Sanity of the Insane
Spoilers: This takes place mid Season 2 of SG1 right after Jacob becomes a Tokra and mid Seasonn 3 right after the Gwendolyn Post episode. Angel and Buffy are not together and he probably won’t be in the story much since I hate the bloody vampire. There is no Dawn, there never was and there never will be.
Pairings – Faith/Buffy (eventually, not sure how soon), Jack/Sam UST, Xander/Cordelia, Willow/OZ
Synopsis – Buffy has a dream which causes her to act weird – along with suddenly hanging out with old friends from L.A. she’s never mentioned before.
Legal – I don’t own any of the characters of SG1 and Buffy – because if they were mine Buffy and Faith would have gotten together and Faith would never have gone evil --- and Jack wouldn’t act like such an idiot like he has the last few seasons
She was running as fast as she could in her patients’ gown, her barefeet barely touching the ground and her should blond hair flowing behind her. Behind her, the sounds of her footsteps multiplied as the pack gained on their prey. Deaf to anything but the sound of her blood pounding in her ears and blinded by fear and the night, the girl noticed too late the figures in front of her. Stopping abruptly, she attempted to change direction only to find herself encircled and ensnared. Wild eyed, she looked for an opening but saw only the predatory eyes of her pursuers. One figure stepped forward from the crowd and stepped closer to reveal their features. The girl gasped as she looked into her own face, with eyes filled with madness.
Buffy Summers awoke with a startled gasp. Trying desperately to control breath, the Slayer and Chosen looked at her clock as the alarm went off as if it were an alien device. Gathering her wits, Buffy slowly shut the alarm off and quietly began to dress. I haven’t had that dream in months, but this time it felt different. Buffy paused and looked at herself in her mirror. She stared at the figure before her and remembered. With sudden clarity she knew what was different. It felt the same as a slayer dream.
Stopping in front of the library doors, Buffy wondered what she would say to Giles. She had already skipped her morning meeting with him trying to avoid telling him about her dream, though it probably only served to upset Giles and the time had not helped Buffy try to organize her feelings. She had to tell Giles about Slayer dreams, but this dream she couldn’t tell him about. Couldn’t tell anyone. Because then she would have to remember. Sighing, she entered the quiet haven.
Four heads turn to acknowledge Buffy’s entrance; two with faces full of concern, one with indignation and one with apparent indifference. The Slayer gave her two best friends a comforting look, before turning a sheepish grin at her Watcher, knowing he couldn’t stay mad at her for too long. Faith continued looking bored, as if Buffy’s entrance had no effect on her. Buffy would never admit it to the other Slayer, but she knew vaguely what Faith was feeling. Though they both acknowledged a connection and ability to sense each other, only Buffy seemed able to read her sister slayer’s emotions. Right now, behind her apparent indifference, Faith was also worried about the older Slayer. Occassionally, the blond girl wondered why she could sense Faith’s emotion when the reverse wasn’t true, but the answer dwelled in a part of her mind that Buffy refused to go.
“Buffy, I assume there is a reasonable explanation for your failure to report here this morning?” Giles inquired.
“Umm… well, you see, I overslept and was already late for school, and mom would kill me if I missed anymore classes, and I would be ground, and then tonight someone could die because I was not out patrolling, so really it’s a good thing I didn’t do the report thing because I’m really saving lives,” Buffy finished off with flourish and waited for the reaction of her Watcher. The glower he was giving her did not give her hope.
“Then why, pray tell, did I see you entering the school groups at a quarter to nine?”
Buffy smiled weakly. “Because my watch is early?”
“You seem to have the idea that it is acceptable to lie to me. I am your Watcher, it was not acceptable when you lied about Angel and it is not now. I repeat, why did you not report in this morning?”
The Slayer winced as Giles used his trump card. She honestly hadn’t meant to keep Angel a secret, but she simply hadn’t known what to do. Again, she felt the darkness from the dream creep up on her. For a moment, she was no longer in the library but a small room with no windows, no furniture, and only white walls. Staring at her was a tall man, with military cut hair, just starting to grey. He wore khaki pants and a black shirt, and was looking at with eyes that had seen death, had wallowed in it. Looking at her, he saw death.
Buffy came back to herself with a start; Giles’ eyes, though holding sorrow, had looked nothing like His, so why had they triggered her to remember? Forgetting her Watcher’s question, she thought about Him. She knew if she looked into the darkness she would remember Him, but she didn’t want to remember. Turning abruptly, Buffy ran out of the library leaving four bewildered people behind. Buffy ran until she was outside of Sunnydale and the only thing she could see was trees. Exhausted, the Slayer collapsed against a tree and fell asleep.
The dream returned, though this time it did not end with her facing herself. Images flashed too fast for her to see, but she felt memories awakening, she saw Him and knew Him. Her teacher, her trainer, her saviour. She returned to the circle of pursuers, but now she felt now fear. She looked at the various faces and knew them. They were coming, for her, for Him -- for each other.
She woke to see the moon already high in the night sky. Wincing, Buffy forced her stiff muscles to move. In the distance she heard wolves howling, though there were no longer any wolves outside of Sunnydale. A smile crossed Buffy’s face, and she tipped her head back and howled.
Faith roamed the cemeteries trying to get a fix on Buffy’s location. Her sudden departure from the library had startled the dark slayer and it had taken her a moment to go after Buffy. By then, Buffy was already too far away for Faith’s ‘Slaydar’ so Faith had resorted to combing the city for the other Slayer. The hairs on the back of Faith’s neck stood on end as she heard the distant howls. I didn’t think there were any wolves near here? Even if there were, why would wolves set off her spidey-sense. It wasn’t close enough to a full moon for werewolves, but Faith couldn’t shake the sense of foreboding.
Growling her frustrating, Faith headed for another graveyard. Why the fuck am I looking for B, it’s not like she’d do the same for me. Though, Faith wasn’t sure about that, she really wished it wasn’t the case. The dark slayer had been attracted to the blond since that first night at the Bronze. At first, Faith assumed it was her normal case of the hornies but the feelings faded with time. If anything, Faith finally admitted to herself, they were getting stronger the longer she was around the older slayer. Not that anything will happen, B and Dead boy got that whole star-crossed lovers thing going on – not to mention B way too vanilla to go for some girl on girl action.
Faith paused her deliberations as a vampire jumped from the shadows, assuming she was an ordinary girl. Normally, Faith would taunt the vampire, then beat it into a bloody pulp, but her worry for Buffy made her want to finish up the vampire quick. Concentrating on that, she missed the vampire sneaking up behind her. She only noticed when felt the spray of dust against her back seconds after she dusted the first vampire. Startled, the dark slayer turned quickly to see Buffy grinning wildly. For a second, Faith thought she saw something dark in those hazel eyes, but it vanished so quickly Faith banished the thought as her imagination.
Faith walked into the crowded bar, scanning quickly for any possible dangers before relaxing. Her sense of ease vanished at the sight of her sister slayer in deep conversation with three strangers. All male, which caused Faith to fight the impulse to drag Buffy away from them. Preferably, to her hotel room.
The dark slayer grimaced as she recognized the dark haired boy. For the last two weeks since Buffy’s mysterious disappearing act, the Scooby gang had barely seen the blond slayer. The blond choosing to spend time with a variety of strangers whom none of the gang had ever seen before. Even Angel, her supposed soulmate and star-crossed lover, hadn’t seen Buffy except during patrol. No one had managed to get Buffy to talk about why she had freaked out in the library, or why she had run away. Or even where she had gone.
The Scoobs had managed to catch Buffy talking to a dark-haired boy before she slipped off again. Pressed for information, Buffy admitted that his name was David and he was an old friend from Los Angelus. Willow and Xander had accepted the answer, but Faith had noticed the slight pause before Buffy had given the boy’s name. As if Buffy knew him by another name…or had forgotten it temporarily.
Willow and Xander, although jealous of the time their friend was spending with her old L.A. friends, were willing to accept the situation as temporary. Faith, however, was much more suspicious. Crushing-from-afar over Buffy as she was, Faith kept the older slayer at a certain awareness. So whereas, the Scoobies had only noticed a few new comers into their friend’s life, Faith had a much higher count.
There were seven different teenagers that were repeatedly seen with Buffy. But Faith had counted over twenty people the older girl had been seen hanging out with once, but never since. In fact, Faith had scoured Sunnydale in order to ‘aquaint’ herself with their comings and goings, but had yet to find a trace. The dark slayer avoided mentioning her observations to the others; her reluctance stemming from the fear that she was being paranoid. Also, Faith really didn’t want to answer any pointed questions regarding why she kept her sister slayer on such close surveillance.
Faith headed to the bar, ordering a beer, before returning to her attentions to Buffy. Out of corner of her eye, she noticed the Scoobies frowning in the direction of Buffy. It was when those looks turned to ones of shock did Faith return her full attention to Buffy; her own eyes widening as she watched the straight-laced girl dance.
Buffy and the three boys danced wildy, and sexually. The crowd moved away to watch the exhibition as the four performed a highly charged ‘mating dance’. Each danced in perfect sync with the others, as if their movements were choreographed. The space between the dancers was that of inches, with only the occasional touches, that became more charged with heat because of rather than despite the rarity. And at the centre of storm was Buffy.
Xander was painfully reminded of his dance with Buffy after her breakdown over her fight with the Master. Only that dance was a waltz compared to way Buffy moved now. Willow watched as the three boys danced around her friend, as if vying for her attentions like animals in heat. She couldn’t believe it as she watched her friend sensually dance with one boy then disserted him for another. Faith barely controlled the urge to break arms as she watched the sexually charged movements between Buffy and the boys. Especially seeing the look of lust reflected in their eyes.
The dance ended to the disappointment of the crowd. As Buffy headed back to her table, ignoring the Scooby table, Faith noticed a strange look in her eyes. It vanished quickly but not before Faith recognized it. With a start, she realized it was the same wild and dark look in Buffy’s eyes when saved Faith’s life the night of her freak out.
Faith shuddered with apprehension and remembrance.
The nigh the wolves howled.
Colonel Jack O’Neill groaned as he looked at the mound of paperwork on his desk. Although he loved his job as leader of SG1 and second-in-command of the SGC, he also hated all the paperwork involved.
O’Neill missed Black Ops for the simple reason that there had been little or no paperwork. Most of the time, the only record of his missions was what he, his teammates, and his direct superiors chose to remember.
Hoping to avoid the torture for a little longer, O’Neill booted his laptop to check his email. One caught his immediate interest; no subject and the sender’s addressed was blocked. Opening the message, Jack was confronted with a jumble of symbols.
Immediately, Jack went and unplugged the security camera then turned to lock the door. Jack knew he only had a few minutes before a security team was sent to investigate the disabled camera. So Jack quickly cracked opened his Gamboy. Inside, O’Neill retrieved an imbedded chip and attached it to a ps/2 board that was hidden in a secret drawer in his desk. Inserting the component into the laptop, Jack began to expertly decode the message.
Had any of his friends been able to enter the room just then, they would have been shocked at his sudden technological abilities. Even though Jack was no longer Black Ops, O’Neill was under orders to not reveal certain abilities or knowledge. Especially when it might lead to questions as to where he had attained them.
Slowly the message took shape, causing Jack to look to the ceiling with a crossed expression.
Hearing footsteps, Jack wiped the hard drive– making sure no trace of the message remained. Quickly, he unlocked the doors and welcomed the suspicious guards. After the guards reassured themselves that the camera was working again, O’Neill ushered them out of the room and returned to his desk. Looking at his new paperweight, he smiled as he imagined Carter’s expression as he explained that he had ‘accidentally’ wiped the hard drive.
The smile faded as he remembered the message and stared at the black screen as if it would magically reappear.
Project Full Moon Reinitiated
Gathering commenced at Sunnydale, Ca
The First still Sleeping
First one contacted but unawakened
Jack reached for the phone.
“Hello, I would like a one-way ticket to Los Angelus – as well as a rental vehicle and a road map to Sunnydale.”
General Hammond was not a happy man. His second-in-command, for no apparent reason, has disappeared. At first, Hammond had assumed that the Asguard had spirited O’Neill away again. That is, until he noticed the note on his desk from one Jack O’Neill. True to O’Neill fashion it was concise, to the point, and downright aggravating.
General, I will be unavailable for missions for the immediate future. I can’t say why because that information is classified. I’ll bring you back a souvenir. Sincerely, Colonel Jack O’Neill.
Unfortunatley, Hammond had yet to discover who, if anyone, had contacted Jack in the last forty-eight hours. What was most disturbing were the requests he was receiving from unidentified sources requested the transfer of Colonel Jack O’Neill to a secret black ops project codenamed Full Moon. The commander of SGC did not believe in coincidences. But even with his security clearance, he was unable to determine what type of project O’Neill was being recruited for.
Hammond had yet to report the colonel’s absence to his superiors, but soon the general would have no choice. Having exhausted his own sources, the commander called the remaining members of SG1 together.
“People, I am afraid that Colonel Jack O’Neill has disappeared.”
Daniel Jackson leaned forwarded in his chair with a puzzled expression on his face. “Disappeared as in an Asguardian flash of light, disappeared as in missing, or…”
“Disappeared, as in running off to God knows where, for who knows what reason,” General Hammond interrupted.
The members of SG1 exchanged worried glances.
“The colonel wouldn’t leave without good reason, General,” Carter insisted.
“Indeed, JackO’Neill is an honourable warrior and would not dissert his post lightly,” agreed Teal’c.
Hammond showed them the note.
“Well, that’s Jack all right,” Daniel said, “but he still must have a good reason.”
The general sighed. “I agree with all of you. However, all I have is a note from Jack saying he would be gone for an indefinite period of time for an undisclosed reason. The only clues we have so far is that prior to his disappearance there was a break in the security camera feed in his office. Minutes later, the colonel phoned for a plane ticket to Los Angeles and a rental car. We’ve been unable to track him since. The only other clue we have is that he was working on his laptop before the camera outage, but apparently the hard drive was wiped clean.”
“Sir, you can’t possibly think the colonel wiped the hard drive on purpose? The only electronic devices the colonel can use expertly are his game stations,” Carter said.
“Right now, I don’t know what to think. But I have reason to believe this all has something to do with a black ops project known as Full Moon. I have been receiving requests for Jack’s transfer for the last week. Unfortunately, I don’t have high enough security access to discover exactly what Project Full Moon is.”
Shocked played across the other’s faces, though Teal’c merely raised an eyebrow. General Hammond had one of the highest security clearances possible. For him to not have access to information on this project…
“Sir, has there been anything you’ve been able to find out about this project?” questioned Carter desperately.
“Even after calling in a few high placed favours, I was only able to discover that the project was originally initiated four years ago and ran for a year before it was mysteriously decommissioned. Recently, it has been reinitiated under its original leadership – though I haven’t been able to find out a name.”
“What, exactly, does this have to do with Jack?” a perplexed Daniel asked.
“Apparently, Jack was involved with the project until its shut down. Now, it appears, they want him back.”
Buffy waved good-bye to the others as she headed towards Sunnydale High. She turned and caught the angry glares of the Scooby gang.
The blond slayer sighed.
She knew her friends were worried about her, and were hurt by the way she was treating them. But she couldn’t tell them who her new, or rather old, friends were. The time and place where they had met was not something she cared to discuss with her best friends. It brought back memories that were as dangerous to the slayer as any demon.
However, with the new arrivals came even more slayer dreams.
Every night was marked by the arrival of similar dreams, varying in details, but always following the same theme. Wolves now accompanied her friends, whose faces she now could see clearly; but now they were not pursuing her but bowing down to her. Four other people surrounded her, but she felt protective rather than frightened as they entered the dream, though Buffy couldn’t remember who they were. Although, instinctively she knew that she did know them. No matter, however, the varying details the dreams always ended the same; with Buffy staring back at a person with her face but whose eyes were wild.
But even though Buffy was remembering more from that time, she could tell by the looks in her friends’ eyes that she hadn’t remembered everything. And not the most important things.
The blond slayer felt she was standing at the edge of a cliff, with the Scoobies behind her and her L.A. friends in front, urging her forward. But towards what, she did not know. All she had were vague memories, and feelings.
Buffy flushed as she remembered some of those feelings, particularly the ones from last night at the Bronze.
Surrounded by her friends, she had felt free and wild. She began to run on her instincts, much like when she was slaying. Last night, she felt powerful … no, dominant … around her friends. Watching them fight for her attentions had felt right, even natural. Buffy was unnerved when she realized that her behaviour was similar to Xander’s when a hyena had possessed him. But something inside of her prevented her from confiding in the Scooby gang, or Giles, or Faith.
The school day passed quickly, mainly due to the fact that Buffy managed to sleep through nearly every class. As the final bell rang, Willow and Xander met up with her as they headed towards the library. The walk was filled with Willow’s chatter as she babbled nervously.
Things weren’t looking up when she found not only Faith and Giles waiting for her, but also her mother. Buffy groaned and stifled the urge to turn around and simply leave. Given the looks she was receiving, the slayer guessed that that would not be the wisest response.
“So, what’s with the pow-wow?” she asked, feigning cheerfulness.
Xander pulled out a chair, and Buffy was uncomfortably reminded of when the Scoobies had found out about Angel’s return. Sighing, she sat down, refusing to appear guilty.
Giles polished his lenses before regarding his slayer.
“Buffy, we have all been concerned about your behaviour for the last few weeks. You have been uncommunicative, behaving rashly, and ignoring your training.”
“Not to mention you’ve been acting like a floozy with those loser drop-outs you’ve been hanging out with,” Xander piped in.
“Xander,” Willow reprimanded, but Buffy shot to her feet and took a menacing step towards Xander. Startled, Xander took several steps back as Faith placed a restraining hand on the older slayer’s arm.
“Don’t ever talk about mine like that,” Buffy growled before sitting back down, Faith hovering behind her as precautionary measure.
They stared at Buffy in shock. The blond slayer was also surprised by her response. Why did I call them ‘mine’? Why did I even react so strongly – that was just Xander being his normal inconsiderate self.
Joyce stepped forward nervously, slightly frightened by her daughter’s reaction. She was still coming to terms with her daughter being a Slayer, which is why she had allowed this behaviour to continue for so long. It was only when Mr. Giles had voiced his own concerns that she had decided to intervene.
“Buffy, we just want to understand what has happened to cause such a drastic change in your behaviour?”
“When have you ever cared about understanding my motives instead of jumping to your own conclusions?” snarled Buffy. The others immediately came to Joyce’s defence – who just stared stunned at her daughter’s words.
You left me there! You brought this upon yourself, mother, a voice in Buffy’s mind exclaimed. For a second, the image of the Buffy-with-wild-eyes flashed through the slayer’s mind.
The Scooby gang fell silent as a stranger walked into library.
“Hi, I was told I could find Buffy Summers here,” he stated, his view of Buffy obscured by Faith.
“May I ask whom you are?” Giles asked, as Buffy looked around Faith to get a look at the man.
Buffy launched from her seat and ran into the open arms of the stranger.
“It’s good to see you again, short stuff.”
Jack O’Neill arrived in Sunnydale without incident, much too his surprise. The last few years of leading SG1 had Jack convinced that if something could possibly go wrong, it would.
He felt a little guilty for simply leaving a note behind for Hammond, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter. O’Neill just wished he had had the time to secure a hidden camera so he could see the look on the General’s face with he discovered Jack gone with no explanation.
After arriving in Los Angeles, the Colonel had claimed his rental car, and after parking it in a vacant area, went to another rental service. Knowing Carter, it wouldn’t take her long to track down his original rental car, or any credit card transactions so Jack was carrying thousand in cash. It was a hassle carrying cash around, but Jack was secure in the knowledge he could take any would-be muggers.
The long drive to Sunnydale gave Jack time to think – too much time in his opinion. Black ops personnel had a motto, “If possible, remember nothing.” For the most part, O’Neill followed the code. Shutting away memories of assassination, both tortures he committed and endured, and friends’ deaths into his subconscious.
But Project Full Moon was different.
Jack was chosen for the project because of his experiences with successful and not so successful missions. The colonel suspected that it was his ordeal as a prisoner that appealed to the program director, rather than his combat experience. Either way, Jack became second-in-command of Project Full Moon. He had been with the project a year before it shut down; the longest he’d been with any project until the Stargate program.
And he was the one responsible for its failure.
Jack pulled into the Sunnydale High parking lot. The students were streaming out of the building and the colonel realized that it was the end of the school day. Scanning the campus, Jack noticed the students avoiding a small, balding toad-like man.
He must be a teacher, he thought wryly.
“Excuse me, do you think you could tell me where Buffy Summers is, Mr…?”
“Snyder, Principal Snyder. Is the little delinquent finally being arrested for that murder in the library?” the man asked.
Jack kept his face blank, while his mind raced. Murder? Has the seal failed? But even then, she wouldn’t…
“No, I just need to speak with her.”
“She’s probably in the library with that liberal librarian.” Jack’s eyebrows raised at that. Buffy? In a library?
Jack thanked him and made a mental note to ask Thor to transport the toad-like man to another planet. As he wondered around looking for the library, Jack wondered what Buffy was like now. When he had first met the girl, he was struck by the discrepancies between her record and her personality. Her transcripts indicated that she was self-indulged and spoiled, acting out to receive attention from her busy parents. In reality, the blond girl was strong, self-assured, and uncompromising in what she believed.
After ten minutes, Jack finally found the library. Opening the doors, Jack was surprised by the amount of people present. He didn’t remember the library being this popular in High School. There were three teenagers, and two adults – and given the tweed, Jack assumed the man was the librarian. The blond woman seemed familiar, but O’Neill couldn’t place where he had met her before.
“Hi, I was told I could find Buffy Summers here,” Jack stated, not being able to see her behind the dark hair girl.
“May I ask whom you are?” the man asked.
“I’m…,” and before Jack could finish he heard his named called out, and felt Buffy’s hug before he recognized her. The girl’s hugs were unique -- a mixture of strength and vulnerability.
“It’s good to see you again, short stuff.”
The Scooby gang stared in shock as their friend hugged the stranger. Faith eyed the older man with suspicion, and a little jealousy. The suspicion grew as the dark slayer noticed the confused look on the other slayer’s mother. Whoever this man is, he wasn’t a friend of the family.
Buffy broke her fierce hug and looked at Jack with affection. Joyce’s eyes narrowed as she recognized the look as one she and Hank used to receive from their daughter before … everything. It was a look of complete faith and love and trust. A look she no longer received from her daughter – though the love was still there, the faith and trust were gone.
Seeing the woman’s growing aggravation, Giles cleared his throat.
“May we have an introduction, Buffy?”
The slayer turned to the others, looking sheepish.
“Oops, sorry guys. Everyone, this is Jack …” catching Jack’s almost nonexistent head shake, continued, “O’Connor. Jack these are my friends Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, Rupert Giles, and Faith …,” Buffy cocked her head to the side. “Faith, you’ve never actually mentioned your last name,” she said, looking at the younger girl inquiringly.
The dark slayer shrugged. “Sorry, B, but only those who know me intimately know my last name,” she said with a dirty smirk, and slight invitation.
Buffy rolled her eyes, but a small smile played on her lips.
“Oh, and of course you know my mom, Joyce Summers.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, the slayer winced. Jack started as he placed the blond woman; then nodded curtly in acknowledgement of the introduction.
Joyce frowned in confusion.
“Honey, you must be mistaken. Mr. O’Connor and I have never met.”
Jack’s facial expression never changed, but his anger was rising. How could the woman not remember? Her own daughter…
“Right, mom, you know me, forgetful girl,” Buffy agreed quickly.
“Since we’re done here, me and Jack are going to go and catch up.” Buffy grabbed Jack’s arm and began to drag him out of the room. The others protested but were silenced by a glare from the older slayer.
“I said, we’re done.”
With that they left.
Jack and Buffy stared at each other from across the table, each unsure on how to start.
“So,” “So,” They began in unision, and burst out laughing, the tension broken. They both made small talk until the sun set; Buffy telling stories about her friends, and Jack on his team. Finally, Buffy broached the subject they were both avoiding.
“Jack ‘Forcryingoutloud’ O’Neill, I need to know what’s going on. I remember some of what happened but not everything, and not nearly enough. I barely know enough to recognize the others. I remember that I trust you, so trust me now and tell me what’s going on.”
“You aren’t supposed to remember anything. That’s what the seal on your was for, even if you met the others you shouldn’t have remembered anything about them – least of all, about myself.”
Buffy was quiet for a long time, staring out the window into the darkness.
“I began having dreams. At first I didn’t recognize anyone, there are some I still don’t. But I always recognized you.” Buffy turned to stare Jack in the eyes.
“Whatever happened three years ago is happening again, isn’t it? That’s why I’m remembering. Now everyone, or almost everyone, is here. If I’m going to fight to protect them, I need to know what’s going on.”
Jack smiled. Even now, with much of her memory blocked, she still felt the need to protect everyone. The smile faded as he prepared to utter the words he had made a vow to never say.
“Project Full Moon has been reinitiated. May you hunt always under a blood moon with your pack.”
Buffy closed her eyes as the words tore away the fog in her mind. And when they opened again, they were filled with a dark wildness.
“Welcome back, First One.”
General Hammond greeted the remaining members of SG1 as the huddled around the computer screen.
“Have you found the colonel, Major?”
“We’ve located the vehicle he reserved at the airport rental, but it was abandoned in a vacant lot. I haven’t been able to find any trace of him since.”
“ColonelONeill is a skilled warrior. If he does not wish to be found, I fear we will be unable to track him,” Teal’c concluded.
“What if we asked Thor for help? I’m sure he would be willing to help find Jack, since he considers the Colonel a friend,” suggested Daniel.
“Sir, unless the colonel uses his credit cards or security number, I don’t think I’ll be able to find him.”
The general nodded. “Very well, Carter, contact Thor and notify him of the situation.”
Joyce Summers sat in her kitchen, waiting. Ever since she’d learned her daughter was the Slayer, or rather a Slayer, it felt like all she ever did was wait. She had waited to confront her daughter about her unusual behaviour lately. Now, she waited for her daughter to come home from her…visit.
Joyce frowned as she remembered her daughter’s earlier statement. Now that she thought about it, Mr. O’Connor did seem familiar.
Digging through her address book, Joyce reached for the cordless.
“Hank? It’s Joyce, I needed to ask you a question. Do you know a Jack O’Connor?”
There was a pause on the other side of the line.
“Of course, Joyce, don’t you remember? He was Dr. Hathaway’s assistant.”
“I don’t remember her being in the hospital.”
There was another silence.
“Her doctor at the, um…, mental hospital.”
Memories flashed through Joyce’s mind. Vaguely she heard Hank making excuses about being busy, and having to go.
“Thanks, bye,” she said distantly, hanging up the phone, and slid to the floor.
“I had forgotten,” she whispered. She placed her face in her hands and sobbed.
“I had forgotten.”
The general walked into the room of lieutenants, who stood at attention by their chairs.
“Be seated, we have a lot to go through today.”
The soldiers sat. They were some of the best from both the marines and the air force. Hand picked by their CO’s for this assignment.
“All right, gentlemen, let’s get started. You have been chosen to participate in the Full Moon project. This is a top secret program that was first instigated five years ago, and decommissioned after only two years because it was too successful. The information I’m about to debrief you on is known only to a handful of people in the world.”
The general clicked a thin metal pen and the slide screen picture was focused on the wall. The picture was that of a sixty-year-old man, which thinning hair, wearing a laboratory coat.
“This is Dr. Hathaway, creator of Project Full Moon and director of the project. He is a doctor of sociology and anthropology and before the project was employed by the military to understand how third world countries would react to various military scenarios.”
“Five years ago, the doctor petitioned for his own research facility and was granted approval. His theory was that people with mental disorders could be trained to become assassins and soldiers.”
The picture flashed, showing the headshots of seven individuals, all appeared to be in their teens.
“These are the first seven test subjects – codenamed Jammie, Aliana, D.K.G., Bob, Maria, Phillip and Lambert. These seven passed numerous physical tests before being indoctrinated into the project, and were chosen from thirty-five other candidates. After a year study, they were removed from their mental wards from across the country and placed in our Los Angeles research facility.”
“All test subjects suffered from mental disorders that caused them to lose touch with reality – paranoia, schizophrenia, schizoid, and others. Dr. Hathaway used their distortion to mould their minds. Instead of trying to convince them their reality wasn’t ‘real’, he encouraged their delusions and while doing so, changed the shape of their delusions for his own purpose.”
“Dr. Hathaway attempted to adjust their minds to perform as an animals, specifically that of a wolf. He concluded that he could produce soldiers that would be able to operate for long periods of time without human contact or aid but would remain true to their mission no matter the ethical or moral issues.”
The scene changed, to one of the test subjects performing martial arts.
“The technique worked perfectly. All seven subjects exhibited behaviour similar to a wolf’s, and as an unexpected result they regained the ability to grasp reality. However, it was now filtered through a new perspective. Their observations of their environment and other people were that of a wolf, versus that of a human. Encouraged by the results, Dr. Hathaway conscripted the other twenty-eight candidates.”
The light flashed and now the pictures of seven soldiers appeared on the screen,
“These are your predecessors. They were each in charge of group of five subjects, and their mission was to train them to work alone as assassins and together for missions. In hindsight, it’s unsurprising that the subjects developed a pack mentality.”
A new image appeared of one of the subjects, their throat torn. Another subject, having died in similar ways, replaced the image.
“The several packs viewed the research facility as their ‘territory’, and considered all the other groups rivals. We had seven fatalities before we were able to isolate the problem. At that point, we kept the groups separated to specific areas of the base, to prevent a recurrence.”
“The only problem with the program was that the groups did not want to separate for individual missions. In fact, when taken away from their packs, the members relapsed to their earlier mental states. Dr. Hathaway then recruited five more candidates to be trained alone and solely for individual missions.”
The screen changed again, showing the image of a man in his forties with hair just beginning to grey.
“This is Colonel Jack O’Neill, second-in-command of the first Full Moon project. He was in charge of the military aspects of the project. He personally took charge of training the five individual subjects, and because of that their skills far succeeded any other subject.”
An image of a young blond girl replaced that of the Colonel.
“Especially this one; Buffy Anne Summers was admitted with schizophrenia but had the greatest grasp of reality before indoctrination than any other subject. She far exceeded physical expectations and mastered the various military techniques quickly.”
The door opened, and a figure stood in the hallway. As he approached the lit screen, the soldiers recognized him as Dr. Hathaway. The general turned to the soldiers and said, “Dr. Hathaway will finish the debriefing.”
“The premise of the project was to create soldiers that acted completely on instinct but still maintained their mental capacities. All efforts to indoctrinate trained soldiers failed – except with soldiers who had been tortured or imprisoned by the enemy. It was then concluded that for the programming to work, the mind of the subject must already be able to accept data that it previously knew as erroneous.”
“Instead of reducing the patients to their basic instinctual levels, we imprinted the behaviour of an animal who acts based on their instincts. The wolf was chosen for its intelligence and for its instincts regarding defence and offence.”
“As you know, the process worked perfectly. A little too perfectly, since the subjects followed their instinct and proceeded to create packs and fight for territory. Even the subjects conscripted for individual missions, somehow created their own pack.”
“However, since the subjects are not operating completely on a instinctive level, they also formed a their own culture. The original seven subjects were placed in one of each of the seven original groups. Because of their extra training, they were the stronger and naturally became the leaders. We observed that they referred to themselves as the One, probably as a result as having one soldier as their superior and trainer.”
“The most intriguing result occurred when the solo training subjects formed their pack. Stronger than the others, they referred to themselves as the First, with their leader – Buffy Summers – as the First One. They then systematically proved their domination to the other packs. The First One then hurt any subject that attempted to injure the member of another pack too seriously. The rival pack mentality and jostling for position remained, but the games were no longer deadly. In fact, because of her actions the several packs began to view themselves as part of a larger pack with Ms. Summers as the One.”
“However, the subjects began to view all military and science personnel as rival packs or enemies. Our efforts to train the subjects to view anyone other than their packmates as the enemy backfired, as the instructors lost control over the subjects. It was only due to the control Colonel O’Neill had over the First that the subjects didn’t riot and try to take over the facility.”
“Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent them from escaping. Three years ago, thirty-two subjects escaped, possibly with the help of Colonel O’Neill though it has never been proven. The only subject to be found was Buffy Summers, who had a memory block placed within her mind. Despite efforts to break it, the block remained and foiled any attempts at re-programming. She was released under surveillance but during the last three years she hasn’t been contacted by any of the packs, nor has she shown any indications of remembering.”
“That is until two weeks ago.”
“Last month, I received confirmation for the revival of Project Full Moon, as well as the resources to track down the former subjects. Most likely as a result of this, the packs have been confirmed to have congregated to Sunnydale, California where Ms. Summers is currently residing. We also have unconfirmed reports that Colonel O’Neill has also arrived.”
“I want you to spend the next few weeks preparing yourself to deal with four highly trained individuals who will resort to anything to regain their freedom. You will find packages containing information on each of the members of your group, as well as detail explanations on their previous behaviour and speculation on how they have developed.”
The general cleared his throat and barked, “Dismissed!”
The soldiers left the room, leaving the two men in charge of the project alone.
“Don’t you think two weeks is a little optimistic, Hathaway? After all, it has taken us three years to find them in the first place,” the general commented.
“Don’t worry, General. By now I’m sure Jack O’Neill has contacted Ms. Summers and broken the memory block, and after we capture her the other packs will stop at nothing to rescue her even if it means their own incarceration.”
“Capturing her won’t be as easy as you seem to think. With the memory block gone, the First One could take on twenty of our best men without breaking a sweat.”
Hathaway’s complacent grin sent shivers down General Craig’s spine.
“As her doctor, and because of the papers her parents signed, I can have her re-committed at anytime.”
“For her own safety, of course.”
Joyce awoke the next morning, surprised to find herself on the couch instead of her bed. Realizing she had fallen asleep waiting for Buffy to come home, Joyce hurried upstairs to her daughter’s room.
The bed remained untouched.
Fear and anger warred within her. She dialled Rupert Giles’ number, hoping she had checked in with him, or had stayed the night. Mr. Giles role in her daughter’s life still rankled, but Joyce was beginning to accept the man whom Buffy placed so much faith.
Joyce winced as she recalled the face of another man who had Buffy’s trust and love. And as the phone rang, she wondered if Buffy’s face would lose that look of love in the same way it no longer showed faith and trust.
Willow sat on her bed while working on her laptop. She was angry with Buffy, who hadn’t bothered to phone last night, and more than a little worried about her friend. The hacker had done a search for Jack O’Connor and had only been able to find listings from three years ago.
What Willow couldn’t understand was how Buffy had met someone who had worked as the head orderly at a mental hospital?
After that, all records of Mr. O’Connor disappeared. No credit cards, loan applications, anything.
Remembering Xander’s comment that Mr. O’Connor had a military bearing – an after affect of the Halloween incident – Willow hacked into the military personnel files. When the name ‘Jack O’Connor’ revealed nothing, the hacker used his photo ID from the hospital files and did a search for a matching photo.
Will was somewhat surprised when she found a match.
Wow, Xander was right.
Jack O’Neill, former black ops, was a current resident of Colorado and worked for Norad on Deep Space Telemetry research.
According to his files, three years ago Jack O’Neill was in Iraq on a deep undercover mission. But, at the same time Jack O’Connor was working as an orderly at a high security Los Angeles mental hospital.
Willow began searching for clues in the hospital database. By accident, she stumbled across patient records associated with Jack’s file.
A gasp of shock escaped the girl’s lips.
“Oh, my god.”
SG1 and General Hammond were gathered in the Debriefing Room. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and a small, grey alien appeared.
“Thank you for coming, Thor,” Hammond said.
“It is my pleasure, General Hammond. As per your request, I have located Colonel O’Neill.”
Carter leaned forward.
“So quickly?” she asked.
“Yes. As a result of holding the knowledge of the Ancients in his mind, Colonel O’Neill’s brain waves now operate at a slightly different frequency than that of normal humans. I was able to isolate this frequency.”
“So…where is he?” Daniel asked.
“In a city the locals refer to as Sunnydale, in what I believe you refer to as California.”
SG1 turned to their commander.
“Sir, permission to retrieve the Colonel,” Carter asked.
“Granted, Major. Thor, we cannot thank you enough.”
“If you have anymore need of my assistance in this matter?”
Hammond was about to decline when Daniel interrupted him.
“Actually, knowing Jack, he won’t stay in one place too long. So we probably don’t have much time…” Daniel trailed off suggestively.
“I believe I understand your meaning Dr. Jackson.”
Faith growled under her breath as she stalked the streets of Sunnydale. Accustomed to sleeping until noon, the dark slayer was not amused when she was awakened at nine o’clock by a phone call from Giles.
Miss Straight-lace had apparently not come home the night before, nor had she arrived fro classes. Faith had made her standard sarcastic comments but deep down she was worried. So now here she was, wandering around looking for her sister slayer – again – hoping their Slayer connection would kick in.
Idly, Faith wondered if the older slayer felt the connection as well, or as strongly. Both slayers shied away from the intimate topic. Suddenly, she felt a tingling sensation in her stomach.
“Finally,” she muttered.
So engrossed in her thoughts, Faith was surprised to find herself at the school.
“All this hassle, and B was just late for school,” Faith groaned in irritation and relief.
The dark slayer’s senses went off again, but she passed it off to her close proximity to the other slayer. She didn’t notice the large white van parked out front or the men talking to Principal Snyder.
The dark slayer walked into the library to find not only Buffy and the Scoobs, but also the blond girl’s ‘groupies’.
Buffy was standing off to the side with Jack, while the other seven ‘groupies’ were scattered around the room – two noticeably guarding the door behind the dark slayer.
Faith frowned at the scene, picking up on the tension from the Scoobies.
“So, what’s going on?” the younger slayer asked, making her way slowly to the table but keeping everyone in view.
“Buffy was about to explain her recent behaviour, “ Giles stated, glancing accusingly at Jack.
“No, Buffy, was going to tell you that she’s going to be out of town for a while,” the blond girl replied sarcastically.
The statement was met with silence.
“Buffy, you can’t just leave! You have classes, and the hellmouth, and most importantly we need you!” Xander cried.
“Jack and my friends need me more,” she replied emotionlessly.
“But he isn’t who you think he is,” Willow said desperately, “he’s really a colonel and he’s done something to you, he’s brainwashed you, or is controlling with military science or…”
Jack just chuckled as the red head continued to babble.
“And he placed you in a hospital …”
The older slayer looked sharply at Willow, silencing the girl’s ramblings.
“Not another word, Willow.” In response to Buffy’s statement, the others straightened causing the gang to see their concealed weapons and glared.
Faith looked into Buffy’s eyes and saw the dark look that had passed through the other slayer’s eyes before – only now it seemed to be a permanent resident. There was no doubt in the dark slayer’s mind that Buffy would hurt Willow to keep her silent. Or the rest of them.
Watching the scene, Jack wondered what else would go wrong.
The doors opened, revealing the other three members of SG1.
“For crying out loud!”
The First One watched the entrance of the strangers with suspicion. From her One’s reaction, he knew them but she would not take a chance with her packmates’s lives; the female was carrying a gun, and the dark male was not human – though he wasn’t a demon. The other male didn’t appear to be a threat, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t capable of doing damage.
“Don’t move.” The pack near the door drew their guns, as the others pulled out various knives.
“Hi, Jack, do you think you could help us out here?” Daniel asked as he raised his hands, slowly. The Scooby gang remained still as they watched their friend regard the strangers with a predatory glint in her eyes.
“I don’t know, Danny. How the hell did you find me?”
“Sir, we asked our friend who has better resources to look for you,” Carter replied vaguely, looking at the civilians pointedly.
“Thor?” Buffy guessed, amused.
“Thor,” Jack groaned.
SG1 stared in shock at their CO’s breach in protocal.
“You’d think he’d have better things to do than try to find a washed-up colonel.”
“Hey, I’m not washed-up, and I’m a loveable guy.”
Daniel would have chucked at the exchange if he didn’t have a gun pointed at his chest.
“Um, Jack, the guns?”
Instantly, Jack’s face closed and regarded SG1 in a way that he normally reserved for potential enemies.
“Give up your weapons and move slowly towards the table.”
Reluctantly, they did as he ordered.
“Why don’t you all entertain yourselves for a moment, while we discuss … matters,” Jack suggested – ordered – as he, Buffy and several of the pack gathered together near the weapons cage. However, the two guards remained by the doors, guns drawn.
Rupert Giles frowned as he regarded the strangers; particularly the one Jack had referred to as ‘Danny’.
“Excuse me, might you be Dr. Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel was surprised. Why would a high school librarian know him?
“Yes, and you would be?”
Daniel blinked in surprise.
“You’re the Curator for the British Museum. Why are you working as a librarian in Sunnydale?” he asked in shock.
“I felt the need for a career change,” then changed the subject as he introduced the others, “this is Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, and Faith. We’re friends of Buffy Summers,” Giles said, pointing to the blond slayer.
“Well, this is Samantha Carter and Murry. We’re friends of Jack O’Neill.”
“I told you the name ‘Jack O’Connor’ was a fake,” Willow said triumphantly.
“Sir, there is an lieutenant that would like to see you, General”
“Send him in,” Hammond replied.
Lieutenant Mitchells entered the office and stood at attention.
“At ease, soldier. What can I do for you?”
“Sir, it is true you’re trying to find information on Project Full Moon?”
Hammond leaned forward in his desk.
“I am. Can you tell me anything, lieutenant?”
“I was a part of the program, sir, with Colonel O’Neill as my CO. I’m under orders not to reveal anything about the specifics or mission of the program, sir.”
“Who gave the order, son?”
“General Craig, sir.”
“I assume there is something you can tell me, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“Yes, sir. The Colonel was responsible for the failure of the program, even though there was not enough evidence to court martial him. His current disappearance is mostly an attempt to keep the program from restarting.”
“Sir, if SG1 interferes with … others … associated with the project, there is a good chance they’ll end up dead.”
“I say we kill them all,” Jammie said, eyeing the people at the table warily. DKG looked unsure, but still kept her gun drawn.
“They are the First One and Sir’s packmates.”
“They aren’t true pack; they’re only friends of Buffy and Jack O’Neill – not of the Ones.”
DKG glanced thoughtfully at the subjects of their discussion.
“Do you think there’s much difference between the two?”
“I don’t know. We went into an asylum insane and came out at least semi-sane. They went in sane and left insane.”
With her slayer hearing, the First One was privy to the conversation between her guards. And for the most part they were right.
Her parents had placed her in a mental hospital when she tried to talk to them about vampires and Merrick’s death. The first week at the hospital was terrible; the local vamps thought a caged slayer would be an easy kill. Every night they came, and in the morning the orderlies would find her covered in blood and bruises.
For her own safety, she was transferred to a facility that offered twenty-four surveillance of its patients to prevent self-induced injuries. At first the slayer had been relieved, but that feeling soon left when she met Dr. Hathaway.
It hadn’t taken long for Dr. Hathaway to begin the programming process. Normally, the process was unsuccessful when dealing with patients with a firm grasp of reality, but the sudden revelation about vampires and demons left a crack in the slayer’s perceptions for the process to exploit.
Also, it wasn’t necessary for the process to change the basic instincts of the slayer. As a slayer, Buffy already operated on instincts. The process merely refined those instincts towards the wolf-model Hathaway used.
As the weeks passed, with her only companion being her instructor, the slayer felt herself slipping into madness. The nights were filled with nightmares about vampire attacks and the death of her Watcher, and the days were filled with drills given by Jack.
Unable to take another night alone in her room, the slayer broke the lock and began to explore the adjacent rooms. Because each room was soundproof, Buffy was shocked to learn that there were four other teenagers in the rooms next to and adjacent to her own. Cautiously, she broke the lock on one and entered.
Every night after that, the five of them continued to meet.
Unlike Buffy, before entering the hospital they were mentally unsound. The programming and military training had served to help them regain a part of their sanity – though it was only by embracing the programming. They were shocked to learn that Buffy hadn’t suffered from a mental disorder, and was fighting the process – causing her to begin to lose her grasp on reality.
One night, Jack discovered them as they began to explore the facility. To their surprise, he didn’t alert Dr. Hathaway but helped them.
Jack was the first person, outside of her pack, that she told the truth to. At first he was incredulous, that is, until she bent a steel bar with her hands. Between her new friendship with Jack, and the pack at night, Buffy began to regain some of the balance she had lost.
Then, Dr. Hathaway found out about their pack and allowed them access to the rest of packs – for experimental purposes.
The slayer was surprised by the hostility between the packs, since she viewed the military personnel and the doctors as the enemy – not the other patients. Watching a violent fight beginning to turn deadly, her slayer instincts kicked in and she broke to two apart. They turned on her, and her wolf-instincts took over. She beat them into submission, and declared that unless anyone wanted to challenge her for leadership, there would be no more domination games ending in deaths.
At that moment, Buffy accepted the programming and became the First One.
“Well, kids, what do you suggest we do now?” Jack asked. Lambert opened his mouth and Jack continued, “Excluding killing all of them.”
Everyone fell silent.
Suddenly, the doors flew open revealing Principal Snyder… and Dr. Hathaway.
“Ms. Summers, I am happy to announce that this man has a court order, which states he has the authority to take you into his custody. Dr. Hathaway?” Snyder said, joyfully.
“Hello, Buffy. I’m sad that our time together didn’t help you better. But I’m sure with more time, we can cure you of your delusions,” Hathaway said with a smug smile.
In an instant, Buffy was surrounded by her pack and Jack reached out and grabbed the document from Snyder’s hands. Scanning it, Jack grimaced.
“Damn it, it’s real. Apparently your parents signed documents giving him custody in case of a relapse.”
“That’s right, Jack. You should also think about getting some help. A man with clearly suicidal tendencies as yourself requires twenty-four hour surveillance.”
The First One’s eyes narrowed. Bob took a step towards the doctor, not liking the threat against Jack; Sir was the One of the First One, no one threatened him! He was stopped as the First One placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I understand, doctor. Of course, since neither my friends nor Jack’s names are on that paper, you have no business with them.”
“Of course, not. All we’ve come for is you.”
The doctor’s voice gained a proprietary note.
“All I need is you.”
The First One walked handcuffed between the two orderlies, just behind Dr. Hathaway and Principal Snyder (who wanted to see Buffy being taken away in person). The doctor was smug in his victory, as evidenced by his careless display of his back to the First One. And because of that, he didn’t see her feral grin.
Outside the school, they gathered in front of the Institute van, off in a secluded area of the parking lot. Since class was in, and all the truant students were long gone, there wasn’t a soul in sight.
Dr. Hathaway turned towards the slayer with a smug grin.
“Well, now, Ms. Summers, since you have been cooperating nicely I don’t think we’ll need any constraints on the trip but…”
He was interrupted by a chuckle from the girl in handcuffs.
“What do you find so amusing?”
“You. How someone as dumb as you got this gig -- and made it work – has to be the work of some higher being, I swear.”
“And what makes you think that?” he asked in a condescending tone. The girl smiled at him and brought his chained wrists up to eyelevel.
With a sharp pull, the handcuffs broke. At the same time, the rest of the pack launched themselves at the orderlies. The two guarding Buffy attacked, but both had their necks were snapped before they could land a punch. Terrified, Dr. Hathaway opened the back door of the van – only to fall to the ground under the weight of another dead orderly as it fell. Before he could catch his breath, two pairs of arms grabbed him and launched him to his feet.
In front of him was the Pack.
The First One began to talk to the doctor, but her attention remained on the quivering figure of her principal.
“I honestly can’t figure out how you managed to succeed with us. I mean, god, don’t you understand anything about us? First you were confused when we began to form packs. Hello! Wolves! Now you think you’re going to capture me by threatening the rest of the Pack? If the strongest of the pack is captured, it makes the pack weak.”
With that she grabbed Snyder by the neck. The little man shook with fear.
“We have a very simple philosophy – see the enemy…”
The First One, with her hand around the principal’s neck, drove her hand into his chest. Pulling out his heart, she dropped the man and strolled towards the doctor. Holding the heart inches from his face, she crushed it.
“Crush the enemy.”
Dr. Hathaway looked at the dead men around him.
“You’ll never get away with this! The Institute will send someone after you! The military will never let you live. You’re only chance is if you come back with me and continue on with my – our work!” he squeaked in a high-pitched voice.
Buffy appeared to think it over, and the doctor’s hopes rose. But they were dashed when by her sigh.
“The pack is tired of hiding – and not being able to kill – and it would be easier to work with the military than against it. I would take you up on your offer – if it wasn’t for the fact that last night four members of my pack were sent to L.A. with explosives. The Institute should be in flames right about,” looked at her watch, “now.”
The doctor sagged between the two pack, knowing that the First One wasn’t lying.
“What are you going to do with me?”
All around him the teenagers grinned.
General Craig smoked his cigar by his limo as he watched the building slowly burn. Screams could be heard inside as the patients and orderlies were burned alive. Due to a mechanical error – at least, that is what he’d say in the paperwork – the automatic shutdown was initiated and there were no exits available and no way to override.
Project Full Moon was officially dead.
Now, the only people left alive who knew about the project were either under orders to remain silent, dead, or a product of the project. And of course, there was Dr. Hathaway…
“Have we received word on the Hathaway situation.”
“Yes, sir. Surveillance teams confirmed that the First One rebelled against Dr. Hathaway as you suspected and killed his crew as well as the local high school principal. The team is asking if you want standard disposal procedures regarding the bodies, sir.”
“Yes, I don’t want any trace of them left. They all died in the fire today. Tell them to destroy the principal’s body as well, I don’t want anything tied to Ms. Summers.”
The screams had finally died, and a few shots were heard as a few who had managed to escape died ‘in the building’.
“And what of Dr. Hathaway?” the general asked.
“We don’t know, sir. The Pack took the van, along with Dr. Hathaway, and escaped surveillance. Apparently, they were aware of their presence the entire time.”
General Craig laughed.
“Of course they were aware. Sergeant, you are making the same mistake that Dr. Hathaway did. These teenagers may appear human, but they are not. They are wolves, Sergeant, and wolves know everything that happens in their territory. Contact me as soon as you have confirmation on Dr. Hathaway’s status.”
General Craig turned away from the burning building and entered his limo.
“To the airport, I have a meeting to attend.”
The general stood in a busy hallway as he waited. His mind wondered back to his plane ride. While on route, he had received a communication from his surveillance team. They had managed to locate Dr. Hathaway – at least, what was left of him.
The man had been placed in the headquarters of the surveillance team; a not-so-subtle reminder that the Pack had been aware of the surveillance team since the beginning. The computers had been wiped and all photographs of the Pack were burnt. A foreign laptop had been left at the scene, with a message printed on the desktop.
WE ARE PACK AND WE ARE STRONG
WE WONT HIDE AND WE WONT RUN
IF YOU WANT US COME AND GET US
BUT YOUR TO BLAME FOR THE MESS
Craig had earned his stripes the hard way, working himself up through special ops. He had seen and done terrible things, but the pictures of Hathaway’s body sent to his laptop would give him nightmares for some time. The man had been hammered to the wall naked with arms and legs spread. Delicate claw marks were burned into his skin using acid. His tongue had been ripped out, along with his genitalia. The skin on his fingers was sliced off. Though he could have died from the shock of any of these wounds, it would have been the disembowelment that would have killed him – eventually.
This elaborate staging was a message. The Pack could kill instantly and professionally; they could detect the best surveillance; they were professional tortures. And they were willing to use any method against someone they considered an enemy.
It was a resume.
A young woman came up to the general, disrupting his thoughts.
“General, he is ready for you now.”
General Craig was led to a guarded door and walked into a large office. The man seated at the desk rose and shook hands with the general.
“Logan, it’s good to see you. What did you want to discuss with me?” the man asked.
“Well, Mr. President, I have a specially trained team of soldiers codenamed the Pack that I think you might find useful.”
“How can you just turn Buffy over like that?” Faith screamed at Jack, ignoring the various guns.
“Indeed, it does not seem to be in character, O’Neill,” Teal’c intoned.
“And who the hell are you guys?” Faith said, turning on the three members of SG1 in frustration.
“We’re friends of Jack,” Daniel replied, trying to calm the girl.
“And does anyone want to explain who Jack is?” Xander interrupted, eyeing the colonel suspiciously. The Pack growled at the boy, not liking his tone. Xander ignored them and continued.
“We just saw a friend of ours be taken off by some doctor to who knows where! I think we deserve some answers.”
“Then you should ask Buffy’s mother,” DKG shouted angrily.
The Pack mumbled their agreement but quieted under Jack’s stare. He understood their protectiveness towards Buffy, but to him not everyone outside the Pack was an enemy.
When Colonel O’Neill had accepted the Full Moon assignment, he hadn’t known the specifics of the project; only that he would be training young recruits to be assassins.
After his debriefing, Jack thought the whole project would be a joke. That is, until he saw the results. Though Jack wasn’t in charge of training the recruits –rather the trainers themselves – he had watched the first subject evolve.
They went from confused, and uncontrollable into disciplined soldiers. But Jack had begun to have doubts, even before the seven deaths. It wasn’t the fact that the teenagers were exhibiting wolf-like behaviour or that they were being trained to kill; it was the fact that no matter what they were imprinted with they would still be human.
Humans kill to torture and terrorize while wolves kill to eat and defend.
And they wouldn’t be sent on missions to defend.
So when Jack received his own recruits, he took advantage of the opportunity. Training them to kill only when necessarily, quickly as possible, and only when it serves a purpose. But Dr. Hathaway wasn’t satisfied with his training, even though his recruits were smarter, faster, and deadlier than any of the others -- except they weren’t willing to torture.
They themselves were tortured – so they could better understand their victim’s terror. And like with everything else, he personally trained them.
Even though Jack hadn’t been ‘trained’, it didn’t mean he had escaped unscathed.
Jack shook himself free from the memories. For the most part the Pack acted with the practicality of wolves. But whatever humanity was left within them wouldn’t let Dr. Hathaway die easily; and he wondered how much of that humanity would be left afterwards.
“I met Buffy in Los Angeles a few years ago…” he began before Willow interjected.
“In a mental institute”
Jack nodded slightly; Buffy had said the girl was good.
“But that’s impossible!” Carter exclaimed, “Your records state that you were in Iraq during that time.”
“Jack O’Neill might have been in Iraq – but Jack O’Connor was working as the head orderly at the Los Angeles High Security Mental Clinic,” Willow explained, eyeing Jack defiantly, “where he brainwashed Buffy!”
That set the Pack off laughing.
“Jack, the evil genius!” Lambert joked.
“Maybe as an idiot savant,” Jammie added, clutching at her side.
“Look, I don’t know anything about Jack working as an …orderly but I’m sure he hasn’t brainwashed anyone,” Daniel interceded.
“There, space monkey believes me, and he’s trustworthy. He’s got that whole that whole boy-next-door puppy dog thing going for him,” Jack announced.
“I do not.”
“Carter?” who just sighed in frustration.
“However amusing this banter is, it does not help us retrieve Buffy,” Giles said, rubbing his temples. Jack waved the comment aside.
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Buffy will be back,” checking his watch, “in a few minutes.”
Those at the table stared at Jack in astonishment.
“I didn’t tell you guys? Must have slipped my mind with all the yelling,” Jack said nonchalantly.
“It must be the age catching up with you,” Buffy gibed, walking into the library. “What did you tell them?”
“Only that we met in a mental hospital, as your hacker friend pointed out. Are we still under surveillance?”
“Nope, they’re too busy taking care of the bodies.”
“Bodies? What bodies?” Giles asked suspiciously.
“Oh, the orderlies, guards…Snyder.”
“You killed Snyder?” Willow squeaked, as the Scoobies looked at Buffy in horror. The slayer just shrugged, and turned her attention back to Jack.
“The Sixth Pack is taking Dr. Hathaway to their headquarters as their…present and the rest are hiding just in case.” Buffy gestured towards the group, “What do you think we should tell them?”
“Well, your best friends think I’ve brainwashed you, and I’m my team knows that my records have been falsified – but they don’t know anything right now that could get them killed.”
“Not killed is good, I like that part,” Daniel said emphatically. Teal’c raised his eyebrow and Jackson mouthed ‘what?’
“I suggest you kiddies go home,” Jack said to his teammates.
“We will not leave you while you are in danger, O’Neill,” Teal’c replied.
“Besides, sir, what are we going to tell Hammond?” Carter asked.
“Oh, I’m sure someone else is going to do that for you, Major,” Jack called out as he and the Pack left.
General Hammond’s phone rang.
“Yes? Oh, Hello, sir. What can I do for you today, Mr. President?”
“Yes, sir, a small squad would be able to infiltrate a Goa’uld stronghold, but even if they managed to complete their mission it would be suicide.”
“The Pack? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a military group codenamed that. Whom do they serve under?”
“General Craig? Yes, sir, I have heard of him. He’s a strong military strategist, but I still don’t believe that any military group, no matter how well trained, could do what he’s suggesting.”
“Yes, sir, I understand. When can I expect their arrival?”
“Yes, sir, thank you, sir. We’ll be prepared.”
The general hanged up the phone and sighed heavily. He picked it up again and punched a few numbers.
“Sergeant, has there been any contact with SG1? All right, get a hold of them as soon as possible and tell them to get back here.”
Hammond leaned back in his chair, thinking.
General Craig was also the one in charge of the Full Moon project. What are his plans for the SGC and Colonel O’Neill?
Joyce sat on her couch thinking. It had been almost two days since she had last heard from Buffy; Giles hadn’t called her either. For the second time, Buffy had run away from her; this time Joyce if she would one day open the door to find her daughter standing there.
The doorbell rang and she launched herself from the couch. In the doorway stood her daughter’s friend and Watcher.
“Joyce, I believe we need to have a talk.”
The sun had just set, and the last rays of light were fading away. Even so, Buffy Summers sat in the unlit room – allowing the darkness to envelope her. Her eyes stared forward, as if she could make out something that no one else could. Perhaps she could.
Jack stood in the doorway, silent, knowing that she had sensed his presence the moment he stepped in the room. Possibly even before that. The light from the moon served to make Buffy half-hidden in shadows, rather than illuminate. At that moment she was both in the room, and elsewhere.
Jack wondered where else she was – what place she was looking for.
Buffy spoke without turning, “He called, didn’t he.”
“Yeah, don’t know how Craig managed it, but he got the go ahead from the President. Apparently…we’re an elite force codenamed the Pack that he has personally overseen the training of. We ship out to Cheyenne Mountain in a few days – which gives me just enough time to get Hammond’s souvenir. What do you get a three-star general I wonder?” Jack mused.
Buffy chuckled softly at that, though the sound barely made it to Jack’s ears. He didn’t speak, knowing that she would – in time.
“Maybe then I’ll get to meet Jack O’Neill.”
A small frown played on the colonel’s lips.
“Unless I have a clone I don’t know about, I’ll go with ‘huh’?”
“I saw the looks on your teammates’ faces, Sir; it was the same as the ones on Xander and Willow’s. They weren’t seeing Jack O’Neill, their friend – they were meeting, Sir; the man that existed in the same cage as the Pack four years ago.”
As much as he wanted to, he knew he couldn’t deny it. In the last few days he hadn’t been the Jack O’Neill that SG1 had known for the last two years. He was the man who had tortured teenagers in order to train them in the same art; he was the man who had watched his recruits tear at one another until one was dead. To maintain his sanity, he had buried those memories down so deep that they were barely there…but around Buffy and the Pack they came flooding back, along with the man who had been there.
“And who are you?” Jack asked, following Buffy’s train of thought. She sat quietly, staring out the window. Seeing vampires or her own demons, Jack couldn’t say.
“I killed a man today; someone I knew – even though I didn’t like him. I should feel guilty, but I don’t. Snyder had seen too much, for the safety of the Pack I couldn’t let him live.”
O’Neill started at what he felt was an abrupt change in the subject.
“You did what you were trained to do.”
“I was trained to kill cleanly and swiftly – not what I did to Snyder. The First One decided to kill Snyder, but I was the one that wanted him to hurt. Not the slayer, not the First One, and not whomever the military was trying to make me into. It was Buffy Summers that tore out Snyder’s heart.”
“Sometimes torture is necessary, to set an example,” Jack ventured, trying to read Buffy’s mood.
“I know, that’s why the Pack tortured Hathaway; we could have let the guards live but we killed them to show we could kill efficiently. Dr. Hathaway was our proof that we remembered our other lessons just as well. Everything was done to prove to Craig that we could be a valuable resource, and a dangerous enemy if not treated carefully. No – I didn’t need to kill Snyder like that.”
Buffy slowly got up and turned towards Jack – an emotionless mask covering her face. Walking up to him, she hugged him carefully as if he would break. Confused, Jack returned the hug.
“But I still don’t feel guilty,” she mumbled into his shirt. She looked up at him with eyes filled with sadness…and acceptance.
“And I think that what humanity I had left died with him.”
Joyce Summers sat surrounded by Buffy’s friends, wondering how she was going to tell them that she had her own daughter committed. From the looks on their faces, it was obvious they already knew part of the story. Mrs. Summers sighed and took a deep breath.
“It was after Buffy had broken up with her boyfriend, Pike. She was disappearing for days, staying out late at night, and her father and I were worried. Her behaviour had become erratic, and she wasn’t hanging out with any of her friends from school. I guess her father and I had asked what was bothering her too many times when she exploded. She began ranting about her destiny, and vampires, and her dead Watcher…”
“And you thought she had lost it,” Faith interrupted tonelessly.
“Yes. So…we took her to see Dr. Hathaway. He was a specialist in teenage psychosis, and he took on Buffy’s case as a referral. On his advice, we had Buffy committed. At the time we thought that it would only take a few days for Buffy to realize that she was imagining everything, but…”
“They told us that Buffy had started hurting herself – that every morning they would find her bruised and scratched and ranting about vampires and demons. We were shaken badly, so when Dr. Hathaway offered to transfer her to his personal clinic we were ecstatic. I mean, we were positive that Buffy was getting the help she needed and we would have her healthy and back to us in no time.”
Tears ran down the older woman’s face, though she made no move to wipe them away. She wasn’t really in the room anymore – she was back then, reliving the agony of watching her daughter lose her grip on reality. Now knowing that there had been nothing wrong with Buffy, other than the fact her parents had sent her to a mental hospital.
“After that, Buffy seemed to get better. She stopped talking about vampires and demons but…she changed. I looked into her eyes and I didn’t see my daughter anymore. It was like there was a stranger looking out.”
Joyce’s voice trailed off as she focused on that image of Buffy in her mind; those eyes staring back at her with no feeling. But it passed and Joyce continued on.
“A few months later, there was an escape by some of the patients, and a few days after that Buffy was released. It was like having the old Buffy back at first – that is, until she burnt the school gym down.”
Everyone remained silent as Joyce finished her story. Giles placed a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.
“Thank you, I’m sure that was hard for you.”
“Yeah, well, that still doesn’t explain what’s been going on with B lately,” Faith spoke, prowling the room like a caged animal. “I mean it’s obvious that something dirty was going down there; why else would B be chummy with a military crew-cut who worked as an orderly?”
Joyce looked up confused.
“Mr. O’Connor was in the military?”
“Is, as in the present tense, as in a fake name, as in a secret military operation. Is this ringing any bells?” Faith shouted the last part.
“Faith, I know you’re worried about Buffy but taking it out of Mrs. Summers is not going to help matters,” Giles reprimanded Faith, who merely shot up her arms and stormed out.
“What was Faith talking about?” Joyce asked anxiously.
“It seems the hospital where Buffy was taken wasn’t exactly as it seems. Willow researched their records and found that most of the personnel were, in fact, in the military. Since Buffy’s odd behaviour coincides with the arrival of Jack ‘O’Connor’ and Dr. Hathaway, we believe that they may have been experimenting with behaviour modification. Willow is trying to track down their records, but they seem to have disappeared.”
“Dr. Hathaway is here?” she asked surprised.
“Briefly, yes. He came to take Buffy into his custody when…she escaped. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to get the details from Buffy just yet,” Giles looked embarrassed that he had no idea where his slayer was.
“If you want to find her, you shouldn’t wait here,” Joyce said slowly, as if she was afraid to say the words. That saying them would make it a reality.
“She has nothing left here to come back to.”
Faith wondered around the cemetery, idly twirling a stake. The excuse was that she was patrolling for vampires, but deep down she knew she was looking for Buffy. It always seemed like Faith was looking or waiting for the older slayer. One of these days she would stop, and she bet the blonde wouldn’t even notice. She had Willow for the best friend; Angel as the boyfriend; Giles as the confidant and support. What did she need Faith for?
The dark slayer felt a tingling in her stomach, and smiled at the thought of a good beating. She turned the corner to see that it wasn’t just any vampire she had sensed, but Angel…and Buffy. The two were talking, but by the look on Angel’s face it wasn’t one he was enjoying.
Oh great, on top of everything else Buffy is going to do the whole ‘star-crossed lovers’ bit.
With Slayer hearing, Faith was able to hear what they were saying without giving away her presence.
“Buffy, you have to deal with this. I can smell the blood on you,” Angel protested.
“Look, Angel, I’ve dealt, gotten the t-shirt, and moved on. I did what I had to do, so just back off,” Buffy growled, trying to get past the vampire.
“What’s happened to you?” Angel asked, grabbing the blonde’s arm. Buffy looked down at the vampire’s hand and gave him a dangerous look.
“Life, Angel, though you’ve forgotten what it’s like by now. Don’t challenge me, I am stronger than you and I will not have you challenging me in my territory.”
A confused expression crossed Angel’s face.
“Challenged? Buffy, you’re not making any sense,” as soon as the sentence was out of his mouth, a growling could be heard from all around. Appearing as if from the shadows themselves, the Pack appeared. Their eyes glinted with a wildness that Angel recognized – though he had only seen it in the eyes of animals. He turned back to Buffy to see those same eyes staring back at him. Realizing his life was jeopardy, the vampire fled -- wondering what he had just seen this night.
Faith watched the teenagers surround Buffy, touching her with small but deliberate caresses. The older slayer smiled, and returned their caresses with her own. Eventually, she gestured for them to leave and within a heartbeat the area was empty. The dark slayer’s heart jumped into her throat when she heard Buffy’s voice.
“Faith, I know you’re there.”
Sheepishly, Faith came out of the shadows and regarded her sister slayer. The older girl seemed the most normal and the most off since the day Buffy had ran out of the library weeks ago. Buffy smiled at Faith, and the dark-haired girl kicked herself when she felt an answering goofy grin come across her own face.
Buffy, for her part, was amused by the emotional turmoil coming from her sister slayer. Ever since her activation, the slayer connection had intensified and Buffy now could almost hear Faith’s thoughts. The activation had also brought a level of clarity to the blonde slayer’s emotions. She no longer tried to deny what she was feeling, or justify or guilt herself about how she felt. The whole process was pointless – and very human.
As a result, Buffy knew for certain her relationship with Angel was over; it had been for some time. It wasn’t love she felt for the vampire, if it ever had been. It had been guilt – guilt for causing Angel to lose his soul, and guilt for sending him to hell. But now she was ready to move on.
“Faith, did you know that for wolves, the most powerful male and the most powerful female would often mate?” Buffy conversationally asked.
“Um…no? What does that got to do with anything?” Faith asked, completely clueless. Buffy just turned to Faith with that same smile on her face.
“I just remembered and thought that it explained quite a few things.”
“Like what,” Faith asked, staring into the other girl’s eyes, trying to figure her out.
“Like this,” Buffy said as she pressed her mouth to Faith’s in a kiss.
Buffy. Lips. Kissing.
Faith finally processed these thoughts and broke away from the older girl. Panting, the dark slayer tried to recollect her senses.
Buffy. Lips. Kissing.
Nope, still didn’t make any sense. Buffy regarded her sister slayer with amusement, and more than a little sadness. In the back of her mind, Buffy had always known about the younger girl’s feelings for her. But she had blocked the knowledge, because then she would have to acknowledge her own feelings. Now, it was too late.
“Why’d you kiss me?” Faith asked, finally coherent enough to speak. Buffy cocked her head and smiled gently.
“Because I wanted to, and because I like you.”
Whatever Faith had been expecting, it wasn’t the frank answer she received. She had imagined Buffy kissing her plenty of times; though being the cynic she was Faith’s fantasy always ended with Buffy freaking out. Now here was the girl of her dreams, kissing her…after she had admitted to killing someone. That chilling thought brought Faith back to herself.
“Buffy, what’s going on? First you act weird; then you start hanging out with strangers; now an orderly from when you were in the mental ward shows up and you start killing people.”
Buffy’s smile faded.
“I can’t tell you, Faith. If I did, you’d be in danger.”
Faith started laughing hysterically.
“Dangerous? My life expectancy is, like, two years. How much more danger could you put me in?”
“If I told you, you’re life expectancy drops to forty-eight hours,” Buffy answered seriously. The dark slayer stopped laughing as she realized that her partner was deadly serious. Buffy gestured for Faith to walk with her, and the two strolled through the cemetery silently. Faith found the silence unnerving, used to Buffy chattering constantly on their patrols. Since the other slayer didn’t seem to want to talk, Faith fell into deep thought.
Great, just my luck Buffy finally shows some interest and she’s gone insane. And what did she mean about being in danger? She killed the doc that wanted to take her away, but then she was talking about surveillance. Who’d want to watch Buffy…besides the obvious? Willow and Giles think the military was involved, but what would they want with kids locked in a mental asylum for? I can’t believe her mom sent her there…
Man, for a crazy girl Buffy sure can kiss…
With a start, Faith broke out of her thoughts, realizing they had reached Buffy’s home. Judging from the moving shadows, the dark slayer figured the Scooby gang was still rehashing the past with Mrs. S. Noticing Buffy had stopped, Faith turned back. She was surprised to find the girl looking sad and resigned.
“Hey, what’s with the face? You look like you just killed someone.”
The blond smiled wryly at the lame attempt to cheer her up. She looked at her home and felt as if she was looking at a stranger’s house. Even though her friends and family were in there. But, they weren’t the First One’s friends.
Again, Buffy wondered if she still existed – or if she was just an echo in the First One’s mind.
Sighing, she entered the house and walked into the living room. Instantly she was surrounded by her two best friends.
“Oh my god, Buffy I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you tell us that you were in the hospital?” Willow asked, concern filling her eyes.
“Yeah, Buff. You know you can always talk to us about these things,” Xander jumped in with.
“Sure, because you were so supportive with Angel,” Buffy replied sarcastically, causing the two teenagers to take a few steps back. Giles opened his mouth to say something when Buffy raised her hand.
“Look, I’m not here to build bridges or whatever. I just came to tell you I’m leaving.”
“Leaving, as in this house – leaving as in …”
“As in this state, Xander.”
“Buffy, honey, I know you’re going through a difficult time but I thought you’d learned that running away isn’t…” Joyce started.
“God, mom, this is nothing like last time. I’m not running away, I’m doing my duty.”
“Buffy, as the slayer your duty is to the residents of Sunnydale,” Giles said slowly, weary of upsetting his slayer further.
“I’m no longer the slayer.”
“No! Faith is the Slayer, I’m retired.” Buffy turned to leave when she felt a hand on her arm. She turned to look at Faith, who was struggling to keep her tough girl act in place. Through the link, Buffy could feel the girl’s loneliness and despair over her partner’s leaving.
Buffy understood; Faith was going from the Chosen Two to the Chosen One. At least Buffy would have the Pack, but Faith would have no one. The older slayer pulled the younger into a tight hug.
“I’ll come back to you, I promise,” she whispered in Faith’s ear. This time the Chosen One let Buffy go. The blond walked down the stairs. Giles raced to the open doorway and yelled out.
“Buffy, the Watcher’s Council will come for you!”
She turned back with a smug smile.
“Let them try.”
The members of SG-1 having returned from their ‘vacation’, met in the debriefing room. General Hammond walked in and he could tell by the looks on their faces, including Teal’c, that the news was not good.
“Did you fail to locate Colonel O’Neill?”
“Not exactly,” Daniel said hesitantly. “We found him but he wasn’t exactly himself.”
“What do you mean ‘not himself’?” Hammond asked in exasperation.
“ColonelONeill has apparently divulged knowledge of the Stargate program,” Teal’c said tonelessly, the tilted head the only indication that he was disturbed by the news.
There was a knock on the door and a sergeant entered the room.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but General Craig is here with his unit.”
Hammond thanked the sergeant who left the room. Daniel turned to the General with a puzzled look on his face.
“Um, whose General Craig?”
“A few days ago I received a phone call from the president, asking me to incorporate General Craig’s military unit into the SGC.”
“Incorporate how?” Carter asked.
“An assassination team. Their job is the enter into Goa’uld strong holds and steal technology or kill any particularly dangerous threats to Earth.”
“Such a team would be unsuccessful against the power of the Goa’uld,” Teal’c responded.
“That’s what I think, too, Teal’c. Unfortunately, the president agrees with Craig.”
Hammond leaned forward on the table.
“General Craig was also the one of the project leaders for the Full Moon Project. It could be a coincidence, but I highly doubt it. I have command over the unit’s missions, but the training of this unit is completely up to General Craig and his second in command. I want don’t any of you interfering with these people until I find out more about him and his team.”
The group left the debriefing room and headed down the elevator. As they went down Daniel casually remarked, “I didn’t know the elevator went down this far.”
“These lower areas were never really renovated after it was decided that there was no pressing need for more space,” Carter replied.
The elevator doors opened and it took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the low light. The walls were rock and the floor dirt -- the air somewhat stagnate as the minimal air circulation barely achieved its purpose. They came upon an open area where a group of teenagers were sparring. The second the SGC members entered the ‘room,’ the teenagers stopped and observed the intruders. A shiver ran down their spines at their predatory study.
A tall, greying man approached the group.
“General Hammond, it’s a pleasure to meet you. And you must be SG-1, I’m General Logan Craig.”
“General, this is Major Samantha Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Teal’c. Their leader and my second-in-command, Colonel Jack O’Neill, is currently away from the base but I’ve heard you’ve already met.”
Craig’s eyes narrowed at the subtle thrust from the General, but his amicable smile remained in place.
“Indeed. In fact, he’s down here right now becoming acquainted with the troops.”
A young woman came to stand beside the General.
“The Third have completed their training, and are wondering if they can go topside for food.”
In the dark light, SG-1 thought the girl looked familiar but it only dawned on them when she was introduced.
“General Hammond, SG-1, I’d like to introduce you to my second-in-command – Buffy Summers.”
Buffy grinned at the shocked faced of SG-1.
“I’m bored,” Buffy complained, lying on Jack’s bed in his office.
It has been two weeks since the Pack showed up at Cheyenne Mountain. Jack had revealed very little about his involvement with the Pack, merely stating that he had been asked by General Craig to ‘prepare’ the Pack for the assignment to the Stargate Program. Of course, the other members of SG-1 knew he was lying, but General Hammond himself had ordered them not to question Jack nor Buffy any further.
Hammond had contacted all his sources and called in several high placed favours to get information on the Pack and General Craig. No one knew anything about the Pack, but there were some ugly rumours about Craig. The man was extremely patriotic, but that also meant he was willing to do anything -- to anyone – if he felt that it was the best for his country. And if anyone disagreed…they tended to disappear.
And this was the same man he had only a tenuous control over.
What little control he had he exercised – refusing to send them on a mission until Hammond deemed them ready.
Hence, Buffy was bored.
Jack looked at his friend, amused. Ever since she had left Sunnydale, Buffy seemed to have come to a compromise between being ‘Buffy’ and ‘First One’. O’Neill had made his own peace, and for the first time Buffy met the Jack O’Neill he had become with the help of Daniel, and the other members of the SGC. Their battles for the last of the jello had become legendary – as well as their practical jokes.
No one has yet been able to figure out how they had managed to paint the Stargate pink without anyone seeing them. Of course, they denied the whole thing.
But after weeks of not being able to leave the base, Buffy was definitely feeling the Slaying itch. And she wasn’t the only one; all the other members of the Pack were bristling. After living completely free for several years, the sudden confinement was fraying on their nerves. Several spontaneous brawls had broken out, resulting in broken bones and lacerations. Fortunately, hidden in the basement as they were, they had managed to avoid a visit to the infirmary. None of them were fond of hospitals.
“What’s it like on other planets?” Buffy asked.
“Well, there’s trees…lots and lots of trees,” Jack mused, partly because it was true, but mostly because he knew it would annoy Buffy.
Buffy groaned. “If I don’t get out of here soon I’m going to go crazy.”
Jack opened his mouth, and Buffy abruptly brought her hand up.
“Not a word, Jack, not another word.”
Suddenly, the warning klaxons went off and through the intercom they could hear, “Incoming wormhole.”
“Ask, and ye shall receive,” Buffy quipped, heading out the doorway. Behind her Jack followed, mumbling under his breath.
“In my experience, it’s be careful what you wish for.”
“Sir, we’re receiving the Tok’ra code.”
“Open the iris,” General responded, leaving the room for the Gateroom. He stood in front of the gate, soon joined by the members of SG-1, as well Buffy and General Craig. Jacob Carter walked through the horizon and walked down the ramp towards the SGC members.
“George, it’s good to see you,” Jacob said warmly, then raised his eyebrows at the two unfamiliar faces.
“Jacob Carter, this is General Craig and his second-in-command Buffy Summers. They are in charge of some new…additions to the SGC military personnel. General, Ms. Summers, this is Jacob Carter, a member of the Tok’ra and a valuable ally.”
The two nodded and the General shook hands. Buffy was eyeing the man warily; even knowing about the Tok’ra from Jack, it was disconcerting to have her ‘Slayer senses’ go off. It was rare that Buffy encountered something that was non-human but not demonic.
“Jake, you don’t call, you don’t write,” Jack quipped, ignoring the glare from the General.
“I’m afraid we have a dangerous favour to ask of you,” Selmak said, Jacob’s eyes glowing.
“And when is that not the case?” Jack asked sarcastically, heading towards the briefing room
“It’s because you have a terrible personality,” Buffy drawled while following.
“Hey, I’m a very loveable guy,” Jack protested.
“Which is why you have your own bed in the infirmary,” Buffy remark was heard as they left the room. Jacob turned to Hammond.
Hammond just sighed and gestured for Jacob to proceed.
“A Tok’ra operative was sent to the planet, Aerodus, to discover if the rumours that a new weapon had been developed were true. Before we lost communication, the operative confirmed that the Goa’uld, indeed, have developed a new weapon. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to send specific details regarding the weapon, except that it is designed to pierce through shielding technology. The operative was ordered to retrieve the device is possible, but destroy it at all costs. However, we’ve received reports that Tarmac has failed and was killed. It took over six months to get Tarmac in a position to have access to the device; it would take even longer now that the Goa’uld are aware of possible Tok’ra spies.”
“So you want us to get it for you,” Jack said.
“Sir, with a device like that we could strengthen Earth’s defences considerably,” Carter said to the General.
“How, exactly, did you expect for a team to get to the device?” Daniel asked curiously.
“We have a small Goa’uld cargo ship, and before he died Tarmac created a blind spot in their senses that would allow us to land a few miles from the site where the device is kept. It was how we originally planned to get the device off the planet.”
“Oh, of course, we’ll walk right up to the base and say, ‘Hi, we’d like the top secret weapon you’re developing, please’ and they’ll just hand it right over,” Jack replied sarcastically.
During this exchange, Buffy glanced at General Craig, her eyes silently asking a question. He gave a sharp nod in response.
“We can do it.”
Everyone at the table turned to Buffy in astonishment.
“You can do what?” Daniel asked slowly, hoping she hadn’t meant what he thought.
“The Pack can do what you’re suggesting, Snakehead.”
Jack grinned at the nickname and Jacob’s wince. The Tok’ra turned to Hammond in disbelief.
“George, she can’t be serious.”
Hammond sighed resignedly.
“Hammond, this is why my team was brought on board. If you still have doubts, maybe we should ask the President?” General Craig asked, subtly reminding Hammond that the President was with him on these matters.
“Jack, what do you think? You’ve spent the most time with the Pack, can they do it?”
Colonel O’Neill thought for a moment, though there really was no question in his mind. His hesitation lying with the fact that he knew that someone was going to die on this mission. Though Jacob hadn’t spelt it out, Jack knew the base had to be heavily fortified and if the Tok’ra were
“Yeah, they can do it,” he said, keeping steady contact with the General. Though nothing more was said, a wealth of information passed between the two of them. Hammond nodded slowly.
“Okay, Ms. Summers, you’re team has a go. I want you and your team to report to the infirmary immediately.”
Buffy’s wide grin faded.
“Infirmary? Doctors?” she squeaked. Jack grinned wolfishly, and started whistling as they left the briefing room. Jacob just stared in amazement as he watched a sixteen years old girl, complaining about hospitals, went to prepare herself to infiltrate a Goa’uld stronghold.
“George, are you sure about this?” he asked nervously, Selmak quietly agreeing with her host.
Hammond just sighed.
Chapter 13 -- Doctors
“Um…Craig? I think we’re going to have a small problem.”
General Logan Craig looked at his second-in-command with amusement. Over the last two weeks he had learned that a ‘small problem’ was usually something that was going to be a major catastrophe. Momentarily, he wondered what had happened to Summers to make her the way she was. Out of all the Pack, she was most unique, and he didn’t think it was just because of her reactions to the programming. It was unnerving to work with someone who viewed everything he thought as major events, as minor inconveniences.
“What is it? Did the Fourth and Eighth stop speaking to each other again?”
“Not exactly. Remember when they stopped speaking to each other last time, and there a few…scuffles and a few tiny bones were broken – like arms and legs?”
“Yes…?” he asked slowly, wondering where this was going.
“Well, I need the Eighth because they are the best with explosives and I think the doctor is going to notice the recently mended broken bones,” Buffy explained sheepishly, knowing that the doc will notice her own broken arm that she had gotten trying out a new move. All members of the Pack were trained in basic field medicine – but they weren’t exactly surgeons.
“Let’s just see how it goes. Maybe it won’t be a big deal.”
“What the hell have you been doing to these kids down there? I’ve examined all five members of your assault team and every one of them has had a bone broken in the last two weeks. Two of them have broken ribs that have just healed!” Doctor Janet Fraiser accused General Craig, who took the abuse with mild amusement. The Eighth and his second-in-command sat on their hospital beds watching the seething doctor warily. More than once they had glanced at the open exit with longing, but a piercing glare from their commander squelched any impulses to make a break for it.
“I would also like the answer to that, General,” Hammond spoke up, regarding the officer suspiciously. Surprisingly, it was O’Neill that spoke up.
“Sir, with a team such as the Pack, who routinely go into high-risk situations, a more intense training is required to ensure their survival.”
The Pack looked impressed by Sir’s rather eloquent speech, though it didn’t seem to have the desired effect on his target audience.
“These kids aren’t experienced soldiers – they’re teenagers. Sir, I recommend you do not allow them to participate in this mission.”
General Craig’s eyes hardened, and the Pack leaned forward in anticipation. Their commanding officer may still be the enemy, and somewhat evil, but nothing beat watching a doctor getting chewed out. Though it was probably too much to ask that there would be blood.
“Doctor, these are not children – they are highly trained soldiers with over three years combat experience. Regardless of past injuries, are they currently physically ready to go on this mission?”
“Sir, I don’t think…”
“I didn’t ask you to think,” the General interrupted, “I asked if any of your tests showed anything physically wrong with my soldiers. Is there?”
Janet regarded the general for a moment, and then replied, “No.”
The hardened look vanished and Craig grinned. “Excellent.”
With that, he turned and left with his soldiers following – each giving the doctor a smirk as they passed.
After they left, Janet to Jack with an angry expression on her face.
“Colonel, what the hell is going on down there? These weren’t minor injuries – something is seriously wrong.”
Jack struggled to find the right answer. In a way, Janet was right – for any other soldiers O’Neill would be the first to stop their training. But the Pack weren’t normal soldiers. And the injuries weren’t even caused by rough training (well, not all of them) but from normal pack dominance games.
Not that he could tell the Doc that.
“Doc, just…let this one go. This is not something you want to stick you nose into.” Jack left before either Janet or Hammond could ask him any more questions.
Hammond watched his second-in-command go in frustration. Ever since Craig and his band of teenagers arrived on the base, O’Neill had stopped being completely honest with him. It had gotten to the point where Hammond didn’t trust his subordinate completely anymore.
“Janet, was there anything else unusual about their tests?”
“Nothing major – though I wish I could do a more thorough examination. Their brain scans showed some abnormalities but I’m not sure what they mean.”
“Humans use certain parts of their brains for different activities – so generally, except for minor differences, every human’s brain operates in the same basic manner. But the scans showed that normally dormant areas were active, and other areas that should be active were quiet. It’s not an isolated phenomenon; each of their brains function the same way. The closest parallel I can think of is the activity found in patients who have been brainwashed.”
Hammond started at the word ‘brainwashed’.
In their reports, SG-1 had mentioned that Ms. Summers’ friends had accused the colonel of brainwashing her. It could be a case of teenagers being overdramatic, or…
“Bring in all of the Pack and get them scanned; I want to know if it’s the same for all of them.”
“Yes, sir.” Hammond turned to leave, but stopped when Frasier spoke up again.
“Sir, who do you think these kids are?”
He was quiet for a moment.
“I don’t know – but all my instincts are telling me it’s connected to Project Full Moon; I just don’t know how or what it all means.”
Hammond left, leaving Janet alone in the infirmary. She walked towards the beds where the Pack had been, and looked through their charts. There were so many injuries, and scars. They weren’t much older than Cassie – it was hard to imagine what they had to have gone through.
She shuddered as she remembered examining them. They had stared at her the entire time – and she had had the most uncomfortable feeling that they were sizing her up for the kill. She tried to tell herself that she was being ridiculous, but the feeling had remained. Every now and then she would turn around to see O’Neill staring intently at the teenagers; occasionally, shaking his head for whatever reason.
Janet frowned as she studied the blood work results for Ms. Summers. There some unusual proteins in her bloodstream, nothing Janet had ever seen before though they didn’t appear to be doing her any harm.
For the umpteenth she wondered to herself, who are these children?
Chapter 14 – Off World
Hammond, Jacob Carter and Jack O’Neill waited in front of the gate for the arrival of SGC’s newest off world team. All three men were nervous about the upcoming mission, though for different reasons. While the first two were worried about the probable failure of the mission, Jack was afraid of its success.
Jack knew that even if the mission seemed impossible, Buffy would stop at nothing until they had succeeded – even if it meant the all of their deaths. He wasn’t sure if it was being the Slayer or the First One that made her willing to give her life away for the mission.
But he knew that she had made a promise to all of the Pack the night they had all escaped, and Jack doubted that she was going to die until she had fulfilled that promise.
The men were broken from their thoughts by the loud laughter coming from outside the Gateroom. The members of the Eight and Buffy came walking into the room, acting as if they were going on a field trip. Jacob gave Hammond a disbelieving look and the General just sighed and looked helplessly as his friend.
Buffy walked up to the men and grinning, gave them a mock salute.
“Ready and able to go snake-ass kicking, sir!” she quipped with a grin and the other Pack members grinned wolfishly at her antics.
Jacob stared intently at the teenager and felt a strange chill go down his spine. For all her laughter and light heartedness, the girl’s eyes were cold and calculating. He sensed that her entire attention wasn’t on him, or even George or Jack, but on every person and square inch of the room. She reminded him of an attack dog a friend of his once owned, and for the first time Jacob wondered exactly what ‘the Pack’ stood for.
Jacob wasn’t the only one confused – Selmak was also studying the girl intently through its host’s eyes. The Tau’ri were a mystery to the Tok’ra (even with Jacob’s perspective) most of the time, but there was something inherently different about these Tau’ri. Something about the way they moved that triggered every survival instinct the symbiote had. Unfortunately, there was too little time to wonder now.
“We should proceed with the mission,” Selmak said, turning to the General. Hammond nodded and ordered the control room to proceed with Gate activation. The Pack watched fascinated as the large stone ring began to turn and one whistled as the chevrons began to lock. The final chevron encoded and the Stargate opened with a great flash of light that burst forward and then retracted – leaving the effect of blue pond rippling on the surface.
“Oooh, pretty colours,” Buffy said with a smirk, having seen too many bizarre events in her young life to be awed into speechlessness by the alien device. The Pack laughed and Jack just shook his head and chuckled at the children’s antics.
The Pack stared at Jacob, waiting for the Tok’ra to walk through the Stargate first. Despite every instinct telling Jacob not to turn his back on the Pack, he carefully made his way through the portal to the rendezvous site. Quickly, the Pack made their own way through the Gate – not hesitating like most first-timers. Buffy gave Jack a sloppy salute and moved forward, stopping at the event horizon. Pausing, she turned back and locked gazes with Jack.
“To the death,” the First One said with conviction and disappeared through the Gate.
Hammond looked at his second-in-command curiously, but the other man simply shrugged innocently. But the innocent gesture didn’t match the steely look in the Colonel’s eyes and Hammond wondered at the significance of the statement.
But the Colonel couldn’t explain to the General what it meant; after all, how to you tell someone you respected that it was code-phrase you created while torturing children into become killing machines…and suicide fighters.
The meaning of ‘To the death’ was simple – nothing is above the completion of the mission; not family, not friends, not even your own life.
Jacob Carter checked the controls once more, making sure they were on course. However, this was the third time he’d checked in the last two minutes. Before becoming a Tok’ra, Carter had been a general in the Air Force and he was no stranger to high-risk missions. So why was he so nervous about this particular mission? The answer to that was sleeping just a few meters behind him.
Immediately upon arriving at the ship, the Pack had curled up with each other and fallen asleep. The Tok’ra had been angry at the nonchalance of the teenagers and had even moved to wake them up – roughly.
But the moment he made a movement towards the huddle, Jacob suddenly found himself staring into two eyes.
The blonde haired girl had softly growled, keeping sharp eyes on the man. Jacob was uncomfortably reminded of Talmacs (predatory animals that had hunted him for weeks when he was stranded injured on a planet). The girl had the same eyes as the beasts; eyes that knew she was the predator and he was the prey – eyes that promised death. Jacob had backed away and gone to the controls, and after watching him for a moment, the girl had returned to sleep.
But Jacob wasn’t fooled and even though several hours had passed since the incident, the Tok’ra could still feel those eyes trained on him.
The Tok’ra sighed heavily, and checked the settings once more.
Jacob flinched slightly at the unexpected voice; Selmak had been uncharacteristically silent ever since they left Earth and Jacob knew better than to try and get her to talk until she was ready.
Jacob, are these children really Tau’ri?
Blinking in surprise, Jacob answered, What do you mean?
Selmak was silent, and Jacob waited patiently for his friend.
As you yourself have realized, their behaviour is akin to predatory animals versus that of humans.
George assured me that they’re human.
But the General couldn’t tell us anymore than that, Selmak pointed out, referring to the conversation they had had with the General before the start of the mission.
Jacob had been furious that Hammond was planning on sending a group of teenagers into one of the most fortified Goa’uld stations in the universe to recover a device that could shift the balance of power. Despite saying that the Pack had come highly recommended by the President, George couldn’t tell the Tok’ra much more. But Jacob could sense that George wasn’t any more convinced than Jacob was over the assignment of the Pack. It was also just as clear that Hammond’s mouth and hands were tied by classified ‘red-tape’. Hammond hadn’t come right out and said it, but Jacob got the message – the Pack is classified, and if Hammond didn’t have security clearance, then it has a higher classification rating than the SGC.
And somehow Jack was involved.
Jacob knew there were a lot of black op missions in O’Neill’s past – having called in a few favours to find out about the man when he had first learned that his daughter was working under O’Neill’s command. But none of his high placed friends – with the highest levels of clearance – had even hinted at Jack’s involvement with a training program. It was hard to imagine a man that loved children as much as O’Neill did would be involved in a project that trained children to kill.
In the end, he hadn’t gotten his answers and despite his misgivings the Tok’ra had approved the plan – even if they were doubtful that a handful of children could succeed where their best operatives had failed.
We’ll just have to trust that George and Jack know what they’re doing, Jacob finally responded, trying to sound more convinced than he really was – despite the fact that Selmak could read his emotions better than he could himself.
Several hours later the ship entered the solar system and was approaching Aerodus when Jacob Carter turned to wake the troops. To his surprise, the teenagers were already rising and putting on their gear. Briefly, he wondered how they knew but a glare from Buffy caused Jacob to return to his controls.
“We’ve entered into the vector that will keep us in the blind spot in their sensors. As long as they haven’t discovered it, we’ll be landing about five clicks from the base.”
They began their descent – everyone listening intently for any sign of detection. So they all sighed with relief when they touched down safely on the planet. Too bad getting on the planet was the easiest part of the plan. They exited the ship and the Pack finished their gear checks. In unison, they turned to Jacob who handed Buffy a transmitter.
“You have forty-eight hours – any longer and even with invisibility shielding we may be picked up on sensors. When you’ve completed the mission, send the signal and I’ll have the ship ready to go.”
Buffy nodded and within seconds the Pack ran and disappeared through the trees.
Jacob looked at the spot where the Pack had disappeared, and again wondered why they reminded him of animals.
Despite the severity of the situation, the Pack were grinning wildly as they ran through the forest. It had been so long since they had the freedom and space to just run and enjoy their movements. After training so long for special ops, they found it hard to move like normal humans again; trying to adopt the lanky gait that humans used instead of the graceful movements of the animals they were trying to emulate.
Suddenly, the First One stopped and Pack stilled and crouched. She listened intently, and quickly moved off in a new direction. Wordlessly, the Pack followed. Seconds later a Jaffa scout troop walked passed the spot where the Pack had been, unaware that their woods were occupied by anything but the usual predators. It was several hours later before the First One found a spot she deemed safe for the Pack to den.
She held out a hand to get the Pack to wait, and she cautiously scouted the area. The Jaffa scout troops moved past the hidden girl, unaware, and after an hour she was satisfied that the Jaffa wouldn’t find their lair. The sun was just beginning to set when the First One made it back to the den, and was greeted warmly by her comrades. Making use of what was left of daylight, the Pack prepared for their night vigil.
Stashing their gear, the Pack silently moved out on reconnaissance and jogged the three clicks to the base. As they reached the edge of the forest by the base, they crouched down and for the first time saw their object. Eyes widened in awe at the huge structure before them.
It reminded the First One of the medieval castles that Sir had spoken of when he was training them in siege techniques. But instead of stone, the walls were made of metal and more than arrows guarded the walls. They frowned as they scouted around the structure – hoping to find another entrance. To their disappointment, there seemed to be only one entrance – so their options were to either go in the front gate or scale the walls.
They watched for a little while longer – registering patterns of behaviour of their prey almost subconsciously. Even while sitting still, their muscles twitched in anticipation of the hunt. The First One registered her companions’ actions and motioned it was time for them to return to the den. A grin spread across her face, the only indication she gave that she shared her comrades’ feelings. Tonight they would feed, play and relax.
Tomorrow night the hunt would be begin.
The Jaffa stood guard by the gate, their torches keeping the darkness at bay. But it was a double-edged sword as the light robbed them of their night vision. The Pack took advantage of this as they moved through the darkness that was their ally. Almost leaning against the walls, the Pack moved slowly towards the guards. The Jaffa never saw their attackers and the last thing they would remember in this lifetime would be the feel of the knife as it slid across their throat.
Knowing that it wouldn’t be long before the guards were missed the Pack quickly moved inside. Even though the Tok’ra operative had failed to send reliable information on the device, he had managed to send fairly detailed schematics of the inside of the base. They moved slowly but steadily through the base. Stopping periodically to place explosive in different nooks. They didn’t have the time to try and place them strategically, they only hoped it would do enough damage to take out as many of the enemy as possible.
As the first bomb was set, the Pack each double-checked their heart monitors. The bombs were connected to three different detonators – a timer, a remote detonator, and a remote connected to their heart monitors. If the bomb stopped receiving a signal from the entire Pack it would go off. The Pack were going to make sure that they would at least hinder the production of the weapon, even if they failed to destroy it.
Moving swiftly through the halls, the First One was surprised by the lack of guards inside the complex – especially given the massive troop movements outside. But instead of worrying about what she couldn’t change or know, she kept the Pack moving. They reached the doors to the room where the Tok’ra were certain the device was being held without incident.
The First One carefully opened the door and tossed in a smoke grenade, using the few seconds before it detonated to note the position of all personnel within. Using hand gestures she quickly relayed the information to the rest of the team and within seconds they were in the room. The few scientists fell quickly under the assault of the Pack – their Goa’uld strength no match for the training and experience of their attackers. Having been warned by Sir, they took special precautions and made sure to injure the neck to prevent the symbiote from surviving and escaping. The guards took longer but the Pack specialized in close quarter combat and managed to take the Jaffa down.
Gasping, the Pack quickly secured the room. The smoke diminished and the Pack looked around for the device. Noting a doorway, the First One opened it and uttered a deep growl at what she saw. She turned to face the rest of the team and they recognized the look on her face. It was the face of a soldier who just realized they were given bad intel -- really bad fucking intel.
Because behind her was the shield penetrating weapon – standing the size of a nuclear missile.