Disclaimer: I do not own any quotes, characters, or places from the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Stargate SG-1’ series. ‘Colo-Tours Bus Line’ is a figment of my imagination. I found the ‘saying’ for Colorado Springs on the Official Website of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. And, hey, not making any money here!
Author’s Note: Sorry for the long wait. I hope this chapter makes up for it and thank you to every one who reviewed!
Chapter 4: Anne’s Arrival
Dawn had yet to come as Anne sat uneasily in her seat. She’d been confined all night and was itchy to get started in her new life. Her shirt had drool on it and her pants were rumpled. She really wanted to get to a bathroom and clean up before she took the bus to the complex. Anne looked at her reflection in the window. Oh yes, a bathroom would be nice about now.
Finally the sun ascended into the sky. Anne was relieved to see her first sight of Colorado, an unpolluted landscape. Snow-dusted mountains surrounded either side of the highway. Wildlife seemed to exist at every turn. Deer were eating grass as two fawns played farther away from the road. Anne spotted a bulletin just as the bus drove past.
Welcome to Colorado Springs!
The Perfect Place To Reconnect
The vehicle exited the highway and pulled into the bus depot. “Good morning, passengers, and welcome to Colorado Springs,” the driver announced as he opened the bus entrance door. “It is 5:25 AM and a cool 35 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Please gather your belongings and exit the vehicle. Thank you for using Colo-Tours Bus Line.”
Anne slowly stood up from her seat, her body tense. Her senses picked up something nearby. The feeling made her skin tingle. As people filed past her row, she fiddled with her duffel’s strap. Anne smelt the dew on the grass. Her eyes flickered to every face passing by. None were demonic. She relaxed, shrugged on the dark blue coat, and picked up her bag. Anne waited another few minutes before it was her turn to depart the bus. Then, she stepped out of the way of the person behind her and took in the view.
The bus station was just on the edge of Colorado Springs. Mountains seemed to grow out of the land. Trees sprouted out everywhere to bask in the sunshine. This was nothing like California. Birds chirped from their perches. Anne breathed in the fresh Rocky Mountain air and exhaled. She shivered as a cool breeze blew by and zipped up her jacket. The small blonde still felt the slight tingle in her senses. It wasn’t evil. Instead, it was sort of a pleasant and yet, foreign tingle. She concentrated and closed her eyes. Anne reached out with her senses. No big bad was close or even in the town, for that matter. Though, something else captured her attention.
She detected a different kind of predator. A peregrine falcon flew overhead, gliding through the thermals. Without hesitation, it dived and extended its claws. The bird of prey was exhilarated in the thrill of the hunt. She could feel excitement. Anne opened her eyes. She turned just in time to see the falcon in full plunge. It lengthened its leg muscles, reached into the water, and lifted again. Sunshine reflected off the falcon’s wings. Then, the light shone off the scales of the fish clutched inside the raptor’s talons. “Beautiful,” Anne whispered as the peregrine falcon landed on a rock to feast.
She pulled herself away from her fellow predator and extracted a watch from the toiletry bag. Anne had twenty minutes before the complex bus arrived. She gazed back to see the peregrine falcon had already left with its breakfast. With that realization, her stomach growled. Quickly, she followed the signs to the restrooms. The retired Slayer used the bathroom and changing into a clean uniform. Anne smoothed her shirt as she stood in front of a mirror. Her blonde hair was a tangled mess. She brushed it through with her brush and pulled her mane back into a high ponytail. Anne peered back into the mirror and shrugged her coat on. She didn’t see someone who was the nightmare of things that went bump in the night. Anne just saw herself, a normal girl about to head out on her own, and felt her courage rise.
The Colorado Springs Bus Depot was easy enough to navigate. Anne found the gate for Bus #245 and bought a hot chocolate and hot dog. In all, she was relaxing on a bench in less than ten minutes and was the first person at the bus stop. She quickly gulped down her hot dog, not even tasting it, before throwing the wrapper into a trashcan. Anne sipped the hot chocolate as she propped her legs on top of her duffel. Wind howled, off and on. As the minutes ticked by, more passengers arrived. One such took a seat beside her.
“Is this seat taken?” a red-haired woman questioned as she placed a small black bag down by her feet.
Anne shivered when a breeze whipped through the corridor. “Nope,” she answered. Anne continued to drain her hot drink. She wrapped her hands around it and shrunk down deeper into her seat to try to conserve body heat.
“You’re new here.”
Anne turned her head toward the older woman. “How can you tell?”
The auburn-haired woman laughed. “Let’s see. Note the stuffed duffel and the hot drink your treating like a lifeline. From down south?”
“California. I’ve ice skated before, but how do people live like this? It’s bitterly horribly freezingly cold!”
She laughed again. “You get used to it. New recruit?”
“Big ‘n o’ in that column. I’m all for the food service, or more commonly known as waitressing.” Anne shivered again. Her hair had come out of the ponytail and blew in the wind. “Stupid wind.”
She laughed once more.
“Hey, show some mercy for the freezing Californian!”
The woman continued to be entertained at Anne’s mercy. A few minutes passed before she ceased and offered her hand. “Janet Fraiser.”
“Anne Winters.” Anne decided this would be a good time to get the conversation off her. “So what’s the complex like?”
“It’s a mountain.” Anne glared at her. “No, the base is really within a mountain. I’m the head doctor. The café and cafeteria would be a level above the infirmary.” Just then, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex bus chose to make its appearance. The black and white bus halted at the stop and its driver stepped out. “Well, Anne. We better get aboard before we have to stand for the whole ride.”
“It was nice to meet you, Ms. Fraiser.”
“It’s Janet and I’ll come see how you’re doing around lunch time.”
“Cool.” Other passengers began to assemble a line to register with the driver. The doctor had grabbed her bag and was headed toward the line. At this moment, Anne remembered a question she wanted answered before she went any farther into this military place. She threw away her drink and picked up her duffel. “Janet, wait!” Anne picked up her speed to reach Janet’s spot in the line. “Hold on a sec’.” She dug in her duffel for the packet and her identification. Janet boarded the bus as Anne was showing her letter and proofs of identification to the driver. He nodded and she jumped onto the vehicle. Anne searched for Janet’s seat. There was an open spot right next to her new friend. She took the seat and sat down.
“Oh, no. I just have a question. Do you know a . . .” Anne referred to her letter. “General Hammond?”
Janet paused and thought for a moment. “General Hammond is the commanding officer of Star . . . Cheyenne Mountain Complex. He has supported the medical team and been a good friend.” She paused again. “Oh, wait. George hasn’t been in for his biannual exam yet.” Janet smiled. “Thank you for reminding me.” She grinned even more in a doctor-happy sort of way.
“You’re . . . welcome. I guess” Anne reclined back into her seat. Yes, she could do this. Really, an interview with a high-ranking general couldn’t be worse than the Initiative. Could it?
“You seem to have all of your security clearances and references in order. But why would an intelligent young lady, like yourself, apply, and even relocate, for a high security waitress position?” General Hammond interrogated his newest base employee.
Anne gulped. Where was ADAM when you really needed him? Not that ADAM wasn’t an extreme pain to dispose of or anything, but at least he gave you a reason to talk back to guys with a whole bunch of stars on their uniforms. This Texan General could rank in the same category as Giles and her mother. He demanded respect and she was willing to give him every penny of it just as long as she didn’t get turned into a lab rat. “Well, sir.” Anne paused. “I’ve been looking for a summer job and possibly a permanent one, sir. To help pay for college, sir.” He stared her down again. She felt sweat form on the back of her neck.
“Ms. Winters, in all of my time in the military. I have never met someone, your age, with the highest security clearance on this planet.” The general straightened in his chair. “Care to elaborate?”
The room was getting smaller by the minute. ‘Why yes, General, I can explain that. My friends and I cleaned up for the nosy government when they almost released a demonic Hitler.’ Anne thought, but those weren’t quite the words, which escaped her lips. “I helped my friend and his team out of a . . .” ‘gross end where they would’ve been rebuilt into super demy soldiers. Just what you govermenty guys ordered with a crazy power hungry Frankendemon and neutered vamps on the side?’ “. . . some trouble. Therefore, his commanding officer offered me a clearance to aid them whenever needed without the courtmarshally stuff. All in all, it’s classified.”
General Hammond raised an eyebrow and skimmed over a piece of paper from her file. “Your friend is one ‘Agent Finn’?” He looked back over across his desk.
Finally, the General had a hint of a smile. “He used to be on our recruitment list until another program nabbed him. Fine soldier.”
“He’s a really good friend.”
General Hammond leaned back in his chair. “Then, on behalf of the Cheyenne Mountain, welcome.” He smiled. Anne released the breath she had been holding.
“Thank you, sir.”
He nodded. “You are required to have a mandatory health screening and participate in a civilian defense class. Its simple small arms and hand to hand combat, nothing too complicated. You should do fine here.” Anne didn’t know what to say. “And to be frank, Ms. Winters. I wasn’t sure what to think when the order to came to add a café onto our cafeteria level. My men were scarce, and if near this office quiet, for more than a week.” She gulped. “Now, I believe this to be a step in the right direction. If food will keep a dignitaries’ mouth stuffed, then maybe I can get my point across without so many migraines.”
To be continued . . . with questioning from a certain Colonel of SG-1 and weird creatures who cause people to disappear.