Another Fine Mess - series

A Friend in Need

Part 1

"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 N.I.D. 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 N.I.D. 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."

"We will."

"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.

"Wait, Jack."

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 I.D.s 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.

" 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."

"Whose blood?"

"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."

"Yes, sir." 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.


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.

"You okay?"

"Yeah...just a zat," Sam said, sitting up unsteadily. "Where's Daniel?"

"What?" Sam asked, looking around the room. "I don't know, sir."

"What happened?"

"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.

On to 'A Friend in Need' - Part 2

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