"What's the emergency, Colonel?" Sam asked as she caught up to Jack just outside the briefing room.
"Carter, have you ever known me to have a clue?" Jack asked, waving her through the door ahead of him.
"There's always a first time, sir."
"At my age I'm more likely to have a last time," Jack said sourly.
"I don't want to know, do I?" Daniel asked, coming up the stairs from the control room just in time to hear Jack's last comment.
"I believe ignorance would be the best course of action," Teal'c agreed as he claimed the seat next to Sam's.
"So what's up with the emergency meeting?" Daniel asked, sitting down next to Jack. Sam stared resolutely down at the table, grinning, as Jack gave Daniel an annoyed look. "What?"
"Good morning, people," Hammond said, walking briskly to the head of the table. "Sorry to pull you in on such short notice."
"I presume there's a good reason?" Jack said.
"We have a situation on Pankeer."
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"I thought the diplomatic talks were going well," Daniel said.
"They were. Still are," Hammond said. "This 'situation' is a separate issue."
"Enlighten us," Jack invited.
"Do you remember the rogue NID agents you ran into on Pankeer's moon?"
"Well, we never actually met them, but yeah. Kind of hard to forget that," Jack said.
"All three were found dead yesterday. They were murdered," Hammond said.
"Well, that's unfortunate.... I suppose," Jack said. "But how exactly does that involve us?"
"Surely they don't think we had anything to do with it?" Daniel said.
"No, they don't. However, Colonel Maybourne has been charged with the crime. He's requested our assistance. Specifically, SG-1's assistance." Hammond looked around the table as all four team members silently processed that information. "Given that we are in the process of establishing diplomatic ties, and given Maybourne's position as a member of their security force as well as a former member of our Air Force, I agreed."
"What are we supposed to do?" Daniel asked.
"I'm not really sure, Doctor. But I believe SG-1's presence may have some value. You'll leave in fifteen minutes. Dismissed."
"Here we go again," Jack muttered as he led SG-1 from the room.
"Colonel, welcome back to Pankeer."
"Lieutenant," Jack said with a nod as the stargate shut down behind him. "Hope we aren't keeping you from something important."
"I'm part of the diplomatic security detail, sir. It's a mostly ceremonial position."
"Frequently," Rodriguez agreed. "If you'll follow me, I'll escort you to Security Force headquarters."
"So what have you heard about these murders?" Jack asked as he walked alongside the lieutenant.
"Not much, sir. We haven't been given any official information, and when I asked, my C.O. informed me that it was really none of my damn business," Rodriguez reported matter-of-factly.
"No, I don't suppose it is," Jack said. "What have you heard unofficially?"
"That Maybourne off'ed some NID agents."
SG-1 rose to their feet as one, and Jack looked over to the source of the welcome. The man who had just entered the lobby was slighter than Jack would've guessed from the deep timber of his voice. He appeared to be close to Jack's age, and slightly exotic looking. Jack gave a mental snort thinking 'no shit, Sherlock--he's an alien.'
"Hello," Jack said, offering his hand. "You are?"
"I'm Inspector Brenton Mays." Mays bowed his head courteously, then his black eyes were back on Jack. "I'm Investigator Maybourne's superior."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill." Jack turned and pointed to his colleagues. "This is Teal'c, Daniel, and Carter."
"Colonel? Like Maybourne?"
"We have the same rank, yes," Jack said. "I wouldn't say I'm like him."
"Very well, Colonel," Mays said. He turned to the rest of the team. "Mem Carter...."
"Ah, excuse me--Mem?" Sam said.
"Merely a courtesy," Mays said. "It's a generic form of address for...."
"I think it's probably like Ma'am or Ms., Sam," Daniel said.
"Oh. I'm a major. Major Carter," Sam told Mays.
"Major? I'm unfamiliar with that title."
"It's a military rank, like colonel," Sam explained.
"And Daniel is Doctor Jackson, Doctor being an academic title," Jack said. "And Teal'c here.... Well, Teal'c is just Teal'c."
"No title? Just a name?" Mays asked.
"It suffices," Teal'c said.
"Please," Mays said gesturing for them to follow him. He led them to a spacious office on the ground floor. A tall window filled most of the far wall, just behind a massive old wooden desk that seemed out of place in the sleekly modern room. The walls on either side were lined with bookcases filled to the brim. Jack and Sam took the two chairs across the desk from the Inspector. Daniel and Teal'c stood just behind them.
"So, we're a little short on the details here," Jack said, holding his hands spread wide in an invitation for Mays to share his knowledge.
"There probably isn't much more that I can tell you as to the circumstances of the crime. I've only received a preliminary report myself. You'll need to talk to the investigator in charge," Mays said. "Arrangements have been made for you to travel to Amendeep. And I've written a letter of introduction to the head of security in Amendeep, requesting that he assist you in this matter. A formality, really, but necessary all the same."
"Excuse me," Daniel interrupted. "Amendeep?"
"That's where Investigator Maybourne is being held."
"Not here?" Jack asked.
"No. The crime took place in Tandarra. Tandarra is under Amendeep authority," Mays explained.
"We have heard of Tandarra," Teal'c said. "We did not realize that it was not under Pankeeran rule."
"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you've heard of Tandarra. It's...notorious. Personally, I'm grateful that it isn't under Pankeeran authority."
"Maybourne said it was a rough place," Jack said.
"A charitable description," Mays said dryly. "Tandarra's entire reason for existence is money, and the power that goes with it. It's the center of operations for a criminal network: an organization whose presence has been felt more strongly in Pankeer of late. We call them the Association."
"We have trouble with similar organizations on Earth," Jack said.
"Is that why Maybourne was in Tandarra?" Sam asked.
"Yes, he was assigned to investigate a recent outbreak of information theft."
"Information theft? Like industrial espionage?" Sam asked. Mays looked confused by the term. "Spying on businesses, trying to learn their secrets, their technology, find out about new products in development...."
"That's it exactly," Mays agreed. "What little evidence we had pointed to a highly organized, methodical operation. The Association was--still is--the prime suspect. I personally assigned Maybourne to follow the leads to Tandarra."
"So he had a legitimate reason for being there?" Jack said.
"Yes. And he was operating with the knowledge and cooperation of the Amendeep security force," Mays said. He picked up a small packet from the corner of his desk. "Underground trains run every three hours between Pankeer City and Amendeep. These are open passes for the train," Mays said, handing Jack four pieces of plastic very similar to credit cards. "And I've included names and addresses I believe you may need, along with the letter of introduction."
"So how much trouble is Maybourne really in?" Daniel asked as Jack flipped through the packet of papers Mays had given him, frowning.
"A great deal. Premeditated murder is a very serious charge. The fact that neither Maybourne nor his victims have any direct ties to the Association may help," Mays said. "They won't interfere as long as the investigation doesn't touch on their activities. The fact that the victims were not of this world may also be in the Investigator's favor. Rightly or not, there's less enthusiasm in pursuing the perpetrator of a crime when the victims are, to put it bluntly, nobodies."
"Er...excuse me a moment," Jack said. He handed the papers to Daniel. "Daniel?"
"I can't read it," Daniel said, giving the papers just a glance before handing them back to Jack.
"What do you mean you can't read it?"
"I don't have time to learn every alien language we encounter," Daniel said defensively.
"Why not?" Jack asked. Daniel rolled his eyes in aggravation.
"I'm afraid Investigator Maybourne is the only person I know who can translate into your language," Mays said. "And he, of course, is currently unavailable."
"That's okay," Daniel said quickly. "Dr. Herbert--he's with the diplomatic team--gave me copies of his notes. I'll...muddle through."
"Well, this should be fun," Jack said.
"Jack!" Harry said sharply, getting up from the small cot he'd been sitting on and crossing the few feet to the cell door.
"Maybourne," Jack said. He gripped the metal bars separating them as if testing their strength. "You have a bad habit of ending up in these kinds of places."
"I didn't do it, Jack."
"Well, there's something you don't often hear from the accused," Jack said. He glanced over at Sam, who rolled her eyes. Since only two visitors were allowed at one time, Daniel and Teal'c were waiting back at the entrance.
"And the funny thing is--I could've sworn we told Harry to stay away from Tandarra," Jack said to Sam.
"We did, sir."
"And the natural order of the universe would dictate that everyone do as Jack O'Neill commands," Harry mocked.
"That's pretty much my reality," Sam said with a straight face.
"It works for me," Jack said, giving Sam a dirty look.
"Well, it doesn't work for me. I had a job to do, Jack."
"So you were slumming it purely in the interests of an official investigation?" Jack asked.
"Yes," Harry said firmly.
"Didn't indulge in a little revenge killing on the side? You know--since you were in the neighborhood anyway?"
"I'm serious, Jack. Do you really think I'd be dumb enough to lie down and go to sleep in a room full of dead bodies?" Harry scoffed. "Hell, I have a zat. If I was going to kill someone I'd erase the evidence."
"You were found sleeping in the room?" Jack said incredulously.
"You didn't know?"
"We just got here," Sam said. "We haven't had time to talk to anyone about the specific details."
"Oh, for.... Okay. Yes, I was found, fast asleep, in the room with Collins, Hurst, and Emory. They'd all been stabbed. The knife was lying on the bed next to me."
"And no idea of how you got there?" Jack asked.
"Swear to God, Jack--I don't know. The last thing I remember was having a nightcap in the hotel bar. After that--nothing until the cops rousted me out in the morning."
"Drunk?" Jack asked.
"I'd had a couple, but not nearly enough to do something like that."
"Okay," Jack said, rubbing his forehead. "Well, we have to talk to the authorities before we can even tell whether we'll be able to do anything to help."
"You gotta try, Jack."
"In the meantime, it might be helpful if you could write down everything you remember from that evening," Sam said. "Where you were, who you talked to: stuff like that. Try to account for as much of your time as possible."
"Consider it done," Maybourne said.
"We'll be back," Jack said.
Jack nodded for Sam to continue toward the exit, then turned back to the cell door.
"Would you mind picking up some personal stuff for me?"
"How personal?" Jack asked warily.
"Toothbrush, deodorant--that kind of personal." Harry gestured at his barren cell. "They don't exactly provide the amenities here."
"Yeah, okay--I think I can do that."
"Thanks, Jack. I knew I could count on you."
"Betcha still believe in the Easter bunny, too."
Jack and Sam followed the jailor back to the reception area in the front of the building. Daniel jumped to his feet as soon as he saw them approaching. Teal'c waited patiently while Jack and Sam retrieved the IDs they'd been issued in Pankeer from the supervising clerk and walked over to join them.
"Well?" Daniel asked.
"Maybourne's fine," Jack said. "But there's something screwy going on."
"Screwy?" Teal'c asked.
"Yeah. Maybourne may be amoral, but he's not stupid," Jack said with a sigh. "And he'd have to be pretty damn stupid to go to sleep in a room full of dead bodies."
"What?" Daniel said. "That's, that's...."
"Screwy, I know," Jack said. He rolled his head, trying to work out the knots of tension in his neck. "We need to find someone who actually knows what's going on."
"Lawyer?" Sam suggested.
"Hey," Jack called, catching the clerk's attention with a curt wave. "Does Harry Maybourne have a lawyer?"
"Someone to represent him in the trial," Daniel explained.
"A counselor," the clerk said. "Yes, of course--all prisoners are assigned a counselor."
"Can you tell us who Maybourne's counselor is?" Jack asked.
"Just a minute," the clerk said, grabbing a ledger and running his finger down the page. "Oh, yeah, Beck's his counselor. Harden Beck. His office is just down the street on the opposite corner." The clerk glanced at his watch. "This time of day he's probably there."
"Thanks," Jack said with a nod. He turned back to his team and pointed at Daniel. "I want you to go talk to this counselor person."
"And do what?" Daniel asked.
"Find out what the charges are. What kind of evidence they have. What the trial process is," Jack said. "Anything. I'll settle for the basics for now."
"Right--got it." Daniel immediately set off to track down the lawyer. Jack looked around the justice building, trying to decide their next step.
"How far is Tandarra from here?" Jack asked.
"According to the maps in the train station, I believe it is approximately 400 kilometers," Teal'c said.
"We'll have to leave that until tomorrow," Jack decided. "I'm going to go get that stuff for Harry. Carter, you and Teal'c see if you can find the Security Force's offices. Find out what you can about Tandarra and the actual crime from here. We'll meet back at our rooms."
"Thanks, Jack. I'll pay you back," Harry said, gratefully accepting the sack Jack passed through the bars.
"You're welcome. And you already did."
"We don't have any Pankeeran, or Tandarran or whatever money," Jack pointed out. "I contacted your C.O. back in Pankeer and he was able to get me access to your bank account."
"Oh." Harry stashed the bag of necessities under his cot. "Okay, just don't get too free with my money."
"Damn. And here I was planning to hit the casinos tonight. Teal'c's a real sucker for blackjack."
"Ha ha," Harry said dryly. "Wait--what are you going to live on while you're here?"
"As representatives of an alien government, we've been given courtesy accommodations at the diplomatic residence," Jack explained. "It's not the Waldorf, but it'll do."
"Hey--it's better than the 'free' accommodations I've got," Harry pointed out.
"Harry," Jack said with a grimace. "I don't know what you think we'll be able to do here. We're not lawyers; we're not cops. I'm thinking that we are not the people you need working on this."
"A: You're from an alien planet, representatives of an alien government. If nothing else, your presence will have them minding their Ps and Qs," Harry said. "And B: between the four of you you've got enough expertise and intelligence to figure out what happened."
"Intelligence?" Jack asked, preening slightly.
"Well...you are here to ride herd on Carter, Jackson and Teal'c."
"Feeling the love now."
"Come on, I know you, Jack. You have a soft spot for the underdog," Harry said, making himself comfortable on his cot. "And a need to be the hero."
"I don't need to be anything," Jack said. "Least of all a hero. But Hammond doesn't want to take the chance that this little mess of yours will derail the diplomatic talks."
"It shouldn't. Although it could get my C.O. in trouble for having hired me in the first place," Harry said.
"We should label you as being hazardous to the hierarchal command structure," Jack agreed.
"Anyone home?" Jack called as he walked into their assigned suite in the diplomatic residence. The central sitting room was plain but comfortable. Two small couches faced each other over a low table. On either side of the sitting room were bedrooms, each with two single beds. Jack walked into the bedroom on the right and saw an SGC pack lying on one of the beds.
"Yo," Jack called.
"What?" Daniel asked, sticking his head out of the bathroom door.
"Just wanted to see who was here," Jack said as he dumped his own gear onto the other bed.
"I am," Daniel said.
"I noticed," Jack said. "Any sign of Carter or Teal'c?"
"Not yet." Daniel waved his hand at his gear. "The bedrooms are identical so I just picked one."
"No problem. We'll share this one. Carter and Teal'c can have the other one."
"Speak of the devil," Jack said at the sound of Sam's voice. He headed back to the sitting room, Daniel right behind him.
"O'Neill," Teal'c said when he saw Jack.
"Hey, guys. Why don't you settle in? The two of you have that room," Jack said. Sam hesitated a second before nodding agreement. "Sorry, Carter, but my back just isn't up to sleeping on a couch. And it's more appropriate for you to bunk with Teal'c than with Daniel or me."
"Wow, Teal'c, I think you've just been neutered," Sam said, staring at Jack. Teal'c's eyes widened.
"Okay, maybe I should rephrase that," Jack said quickly. "It's less inappropriate for Carter and Teal'c to share because we all know what incredible self control Teal'c has."
"Indeed," Teal'c said, still eyeing Jack in a way that suggested his incredible self control was being applied to someone other than Sam at the moment.
"Um...actually, that may not be such a problem anyway." Daniel walked into the bedroom, pausing by several switches on the wall by the door. His hand hovered over them for a moment before choosing one. "They must be prepared for flexible rooming assignments. I was snooping around when I first got here and discovered this."
When Daniel flicked the switch a thin partition slid out from the wall. It began about a foot above the floor and ended a few feet shy of the ceiling. It stopped several feet short of the far wall, but fully extended it effectively divided the room into two more or less private compartments.
"That'll work," Sam said with a nod.
"Good. You two go ahead, settle in, freshen up and...." Jack looked around. "Anyone know if they have room service here?"
"I think they do," Daniel said, walking back into the sitting room.
"Think?" Jack asked as he, Sam and Teal'c followed Daniel.
"Well, this looks like a menu to me," Daniel said, handing the alleged menu to Jack.
"They speak English," Jack said. "So how come they have a different alphabet?"
"I don't know. My guess is an alien influence, since this alphabet isn't related to any Earth based alphabets that I'm familiar with," Daniel said.
"Looks almost like Morse code," Sam said, looking at the writing which seemed to be made up of a series of small squares and dots.
"Or Braille," Jack said.
"Well, it's neither," Daniel said. "And I haven't exactly had time to study the transliteration."
"No time like the present," Jack said, slapping the menu back in Daniel's hand.
Jack shoved the remains of their meal to one side of the coffee table and leaned back into the couch cushions.
"Report time, kids."
"Their judicial system is similar to ours," Daniel said. "Except that there's no jury. The case is argued by two counselors: one prosecuting, one defending. A judge hears the arguments and decides the case. Sentences are pretty much set in stone; the judge doesn't have a lot of leeway. The most important detail, for us, is that the burden is on Maybourne to prove that he didn't do it."
"Haven't any of these planets heard of innocent until proven guilty?" Jack complained.
"Not now, Daniel," Jack warned. "What proof do they have that he did do it?"
"He was found in the room with the three dead men," Daniel said.
"And with the weapon. The knife matched the wounds in all three victims," Sam said.
"No fingerprints. The knife had been wiped clean," Sam reported. "But Maybourne had blood splatters on his clothes."
"I don't know. Either they haven't finished all the lab work or it wasn't in the file yet," Sam said.
"This does not sound favorable for Maybourne," Teal'c said.
"No kidding," Jack said. "It's not going to be easy to get him out of this one."
"Jack, have you considered the possibility that Maybourne did do it?" Daniel asked.
"Oh, yeah," Jack said. "I haven't ruled that out. Not yet. But I can't believe that Maybourne would be stupid enough to be found in the room with the victims. Sleeping."
"I wonder if anyone checked him for drugs," Sam said.
"Maybourne has said before that he does not partake of drugs," Teal'c said.
"Not voluntarily," Jack said thoughtfully.
"You think he was drugged? That maybe he was set up?" Daniel asked.
"I think it's possible."
"By whom? And for what purpose?" Teal'c asked.
"If we figure out the 'why' then we'll know the 'who'."
"Well, we really, really need to figure it out," Daniel said.
"Why?" Jack asked, noting the apprehension in Daniel's voice.
"Because the sentence for premeditated murder is death."
"Just death? What about life? Or life without parole?"
"Just death," Daniel confirmed. "So we have to get Maybourne acquitted. Or at the very least get the charge reduced."
"What are the possible lesser charges?" Sam asked.
"There's murder, and unintentional murder," Daniel said. "I'm still trying to understand the distinctions between the three, but I think murder would be like our second degree murder, and unintentional would be similar to involuntary manslaughter."
"What about self defense?" Jack asked.
"If we can prove self defense he goes free. But self defense is only valid if there was no provocation, of any kind, on the killer's part. I'm thinking that, given Maybourne's history with these men, we'd have a hard time proving there was no provocation."
"Just existing is provocation enough where Harry's concerned," Jack said with a scowl.
"So...what are we going to do?" Sam asked.
"We're going to try and find out what really happened. Daniel, I want you to get back with that counselor first thing in the morning and you stick with him. Find out exactly what we need to know to either get Maybourne released or get the charges reduced."
"I don't really think Beck wants to spend all his time teaching me about the Amendeep judicial system."
"I don't care," Jack said sharply. "We don't have a chance unless we know the legal system and that's what you have to do. Learn it and then tell us."
"Sure. No pressure," Daniel said dryly.
"Carter, why don't you go with him. Take notes," Jack said. "Teal'c and I will touch base with the head of security here, and make arrangements to travel to Tandarra."
"Inspector Mays did say we should be very, very careful," Jack said as they entered the train station just after noon the next day.
"Very, very?" Daniel asked.
"Three verys actually," Jack said. "I was summarizing."
"There is law enforcement in Tandarra," Jack explained as he stopped in front of what was undoubtedly a schedule. After a moment he threw up his hands, unable to make heads or tails of the writing. "This is pointless."
"Give me minute," Daniel said, digging through his pockets looking for the cheat sheet he'd made himself.
"Wait," Teal'c ordered before striding off. Jack watched him go, frowning until he realized that Teal'c was bearing down on a station attendant.
"Sir? The law enforcement?" Sam prompted.
"What? Oh, yeah. They exist, they just happen to be very comfortably settled in the pocket of the criminal element."
"Is that going to be a problem?" Daniel asked, frowning as he finally located his notes and turned to read the schedule.
"This way," Teal'c said, walking past them toward the tracks.
"You sure?" Jack asked. Daniel just shrugged, stuffed his notes back in his pocket and followed Teal'c, Sam only a step behind him. Teal'c glanced back at Jack. Jack sighed and strode quickly to catch up.
"Anyway," Jack continued as he climbed up the three stairs into the train car. "Mays said that the Association probably would ignore us as long as we don't step on their toes, so that's probably a good thing. But we're not likely to get much in the way of help, either."
"And if we do step on the Association's toes?" Sam asked as she ducked into an empty compartment.
"Not good," Jack said, dropping down on the bench seat next to Sam.
"How much not good?" Daniel asked, taking the window seat across from Sam.
"'Very, very, very'," Jack reminded him.
"Right," Daniel said with a nod.
"Carter, you and Daniel check out the crime scene," Jack said as they stood just outside the hotel where the murders had taken place. "Teal'c and I are going to head down to the hotel Collins and the others were supposed to be staying in. Catch up to us when you're done."
Sam followed Daniel through the lobby cum bar of the hotel, her eyes scanning the room, which was empty of guests at this time of day.
"Well, this is lovely," Daniel murmured to Sam, noting the way his boots stuck slightly to the floor as he walked to the hall that led to Maybourne's room.
"But I hear the food is to die for," Sam muttered back.
"Literally would be my guess," Daniel agreed with a grimace.
"So fess up--is this the trashiest dive you've ever been in?" Sam said in a low voice.
"It's definitely in the running," Daniel said, brushing his fingers against the stained wallpaper. Sam grimaced in sympathy when he wiped his fingers off on his pant leg with a shudder of disgust. "Why do you think Maybourne chose this place?"
"Giving him the benefit of the doubt: it was a budget issue."
"And if you don't give him the benefit of the doubt?"
"It suits his personality," Sam said. Daniel smiled to himself. "Do you think he did it?"
"Well, I don't doubt that he's capable of murder, but Jack's right. This was stupid, and I don't think Maybourne's stupid."
"There," Sam said, nodding her head toward the door at the end of the hall. "Number twenty five."
Daniel pushed the door, already slightly ajar, and poked his head cautiously into the room, making sure it was empty before opening the door fully. He'd walked just a few steps into the room before he sensed sudden movement behind him. Daniel turned, reaching for the gun he had tucked into the back of his waistband. Technically, they weren't allowed to carry weapons in public, but Jack being Jack had insisted that they carry some means of defense concealed on their bodies when they traveled to Tandarra.
Daniel found himself pointing his gun at a man dressed in dark, nondescript clothing holding Sam in front of him in a head lock.
"Put the gun down, Dr. Jackson," the man said, pressing a zat to Sam's temple. She bared her teeth in response, looking as pissed as Daniel had ever seen her. "Now, Dr. Jackson."
"All right, just let Major Carter go," Daniel said as he reluctantly bent over and laid his sidearm on the floor.
"No problem," the man said, his agreement surprising Daniel. The man released his hold on Sam, pressing the trigger on his zat as he did. Sam crumpled to the floor, out cold.
"Hey!" Daniel protested.
"Ah! Don't move."
"She's fine as long as you cooperate," the man said, waving Daniel away from Sam.
"Cooperate with what?"
"Put this on your wrist," the man said, holding out a metallic circle.
"Because I said to," the man said, pointing the zat at Sam again.
"What is it?" Daniel asked, taking the ring reluctantly and sliding it over his hand.
"Insurance." The man took a small device from his pocket and pressed a button. The ring shrank down to fit snugly around Daniel's wrist with a slight electrical sensation.
"What is it?" Daniel repeated.
"A nifty little device that will insure that you do as I say," the man told him. Sam groaned and stirred. "And right now I say that we go. And just so there aren't any misunderstandings when we get outside--this controls that cuff," the man said, pulling out a dark blue box about the size and shape of a bar of soap. He brushed his thumb over a button and a wave of electricity shivered unpleasantly through Daniel's body.
"I see," Daniel said.
"Now I know what you're thinking, but don't. That mildly unpleasant sensation is the lowest setting."
"And the highest...?" Daniel asked.
"Drop you dead as stone," he said with a grin. He gestured toward the door. "Shall we?"
"Should not Major Carter and Daniel Jackson have joined us by now?" Teal'c asked as they left the victims' hotel.
"Yeah," Jack said, grabbing his radio and hailing the other two team members.
"O'Neill?" Teal'c said when there was no response.
"Tell me the two of them couldn't get in trouble in a hotel in the middle of the day," Jack demanded. Teal'c merely continued his grave stare. "Right. Let's go."
Jack marched down the street and right through the lobby of Maybourne's hotel. The front desk clerk eyed him and Teal'c suspiciously but did nothing to stop them.
When they reached the door to number twenty-five, Jack pulled his sidearm from his waistband and braced himself against one side of the doorjamb. Seeing Sam down, he swept his eyes and gun quickly across the room. Then he motioned for Teal'c to cover him.
"Carter!" Jack said sharply. He knelt down next her and felt for a pulse while Teal'c efficiently checked the rest of the room for hidden threats.
"Sir?" Sam said groggily.
"Yeah...just a zat," Sam said, sitting up unsteadily.
"What?" Sam asked, looking around the room. "I don't know, sir."
"Someone was waiting. We hadn't even gotten in the door before he surprised us," Sam said. "He must've taken Daniel with him."
"Damn it," Jack muttered.
"Sorry, sir. He got the drop on me."
"Not your fault, Carter," Jack said with a quick squeeze of her shoulder. "I don't suppose you recognized the person?"
"I never saw him," Sam said, angry at herself. "He grabbed me from behind. All I can tell you is that he's Caucasian, about my height, and right handed."
"It's a start," Jack said, giving Sam a hand up.
"Do you know what the driving force in the universe is, Dr. Jackson?"
"Love?" Daniel said facetiously as he looked around the distinctly squalid rooms the man had brought him to.
"So you're a glass half empty kind of guy?" Daniel said.
"Do you know why I wanted you here?" the man asked, ignoring Daniel's comment. He grabbed a couple of heavily loaded backpacks and started shoving a few odds and ends into the outer pockets.
"I didn't even know you wanted me here," Daniel said. He frowned, studying the young man in front of him: short brown hair, average build, and a certain way of holding himself that Daniel had come to associate with a military background. The man stared back, his hazel eyes alert. "I don't even know who you are."
"Where are my manners?" he said in a mocking tone. "Name's Mark Watkins. At least part of the time."
"Should that mean anything to me?" Daniel asked.
"Only if Maybourne told you about me. Otherwise, no."
"You're another member of his off world operation," Daniel deduced.
"Not just another pretty face, are you, Doc?" Watkins said sarcastically. Daniel grimaced and refused to respond. "Yes, I was part of Maybourne's operation. Until he screwed us over."
"He...what? Uh...no, I think you've made a mistake," Daniel said.
"No mistake. Maybourne brought O'Neill in to do the actual dirty work. Just like he brought SG-1 in to try and catch us on the moon."
"No," Daniel said, shaking his head. "I mean, yes--Maybourne did bring us to the moon...."
"But...Maybourne was arrested and tried, just like the others. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death, for crying out loud," Daniel said, wincing a little when he heard himself use Jack's trademark phrase.
"Then what's he doing here?"
"Escaped. From death row at a federal penitentiary? Not even Maybourne's that good," Watkins scoffed.
"Okay, I realize it doesn't sound very convincing, but...." Daniel paused, his face screwed up in concentration. He peered over at Watkins. "You framed Maybourne."
"A simple yet effective plan, if I do say so myself," Watkins said smugly.
"Collins and the others were becoming a liability. Maybourne was the perfect fall guy."
"So...you never intended to attack the Tollan at all? It was just a trap for Maybourne?"
"The operation was real," Watkins said. "At the time I didn't know it was the Tollan but.... That doesn't matter. Unfortunately those idiots, Collins and the others, exposed the operation to Maybourne." Watkins finished his packing and shrugged. "I decided to go ahead with the plan. If Harry was still on our side--no problem. If he wasn't--we'd eliminate him."
"Why didn't you? Eliminate Maybourne, I mean."
"Major Carter and Teal'c were too close to our position, and they hadn't been knocked out by the nerve grenade. It wasn't worth the risk."
"So instead you killed Collins, Hurst, and Emory, and left Maybourne to take the heat."
"Killing all my birds with one stone," Watkins said proudly. "The bonus was that I knew that Harry would ask SG-1 for help. After all, O'Neill's about the only person left on Earth who'll give Harry the time of day."
"Why did you want SG-1 here?"
"Not SG-1. You, Dr. Jackson. I need your linguistic skills."
"Well, that seems obvious," Daniel said. "What kind of translation?"
"It's better if you don't know too much," Watkins said.
"But I'm going to need some kind of background. A reference point."
"Call it a treasure map." Watkins paused to hold a large, wrinkled sheet of paper in front of Daniel.
"I hate to break it to you, but I can't read Pankeeran writing," Daniel said, his eyes rapidly scanning the page. It was only a slight lie. Daniel was getting used to the alien letter forms, but he still needed to use his notes to truly translate anything.
"You'll learn," Watkins said, his voice holding a subtle threat.
"It's not that easy," Daniel argued.
"Compared to learning the old language it is."
"Old language?" Daniel said, looking up at Watkins.
"This planet used to be inhabited by aliens. And they didn't speak English," Watkins said. "But I've managed to collect some relatively rare reference materials for you to use. A dictionary and...."
"You know--linguistics isn't just about the direct translation of one word into another. I mean there's context and...."
"Whatever," Watkins said impatiently. "You can work it out later. We gotta go now."
"Go? Go where?"
"Chandre? Where or what is Chandre?" Daniel asked.
"You sure ask a lot of questions, Doc," Watkins said.
"It's kind of what I do," Daniel admitted.
"Chandre is the old name for the moon," Watkins said tossing one of the loaded packs at Daniel. "Ready?"
"No, but I don't suppose that really matters," Daniel said. Watkins waved him toward the door. "No, I didn't think it did."
"All right, Maybourne, I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but and I want it right now," Jack said, marching up to Maybourne's cell.
A long afternoon spent in a futile effort to obtain anything more than the minimal effort on the part of the Tandarran police followed by a long train trip back to Amendeep followed by a very long night waiting until he could get in to see Maybourne had done nothing to improve Jack's mood.
"I told you the truth," Harry said, a puzzled expression on his face. "As much as I know."
"I don't have time to screw around, Harry," Jack said angrily, his hands wrapped tightly around the bars to Maybourne's cell. "Someone jumped Carter and Daniel in your hotel room in Tandarra."
"Do I look like I'm kidding?"
"Are they okay?"
"Carter's fine. A little woozy, but fine. Daniel, however, is missing," Jack said. "Now what else were you messing with?"
"I told you...."
"And now I want you to tell me the whole story. Not the edited PG-13 version--the whole story, Maybourne. Now."
"I don't know what to tell you, Jack. I honestly don't know how or why Collins and the others were in my room that night," Harry said.
"But you knew they were in Tandarra?"
"Yes," Harry admitted. "I'd seen them in a bar two nights earlier. I may have listened in on their conversation."
"What were they talking about?"
"Well, it certainly wasn't about their plan to get themselves murdered in my hotel room," Harry said sarcastically.
"Harry," Jack growled.
"Jewels. Crystals. Some kind of treasure or something," Harry said. "That's it, Jack. That's all I heard. And I swear they never saw me. I have no idea who killed them, or who might've taken Dr. Jackson."
Jack gritted his teeth, planted his fists on his hips, and slowly began to count to ten.
"Unless?" Jack said sharply.
"Unless Watkins was around somewhere."
"Who is Watkins?"
"Captain Mark Watkins. He's the only other NID agent I haven't been able to account for," Harry said.
"And you didn't see fit to mention this Watkins before?" Jack said, his voice rising in disbelief.
"I didn't see any reason to. As far as I know he wasn't involved in the Tollan operation."
"Did he work with Collins, Hurst and Emory?"
"It wasn't a big operation, Jack. They all worked with each other at one time or another," Harry said.
"Is he here on Pankeer?"
"I don't know," Harry said. "I haven't seen him, and the others never mentioned him. I assumed he'd either taken off on his own or was dead."
"Is that likely?"
"Dead? It's possible. On his own?" Harry shrugged. "Watkins likes to be in control. And he's smart. Smarter than the others. He wouldn't have had a tough time keeping them under his thumb. I just figured he'd found himself a better set up."
"But he could've been pulling the strings all along," Jack suggested.
"Is that everything?" Jack asked. Harry started to speak but Jack held up his hand to keep him silent. "Everything, Harry. If I find out that you were working with these guys on some jewel heist or...."
"Come on, Jack. They were the last people I wanted to see. They thought I'd set them up."
"You did set them up."
"All the more reason to avoid them."
"Damn it," Jack muttered. "Okay, look--I need a description and any other information you can give me on Watkins."
"You think he's behind all of this? The murders and Dr. Jackson's kidnapping?"
"He's my number one suspect right now," Jack said. "Although, to be honest he's the only suspect I have at the moment."
Daniel stumbled slightly as Watkins shoved him toward a chair. They'd spent a full six hours on horseback after reaching the moon. Even if Daniel hadn't been tired, he would've still had trouble walking. His butt was numb and his thighs had only faint memories of each other. Daniel could almost hear Jack's wisecracks about his current bowlegged gait.
"I take it you don't ride much," Watkins said, amused by Daniel's discomfort.
"Never if I can help it," Daniel said, easing himself into the chair. "Where are we?"
"That's not important," Watkins said, spreading the paper out in front of Daniel again. "What you need to concentrate on is finding out where we should be."
"I need to rest."
"You'll rest when you figure it out."
"Be reasonable," Daniel said. "The more tired I am, the more likely it is that I'll make mistakes."
"You seem to be a little confused about who's in control here."
"What about food then?" Daniel persisted.
A surprised grunt escaped Daniel when Watkins activated the bracelet. The jolt was short, but strong enough to jerk Daniel forward, off of the chair. He grunted again when his kneecaps hit sharply on the wooden floor.
"Get started. I'll find something for us to eat," Watkins said, staring at Daniel as he slowly climbed back into the chair. He pulled out the control device and tapped a few keys. "I can determine how much freedom of movement you have with this. I can restrict you to one spot or give you the run of the room. Right now you've got about ten square feet, enough to stretch your legs if you need to."
"Why the bracelet thing?" Daniel asked.
"You can thank Maybourne for that," Watkins said.
"It's his. The Pankeeran security forces use them instead of handcuffs. If I hadn't thought to nab it from his hotel room, I'd have to keep you tied up." Watkins gazed benevolently at Daniel. "And as long as you do as you're told, I see no reason for you to have to be handcuffed or tied to the chair. I'm not a cruel man, Jackson."
"Just a greedy one," Daniel said sharply. Watkins didn't say a word, but his eyes were cold.
"Um, okay," Daniel muttered, breaking the eye lock. "You said you had a...."
"Dictionary's right there on that table. And a couple of other things you might need," Watkins called from the small kitchen.
"Who wrote this...treasure map?" Daniel asked as he flipped through the books Watkins had left for him.
"Crazy old coot named Scarthen."
"Scarthen. Who was he?" Daniel asked.
"Again with the questions, Dr. Jackson."
"I told you--I need context if you want me to translate this accurately," Daniel said, rubbing his temples wearily.
"Scarthen was a human who lived a couple of hundred years ago. He discovered a secret that the aliens who originally lived here had hidden. That enough context for you?" Watkins said sarcastically.
"It's a start."
Sam gave an exasperated sigh as she had to stop for the third time to ask directions to the forensic chemist's office.
"We must be patient, Major Carter," Teal'c said gently.
"I know. It's just that this is the only specialist we haven't talked to yet, and she's the one most likely to be able to help us," Sam said.
"I am aware of that," Teal'c said.
"I know you are," Sam said apologetically. She made a frustrated wave at the placards on the walls and doors. "It would help a whole bunch if we could read the damn signs."
"Daniel Jackson's skills would be most useful," Teal'c said.
"Of course, if Daniel were here...."
"We would not be in such a hurry," Teal'c agreed. Teal'c stopped and looked around, getting his bearings. He inclined his head toward a door. "I believe that is the office we seek."
Sam tapped lightly on the door before opening it. The lab was empty but for one woman with spiky blond hair wearing some sort of protective smock over her clothing. She was busy working on something Sam couldn't see, and didn't seem to have noticed that she had visitors.
"Excuse me--we're looking for a forensic chemist," Sam called to a woman's back. "Mem Errin?"
The young woman turned to face them, and studied them cautiously for a moment.
"Is she here?" Teal'c asked.
"I am. You're the people from Earth, aren't you?" Errin said.
"Well? What do you need?" Errin said curtly.
"Forgive us for interrupting...." Sam said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"We're understaffed. I have three weeks of work backlogged at the moment," Errin explained. "I've been asked to help you and I will. But I don't have time for social niceties so if you don't mind...?"
"Our friend has been kidnapped, most likely by the true murderer," Teal'c said.
"So we don't exactly have any time to waste either," Sam said.
"Fine," Errin said. "Then let us proceed."
"Was Colonel Maybourne tested for foreign chemicals?" Teal'c said while Sam continued to glare at Errin for another moment.
"Of course. He was tested for all the usual drugs of abuse," Errin said.
"Usual," Sam said, thinking. "You mean usual for your world, right?"
"Yes, of course."
"Colonel Maybourne is from another planet," Sam pointed out. "So were the victims."
"Whoever is behind this crime may have used chemicals unknown to you," Teal'c said.
"You'd like to test for chemicals known on your planet?" Errin guessed.
"Yes, we would," Sam said. "The trouble is--it's been several days already. Even if Maybourne was drugged, it would almost certainly have been metabolized by now."
"We always take two blood samples," Errin told Sam. "One is used to perform the standard tests. The other is frozen and stored until the trial is over. We use it if there are any disputes over the results from the first sample."
"Then you still possess a sample taken shortly after the crime?" Teal'c said.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Sam said sharply.
"For you to tell me what it is we're looking for," Errin said, holding her hands up in a gesture of ignorance.
"Right," Sam said, chastened. "We'll get back to you."
"What is it, Carter?" Jack said, immediately heading into the sitting room when he heard Sam and Teal'c return.
"We may have something."
"We have obtained a copy of the laboratory reports from the Amendeep forensic lab," Teal'c said.
"I'd like to take it to the SGC," Sam said as Teal'c handed the reports to Jack. "Dr. Fraiser can take a look at it, see if there's anything she recognizes. And even if there isn't, I'd like to get information on what kinds of drugs we look for in our tox screens so that the Amendeep lab can run the same tests. But I'll have to go back. To Pankeer and then to Earth. It'll take time."
"Right now the best chance we have of finding Daniel is to find the person who killed those three men," Jack said. "Will these tests help us do that?"
"So go. Take Teal'c with you."
"I'm going to hang around here, keep bugging the police," Jack said.
"Is that wise?" Teal'c asked.
"If I annoy them enough they may actually get off their butts and do something about it."
"That is precisely what concerns me," Teal'c said.
"Do something about the problem, not about me," Jack retorted.
"My concern is that they may not be able to distinguish between the two."
"Jewels?" Daniel asked incredulously when Watkins returned from seeing to the horses that evening. "You killed three men for jewels?"
"Well, I see you've made good progress. And it's four," Watkins said. "Four men."
"How do you think I got those documents?"
For a moment Daniel stared at the papers as if he might be able to see the blood of their former owner splattered across the words.
"They're not just jewels, Doc, although they are very beautiful. They're clear, like a diamond, but at the same time they seem to have every color...like a prism...but more intense, more brilliant than any diamond you've ever seen," Watkins said almost reverently. He gave himself a little shake, breaking his reverie. "Are you familiar with computer chips? Microprocessors?"
"Uh...only vaguely," Daniel said, confused by the change in topic.
"Ever seen a computer from the 1950's or 60's?"
"Big, aren't they?"
"Yes. It was some years before advances in technology allowed us to miniaturize the components."
"Very good, Doc. And those advances in technology, the ability to build smaller but more powerful computers, revolutionized our culture," Watkins said. "Now--have you ever studied Goa'uld crystals?"
"No. Well, not me personally."
"They function something like a computer hard drive."
"You can store a lot of information on a crystal," Daniel agreed.
"But there's one limiting factor that can't be overcome," Watkins lectured. "The crystals themselves. They have impurities, flaws."
"And these jewels...?"
"Very good, Dr. Jackson," Watkins said patronizingly. Daniel almost expected a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. "These 'jewels' are damn near one hundred per cent pure. And dense." Watkins shook his head at Daniel's questioning look. "Something to do with the internal crystalline structure. These stones are better than anything else, found or made."
"Imagine: I can revolutionize intergalactic culture with these crystals. Instead of needing a chunk of rock the size of your head, you'd only need one the size of your little finger. Ships can be made smaller. Powerful weapons can be made portable."
"What's the catch?" Daniel asked.
"Catch? There's no catch."
"There must be. Why hasn't anyone else been mining these crystals?"
"No one knows where they are," Watkins said with a shrug. "Scarthen was the only man in hundreds of years to find the mine. I intend to be the next."
"The location is here," Watkins said, tapping his finger on the page.
"I don't think it is."
"It is. Find it."
"Okay, here's a thought," Daniel said. "Why should I help you? You'll just kill me when you've got what you want anyway."
"Maybe. Maybe not," Watkins said. He gave Daniel an irritatingly smug look. "But we both know you won't give up just yet."
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Because you think that every minute you're alive is time for SG-1 to find you. They won't," Watkins said confidently. "But you're not going to give up on them just yet."
"You know, the only reason I've managed to translate this much is that Scarthen wasn't a linguist," Daniel said, refusing to acknowledge the truth of Watkins' analysis.
"I don't follow."
"A lot of this seems to be simple word to word translation," Daniel explained. "He didn't care about syntax or...well, let's just say he wasn't a linguist."
"From what I've been able to find out about him, he learned the old language purely so that he could try to learn the aliens' secrets," Watkins said. "I doubt he was any kind of real scholar."
"Yeah, well, it makes a lot of this little more than gobbledygook," Daniel said. "I get the impression that he was translating an old document into rough English, and then writing his translation in a rudimentary form of the old language."
"Just find the place."
"Well, there is a mention of Pankeer City."
"Nope. It's here--on the moon," Watkins said confidently.
Jack gave the building that housed the Tandarra Security Force one last look of disgust before setting his feet on a path back to the train station. Jack fumed internally. He'd known that another personal visit to the Chief of Security was unlikely to yield any positive results, but he didn't intend to give the Tandarran a chance to forget about Daniel.
Curiously, the Tandarran had shown definite signs of interest the previous day when Jack had told him about Watkins. More interest than he'd shown in Daniel. Mays had seemed fairly certain that Watkins wasn't tied to the Association, and the Chief didn't seem particularly sympathetic to the man, so Jack was left to wonder what it was about the guy that made the Chief sit up and take notice. Ultimately it probably didn't matter. Daniel was with Watkins so if the Security Force found him by tracking Watkins--all well and good. Just as long as they found him.
Something niggled at the back of Jack's mind, finally getting through his anger. He kept walking but concentrated his senses on studying his surroundings. After a moment, he smiled grimly. Maintaining his pace he continued on for a couple more blocks. When he saw his chance, he sidestepped quickly into the shadowed empty space between two businesses. He didn't have to wait long for his quarry to reach the corner of the building.
Jack reached out and grabbed the man, pulling him in and slamming him against the stone wall. A brief struggle ensued, but Jack maintained his advantage, jabbing his pistol into the man's ribs while he pressed his left forearm against the man's throat.
"You're not allowed to carry weapons."
"So sorry," Jack said. "Want to report me to the Chief of Security? While we're at it maybe we could have a little chat with him about why you're following me. Of course, he probably already knows, doesn't he?"
The man stared at Jack, anger and a little humiliation clear in the set of his mouth.
"I asked you a question." Jack dug the pistol in a little more painfully.
"I won't talk," he said defiantly.
"Really? Well, no sense in prolonging this then." Jack put on a very convincing show of preparing to shoot the man.
"Wait!" the man stammered. Jack cocked an eyebrow at him. "They'll kill me if I tell you anything."
"Only if they know about it," Jack pointed out. "And I'll kill you if you don't."
"You're annoying some pretty powerful people."
"Oh, please. I've annoyed bigger and better people. Often before breakfast," Jack said. "Now...who sent you after me?"
The man stared nervously. His eyes kept drifting down, trying to see Jack's gun.
"Tell you what--we've obviously gotten off on the wrong foot here," Jack said with false cheer. "We need to be a little...friendlier. Don't you think that would make the conversation more enjoyable? So why don't you tell me your name." Jack waited, without much expectation of success, and his pessimism was duly rewarded. "Okay, don't want to tell me your name.... How about I call you Bob? You like Bob?"
"And you can call me sir," Jack said. "Now, Bob, what do you know about Daniel Jackson?"
"Nothing." 'Bob' shook his head vehemently when Jack leaned a little harder against his neck. "He's the guy you're looking for. Otherwise, I've never heard of him--I swear."
"Watkins?" Jack guessed.
"He annoyed some powerful people, too."
"Stole something that belonged to them."
"I don't know. But they want it back."
"What about Daniel?"
"I told you I don't know anything about him."
"What do you know, Bob?"
"I heard you were nosing around, looking for Watkins," the man said, eyeing him nervously. "I was just trying to find out what you knew."
Jack grimaced as he applied just enough pressure the man's throat to render him unconscious. He slid the man down the wall to slump over on the ground. Jack gave him one last look of scorn before leaving.
"Just can't find good help anywhere these days."
"Doc?" Watkins voice was soft, but nevertheless threatening.
"It's not here," Daniel said defiantly. Unable to sleep more than a few hours, he'd convinced Watkins to give him the freedom of movement to return to the documents and then spent the early morning hours trying to make sense of Scarthen's writings.
"Don't mess with me, Doc."
"I'm not. There are no specific directions, no 'x' marks the spot. Just vague references to...vast plains."
"Vast plains?" Watkins said disgusted.
"Vast...vastuman," Daniel mumbled to himself now. "Vast man plains?" He shook his head. "I don't know what it means."
Watkins went to his pack and pulled out a square gray object about twelve inches square and four inches tall. He sat down at the table, flipping the thin lid of the device up and manipulating some keys.
"What's that?" Daniel asked, intrigued despite himself.
"A laptop computer," Watkins said, his eyes glued to whatever was on the screen.
"Really? Didn't know Dell shipped to the outer planets," Daniel said dryly.
"It's the Pankeeran version. And it's Maybourne's," Watkins told him. Daniel's eyes widened in mild surprise. "Hey--it was sitting right there and even if Maybourne realizes it's gone, it's the least of his worries."
"I suppose you steal candy from babies, too?"
"You know how it is, Doc. You spend a mint on the latest, fastest computer and six months later it's obsolete. I find it easier to just steal a new one." Watkins turned the laptop so that it was facing Daniel. The image of a faded map filled the screen. "Is there anything here about those plains?"
Daniel pulled the computer closer, taking a second to identify the basic controls that would allow him to navigate around the map. "What is this?"
"A very old map made by the aliens who lived here first." Watkins subsided into silence as Daniel peered at the image, eventually pulling over the documents he'd been working with.
"Vasuman," Daniel said.
"It's Vasuman, or something close to that. Here," Daniel said, turning the screen back to Watkins and pointing at an area in the upper left corner.
"This is it? This is the place Scarthen was talking about?"
"I don't know for sure. He mangled the language enough that I can't make an exact match."
"But do you think it's a match?" Watkins asked.
"If I had to guess.... Yes. Probably." Daniel shrugged. "But according to the map these plains cover a pretty big area."
"What else does the paper say?"
"It says all kinds of things, most of which is barely comprehensible."
"Read it to me," Watkins ordered.
"I said read it to me. Now."
Frowning, Daniel began reading the document, stumbling through the words that at times seemed to be nothing more than a list of vocabulary words with no relationship to each other. Watkins listened intently, then made Daniel go back and read it again.
"Okay, okay!" Watkins interrupted excitedly on the second reading. He pulled up a new image on the computer screen. "That Three Whatchamacallits--that's familiar."
"The Keerit? Familiar how?"
"Ha!" Watkins crowed. "Look."
Daniel looked the screen. Watkins had overlaid the old map with a more modern one. Watkins' finger hovered over a dot whose identifying label did seem very similar to the words Daniel had translated. The spot was deep into the Vasuman plains, far from any identified habitation.
"Pack your bags, Doc. If we ride straight through, we should be there by early morning."
"Ride?" Daniel said, unable to suppress a wince.
"Don't knock it," Watkins said as he gathered their few belongings. "At least you're still alive."
"Yippee yi yo," Daniel said with a resigned sigh.
Janet Fraiser gritted her teeth to keep an exasperated sigh from escaping.
"Teal'c, I'm working as fast as I can," Janet said, eyeing the pacing Jaffa pointedly.
"Of that I am certain," Teal'c said, not breaking the rhythm of his footsteps for a second.
"My point is that pacing back and forth isn't going to speed up the process."
"I did not think that it would," Teal'c said.
"Oh, for...," Janet muttered. "Teal'c--please do that somewhere else."
"Am I disturbing you?" Teal'c asked, finally pausing, a perplexed expression on his face.
"Yes," Janet said with an emphatic nod. "You are."
Teal'c simply stood, looking as if he'd been cast adrift. Janet quickly leaned over and rested her hand on his forearm.
"I'm sorry. I know you're worried and I know you want to get back to Pankeer as quickly as possible, but you're driving me crazy."
"I do not enjoy waiting," Teal'c confessed.
"Nothing for you to do?" Janet asked sympathetically.
"Major Carter is retrieving all the information on Captain Watkins that is available. There is little else to be done here on Earth," Teal'c said.
"Despite working with a handicap, given that I can't read the Pankeeran reports, I should only be a couple more hours. Why don't you go get something to eat? And, if you think about it, pick up a couple of candy bars. Daniel has a tendency to get a little hypoglycemic when he's been kidnapped," Janet said with a smile.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, amusement lighting his eyes. "I shall prepare to render first aid to Daniel Jackson upon his return."
"Well, this is attractive," Daniel muttered as they rode through scrub land. The sky was just beginning to lighten, and the increased visibility did nothing to enhance the appearance of the desolate vista. The dryness in his throat did help take his mind off of his chafed thighs. For a moment anyway.
"Reminds me of the Badlands," Watkins agreed. "But that, unless I miss my guess, is the Three...whatevers."
Daniel stared at the three conical stone formations that protruded sixty to eighty feet above the otherwise endlessly flat, dusty land around them. And at the small square shape that rested nearby.
"That's it," Watkins said, noticing the building, too. "I'll be damned--we actually found it."
"Don't you think you're jumping the gun?" Daniel asked. He realized, as they drew up to the building, that it was draped with something similar to the camouflage net Daniel had seen the military use to hide vehicles and buildings from discovery by aerial reconnaissance.
"That crazy old bastard," Watkins laughed as he slid off his horse. "He hid the damn thing."
Daniel hurried to follow Watkins into the building. He didn't want to take the chance that Watkins would wander far enough away from him to cause the cuff to activate. He made a quick survey of the interior, frowning slightly at all the dust and silt that had built up over years of neglect. Three sets of bunk beds were jammed into the far end of the room. The middle was occupied by a table and three mismatched chairs. On the far side was what looked like a stove and sink. At the other end were two closed doors. Daniel assumed that one of the doors led to a bathroom. At least he was hoping it did. Outhouses weren't really his thing.
Daniel wandered over to the table. Several books and what appeared to be ledgers of some kind were lying scattered across the surface, nearly buried in dust. He brushed off one of the books while Watkins investigated the doors.
"Okay, where's the mine?" Watkins asked.
"Don't know," Daniel said, glancing up from the book.
"It has to be here."
"Yes, I think it probably does," Daniel agreed. He held up the book, showing Watkins the writing on the flyleaf. "This is Scarthen's name. What's in those rooms?"
"Bathroom and nothing."
"Nothing?" Daniel asked, puzzled. He walked to the door, not waiting for Watkins to respond.
"Not exactly nothing. A little bit of equipment," Watkins said, gesturing around the small room. "A few supplies that are definitely past their expiration date."
"You said Scarthen was...nuts," Daniel said when they'd made their way back into the main room.
"Crazy. Like a fox," Watkins said. "Completely paranoid."
"He went to the trouble to hide his find in the language of another, extinct, race. And to camouflage the building."
"He hid the mine, too? Well, that makes sense," Watkins said. "But where?"
"There must be a reason that we're next to the only geographical formation of any significance in the entire area," Daniel suggested.
"Keep up, Doc," Watkins called over his shoulder as he hurried back outside, heading for the conical rock formation. "Wouldn't want you to accidentally get zapped."
"Thanks for your concern," Daniel muttered, forcing his stiff legs to carry him after Watkins.
The three pillars were actually joined at the bottom to form one large, roughly circular base. Watkins walked quickly, scanning the rock face as Daniel caught up with him.
"I don't see anything. Nothing," Watkins said. "Do you?"
Daniel joined him, studying the coarse stone more thoroughly. After several minutes he turned to Watkins, waiting just behind him.
"There's something here. I don't think these indentations are part of the natural formation," Daniel told him.
"Try it," Watkins urged.
"It could be a booby trap," Daniel said.
"Go ahead and try it." Watkins stepped a few feet back and waved for Daniel to proceed. Daniel rolled his eyes but turned back to the anomalous indentations. After a few more moments he took a deep breath and placed his fingers into the small impressions. A section of the rock face seemed to shimmer, then vanished completely, revealing a rough opening about six feet high and four feet wide.
"Hot damn," Watkins said softly. He stepped forward to gaze at the entrance. "You done good, Jackson."
Daniel just stared at the mine entrance, expecting that it would be the last thing he saw. Instead he watched, puzzled, as Watkins gestured for him to lead the way in. Cautiously, Daniel walked in, giving his eyes a moment to adjust to the darkness. Inside there was a pile of equipment--lanterns, picks, gloves--jumbled carelessly against one wall. At the rear a gaping hole in the floor. Daniel peered over the edge into a roughly circular vertical tunnel about thirty feet deep. Metal rungs set in one side of the shaft were the obvious means of access.
"Grab a lantern," Watkins said. "Let's go check it out."
"Don't get me wrong--I'm not complaining here--but...you're not going to kill me?"
"Now that I've actually found the mine, I need someone to do the grunt work," Watkins said with a grin.
"We got it!"
Jack turned from the window in the sitting room at the sound of Sam's excited voice.
"The answer," Teal'c said, smiling. Sam jumped in before Jack could get frustrated at having to pull the information from them bit by bit.
"Drugs, sir. Maybourne was drugged."
"You're sure?" Jack said skeptically.
"Completely," Teal'c said. "Dr. Fraiser analyzed the test results very carefully. She suspected that a particular drug had been used, one which was not specifically tested for by the Amendeep lab but may have accounted for some anomalies they detected."
"We weren't sure about their measurements, or the scale on the chromatography report. At least, we thought it was a chromatography.... Anyway, we kind of had to futz with the data a bit," Sam said.
"Carter, you know I have the utmost faith in your futzing ability but...."
"We're right, sir. Janet identified one particular drug she thought was the most likely culprit. She gave us the data on the drug and we took that back to the forensic chemist. She ran a confirmatory test under our supervision," Sam said.
"The results are irrefutable," Teal'c concluded.
"And extrapolating from the amount of drug in Maybourne's system back the eight hours or so to the time of the murder, there's no way he was even conscious at the time those men were killed," Sam said triumphantly.
"You're positive?" Jack demanded. "There's no room for error?"
"The results were double checked by both Errin and our own people. There's no mistake," Sam said.
"Is that going to be good enough for the court?" Jack asked.
"Mem Errin has reported the results of the analysis to Colonel Maybourne's counselor," Teal'c told Jack. "A hearing has been set for tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow," Jack repeated, frustrated by the delay.
"We will find Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.
"You said it yourself, sir--the best way to find Daniel is to find out who's behind the murders," Sam added.
"I know. But we're kind of under the gun here."
"Sir?" Sam prompted, reading the concern on Jack's face.
"The Association is looking for Watkins, too," Jack told them.
"Apparently he crossed the wrong people." Jack grimaced self consciously, angry at himself for not being more careful. "And I tipped them to the fact that Watkins was the one who kidnapped Daniel."
"Are you certain?"
"I caught one of their people tailing me in Tandarra." Jack shrugged. "We had a little chat."
"Still, the Association has no reason to harm Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.
"No, not intentionally, but my guess is that these guys don't worry too much about collateral damage."
"If they're following us then that means they have even less idea of what Watkins is up to or where he might have gone than we do," Sam said. "We just have to keep one step ahead of them."
"So full speed ahead and hope for the best," Jack said. "As usual."
Daniel glanced around to see Watkins working almost obsessively at the stone. The first time they'd walked into this chamber, one of many that dotted the tunnels that radiated out horizontally from the bottom of the central shaft, their flashlights had suddenly been reflected back from the crystals imbedded in the walls. Daniel's eyes had been literally dazzled. They'd discovered that they needed to keep the light low and diffuse in order to work.
"You keep working here. I'm going to go check out this other tunnel," Watkins said suddenly.
"Is that safe?"
"Do you care?" Watkins said.
"Er, well...." Daniel held up his hand, displaying the cuff around his wrist. "If you get caught in a cave in or something, I'm kind of stuck."
"Then you'd better hope that doesn't happen."
"Right," Daniel said as he watched Watkins head into the next passageway.
Daniel coughed, the dry, dusty air of the mine making his lungs hurt. He took a sip of water from his canteen and looked around. The rock surrounding the crystals was as dark and glassy as obsidian. The imbedded crystals glittered, like stars in the night sky, but the beauty was deceiving. While the crystals were smooth to the touch, the rock itself was extremely sharp. He and Watkins had quickly learned to be careful while moving about the tunnels. Heavy gloves and their boots were their only protection.
Daniel reached out and ran his finger along a partially exposed crystal. They were beautiful, reflecting with fiery brilliance whenever caught in direct light. But beauty or advanced technology aside, Daniel had no desire to spend any length of time in a mine. He'd been there, done that before, and it had turned out so well. Shyla was one embarrassment he was never going to be able to forget. It rankled a bit that if the Ascended had felt the need to erase his memories, they couldn't have permanently eradicated some of his more regrettable ones.
"How long is this going to take?" Jack hissed at Maybourne's counselor. Beck made an irritated wave, as if shooing a gnat away, and Jack slumped back in his seat just behind the defense stand.
"This is a waste of time," Jack muttered.
"We need to be here, in case there's a question about the drug information," Sam said softly.
"We need to be out there looking for Daniel," Jack argued.
"We will, once our obligation here has been met," Teal'c said. "In any case, I am uncertain as to how to proceed in our search."
"I know," Jack said reluctantly. "But we need to find Daniel before the Association finds Watkins."
"If this hearing goes the way we want it to, we may actually get some help in looking for Watkins," Sam said.
"Let's hope so," Jack muttered as the judge entered the room.
"We are met," the judge announced formally. "What matter is brought before this court?"
"The case against Investigator Maybourne, your Honor," Beck said, rising to his feet respectfully. "Based on new evidence, we request that the charges against the defendant be dropped. We also request that a writ be issued for Captain Mark Watkins of the planet Earth."
"On what grounds?"
"That there is sufficient evidence to require Captain Watkins' presence for further questioning."
"Have you notified the investigator in the case?" the judge asked. Beck nodded. "Very well: the writ is issued. Now, what's this new evidence, Beck?"
"That defendant Maybourne was drugged and therefore incapable of committing the crime."
"Proof?" the judge said, making a 'give me' gesture with his right hand.
Maybourne's counselor gestured for Errin to stand.
"Mem Errin, greetings," the judge said.
"Good day to you, your Honor."
"Have you new evidence to offer in this case?"
"I do," Errin nodded. "Because both the victims and the defendant were from another planet, I have run additional tests for drugs not known to us, but known to the people of Earth."
"And what were your findings?"
"That Investigator Maybourne was indeed under the influence of a powerful soporific."
"I must protest your Honor," the prosecuting counselor said, rising to his feet. "We know nothing of these alleged drugs from Earth."
"I have prepared a preliminary report that includes the scientific data shared by one of the Earth scientists," Errin told the judge. The judge waved her forward.
"Your Honor," the prosecutor said again as the judge quickly flipped through Errin's report.
"I do believe that in such unusual circumstances the question of guilt or innocence should be decided through due process," the judge said. "However, it is my opinion that the evidence no longer supports the charge of premeditated murder. The charge is reduced to murder. Normal conditions of release."
"What's that mean?" Jack asked, leaning forward as the judge dismissed the court.
"It means I can get bailed out of here," Maybourne said, turning toward Jack with a grin.
Sam looked up from where she was toying endlessly with a copy of the lab results. On the other couch, Jack was going through Daniel's scrawled notes, again, in the hope of finding...something.
"I have an idea, sir," Sam said.
"Of course you do," Jack said absently. "But if you focus your mind on sumo wrestling for sixty seconds, it'll go away."
"I'm serious, Colonel," Sam said. "I think we should try to get our hands on any personal belongings found with the victims or in their hotel room."
"You think they'd be dumb enough to leave information lying around?" Harry asked. He was sitting on the other end of Sam's couch, simply enjoying a view without bars.
"It's possible," Sam said.
"And that's assuming that they even knew what Watkins was up to in the first place," Harry continued.
"It seems unlikely that he would have shared information if he intended to kill them," Teal'c said. He was sitting on the floor attempting to focus his mind through meditation.
"Or maybe he didn't care if they knew because he intended to kill them anyway," Sam suggested. "Or...he could've killed them because they found out."
"It's a long shot," Harry said.
"Well, it's the only shot we've got right now," Jack said. "See what you can find out, Carter."
"Yes, sir," Sam said, reaching for the phone. She lifted up the receiver, then hesitated. She turned to look at Jack.
"Sumo wrestling, sir?"
"See, it works."
"This it?" Jack asked, discouraged, when they were finally able to track down the victims' belongings late that afternoon.
"They didn't have much. They were frequent guests of the hotel, often under false names. But their stays never lasted long. Two or three days normally," Counselor Beck said as he set a box down on the table. He pulled an envelope from his breast pocket. "I also have this."
"Which is?" Harry asked.
"Papers. We can't read them--they're written in your planet's writing, but we saved them so that one of your people could study them. I should tell you, though, that I'd already shown these to Dr. Jackson. He found nothing of interest."
"You're a real mensch, Beck," Harry said, patting his lawyer on the shoulder.
"You shouldn't even be in here," Beck said, gesturing around the small conference room in the justice building. "You're still the one and only suspect."
"Hey, it's my ass on the line," Harry said.
"It is Daniel Jackson's ass we are concerned with," Teal'c said.
"Yeah, well...anything we can find to save Jackson's ass will help save mine. And vice versa."
"Therefore saving two asses with one...."
"Ah!" Jack said sharply, waving a finger at Teal'c. "Don't. And don't encourage him." Jack turned to point his finger at Harry. "And don't you encourage him."
Harry sniffed disdainfully as he handed the handwritten notes to Jack. Teal'c and Sam started rifling through the contents of the box.
"If you need any assistance, I'll be just down the hall," Beck said, clearly glad to get away from the strange Earth people. Jack just waved absently in response as he skimmed the notes. It wasn't long before he set the papers aside with a disappointed sigh.
"I don't see anything," Jack said. "A couple of references to our little Tollan adventure but otherwise--bupkis."
"There does not appear to be anything useful here either," Teal'c said, staring at the box's meager contents, now spread across the table.
"Well, we knew it was a long shot," Sam said, unable to hide her disappointment.
"And it just may have paid off," Harry said, his eyes glued to a torn sheet of notebook paper. Jack leaned over to look at it.
"That's just the stuff about the moon," Jack said with a dismissive wave of the hand.
"Look at the date, Jack."
"Sorry," Jack said, unfamiliar with the alien time designations. "Means nothing to me."
"Right. Well, this is dated after our little visit to the moon," Harry explained.
"They were planning to attempt another attack on the Tollan?" Teal'c asked.
"I doubt it," Harry said. "This is about supplies. Transporting supplies to the moon."
"Why would they need supplies?" Sam asked.
"I don't know," Harry said. "Most of the population is located within a day's walk of the transporter. And although they may be somewhat backward, relatively speaking, they do have grocery stores and hotels and whatnot. I can't imagine why anyone would need to take supplies unless they were going to go hiking off into the wilderness. And I can't imagine why they would want to go hiking off into the wilderness."
"There must be a reason," Teal'c said logically.
Jack leaned back in his chair, his arms crossed over his chest while he thought.
"What could there be about that moon that would interest Watkins?" Jack asked.
"Something out of history," Sam said suddenly. She shrugged when all three men stared at her, uncomprehending. "Think about it. Watkins deliberately took Daniel. Why?"
"Because Daniel Jackson is a student of ancient history," Teal'c said.
"Earth history," Jack pointed out.
"And languages," Sam added. "What if Watkins needed Daniel to help him translate something?"
"Like what?" Maybourne asked. "There's nothing of any value on that hunk of rock."
"No," Sam said. "Remember--the first time we came to Pankeer, Daniel said there must've been something important on the moon at some point in the past."
"Else why would they have built the transporter," Teal'c said.
"And Watkins figured out what it was?" Jack asked.
"Jewels," Harry said suddenly, his eyes widening.
"Jewels?" Beck asked, having just returned to check on his client's whereabouts. "What jewels?"
"Remember--I overheard Collins talking about some treasure--a lost treasure," Harry said to Jack. "What if that's what Watkins is after?"
"You know anything about some lost treasure?" Jack asked Beck.
"There are lots of stories about treasure, lost and otherwise," Beck said. "Most of them are probably nothing more than myths and legends."
"Daniel Jackson has taught me that myths often have a basis in truth," Teal'c said.
"I suppose the Chandre Crystals would fit," Beck said.
"Chandre Crystals," Harry repeated thoughtfully. "I've seen them. In a museum in Pankeer City."
"They're real?" Jack asked.
"The crystals are," Beck said. "But where they came from.... The legends go back to pre-human times, back when only an alien race lived here. Although I have heard a story about a human discovering the secret hundreds of years ago."
"Is it true?" Sam asked.
"I don't know," Beck said with an apologetic shrug. "It was just a story I heard when I was younger."
"It's exactly the kind of thing Watkins would go for," Harry said.
"Based on a folk story? How far could they get?" Jack paused thoughtfully, staring at Harry. "Is this why the Association is after Watkins?"
"If the Association had hard information on the location of this mine they would've gone after it themselves a long time ago," Harry said, shaking his head.
"What if the Association just got the information themselves?" Sam suggested.
"I'm not following," Harry said.
"You were in Tandarra investigating Association ties to some industrial espionage."
"Yeah, but.... Damn." Harry stopped suddenly, his gaze distant as he thought.
"None of the companies that reported the thefts was real eager to tell us exactly what was stolen," Harry said. "Understandable--they're afraid that we might sell their secrets. But one of them was very reluctant to talk. In the end they only reported the loss as some historical documents."
"About these...jewels?" Jack said skeptically.
"Historical documents," Harry repeated. He shrugged. "It could fit."
"That could explain why Watkins needed Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.
"But it could just be another long shot," Sam said.
"At this point I'll take a long shot over no shot," Jack said. He checked his watch quickly. "Let's get back to our rooms. I want to contact our people back in Pankeer City and have them post a guard on that transporter. Then we need to do some research on this 'lost treasure'."
"Carter, fire up that video telephone thing," Jack said the minute they reached their suite at the diplomatic residence. "I want to talk to Inspector Mays."
"Ah, Jack," Harry protested.
"Pankeer is a couple of time zones ahead of us. It'll be late there."
"So he's my boss and I think getting arrested for murder is about as far as I want to try his patience."
"He's a cop," Jack said. "He's used to calls in the middle of the night."
"Sir," Sam said, calling Jack over to the videophone.
"Colonel O'Neill." Mays had obviously been disturbed from rest, but the dressing gown he wore over pajamas was neatly tied at the waist. He looked both perfectly at ease and alert.
"Sorry to disturb you," Jack apologized as he sat down in front of the screen. "But we may be getting somewhere."
"With the murder or Dr. Jackson's abduction?"
"Both, we hope. We're pretty sure the two are linked."
"Watkins got rid of the others and set me up to take the fall. Then he took Jackson because he needed help," Harry said, leaning over to look into the camera.
"Maybourne, congratulations," Mays said with an acknowledging nod at Harry. "It appears your friends have been successful."
"Not entirely. Not yet," Jack said, nudging Harry back out of the way. "Listen, Mays, I need you to pass a message on to our people there. I want a guard on the transporter platform. I don't want Watkins getting off planet, assuming he hasn't already."
"Consider it done," Mays said.
"And we need to find some information about something called the Chandre Crystals," Jack continued.
"The Chandre Crystals? Why?"
"We think that's what Watkins is looking for," Sam said.
"Interesting," Mays said, folding his hands together thoughtfully. "He wouldn't be the first one, of course."
"The Chandre Crystals are extremely rare, and extremely valuable. They were mined and used by the alien race that originally inhabited this planet. In the centuries since the aliens died out many men have attempted to discover their source. To my knowledge, only one man ever succeeded."
"Who? When?" Jack asked.
"A very long time ago. An adventurer named Scarthen claimed to have discovered the mine, and over several months he brought a small fortune's worth of the gems to sell on Pankeer."
"I don't suppose he told anyone where the mine was?"
"Scarthen was very cagey: a long time raconteur and treasure hunter. He trusted almost no one."
"What happened to him?" Sam asked.
"Apparently the supply dried up," Mays said. "Perhaps there were only the remnants left from the time when the aliens had mined the stones. Scarthen became...unbalanced when his dreams of wealth vanished. He killed himself shortly after bringing a few last stones to Pankeer."
"Without ever telling anyone where the mine was," Jack guessed.
"No. And oddly, no one else ever turned up with the information, nor with any more crystals. Scarthen surely must have had a least a couple of men to help him. It's almost certain that his son was part of the venture. But whoever may have been involved, they were never heard from again."
"Not even his son?" Sam asked.
"No. No one."
"If the supply of these gems was exhausted, why would Watkins be looking for them?" Teal'c asked.
"It's really only supposition that no more crystals remain. Since no one has ever found the source, it's impossible to say for certain. Some people believe, or hope, that there are still more stones to be found," Mays said.
"And Watkins is the latest treasure hunter," Jack said.
"As I said--he would not be the first," Mays said.
"And just to add to the fun the Association is hunting, too," Jack said.
"They are?" Mays said, leaning toward the screen. "I really didn't think that Maybourne's former colleagues were connected to the Association."
"They weren't...exactly," Harry said. "We think Watkins may have gotten his information by stealing it from the Association."
"That's...interesting," Mays said.
"Isn't it just?" Jack said. "The problem is that we're really still just guessing here."
"And even if our guesses are correct, we are still uncertain as to what role Daniel Jackson would play in this...treasure hunt," Teal'c said.
"That's not so hard to understand. Dr. Jackson is a linguist, correct? Pankeer used to be a bilingual culture," Mays said. "The alien language has been dead longer than Scarthen, but Scarthen is known to have learned the old language. He wanted to be able to read historical documents to help him in his various explorations. And he used it in his own journals."
"Your writing system, that's from the alien race?" Sam asked.
"Yes. Humans adopted the alien writing when they came to this planet, although they kept their own spoken language alive. Now, even though no one has spoken the alien language in generations, the writing remains."
"Watkins wants Daniel to translate some dead alien language and help him find the lost mine," Jack said with certainty. "Damn it."
"Do you have any idea of where the mine might be?" Teal'c asked.
"It's most certainly on the moon, but beyond that no one knows."
"Is that why the transporter was built?" Sam asked.
"Presumably. The aliens didn't populate the moon any more heavily than humans have, but having a valuable resource like the crystals would've made it more than worthwhile to build an easy means of transport. And we know for a fact that the transporter was originally constructed using Chandre Crystals."
"You seem to know a great deal more than most about these crystals," Teal'c observed.
"History is passion of mine," Mays said with a quiet smile. "Especially any history relating to our alien predecessors."
"Well, you should talk to Daniel then. He'd love to hear all about it," Jack said.
"I look forward to that opportunity."
"Soon, I hope," Jack said. "Thanks for the help, Mays. We'll be headed back to Pankeer City shortly."
"We will await your arrival," Mays said, closing the connection.
"Pack up, kids. We're on the next train," Jack said. Sam and Teal'c immediately went to their shared room to gather their gear.
Jack wasted no time in going to collect his own gear. He stopped, puzzled, when Maybourne joined him, tossing his own few belongings together and stuffing them into Daniel's pack.
"Harry, what're you doing?"
"I'm going with you."
"No, you're not."
"Yes, I am," Harry said calmly, closing up Daniel's pack and slinging it over his shoulder.
"You're out on bail, Harry. You're not supposed to leave the city, let alone the planet."
"Look, Jack, I'm still up to my neck in it here. If Watkins is the key, then I'm going with you."
"Shouldn't you let Beck know that you're leaving?" Jack said, his heart not really into arguing the point.
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him."
"You know--that is exactly the attitude that gets you into trouble," Jack said as he followed Harry out of the room.
"Let's go, Doc," Watkins called brightly when their rest break was over.
"What?" Daniel said, looking up from the journals he'd been reading at every opportunity. "No. We can't."
"We can't," Daniel repeated. The longer he'd spent in the mine, the lousier he felt. Daniel had a bad feeling that there was a catch to this treasure, and he'd suspected that the key would be found in the diaries left behind. Sometimes he really hated finding out that he was right. "We can't go back into the mine."
"It's not safe."
"Not much in life is, Doc," Watkins said, motioning for Daniel to get up.
"You don't understand. Look--it's in the journal," Daniel said. "Scarthen ignored it, but his own son had started doing some tests. There are toxic gases down there. Lethal gases."
"It's just dust," Watkins said, his dry cough punctuating his assertion.
"No," Daniel said, gritting his teeth. "It's poison. That's why Scarthen killed himself. That's why the supply of jewels dropped: because the people working in the mine were dying."
"Nice try, Doc. Now get moving," Watkins said impatiently.
"I'm telling you the truth," Daniel warned. "If we keep going in there we'll die."
"I'd think you'd be used to that by now."
"You might think so," Daniel said. "But trust me--no matter how many times it happens, you're still surprised to find yourself dead."
"Move," Watkins said, all trace of humor gone.
The jolt was so sudden and so strong Daniel couldn't brace himself for it. The abrupt spasm dropped him to the floor. He was still gasping for air when Watkins stepped next to his head and looked down at him.
"Are we ready to go now?" Watkins asked.
Daniel grimaced, but nodded when Watkins moved his thumb over the trigger again.
"Carter, as soon as we get to...."
"Sir, if you'll come with me."
Jack did a double take at the man who'd fallen into step with him as they walked away from the Pankeer City train station. He was wearing civilian clothes, Pankeer style, but the face was familiar.
"Please, sir, come this way."
Jack stared hard at the lieutenant for a second, then nodded almost imperceptibly. Sam and Teal'c fell in behind him without a question. Harry hesitated just a second, puzzled, before following the rest to a private hovercraft.
Jack climbed into the craft, noted the pilot was wearing a Pankeeran Security Force uniform, and took a seat. As soon as the door was shut they took off.
"Care to explain, Lieutenant?"
"Inspector Mays suspected that you might be followed."
"Were we?" Sam asked, turning to look out the window.
"Two men," Rodriguez said with a nod.
"The Association?" Jack asked.
"Most likely, Colonel," the driver said.
"Mays' people will take care of them," Rodriguez said. "In the meantime, we're going to take the scenic route to the transporter. Make sure there aren't any more spooks on your tail."
"What's the situation otherwise?" Jack asked.
"We sent a couple of our people through to the moon as soon as Mays contacted us with your orders," Rodriguez said. "A man matching Watkins description was seen in the town nearest the transporter."
"When?" Sam asked.
"Four days ago."
"Damn it!" Jack snapped.
"What of Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
"Watkins was reported to be alone, but he did arrange for two horses," Rodriguez said. He pulled Teal'c's staff weapon out from where it had been secured in the back of the craft. "As requested."
"Thank you," Teal'c said, glad to have his familiar weapon back at hand.
"Watkins probably had to keep Jackson out of sight," Maybourne said. "He couldn't very well go dragging around someone bound and gagged without attracting too much attention."
"Four days ahead of us on horseback," Jack said as he watched the city slip past outside the window.
"We can use hovercraft," Harry said.
"We have no idea of where they are," Jack pointed out.
"We could have the SGC send through a UAV and scan for life signs," Sam said.
"No, we can't," Jack said. "We can't risk Watkins seeing the UAV. He'll know we're after him and that could put Daniel in danger. More danger than he's already in."
"I will endeavor to track them," Teal'c offered.
"After four days? That's going to take some doing even for you, Teal'c," Jack said. "And the only way for you to track them is if we're on foot. Depending on how far they're going, it could take us days to catch up. If not longer."
"We have no other choice," Teal'c said.
"The Tollan," Sam said suddenly.
"What about them?" Jack asked.
"They have the kind of technology that would help us locate Daniel and Watkins," Sam said.
"The Tollan don't share," Maybourne said.
"We won't exactly be asking them to share the actual technology. Just to use it and tell us the results," Sam argued.
"Carter--honest answer. How likely is it that they'll help?" Jack asked.
"I don't know of any other options, sir."
"Hi ho, hi ho, Doc."
"What?" Daniel looked up blearily at Watkins, standing over him threateningly.
"Get back to work," Watkins said, smacking Daniel on the side of the head.
"We have to get out of here," Daniel said, climbing to his feet and rubbing his stinging ear.
"Well, the sooner you get back to work, the sooner we can call it a day."
"No, I mean permanently. We have to leave."
"We're not leaving."
"I am," Daniel said defiantly.
"Leave and die," Watkins said, looking pointedly at the band around Daniel's wrist.
"Stay and we die," Daniel said angrily.
"These alleged gases again? I don't smell anything. Do you?"
"Just because we can't smell it doesn't mean it's not there," Daniel argued. "Carbon monoxide is odorless but it'll still kill you. Something killed Scarthen's people. Something is affecting us."
"I'm not going to argue with you, Doc. You can work, or you can die." Watkins pulled the control device from his pocket and held his thumb just over the switch. "What's it going to be?"
Daniel suddenly lunged for the device, wrapping his hands around Watkins's wrist and twisting his arm painfully. Watkins clawed at Daniel's face with his free hand, but Daniel hung on ferociously, driving Watkins back against the wall of the tunnel. Then Watkins kneed him in the groin. Daniel gave up trying to hold on to the device and concentrated on holding onto his lunch as he dropped to his knees.
"Get back to work," Watkins said, straightening his shirt and placing the controller back in his pocket before walking away.
"Okay, that was a bad plan," Daniel muttered as he rolled over to lie on his back, trying to catch his breath.
"Hey!" Jack yelled again. Sam, Teal'c and Maybourne stood in a semi-circle around him at the base of the cliff.
"They know we're here," Jack said angrily.
"Of course they do, sir. And if...."
"Hey!" Jack yelled, straining his vocal cords to their limit in an attempt to gain a few more decibels.
"Come on, Jack. Let's just go figure out another way," Harry said.
"No," Jack said firmly. "I'm not leaving until...."
Jack blinked as they were suddenly in the same bare, stone room. Arvann was already waiting for them there. Marden was hurrying into the room behind her.
"It's about time," Jack snapped.
"Why do you disturb us once again?" Marden asked.
"We require your assistance," Teal'c said.
"For what purpose?"
"Daniel Jackson has been kidnapped," Jack said. "He's somewhere on this moon and we need to find him--fast."
"That is not our concern," Marden said.
"Marden," Arvann chided. She looked at Jack. "What kind of assistance do you need?"
"We require technology that will allow us to detect life signs at great distance, and to do so without being detected ourselves," Teal'c said.
"They have several days' head start," Sam explained. "They're too far ahead for us to try tracking them on foot."
"Can you do that?" Jack asked.
"We have that capability," Arvann admitted.
"We do not share technology with more primitive races," Marden said quickly. "No matter how compelling the reason may seem."
"We're not asking for the technology," Jack said. "Just the information you get from it."
"Another ploy to obtain that which you are not ready to handle in a responsible manner."
"Not a ploy," Jack said sharply. "And at the moment I couldn't care less about your precious technology. I just want to know where Daniel is."
"I will help you," Arvann volunteered abruptly.
"Really?" Sam asked, stunned.
"You know the policy on sharing technology," Marden said, turning on Arvann angrily.
"I won't be giving them the technology. I will simply use it to assist in their search," Arvann said. "The Tau'ri have aided the Tollan in the past. More than once. It is only right that we assist them now."
"It is a violation...."
"Then take it up with the council. I'm going with them," Arvann said firmly.
Daniel rubbed at his eyes. He felt...weird. He wondered muddily why he felt so wrong after only a few days in the mine. Scarthen's people had lasted weeks...possibly several months. But then, they hadn't been this deep in the mine until near the end. Maybe that was it. Perhaps the toxins were more concentrated deeper in the ground. Or perhaps the physiology of the humans of Pankeer differed enough from his own that they had more resistance to the effects of the toxins.
Daniel pushed himself to his feet. Whatever the explanation, he knew he couldn't afford to stay in the mine any longer. He had to get out before the damage was irreversible. That was all he could think about as he forced himself forward, toward the mine entrance, the sharp rock tearing at his arms and legs as he stumbled against them.
The pain surprised him. Daniel fell to the ground, clawing at the bracelet that sent the searing jolts of pain through his body.
"Damn it," Daniel muttered. He gave up on the vain attempts to remove the metal band and tried to make his body move again, toward the surface. He had to get out. And maybe, just maybe, if he got far enough away the agony would stop; he'd be out of reach of the device.
When the pain did stop, Daniel realized numbly that he hadn't moved more than a couple of feet. He slumped over on his knees, panting, until a swift boot in his ribs sent him against the side wall.
"Are you nuts, Doc? Or do you just have a thing for pain?" Watkins spit at him. He was breathing hard himself, though Daniel didn't know if it was the result of the toxic gases, or simply his anger at Daniel.
"I really don't like pain," Daniel said, trying to catch his breath.
"Hard to tell."
"Yeah, well--unfortunately the reverse isn't true. Pain does seem to like me."
"Are you this much trouble for O'Neill?"
"Quite frequently," Daniel said.
"Crazy little m...."
"You're looking a little wild-eyed yourself," Daniel said.
"What?" Watkins said, taken aback.
"It's the gases," Daniel said. "They're affecting our ability to think. They're making us a little...nuts."
"I am not nuts."
"What do you call repeatedly putting yourself in a dangerous environment if not nuts?"
"What did I tell you the universal driving force was?"
"Greed," Daniel said.
"Greed," Watkins said emphatically. "Not insanity."
"I can't tell you how reassuring that is."
"Stop that!" Harry snapped, batting Jack's hand away from the controls.
"Well, shouldn't we...?"
"No, we shouldn't," Harry said firmly. "Now let me drive this thing and quit being a damn backseat driver."
"Not a backseat driver," Jack muttered, but he left the controls alone. Maybourne had managed to obtain three of the small, two-seater hovercraft. Teal'c had one. Carter had the second, with Arvann as her passenger. And Jack and Harry had teamed up in the third...after a brief pissing contest over who should drive.
"Carter?" Jack called, keying the radio in an attempt to ignore Harry.
"What's our status?"
"Arvann still has the signal. Their location hasn't changed. If it is Daniel and Watkins, then it looks like they must've found what they were looking for," Sam said.
"Well, that's good. If they're not moving we'll get to them faster," Jack said.
"It won't be today, sir. Even if we continue all night, it'll be tomorrow before we get there."
"Can these things go all night?" Jack asked Harry, wondering how long the solar power craft could go without recharging.
"Fully charged they've got a few days of power without additional input."
"Carter, Teal'c--we'll stop at 1800 hours for food and a short breather. Then we're pushing on."
"Very well," Teal'c responded.
"Damn, I wish these things went faster," Jack muttered to himself as he turned off the radio.
"They're built for convenience and lack of pollution, Jack," Harry said. "Not speed."
"Yeah, whatever," Jack said.
"Get your sorry ass back in that mine," Watkins said.
"We have to slow down at least. Take more breaks," Daniel said. He'd been splashing water in his face in a vain attempt to clear his thinking. He leaned over the basin, letting the water drip from his hair. "Can't you feel the effects?"
"Can you feel those effects?" Watkins sneered. Daniel gasped when the wristband activated, even though it was just a small, brief pulse.
"We'll both die down there and for what?" Daniel asked, finally turning to face Watkins.
"There's a great big lode of stones just waiting for us," Watkins said, looking at Daniel with wild eyes. "That's for what."
"You'll be dead," Daniel said. "What good will they do you then?"
"Trust me, Doc. I have no intention of dying."
"How much have we brought up already?" Daniel asked. "Not the amount of crystals. I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but the value. What's the dollar value on what we have so far?"
Despite Watkins constant pushing they hadn't managed to mine more than a relatively small number of the crystals. The gems themselves were unbreakable, at least with any tool they had. The four to twelve inch columns had to be extracted by chipping away the glassy stone around them. It was hard, tedious work when all they had to use were basic hand tools.
"How much?" Daniel prompted when Watkins didn't answer right away. "Tens of thousands? Hundreds?"
"Maybe half a million," Watkins conceded.
"Then walk away," Daniel pleaded. "You've got what you wanted. Why risk it anymore?"
"Because it's right there," Watkins yelled. "Right in front of us. I can see them; I can touch them, damn it, and I'm not going to just walk away and leave them lying there."
"There will always be more right there in front of you," Daniel said. "You have to walk away now or you'll never be able to."
"I've only got one shot at this. I intend to make the most of it."
"One? Why?" Daniel said.
"Because once the word gets out some people are going to very unhappy."
"I don't understand."
"You don't need to," Watkins said. "All you need to know is that we aren't finished yet."
Watkins just grabbed Daniel by the front of his t-shirt and yanked him back into the mine.
"This is so cool," Sam said, a delighted grin on her face as she maneuvered the hovercraft. She noticed Arvann watching her and flushed in embarrassment.
"The colonel claims I get a little 'giddy' when I get my hands on new technology," Sam admitted.
"Surely a little giddiness is not a bad thing?"
"It is to the colonel," Sam said wryly.
"Yet he is a leader of your people."
"And he's a good one," Sam said easily. "He just has a little problem with scientists."
"Then why is the colonel so insistent on obtaining advanced technology?" Arvann asked.
"Well, partly because those are his orders. And partly because he wants something--anything--that can help us fight the Goa'uld." Sam studied her passenger for a moment. "You're not going to get in trouble for this, are you? For helping us?"
"Perhaps. A little," Arvann said, not sounding terribly concerned about the prospect.
"I'm sorry," Sam said. "We really didn't want to make any trouble. It's just that we didn't have any other way of finding Daniel."
"Marden's position is tenuous," Arvann said.
"Um...," Sam hesitated, unsure as to where Arvann was going with that statement.
"We have discussed the information you gave us."
"About what happened on Tollana?" Sam asked. Arvann nodded. "And?"
"We are still not convinced. However, we continue to consider the possibilities. All of us, that is, but Marden."
"Daniel talked to Marden privately the last time we were here," Sam told her. "He didn't admit anything, of course, but Daniel was convinced that Marden knew something about the deal the Curia made with the Goa'uld."
"That is one of the possibilities that we have considered," Arvann said gravely. "It is almost as difficult to envisage as Chancellor Travell betraying Tollana to the Goa'uld. If Marden were not so adamant in insisting that all you told us was lies...."
"There's a reason he's so insistant," Sam said.
"Possibly," Arvann said vaguely. Sam started to speak again, then closed her mouth. Pushing wouldn't help. The other Tollan would either come to accept the truth, or not, on their own.
"Marden lost his wife and three children on Tollana," Arvann said solemnly.
"What? I.... God, I'm sorry," Sam said, stunned. She stared at Arvann's composed profile, her full lips set tightly but otherwise showing no sign of emotion. "Of course, I should've realized that.... I mean with the sheer numbers involved you all must have lost someone."
"I just want you to understand that Marden has suffered as much as anyone. He is not a bad man," Arvann said.
"He still lied to you," Sam argued.
"For what reason?"
"To secure his own position," Sam suggested.
"It is a thankless one."
"He's the leader."
"Of what? A small remnant of a once vigorous society, clothed in the tattered remains of our pride?" Arvann shook her head. "No, Marden took on a thankless job. You must realize--after the attack on Tollana we were all in shock. He took responsibility for finding us a new home. For organizing and delegating and beginning the rebuilding of our society."
"I still think he should've told you. Maybe not right away--maybe it would've been too much to deal with on top of what you'd already been through," Sam said. "But there's no reason not to tell you now."
"Then consider this: even if you speak the truth, and even if Marden did know of it.... Had he told us we would not have believed him anymore than we believed you."
"I think maybe you would have. Marden worked with the Curia. He knew things. And you knew that he knew. I think you would've believed."
"Perhaps," Arvann said. "But would that information have done us good or ill?"
"I don't know," Sam admitted.
Daniel looked up from where he sat on the floor of the tunnel, blinking and trying to make out the fuzzy figures in front of him. He knew there was only one other person in the mine with him, so these apparitions before him were what? Scarthen's ghost? Spirits of Chandre past?
"I'm not listening," Daniel announced. So far his thought processes had been slow and difficult, but ultimately logical. This was a new and disturbing development. 'Seeing' things scared him more than the physical symptoms. "Go find some other hallucination to...bother."
"I am not a hallucination. Look up here, Daniel. Does this look like a hallucination?"
Daniel looked up and frowned. It was Jack's voice, but it seemed to be coming from a Maybourne shaped hallucination.
"Yes, it does," Daniel said.
"Damn it, Daniel."
Daniel allowed his head to loll to the left. Now the Jack voice seemed to be coming from a vaguely Sam-shaped blob.
"It's official: I'm nuts," Daniel muttered to himself.
"That was never in doubt."
"Jack? You're real?"
"What was your first clue?" Jack asked, kneeling down next to Daniel on the floor of the tunnel.
"Hallucination Jack isn't as crabby," Daniel said.
"Daniel, hallucinations?" Sam said, a small smile tugging at her lips despite her concern.
"Yeah. Maybe. I thought you were hallucinations but you're not." Daniel paused, frowning deeply. "You're not, right?
"We are not, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said.
"Okay, so maybe not hallucinations. Maybe I'm just a little...fuzzy."
"Where's Watkins?" Jack asked, pretending he hadn't heard Daniel's assessment.
"Um...that way," Daniel said, waving in what he hoped was the general direction of the shaft. "Deeper in the mine."
"Right. Maybourne, get Daniel back up to the surface and wait for us. Carter, Teal'c and I will go after Watkins."
"No, no," Daniel muttered, trying clumsily to get to his feet. "Can't do that."
"Can't do what, Daniel?" Sam asked.
"Can't go down there. Toxic."
"Toxic?" Jack said as he pulled Daniel's arm around his own shoulders to keep him from falling. "What do you mean toxic? Carter?"
Sam quickly grabbed her monitor. "There is something, sir."
"I don't know. It's not something the sensors are calibrated to identify, but there's definitely another gas in the atmosphere, and at a significant level."
"So how come I don't notice it?" Jack said.
"Limited exposure," Daniel said, coughing.
"Masks," Jack said tersely. Sam and Maybourne immediately pulled the protective gear from their packs while Teal'c stood watch. Sam took over from Teal'c once her mask was on, while Jack shifted Daniel over to lean against Harry while he pulled his own mask from his pack.
"Get him out of here," Jack told Harry.
"Can't do that," Daniel muttered again.
"Oh, for.... Why not?"
Daniel held his hand up, showing the cuff around his wrist.
"What's that?" Jack asked, grabbing Daniel's arm and studying the ring.
"Insurance," Daniel said with a raspy laugh. "It's programmed. If I get too far away from Watkins it'll go off."
"Go off?" Sam asked, taking a closer look at the band herself.
"Go off as in kaboom?" Jack asked.
"No boom--electrical shock," Daniel said. "Won't kill me but not pleasant either."
"Carter, can you get that off?"
"I...I don't think so. I don't even see any kind of latch or fastening."
"It won't come off without the controller," Harry said. Jack turned to stare at him. "It's a restraint used by Pankeeran security forces. You have to have the controller to deactivate it."
"And the controller is...?"
"Watkins," Daniel said.
"Of course. Slight change in plans then," Jack said. He pulled off his mask and tugged it down over Daniel's head. "Harry and Daniel stay here. We'll go get Watkins and the controller."
"Sir," Sam protested.
"Limited exposure," Jack said. "I'll be fine."
"Quit trying to be the hero," Maybourne said with exasperation. He yanked off his own mask and handed it to Jack.
"You sure?" Jack asked.
"Just don't take the scenic route, okay?" Harry said.
Jack silently signaled for Sam and Teal'c to cover him. Jack slid through the opening into the chamber, his eyes sweeping the small space. Sam followed right behind, moving to the opposite side of the entrance.
Watkins was crouched over against the far wall, his left shoulder against the rock, his back to the entrance. For a moment, Jack wondered if Watkins was unconscious or even dead, but a harsh laugh proved that Watkins was still with them.
"I'll be damned," Watkins said with a dry cough. He turned his head slightly so that he could see them over his shoulder. "Jackson was right."
"About?" Jack asked.
"You. This place. Everything." Watkins reached out with his right hand and caressed the exposed end of a large crystal. "I hate it when he's right."
"Know the feeling," Jack said. "Now, Captain, how about you come with us nice and quiet like?"
"Why should I do that?"
"Because we are taking you with us, and I'd rather not have to shoot you in order to do it."
"Fortunately for me, I don't have the same compunction."
Watkins turned, revealing his left hand and the gun it contained. He started to raise the weapon when a blast hit him in the chest. The gun dropped uselessly from his fingers and he stared in disbelief at the charred hole in his chest before falling forward to the ground, dead.
Jack looked over at Teal'c, who kept his staff weapon pointed at Watkins until Sam could confirm Watkins' death and give them the all clear. Jack walked over and looked down at Watkins, shaking his head, before turning back to Teal'c.
"He was a threat. He was eliminated."
"Yeah, okay--that works for me."
Daniel pulled away from Jack and flopped to the ground, breathing heavily. Jack took advantage to yank his protective mask off.
"Maybourne--get that damn thing off," Jack said, tossing the control device to Harry while Sam and Teal'c removed their own masks. "Daniel?"
"Fine," Daniel said, trying to wave off Jack's concern with one hand while Maybourne removed the cuff from the other.
"What's wrong?" Arvann asked, coming forward from the hovercraft where Jack had ordered her to remain until they had the situation under control.
"Where's Watkins?" Harry asked.
"Toxic gases. And dead," Jack said, answering them both.
"Dead?" Harry complained as Arvann knelt down next to Daniel. "He was my get out jail free card, Jack!"
"Hey--he pulled a gun on us. Teal'c shot him. You got a problem with that you can take it up with Teal'c."
Harry looked over at Teal'c. Teal'c's expression was outwardly benign, but Harry wasn't taking any chances.
"How are we ever going to know for sure that Watkins was the killer?" Harry said to Jack.
"He was," Daniel said, still short of breath. "He killed them all."
"All? You mean Collins, Hurst and Emory?" Jack asked.
"All dead," Daniel panted. "Dumped'em in the mine shaft."
"Er...what?" Jack asked.
"Colonel," Arvann said softly. "I think we should go."
"Sir?" Sam said. She had crouched down on the other side of Daniel and she was concerned by the blueness to his lips she hadn't noticed in the darkness of the mine. "Arvann's right. Daniel needs medical attention."
"I believe we can help," Arvann said. "If we can take him back to the Tollan...."
"I will take Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said, already pulling Daniel to his feet.
"Push this baby just as fast as it'll go," Jack said as he helped Teal'c get Daniel situated in the passenger seat. "We'll be right behind you."
"What about Watkins?" Harry asked as Jack headed for their hovercraft.
"Carter," Jack called. Sam pulled a set of dog tags from her pocket and tossed them to Jack as she hurried toward her own vehicle. Jack turned and dangled Watkins' tags in front of Harry.
"He's dead and we're not wasting time on dragging his sorry carcass back with us," Jack said, shoving the tags into his pocket. "Now, you can drive, or I can drive, but either way we're leaving now."
"He will recover," Arvann said.
"He was still a little...off," Jack said, making a circling motion at his temple. He, Sam and Teal'c had been waiting in the hallway for the Tollan doctor to finish with Daniel.
"An expected result of hypoxia. The toxic gas was replacing some of the oxygen that his body and his brain needed to function normally. His mind will clear quickly."
"Will there be any permanent effects of the poison?" Teal'c asked.
"I have been assured that there will not be," Arvann said. "Had he remained in the mine for very much longer the toxin and the relative hypoxia both would have begun to cause potentially irreversible damage to his tissues, but fortunately for Dr. Jackson, his exposure was not long enough."
"We really appreciate everything you've done to help," Sam said.
"Very much so," Jack added sincerely.
"I am pleased that that our efforts were not in vain," Arvann said with a smile. "If you wish to stay until Dr. Jackson is ready to travel, I will have rooms prepared for you."
"I think Harry should probably get back and let Beck know where he is before the guy has a heart attack." Jack eyed Harry. "You are supposed to be in Amendeep, remember?"
"Ah, loosen up, Jack. A couple more days won't matter."
"I thought you didn't want to test Mays' patience any farther than you already have," Jack reminded him. Harry scowled, but nodded.
"Carter, why don't you and Teal'c go with Maybourne--at least as far as Pankeer City. Send a report through to Hammond; let him know what's going on. I'll bring Daniel as soon as he's ready."
"Yes, sir." Sam turned to go but Teal'c stopped and dug through his pockets. After a moment, he held out a Payday candy bar, slightly worse for wear.
"Please give that to Daniel Jackson when he is awake."
"Teal'c?" Jack said, accepting the candy.
"It is first aid."
"Right," Jack said, eyeing Teal'c suspiciously as he turned and began walking down the hallway. Jack turned his head to look at Sam. "Carter?"
"Personally, I've always had great faith in the medicinal properties of chocolate," Sam said with a shrug before following Teal'c.
Jack looked down at Daniel. He was nearly asleep in a chair in their temporary quarters in the diplomatic residence in Pankeer City. The Tollan said they had cleaned the toxin from his body, and that all he needed now was rest. Jack didn't doubt that they were right, but he wouldn't fully relax until he'd heard the same prognosis from Fraiser.
"Time to saddle up, Daniel."
"No!" Daniel said, jerking awake immediately.
"Come on, Daniel," Sam said, nudging Daniel in the shoulder and grinning. "I bet you were getting to be quite the horseman."
"No," Daniel repeated emphatically. "No saddles, no horses, just no."
"I find horses to be noble creatures," Teal'c said.
"Yes, they are. They're also big and...bouncy."
"Bouncy?" Jack asked
"Yes," Daniel insisted, moving his hand up and down to mimic a trotting motion. "Bouncy."
Daniel looked around at his teammates. Jack and Sam were struggling not to laugh, and Teal'c had an air of smug amusement.
"Don't you dare," Daniel muttered.
"Giddyup there, Hopalong," Jack said.
"Not funny," Daniel said as he took a deep breath and gathered enough energy to get up out of the chair.
"We gotta go. A quick stop by Mays' office, and then home sweet home. And an infirmary visit for you."
"There's something I've been meaning to ask you," Jack said.
"If it involves saddles, Tonto, or hoof and mouth disease--I don't know anything about it."
"Daniel," Jack said with an exasperated sigh.
"Back at the mine you said something about they're all dead and dumped in the mine shaft."
"Scarthen," Daniel said, closing his eyes as he remembered.
"The man who rediscovered the mine?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes. When people started dying he.... He just dumped their bodies down one of the played out shafts."
"Why?" Sam asked.
"I don't know. I think part of it was panic. He didn't want to admit there was anything wrong and all of a sudden he had dead people. Getting rid of the bodies meant he didn't have to face it."
"Then the gas finally drove him crazy and he killed himself?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. Certainly he'd spent enough time in the mine to be affected by the gas," Daniel said with a shrug. "But I suspect that ultimately he died of the same thing that Watkins did."
"A staff blast?" Jack asked, puzzled.
"Colonel," Mays said warmly, getting up from his desk and walking around to greet SG-1.
"Appreciate all your help, Inspector," Jack said, shaking his hand.
"Such as it was," Mays said. He nodded at Daniel. "I'm just sorry we won't have the opportunity to discuss Pankeer's history."
"So am I, but I've been warned that I have very impatient doctor waiting for me back on Earth," Daniel said dryly. "I'd love to come back, though."
"Please do," Mays said. He spread his hands to encompass the entire group. "You're all welcome to return."
"Thank you," Sam said. Teal'c nodded respectfully.
"Okay, kids, let's make like a tree," Jack said, clapping his hands together in anticipation.
"What? No heartfelt good-byes for me?" SG-1 turned to see Harry standing in the open door, escorted by a guard.
"Trust me, Maybourne--my good-bye to you is extremely heartfelt," Jack said. "And hopefully this time it'll take."
"You're all heart, Jack," Harry said. Jack just smiled smugly. "Seriously, I do appreciate everything you guys did."
"I wouldn't be thanking us just yet," Jack said, eyeing the cuff around Maybourne's wrist. "You're still facing murder charges."
"Minor detail," Harry said.
"As well as charges for violating the terms of your release," Mays added.
"Details," Harry repeated confidently. Mays gave a small, exasperated sigh and looked at Jack.
"He's your problem now," Jack said quickly.
"Daniel's statement should help, shouldn't it?" Sam asked.
"That, along with the laboratory reports your scientists have assisted in preparing, should go a long way toward proving Maybourne's innocence," Mays agreed.
"Innocence being a relative term in Harry's case," Jack said.
"You okay, Dr. Jackson?" Harry asked, ignoring Jack's comment.
"Oh, yeah," Daniel said casually. "This isn't the first time I've been kidnapped and dragged halfway across a planet. I'm starting to get used to it."
"We're thinking of implanting a locating device," Jack said.
"Sir," Sam chided, placing a supportive hand on Daniel's shoulder.
"In both of you," Jack added.
"Actually, Hammond suggested all four of us," Daniel said.
"Did not," Jack said uncertainly.
"Well, that's just not fair," Jack protested. "I always know where I am. You may not know where I am but I always know."
"So what do you think will happen?" Sam asked as they approached the stargate.
"To Maybourne?" Jack asked. Sam nodded. "He'll come out smelling like a slightly wilted rose. He always does."
"Do you think we'll get the chance to come back?" Daniel asked, glancing back at Jack and Sam.
"Not as a mission assignment, but if you want to waste your own time I don't suppose Hammond would object," Jack said. "Why?"
"I just...I have an idea," Daniel said slowly.
"Whatever you do--don't think about sumo wrestling," Sam advised.
"No, I.... What?" Daniel stared at Sam's mischievous smile, before turning to glare at Jack. "Jack?"
"Don't look at me," Jack said, trying to look innocent.
"Teal'c's a big fan."
"I find sumo wrestling to be most entertaining," Teal'c said.
"We have got to get you out of the mountain more often," Daniel said firmly.
"So that we may watch sumo wrestling in person?" Teal'c asked.
"Er...no," Daniel said, frowning.
"So what's your idea, Daniel?" Sam asked.
"My...? I...I forgot."
"See--works every time," Jack said.
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