Chapter 11: Balder
A/N Hi, guys. Sorry for the huge delay. My muse was hibernating. I hope I squeezed enough creativity out of her for a decent chapter. Again, a reminder, when you review (which I can't tell you how much I appreciate) please also rate, or it will give me an automatic 0/10, which sucks. :) I hope you enjoy this, and I'll try to be more prolific.
Jack watched from the control room as the Jaffa mimicked Teal’c, pledging his allegiance to the Tauri. Xander had come through the gate carrying the staff weapons, and had handed them off to Major Matthews as he faced the General.
“Debrief at 1600, Major Matthews. Dry’ac, we’ll need you to see our medical officer then wait in a holding room. I hope you understand?” General Hammond stated.
“I understand,” Dry’ac intoned. “I have heard stories of you and yours, but had believed them to be exaggerations until I witnessed Xander’s battle with Sekhmet. I have pledged myself to the Tauri, but my alliance is with him. I will do as he wishes me to do. I understand your mistrust and need to watch me. I hope you will one day come to believe in my sincerity.” With that, Dry’ac followed the airman waiting to lead him to the infirmary.
“General, I’m going to need my ribs wrapped. Sekhmet kinda threw me into a wall, and I’m pretty sure I cracked a rib,” Xander informed him, wincing slightly.
“Certainly, Mr. Harris, just follow them.”
“I believe Dry’ac is sincere, O’Neill,” said Teal’c stoically.
Jack nodded, distractedly, as he left the control room. He’d gotten hurt. He wasn’t supposed to get hurt, was he? But he HAD succeeded. That’s all the mattered, right? Hell, no, his son was hurt. Jack strode forcefully down the hall towards the infirmary.
As he approached the infirmary door, he could hear Xander’s laughter. What the hell could he have to laugh about? He had broken ribs, for cryin’ out loud. He slowed to a halt when he could hear Xander’s voice clearly.
“The look on her face when the hand thingy didn’t work was priceless!” Xander chuckled as he and Dry’ac reminisced while pretty nurses bustled around them efficiently.
“Xander, how did the device not affect you?” Dry’ac asked curiously, as he was hooked up to an EKG.
Xander shrugged, “Don’t really know. I’m sure I’ll find out eventually, but the point is, it didn’t, and she didn’t know what to make of that. It’s almost a shame she’s not still alive to run back to the others and tell them all about the freak!”
“She was in fear of your abilities,” Dry’ac chuckled.
Jack entered cautiously, eyeing Xander, and said, “What do you mean the hand device didn’t work? It was broken?”
Xander looked up at Jack with a grin, “Hey, Jack. Nah, I don’t think so, she seemed shocked. For some reason it didn’t work on me. I’ll fill you in at the debrief, I promise. Maybe the brilliant Major can shed some light on the subject.” He winced slightly as the nurse adjusted his wrap.
Jack smirked at his son’s infatuation. He no longer held any delusions about himself and Carter. They had come to understand their attraction was due to a combination of factors, not the least of which being how close SG-1 was, and the two of them understanding each other’s jobs best. Since their disastrous “date”, the attraction had all but faded and they were comfortable around each other as friends now. He just hoped neither of them got hurt if they pursued this. Assuming Carter was interested also, and he thought she might be. He planned to stay out of it.
“So, Dry’ac, you’re gonna help us out then?” Jack asked the Jaffa. He could see the similarities between him and Teal’c in the way he held himself, but he thought he was a little bit less reserved than his Jaffa.
Dry’ac inclined his head toward Jack, “I will endeavor to aid in any way that I may. Xander had given me hope that I can be more than just a trained killer.”
Jack quirked an eyebrow at that. A Jaffa NOT happy with being a warrior? Interesting.
“Absolutely, Dry’ac! In this world, a person makes his own fate. Well, except for Buffy, she was born to her destiny, but most people can make their own. And even Buffy did it on her own terms,” Xander babbled.
“Like you had a choice in life, Xander?” Jack scowled. He still wasn’t happy that a bunch of kids were in charge of the entire fate of the world against demons.
“Sure I did, Jack! Everyone in Sunny-D did. Most ignored the obvious, claimed gangs on PCP were causing the premature and extremely high death-rate in such a small town. I could have pretended I didn’t know what was going on, but I didn’t. I chose to fight back. I chose not to let the town go to hell, literally. Willow and I didn’t have to follow Buffy through the years. Hell, she would have loved to get us out of the danger zone! But we couldn’t sit idly by while she fought, knowing what she was fighting, knowing she would most likely die. We needed to help. That was our choice, not hers, not the councils, and certainly not the demons and vamps!” Xander hopped off the bed as the nurse finished with the last of his doctoring. He stood in front of Jack, eye intensely focused on Jack’s face. “Just like you had a choice NOT to set that bomb off. Daniel told me all about Abydos and how you left him there to bury the gate, against your orders. We all have choices, Jack. Our choices are what define our character. Like Dry’ac here. He didn’t have to disable his brother Jaffa for a man he didn’t know. Just because I appeared to have better tech or powers than his current boss, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be a worse boss to have. For all he knew, I was nuttier than old Sucky. But he made a choice. We make choices everyday, and some we have to live with everyday,” Xander said suddenly thinking of the resurrection of Buffy from Heaven.
Jack looked intensely at his son. He shook his head as if to clear it and said, “Damn, kid. I really wish I could have been there to see you growing up.” With that, he turned and walked out. He needed an hour to himself to think about all his son had just told him. How had a 25 year old become so damn smart? Oh, yeah, fighting the “forces of darkness” for a decade.
Xander let out a long sigh as Jack left the infirmary before turning back to Dry’ac, who was watching Xander with respect and understanding. “I’ll have them call me when you’re done here. I’ll come back and take you to your room, if that’s ok?”
“Of course, Xander.” Dry’ac understood that Xander had things to do, and he himself would be busy with his medical tests for the next while. He settled back on his hospital bed as yet another nurse stuck a needle in him.
Xander wandered the SGC until it was time to meet in the debriefing room. When he settled at the table next to Major Matthews, he glanced around the table, shocked to see Dry’ac there. He smiled at the Jaffa, and poured himself a cup of coffee from the carafe. Just as he took a sip, General Hammond came through the door.
“Ok, people, let’s get to it. What do you have to report, Major?” the General said, doing as he had just intoned and getting right to it.
“Well, Sir, I’ve already given a copy of the recordings to Dr. Jackson, per your orders. We cleared the gate of the six Jaffa, reported to you an all clear and Mr. Harris came through. He headed off down a path. Everything remained calm at the gate until Mr. Harris returned with Dry’ac. I thought we’d let Mr. Harris relate what happened on his end, if that’s ok, General?”
At the General’s nod, Xander took over. “Well, sir, I found the village just as Cassie said I would,” Xander began. For the next hour he told the General what had happened, including the ribbon device failing to work for him.
“I’m going to get SG-1 in here. They have the most experience with the ribbon device, maybe they can shed some light on the subject,” General Hammond said before getting up and grabbing the phone. A few minutes later, SG-1 appeared.
When they had been brought up to speed, Sam asked, “Was the device broken?”
Xander shook his head, “No, I don’t think so. It glowed, and she seemed surprised it was not working on me. Actually,” he grinned, “she seemed shocked as hell it wasn’t working on me.”
“The second time it did not work was when she became enraged,” Dry’ac added.
“Yeah, that’s when she chunked me across the room, into a wall,” Xander grimaced.
“Dammit, you should have aborted the mission!” Jack growled. “You were obviously out manned!”
“Jack, everything was going according to plan. Did you seriously think I was going to take down a Goa’uld with no injuries? Besides, I pretty much figured that the only way I’d drop my sword was if I got hit pretty hard. I’ve been fighting with that very sword for years and I NEVER drop it. So, yeah, I kinda expected to take a bit of a beating. All in all, considering who I was up against, I did a damn site better than expected.”
Daniel interrupted with, “Actually, Jack. He did quite well. I haven’t finished analyzing the tapes, but she snapped in there. Xander knew exactly what to do. Once the fighting started, it was a bit anticlimactic.”
Xander grinned, “Sorry to bore you.”
“We still need to figure out why the ribbon device didn’t work on you, son,” General Hammond interrupted. “If this is a one time incident, we don’t want you to get too secure in your dealings with the Goa’uld.
“I’m sorry, Sir, I just don’t know what happened,” Xander reiterated.
“Unscheduled Off-world Activation!”
“Here we go,” Jack muttered, throwing his pen down and standing to go to the window. He watched as the gate went through its routine and the iris spiraled shut. Once again, white glowy light came floating through and up to where he was standing. “Oh, for cryin’ out loud,” Jack stated as he turned and marched back to his seat.
“What’s the matter, Colonel? Do I creep you out or something?” Cordelia asked, even as she was still materializing.
“Or something,” Jack grumbled.
“Why are you here, Cordy? Buffy didn’t have to put up with Whistler this often,” Xander asked grumpily.
Cordelia glanced at Xander in sympathy. “I know, and I really am sorry. They’re making me do this in bits and pieces for some reason. This time I’m supposed to tell you that you are immune to Goa’uld energy devices. A Zat won’t work, but a staff weapon will. The ribbon device won’t work, but neither will the healing device.”
“So basically, the devices that require a Goa’uld to use won’t work on him? And Zats?” Daniel asked.
“You got it, bright guy. Consider it a gift from the PTB. You don’t have super strength, Xander, so they wanted to give you some kind of edge. Oh, and the ship is here, you should be getting paged soon.”
Xander watched his ex-girlfriend-turned-ascended being as she faded to the glowing ball of light and left as quickly as she came. Just as he was about to say something, the orb in his pocket vibrated. He pulled it out and saw the rune Thor had shown him was glowing gently. He sighed and looked towards Jack. “Guess I need to get up there soon, huh?”
Jack glanced at the General, who said, “If there’s nothing else to report, Major, we’ll let Mr. Harris head up to the Gimle
“No, Sir. That’s everything. What are we going to do with Dry’ac for now?”
Hammond sighed to himself as he considered the question. “Xander, are you going to be upset with Dry’ac having a guard while you’re gone?”
“No, I understand. Can he have a room though, instead of the holding cell? There are some that can be locked from outside only, right? You can trust him, I know. Or I can take him with me, and I’ll have responsibility,” Xander replied.
“Xander, I believe your doctors are not done with me. I will stay and continue with their testing. Whatever security measures they deem necessary will be acceptable,” Dry’ac added.
Xander nodded as Hammond said, “Ok, Dry’ac, Teal’c will be your escort while out on base. Will you need to perform Kel’No’Reem soon?” When Dry’ac nodded, he continued, “Then we’ll have Teal’c set you up in a room and bring you the items you need for that. That all right with you, Teal’c?”
“Indeed, General Hammond, I will accompany Dry’ac to the infirmary. While he is there, I will retrieve the candles and necessary equipment for a comfortable Kel’No’Reem, and set them up in a room on level 26, near Xander’s room.”
“Excellent. Let’s get to it, people. Xander, Godspeed.”
“Thank you, sir,” Xander answered as he stood and pressed the rune that would alert Balder that he was prepared to be beamed aboard. A second later he was on board the Asgard ship.
Xander turned slowly, taking in the starkness of his first ever Asgard ship. When the small gray alien came into view, Xander smiled. “Hi, you must be Balder. I’m Xander.”
“Greetings, Xander. Indeed, I am Balder. Thank you for agreeing to help us. If you will follow me, I’ll get the blood samples I need, then return you to your planet. I will continue to signal for further tests as needed with the same rune,” Balder explained as they walked down a short hallway to a lab.
Xander’s first thought upon entering the lab was that even a species as advanced as the Asgard couldn’t hide what this room was meant for. A small metal table sat under a light, next to a wall of instruments with an interfacing screen, clearly computer-like. Balder stood by a small podium with those rocks on it. He began moving them around, and the room responded. The table slid to the side as a chair beamed in its place. At Balder’s nod, Xander sat. Balder approached with a small thin pen. “Please place your arm, palm up, in the groove provided by the arm rest.” When Xander had complied, he pressed the pen to the crook of his arm, where blood is usually taken. “You will feel a slight pinch. This is a blood retraction device. You have had blood taken on Earth before, I assume?”
“Oh, sure,” Xander answered as he felt the “pinch”. It felt similar to a needle, so Xander relaxed a bit.
“This is not a needle, but it does the same thing. It should feel similar. Please tell me if you feel any unusual discomfort. This should take only a few moments.”
Xander nodded and sat back. “So, what are you looking for with the blood test?”
“I will be analyzing your DNA structure, specifically the Ancient gene, to see how advanced it is. If it appears sufficiently advanced, I will do some cloning tests on it. I need to make sure your DNA will react to our cloning techniques in a predictable manner.” Balder pulled the pen away when a red light glowed from the end. “This light indicates enough sample has been collected. You are free to return to your planet. You can either press this rune here,” Balder indicated a rune to the left of the one he had pressed to be beamed aboard, “or I can simply send you back. The decision is yours.”
“Thanks, Balder. I’ll just take myself then. Let me know when you need me again. I hope this is going to work for you guys!”
“I do too, Xander. I hope to see you again,” Balder said as he carried the pen to the far wall, where he placed it inside a small container.
Xander pressed his rune and found himself back in the now empty briefing room.