"It is my understanding that you have killed the one that brought your vampire curse to our world, and many of his followers as well. But that there are likely others that remain that are vampire-cursed, and they are still able to spread that curse?" Darvil said to the group of Terrans and Taigans gathered for a post-sewers debriefing session.
"That's an accurate description of what happened," Jack said.
"Too many unintended consequences since we allowed the Terrans onto our world," Malek grumbled.
"And yet despite it all, we can still do much good with what we learn from them. Provided that our people are properly guided by the Vizcars," Kelene said.
"We do not need to air the College's internal politics before outsiders," Darvil chided as he waved his hand toward the group that included SG-1 as well as Salim and Leale.
In other words, don't argue in front of the kids, Jack thought.
"Maybe it is good for them to hear what a mess they've introduced into our world," Malek said.
"I think that they are well aware of that problem. And now is the time when we will tell them what our judgment of how they will aid Taiga in addressing the problem they caused," Darvil said, leaving Jack with a mental picture of Air Commandos crawling through every sewer on the planet in search of the newly fanged.
"How can we help you?" he said, managing not to sigh.
"Once more, we are requesting technical assistance from your people in training ours how to contain the vampire curse. Let us make it clear that we do not wish for you to send more troops to Taiga to search for the cursed, and that we will take such actions as indications that you do not respect our sovereignty. Before the Vizcars united Taiga, it was common for one city to use another city's misfortune as an excuse for an invasion. We will not allow our planet to be treated as such," Darvil said.
"And it is also the belief of the College that it is best to have a Taigan solution to what has become a Taigan problem," Malek said.
"We'll do our best to provide you with the technical assistance," Jack said, doing his best to keep his face blank. With all the other active hot spots Stargate Command currently had to manage, he was glad that he wasn't looking at a permanent garrison on a planet that hadn't had Goa'uld activity anytime in the recent past.
There was a discussion of just what technical assistance was wanted. In Jack's view, the Taigan's requests were reasonable, and he informed them that, while he had to clear it with his own superiors, he expected there to be no problems with their request.
"Um, sirs and ma'ams? Can I request one more thing here?" Harris spoke up from where he had been whispering with Leale.
"Depends what it is, Harris." Jack said.
"While I know a lot about vampires and Slayers, there are people back on Earth that know far more about the subject than I do. When things get settled here a little bit, I'd like permission for Leale and Salim to come to Earth for a couple of weeks to train and learn from the guy that taught me about the things that growl in the night."
"We'll see what we can do, Harris," Jack said. The negotiation had been going too well until that point. So of course, he was now going to find himself having to justify entangling a civilian in SG's very classified projects.
"You know, Harris, I wouldn't have thought that shopping for fabric was considered to be an essential part of the training of a Slayer," Jack said as he circled around the commercial district of the small English village on a futile quest for a parking space.
"Sir, I can verify that shopping in general is an essential Slayer activity. Leale's really not that different in that regard. The three hours I once spent with, um, with another Slayer looking for the perfect pair of shoes to go with her little blue skirt were actually worse than the five hours in the previous fabric store." Jack noticed that for all that Xander had given him the real identity of the person also known as Robert Ripper, he still was careful not to directly identify the name of the current Slayer of Earth.
"Okay, I can understand the four hours in the camping store. The flashlights she got there will work far better for night work than the lanterns the Taigans have on their own place, and she got enough batteries for a small town to stay lit for a week after a hurricane. And a lot of what else she got there will have uses in the field as well. But the fabric stores?"
"Leale felt like current Earth fashion was not appropriate for daily life on Taiga, and she wants to make her own clothing that will be appropriate to slay in. That, and the way she seemed so happy to see all the fabric colors that Taiga just doesn't have the technology to mass produce, and considering what her life is going to be like from here on out, I want to see her to be happy," Xander said.
"There's something in the way you say that which makes me think there's more to the Slayer story than what you've said so far," Jack said.
"Sir, from the records I've seen, the average age of death for Slayers is sixteen years, seven months. Granted, Leale only has to deal with vampires, and not the other nasty Big Bads you find on Earth, but she's going to spend the rest of her life with a giant bull's eye pained on her back right on top of that purple and green orchid and palm tree print fabric she got yesterday."
"No shit, sir. I wish it was different for the Slayers because it sucks to be them. But I don't know how to change the system without screwing a bunch of stuff up even worse, so I just do what I can to make it good for however long they've got, including trying to make the time they have as long as possible."
"When the General gets the credit card bills, I'll tell him to have his accountants credit Leale's shopping spree to the morale activities for our allies account. Then they'll turn around and hide it in the base plumbing supplies expenses account."
"So that's how the Air Force ends up buying five hundred toilet seats," Harris said. The kid really was a lot sharper than he normally let on.
"Honest truth. But that's classified information, and if you tell anyone else, I'll have to shoot you."
"Understood, sir," Harris said as he chuckled.
Jack circled the block one more time, and this time was rewarded not with a parking spot, but the sight of Leale, Salim, Carter, and their RAF liason Captain Miller standing outside of the store. Carter waved down Jack's SUV. She had to, since the other three were loaded down with yet more shopping bags.
"How'd the hunt go?" Harris asked as he slid out of the passenger side in order to help the others load the back of the SUV.
"Very successful," Leale said. To Jack, she sounded happy at her latest haul.
"How's our time schedule, Captain Miller?" he asked after they all settled into the truck.
"Unless there's an accident, we shouldn't have a problem getting to our appointment on time," Miller said from the shotgun seat as he pulled a small road atlas out of his coat pocket. For this trip, they had gone with civilian clothing.
Following Miller's directions, Jack drove out of the village and past a series of small farms perched on rolling hills. It was pretty enough to be something right out of a painting. He turned north at another area labeled as a village, but small enough to contain only a gas station, pub, small school, and a scattering of houses. He then went east until he found the countryside home of one Rupert Giles, AKA Robert Ripper.
"I'm gonna have to let the crowd back home know that Giles really does live in a house that looks like a hobbit hole," Harris said.
"What's a hobbit?" Salim said.
"A fictional character that as far as I know, really is fictional. I'll have to send copies of the first four or five books back with you along with everything else," Harris replied as Jack turned down a short gravel driveway.
They all piled out of the SUV, and as they walked toward the neat English cottage, a fiftyish thin man with glasses opened the door.
Hello there," Rupert Giles said.
"Hey Giles, I brought friends over for tea," Harris said, smiling as he gave his friend a pat on the back.
"The kettle is already on if anyone wants to have a cup."
"Don't suppose you've got supplies on hand for a mango green tea frappachino with extra ice?"
"Heathen American," Giles said with a smile.
"I've gotta be me," Harris said. Giles was clearly one of Harris' People. For all the information that Harris had been willing to pass along to SGC on the supernatural, he had always held a little of himself back during the process. With Giles, Harris' normal reserve was totally gone.
"And I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse," Giles said as he lead the group into a surprisingly large living room, or lounge as Captain Miller would have described it.
They quickly worked through introductions, food and drink was offered and politely accepted, and then Captain Miller opened up his briefcase. It was time to have a serious talk with a man that Jack's own government had had a few blacked out interactions with even as MI-5 swore that their own blacked out records showed that Giles was a hero in service to the Queen of England.
"Okay, Mr. Giles, I'm told you've done this before, and you know how this all works. What I have here is a standard one day contract for a civilian contractor working with the RAF. If you will sign here, you will be paid for that one day, regardless of whether or not you choose to aid the RAF in this endeavor."
Giles quickly but thoroughly looked over the brief contract, and the page that came after the contract. He signed both of them before passing them back to Miller.
"Now if you ladies and gentlemen would please tell me what is serous enough to not only send Xander to England to look for me, but also to have me sign papers making it clear that what's discussed here is covered under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act?"
Jack glanced at Harris, giving him an indication it was time for him to start talking. He was the one who had enough of a background with both SGC and the supernatural to have it make sense for an outsider.
"The summary version of it all is that a couple years ago, the Air Force stumbled across the technology that let them create portals between worlds. And they discovered that there were sometimes other humans that had been sent to those worlds centuries ago using the same portal technology. And there are more than just other humans out there, including some being that would probably rate as Big Bads on the old Sunnyhell Scale of Doom and Destruction. So the government has spent the last couple years fighting those Big Bads the best they could, and for the most part, they've been doing a pretty good job of it. I mean, you wouldn't believe they're part of the same armed forces as the Army, what with how badly the Army fucked up in Sunnydale in all, and darn I'm really getting into that whole inter-services rivalry aren't I?
Anyways, they were cruising along, holding down the fort, and making the universe safe for truth, justice, and all that. But then a mistake happened, and a vampire got through the portal when it shouldn't have. End result, the Powers started drafting people to keep the vampires from overrunning that world."
Giles' eyes flicked around the group in the living room.
"Since you're the one telling the story, I assume you're one of the ones who has been unfortunate enough to draw the Powers' attention? And the other two would be Leale and Salim?"
"I told you he was good," Harris said as he pulled a small cloth out of his pocket and passed it to Giles, who reflexively pulled off his glasses and wiped the dust off of them.
"The house wards picked them up as they went through the door. And I must say it isn't often that they register a visitor as human but not of this earth," Giles said, putting his glasses back on.
Jack found himself wondering if they could invest in that sort of protective system for the Gate. It would have solved several problems for them over the years.
"Now that Captain Miller has done the Sicilian blood oath thing, or what ever you European people do, I can formally introduce to you Leal, the Slayer of the planet Taiga. Apparently the Powers have decided that the rule is one Slayer per planet infested with vampires. And Cantor Salim has agreed to start up as a Watchers organization on Taiga. I figured that you were the person to tell him how to do that since you're the one person with the Earth group that treats the Slayer like a person and not some sort of damn wind-up toy for the old guys to use for whatever."
"Xander said you knew even more about vampires than he did, even though he's been great so far with helping us figure out what's going on," Leale said, offering a shy smile to Giles.
"I try my best, as we all have in the fight against darkness. And I feel like Xander was doing more than well enough on his own when he entered the Air Force. Was there some more specific reason you came here?"
"To start with, the Taigans need to have a spell or a device, or a magic whatsit so that if something happens to Leale, they can more easily figure out if another Slayer has been called to follow her," Xander began.
After topping of everyone's mugs of tea, Giles walked over toward a bookshelf in the hallway between the living room and the kitchen. He pulled out a volume that had something in Latin written on the spine, and began to flip through the pages.
"Do your people have magic and magicians on your world, Cantor Salim?" Giles said.
"Our magicians perform tricks at celebrations and street fairs," Salim said.
"I'll take that as a no in this context then," Giles said. "So we'll probably be needing a device that anyone can use."
Jack watched the scene unfold around him as Giles, Harris, and the Taigans began to discuss the best way to handle the position of Slayer of Taiga and everything it involved. As he did, he wished Daniel had been able to make the trip to England. For all that there were a thousand different cultures out there on other planets, he knew that the other man would love to see what was starting to play out only a few thousand miles from Colorado as Giles mumbled a series of phrases that made a triangular stone point toward Leale.