Chapter 6: I've Got a Feeling We're Not in Kansas... err, Colorado... Anymore
Okay, this may be a stupid question but just where did my lab go? That's the first thought that runs through my mind as I land on my butt somewhere, the problem is that I don't have the first clue as to where that somewhere happens to be. Last thing I remember, I was sitting in front of my computer at the mountain. This is not the mountain, nor is it Thor's ship... which is where I usually find myself when something like this happens. What can I say, I may be used to being beamed up by a little gray alien with no warning whatsoever but this is something different.
Trying to assess my current situation I look around and I realize that I seem to be in someone's basement and there is a group of people glaring at me. There's a man who seems to be more or less the same age as the colonel and a bunch of kids... well, with one exception I guess they should technically be called 'young adults'... with a strong emphasis on the young. I guess the good news would be that --at least at first glance-- none of these people look like much of a threat, the bad news is that I know appearances can be deceiving so that doesn't really mean anything.
"Where am I?" I ask as I get up, trying not to look too defensive but knowing that my position is not a good one. I'm unarmed and I'm too badly outnumbered to do anything here so the way I figure it, I might as well try to play nice.
"In our basement," says a young man who is wearing an eye-patch... and that is not something you see every day.
"Great, and where would that basement be?" I push, trying to keep myself from rolling my eyes at that remarkably useless statement.
"Under our house," comes the expected reply, which is enough for me to figure out that I'm not going to get an answer out of them this easily... not that I was expecting to.
"Fine, would you mind telling me what I'm doing here?" I try again, though I'm not feeling particularly optimistic about my chances in terms of getting a useful answer.
"Asking a bunch of questions, I gather."
"I meant how did I get here," I say, rolling my eyes at him in spite of the situation.
"How do you think?" he asks, growing suddenly serious and still not giving anything away.
"I don't know," I growl, trying to keep myself from losing my patience. I don't know what's going on, I don't know where I am and --even though none of the people in the room with me have made any openly hostile moves-- well, the truth is that I've found myself in unexpected places often enough to know that that's seldom a good thing.
"Well, you are kind of here because we wanted you here," says a young, redheaded girl.
"Who are you, people!?" I all but scream, wondering what it will take for them to provide me with anything remotely resembling an answer about anything.
"You mean to tell us you don't know?" asks a tiny blonde, taking a step forward.
I'm about to say 'no' when something about this situation suddenly clicks in my head. I'm not sure who these people are but most of them are little more than kids... young adults in their early twenties, and --if I remember correctly-- the files I read did describe Buffy Summers as a five feet two blonde, which would be the exact description of the girl who just spoke.
"You are Buffy Summers, aren't you?" I ask.
"Yups," she says, rather casually, catching me almost off guard with her easy acceptance. I hadn't expected to get a straight answer out of any of them but then I realize that she probably never intended to keep her identity a secret in the first place, if she had she probably wouldn't have been here, she simply would have left the others to deal with me, knowing that I was bound to recognize her from her files.
"And the rest of you are?" I say, pushing my luck.
"You will find out in time, Major Carter," says the only adult in the lot, with a British accent, and I'm not particularly surprised to discover that they know my name, after all I'm fairly certain it's not by chance that I'm here... even if I don't have an explanation as to how or why I'm here in the first place, in fact I'm still struggling with the mystery of just where here happens to be.
"I assume you brought me here for a reason," I say, keeping my attention on the man, hoping that he will provide me with some answers.
"Yes," he admits but he doesn't volunteer any additional information.
"So why don't you tell me about it?" I push, just wanting to get this over with... that and to get myself some sort of explanation.
"Do you have any idea of just how many thousands of people gave up their lives so that the Chappa'ai could be buried for all times?" he asks, out of nowhere, glaring at me.
"Excuse me!" I all but yelp. That I definitely hadn't been expecting and I can't help but wonder just what on earth have I gotten myself involved with here.
"What part of 'a million years into the sky, is Ra, Sun God, sealed and buried for all time' didn't you understand?" he insists.
"Where did you hear that?" I whisper, not knowing what to do or how to handle this.
"My people wrote it," comes the enigmatic reply. "Now, care to answer my question?"
"Giles?" asks Buffy before I can figure out what to say and I'm relieved to have at least a partial name here.
"Remember what I told you about the project she works for?" asks 'Giles', obviously being careful not to tip his hand.
"Yes," says Buffy, nodding her head.
"And do you remember what I told you about the Ghoa'ul?" he goes on.
"The creepy crawlers with a god complex, right?" she asks.
"Yes. They were defeated ten thousand years ago... and they are what the slayer was originally meant to fight," explains 'Giles'. That should have been useful --at least marginally-- but unfortunately his description only adds to my confusion and leaves me wondering just what a 'slayer' is.
"Before...?" trails off Buffy, obviously not wanting to say anything too specific in front of me.
"Actually, the name is Goa'uld," I volunteer, hoping that a gesture of good will will enable me to get some additional information here. Besides, it's not like I'm really telling them something they don't already know.
"In fact the old term is Ghoa'ul, though it wouldn't surprise me to learn that in the millennia since they were banished from our world that name has evolved into Goa'uld," says Giles. "These beings are the source of both the Persian myths relating to the monster commonly referred to as Ghoul --a monster that is believed to feed on human flesh-- and the Golem in Jewish folklore: an animated being made from inanimate matter that is controlled by its creator and animated by writing the name of God on its forehead, a being that has no will of its own."
"Okay, I can see how we could go from Ghoa'ul to Ghoul or Goa'uld, but to Golem?" asks the youngest of the girls, a blue-eyed, tall brunette who probably isn't even seventeen.
"Well, the difference in the names is due mostly to the fact that the Hebrew alphabet is not really an alphabet at all but rather an abjad --that is, a script in which only the consonants are written down-- and therefore it is not particularly well suited to transcribe the original name in the first place. Because of the nature of that writing system, Ghoa'ul would have been reduced to 'gl' and from there it evolved into 'glm', a triliteral root that is more consistent with the natural structure of Hebrew. That's why there's a far more drastic difference between Ghoa'ul and Golem than the one found between Ghoa'ul and Ghoul," explains 'Giles' with a truly frightening familiarity, especially considering that I'm not even sure Daniel has ever made the connection to those ancient myths... meaning that chances are that this man's sources are not connected to the SGC.
I don't know how, but somehow I seem to have stumbled upon a human Goa'uld expert and that means I really have to figure out a way to get this guy to the SGC, even if General Hammond kills me for the breach in protocol.
I mean, it's true that we have been fairly successful in terms of our fight against the Goa'uld up until now --there's no denying that-- but at the same time there's also no denying the fact that we've been incredibly lucky so far or the fact that we have some pretty monumental gaps in our understanding of the history of the relationship between humans and Goa'uld... and now I seem to have run into someone who may be able to fill the most critical of those gaps: the one having to do with exactly how the Goa'uld were driven from our world all those years ago. Up until a few minutes ago I was convinced that there was no way for us to find out about that, I was convinced that that story had never been written down but now I'm beginning to suspect that that assumption may have been unfounded.
Could this man really have those answers? He seems to be hinting at that fact and the truth is that if he knows then there's no way I can let this opportunity pass me by... but then again there's that pesky little detail of the SGC being highly classified. That is a problem, though I suspect that in this particular case that problem can be described as little more than a technicality, because I'm fairly certain that it's not like a full disclosure would be telling any of these people anything they don't already know. Right now I'm the one with more questions than answers, they seem to be remarkably well informed.
In fact right now my head is spinning as I try to connect what 'Giles' just said to everything I know about the Goa'uld and the truth is that there are some aspects in which I can't deny the obvious similarities. Even though the Ghoul doesn't sound as a particularly close reference when it comes to the Goa'uld in anything but name, what he said about a Golem as a being that is animated by writing the name of God on its forehead comes disturbingly close to the Goa'uld practice of branding the foreheads of their Jaffa with their own symbols or --to a lesser extent-- it could also be interpreted as a reference to the way in which the Goa'uld 'animate' their hosts' bodies.
"Sorry to cut into lecture time here, guys, but shouldn't we be dealing with the nice military major?" asks the young man with the eye-patch, looking at me rather warily and bringing us all back to the hear and now.
"Right, sorry, major," apologizes 'Giles' and I can do nothing but blink because none of this is going as it should... and the fact that I've been in these kinds of situations often enough to actually know that is definitely troubling.
"It's okay," I say, shaking my head, knowing that I have to come up with a way to break the ice here... unfortunately my current position leaves much to be desired. They have me, wherever it is that we happen to be, they know a lot more about me than I know about them --in fact, with one and a half exceptions, I don't even know their names-- and I need their help. Knowing that I have to say something I add, rather defensively, "as for the uncovering of the gate, you should know that scientists don't usually put much stock on ancient curses."
"It wasn't a curse, it was a bloody warning!" growls 'Giles'.
"A warning in a language that had been dead for thousands of years, a warning that was dismissed as nothing but superstition," I remind him, not backing down even though my every instinct is screaming for me to take cover. The man may seem like a mild mannered scholar but I can see the fire under that oh-so-polite exterior and it is enough to send shivers down my spine. At first glance 'Giles' seems harmless enough but I think the operative word in that description is seems.
"Yes, and look where that's got you," he says.
"How much do you know?" I ask, knowing that I have nothing to lose here and hoping to turn the attention away from myself.
"We know the Chappa'ai was unearthed in 1928, it was briefly activated in the early 40's and it's inner workings were more thoroughly explained in 1994 by a Dr. Daniel Jackson who --going by his theories-- really should have known better. We also know you are the one responsible for programming the dialing system that is currently in use. We know you got lucky and managed to take out Ra but couldn't be bothered to leave well enough alone and as a result this world has come dangerously close to being destroyed on more than one occasion," says the redheaded girl who seems to be about Buffy's age.
"And the world being almost destroyed is unusual exactly how?" snorts a brunette --one that seems to be one or two years younger than Buffy and a little shorter than the other, younger brunette-- sounding almost amused at the thought.
Do I even have to say that the fact that these children seem to think that the idea that the world is on the brink of being destroyed is a normal occurrence is more than a little disturbing? Who are these people?