Okay, I really should have thought of this, Xander admitted calmly to himself.
Get too powerful and well, you get a few monsters out to challenge you because you might actually be a challenge to them but most either leg it, or become vegetarian.
It helped keep the normals safe but damn, did it make it boring for them.
They hadn't killed anyone bar fledglings in months, and most vampires had stopped bothering to make those knowing they would be dead long before they rose. The butchers were doing a rousing trade of course; the price of blood had tripled as far away as Cleveland. Some vampires had even taken up night-shift work in order to pay for the stuff, which was scary…
Seeing a five-hundred year old master vampire, one who had to wear a hat at all times to cover the developing horns selling burgers at the double-meat palace, well, that was a picture he knew would stay with him for a very, very long time.
Of course, there had been the Initiative, which had been amusing for a while, watching the hapless soldiers try to capture demons who ran at the slightest sign of a fight, knowing that if they killed somebody, the Scoobies would know about very quick and that their existences would suddenly have a very short life… or half-life perhaps, after what Willow did to the last demon who actually managed to lay a hand on her.
Note to self, radiation poisoning works on Moh'ra demons too.
Note to self: very disturbing though.
Now of course, they had another military team sweeping through the area and this one was different. This one had a non-human with them, and Xander didn't think that the tall-dark one was demon. Indeed, he was beginning to wonder if he should have added something from the Alien Invasion expansion to his outfit that Halloween…
“Are you sure this is the place?” O'Neill shook his head, “if somebody was to say ‘foothold', this type of town would be the last place I would think off”
“Perhaps that is why they choose to land here” Teal'c noted, his expression placid as he surveyed his surroundings.
“Yes,” Daniel smiled at the group, his eyes shining with a look that told them all to clearly that he had some titbit to share… one which, O'Neill mused, would most likely send him to sleep, “or he might have discovered the mythos associated with this town and decided to use it to his advantage”
His want going to ask, he wasn't going to ask… damn it, he was going to ask, “mythos?”
Daniels look screamed victory, and O'Neill groaned, he knew he was going to regret asking that question.
“Well, the Spanish settlers who originally built this town called it El Boco Del Inferno, the Mouth of Hell,”
“The Mouth of hell?” Teal'c asked.
“Yes, Legend has it that this town sits upon a gateway to hell itself”
“Another Stargate?” O'Neill asked, not bothering to hide his sudden alertness or interest.
“Doubtful,” Daniel shook his head, “as far as I am aware, all of mainland America has actually been scanned for large naquadah sources now, items such as zats or hand devices might not have been detected but another gate, as I understand it, would have been”
“In theory yes,” Carter noted, “but we couldn't scan this area. That's one of the reasons Hammond was so quick to deploy us here when the rumours started filtering through”
“Yes,” O'Neill grouchily commented, “I got all that… what I don't understand is why these supposed ‘shapeshifters' and ‘magicians' would be interested in small town America. We've assumed the Goa'uld are responsible, but something about this doesn't exactly scream out ‘snakes' to me”
“Your right,” Carter nodded, “Goa'uld aren't protectors and the rumours all indicate that whoever these aliens are, they are protectors”
“So, potential allies then”
“Indeed,” Teal'c intoned.
“See, now why couldn't somebody have just said that at the meeting instead of loads of big words that just send me to sleep”
Teal'c smiled, slightly, just enough that somebody who knew him really well woulkd be able to spot it, but no-one else, “there was a bet on”
“A bet? Really? What for and how do I get a slice?”
“It was to see how long you would last before you fell asleep O'Neill”
The Colonel stopped, suddenly, forcing Carter to carefully step around him, her face set as she tried not to laugh, “you had a bet to see how long I would stay awake?”
“Indeed,” Teal'c grinned, “I won”
Grouchily, the Colonel glanced around his teammates, all of whom were trying to hide smiles, with a roll of his eyes, he gave up.
“Mutinous dogs” he commented, affectionately.
Of course, the Initiative hadn't been all fun and games.
He didn't know how or when and frankly, he didn't much care, but Walsh had managed to get her hands on one of his oldest NCUs and a few nano-programs and had equipped her bastard creation with them.
That had raised Adam from interesting challenge to attention worthy, something which hadn't happened in ages.
Course, it didn't make him unkillable but when you combine the best aspects of human, demon, machine and then add nano-tech, you end up with a high level monster.
One who had been red even to him, red meaning danger, this ‘thing' is far too powerful for you to take on by yourself. Of course, he hadn't been on his own, that was after all the whole point of a team and together they had killed Adam, whilst their new recruit, the spy Reilly who had served them so faithfully since the crisis began, helped his former comrades to safety.
Of course, it meant they had corn-fed as part of the team now, but in the final battle he had certainly earned that right. He had turned out to be quite a capable Soldier, if a little unimaginative.
Xander had to admit, an engineer would be a very helpful addition to their team, they were certainly getting to the point where they needed one but so far, no-one had taken that role.
Strange though, he had a feeling one would drop into his lap soon.
An agent would be nice too, but frankly, Xander wasn't sure he would be able to trust anyone who showed as an agent on his NCU with his nano-technology. That was the whole point of agents, they weren't to be trusted.
Whilst he was making a wish-list, maybe he should mention a fixer too. Or perhaps the grid?
If wishes were horses, then the world would be overrun with equines Xander reminded himself.
Best remember to deal with the here and now, and plan for the future. Wishes didn't help… Xander chuckled, definitely not when you had such ‘unique' individuals as Anya still hanging around.
“O'Neill,” Teal'c commented quietly, “do you recognise that type of bird?”
“You mean the one that has been following us since we hit LA?” O'Neill commented with heavy irony, not even looking around, “the one that looks very out-of-place with its very tropical colourings? No, haven't noticed a thing…”
“Wait,” Daniel frowned, “we've been followed since LA by a bird and you're worried?”
“Shapeshifter,” Carter commented casually, trying to look behind her out of the corner of her eye, cursing herself for not noticing the bird herself, “do you think we have a breech sir?”
“I'm not sure,” O'Neill commented frankly, “I had a look as we exited the airport because it was such an unusual bird, but….”
The Colonel frowned, “if I thought this was just a bird, this would sound really weird… but it looked at us but didn't seem to take any particular attention until we passed close by, at which point it almost dropped of its perch, it was… shocked. I think… I think it may have sensed Junior. We passed underneath at the same range you two normally detect Goa'ulds at”
“I did not detect a symbiote,” Teal'c said.
“I know,” O'Neill replied, “you didn't react when we passed underneath it”
“So,” Daniel asked, somewhat nervously, “what do we do?”
“If it reacted to the Goa'uld…” Carter said slowly, “but isn't a host, then whoever, whatever it is might have been a host at some point”
“You think they may be an enemy of the Goa'uld?” Teal'c asked.
“I don't know,” O'Neill replied, “but I know we need to find out”
I think I had best pass those on to Giles, he will know what books to research to find out about those, because they certainly do not sound familiar to me, though that thing inside this ‘Teal'c' is certainly not human.
I really think it might be alien.
Which is, to put it mildly, a mind-blowing thought, actual aliens on Earth and apparently working with the military?
This is bad, there are very few military personnel I would trust with aliens, not after the Initiative incident, and when they talk about aliens as if they were evil… well, they might be, but I am afraid that I do not trust the military mind, I do not trust them to make an enemy out of a potential ally.
I need to report back, get the research flowing on this, but I don't want to lose this group either, I want them followed, I want them observed. Best I can do is hope I meet one of the others, or perhaps have them stop somewhere where I can de-activate this polymorph and get at my mobile phone. Trying to use one of those when you're shaped like a bird is damned difficult, trust me on this. You need to be back in human form if you wish to be understandable.
Do I leave them and report or do I continue to follow?
They have spotted me now, but still, I don't like the thought of loose canons in my town.
No, I follow.
“Xander wasn't at his post,” Oz said swiftly, “and the flag was down. He left deliberately, following someone”
“Understood,” Giles commented, “I'll inform the team. He hasn't reported back to us yet so hopefully he is still following whomever of whatever it was that grabbed his attention. Make your way back here and be prepared for an aerial reconnaissance of the town”
“On my way,” Oz replied, swiftly slipping the mobile into his pocket. Glancing around swiftly once, his perception set to max, he checked for any watchers. Satisfied that there were none, he activated a polymorph, allowing the nanites to swiftly change his shape into that of a reet, a small bird native of Rubi'ka. That done, he began the long flight back to Sunnydale.
Unbeknownst to him, he had been observed.
“Xander,” Giles replied, relief echoing through his voice as he held the phone, “Oz reported that you were not at your post”
“I had hoped he would have by now,” Xander commented, his voice coming very quiet through the phone, “the military are back in town”
“Damn and blast them,” Giles cursed, slamming a hand down on his desk, hoping no one came up from his shop below to investigate the noise, though Tara was too shy too investigate normally, something he was working on correcting, “I thought they had learnt there lesson after the initiative”
“I don't think it's the same group,” Xander said, “these ones… well, I think they may have brought an alien with them”
Giles blinked; an alien?
“Are you quite serious?”
“Caught me off guard too,” he replied, a wry note in his voice, “got some words for your to research. Stargate, from the context we are talking a gateway of some sort, perhaps a device and it's made of something called naq-wee-da. Whatever the hell that is, it's apparently detectable by satellite”
Scrambling frantically for a working pen and some paper, giles replied, “naq-wee-dah, stargate… anything else?”
“Yes, go-ah-old, don't ask me how to spell it, but its alternately been referred to as both a symbiote and a parasite… I thought those two were mutually exclusive”
“Well,” Giles frowned, “normally they are, but if they are referring to a sentient being, well, if they can force themselves onto a host, then they can also, in theory choose not to do so”
“Gotcha,” Xander replied, “one last thing, I've been spotted and I get the distinct impression we are the reason they are in town in the first place”
“Then,” Giles frowned, glancing at the words he had hastily scribbled down, wondering, not for the first time, if he was going to be able to discover anything about them, “we are going to have to be far more careful about how we operate in the future, are we not?”
“Perhaps,” Xander commented, “either way, can you send Oz to the Richmond Motel? I think I had best report properly, in person”
“Of course Xander,” Giles smiled, despite the fact that Xander couldn't see it, “he's already on his way back from LAX now”
Giles sighed as Xander hung up, now all he had to do was contact everyone, inform them that they needed a good-old fashioned research party going and boy, did he miss those, having all the gang her together, and somehow keep Tara from figuring out what was going on.
She might be terminally shy but she was a bright girl, he knew she already thought something not quite kosher was going on. Of course, having an assistant mind the Magic Box who knew what was going on might be a good thing but he didn't think she was ready for that. She definitely didn't have the confidence despite his best efforts.
Still, had had to wonder… he knew she practised magic with Willow and frankly, he hadn't missed the glances she sent Willow when the redhead wasn't looking. He knew one of them might be in for a surprise… funny thing was, he was no-longer sure which of the two it was and wouldn't Oz just love that little twist?
Damn it, he had more important things to deal with then his children's love-lifes.