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Far Beyond Normal

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Normal-verse Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Buffy did not survive her confrontation with the First. Fortunately, Buffy has never been one to let death stand in her way...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Buffy-Centered > Theme: ActionjAkLFR1525142,908258674455,09319 Jan 0615 Mar 06Yes
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Chapter 9

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters relating to either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate SG-1. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not provide any financial compensation.

Far Beyond Normal

Chapter Nine

The house was small, bungalow style, the lawn neatly maintained, the yard surrounded by wildly growing flowers. A small, discrete sign indicated that the entire yard was maintained by a professional lawn care service. No toys or junk in the back yard, although a pretty sweet motorcycle could be seen in the otherwise-empty garage. It looked uninhabited. Not the sort of place the homeowner spent much time in. Buffy figured the inside would be obsessively neat, a cleaning service paid to keep it so, the owner only keeping the house for the kitchen and bedroom.

Walking up to the porch, she rang the bell and casually looked around waiting for someone to respond. It was a nice neighborhood, a good place to raise a family. It kind of reminded her of home, except for the mountains. She smiled a bit wistfully at how Sunnydale was still home to her. Perhaps it always would be.

Turning back when she heard someone approaching the door, she carefully went over the introductory speech she had spent some time rehearsing. The woman she would be talking to was smart; Willow-smart, maybe even smarter, if that was possible. That was a problem, because smart people tried to figure out tangential things, like how she could possibly know what she was claiming to know, instead of concentrating on the important things, such as what she actually knew. Still, they had gone over the options and decided that approaching this woman would be better than trying to go through any of her colleagues. All of them had other issues which made each of them even less likely to be receptive to her claims.

When she finally opened the door, Buffy decided she was older than the picture had suggested. Mid-thirties. Still pretty; looked to be in good shape. Only the faintest traces of grey barely showing in sleep-puffed blonde hair. Not really tall, but at five-nine she pretty much towered over Buffy, even wearing slippers. Physically fit, although her blood-shot eyes suggested too many late nights and not enough sleep. No smell of alcohol, although Buffy hadn’t expected it. This was not the sort of woman who spent a lot of time bar-hopping. “Hi! I’m Buffy. I wanted…”

It was the eyes that warned her. Most people wouldn’t have seen any change, would have been caught by surprise by the sudden attack. But then, most people hadn’t been in ten thousand fights, nor did they have Slayer reflexes. Even as the fist came driving forward Buffy almost casually shifted just barely out of the path of the incoming blow and brought her own hand thrusting forward as the other woman, off balance after bracing for an impact which never came, was forced forward through sheer momentum. It wasn’t an instinctive reaction. Despite the unexpectedness of it, to a Slayer the attack was almost in slow motion, so Buffy had plenty of time to calibrate her counter attack to a level that wouldn’t leave the woman a broken corpse.

It was however calibrated to be instantly disabling. With a grunt of air as her diaphragm went into spasm, she went crashing backwards, the force from Buffy’s deceptively casual blow enough to put her down hard. Eyes glaring in annoyance, Buffy followed her into the house, lightly closing the door behind her, giving the house a quick once-over to see if there were any other unwelcome surprises. She was not surprised to see that her expectations as to the neatness of the décor was bang-on. Although to be fair, she was a bit impressed that the furnishings were more casual than would have been the case if the woman had paid an interior designer to handle everything. So; she cared enough about her home to ensure that she surrounded herself with a livable environment.

She was tough too. Even with the wind knocked out of her, not to mention the suddenness of the violence and the pain of being knocked on her ass, she was already trying to get to her feet, eyes frantic but her fear under control as she looked around for a weapon. The house was way too neat for anything even remotely usable to be lying around, so Buffy stood back out of the range of any martial arts kicks the woman might consider trying and glared at her. “What the hell is wrong with you people?!? I knocked on the figgin’ door, for crissakes! Every goddamn time I come near one of you morons, you attack me! If I wanted to fight you, would I have knocked?! No! I would have jumped you from behind, or hit you with a baseball bat when you weren’t looking, or did something equally ‘attack-ish.’ Jeezus, you people are violent. Someone just wants to talk, you attack them without warning, and then get all pissy when they defend themselves. Jerks.”

The older woman looked confused by the unexpected irritation in the girls tone, but her lungs were starting to work again and she was trying to get back to her feet. She had a black belt, and it annoyed her that the tiny cheerleader-type blathering at her didn’t look even slightly worried about that fact. She was uncomfortably aware that she hadn’t even seen the counter-attack coming, and quaking inside that the girls’ arrogant confidence that she represented no threat was justified. But that didn’t mean she didn’t intend to try. Unfortunately she was far from 100% after being awakened from less than three hours sleep and shaken by being hit harder than a person so small should have been able to deliver.

From the casual, annoyed, and effortless way her follow-up attack was brushed aside, she also knew that even at 100% she would have been handed her ass. As it was, the little girl took care to ensure that she knocked her into her couch, all the way across the room, which probably saved her from the multiple broken bones she would have received had the girl aimed her at the brick fireplace.

Not even breathing hard, the tiny blonde aimed a stern finger at her and growled “Stay!” in an annoyed tone as she moved to the kitchen area. Her victim, bruised and sore but mostly shocked at how effortlessly she had been beaten, first tried to draw breath into lungs that were screaming for air, before suddenly leaping towards the phone. Only to leap away from it a second later when a kitchen knife, thrown with inhuman power and accuracy, smashed right through the phone, severing the cord at the back of the base. When she looked up, eyes wide in stunned disbelief, the girl wasn’t even looking at her. Instead she had her head in her fridge, taking out a bottle of orange juice with rock-steady hands, like she was visiting for tea instead of coming down from the normal adrenaline high that followed any violent confrontation.

Her expression conveyed little except annoyance. She was just too small, too California-pretty to pull it off however, and it looked pouty. Fortunately the older woman was far too smart to tell her that, correctly suspecting it would be a suicidal blunder. Grabbing two coffee mugs from the counter, the girl brought the juice container into the living area, seated herself on one of the two comfortable chairs with a glass table between her and the woman groaning quietly on the couch. “You can have something to drink, but if you try to use the cup as a weapon and ruin my nice new shirt with orange juice stains I’m going to be pissed.”

By that point the older woman was just plain confused. At first she had been afraid for her life. A fight for survival didn’t leave a lot of time for thinking. Having gone down to defeat however, and having the victor bring you orange juice, well, that really threw you for a loop. Nothing was adding up. This was not what she would have expected, given the description on the message sent out to all SGC employees. The warning to be on the lookout for the girl, a known mass murderer who had been in an asylum for the criminally insane since she was a teenager, had indicated she was psychopathic, psychotic, and would almost certainly kill anyone she came into contact with. A sulking cheerleader bringing OJ to her victim, whom she had subdued using the minimum force possible under the circumstances, did not fit the profile the warnings had described.

Especially since she probably had good reason, from her perspective, to feel put-upon. Technically speaking, she had been attacked without warning. Carter took the offered juice, drained the glass, and was very careful to put it down slowly, without offering the slightest suggestion of a threat.

Her effort to not escalate the situation was noted approvingly. But the girl was still pretty ticked. “I can’t believe you just tried to attack me! No warning, not the slightest effort to find out what I wanted, how I knew where you lived, nada. Just whack away, shoot on sight! Do you always act that way when you meet random strangers? Given what you do for a living I’d have thought you’d want to figure out what the hell was going on before ‘nuking the site from orbit’ right off the bat.”

Eyes wide at the implication of that statement, Sam Carter’s mind went into overdrive at the knowledge the cheerleader either had or was trying to suggest she had about the activities of the SGC. “I know who you are.”

That earned a lady-like snort of disbelief. “I seriously doubt it.”

“You’re Elizabeth Summers. State Security put out a warning to be on the lookout for you. You’re one of the most wanted criminals in the country! In fact, the police are probably…”

Her words were interrupted by an imperiously raised arm, recent painful experience telling Carter to shut up before that arm did anything more violent. “And you believed it! Enough to attack me on sight. You, who have had such wonderful experience with the truth and accuracy of reports from the NID. Dammit, lady, you have no idea how disappointing this is for me. I was told you were the smart one.”

That cut a bit too close to home. Carter did not like it when anyone cast aspersions on her intelligence; but she did know the NID, and was uncomfortably aware that nothing from them could be trusted. “I’ve seen pictures of the people you killed, Miss Summers. Now maybe there is another side to what happened, but that is for a court to decide. When facing someone like you it would be foolish to do anything but attempt to subdue them and let the judicial process do its job.”

It wasn’t often anyone looked at Carter like they thought she was an idiot, and having it come from a vapid cheerleader made it even less palatable than usual. The fact that the vapid cheerleader had a point didn’t make it any more enjoyable. “Oh, yeah, let’s hear it for the ‘judicial process.’ I had a real fun ‘up-close-and-personal’ look at your wonderful judicial process, lady, and let me tell you: it sucks. The thought that you’d hand me over to the NID without even bothering to listen to what I have to say, when I never threatened you in any way, makes it pretty obvious you are not the person I was hoping you would be, and that this whole thing is just a colossal waste of my time.”

With a theatrical sigh she sat back a bit, but Carter wasn’t deceived into thinking she was relaxed. “But I guess I’ve made an implied promise to the PtB morons that I would at least try, so what you are going to do is sit back and shut up while I tell you my story. Then I am going to leave and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. Afterwards we need never see each other again, for what little time will then remain for everyone on Earth. Because I am not going to waste my time doing a Chicken Little impersonation when nobody is willing to believe me that the sky really is about to fall. It’s just not worth the dubious pleasure of being able to say ‘I told you so’ when it does happen and despite me telling you exactly what was going to happen and you didn’t do a frickin’ thing to prevent it from happening!”

With that she frowned and launched into a rambling story about alternate universes, Slayer dreams, and –of much more interest to Carter, who suddenly started paying closer attention—aliens with glowing eyes, launching an attack on Earth from pyramid-shaped starships. An attack that she felt was imminent, only weeks away from occurring. “In my vision the trees are just starting to turn, and autumn isn’t that far away. And you’re in the vision, freaking out because you’re the one who caused it, you screwed something up that let them get through Earth’s defenses.” When she saw that her reluctant audience was looking a bit indignant at the suggestion she might be the reason for the destruction of the entire planet, Buffy frowned in thought, going over that part of the dream in her mind. “Something about ‘Xerox.’ You just brought in Xerox, or turned on Xerox or something, and it locked everyone out of the system. You’re freaking out, telling the fat general that you can’t get it to return fire control to the NORAD mainframes.

“You can’t even use the StarGate to get to the Alpha Site. Everything is locked out, and the dudes with the glowing eyes know it because one of the pyramid ships lands right on top of Cheyenne Mountain right out in the open in front of God and everyone, just daring you to take a shot at them. Then, a whole army of what looks like humans in Egyptian costume get off the ship and use their rayguns to take over the base. By then other ships are nuking about half the cities on the planet.

“I dunno what the hell you did to the photocopier to make it lose us the entire planet, and from what I can see neither do you. Right to the very end you seem more confused than scared. Doesn’t save you tho; you can’t fix it even though you’re going through some kind of ‘nerd-gasm’ banging away on the computers there in the observation room above the StarGate, right up until some big guy blasts your intestines across the wall with about a six foot tall ray gun. The End.”

Somewhat to Buffy’s surprise, this last part has captured the older woman’s attention. She had given her the quick version, skipping over a million details she had discussed with Willow, because she hadn’t really expected the Air Force officer to pay any attention, or give the slightest credence to her story. Which turned out to be a good thing as she suddenly heard sirens off in the distance and couldn’t take the chance that one of the nice neighbors in this nice neighborhood had seen her knock Carter through her door and called the police. She was not going to return to the custody of the NID, even if it cost her what might be her only shot at convincing someone with authority to take her warning seriously. So she abruptly stood. “That’s it. Do what you want with the info. Forward it, file it, flush it; I don’t care. I did my part. Good luck, hang tough, have a nice life; I am out of here.”

No! Wait! What do you mean, Xerox? You have got to explain…”

But it was too late. Buffy rushed to the back door, exited over the deck, and was gone before Carter could make any effort to stop her. She ran for the phone in the other room, only then hearing the sirens which had chased the girl away. It turned out that the police were responding to a completely unrelated issue down the block. But by then it was too late: Buffy was gone.

When it got out that the Air Force had known that a wanted terrorist was in town but hadn’t notified anyone, things were really going to hit the fan. All of them knew it; none of them were particularly worried. They had their own concerns, their own mission… and their own friends, politicians who supported them and their efforts in Congress. They were SG-1, pretty much the first line of defense against alien invasion, and if push came to shove, they would be given a fair hearing and not simply buried somewhere quietly. A warning that there might be a fatal flaw in Xerxes, no matter what its source, could not be ignored. Not when the safety of the world depended on Xerxes working perfectly.

The thing was; it did work perfectly. A hundred tests, a thousand simulations, had all demonstrated that the system worked. And even if it didn’t, there were a dozen ways to turn it off, fail-safes designed to ensure there would always be a way to pull the plug on it should anything go wrong. Against that all they had was the dubious dreams of a wanted lunatic murderer. For all they knew, she really did mean that the problem was with the photocopier, a fact O’Neill brought up repeatedly. But Carter wasn’t convinced there was nothing to the girls’ story.

“You weren’t there, sir. You didn’t see her. She wasn’t trying to sell me on this; she really had all but given up on convincing anyone to take her seriously. I know what she was saying doesn’t make sense, but nothing about her makes sense! She knows about the StarGate but hasn’t gone public with it. She’s supposed to be a psychopath, but she didn’t try to hurt me. She just defended herself after I attacked her! And how was she able to do that?? She’s been in a psychiatric hospital since she was 15 years old! Yet she took me down with a move I’ve never seen, that I didn’t know was even possible! I’m no Bruce Lee but I’m pretty good at martial arts, and am certainly good enough to recognize an expert. This girl was beyond good. It would take a lifetime of training to get that good. When did she have the time to become so good?

“And we know she killed those people escaping from prison. What was she doing there in the first place?! That prison is supposed to be for foreign terrorists; fundamentalist extremists irredeemably committed to the destruction of our country and way of life. Why was a 20 year old American citizen, who until six months earlier been in a hospital where she was so lost in a catatonic state that she wasn’t a danger to anyone, taken to that prison for interrogation? What were they interrogating her for? She hadn’t been out long enough to know anything… and we know that she spent most of her time following her release from hospital studying for her GED! That’s hardly the behavior of a terrorist.”

Carter shook her head, her frustration obvious. “It was stupid of me to attack her on sight like that. I just read the report about her and took it at face value, without taking even a minute to consider the gaping inconsistencies. No; she knows something. The NID knows what it is, and is lying to us about it. About her. We have to find out what it is before Xerxes can be brought online.”

Her superior office frowned. “Not gonna happen. Nobody has found anything wrong with it, not even you, Carter. After spending thirteen billion dollars on it and selling all the fancy improvements to the people who pay the bills, we can’t hold off on using it just because a loony killer had some psychic ‘vision’ that it doesn’t work out as promised. Can you picture Hammond trying to explain to all the politicians and company execs and pentagon brass coming down for the ceremony why we should hold off? I can’t.”

It was a valid argument. Until and unless they had concrete reason not to engage the Xerxes system, everything would proceed as scheduled. Even Carter acknowledged they couldn’t delay the implementation of such a complex system just because she had a ‘bad feeling.’ But her colleagues had learned to respect her ‘bad feelings’ and investigate them until they figured out what was bothering her.

Hence, not telling anyone about the girl.

If they told the Feds, they would haul her away, and there wasn’t much chance that Carter would be allowed to question her further. So they didn’t inform State Security, and had been spending the past few days searching for her. Of course, if they couldn’t find her, and she went nuts and slaughtered 35 children with a chain saw, the Feds were going to be just a tad upset with them. So it was just as well that they had finally located her. She was shopping.

There was some debate among the four of them on how to proceed. Jackson suggested simply walking up to her, introducing himself, and ask her all of Carter’s questions. O’Neill wanted to wait until they had her in a location where they were in control, not in a downtown shopping district where civilians could be hurt if things got out of hand. They didn’t see any obvious weapons, but she was carrying a shopping bag, and even if she wasn’t packing, Carter had been pretty emphatic about her hand-to-hand combat skills. Not that O’Neill was overly worried about that; the girl was all of five feet tall, and couldn’t have weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet. He made a big production out of asking Teal’c to protect him should the girl become violent, sarcasm positively dripping from his voice.

To their frustration however, it turned out that the girl took her shopping seriously. Carter could have built a nuclear reactor out of stone knives and bear skins in the time it took their quarry to select her shoes. Wanted posters everywhere, every cop in the country looking for her, the star of her own episode of ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ yet she blithely spent the entire day calmly shopping for shoes. Ugly shoes, in O’Neill’s opinion. It was a good thing Colorado Springs didn’t have any more shoe stores in the downtown area, as none of the four increasingly impatient observers doubted that she would have tried on every shoe in them as well if there were. But finally, after quite literally hours of fitting, discussion and debate with most of the shoe salespeople in town, she found a pair that were ‘just right’ and purchased them, leaving the shop with a happy smile.

She was walking, which made tailing her easy than it would have been using cars. O’Neill and his team were experts in surveillance techniques. With four people available to trade off lead duties, they would have been able to conceal their interest from even someone far more sensitive to being tailed than the girl. She never once looked back, didn’t use a window as a mirror, didn’t appear to even consider the possibility that someone might be following her. Or, perhaps, given her physical attractiveness, she was so accustomed to being stared at by strange men that there would be no way for her to tell the difference between a stalker and casual admirers. Either way if made following her a breeze. O’Neill’s team was too professional to allow themselves to slack even under those circumstances, however, and never made any sudden movements, used what crowd was available for cover, never make the slightest indication that they were following the small blonde girl.

Their cautious approach was rewarded as she finally left the city center, casually, even jauntily walking along the city streets for a dozen blocks, until finally she arrived at a warehouse area. The warehouse buildings were modern and cookie-cutter identical, a half dozen of them in a fenced off enclosure. The gate was unlocked, and she entered without looking back, heading for the second building on the right. They waited until she entered, then O’Neill gestured for Carter to go along the left exterior side of the two-storey reinforced-masonry structure, Jackson the other side, while he and Teal’c would follow her inside. After a quick radio check they set out, the two military men cautiously opening the steel door of the building and entering silently.

It was a warehouse. Filled with boxes. Lots of boxes, stacked in open metal frames in three long rows, offering lots of places to hide. O’Neill drew his zat gun, gestured for Teal’c to take the lane on his side, and they moved out, searching for the girl. There was no sign of her, no noise, no indication of her having passed by. He had a bad feeling, but calmly tapped his communicator to let the others know he was inside and moving.

No more than two minutes passed before he felt it; the impact of a dart, his muscles suddenly going into spasm, his body locked instantly into complete rigidity, losing all motor control. He never saw her, never heard a thing. But, too late for it to matter, he realized that the dart had come in from behind him. From above him.

A few seconds later he heard her drop down beside him. She was in the process of withdrawing something from the shopping bag when Teal’c called in a radio check. When there was no response, not from the paralyzed O’Neill or anyone else, he stood up, crossed over to the other lane between shelving units, and began running towards them when he saw his friend at the far end of the warehouse, the girl standing over him. She didn’t look up, didn’t rush her work, simply sat him up against a convenient post, attaching some kind of metal collar around his neck. She casually lifted his zat gun when Teal’c approached, holding it right to O’Niell’s head. “That’s far enough.”

He stopped abruptly in response to the threat, still twenty feet from them, and made no attempt to lift his zat. She gestured towards the weapon, and ordered him to toss it aside. When he did she removed the gun from O’Neill’s head and again reached into her shopping bag, holding up what looked like a garage door opener. “Your friends are okay. I used the same drug that wildlife control officers use to dart animals. I know it’s safe; I’ve used it before on… wolves. The dosage was low; they should recover before too long. However, you will notice the collar around this man’s neck. I made it myself. There is a small pellet of plastic explosive held right up against the base of his spine. Not much, but enough to do the job. There is a remote detonator attached to it. All I have to do is press this little button, and the good Colonel’s spinal cord goes ‘boom.’”

She held up the modified garage door opener for Teal’c to see, and he stood silently, expression calm, but his fists clenched and his hard eyes met those of O’Neill, before returning his attention to the girl. Buffy stood, and to everyone’s surprise tossed the remote unit along the floor behind Teal’c. His eyes narrowed in confusion, but he didn’t turn to look at it, keeping his outwardly emotionless gaze on the tiny girl. She just smiled at him. “I am now going to go pick up that remote and press the button.”

The huge black warrior moved about a foot, standing between her and the unit now somewhere behind him. “I will not allow you to do so, Miss Summers.”

“And just how do you intend to stop me?”

“By using force, if necessary.”

“It will be. In fact, that’s the whole point of the exercise. Okay big guy; let’s see what you got.” With that she walked right up to him, making no effort to defend herself, and Teal’c suddenly lashed out with one of his massive fists, catching the obviously suicidal girl square in the face. To everyone’s amazement she barely budged from the blow, and smiled again as she raised her comparatively tiny fist and hit him back. Teal’c didn’t go down, but judging by the surprised grunt he was unable to hold back, that punch hurt. For a second the two just looked at each other, the huge bald man nearly three times as massive as the tiny blonde girl, both of them taking the measure of the other, and then both were suddenly in motion.

Blows fell quicker than the eye could see; punches, kicks, martial arts moves from a dozen fighting styles. O’Neill, only able to move his eyes and watching in stunned amazement, could not believe what he was seeing. He knew how strong the Jaffa warrior was, knew how hard it was to damage him thanks to a larval Goa’uld symbiote that could heal almost any damage as soon as it happened. But the man was, unquestionably –unbelievably!- getting his ass kicked. The girl was incredibly fast, almost impossible to hit. Even so, just one blow from those massive fists should have been enough to take her head off. But the few times Teal’c was able to get through her guard she simply shrugged it off and hit him back twice as hard.

It was obvious what she was doing. She was testing him. Testing his skill, his strength, his ability to physically recover from her punches, to mentally adjust his tactics in response to her attack. It was cold, calculating, and should have been suicidal… but she was too fast, too strong, too good, and was learning a lot faster than her opponent. Within two minutes she had worked though the Jaffa defensive techniques O’Neill and several martial arts experts had never figured out a way to penetrate. She studied how he adapted to that, how he coped with her constantly varying attack, how he responded to her efforts to let him go and move towards the detonator. It was cold, calculating, insane; and it was being done by a girl so small she shouldn’t have had the slightest chance of ever surviving the experience.

But she was not just surviving; she was winning. It was obvious to all three of them that the longer the fight went on, the greater her dominance was revealed. She wasn’t there to prove her physical superiority, however; she was testing the limits of the Jaffa warrior, but her cold, intense gaze didn’t show whatever judgment she reached on the results of the test. One thing was finally obvious however: Teal’c was prepared to fight to the death rather than allow her to pass him and get to the detonator.

Once it was clear he was reaching the limits on his strength and stamina Teal’c suddenly unleashed a desperate, all-or-nothing barrage of strikes and twists which finally got him through her defensive technique. He was finally able to get a massive hand on one of her arms. Teal’c was so strong he almost never had to resort to grappling tactics, but given the mass difference it was his last, best option against his smaller, faster opponent. Unfortunately she was also stronger than him, and despite having arms that were the size of twigs compared to the gigantic meat hooks on her massive opponent, the girl simply used her other hand to twist his arm aside. Knowing that this was his only chance of saving his friends life, Teal’c resisted with every fiber of his being. The snapping noise of his wrist breaking could be heard even over the grunt of pain he was unable to hold back.

Teal’c went down, exhausted, covered in sweat, wracked from the agonized pain from not only the broken wrist but bone-deep bruises covering almost every major organ. He didn’t cry out, didn’t beg; but simply met her eyes until the girl turned away and walked by him towards the remote control unit. After she picked it up she turned back, seeing Teal’c desperately try to crawl after her, and O’Neill, his eyes frantic, trying to move a muscle, any muscle, but still paralyzed by the drug.

She shook her head and smiled at them both, before casually tossing the unit over to Teal’c. He paused in stunned surprise, mouth bleeding either from a blow or having bitten his lip in his determination to reach her, even if it meant crawling. With that she sighed, and walked by him, over to the shopping bag she had dropped off beside O’Neill. Although not nearly as exhausted as Teal’c, O’Neill could see that she had been tested hard by his friend. Her once perfectly coifed hair was drenched in sweat, her shirt sticking to her skin from perspiration. Turning her back to the men she took off the shirt –she was wearing a sports bra, so it was hardly an exercise in eroticism—and reached down to pull a bottle of water from her bag. She drank a mouthful, swished, spit it out, and poured the rest of it over her head.

After tossing the empty bottle aside, she reached down again and pulled another bottle of water and a small towel from the bag, drinking a third of it before putting the cap back on and casually tossing the remainder over to a watching Teal’c, who caught it with his good hand. She didn’t pause to see if he drank, but made a cursory attempt to dry herself before reaching into the bag a third time for a replacement shirt. Once dressed she did one of those loopy things girls did with their hair, secured it with a scrunchie, and picked up the bag before walking over to where Teal’c lay watching her.

She gave a small, half smile when she saw that he had drained the water bottle, and reached into the bag for another, placing it on the ground beside him, not overly concerned that doing so put her arm within his reach should he want to resume the fight. He wasn’t that crazy, and with the detonator in his possession he saw no need to try anything so foolish. She met his eyes for a few seconds before sighing, and looking away. “Where I come from there are maybe fifty thousand vampires, and one Slayer. It’s been that way for thousands of years, and in all that time one Slayer has been enough to keep the vampires under control, because they aren’t that strong, not that tenacious, not that smart… and mostly not that loyal. You can play them off, one against another. Take out the most powerful and the rest will be too busy fighting for the scraps to bother any innocent bystanders.

“But that won’t work against your people, will it?”

Returning her gaze back to meet Teal’c’s eyes, she could see him reach a sudden understanding. “No. The Goa’uld overlords can be made to fight amongst themselves, but Jaffa are professional warriors. One fighter, no matter how skilled, will not distract them from their duty.”

She scowled in frustration, accepting his judgment. “Are many of them as good as you?”

Teal’c bowed his head just a bit with becoming modesty. “Before I was freed, I was First Prime to the false God Apophis. I commanded his legions in battle.”

Buffy was appropriately impressed, even though she didn’t know who the hell ‘Apophis’ was. “Well, at least that’s something. It’s already bad enough; having to face ten thousand more like you would have really sucked something major.” Her pretty face scrunched up as she concentrated on problems only she could see, before returning her attention to the warrior at her feet, who calmly sipped the water she had provided. “If you were that high in the Goold food chain, they are bound to be pretty pissed at you for turning against them. I guess you already know that I think they’re coming here. Carter didn’t believe me, but I’m telling you, warrior to warrior, that my prophetic dreams always come true. They’re on their way. You probably don’t want to be here when they arrive.”

“It is pronounced ‘Goa’uld,’ and I do believe you, Miss Summers. But that belief is irrelevant. I have sworn my fealty to the Tau’ri. If it is our destiny to die in battle against the agents of the Goa’uld, I can think of no greater honor.”

The girl groaned in irritation. “Somehow I knew you were gonna say that! My problem is that I don’t see much ‘honor’ in dying in battle. Against the Goold or anyone else. My job is to protect people, to keep them safe. I can’t do a very good job of that if I’m dead. One of the reasons I never fit in with the military, and their ‘death before dishonor’ crap. You’d think the SGC would realize it was more important to defend this planet instead of dying heroically, but hey, them’s the breaks.” As she spoke she glared at O’Neill, noticing the small twitches of involuntary muscle spasms which indicated the drug was beginning to wear off, before returning her attention to the Jaffa. After studying him for a few seconds, she brought up something from left field. “Did you know that your snake is about ready to hatch?”

Teal’c flinched, his good hand involuntarily moving to cover the pouch in his chest. “The gestation period for the larva can be up to eight years. I have been a host for only seven.”

She shrugged. “This one is about ready to calve. Not sure how much time you have left, but something to think about. Anyway, I gotta go. Interesting meeting you Teal’c. You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

When she turned to leave Teal’c spoke up, probably trying to delay her until the others recovered, but Buffy stopped to listen anyway. “Would you have pressed the button and murdered Colonel O’Neill had I failed your test, Miss Summers?”

She smiled at him, then turned hard eyes towards O’Neill. “Of course I’d have pressed the button!” After pausing a bit to savor his reaction, she continued. “Unfortunately, the only thing it might do is open a garage door somewhere.” When she saw the fury in O’Neill’s eyes her smile widened, her amusement obvious. “Besides, the collar only holds a pellet of plasticine wrapped in colored cellophane. It’s not like it would do any real damage.”

There were a lot of enemies who could have told her not to bait O’Neill, had they not paid for the error with their lives. Buffy got the message from his eyes, but wasn’t overly concerned. “Yes Colonel, I’m messing with you. Deal with it. I’d even be worried about you retaliating were it not for the fact that your stupidity, your self-righteous, condescending, smug incompetence, is about to get most of the people on this planet killed. So when it comes to fucking up, you’ve got me beat by a mile. Don’t worry about it; you’ll get your revenge. You’re about to get me killed… along with everyone you have ever known. Congratulations. I hope you’re proud.”

With that she turned and walked away, closing the door behind her.
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