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 themthey'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 otherwisebupkis."
"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. "Rememberthe 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?"
"RememberI overheard Collins talking about some treasurea 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. "Understandablethey'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 saidhe 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 knowthat 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. Lookit'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 meno 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.
"Carterhonest 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.