“Oh, hi Jack.” Daniel couldn't help but let a hint of disappointment color his voice. “No, no. I'm fine really. Hold on just a second.”
He fumbled for the television remote which had slipped between the cushions on the couch. Retrieving it, he pressed the mute button then placed the remote on the coffee table.
“Sorry about that. Couldn't find the remote. So, how's Washington?”
He shifted on the couch, trying to find a more comfortable position, as Jack gave a rather brief rundown of his week.
“At least you've refrained from actually shooting somebody.” Daniel snorted with ill disguised humor. “I mean, come on Jack, you knew what kind of snake pit you were getting into when you accepted this assignment.”
Back in Washington, a general growled.
“Seriously, is it really that bad?”
Jack griped about annoying politicians. Daniel passed on information about Teal'c and Sam. Jack asked about Cassie. The conversation continued for a few minutes before winding down.
“Well, Jack, I'll catch up with you this weekend... I'll tell her you said hello. Bye.”
Daniel hung up the telephone. He turned up the sound on the television and settled in for a long night. Washington, DC
She had made arrangements the previous night to meet with the DC slayer for a little shop talk to be followed by some shopping. Connie's watcher was not thrilled but, as Buffy pointed out, rank did have its priveleges and as the senior slayer, she had the rank. Unfortunately, brunch had gone into overtime as Connie filled her in on the local demon hotspots and they had to forgo the shopping. Even so, she arrived at the British embassy almost ten minutes late.
She recognized the aide waiting for her in the lobby. “Sorry Mr. Pryce, my morning meeting ran a little late.”
James Pryce sniffed before replying. “Miss Summers, General O'Neill is waiting and he does not appear to be a patient man.”
Buffy followed him into a small conference room. A tall, distinguished man stood near the window and if she wasn't mistaken, he had just put a yo-yo in his pocket. Interesting.
“Miss Summers, General John O'Neill, United States Air Force. General O'Neill, Miss Buffy Anne Summers of the Travers Foundation. If you need anything, I will be at extension 239.”
“Thank you.” Buffy acknowledge. “Mr. Pryce, can you arrange for a car and driver for later this afternoon?”
And with that, the aide withdrew from the room, shutting the door behind him.
O'Neill made note that the little California blonde that Davis had met was not in evidence this afternoon. She was still short and blonde but now looked like a lawyer. He hated lawyers almost as much as he hated politicians.
“So Miss Summers of the Travers Foundation, would you like to tell me why we are here?”
“Because somebody at the Pentagon is looking into things that should remain buried? General, we might as well sit down this may take a while.”
He waited for her to sit before picking out a chair a third of the way down the table.
“Before we begin, I'd like to apologize for being late. I had meeting this morning that lasted longer than expected.” Buffy looked straight at him. “General, what I'm about to tell needs to remain in this room. The Intiative was a dangerous mistake. Try to restart it, and we will shut it down, hard.”
“No one's trying to restart anything. I don't even know what the Initiative was and I've had no luck in finding anyone who did. And I don't like threats.”
“It's a warning, not a threat. And the reason you are having trouble finding people to tell you about the Initiative is that almost everybody directly involved with the project is dead.”
“A lot of them died five years ago, most of the survivors were killed last year.”
“It was for certain people, like the ones that gave a green light to the project in the first place. It's so much tidier when the evidence is literally buried.”
“What kind of evidence?”
“How about expiriments on your own soldiers for starters?”
“What kind of expiriments?”
“The type of expiriments that ethical scientists won't do. The Initiative had roots that can be traced back to Nazi Germany. The Germans became aware of individuals that possessed certain...attributes. These individuals were abnormally strong, healed quickly and were in general very hard to kill. They thought would be desirable to incorporate these traits into their soldiers. They captured some these individuals and tried to find out what made them tick. Some of their test subjects eventually freed themselves and killed the researchers. Unfortunately, the data from their research survived and found its way into hands of the U.S. military after the war.”
Aw crap, he didn't like where this was heading. O'Neill sat up straighter.
She paused a moment before continuing. “As far as the Foundation knows, nothing was done with that research until the early 1980s when the Initiative was formed. Most of the new research was gathered by surveillance rather expirimentation and nothing much came of it until Dr. Margaret Walsh joined the project. Eventually, she was able to convince some Army bigwigs that she could create a supersoldier. By the late 1990s, she was in charge and had moved the Initiative's main base of operations to Sunnydale, California.”
“Was there any particular reason for moving to Sunnydale?”
“It had the one of the highest concentration of these 'special' individuals in the country. It also had one of the most clueless civilian populations on the planet.”
“Anything and everything out of the ordinary was either ignored or rationalized away. People died or disappeared all of the time. The local high school had a regular obituary column. No one, and I mean no one, even noticed the soldiers in black that were running around town gathering specimens.”
“Surely they noticed people disappearing?”
“Like I said, people disappeared in Sunnydale all the time. Anyway, most of the Initiative abductees were not the sort that anyone would miss.”
“More like sewer dwellers and I never said they were people.” Buffy took a deep breath before continuing. “Most of 'special individuals' weren't human, at least not fully.”
“Not human? Then what, dogs?” Aliens? He kept that last thought to himself.
“Vampires, werewolves, demons.”
That did it. He rose to his feet. “Miss Summers, I do not appreciate being dragged to a meeting just to hear fairy tales. If you will excuse me, I have real business to attend to.”
“Sit down General. I'm not any happier to be here than you are. We are both under orders so let's just get this over with.”
O'Neill nodded stiffly and sat back down.
“The world is older than you know. Before humans, demons walked the earth. Forget the biblical tales of paradise, earth was their hell. In time, they lost their purchase on this reality. The way was made for mortal animals, for man. All that remains of the old ones are vestiges...”
“Vampires, werewolves, demons. Right.”
“Okay, I admit it sounds nuts. It sounds a lot more reasonable in a tweedy British accent.”
“Then why send an American college student?”
“The man in tweed has better things to do than to jet over to Washington just to convince a desk jockey to back off.” This time, Buffy stood. “Damn it, I told Giles this wasn't going to work. You want proof? Fine, cancel the rest of your appointments for the day and clear tonight's calendar. I'll show you what the Initiative was messing with.”
Buffy stalked over to the intercom/telephone. “Mr. Pryce, can you have that car brought around, the General and I have a few places to visit.”
“You've got to be kidding.”
“Right, it's all a big practical joke on the man with all the pretty ribbons on his jacket. That's why the Prime Minister called the President. It's no joke General. There are things in this world that you can't begin to imagine, so I'll show you.”
“Isn't it a little early to be hunting vampires.” He made a big show of checking his watch.
“We have a few stops to make first. I need to change and pick up some supplies at my hotel and you might want to change into something a little less military.”