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Ship of the Line: Three Stars United.

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Summary: Xander's costume genius is tested on Halloween when he accidentally fuses two universes to make a third, and the galaxy will never be the same again.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Theme: HalloweenContramancerFR18423,724189826,96226 Oct 133 Nov 13No

Chapter Four

Ship of the Line: Three Stars United.

Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS, Stargate, Star Wars or Star Trek, or any related properties. Those belong to their respective owners, and I'm just using the settings and characters to tell a story. I also do not own any other recognizable properties from this story, although those will likely be but temporary guests on stage.

Author's Note: Being that I have no idea who the President of the USA was at the point in time of this story, in any of the universes of either series or in real life, I am exercising creative license in the form of OC James Matthews. Any resemblance the man has to anyone is completely not my fault.


Chapter 4: The Battle is Begun.

“' whatever it is as they're takin', 't ain't PCP, less'n there's a new sort what twists up yer forehead an' turns yer eyes yellow,” Rook concluded as he pulled up outside the vet clinic. Sam and Jack had been listening about the local's precautions around here, and finding them less and less rational by the minute. Daniel had called them a few minutes back, having gotten Teal'c to the capable hands of SG-13, who were making sure the Jaffa got back to Colorado Springs without problems, and had said he'd catch up with them soon.

“So, let me see if I have this straight,” Jack said as the captain climbed out of the seat behind him. “The high death toll is officially because of rabid gang warfare with liberal usage of PCP and barbecue forks, which no-one believes, but everyone goes along with because it's frowned upon to call bull. Going outside at night is taking your life in your hands, due to these gangs no-one believes in, that can still kill you... or worse, recruit you against your will. And nobody ever invites anyone in who can't get there without the invitation. Is that all?”

Rook nodded. “Y' might not believe me,” the veterinarian replied, “but I done all I can, an' if it keeps y' alive t' complain as how crazy all this is, so much for the better.”

“One thing,” Sam asked the local man, as Jack clambered from the Jeep. “Has there been anything recently to change those numbers, some unofficial explanation to why they're so high?”

Rook looked thoughtful. “We-elll,” he drawled. “Since long about March, something's happened to lower the number o' casualties hereabouts. It's like to have cut them by half, two-thirds maybe. There's rumours that those what run around at night have somethin' huntin' them now, although I couldn't say fer sure.”

Rook lifted his satchel from the Jeep and went into the clinic as the two Air Force officers looked at each other. If the number of deaths was going down that far back, it could be argued that there was a foothold situation... heck, the death toll alone argued for some kind of alien presence... and with the information Rook had given them, a lot of it too unbelievable to be anything but unvarnished truth, they were going to be looking through the town with the proverbial fine-toothed comb. There was always a chance that it wasn't aliens, but there was certainly something fishy-smelling in Sunnydale.

The holographic image inducers were working fine, Willow decided, as no-one had even looked twice at her appearance... or, more tellingly, Buffy's or Jonathan's. Snyder was dead-set against the whole group sitting their GED exams at the same time, and had split them up, insisting they perform on separate days, so that he could monitor them each for cheating, which he stated was the only way they'd all pass. Since, including Dawn, there were only four people testing out (as the odious man didn't know that Andrew and Jonathan were now part of the group) and with Oz sitting on a different day anyway due to being a year older, no-one had a real problem with letting the tiny tyrant have his way for once. Besides, this way they could leave their weaponry outside the room with the others (regulations stated they had to be armed to some degree on away missions, and this qualified). That meant they wouldn't have to interrupt the testing because one of them shot the principle. Although Buffy, Andrew and Jonathan, the latter two very happy with their new lieutenant's pips, did admit to being tempted to “go Darkside on his ass”.

From what Giles had discovered in the past few days, the Halloween Event had had a few un-looked for side-effects. The first, and possibly least obvious if you didn't know what you were looking for or sensing, dependent on your innate talents (Willow had discovered her technopathic abilities to be seated more in magic and mysticism than science... more technomancy than anything... with no real relation to the Force, despite the fact that the one still influenced the other, and vice versa) was the depletion of the eldritch energies emanating from the Hellmouth. The dratted thing was still leaking its energies, but the build-up, the residue of those energies over a hundred years, had been well-nigh scoured from the area. It would be decades before the build-up again reached pre-Halloween levels.

Second, the 'true death' of Spike had left a vacuum at the top of the vampire food chain, one that so far remained vacant. Angel was deciding what exactly he should do, also. Staying close to Buffy would just hurt them both they agreed, but no-one was forcing him to rush off without a plan. Xander had suggested that the brooding vampire stick around Sunnydale as a sort of nocturnal sentinel, in case the precautions they were leaving around the Hellmouth weren't enough when the rest of them moved on.

Finally, the sudden and extremely grisly death of the Mayor brought a large degree of official attention upon the town. The State of California, and indeed, certain federal authorities, took quite an interest in how someone could side-step all their precautions involving elections and limited terms of office without being noticed... Richard Wilkins should have been either caught before this (which led to queries about corruption) or cast out of office due to being very dead from extreme old age.

The patrol had been quieter than Buffy was used to, with no new risers to take care of. There was one new vampire, no more than a week old, who apparently had a taste for fast food... chasing down a member of the track team. One of the advantages of her new form was that the blue-black of her fur was exceptionally difficult to spot at night, even if you were a vampire.

Now she was in the Sunnydale High student lounge, with Dawn, Willow and Xander talking about her love life... as uncomfortable as talking about that subject with her commanding officer was.

“So, there's no us anymore,” she told them, referring to the relationship. “I wish we'd had more than what we did, but after the whole other-self thing, I... I can't get into it anymore. So this is the new mopey me.”

“Fortunately, we can fix that,” Xander said, channeling his old self. “Crazy dance party at the Bronze!” At Buffy's glare, he went on. “Or if that won't work, we can always find some way to cheer you up a little.” He sat with Dawn in his lap as Willow occupied the arm of the couch. Buffy gave a weak smile. None of them missed the sounds of an approaching person, and looked in the newcomer's direction as he spoke up.

“You could always try Oreos dunked in apple juice,” he offered, as the group sized him up.

“Ford!” Buffy called out as she moved towards the young, dark-haired stranger. A snort from Dawn stopped her from a full-on glomp. “Oh, shush, just because you were still in junior high...” She paused, and turned to the others. “This is Ford...” she began.

“I managed to get that,” Xander quipped, "but I'd prefer a Chevy." to receive a glare from his holo-graphically blonde friend.

“...Billy Fordham,” she continued as if he hadn't spoken. “He was a friend from Hemery High back in LA. Nearly a besty.”

“I bet you made a lovely couple,” Willow commented, guessing where the conversation was heading... wrongly as it turned out. Buffy sighed as Dawn giggled.

“Might have been,” the Slayer said, “but back then, Ford wouldn't even give me the time of day.” She turned to her old friend. “So what are you doing here?”

“Matriculating,” he replied. “I remembered you moved out this way and when Mom left, Dad came out here. So here I am, ready to learn and spend time with you.” Buffy heard Xander sniff, and her new memories told her what that could mean, and glanced at him in time to catch his nod towards Willow who rolled up her left sleeve and began tapping at her porta-com. She quickly spoke to cover her friends' actions, hoping they'd give her a reason why, soon.

“Dang,” she replied. “We've all applied for GEDs so we're likely to be off to university, so not so much of the hanging-out-age.”

Willow's porta-com beeped, and the look on her face told them the news wasn't good. Ford, for his part, was a little puzzled as Dawn and Xander stood. Willow wasn't even hiding the holo-graphic screen above her wrist.

“There's no record of his registry with the school,” she reported, and Dawn nodded.

Buffy glanced at Ford as Xander spoke. “One chance,” he said. “You get one chance to explain yourself, and bear in mind that even if I couldn't smell if you were lying, we can easily get the truth by checking the information you give us.”

They all caught the way the young man blanched. ::What? Smell if I'm lying?:: he thought, a touch panicked. ::This isn't how it's supposed to happen, they're supposed to fall for my cunning deception, and then... ::

Xander interrupted his train of thought by sniffing him closer, making Ford step back a bit. “Willow, check for medical records as well,” he directed. “He doesn't smell... healthy... there's something off about him.”

Ford was about to step back and run when Buffy took his arm... and he felt needle-sharp claws where none could be seen. “Ford,” she said, her voice low, “you are going to tell me what's up, yes?”

Ford gulped.

The Millenium sat quietly in orbit, while the Chief Medical Officer pored through the databases. Joyce Summers had been contemplating returning to university to qualify for a tear through Medical school, so that she could practice medicine without fear of legal issues, when the Captain that was one of her daughter's best friend, and the romantic target of the other, had called through his comm-badge.

“Some kind of brain cancer, big tumors, and a local estimate of six months,” he'd stated, detailing the problem. “Can we do something about it?”

“I'll double check the database,” she'd replied. “I don't know off the top of my head, but that's mostly due to early detection and treatment.” Now here she sat, three hours later, with an answer. It wasn't much of an answer, but it was better than what the boy had planned. How Xander had kept himself... and the others... from killing Ford outright when he given up his 'Cunning Master Plan (TM)', where he surrendered a helpless Slayer to a Master vampire in return for being turned himself, she couldn't even dream.

“Medical to Solo,” she said, tapping her badge. “I have an option. Depending on his scans when I get him up here, I may be able to remove the tumors. With the right treatments, easily concocted from local ingredients available now, there's only a thirteen percent chance of the tumors regrowing.”

“And the other shoe?” Xander asked, and Joyce could make out the voices and noises the others, including Ford so they could keep an eye on him. “I'm a Sunnydale native, and by Murphy, there is always another shoe. And it is usually dropping.”

The mother of two smiled. “There's a twelve percent chance he won't survive the removal of the cancer... twelve-and-a-half actually, but I think I can fudge the other half a percent. Then there's a chance he's allergic to the anti-cancer treatments. That's actually a twenty percent, with a quarter of those having lethal reactions. But it's still a better chance than he'd have had if his original plan had gone through. Oh, and the process could be a little painful.”

Xander glanced over at Ford, who was paling even further from the half-blanched state he was already in. “Not a problem, CMO. As he is, he's a threat, if only a small one. If we can give him back his future, he will be in serious debtage to us... especially the girl he was going to betray. And on some level, he'll have to live with that for the rest of his life.”

Angel's investigation of Ford's only Sunnydale property had revealed the existence of the Sunset Club, a group of young vampire wanna-bes who quite clearly didn't realize what they were getting into. By taking a few volunteers on discreet patrols, with Xander and Dawn keeping an eye on the club members while Buffy and Angel dealt with the vampires, the actual nature of the monsters was revealed. It was nearly tragic watching the hopes of the youngsters shatter, but at least they were alive to make their choices.

Ford's treatment aboard the Millennium had an unanticipated side-effect... all his memory of the past week was wiped clean, and although it was possible he might recover it, it was highly unlikely as the areas affected were the ones most damaged by the tumors. The young man woke up in a Sunnydale General ward, with no idea how he got there.

It wasn't the best solution, but Captain Carter sat before the computer terminal in the Sunnydale public library, searching for a pattern to the disappearances and deaths that had been plaguing Sunnydale. The sudden decrease, starting a little under a year ago, was no coincidence, she felt, and now she was seeking evidence... if only circumstantial... that this was because of some organization moving into town. The internet was a most useful resource...

At the same time, Daniel was standing in a quaint little establishment called simply 'The Magic Shop'. Here he'd found several texts in languages he found familiar: Latin, Greek, Egyptian... They all concerned magic or mythology in some way or other, and were fascinating. If you could suspend disbelief (and after the past months with the SGC, the linguist was getting a lot of practice at that) you could almost believe they were factual accounts. ::I mean, vampires? Really?:: he mused, then paused. ::Hang on, if the Goa'uld set themselves up as Egyptian Gods, who's to say something else might not have been the cause of other legends? We know they're not the only aliens out there... I have to run this past the others.::

Jack, however, was simply sitting in a cafe, looking at a newspaper, and paying close attention to certain vagaries involving the local real estate market. There seemed to be a high turnover rate due to disappearances and casualties, and the prices here were especially low for Southern California. Not a hundred miles away, the prices were at least three, and more likely five, times higher. LA was a matter of hours away by car, for crying out loud. He circled one particular entry that had hit the market, 1630 Revello Drive, with a red marker. It was the most recent, and as good a place as any to start. Even as Daniel approached from the direction of the Magic Shop (Jack had thought it odd, but simply dismissed it as a new age store of some sort) bearing a bag of books he'd apparently purchased, and Sam emerged from the library in the other direction, Jack dialed the number in the ad on his cell phone.

“Hello,” came the warm, motherly voice on the other end. “This is the Summers residence, for now. Can I help you?”

“Hi,” Jack replied. There was something about that voice that made him want to run his hands through his greying hair in an attempt to set it to rights. It made him think about his mother, oddly. “My name's Jack O'Neill, and I'd like to talk to you about that 'for now'. I just spotted your notice, and there's just something about this town...” ::Something fishy,:: he added mentally, letting the woman on the other end draw her own conclusions. “When would be a good time to see it?”

“Let's see,” came the reply. “Today's out, I have some paperwork about the gallery to deal with, and tomorrow's no good... Moving day, you understand.” Of course, Joyce knew that most of their things would only take seconds to beam to the ship, but she wasn't about to let on about that, and Oz's van was back down here and pressed into assisting with the move... solely for appearances, naturally. “I believe the day after that will be fine though. Say around one?”

“Sounds good,” the Colonel said. “We'll see you then, or a little before. Thanks, and Bye.”

Xander looked at his bridge, and the entirety of his crew, including the civilian auxiliaries in the persons of Cordelia, Giles and Miss Calender. Angel had declined the offer, as space travel involved getting closer to the sun than he'd ever be comfortable with, but he'd kept the comm-badge, just in case. “Here's the problem,” the young captain said, to get the whole thing over with. “Even counting the droids, there are at most fifteen crew for a vessel intended for two hundred. We are running on the equivalent of one watch's skeleton crew, and that means we are running ourselves ragged. Like it or not, the reality is that we need more crew. That means we need to make contact with the government. They aren't going to appreciate us if they see us as kids. As far as those nukes went, it says two things: They know we're not alone in the galaxy, and they know that what's out there is more likely hostile than not. So how do we approach them in such a way to gain their assistance, and offer them ours?”

Giles raised his hand. “From all I've heard from the Watcher's Council, after making specific inquiries and quite a bit of a fuss,” he said, “We have an interesting piece of data to influence any decisions. There is another Slayer. She's a girl in Jamaica, by the name of Kendra, and her Watcher is one Sam Zabuto... and I only got those names after tearing verbal strips off them for not telling me about her calling when they asked why I hadn't reported Buffy's death.” He paused, looking thoughtfully toward the ceiling. “It got very quiet, and I could almost hear Travers having apoplexy, when I said she wasn't dead.” He muttered something under his breath, low enough that only Buffy and Xander caught the words 'Sodding fossil'.

“Obviously we have to do this carefully,” Dawn said into the quiet as her sister and captain choked off their own laughter. “We can't just let anyone aboard, and we don't want to become part of the military machine for one nation. If someone decided to use the Millennium to conquer the world, it would definitely be of the bad. So we need people who can be trusted, and hopefully with military experience, Air Force or Navy would be best, possibly with some Marines thrown in for security.”

Cordelia asked the obvious question, she felt. “Do you have something against the army?”

Xander shook his head. “No, I have the utmost respect for them,” he said. “My uncle Rory was an Army Ranger. The reasons for those services are as follows: Navy have ship discipline, allowing them to adapt to life on board better than most. Submarine crew and Air Force pilots already think tactically in three dimensions, which covers space maneuvers, and the Marines are experienced at shipboard action. They have the skills we need, we just need to teach the rest of it.

“So how are we going to do this?”

Jack and Sam stood at the door of the house on Revello Drive, waiting for the owner to open the door. Daniel had opted to remain in their motel room... although calling it that was giving the place some hefty benefit of the doubt... where he could go through the book he'd purchased and take notes on what it contained and make references to what they knew of the past. Recognizing the signs of a man on a mission, the Air Force officers had left him to it. They were in civilian gear, owing to the nature of their fact-finding mission.

The door opened, and the woman doing so smiled. “Hello, Mr O'Neill,” she said, stepping aside. “Is this Mrs O'Neill?”

Sam shook her head, and her voice carried tones of regret. “No, I'm Samantha Carter. We work together, and our office has a strict fraternization policy. We were thinking of moving here because of the low cost of real estate, and your house is big enough we could room together and not cause questions.”

Joyce paused a fraction of a second before nodding, taking in everything they'd just told her and combining it with the way the two strangers were standing, although they likely weren't aware of it. Her new knowledge sprang to the fore, labeling them 'military', although which branch was open to interpretation. The question was how subtle her response should be, after all their reply had carried overtones in the Force, and at least half of Joyce was used to relying on that for guidance. “I suppose that would be one way to do it,” she answered, “but if it's that bad, why doesn't one of you step back from the job?”

“Because we like working with the best in our field, and we have doubts that we would react as well if our teams were changed around,” Jack replied. “Besides anything else, we feel that our team is one of the best, and we just couldn't see anyone else being as good in our place. There are very few qualified for it.”

Joyce nodded again. There was a sense of potential from Jack, a glimmer in the Force, a spark she felt could be fanned into a flame, a bonfire even. Following her hunch she went straight for the core of the matter. “So which service?” she asked, freezing the two to the spot as they turned to stare at her. “The only places that strict about fraternization are the armed forces, and the way you stand says you have at least some training in combat. Not everyone could spot it, you're good at being subtle. Wait, let me guess...” she let her focus drift where the Force took it. “Your stance isn't wide for stability, so I doubt you're Navy. There are faint calluses on web of your right hands, where a joystick would apply pressure, but you hold yourselves as though not unfamiliar in fighting on the ground. Could be Air Force, but you haven't been flying in some time, or Army with some flight time. I don't get the rigid feeling of the Marines... and from the way you twitched at the words, I'd say... Air Force. Am I right?”

Sam nodded, but all she could say was “How?”

Jack was a little more eloquent. “How in the blue blazes did you do that?” he demanded.

“That's my business,” Joyce said primly. “Just like why you're interested in the house is yours. I will say I... pay better attention than most. Now, the ad told you about the house in general terms, but because of the local situation with the gangs, we've had to make repairs several times.”

The tour of the house she gave the SG-1 members was thorough. Joyce was a warm, caring woman, and showed her own personal honesty in pointing out the various repairs on the building, although she did avoid explaining why those repairs had been necessary.

“This is a wonderful house,” Sam said as they were leaving. “Why are you selling it? It's obvious you've loved the house.”

Joyce felt the touch of the Force, telling her to answer, but she kept it subtle. “Our situation recently changed,” she admitted. “So my girls and I need to move out. We already have our new home lined up, so that's not a problem, and it's easy enough for all of us to get to and from University. I'm going to Med school, and my girls have their own choices to make.”

“Twins?” Sam asked. There'd been no pictures in the house, but if they were already out, that made sense. “Have they been on sabbatical after graduating?”

“Oh, no,” Joyce replied. “Buffy's sixteen, and Dawn's fourteen. They've both gotten their GEDs. All their friends have, in fact. Apparently they were all fed up with the way that little goblin of a man who runs the high school treats them, and weren't going to put up with it for any longer. I can't say I blame them.”

As the door closed behind them, Jack raised his cell phone to his ear. “This is O'Neill, I need all the information we can find on Joyce Summers and her family. Also see if you can scare up the intel on her daughters and their friends... there were a number of GEDs from Sunnydale High. If you can pull some strings and get the principal investigated, even better. He's apparently a bad enough person that several teenagers pushed themselves through high school faster to escape him... and one of those was a freshman.”

The device that the Secret Service found sitting in the Oval Office that morning was enough to cause a security scare. After several scans found no explosives, a more thorough analysis began... one that proved fruitless. There were two buttons on the front, and a large lens-like crystal on the top. The buttons were even labelled, in English. 'Millennium' on the left and 'End Call' on the right. The device was even red. Somewhere inside it was an energy source, obviously, but there was no way to get at it. It took nearly half the day before someone actually got around to pressing the buttons.

Xander had been waiting for this moment. He'd suspected he'd be waiting quite some time, and the holo-graphic disguises Willow had supplied them were active. Of course there was something to keep in mind regarding honesty too...

As the device in the White House was activated, Xander faced front and spoke. The image that was projected was of an older version of himself, with a scar across his right eye from brow to cheek. “My name is Captain Alexander Solo, of the Republic Starfleet Starship Millennium. This is not my true appearance, but was selected for the purpose of reassurance towards your staff. I wish to speak with your current head of state.” A wry grin crossed his features as he spoke the classic, almost clichéd line. “Take me to your leader.”

James Matthews, former USMC Colonel and now President of the United States of America, stared at the holographic image of the self-declared starship captain. He looked incredibly human. “Exactly what is different from the image you're showing us?” he asked. “I can guess that you're not human, but I'd like to know what's so bad you have to hide it.”

Xander's chuckle caught the President and the Joint Chiefs off-guard. “No, Mr President,” he stated. “I'm as human as the generals and admiral with you, just a bit younger than most people would be comfortable with commanding a starship. Through events I'd rather not talk about, I find myself with a problem. My crew and I are in possession of a vessel that is at least three hundred years ahead of current technology, and someone in your nation has already attempted to destroy it. Not something to inspire the trusting much.”

“An investigation is underway,” Matthews said apologetically. “Whether or not you choose to believe me, the launch was not authorized, and we have a very large book to throw at whoever is responsible for this.”

Xander nodded. “That said, we still feel that you are probably the best choice for dealing with this crisis. If we can't manage to come to an accord, our next stop is Merry Old England and Buckingham Palace. The Millennium is not for any one nation.” His voice carried a note of implacable resolve. “What I plan for is to provide the means to bring Earth up to the Republic's level. The Republic itself does not exist here and now... except in the form of this vessel and her crew. To that end, I am willing to trust you, sir. However, as you are incredibly busy with all the responsibilities of your office, we are willing to accept a delegation on your behalf. The device you now have can be used as something of a 'red phone', an emergency hotline. If you can give us notice of who your delegation will consist of, and we can discuss our responsibilities and duties at that point. Captain Solo, out.”

The image flickered out, and Matthews turned to his advisors. “So, what happens next, gentlemen?” he asked, frowning. “From what was and wasn't said, I'd guess that this is going to be a long hard discussion, and very challenging for whoever winds up with the task.”

The Chief of Staff for the Air Force spoke up. “I don't think we really need to think about that sir,” he replied. “We already have a project that is dedicated to exploration, contact and acquisition, and so far, they haven't let us down. The SGC is ready for this, sir. The only reason they weren't the first to react... as they should have been... was the deliberate suppression and sabotage of intelligence by the NID, now under investigation. So far, we are still looking for the man who was at the top, Colonel Frank Simmons. He apparently disappeared shortly after the return of the warhead components that were launched.”

“I see,” Matthews said, steepling his fingers before him as he thought. After a few minutes of contemplation, he nodded. “Do it. Hand this off to the SGC, and tell George he can't afford not to have his best people on it. His. Best. No substitutes. Once we know what they bring to the table, and what they want from us, we can move on to negotiation. Tell him we can't afford to alienate these people, but we don't want to bend over backwards for them either.”

Xander sat back in his chair, directing his replicator to produce a mug of hot chocolate. As the drink materialized he sighed. The door chimed, and swished open to admit Dawn. She glanced inquiringly towards the holo-comm on his desk, and Xander nodded.

“It went as well as can be expected,” he shrugged as he spoke. “I just hope it doesn't change too may attitudes when they find out how old we really are. I mean, we are just teenagers, plus your mom, with extra memories, and even with Giles, Jenny and Angel on side, I just don't see how they'd leave us in charge of the Millie.” He sighed. “The ship's codes can't reproduce sapient-level Artificial Intelligences, so crew droids are out. We need more resources to get hold of dilithium, and then we can make a run to get some deuterium... but we still need more manpower. It's just so much... and I can't be everywhere I need to be. We need help, Dawnie...”

The girl stepped around the desk and wordlessly engulfed him in a hug. “It's alright, Cap'n Xander,” she murmured as he returned the embrace. “You laugh in the face of danger, remember?”

“And then I go and hide until danger goes away,” Xander finished the girls' quotation of his words. Dawn snorted with disbelief.

“When did that ever happen?” she retorted. “Willow needed you? You were there with a baseball bat. Buffy's going to die? You take a cross and stake and off you go to drag her back...” At the surprised look on his face, she smiled. “Yeah, when Buffy mentioned what Angel told us, we were stunned for a minute, but then we thought about it and realized there was no other way that could have happened. Angel's first reaction to a stressful situation like that is to brood, but yours is to act, to fight, because you can't stand something happening to anyone you love... Mom, Buffy, Willow, Giles... or me.”

As their lips met, Xander idly wondered what he'd been doing right for this to happen. After all, he didn't want to lose his Dawn-patrol if he stopped...

Sam and Daniel looked up as Jack answered his phone. “This is O'Neill,” the Colonel said. “What's up?”

General Hammond sighed. Jack's casual answer meant they were in public. “President Matthews has received a message from our visitors, Jack. He wants our best team on the case, and no excuses. Do you have any loose ends to tie up?”

“Nah,” the graying man answered. “There's a couple of things we need the resources office to look into, but we should be all clear... Anything else we can cover when we get back. Anything on that end we need to know?”

“That intel you requested is in,” Hammond replied. “Really interesting reading. Nothing much on the mother, a few notes on the younger daughter... a lot of incriminating detail on the father, who's separated from the mother, and living with a woman only a couple of years older than his daughter... and a very odd file on the eldest daughter. Apparently, she been treated for a mental disorder after burning down her school gym in LA before they moved to Sunnydale, and it was... dealt with... on a diplomatic level by some British organization, not listed here. Since then, nothing. Although since the Summers' arrival, the death toll and disappearances have dropped to roughly thirty-seven percent of previous years. We need you back ASAP, Jack, get to LAX and a flight home will be waiting.”

As he hung up, George glanced at the screens showing the Millennium in its orbit high above the Earth. The whole mess had been dropped in his lap, and now he was either going to have to play diplomat, which he was terrible at, or order Jack to, who was worse.

Many miles distant, Jack O'Neill had the irrational urge to say “Hey!”

The End?

You have reached the end of "Ship of the Line: Three Stars United." – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 3 Nov 13.

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