Jack wasn’t exactly sure what to expect of the mysterious ambassador he was supposed to meet. Mr. Giles hadn’t given him anything to go on when he arranged a meeting.
Jack would have preferred to meet with Mr. Giles himself, but the man had appointed an ambassador for a reason. Their conversation had lasted only a few minutes due to various emergency calls that had come through that day alone. The poor guy sounded dead. Jack remembered what it was like to run something as complex as the Stargate Program. The Council sounded at least
ten times worse.
It was out of sympathy that he hadn’t protested meeting with an ambassador rather than Mr. Giles himself; but Jack was suddenly regretting not pressing the issue as he stepped through the doors to the private investigations office where he was to meet with the ambassador.
It looked like hell had hit town – or at least the lobby in which he stood. Papers and books were strewn everywhere and there were quite a few old weapons with dried blood leaning by the entrance. Jack didn't even want to speculate on whatever was poking over the top of the check-in desk.
On a strange tangent that passed through, Jack wondered why a private investigation office was set up in an old hotel anyway.
“Be with you in a minute mate.”
A man, English by the sound of his voice, had limped through the door of what Jack assumed was a back room, giving only a glance to his visitor. Jack could hear him cursing under his breath as he moved across the lobby into another room near the front and started banging objects around.
“Bloody hell … Angel!”
Jack sincerely hoped he wasn’t referring to him, but the sound of heavy footsteps on the staircase eased that fear. Another man appeared, dark and imposing, though less so than Jack assumed he normally would be due to the open shirt and bloodied bandages wrapped around his ribs. He stopped as he noted Jack’s appearance then continued down the stairs and across the floor to Jack, his expression cool and just a tad scary.
“Can I help you?”
Jack glanced quickly at the bandages again before nodding hesitantly, a frown coming to his face. This certainly wasn’t what he expected. “I’m General O’Neill. I’m looking for the Council’s ambassador.”
The man’s expression cleared and Jack relaxed a little at the more welcoming almost-smile. “Oh, of course. We’ve been expecting you. I’m Angel, of Angel Investigations.”
Jack nodded. The name was familiar; he was recorded as an ally to the Council – a very strained ally over the past two years, however. It was unusual that Angel Investigations would be used as a neutral point for their ambassador, but then, perhaps Jack wasn’t the only one they were entering into negotiations with.
“Jack O’Neill.” He would have said more, but the man who’d disappeared into the back room earlier interrupted.
“Oi! I’m bleeding to death here!”
Angel rolled his eyes at his associate’s insistence. “One can only pray,” he muttered. “Excuse me, I should see to that first.”
“Go right ahead.” Jack wondered what kind of jobs they took on to get that bloodied up and not see a doctor. The trails of dried blood leading from the front doors weren't exactly an indication of a secure and healthy working environment either.
“Make yourself at home,” Angel called back as he moved into what appeared to be an office see to his associate.
Despite the fact that Angel couldn’t see it, Jack nodded. The room around was furnished a little nicer than the average hotel lobby and was obviously segregated to better suit business than hospitality. There was a set of lounges and a few plants to increase ambience – again with the ferns! – but the conference table to one side reinforced the idea that this was a place of business. Serious business, by the looks of the books and – was that parchment? – piled up. Yet still, the question niggled at Jack, why a hotel?
Jack decided to walk around to get a feel for the place, drawing closer to the conference table as his curiosity overtook him. Some of the languages on the parchment and open books looked familiar and Jack knew he’d spent way too much time with Daniel to be able to recognise the difference between Sumerian and Babylonian, much less be able to recognise a few characters – just the usual ones though: gods, ultimate power, that sort of thing.
“Pretty heavy stuff,” he murmured.
“I always thought so too.”
Jack spun around with a curse on his lips, but the boy behind him only help up his hands innocently with an amused smile on his lips. Jack glared as he relaxed slightly. “People like you should be collared and belled,” he muttered.
“I get that a lot.” The boy probably wasn’t as young as Jack’s first assumption. He wasn’t that tall, but he wasn’t a gawky teenager, so probably eighteen or nineteen.
“You work here?” Jack asked curiously.
“Sometimes,” he shrugged. “When I have time that is. I’m in college, so the schedule’s kinda erratic. Are you here to see Angel?” Jack wasn’t sure but there was a minute hesitation before the boy said Angel’s name.
Confusion crossed the boy’s face before he clued in. “You’re the guy from Washington. I’ll go get the others for you.”
“Well, Angel’s helping the English guy with the … hair out.”
“Willingly?” The boy sounded surprised. “I should go take Spike off his hands before they kill each other, or cause irreparable structural damage.”
“Angel and Spike. Strange names.”
“Well, mine’s Connor, so it’s not exactly a trend.” There was a huge crash from the office and Connor and Jack turned towards sound. “I should go separate those two.”
Before Connor could get too far though the front door exploded inwards and something screeched loud enough to cause hearing loss from the remains of the doorway.
“What the hell?” Jack pulled out his gun and trained it on the … oh, crap, was that
It had wings and slime dripped through what looked like chinks in stone armour, only it obviously wasn’t stone, but likely just as hard. It was tall and wide and its eyes glowed – and right now Jack couldn’t believe he’d just wished they’d glowed white instead of red like that.
“That thing’s supposed to be dead!” Jack risked a glanced from the huge menacing threat before him to the side where Angel and Spike had just materialised. Spike was bereft of the long black coat he’d been wearing previously and bandages could be seen where his shirt rode up. His bleached hair had a splotch of red drying slowly on the tips.
Angel glared at his associate. “You didn’t listen to any
of my warnings, did you?”
“Well most of what you say is bollocks anyway, so of course not!”
“Uh, guys?” Connor cut in. “Demon now, argue later.”
“Not a good demon then,” Jack asked as the thing approached, its screeching turning to growling. And there really had to be something wrong with him when he could tell the demon was growling in anticipation more than anything else.
“Vicious killer, smart, but not intelligent,” Angel supplied.
“Good.” Jack raised his gun and in the split second it took the demon to start to react and head his way, he’d shot it in the eye.
It screeched and both he and Connor, being the closest to the thing fell to the floor clutching their hands to their ears. It seemed the single bullet hadn’t done the job. Sure the demon was in pain, but it was easily recovering its wits. Jack scrambled backwards, grabbing Connor’s arm to pull him back too while Angel and Spike leapt at the thing with swords.
“You okay?” he asked Connor. He realised that he couldn’t hear himself very well, so Connor wouldn’t be able to either, so exaggerated the question and Connor nodded.
“How the hell are we supposed to kill that thing?” Jack yelled as he watched the two men easily get thrown around by the infuriated demon. Both of them got a few good stabs in, but it wasn’t enough to slow it down too much.
Connor just shrugged and stood up, pulling Jack back to a cupboard which opened up to reveal many weapons. Many archaic weapons: swords, daggers, crossbows, axes. They were all quite shiny and sharp, well looked after, though Jack still wished he hadn’t given that zat to Barran yesterday.
“Your gun will be useless,” Connor told him as he thrust an axe at Jack. The thing was heavy and felt weird in Jack’s hands, so he put it back and grabbed a spear leaning on the side of the cupboard instead. Not the same as a staff weapon but close enough to feel a little more familiar. Connor grabbed a long knife and a sword before rushing into the fray.
Jack stared after him a moment and winced as he took a hard blow. The kid was strong, looked like he barely felt it and the return blow with his sword had the demon howling.
There didn’t seem to be any plan to the fight – hell, half the time Angel and his crew got in each others way. Connor was thrown at Spike, who’d just gotten up from a painful blow to an already damaged arm. Jack couldn’t see any way of helping out without hindering more, so he watched, hoping to see a weakness and a good opportunity to use it.
But the thing was too fast. Spike was mostly down for the count, barely able to even rise and Connor’s jeans were shredded down one leg and painted a disturbing shade of red. Angel was still going strong, but he had one arm clutched too close to his chest. Jack swore seeing all of this. They were going to get killed if he didn’t do something.
He was going to jump in when he heard someone saying something from above, the voice growing increasingly louder with every second. Jack glanced up as he heard a loud yell and quickly looked away when he saw a flash of bright light. Blinking he looked back at the demon that seemed to be struggling against something invisible. His hearing was still shot, so he couldn’t completely make out the instruction that was yelled down to the combatants, but Spike seemed to understand and threw something at Angel – a lighter – who then set the demon on fire.
The slime must have been exceptionally flammable, because the huge demon exploded and covered them – and the lobby – in sizzling slime and guts. Jack brushed the stuff off as fast as he could; it was still hot and rushed over to help Spike who could still barely move. Connor rushed over to Angel, but both of them seemed fine. Jack helped Spike over to the ruined lounges and settled him down then turned back to Angel and Connor.
“So are exploding demons a regular occurrence with you guys?” Though the ringing hadn’t quite receded yet, his hearing was better than a few minutes ago.
“Sometimes,” Angel admitted.
“Gunyaryk demons can be tough and I thought I told you their armour was super strong and you’d need more than swords.” Jack looked up to the staircase where a young man clad in black was slowly descending, leaning heavily on the banister.
“You didn’t tell me that,” Connor glared at Angel. “I wouldn’t have let you go without help otherwise.”
“I thought I could at least slow it down!” Angel protested.
Connor said something else to the older man, but Jack wasn’t listening to their argument any more, he was watching the man who’d done something
to the demon to stop it long enough for them to kill it. He was tall and scrawny and looked like he’d been violently ill for at least three weeks.
Still, despite the extremely pale skin tone and dark shadows under his eyes, Jack recognised him immediately.
Andrew blinked and stared at Jack a moment before recognition clicked. “Uncle Jack?” A wide grin spread across his face making him appear much healthier. Jack wasn’t able to savour the expression long before his nephew was suddenly clutching at him in a weak attempt at a hug.
Jack smiled and pulled Andrew closer, lending his strength to the obviously sick man. “It’s been a while,” he said, pulling back, but not enough that Andrew toppled over.
“About ten years,” Andrew agreed, but his smile faded as he realised why it had been ten years since he’d seen his uncle.
Jack nodded, also recalling the last time he saw his nephews: Charlie’s funeral. “Well, I’m glad to see you’re … well, actually, you’re not looking too well right now.”
Andrew managed a smile. “Tired, I overworked myself, but it’s nothing serious.” He moved back so he wasn’t completely leaning on Jack and smiled even brighter. “So how come you’re here? Are you gonna be staying for long? You can stay here if you want, there’s lots of rooms and stuff, it’d be so cool if you did.”
Jack chuckled. The kid was as much of a chatterbox as he was back then. He was glad to see that hadn’t changed. “I’m gonna be here a while,” he assured Andrew. “I’m here for business.”
“Business,” Andrew looked confused. “I thought you retired after …”
“I did, but they asked me back. It’s a long story.”
Andrew nodded. “That’s okay, at least we’ll have some time to catch up while you’re here, right?”
“Definitely,” Jack nodded.
“So, business. You’re here to see Angel?” Andrew turned to look at the head of Angel Investigations.
Angel shook his head. “Actually he’s here to see you.” Both Andrew and Jack looked confused and Angel smiled in amusement. “General O’Neill, meet the Council’s ambassador, Andrew Wells. I’m sure you two will hit it off fantastically.”
Andrew and Jack stared at each other.
“You run into relatives in the strangest places,” Connor mused.