcher is Mr. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.”
“Well, if we have to wait, do you mind going shopping for a bit, Rupert? You need a new wardrobe; you barely fit in that old tweed coat.” Jenny teased.Cleveland General Hospital
A somber group returned to the hospital the next day and stayed with Joyce until the time came for her surgery. Hugs and prayers were made, and little more was said that hadn’t been said already. More silent and tearful hugs were exchanged. Trying to be strong, Buffy and Dawn held their mother’s hand until it was time for her to be wheeled into the operating room. Wesley stood behind the girls; they turned and embraced him as the doors closed. The long wait began.