Chapter 9: Taking Down the Initiative, Part 1
Warning: OC introduced in this chapter because I'm still not sure what to do with Riley.
A/N: This chapter got to be so long that I cut it into two parts so that it doesn't dwarf the other chapters.
Challenge: #2666 'Conception by Conspiracy' by zoev. It isn't an exact match, but hopefully it's close enough for zoev.
Thanks to my beta: zigpal.
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.
As much as Jack liked to be casual and irreverent, he could play the part of hardnosed Colonel when the situation called for it. Standing in the elevator of a secret base underneath a frat house at a California university with weapons pointed at him and his people was precisely one of those situations. He barked at the young men in front of him, "At ease! I have orders for your commanding officer from the Commander in Chief. Either get him here immediately, or take us to him!"
He was curious what their response would be to his orders. If it were the SGC, the guards would take the papers and bring them to Hammond. If they let him and his team get further into the base, he would know their training wasn't as thorough as it should be – despite the legality of whatever they were doing here.
One soldier lowered his weapon to hold out his hand. "Orders, sir?" he demanded respectfully. Jack could have sworn he saw a glimmer of a satisfied smirk on the man's face as he glanced at the papers. He passed them to another of the 'soldiers' – Jack reminded himself that a majority of these people weren't actually military, even though they might think they were – and said, "Take these to the Colonel. Gates and Miller will help me guard our guests until he makes a decision about them."
Once they were alone, the young man caught the eyes of the other two and gave a slight nod. That apparently was a signal for them because they immediately relaxed as well. "I'm Mark Stegus, sir; this is Forrest Gates and Graham Miller," he introduced himself and the other two before asking, "You're here to inspect our operation? Make sure there isn't anything hinky going on?" His tone was so hopeful, that Jack's 'oh crap' meter kicked into high gear. How bad could things be if they wanted to be shut down?
"Yes," Jack replied guardedly.
"Great," Stegus said, breathing a sigh of relief. "We don't have much time before the Colonel comes storming over, demanding to know who is invading his little kingdom. How much do you know about what we do here?"
Daniel answered the question instead of Jack, "Something about capturing and studying something called HSTs. The descriptions of the HSTs sound like they belong in horror movies. But it's a different experiment that brings us here, though."
"That sounds ominous," Forrest murmured softly. "Like the crap with the demons isn't bad enough? We should just kill them, not try to tame them," he stated vehemently.
"Demons?" Sam repeated in shock. She could handle when people from other worlds said a creature was a demon because they didn't know any better, but when it came from another person on Earth? Her logic failed to point out to her that he wasn't aware of the Goa'uld or other alien species either. Maybe it was the uniform he was wearing that was short-circuiting her normal reasoning patterns.
Stegus shot his teammate a reproachful look for stating it so bluntly, "We all know your opinion, Forrest. Sorry about that; he should have found a way to break the news a little more gently. Those descriptions belong in horror movies because the creatures they are about come from those movies…or vice versa, I suppose.
"There are many classifications, but the most prolific and dangerous – in my opinion – is the vampire. There are tougher demons, but they generally look like demons. What makes vampires so deadly is the fact they look like ordinary humans most of the time," he tried to explain. It was hard to fully understand until you saw one face-to-face, though.
"Stegus!" Graham hissed in warning, jerking his head at something behind him. The three men snapped to attention again and trained their weapons on SG1 and Janet.
Like Stegus warned them, a colonel came stomping up the stairs, glaring at the trespassers. "Just who do you think you are? Coming into my facility and making demands of my men!" he snarled.
Jack sneered a little as he retorted, "I think I'm somebody with Presidential Orders to inspect this operation, shut it down if I find any illegal or even morally questionable activity, and arrest the ones responsible. Don't like it? Take it up with the President. But I'll tell you right now that it'd be better for whatever career you hope to keep if you cooperate with us."
Haviland considered his options carefully. As much as he wanted to deny them access, he had checked the orders and found out they were legitimate. When it came right down to it, his people were responsible for killing and/or capturing the HSTs. What happened to them after that was Walsh's purview. Or at least that would be the line he would stick with when they questioned him. Fortunately for him, his mission orders would back him up on that. He sighed and asked, "Okay, then…is there any place in particular you'd like to start?"
Wary at the easy capitulation, Jack gestured to Carter while he answered. "I'll have my people look over the stated mission projects. I'd like to talk to you and the other facility leaders about a project that caught the President's attention."
Barely resisting the urge to groan, Haviland made the decision right then and there that he wouldn't even feel guilty about distancing himself from Walsh. After all, they apparently were in this mess because of her and her stupid personal projects. Which one was it that upset the President? The project that required different bits from various demons they captured or the one he knew existed, but nothing else about it? He hoped it was the second one, so he could honestly ignorance.
"Any projects not outlined in our mission statement are solely the responsibility of the head of our civilian personnel, Dr. Maggie Walsh," Haviland declared, formally acknowledging to his men and the outsiders what his stance was in this matter.
Jack wanted to know if the man was just a weaselly bureaucratic colonel – ie. only interested in covering his own ass – or if he really didn't know what Walsh was up to with the pregnancy project. To that end, he opted to go with revealing it without warning and judging the man's reaction, "So you don't know about her plan to create a super soldier by impregnating a young girl with sperm from selected individuals who have traits or characteristics deemed useful to such a soldier?"
"That seems rather tame compared to her other projects," Haviland replied in confusion. "This is the first I've heard of it though. I've heard rumors about something called 314, but that has to do with harvesting specific demon parts. And I have my suspicions about the vitamins she feeds the soldiers; seems a little like steroids or something similar." He shook his head as he continued to speculate about this new wrinkle, "There are no female soldiers here, which means she's using a civilian for that other project. That doesn't sound like the Maggie Walsh I know."
"Why not?" Daniel asked.
"If it's a project that Walsh is involved with, it has to have serious risks attached to it. She views scientists as less dispensable than soldiers, and I can't believe she'd use one of them for that project, which begs the question: who is she using?"
Jack was pleased with the amount of information the man was willing to share with them, even if he wasn't happy about the information itself, so he added a little more himself. "Buffy Summers," he told them.
All of the soldiers grimaced at his announcement. Gates and Miller had a slightly stronger reaction, however. "What?!" they yelled in tandem.
"You know her?" Sam asked.
"She's dating our friend and squad leader, Riley Finn. I wonder if he knows about this," Graham said to Forrest.
"He'd better hope for his sake that he doesn't. She'll kick his ass to the other side of town if he does. To be honest, I'll help her if that's the case." Forrest paused for a moment while he thought, then exclaimed, "Oh man, I bet I know when it happened! Buffy was hurt a couple weeks ago during one of her patrols and Walsh had her treated in the infirmary."
"So Buffy works with the Initiative?" Jack inquired, a little surprised because she didn't have the training to be a scientist and she wasn't listed on any of the records they had.
"Not officially," Graham hedged, then explained, "She's more like a civilian expert on the subject of demons. According to Riley, her kill count is higher than all of ours put together – even if you count our captures as 'kills'. That's the main difference between us, though. She doesn't capture them; she kills them."
Forrest spoke up then, mentioning something that could save or doom them all later, depending on what the truth was, "We'd better find out if Riley knew about this before we approach her. I would love to be able to say he wouldn't possibly be mixed up in something like this, but…"
"It's Walsh, and when she says jump, he doesn't even ask how high; he just jumps until she says he's done it correctly," Graham finished. They were friends, but that didn't stop them from seeing Riley's flaws.
"I don't envy you having to tell Buffy that Walsh did this to her – assuming she did," Forrest told the strangers apologetically. "I get the feeling she isn't our biggest fan to begin with; this could have her tearing the place apart, brick by brick."
Carter looked at him carefully and remarked, "You sound scared of her."
Smirking at his friend, Graham tried to make it sound less humiliating for Forrest, "Let's call it a healthy respect for her abilities. In order to understand, you should watch her training video. The scariest part about that was she did that without any time to plan a strategy. If she did and was angry enough…give me a couple months' head start, please," he pleaded even though he didn't have anything to do with it.
Unless the young men were prone to exaggeration, the situation just became even more of a clusterfuck. "I guess we'd better take a look at that video then, Colonel," Jack said resignedly.
"Of course," Haviland immediately replied, looking very pale since he did know what was on the tape. Maybe he could be in another state when Miss Summers found out what Walsh probably did to her.
"Let's get our teams down here to start looking things over," Jack commanded. He would pretend it was just an inspection for the time being so he could avoid unnecessary conflict with the project members. Once everything was secure, they could start the process of shutting it all down for good and locking up the ones in charge – including their surprisingly helpful commanding officer. No way w that man's hands as clean as he was trying to make them believe they were.
A/N: Buffy makes a deal with the devil, in her opinion.