Chapter 7: Answers and More Questions
Warning: a canon change, but one I think is kinda interesting to consider.
A/N: Sorry if the languages I mentioned aren't correct for Watchers, but I was just guessing.
Challenge: #2666 'Conception by Conspiracy' by zoev. It isn't an exact match, but hopefully it's close enough for zoev.
Thanks to my betas: zigpal, Kalliza, cutiepie and Gideon.
Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Stargate characters belong to Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright / SyFy Channel. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
SG-1's hotel suite
While the other teams settled in their rooms, Carter set up her equipment in her and Janet's room, then joined the rest of SG-1 in the men's suite. Jack and Teal'c were watching The Simpsons until Daniel finished his phone call with Catherine Langford in the bedroom. Luckily, McKay got hit with a stomach virus or something that had him moaning in his room about food poisoning. That would hopefully keep him out of their hair for a while. If Jack had thought about it, he would have poisoned McKay's food back in Colorado.
When Daniel came out of the bedroom, he looked like he had a particularly unpleasant puzzle to solve, and all the pieces were one solid color.
"What's up, Danny boy?" Jack inquired.
Daniel kept frowning, but explained his problem, "I think there was something going on at Miss Summers' school. I'm not sure why they singled her out, but the teachers were deliberately giving her worse grades than she deserved."
That was surprising to the group. Carter asked this time, "How do you know that?"
"Catherine said that part of the admissions packet Buffy had to fill out was an essay in the field which she wanted to study – if she knew what her major would be. She was picking a major of linguistics with a minor in anthropology. Her essay dealt with the similarities and differences of six ancient languages: Latin, Sumerian, Etruscan, Sanskrit, Aramaic and Greek. The paper was far beyond what the committee expected, and immediately contacted Catherine. She agreed with them and called Sunnydale High School to talk about the difference," Daniel told them, his eyes momentarily went hazy at the thought of having somebody with those language skills in his department.
"Catherine was told that Buffy Summers would never amount to anything, so Northwestern shouldn't waste their time or resources on her. The teacher actually had the gall to explain that because the young lady's homework was so sporadic, all the teachers assumed that she cheated on her exams. Rather than investigate, they simply marked the tests down by about a grade and a half…just enough so that she would pass and quote 'become somebody else's problem' unquote. The teacher also mentioned that Buffy was constantly in trouble with the principal for skipping classes or getting into fights.
"Well, you know Catherine; she wouldn't let it go at that, and requested a video conference with Buffy. She would have gone to Sunnydale to interview Buffy in person, but she had broken her leg a couple days earlier. There was nobody else in the room on Miss Summers' end, so nobody could feed her the answers to Catherine's questions. Besides, there were no significant pauses to indicate she didn't know the material herself.
"Catherine tried to determine if Buffy knew what her teachers were doing, but got the impression that Buffy didn't care either way." Daniel blushed slightly, but continued anyway, "She said that Miss Summers reminded her of a female me; she was going to do whatever she had to do, no matter what anyone else thought of her. Catherine really wanted Buffy to attend Northwestern, but with her transcript the way it was, she couldn't convince the committee to approve a scholarship of any kind. She assumed that Buffy's refusal had to have been due to financial reasons. If we can help out, there's still a spot at Northwestern for Buffy."
"If she's really that impressive, she could be useful helping you with translations," Carter pointed out unnecessarily.
Jack was quick to remind them they had a bigger issue to deal with at the moment, "But first we have to deal with the Initiative. Any thoughts on how we should go about that?"
"Would it not be best to determine where the headquarters are?" Teal'c inquired in his usual soft-spoken manner.
"Yeah, but if we have everyone out looking, word could get back to the people in charge." Jack turned to look at Captain Fraiser and asked, "Say, Janet…you feel up for a bit of recon?"
Carter shot Janet a look of concern. Yes, she was an Air Force officer, but her specialty was medicine, not skulking around. "Is that really a good idea, sir?"
Janet waved off her best friend's concern. It wasn't as if she was trying to sneak around Iraq or anything. "Don't worry, Sam; I can handle checking out a college. It'll be good practice for when I have to do it for Cassie."
"I'll have Smith from SG-7 go with you…just in case. Carter, you and Daniel can go together," Jack ordered.
Daniel asked, "What about Teal'c and you?"
"We're going to be handling the town; see if we can't figure out why it's so interesting," Jack told them.
A short time later, there was a knock at the door, and Major Harper, the leader of SG-5 came in after Janet opened the door for him. "Sir, I think there's something…hinky going on with the Initiative."
Not that he cared about correct jargon, but Jack couldn't help ribbing the Major, "Is that your professional assessment, Harper?"
"What's wrong now?" Daniel asked; something was very strange about this town and anything associated with it. If they had been offworld, they probably would be either bringing in more troops or going back to Stargate Command to reassess the mission.
Harper held out some papers to his superior. "We've been going over all the paperwork we had on the personnel stationed in Sunnydale. The packets we have only have DD 4/1s [Enlistment/Reenlistment forms], DD 93s [Record of Emergency Data], and official evaluation reports for a handful of the people – most of whom are in the command level. Those command people have the other forms you would expect to find for servicemembers of their pay grades."
The hair on the back of Jack's neck was perking up in a not-so-pleasant way. "What are you saying?"
"Even though they use a military command structure and ranks, they aren't actually military personnel. They don't have any paperwork that indicates otherwise," Harper said, emphasizing the word 'any' which indicated that it wasn't just the normal black op bureaucracy in action.
Jack groaned, "Great. I'm gonna have to call the General to see if this changes things at all. Why didn't anyone catch this before?" he asked rhetorically.
Late the next day…
SG-1 and Janet were in the room alone again when Jack gave them the rundown he got earlier, "The General passed the info up the chain to the President, and they said that more than ever, they want us to shut this project down – no matter what we find…at least until they can determine if the missing paperwork is a weird coincidence. Worst case is that these boys are being trained as a private army, but obviously without the legal protections a real servicemember would have if things went FUBAR. What did you guys learn?"
Carter's look was of somebody who wasn't terribly impressed. "Well, sir…whoever trained these people must have neglected to mention stealth and blending in. Anyone who knows what to look for can spot them within seconds. I don't know if it's their headquarters, but they all seem to be barracked at one particular fraternity house. When they get a message from their leader, they run to that house and don't come out, so I think there's a secret passage to a different building inside."
"There is. Smith and I managed to get inside and planted a couple cameras. He's very good at covert ops. If you can believe the cliché, they have a scanner to get into an elevator," Janet reported with a shake of her head. She felt like she fell into a James Bond movie or something.
"Could you tell what kind of scanner?" Carter asked.
Janet didn't even have to look down at her notes to answer, "Simple retina, I think. The mic picked up a vocal scanner once the doors closed."
Jack grinned. "Gotta love those gadgets. Think you can get us past them, Carter?"
She shrugged, then warned him, "Maybe, but doing so could still alert them to our presence."
"I don't mind them knowing that somebody's coming; I just don't want them to know who until we get in there." Jack started his own report then, "This town is a strange place, but T and I couldn't find anything to tell us why they'd pick it for a secret base."
That seemed strange to Carter, so she asked, "Nothing at all, sir?"
Teal'c was the one who answered her, "We did not go out after dark. Perhaps the answer is something that is only apparent then," he suggested.
"We'll worry about that after we deal with the Initiative people. The longer we wait to go in, the greater the chance that they'll figure out we're here. Gear up, gang!" Jack ordered, going to the rest of the rooms to tell the other teams to move out.
Standing next to their vans, Jack reminded the teams of their assignments, "SG-5 & 7…you stay up here and secure the house. If you don't hear from us within two hours, call General Hammond and take this place apart, brick by brick. Make sure that you show anyone involved our Presidential order to come in; that should get them to back down."
Carter held up one of her gadgets and said, "I've got the scanner, sir. Ready with the voice recording, Daniel?"
"Yes," Daniel answered, showing his own gadget.
Jack nodded to the other teams. "We'll see you guys in a little bit."
As they rode the elevator down, Jack snarked, "Couldn't they spring for some music in here?"
"You mean like at the mountain, Jack?" Daniel teased.
When the doors finally opened, SG-1 and Doc Fraiser were greeted by a team of 'soldiers' carrying automatic weapons. "Guess we didn't get through undetected," Jack quipped lightly.
A/N: Buffy tells the gang about Faith's death and baby. The ME gets a couple visitors.