Should wait for my new beta to get back to me, but it's killing me not being able to post this, so here you go, Merry Christmas, I apologise for any mistakes.

I have more planed for this, but only time will tell when I'm going to have time to write it. It took me 5 days to write this, so I hope you appreciate it.

Zeppo 5: Close Encounters of the Xander Kind

General Hammond sat looking at the files spread out across his desk: they looked extensive, but most of the text had been blacked out. He couldn't help but wonder what it was that he wasn't cleared to know, but the President had been adamant: General Johnson's team were the best there was.

Two files in particular had caught Hammond's attention, as they only have names: Alexander 'Xander' Harris and Faith Lehane. The other files gave basic information about military training, mainly Special Ops units, but these two were almost blank. Only Harris' gave a rank: Master Chief Petty Officer, US Navy.

This struck Hammond as strange: all the other ranks were army. What was a Naval NCO doing in an army unit? Lehane's file was even more confusing: it didn't even give a rank. The dates of birth indicated were also inexplicable: there was no way that anyone that young could be in a Special Ops unit.

Hammond knew that he was going to have to call in a few favours when this was over, but he had a friend in the White House who owed him some from their time in Vietnam…

"Sir," Sergeant Davis appeared in the office doorway, "they're here."

"Very well." Hammond stood, "Show General Johnson in."

"General Hammond, I presume?" Johnson stepped into the office and saluted, "It is an honour to meet you, sir!"

"Likewise." Hammond returned the salute, "I only wish it was under better circumstances: we were thinking of approaching you for a position here before your promotion."

"That would have been interesting, but my current assignment is every bit as important as your work here at the SGC."

"I don't suppose you'd like to tell me just what that work is?"

"Sorry sir, but that's classified: unless the President tells us otherwise, none of my people are allowed to tell you anything about our work. I would like your word that you will not try to recruit any of them: it's taken a long time to put this team together and get them working as well as they are."

"I understand your point of view, General. Do you mind if I call you Avery?"

"Not at all, sir."

"Then by all means, call me George." Hammond motioned to the empty seat in front of his desk, "How much do you know about our, problem?"

"Major Davis briefed us on the Stargate and the SGC on our way over from California. From what I understand, your flagship team has been captured by one of these Goa'uld sons of bitches, and you need us to go get them back."

"That is the basic problem: our inelegance leads us to believe that they are being held on P2X-555 until a ship arrives to take them to Ba'al's base of operation. We know from past experience that they will be tortured to death and brought back to life reputably. I hope you can understand the seriousness of this situation."

"I likewise hope that you can understand the risk that my people are taking: The Initiative is perhaps the only program on the entire planet that is more heavily classified than the SGC. Every bit of information that we have been able to give your people has been vetted and set out so as to give no clue to where it has come from. I need to make it perfectly clear to you and everyone involved in this mission that if anyone breaths a word about what they see to anyone else, they will spend the rest of their lives in a maximum security stockade."

"The President did tell me that security would be unusually tight. I only hope that your people are worth the effort."

"Oh, trust me George: they're going to rock your world!"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

General Hammond was impressed by the professionalism reradiating from the Initiative agents as they filed into the briefing room. Each and every one of them looked like they had stepped out of a recruiting poster: their B.D.U.'s were immaculately, while their faces' showed nothing but complete determination.

Only two worried him: Xander and Faith.

Hammond could tell instantly that they were every bit as young as their files said, something that General Johnson had confirmed, but adding that they were both legally emancipated adults. They still looked painfully young, until you looked into their eyes: they had obviously seen and done things that no one of their age should have to undergo.

Xander had the same military discipline as the other agents, but with a defiantly youthful swagger and lopsided grin. He stood close to 7-feet tall, and looked like he could bench-press his own considerably bodyweight: every time he moved, he looked like he was going to burst out of his uniform.

Faith was a little younger and a lot smaller, both in height and weight. Her brunet hair was longer than military regulations normally allowed, but Hammond was beginning to understand that the Initiative was anything but normal: although Agent Finn was the team's official field commander, he seemed to defer to the other two's judgement.

For someone so young, Xander had an amazing grasp of tactical planning and strategy, almost enough to make Hammond regret promising Johnson that he wouldn't try and recruit any member of the Initiative into the SGC. Already the young NCO had pointed out several problems with the planed rescue mission, and then suggested multiple ways to compensate for them.

Faith seemed a little uneasy with the proposed mission, but seemed determined to see it through. Hammond could tell by the way she was sitting as close to Xander as possible that the two of them were involved in someway. He wasn't sure how legal such a relationship was: even though Faith was a civilian, and a legally emancipated adult, she was still under 18.

"Ok people, this is how it's going down." General Johnson took the podium, the lights dimming as the projector came to life, projecting a map provided by the Tok'ra; "SG-3 will secure and hold the Stargate, while SG-2 escorts us to the compound. We secure the perimeter, then Xander and Faith go in and get SG-1 out. I know this is different to what we're used to, but try and think of it as just another rescue mission, and we should all be able to think." He looked at Xander, "Anything else you want to add, Master Chief?"

"One or two things, sir." Xander stood and walked over to the map, "A sniper here or here," He marked two areas on the map, "would have complete coverage of the barracks and cellblocks. I suggest that we try and secure at least one of them, maybe set up a nasty surprise in the other. We're going to need a lot of covering fire; all the fireworks you can muster, so everyone should pack their gear accordingly. Are we going to try and destroy or capture the compound?"

"No." General Hammond shook his head, "This is just a rescue operation: get in get our people, get out."

"Then there's no need to dig in for a long stay." Xander nodded, "The old rule that 'no plan survives contact with the enemy' holds, but we should be able to do this with the minimum of fuss." He turned to Johnson, "We're good to go, sir."

"Ok; we've set aside a secure room for you and Faith to get suited up in." The old Marine nodded, "We'll be in the gate-room when you're ready."

"Sir!" Xander snapped of a crisp salute.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"You as nervous about this as I am?" Faith asked as she pulled her self up and into the legs of her armour.

"Absolutely terrified." Xander nodded as he flexed his fingers to make sure his gloves were fitted properly, "I've got John's memories to draw on, but this sure isn't dusting vamps."

"You relay think we can pull this off?"

"I wouldn't have agreed to it if I didn't. I don't like the idea of leaving people in the hands of someone like this Ba'al freak."

"That is SO John talking…"

"What can I say? His personality is very close to the surface at the moment."

"You need to find a hobby, you know that?" Cortana made her presence felt, "I've deactivated the surveillance equipment in this room and erased any record of our being here."

"Good work C." Faith smiled as she slid the torso section of her armour over her head, "You ready to rock and roll?"

"Are you kidding me?" The A.I. chuckled, "I've been stuck on Earth ever since I got here. The possibility of getting off-world would give me Goosebumps, if I had skin…"

"I'd prefer it if the pair of you stayed behind, but it's not like my opinion means anything." Xander pulled his helmet on and locked it in place, "What you want for this one?"

"I'll take the SMG's and the Battle Rifle." Faith looked over to where the weapons were laid out, "I know you prefer the Assault Rifle and Shotgun."

"M90 Shotgun: when you absolutely, positively got to kill every blood-sucker in the room," Xander lifted the weapon and chambered a round, "accept no substitute!"

"You watch way too much TV." Cortana's voice dripped sarcasm, "Help Faith get suited up, will you: the latest upgrades to her armour should bring it up to the level of the original Mjolnir armour. I still can't get a working energy shield, but I'm not giving up just yet: some of the files I found here pointed to the Goa'uld having personal force field technology."

"We find one; we'll do our best to bring it back for you to play with." Xander held Faith's helmet, "You sure you want to do this? Dusting vamps is one thing: these Jaffa are almost human…"

"You sound like my Shrink." Faith shook her head, "don't worry: I'm not going to freak out again. The thought of you pointing a gun at my head and pulling the trigger is enough to keep me on track."

"Please don't remind me." Xander shuddered, "Not my best moment."

"Needs must, Master Chief." Cortana pointed out, "You going to upload me or what?"

"Women; always so impatient…" Xander lifted a phone off the wall and held it against his helmeted head. There was what sounded like a burst of static, followed by something akin to a modem, and then he felt the familiar tingle across the back of his neck that indicated that the A.I. had successfully uploaded herself into the suits systems.

"That's better." Cortana's voice came from the speaker in the side of the helmets head, "I did leave them a little something to make up for what I erased."

"Define 'little'?" Xander and Faith asked as one.

"I had a load of information about Forerunner technology stuck in my head from my time in the Halo's mainframe." Cortana explained, "I won't even begin to try and work out how that's even possible, but I've been looking for somewhere safe to put it ever since I got here."

"And you just handed it over to the Air Force, after all the times we've turned them down when they asked us for advanced technology." Xander sounded genuinely upset, "You're setting a dangerous precedent…"

"I had to get rid of that info before it overwhelmed me." Cortana explained, "I've been doing my best, normally leaving it in a secure storage system back home, but I couldn't risk leaving it there. And from what I've read, I think we can trust these people."

"I don't trust easy." Xander shook his head, "Not these days."

"What ever, it's done; get over it." Faith took a deep breath as she grabbed her weapons, "It's time."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

General Hammond stood in the control room, looking down at the Initiative agents as they prepared for their first trip through the Stargate. Major Ferretti, one of only three surviving members of the very first Stargate mission, looked up and nodded.

"Relax George, everything's going as planed." General Johnson stood in the doorway, dressed in full combat load, cigar hanging from the side of his mouth, "Faith and Xander are on their way, and we are good to go."

"I must admit that I'm interested to see what this secrecy is all about…" The words died on Hammonds lips as the main door opened onto the gate room.

Xander had, in a bit to make it a little less conspicuous, long ago painted his Mjolnir armour black, but that only seemed to make it even more menacing. The reflective coating developed to counter Covenant plasma energy weapons made it look slick, almost alive. The reflective gold faceplate was a stark contrast, as was the rank insignia stencilled onto the arm. Despite being seven foot tall and weighting in at close to half a ton, he still moved with animal like grace.

Faith's armour was likewise painted black, but it lacked the reflective coating. Her somewhat shorter stature and smaller build made her look somewhat dominative next to Xander, but she radiated an aura of control and determination that was hard to match. Her movements were also smooth and animal like, but had a slight, predatory edge that Xander's lacked.

The large battle axe strapped across her back made several technicians gulp.

"Ready to go?" Riley asked as the last two members of his team stemmed past the astonished members of SG's 2 and 3.

"We're ready." Xander un-slung his MA5B Assault Rifle, drawing back the bolt to chamber a round, "Ok ramblers; let's get rambling."

The room began to shake as the Stargate powered up, the inner wheel spinning until all seven symbols were locked in place. There was a whoosh as the wormhole was formed, and some of the Initiative agents flinched as it raced towards them, only to fall back into place.

"Now that's impressive." Xander smiled to himself, "Ok, time to put my money where my mouth is…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Jaffa guarding the Stargate on P2X-555 looked round when they heard it activate, knowing that Lord Ba'al wasn't dew to arrive for hours yet. They grabbed their staff weapons and pointed them at the open wormhole, ready to repel any attack.

But the sight of a fully armed and armoured Spartan stepping through still stopped them dead in their tracks for a moment, and that lost them any chance they had.

Dropping his targeting radical over the first alien warrior, Xander cursed the universe for forcing him to do this, but he pushed such thought to the back of his mind, and let the Master Chief take over.

A burst of 7.62mm armour piercing death struck the first Jaffa square in the chest, ripping trough his armour and tearing his body to pieces. He was lucky enough to be dead before he hit the ground. Rifle still pulled tightly to his shoulder, Xander turned to face the next target as the startled Jaffa began to respond.

The first few plasma bolts missed wide, but then they started to impact against Xander's armour, making his shields flair. Keeping an eye on the slowly dropping shield levels, Xander started to take down the Jaffa with cool, practiced ease. They made his job painfully easy by standing still while he cut them down.

"Shields getting low!" Cortana warned, "I recommend evasive manoeuvres."

"Yeah, sure, you betcha!" Xander dived for cover behind the DHD, letting the gel lining of his suit take the force of impact while he rolled to one side, bringing his rifle into line with a group of three Jaffa.

A single sustained burst of fire took them down like nine-pins.

Hearing the sound of the hammer falling on an empty chamber, Xander dropped the Assault rifle and drew his shotgun from across his back as he leaped to his feet. The HUD inside his helmet automatically adjusted to the new weapon, allowing Xander to fire the first round 'from the hip', taking down a Jaffa before he even had a chance to no he was in danger.

The blast knocked the alien warrior off his feat, landing him spread-eagled on his back, looking up at the clear blue sky with lifeless eyes.

Two more deafening blasts, and the last Jaffa lay dead or ding at Xander's feet. The young Spartan could taste the bile as it started to rise up his throat, forcing him to swallow it down: throwing up in a suit of Mjolnir armour was not recommended in the users' manual.

"Breath, Xander, breath." Cortana did her best to calm him, "You did what you had to do."

"Yeah, I keep telling myself that." Xander activated his radio, "Stargate is secure."

"Rodger that, Master Chief." Major Ferretti replied, and moments later the rest of the rescue team stepped through the Stargate and started to check the dead Jaffa, collecting their weapons.

"We ok?" Faith asked, putting a hand on Xander's shoulder.

"Ask me again later." The Spartan looked round, "We should grab a couple of their weapons before the Marines get them all."

"No problem." Faith tucked her foot under a discarded staff weapons and kicked into the air, grabbing it with lightning fast reflexes, "Should make tings a little easier back home."

"I'm more interested in seeing if I can rig its power cell into one of the plasma rifles." Xander looked round, getting his bearings, "The base is that way." He pointed of between down a path that lead between the trees, "You know; this place looks a lot like Canada…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Xander made no sound as he slowly inched forward on his front, until the fibre optic probe attached to his helmet cleared the low rise. Cortana overlaid what the probe saw over their map of the compound, building up a 3D model of what lay before them.

"I'm picking up a signal from here." Cortana highlighted a room in what they had been told was the cellblock, "It is likely that is were the Jaffa are keeping SG-1's equipment."

"Can you detect them from here?" Xander asked, looking over the compound, looking for a way in.

"No: they don't have transponders, so I can't tell the defiance between them and the Jaffa. Same way I could never tell the difference between the species that make up the Covenant."

"You sound like you're enjoying yourself."

"In a way I am: I was created to protect Earth and her colonies from Alien attack. This may not be what Dr Halsey had in mind, but who cares?"

"Yeah…" Xander muttered; his own rather complicated opinions of the driving force behind the Spartan program something he kept a closely guarded secret from the A.I.

As slowly and silently has he had arrived, Xander started to back down the slop towards the rendezvous point.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"SG-1 is probably here." Xander pointed at a map that lay spread out on the ground, "We picked up almost a dozen life signs in that building, along with a signal from one of their radios. This building here," He pointed at a structure on the other side of the compound, "appears to be the barracks/command centre."

"That where we want to keep their attention." General Johnson nodded, "If we hit it with our RPG's, then put down suppressing fire to deal with anything that come out, we can probably draw some of the guards out from the cellblock."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Major Ferretti looked at his watch, "How long do you want to get into position?"

"We'll be ready by the time the rest of you reach the firing position." Xander stood, looking at Faith, "You ready for a night on the town?"

"You always take me to the most interesting places." The brunet Slayer laughed as they headed off into the forest.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The first Jaffa never even sow what killed him as Xander moved up behind him as silently as a shadow and, grabbing him by the head, snapped his neck with a single, fluid movement.

Carefully lowering the body to the floor, Xander clicked his com, letting the others know that he was in position without risking anyone intercepting the transmission. He waited for the light on his HUD to blink in confirmation, before turning to Faith. He motioned left and held up three fingers, indicating that there were three Jaffa that way.

Faith nodded, silently drawing the axe from across her back, the darkened blade reflecting absolutely no light. Flexing her legs, she jumped up onto the top of the low building they were hiding next to.

Even with all her skill and training, Faith couldn't help but make a sound as she landed, but that was exactly what they'd planed.

Xander poked his fibre optic probe round the corner, and waited until the guards were all trying to see what was on the roof. The moment all three were distracted, he pulled one of his few remaining M9 HE-DP Fragmentation Grenades and pulled the pin. Taking a deep breath, he rolled it along the ground towards the Jaffa.

The resulting explosion lifted all three into the air and send them slamming into the cellblock wall.

Before any more of the guards had a chance to react, the fire team opened up on the command centre, hitting it with RPG's, anti-tank rockets and heavy machinegun fire. Some and flame erupted across its sides, drawing the attention of the guards on perimeter duty.

Faith dropped back to the ground outside the entrance to the cellblock, axe held at the ready: she always felt more at home with a melee weapon, but had grown to understand the usefulness of projectile weapons.

A lone Jaffa had the misfortune of stepping through the doorway just moment after Faith had landed, and died with a rather surprised look on his face as she took his head off with a single swing of her axe.

Xander was standing next to her before the body hit the floor, his Assault Rifle replaced by the shotgun, now fully reloaded after its brief use back at the Stargate. Slipping past Faith, he made his way into the cellblock. A few red dots appeared on Xander's motion sensor as Cortana recalibrated it for the interior of the building.

"I'm picking up four blips clustered together, unmoving." The A.I. reported, "They could be SG-1."

"Or it could be poker night, and we've not been invited." Xander quipped as he started forward. Years of training and combat experience took over as Xander made his way all the dark hallways, the end of his shotgun always pointing the way he was looking.

Two Jaffa stepped out of a side door, Zat's at the ready. One fired instinctively at Xander, but his armours shields absorbed the energy with no ill effect. This confused the Jaffa long enough for Xander to bring his shotgun round and pull the trigger.

The enclosed space of the corridor amplified the report of the shotgun, but the cut-outs inside Xander and Faith's helmets protected their hearing. The Jaffa guards were not so lucky: they both caught the shotgun blast in the chest and were knocked back off their feet. He fired again, catching them before they landed, finishing the job.

"Damn!" Faith exclaimed, "Were the hell did you learn to do that?"

"Playing Doom at the 7-11." Xander looked round, and then pointed down a side-corridor, "That way."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Sir, we're pinned down!" One of the Initiative agents as a barrage of heavy plasma fire flew through the air just inches above his head.

"Did I give you permission to bitch, soldier? You had the chance to be afraid before you joined my beloved corps!" General Johnson pulled a fire-and-forget rocket launcher out of his backpack, "But to guide you back to the true path, I've brought this motivational device! Hell, back in my day, we didn't have fancy weapons! We had sticks. Two stick and a rock for the entire platoon! And we had to share the rock! You should consider yourself very lucky marine!"

Ignoring the incoming fire, Johnson stood and took aim. There was a low thud as he fired the rocket, followed by a loud explosion as it hit and demolished the low wall the Jaffa had been using for cover.

"Hoo-ra!" Johnson punched the air, "I love my job!"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"I'll take what's behind door number three." Faith pointed at the one cell that was locked. She knocked on it, "Hello, Avon Lady calling."

"What the hell?" A rather surprised voice came from the other side, "Who is that?"

"A friend." Xander looked at the door, "Heavily reinforced, with an electronic lock." He placed the palm of his hand against the lock, "These guys have no idea who they're dealing with."

"They will now." Cortana snickered before interfacing with the lock. It took her a full tenth of a second to crack the encryption, override the lock and scramble the code. The door opened without a sound, revealing four rather started looking people in USAF B.D.U.'s.

"Colonel O'Neill, I presume." Xander saluted, "General Hammonds complements."

"Thanks." O'Neill looked Xander up and down, "I've got a game on my X-Box…"

"It's a long story, Sir." Xander handed over his shotgun, un-slinging his Assault Rifle, "We should get back to the Stargate."

"Right!" O'Neill nodded, "Escape now, explanations later."

"We're clear." Faith looked at SG-1, and then held out her SMG's, "You guys might need these."

"Indeed." Teal'c took one of the weapons, handing the other to Major Carter.

"This way." Xander turned and started back down the corridor, Faith bring up the rear, her Battle Rifle sweeping from side to side.

"Xander, this is General Johnson." The radio inside the young Spartan's helmet crackled, "Look's like Ba'al's arrived sooner than anticipated. We've got more Jaffa than we can deal with…we're falling back to the Stargate."

"We copy: we'll see you there." Xander acknowledged the signal and turned to the others, "Double time!"

SG-1 picked up the pace as fast as they could, but were trapped by heavy fire the moment they tried to step outside the cellblock doors. The crude brickwork started the crumble under the onslaught, almost forcing them further back into the building.

"I'll distract them while you make a run for it." Xander double checked the remaining ammo in his gun, "I'll see you back at the Stargate."

"You'd better be there." Faith looked at him, "I'm not leaving without you; either of you."

"Why thank you." Cortana sounded smug, "I'll try and keep him out of as much trouble as he gets me into."

"I'll stay with you." O'Neill swapped his shotgun for Faith's Battle Rifle, "My team, my mission, my responsibility."

"Whatever you say, sir." Xander drew his last M9 HE-DP and pulled the pin. Counting to five under his breath, he tossed the grenade out of the doorway.

The moment he heard and felt it explode, Xander was moving: legs pumping as hard as they could, he was almost a blur as he moved into the courtyard, firing from the hip, relying on Cortana and the targeting system built into his suit to compensate.

His belief was well founded: Cortana instantly adjusted his aim to strike target after target. Jaffa started to fall left, right and centre, easing up the pressure on SG-1 and the support team lead by General Johnson. He didn't even skip a beat when his gun ran out of ammo: he instantly dropped it, letting the momentum re-sling it across his back as he drew his M6D Pistol, holding it tightly with both hands.

Firing 12.7mm rounds in pairs, Xander aimed for the relatively unprotected heads of the startled Jaffa. The armour pricing, high velocity bullets all but guaranteed a one-shot kill, but Xander had learned not to take something so important for granted.

His thumb hitting the magazine release catch the moment the last round was fired, Xander executed a perfect reload without slowing his attack one iota. Firing off the second magazine just as fast as the first, Xander re-holstered the M6D while simultaneously pulling his Covenant energy sword free and activating it.

A low hum filled the air as the magnetic field stabilised, the bight glow of plasma illuminating the smoke filled courtyard.

Xander moved through the Jaffa with a fluid grace born from years of practise, letting the Master Chief's memories guide him. Flesh, bone and metal all parted under his relentless attack.

A deep, dark corner of his mind Xander was repulsed by his actions, but his desire to protect Faith, and to a certain extant, Cortana, overrode his objections and allowed him to continue.

O'Neill looked on in utter amazement as Xander took apart almost and entire platoon of Jaffa on his own. The few shots that hit the fast moving Spartan were harmless absorbed by his armours shields. His many hours playing Halo with the rest of his team during downtime came into sharp focus as he watched the black-clad Spartan at work.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Faith watched Xander just long enough to make sure that he wasn't going to get himself killed, them ushered Carter, Daniel and Teal'c out of the cellblock and lead them along the path leading back through the trees to the Stargate. Her enhanced Slayer hearing, aided by the external pickups built into her suit, allowed her to hear how the fight was going long after it was out of sight.

A flicker of movement caught her eye, and she had to stop herself from firing at General Johnson and the other members of the support team as they appeared along an adjoining path.

"Sir!" She came to attention, "Permission to go back and assist the Master Chief?"

"Denied." Johnson shook his head, "I need you to take point: you're the best scout we have."

"Sir…" Faith looked like she was going to protest, but then saluted, "Sir, yes sir!"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Xander gasped as the last Jaffa in the courtyard fell dead at his feet, the overwhelming designer to regurgitate his last few meals making his stomach lurch.

"Suck it in, solider!" Cortana shouted in his ear, "We're not out of this yet!"

Standing to attention almost by reflex, Xander looked round. There was no sign of any more Jaffa on the ground, but he could just about see something moving towards him in the sky.

"Is that was I think it is?" He asked.

"INCOMING!" Cortana warned as an Al'kesh bomber opened fire, sending massive plasma charges into the compound. The cellblock exploded when it took a direct hit, forcing Xander and O'Neill to take cover behind the burnt and broken remains of the barracks.

"We need to get out of here, fast!" O'Neill looked round.

"There should be a couple of Death Gliders over there." Xander pointed to a low building next to the remains of the cellblock, "That's probably our best chance."

"Then what are we standing around here talking about it for?" O'Neill took off at a dead run, doing his best to cover the ground as fast as he could. Xander made sure he ran at the same speed as the older man, not wanting to leave him behind.

The two of them rounded the low building to find a single Death Glider sitting on a short runway. Racing over to it, they opened the cockpit, Xander climbing into the pilot's seat.

"I should really sit there." O'Neill looked at him, "I have more experience."

"Do you have enhanced reflexes and senses?" Xander asked,

"No…"

"Then, will all due respect, shut up and buckle yourself in, sir."

"Getting ordered around by a swabbie?" O'Neill shook his head as he sat in the second seat and buckled himself in, "I'm never going to live this one down…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"INCOMING!" Major Ferretti pointed at the sky as the combined rescue team approached the Stargate, "Stingers: front and centre"

Two marines with FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles stepped forward, aiming their weapons at the approaching Al'kesh started to fire, dropping plasma charges onto the forest along the path to the Stargate. Both missiles hit, but had no apparent effect on the bomber.

"Hit it, Marines! Go! Go! Go!" General Johnson motioned towards the now activated gate, "The corp ain't payin' us by the hour!"

Major Ferretti activated his GDO and sent his recognition code. He waited for what felt like an eternity, and then smiled as the light turned from red to green.

The rescue team ran through the gate, until only Faith and Johnson remained.

"We can't leave without Xander!" The Slayer pointed her shotgun at the Al'kesh and fired, knowing full well that it would have no effect.

"I hate leaving him behind to, but I trust him to find a way home on his own. Hell, he'd walk back if he had to! We'll keep the Stargate open as long as we can."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Xander twisted the Death Glider through the air, quickly getting a feel for the alien fighter. Taking a reading from his HUD, he turned the craft so its nose pointed at the Stargate, and opened the throttle as wide as he could. The inertial dampening system struggled to keep up, pinning Xander and Colonel O'Neill in teir seats as the ship racketed through the sky.

"HOLY SHIT!" O'Neill exclaimed, "Where the hell did you learn to fly?"

"Playing Afterburner 2 when I should have been doing my homework." Xander smirked as he dropped the targeting radical over the fast aproching Al'kesh and pulled the trigger, "Yippee-ki-yay!"

Twin bolts of plasma slamed into the bomber, ripping holes in its armour. This caught the pilots attention, and they turned round to face the new threat, ignoring the Stargate. Return fire passed dangourlsy close to the Death Glider as Xander westled with the controls, tring to spoil his apponants aim.

One shot caught a glamncing blow along the under side of one wing as Xander started to climb, badly damedging the avionics.

"Not good?" O'Neill asked.

"Not good." Xander nodded, activating his radio, "Master Chief Harris to SGC: clear the room, we're coming in hot!"

"What do you mean, 'hot'?" O'Neill asked as Xander turned the Death Glider round so it faced the Stargate.

"Surely you can't be serious?" Cortana asked, "This is crazy!"

"Yes I'm serious... and don't call me Shirley." Xander smiled as he put the Glider into a shallow dive, "Anyway, I thought you liked crazy?"

"Oh. Hell. No!" O'Neill blinked as he realised just what Xander was planning to do.

"Oh hell yes!" Xander grinned.

"No!"

"Yes!"

"NO!"

"YES!"

"OH FU…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Faith had just made it to the control room ahead of Johnson when a fireball billowed through the Stargate followed closely by the rather battered cockpit of a Death Glider. The shattered remains of the craft demolished the embarkation ramp and skidded to a halt against the wall under the control room. The thud of the Stargate disengaging was drowned out by the numerous alarms and sirens that went off. The emergency fire suppressant system started to pump CO2 into the room in order to douse the fire before it spread.

Faith reached the gate room in time to see the Death Glider cockpit canopy fly into the air after being punched by Xander, who sat in his seat with his helmet in his lap.

"That was fun!" He laughed, "Can we do it again?"

"NO!" O'Neill looked wide-eyed, "If I have my way, you'll never be allowed within ten miles of a Stargate ever again!"

"Spoil sport." Xander moaned as he pulled himself out of the ruined fighter and dropped down to the ground, "Told you I'd be back."

"You bastard!" Faith ran over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck, "You scared the hell out of me!"

"You're not the only one." Cortana quipped from the helmet.

"Can I have that explanation now?" O'Neill asked as he stood on rather shacky feet.

"Sory soilder, but not today." General Johnson lit a fresh cigar off a piece of burning wreckage, "We've still got a job to do in South America."

"Oh well, back to the grindstone." Xander turned to O'Neill, "Some other time."

O'Neill stood at watched as the three Initiative agents walked away. He turned to see the rest of his team walking over to him.

"Just who was that masked man?"

The End