"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 himfast."
"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 spat 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, wellunfortunately 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'cwe'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 somethinganythingthat 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 realizeafter 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 awaymaybe 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 boomelectrical 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, okaythat works for me."
Daniel pulled away from Jack and flopped to the ground, breathing heavily. Jack took advantage to yank his protective mask off.
"Maybourneget 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!"
"Heyhe 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 Maybourneat 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."
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 diseaseI 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 a 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, Maybournemy 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 dodon'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."
"Seeworks every time," Jack said.