Second Half Summary:
Chapter XXIV - Prisoners
Daniel was dumbfounded.
"PP6C-111?" he stammered at least.
"Then we'd both know you were lying, wouldn't we?" the voice replied blandly then waited for Daniel to digest this.
The last few moments had left him stunned and appalled. He'd believed the Stargate Project was possibly the mostly closely guarded secret in the U.S., but these guys not only knew about the existence of the Stargate, they also knew the method of designating planets. In the case of P6C-111, they evidently knew more than he did. There had clearly been a serious breach in their security.
There was a chuckle from the loudspeaker.
"Oh, don't worry, Dr. Jackson, your secret is safe with us."
"Us?" Daniel asked.
There was another chuckle.
"Who we are need not concern you. Know that it is not in our interest to reveal to a wider audience what goes on inside Cheyenne Mountain. We are solely concerned with the diamonds. For the moment anyway."
"And how I am I supposed to find, mine and transport that quantity of diamonds in just ten days?"
Daniel demanded in despair.
"Oh, we aren't so unreasonable, Dr. Jackson. The diamonds are easily retrievable. There's a low mountain range about five klicks south of the Stargate. It was created by a swarm of dykes. You know what they are?"
"Sort of Um. No, not really..."
"A dyke is a vertical sheet of magma that's been intruded into the layers of rock above it and then solidified. In this case, the dykes are made of kimberlite, a diamond-bearing rock. All this happened long enough ago for erosion to have washed diamonds out of the kimberlite matrix. Coming down from the mountains are a number of dried up river beds. You can pick up diamonds like pebbles on a beach there!"
"Ah, how would I know a diamond from any other pebble? I mean, I don't suppose they're lying around sparkling like the Crown Jewels or anything."
"Good point. Parker would you come and fetch some raw diamonds to show Dr. Jackson."
"At once, sir."
As the man's brisk footfalls clattered up the steps behind him, Daniel thought of a number of other important questions.
"How do you imagine I can instigate even a single mission to P6C-111? I don't particularly remember that world, and anyway, it's minor miracle if I can persuade - er - my commanding officer to extend an official mission by even one extra day. I mean, my team is designated a first contact team. My job is mainly identifying and assessing anything of potential value for further study on a new world. I don't often get follow up on anything, however interesting it may appear."
"Another good point, Dr. Jackson. You could transfer to another team for a while."
"What? What possible reason can I give for that?"
"Oh, I'm sure you'll think of something, but to show willing, I'll send a few photographs down with Parker as well the diamonds. There's a collection of ruins up in the mountains. You might find them interesting, Dr. Jackson. They look rather like the remains left by the Incas on Earth to my untutored eye."
"Huh? Inca ruins? I'm sure I'd've remembered those!"
"Perhaps you didn't spend long enough on the planet to find them. They're very well concealed."
Daniel's interest was indeed piqued in spite of his present predicament.
"How come nobody mentioned this to me? I'm supposed to be head of the archaeology department, for Chrissake."
"The previous mission was not an archaeological one."
That kind of made sense.
"So how come they brought back photos of the ruins then?"
"Questions! Questions! As you will see, the photos were not of the ruins. Those were entirely incidental."
"And, if there are all these diamonds lying around just waiting to be picked up, how come the S.G.C. hasn't been collecting them? We're always short of funding!"
Chapter XXV - Secrets
Daniel's mind was turning somersaults on the drive back to where he had been picked up. Agitated thoughts were careering madly around inside his skull, all jostling for position and trying to gain his full attention - thoughts like:
~ who are these guys?
None of them succeeded for long, except the last one.
As he walked along the trackway back to Cable Lane, he was mentally back in the cellar, seeing only Serena tied and gagged - and bruised. On the drive back to the apartment, the furious honking of horns alerted him to the fact that he'd run a red light, forcing him to focus on getting home safely. Had to survive for Serena.
Daniel leaned against the side of the elevator car as it clanked its way up to the eighth floor. It was 1405hrs. and he was feeling that it had already been a long day. His head was throbbing again now that the effect of the painkillers was wearing off, and the bruising round his ribs was in strong competition with the aching in his jaw.
He eased the key into the lock, opened the door and went into his apartment. There seemed little point in caution now. All the cards were on the table. Then a movement caught his eye - a shadow cast from the direction of the kitchen. A tall dark figure loomed. Daniel jumped.
"Teal'c!" he exclaimed. "Please, would you not do that?! I'm stressed enough as it is."
"Daniel. Home at last," came a drawling voice from the kitchen. "Where ya been? We missed ya. Oh, and Samantha's fine by the way. Thought you might care to know..."
Daniel winced at his perceived dereliction and inwardly cursed. Right now, Jack was the last person he wanted to see - needed time to get things clear in his mind - to work out what he was going to tell him. Which would take some doing. He had to keep Jack on-side without revealing the latest appalling events, and that was not going to be easy. In his present state, he really didn't want to be doing this on the fly.
"Ah-h - yeah, Jack," he muttered, weary and faltering, "Sorry about that. Ah, something - er - something came up... Last minute kind of thing Y'know how it is..."
"Care for a coffee? It's just brewed," Jack replied, apparently satisfied, but obviously not planning on going anywhere soon. "You look like you could do with some."
Daniel nodded and sighed. He removed his jacket and took it through into his bedroom along with the photographs that Parker had given him. He returned to the living room as Jack came through with three mugs of coffee and a plate of cookies on a tray. Daniel thanked him mechanically just wanting to be left alone for now, especially as he had the sinking feeling that he was about to be interrogated. He was not disappointed. After a report on Sam, and a little small talk, Jack reverted to his original topic.
"So, this 'thing' that came up... Care to tell us about it?"
"Ah, not right now Jack. Later - maybe."
"Something to do with Serena?"
"What? Why should it have anything to do with Serena?" Daniel asked suspiciously.
"Well, given that she's just been abducted, and it doesn't appear to be her family, then it's got to be something else. Which kinda suggests that whoever's got her would want to get in touch sometime or other. Am I right?"
"Look, as soon as anything comes up, I'll... I'll let you know. O.K.?"
"I thought you said something already had come up...?"
"Jack, please!" Daniel snapped, " I'm tired, I'm in pain and this just isn't a good time"
"Teal'c, why do I get the feeling that Daniel's holding out on us?"
"Possibly because he is, O'Neill."
Daniel shot Teal'c a look that had 'traitor' written all over it.
"I thought you were my friend," he scowled.
"And I thought you trusted me, Daniel," Jack said with a stony stare.
"I do! I trust you with my life, Jack - you know I do," Daniel protested.
"So what don't you trust me with?"
Daniel looked so distressed by the question that Teal'c took pity on him.
"I think DanielJackson would appreciate our absence, O'Neill," he said. "I am sure that if there is anything we can do, he will not hesitate to ask."
He stood up as he spoke, giving Jack little option but to follow suit.
"Yeah, thanks, Teal'c," Daniel murmured with a wan smile. "I do appreciate all your help, truly. I really wish"
"What, Daniel?" Jack asked with a searching look.
"Oh - never mind. It - it doesn't matter."
But it did. To all of them.
After his friends had left, Daniel poured some more coffee and set about making plans. He'd have to find out which hospital Niccolo Peruzzi was in and visit him if he was up to receiving visitors. He didn't believe that he was directly involved in Serena's present predicament, but maybe the little rat could shed some light on who was.
He'd also try and get a trace on the limo. He'd memorized the licence plate as a matter of course, but surmised that it was false. Still he had to give it a try.
Then there was P6C-111... Before he could start making a case for a mission to that world, he'd have to read through all the reports of previous missions. There must be some clue there as to who had betrayed them. Maybe then he could hint Jack in the direction of the breach in security without it's being apparent that he'd revealed the reason for Serena's being held hostage. Maybe. Then again.
Wearily he collected his jacket and the photographs. He reached in his pocket for the car keys and his hand encountered the leaf he'd pulled from the plant climbing up the wall of the building where Serena might be being detained. It looked like Virginia creeper. He put it back in his pocket and sighed.
Something else was nagging at the back of his mind, but it playfully eluded his attempts to bring it into the light of full consciousness. He shrugged it off and set off for the mountain.
Having dropped Teal'c off at Cheyenne Mountain, Jack drove slowly and thoughtfully back home. He was much concerned by Daniel's reticence. It was obvious that something serious had occurred. Under normal circumstances, however they were defined, Daniel would have turned to him at least as a sounding board if not for actual advice. He was a little hurt that Daniel had shut him out, but more worried that he hadn't felt able to confide in him.
He turned into the drive, climbed out of the big green F250, slouched up the steps to his front door and let himself in.
A familiar voice called out from the living room.
"Maybourne!" he snarled. "I might've known!"
Chapter XXVI - Threshold
"What the hell are you doing here, Maybourne?" Jack demanded, stalking into the living room and confronting his bête-noir.
"Ever the friendly welcome, Jack? You know I always turn up in your hour of need."
"Like a bad penny, you mean?"
"Unkind, Jack," Maybourne said with a wounded look that didn't fool O'Neill for one second, "and when I come bearing gifts as well."
"I understand congratulations are in order?"
"Your two boys..."
"Look, say what you have to and get out, Maybourne," Jack growled, refusing to be drawn into discussing his personal affairs.
"Aren't you going to offer me a beer, Jack?"
"What, so this is just a social call?"
"Not - entirely."
"I understand you're not the only one to whom congratulations are due?" Maybourne said with an avuncular smile.
"Meaning?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"I hear Dr. Jackson's also become a father - though not quite so recently, technically speaking..."
"You know he's in way over his head, don't you?"
"What're you talking about?"
"What about Serena?" Jack demanded, looming threateningly over Maybourne.
"Apart from the fact that she's being held for ransom?"
Jack reached down and yanked Maybourne to his feet by his lapels. His dark brown eyes glared into Maybourne's watery blue ones.
"What do you and your N.I.D. chums want with her?" he demanded.
"You weren't listening, Jack," Maybourne said mildly, carefully detaching Jack's hands from his jacket, and smoothing it down. "I said Danny's in way over his head. This isn't the N.I.D. It's much bigger than that."
"Not? Then who?"
"The mob, Jack - the Mafia."
Jack stared at him, mouth agape, as if willing him to unsay what he'd just said.
"I guess I owe you a drink," he said at last. "Sit down, Harry. I'll be right back, and then you'd better tell me all you know."
Meanwhile, Daniel was back in the Mountain. On the way down to his office, he'd stopped off at the biology lab. for an official ident. on the leaf. Dr. Philip Curtis, glanced at it and gave him a quizzical look.
"Where did you get this?" he asked.
"Oh... just locally. I think I know what it is, but just wanted to be sure. So...?"
"Parthenocissus tricuspidata veitchii."
Horticultural Latin had never really come Daniel's way. He suddenly understood why Jack's eyes glazed over so rapidly when he started explaining, for instance, the subtle differences between Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform. Dr. Curtis noticed his bemused expression and took pity.
"It's just Boston Ivy," he said.
"Oh. I thought it was Virginia Creeper," Daniel responded, a little crestfallen.
"That's another name for it, yes," Philip grinned.
Luck did not otherwise appear to be on Daniel's side. As expected, he'd drawn a blank with the limo.'s licence plate. He'd managed to track down Niccolo Peruzzi to the Penrose Hospital but, as the man was still critical and on life support, he wasn't likely to be receiving visitors any time soon.
That left the mission reports on P6C-111. Daniel went up to the S.G.C. Archive Room, making a detour into the commissary for something that could loosely be described as coffee. While he was there, Teal'c came in and spotted him. Daniel sighed, realizing he couldn't very well avoid talking to him.
"Please do not concern yourself that I shall press you talk about things with which you are uncomfortable, DanielJackson."
"Er, thank you, Teal'c. I appreciate that."
"But, if you need someone to whom you may speak freely, be assured that anything said will be treated with the utmost confidence."
"I wish... I really wish I could dis... But I can't"
"I understand, DanielJackson. However, if I may be of assistance in any other way, please do not hesitate to ask."
Daniel gave him a sad smile of mute thanks and thought for a while.
"Well, yes - there might be something you can do. Sometime Sometime soon, I'm going to need to ask General Hammond to let me do something, and when I do, I'd really appreciate your support on it, and I'm really sorry I can't tell you what it is right now..."
Daniel tailed off. He picked up his mug of coffee, nodded to Teal'c and went on his way.
In the Archive Room, he hunted through past reports and eventually turned up the accounts of the original mission. S.G.-1 had been there some eighteen months previously. He turned to his own report first. Yes, he remembered it now. He hadn't been shot, stunned, seduced or killed there which was probably why it hadn't made a particularly deep impression.
It was a pleasant Earth-like world whose highest life forms were small monkey-like creatures - or so they'd thought at the time. He had photographic evidence to the contrary now. He noted that since the report had passed from his hands, General Hammond had added an addendum recommending it for further study as a possible 'Delta Site' for colonization and exploitation.
"Now read on..." he muttered, sotto voce.
He found several more reports and thought about checking them out to read in comfort in his own room, then thought better of it. If Jack tried to investigate further, he was bound to want to know why Daniel was so interested in P6C-111. As he didn't want to discuss that right now, he took the pile over to the only table and settled down.
There had been a dozen or so missions, the last one about two months previously. The first three missions had been undertaken by S.G.-11 under Captain Connor, shortly before they'd gone M.I.A. on P89-354. The marines of S.G.-3, led at that time by Colonel Makepeace, had been riding shotgun. Daniel sighed at the high turnover in staff either by death or... He recalled the hurt of being kept out of the loop on the Maybourne sting, and cringed at the thought that he'd just shut down Jack.
He wondered if Makepeace had been the source of the leak. If this was an N.I.D. operation, at least that would mean the security of the S.G.C. was still intact - more or less. He didn't feel it was the N.I.D.'s style though. And they were more interested in technology...
The remainder of the missions had been carried out by S.G.-7. That was another replacement team, the original crew having been lost on Hanka courtesy of Nirrti's little virus. They'd had better success at dying than he'd ever had, he thought with grim irony. The Mark II version had been allowed out on their own as there was deemed to be negative threat to the team.
The photographs appeared to come from a set taken on the second mission. Curiously there was no record in that report of the diamonds that were apparently strewn around 'like pebbles on a beach'. S.G.-11 had merely sunk a series of narrow bore-holes in the lower slopes of the mountain range and brought back the drill samples for the geologists to study. He moved on to the geological analysis. Ah, a mention of diamonds - but only that there was the presence of diamond-bearing rock, not actual diamonds. Curiouser and curiouser.
General Hammond had added at the end that the possibility of finding diamonds had been discussed with the finance sub-committee at the Pentagon. They had vetoed exploitation of this resource on the grounds that the sudden appearance on the market of gems of unknown provenance would result in unwelcome questions about their source. Furthermore, the quantity of diamonds required to off-set the costs of the Stargate Project would depress the market and again bring unwelcome questions. Daniel could just imagine Hammond's facial expression when he was given that ruling!
He became aware that the thing that had been nagging at the back in his mind was back again, as if trying to tell him that the answer was there, right in front of him, and mocking him for failing to see it. His intuition had rarely played him false, so he set about reading that whole report again from page 1, line 1, word 1. And then he saw it. The penny suddenly dropped with a resounding clang...
Chapter XXVII - Disclosure
Jack returned from the kitchen with a couple of bottles of Bud. He wasn't going to waste the good stuff on Harry Maybourne. He handed one of the bottles to him then sat down opposite.
"Okay, so what's this all about, Harry?" he asked.
"To the kids," Harry responded with a smile, raising the bottle in a toast then taking a mouthful.
Jack's eyes didn't stray from his face, but Maybourne was unfazed by the intense scrutiny.
"It all seems to have begun about fourteen months ago"
"When you were still stealing from our allies?"
"Thank you, Jack. I was acting under orders"
"Oh, here we go..."
"doing what I believed was right for my country"
"And don't you play the self-righteous card with me, Jack. I've had access to your file, and you've done some pretty disreputable things yourself in the name of our country. Now - do you want me to go on?"
"Yeah, I guess... I mean, please continue, Harry."
"Right. So about fourteen months ago, quite a sizeable number of loose, cut diamonds, some of exceptional quality, hit the diamond markets in Europe. The story was that they were part of the lost treasures of the Romanovs, broken down and smuggled out of Russia in 1918 with the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicolaievna - the last Czar's youngest daughter."
"I thought she was a fraud?"
"She was, plus the Russians got wind of it and made noises about 'reclaiming the Russian heritage'. So then it was asserted they came from the Romanian crown jewels. Except that King Michael isn't as ga-ga as they presumably thought he was, and he denied it."
"I thought Romania was a republic."
"Jeez, Jack, do you have to keep interrupting? He was a king-in-exile until 1997, and then they let him return as an ordinary citizen."
"Oh. Sorry. Do go on."
"Anyway, every month or so, more diamonds kept appearing - a few here, a few there - in diamond markets around the world. After the fiasco with the first lot, they were spread around more widely to avoid attracting further unwelcome attention."
"Well, the stock markets are pretty depressed right now. Maybe folks are just cashing in their jewellery," Jack suggested.
"It could be that, of course - until you collate all the records of diamond sales over the past two years or so, and then a pattern emerges. We're not talking about your Granny's engagement ring here, by the way. The authorities aren't that interested in small diamonds - anything under one carat. These were several carats each - not exactly Koh-i-noor, but pretty large and certainly eye-catching. I said the first batch were loose stones, which is always a little suspicious without certification."
"Yes. Right now, there's a bit of a clamp down on diamonds coming out of Africa in particular - 'blood diamonds'."
Jack looked a question.
"Diamonds sold to fund wars," Maybourne said shortly and took another pull at the Bud before continuing.
"Now, set pieces of jewellery are easily identifiable, so if they're stolen, the thieves usually break them down into the individual stones. It makes them easier to dispose of. Interpol took an interest in those first ones, but they couldn't be traced to any robberies on that sort of scale. With no proof of chicanery, the matter was quietly dropped - apparently. Thereafter, there was an increase in single stones set in rings or pendants, and some of the most recent arrivals have come with forged certification. There's nothing outstanding about the jewellery items except that, while the craftsmanship of the cutting is first rate, the settings are very simple and not of very good quality."
"As you say, but not significant enough, in small numbers in different markets, to draw attention - unless you happen to be looking."
"And you were looking because...?"
"It's my job."
"Job. Yes. You know information's my game and it's a game I play very well," Maybourne said with a self-satisfied smile.
"But somebody must be paying you. Who"
"Am I working for? The mob, Jack - and before you try to kill me," Maybourne added as a look of incandescent fury settled on Jack's face, "I'm also moonlighting for the Government."
"The Gov-ern-ment, Jack."
O'Neill looked at him with narrowed eyes, though the homicidal gleam had faded.
"Don't tell me, let me guess - the C.I.A..."
"Well, didn't you ever think it was a little strange that a convicted 'traitor' should remain at large and unhindered for so long, Jack?"
"Harry, I never think about you unless I absolutely have to, like now. It figures that you'd be a double agent though - and getting paid double, no doubt?"
Maybourne's smile segued into smug.
"Why not? I have a life-style to maintain," he said.
"Yes, well that was all very interesting and informative, Harry. I presume you didn't come here just to give me a lecture on the world diamond market?"
"Oh yeah, sorry Jack," Maybourne replied, reaching over the side of the sofa for a carrier bag. "I got a couple of presents for your boys."
He pulled out a couple of cheerfully wrapped parcels.
"You don't need to look so worried, Jack. They're not gonna explode," he grinned. "You can open them now if you like."
"Er no, that's okay, Harry. And thank you. Now, would you quit stalling and get to the point. What does it have to do with Daniel? I presume you're gonna tell me that Serena's folks in Italy are Mafia?"
"More like Mafia wanna-bes. There are three Peruzzi brothers. The eldest one's fairly straight - forget him. The youngest brother is in on the ground floor as one of Leonetti's piciotti - enforcers - in the Atlantic City mob, but the middle one, Stefano, is trying for the big time. He was going to use Serena to buy into the Gambino family by marrying her to Riccardo Gambino's nephew - till she flew the coop. Caused quite a ruckus," Maybourne chuckled.
"Yeah, I heard about that part of it. Serena brought along her engagement ring and sold it to finance her escape," Jack grinned.
Maybourne cracked a laugh at that.
"How nicely ironic," he said. Jack shot him a puzzled look.
"Oh, don't tell me you haven't guessed where the diamonds are coming from," Harry chided in some amusement.
Jack's face fell. "Oh no. Please don't tell me they're coming..."
"...from the Mountain," Maybourne joined in, nodding. "I'm afraid so. Your security's sprung a serious leak. That's why I'm here. I have to find out how bad the leak is - how far it's spread - and put a stop to it. Oh, and, ah, mop up afterwards."
"You don't think Daniel?"
"Oh no. He's a new player in the game - unfortunately. Serena's arrival here was quite inopportune from Daniel's point of view. You see, the last tranche of diamonds came on the scene a couple of months ago, so I'm thinking that whoever was bringing them out has been reassigned or something, and the supply's dried up. Then Serena does a runner, and lo and behold, who does she come running to but one of the S.G.C.'s flagship team. Problem solved. Snatch Serena and turn the screw on Daniel."
"You don't think... um... that Serena's a part of the scam do you?" Jack asked, alarmed at the thought of what that would do to Daniel when he found out.
"That she's a willing participant? I'm really not sure. Do you know for certain that she's Jackson's daughter?"
"Yeah. Daniel had a D.N.A. test done. Seems pretty conclusive."
"Hm, that suggests that her arrival here was purely fortuitous for the mob. On the other hand, she could be going along with it for reasons of her own. Of course, if she is being held against her will, we'll have to proceed very carefully. Get it wrong and Daniel could get his daughter back piece by piece."