He had denied a place on the expedition to the Pegasus galaxy the previous year. He was still annoyed with Jack about that, even if he never found conclusive proof that Jack had engineered it. His friend had been just too damned happy that his favorite archaeologist would being staying in the Milky Way galaxy. He would have given almost anything to go last year and had spent the last few months trying to wrangle a spot on the Daedalus.
Why hadn't Jack given him the heads-up that he being reassigned? As Head of Homeworld Security, Jack would have been notified even if he weren't actively involved in personnel assignments. Could it be that Jack was still trying to ground him?
Of course, he had to beg off. He couldn't go even if it meant a kind of professional suicide. The cost had just become too great. He wasn't Nick. Dr. Nicholas Ballard had abandoned his grandson. His grandfather's choice would not be his.
“Daniel?” Sam was concerned as she watched as series of emotions played over her friend's face. “Earth to Dr. Jackson.”
“Sorry Sam. Just thinking.” He brought himself to the present. “So, you'll be heading to Area 51?”
“I'm replacing their current head of off-world research.”
“I guess congratulations are in order.”
“Why thank you Dr. Jackson. Now, what's up? I expected you to a least a little bit excited with your new assignment.”
“Actually, I've been having second thoughts.”
“Since when? You've been trying to get to Atlantis ever since we discovered the coordinates.”
“I know. It's just that maybe it's not where I need to be right now.”
“Well, that would make a certain general happy.”
“It would, wouldn't it?” Washington, DC
It was five minute to seven the next morning when General O'Neill arrived at the British embassy for his second meeting with the representative from the Travers Foundation and the mysterious Council. Mr. Pryce escorted him to the same conference room that had been used the previous day. This time, he was not the first to arrive.
Buffy greeted him with a chipper “Morning General sir.”
“Good morning Miss Summers. If you will excuse us Mr. Pryce?”
“Yes, of course. A car is waiting to take Miss Summers to the airport when you are finished.” He closed the door on his way out.
“A bit stuffy isn't he?”
“I think it's genetic. Want a scone? Tea? I got them to include coffee,” she gestured to refreshments set at the far end of the table. “Not sure if it's the British genes or the Watcher ones though.”
“Watcher ones?” He poured himself a cup and sat down.
Buffy took a sip of her coffee before continuing. “Watchers tend to be a bit pompous, all about 'sacred duty'; even the ones not born into a Watcher family. His cousin was my third Watcher. Took himself and his position way too seriously.”
“How many Watchers have you had?”
“Three. A vamp killed my first one, my second was fired by the Council for disobeying orders. Wes lasted until graduation day.”
“That would be the one at the exploding high school.”
“What can I say? Mayor turned into a giant snake and tried to eat the class of '99. On a positive note, he did eat our troll of a principal.”
“Your principal was a troll?”
“Sort of. You know the type, never got a date in high school and spent the rest of his life making everybody else miserable. Anyway, after Wes got out of the hospital, he quit the Council and did the 'rogue demon hunter' thing for a few months.”
“There's such a thing as a rogue demon hunter?”
“Freelancers, mercenaries. Apparently there's good money it, not that Wes was doing for the cash.”
“Do I even want to know?”
“Probably not. Ignorance is bliss.”
“Until the demons show up for the party.”
“So tell me more about this party.”
“It's your classic good vs. evil thing. This world may not be a paradise but if the other side wins we get hell on earth and that's assuming there's an earth left. Luckily, most vamps and demons aren't actually interested in destroying the world. A vampire once described humans as Happy Meals with legs and the way things stand now there's a lot food out there. End of the world means Mickey D's closes up shop for good, so only the Big Bads are into ending the world. The average vamp or demon is interested killing, mayhem, torture, but not world endage. Some have even been known to join the good guys to take down the baddie of the day.”
“Then why not have the military involved?”
“I think you know the answer to that. Remember the Initiative? They almost managed to engineer their own very special apocalypse by trying to literally combine soldiers and demons. And if they had actually succeeded in creating a supersoldier, how long do you think it would have been before they for they unleashed their new weapon on a more conventional enemy? Second, do you really think you can keep the supernatural a secret if you join the party? You'll have mass hysteria and witch hunts once people are forced to acknowledge the monsters under the bed. Ever been to a witch burning? I don't recommend them. And finally, the most important reason is that you'll eventually need to use magic.”
“And I suppose we can't,” he asked.
“With time and aptitude it's possible, it's more like you shouldn't. Think of it as playing with a cross between heroin and a nuke. It's addictive and dangerous.”
“But not for the Travers Foundation or Council,” he glared at her. They were beginning to sound a lot like the Tollan and the Tok'ra.
“Even for us, maybe even especially for us. It's very easy to go over to the other side. Almost every magic user I have ever known has at least dabbled in black magic. My best friend went from being a shy, sweet girl to something way scarier than a nest of vamps. She was self-taught and had lots of aptitude. You know about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? She started with protection charms and location spells before moving on to animal sacrifice and raising the dead. When her lover quarreled with her about the excessive and frivolous use of magic, she fixed the problem by erasing Tara's memory of the fight. She was eventually placed in the mystical equivalent of a rehab center but not before she nearly 'nuked' the planet.”
“You're not reassuring me.”
Buffy ran her fingers through her hair in frustration, wrecking her hairstyle in the process.“Okay, how many nations have nukes and how many more nations want to get them? The UN keeps an eye on them and tries to stop them. Now imagine a nuclear arms race that doesn't need an industrial complex to build the bomb.”
“If its that easy, why hasn't it happened already?”
“We try not to leave the instruction manuals where people can find them. The scrolls and books you would need are usually written in dead or demon languages and most of them are accounted for. And as I said earlier, you do need to have an aptitude for it which most people fortunately do not have.”
“So, no military involvement.”
“No direct involvement,” she corrected. “The Council has had arrangements with various governments over the millenia.”
“For the last few centuries, others before that. Empires have their uses. Members of Council families are scattered through the bureaucracy but other than that, knowledge of the Council is highly restricted. The Royal Family, the Prime Minister, other than that, it's pretty much need to know.”
“Are you proposing the same thing here?”
“No. We did some research into the backers of the Initiative. One of them was former Vice President Kinsey so you'll understand that we have no reason to trust this administration.”
“I'll have to tell President Hayes something.”
“I know but no one else. Make sure all the recording devices are turned off.”
“What do we get in return?”
“Fewer American casualties if we can operate without interference.”
“Is that a threat or a statement of fact?”
“If we don't have to worry about the government getting in the way we stand a better chance of doing our job.”P5X-249
SG-9 took cover about half a click from the local stargate. Once again, a supposedly deserted planet was less than unoccupied.
“Tell me again why we trust To'kra intel?”
“What's wrong Grogan? 'Fraid your going to miss your hot date this weekend?” Lt. Astor picked off the first Jaffa to enter the clearing.
“Just because you can't get a date,” he paused to fire at the next two Jaffa, “doesn't mean the rest of the world doesn't.”
“Will you two idiots just keep shooting the Jaffa instead of worrying about your social lives?”
A small chorus of “yes, sirs” were followed by yet more gunfire. A few minutes later, Major Carmichael gave the all clear and his team headed back towards the stargate.