Chapter XXXVIII - The Enemy Within
Lieutenant Jimmy Li was not difficult to find. As expected, Teal'c found him in the earth sciences lab. on sub-level 20.
"Hey, Teal'c," Li greeted him. "Don't often see you in here. If ever... You got a problem?"
"I have. S.G.-1 returned from P6C-111 yesterday, a world which you have visited on a number of occasions."
"Er, ye-eah," Li agreed warily.
"I understand that you made an interesting - and valuable - discovery during your first mission to that world?"
Li looked Teal'c directly in the eye as if trying to read what was going on in his mind.
"Found quite a lot of interesting things there. What did you have in mind?"
The Chinese lieutenant seemed to be vying with the Jaffa in the inscrutability stakes. Finally he said:
"What do want to know about diamonds?"
"I know you brought some back with you. I know GeneralHammond told you to return them to P6C-111. And I know you kept some."
Li said nothing, just continued to eyeball Teal'c.
"I also have brought some diamonds back from P6C-111, and I wish to know where to hedge them?"
Li lost the inscrutability competition as a muscle at the corner of his mouth twitched.
"I think you mean 'fence'. I have no idea where one might sell uncut diamonds. I have no intention of attempting it. With my luck, the first person I tried would be a member of one of the tongs, and that would be very bad news."
"Tongs?" Teal'c asked, thinking of cake tongs.
"You might know of them as 'triads'"
"Triads? I am unfamiliar with that term, LieutenantLi. Would it be the Chinese name for the Mafia?"
"In that they're both involved in organized crime they're quite similar, but the tongs are much, much worse, believe me! So keep your diamonds as a memento only. And keep them somewhere safe - out of sight."
Prima facie, it did not seem that either Major Ferretti or Lieutenant Li was involved in supplying diamonds to the Mafia. Neither had shown any undue signs of agitation about the subject of the diamonds. True, Lieutenant Li had been uneasy at first, possibly because of the Jaffa's close association with the base's 2IC, but once Teal'c had led him to believe that he, too, had his own diamonds, he'd opened up willingly enough.
Of course either - or both - could have been playing a double bluff. Or maybe the whole team was in it together. Had not he and O'Neill assisted DanielJackson in his diamond quest? On the other hand, that did not seem to be the Mafia way. DanielJackson had revealed nothing until obliged to do so, and no team was closer than S.G.-1.
Teal'c's next stop was at the physical sciences lab. on sub-level 19. It seemed strange not to see MajorCarter there. Normally, little short of bodily force would remove her. Dr. Czabaniuk was also absent. The lab. tech. informed him that she had left half an hour earlier complaining of an incipient migraine. Which left Dr. Curtis.
When Teal'c reached the biology lab. on sub-level 17, the ecologist was setting up experiments on the plant samples he'd just brought back.
"Good afternoon, Teal'c, or should that be 'Good evening'?" Dr. Curtis smiled, looking at the clock on the wall. "And to what do I owe this... unexpected pleasure?"
As he spoke, he picked up a rack of tiny flasks each containing alien cuttings in water.
"I wish to know how you would go about selling diamonds - rough diamonds."
"Erm, I'm an ecologist," Dr. Curtis said, indicating the plants with a puzzled look. "Why come to me?"
"Because I know you brought back diamonds from P6C-111."
"Oh? What makes you so sure?"
"Do you deny it?"
Curtis swallowed nervously and ran his tongue across suddenly dry lips.
"I - er... Have you told anyone else about this?"
"I have not, DoctorCurtis."
"Does Colonel O'Neill know you're here?"
"That I have come to you? He does not."
Well, technically, it was true. O'Neill did not know his exact whereabouts.
"I see... Are you trying to blackmail me?"
"That seems a strange question, DoctorCurtis. It suggests that you have more to hide than merely bringing diamonds, which had no previous owner, back to this planet...?"
"You mean... that's all you came here for?"
Dr. Curtis visibly relaxed.
"Until you mentioned blackmail, that is..."
"Oh. I - er - I just thought that, being an alien, you might think I'd broken one of our laws, or something."
"I see. Something like revealing the existence of the Stargate to the Mafia?"
The plant rack slipped from Dr. Curtis's fingers, scattering water, cuttings and broken glass across the floor.
"E-excuse me, I - I'll just get something to clean that up," he stammered, crossing the lab. and pulling open a drawer.
There was a familiar metallic clink. Curtis spun round, zat gun in hand. He was quick, but the ex-first prime of Apophis was far quicker. And more prepared. Teal'c pulled his zat from his robes. Its bright blue bolt dropped Curtis where he stood.
Teal'c 'cuffed his hands behind his back then trussed him up very effectively with gaffer tape and leaned him again the wall. With Curtis thoroughly incapacitated, Teal'c called O'Neill's cellphone.
"O'Neill, I have apprehended the traitor, Dr. Curtis. We are in the biology lab. and await your presence. ... ... ... I suggest that DanielJackson should come also. ... ... ... ... Indeed O'Neill, but he will give you no peace otherwise and I will restrain him if he should become overly aggressive..."
"I'm afraid we have to go, Carter. It seems Teal'c has found our leak."
"We?" Daniel asked in surprise. "You mean I get to come along this time?"
"So you're trusting me not to lose my rag again?"
"I'm trusting Teal'c..." Jack said ironically and got a frosty look for his pains.
"So who is it?" she asked.
"Philip? You're kidding!" Daniel exclaimed.
"Well that's what Teal'c said, and I don't think he was kidding. Although, without being able to see that expressive face, I couldn't be certain," Jack said with a saturnine grin.
As Teal'c hung up, a groan from Dr. Curtis indicated that he was recovering. He struggled for a while, but found it futile.
"Teal'c, why don't you just zat me again?" he begged fervently. "If I'm dead, the insurance will pay for my mother's care, and they won't be able to touch me any more."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"Why not? You know I was going to kill you - and remove the evidence...?"
"How did you find out it was me?"
"I did not. It was merely a process of elimination. When I came to you, there was a fifty per cent chance that you were the guilty one. I expected that the sholva would resist being apprehended so I came prepared. On entering, I noticed that your security camera had been disabled which increased the probability that you were to blame. You then failed to answer my questions except with questions of your own, and attempted to ascertain whether anyone would trace me back to you. And now, unless you have anything of importance to say - sholva! - we will await the coming of ColonelO'Neill and DoctorJackson in silence."
Chapter XXXIX - The Light
"Okay, Doctor Curtis," O'Neill said with a friendly smile, "now we can either do this the easy way, in which you tell me all I want to know with no holding anything back. Or - we can do this the hard way, in which I hand you over to Doctor Jackson, and Teal'c and I will leave the room... So which is it to be?"
Curtis looked across at Dr. Jackson who was leaning against the door jamb with anything but a friendly expression on his face.
"D-Daniel?" he asked uncertainly.
"In case you're thinking that would be the easy option, think again," O'Neill said placidly. "Your friends in the Mafia are currently holding his daughter hostage, and he badly wants to get her back - will stop at nothing. As Crocetti would tell you if he wasn't in the brig. So anything you can tell us that would help him to achieve that ambition will be so much better for all concerned."
"All right. I can't cope with any more of this. What do you want to know?" he asked in a voice drained of all emotion.
"Why not just start from the beginning. How and why did you get involved with the Mafia in the first place? You don't seem a very likely member of La Famiglia."
"The family?" he said bitterly. "That's how they get to you - through your family."
Jack shot a quick look at Daniel whose expression was unfathomable. Within, a small seed of compassion was germinating. Curtis's last sentence had struck an inevitable chord of empathy and the old Daniel, receptive and humanitarian, was resurfacing. Violence was not his way if there was another to be found.
"Tell me about it," Jack prompted quietly.
"It's my mother. She's in a care home. She has Alzheimer's. I wanted Teal'c to zat me again, then no one would have known the truth and she could live out the rest of her life in this country - in comfort."
"Where else would your mother reside, DoctorCurtis?" Teal'c enquired.
"In Mexico. And I'm not Philip Curtis. I was born Felipe Chavez. My parents were illegal immigrants. I guess the Mafia supplied them with the forged documents necessary to stay in this country. However it was, they knew all about me. I was only around eighteen months old when I was brought to America so I remember almost nothing about coming here. My late father told me my true history when I was ten years old. Sat me down and said there was something I should know - said I had to keep it secret for all time or trouble would follow..."
There was desolation in his voice and he fell into a reminiscent silence for a few moments. O'Neill waited a while then broke into his reverie.
"So the Mafia knew your history. What happened next?"
"One day, I arrived home to find a letter. It was actually inside my house - propped up against a figurine. Someone had broken in Well, not broken in exactly. There was no sign of a forced entry. The name on the envelope was Felipe Chavez. Inside, there were some photographs - one of the place where I was born, one of an uncle I never knew I had, standing with his family outside his farm in Michocan - and one of my mother..."
Curtis broke off again, his face ashen.
"There was also a letter. It said that if I and my mother wanted to stay in the U.S., I was to go to Sandberg Drive that evening, unarmed - like I even own a gun! - and wait to be contacted. And I was to tell no one."
"Sounds familiar," Daniel said sourly. "Where did they take you?"
"I don't know. I was hooded and blindfolded but I'm guessing it was the same place you were taken. I snagged a leaf from the climber on the wall too."
Curtis looked at Teal'c.
"That's why I had a zat gun in my drawer. When Daniel showed me that leaf, I figured it had all started up again, and sooner or later someone was going to find out about me. I'm sorry, Teal'c, truly I am, but I was desperate. Mother"
"Yeah, yeah, we get the picture," O'Neill snapped. "Stick to the point."
"Y-yes, well... I was taken down into the basement. Communication was through a loudspeaker system. I never saw who was giving me my orders. He said he knew I was going on a mission from Cheyenne Mountain, and that there were diamonds there."
"How did you deliver the diamonds?" Jack asked.
"After each mission to P6C-111, I'd find another letter at home arranging a drop. It was always in parkland of some sort - never the same one - and I never saw whoever collected them. I had to put a note in with the diamonds saying when the next mission was so they could organize the next drop."
"What happened after the last mission?" Daniel demanded.
"I was taken back to the basement and... and..."
"And what?" O'Neill asked tersely.
"There w-were four of them - waiting for me. They wanted to know who would be going to the place I got the diamonds from next time. I said there probably wouldn't be a next time. Then they wanted to know where I got the diamonds from so they could go there themselves. I said they couldn't, so then they wanted to know why not..."
"And so ya told them," O'Neill exclaimed in disgust.
"They tortured me!" Curtis cried, his face twisted in anguish at the memory. "I'm not a hero like you guys. When I couldn't take any more, I - I"
"Okay, okay," Daniel said soothingly. "I think we know all we need to for now - unless you have any idea where that house is?"
"None at all, except that it's probably out of town."
Daniel sighed in frustration. They knew most of the Mafia's involvement with the S.G.C., and yet they were no further forward in getting Serena back. He was willing to bet that, when he did hand over the diamonds, they'd want more. Maybe they'd let Serena go and try using blackmail against him somehow...
After Dr. Curtis, or rather, Felipe Chavez, had been taken up to the cells, and O'Neill had completed all the relevant paperwork, he joined Daniel and Teal'c in General Hammond's office, where they'd been briefing him on the latest developments.
It was getting late by the time they'd finished, so the three members of S.G.-1 decided to return to Sam's, picking up pizzas on the way. She would want to know how they'd fared and might be able to come up with a few ideas about where to go from here.
As they were crossing the parking lot, Jack's cellphone rang. He fished it out of his pocket.
"Listen, Jack, I don't have much ti"
"Maybourne! How did you get my... oh, never mind. I don't want to know. What do want?"
"This is just a quick heads-up, Jack. Our people have found the Mafia's base. We have S.W.A.T. teams ready to go. Thought you might like to be there."
Harry told him.
"You'll need your gear, and you'd better move your ass. We're going in at 2200."
Chapter XL - Desperate Measures
"Okay, change of plans, kids,' O'Neill announced, earning him an ironic look from the centenarian Jaffa.
"It's Serena, isn't it?" Daniel asked apprehensively.
"Details later, Daniel. Right now we have get geared up - full kit - black - plus kevlar. M-9s only, no zats. Now let's move it."
For once there were no arguments as the three went smartly back into the S.G.C. Daniel, normally the slowest at getting ready for a mission, was off like a rabbit out of a trap.
"Whoa, slow down, Danny. You don't know where we're going."
Daniel gave an exaggerated sigh but waited for the others. On the way up to the surface, he looked grim-faced. The strain was showing even under the bruising.
~ Dammit, Jack thought, he's beginning to look his age. And he's only been a father for eight days. Guess that's what parenthood does for you ~
As they headed out into the parking lot for the second time, Jack came to a decision.
"We'll take your car, Daniel. It'll be quicker than my truck..."
~ and it'll stop you from making a break for it as soon as we arrive ~
"Okay," Daniel agreed, fishing out his car keys and tossing them to Jack, "but you'd better drive. I don't know if can concentrate on driving right now."
~ Oh, no you don't, Danny boy ~
Jack tossed the keys back saying, "'Fraid you'll have to force yourself, Daniel. I'm navigating."
Daniel scowled but, to Jack's relief, didn't make an issue of it. Once on the road, Jack directed him to Highway 24, passing Manitou Springs. From there, they followed the highway to Woodland Park then through Divide towards Florissant, some eight miles further on.
"We'll go in along Twin Rock Road, next left after Robinhood Drive... There. We'll be coming to a crossroads shortly. Carry on along Lower Twin Rock Road. Okay... Next, fork right into Kingston Drive... Now, take the first left then right at the crossroads into Oxford Drive. It's a dead end. Go on right to the end... Oh, crap! S.W.A.T. teams are there already."
Daniel pulled up behind their vehicles and leapt out, not even stopping to grab the car keys. He ran up the road towards the huge edifice. The mansion was set among tall pine trees and surrounded by shrubbery. It was illuminated only by the nearly full moon shining on the front of the building, so the S.W.A.T. guys had to have cut the power. The massive wrought-iron gates hung crazily askew. O'Neill obviously wasn't the only one with an addiction to C4...
The sound of breaking glass spurred Daniel on. He didn't reach the gate. As stun grenades exploded, he was grabbed sharply by the arm. The deceleration slammed him face-first into the side of the lead vehicle. His arm was twisted behind him, holding him there.
"State your name and business," a harsh voice bellowed in his ear.
"Dr. Daniel Jackson," he panted. "My daughter's in there! Ow! Let me go!"
"Put the Doctor down," came a smooth drawl beside them. "He's with me."
Automatic weapons clicked threateningly at the side of O'Neill's head.
"And who might you be?" asked a second voice as a third armed man relieved him of his M-9.
"Colonel Jack O'Neill, U.S. Air Force."
Someone frisked O'Neill and found his I.D.
"He is who he says he is."
The guns were withdrawn and Daniel was released from the hammer-lock.
"And you are?" O'Neill asked the guy to whom the other two deferred.
"Robert Skilbeck, C.I.A., co-ordinating officer. And you are outside your jurisdiction. This is a civilian matter."
"Are you aware that there's a teenage girl being held in there?"
"I doubt she's being held against her will. She belongs to a Mafia family."
"The hell she does! She belongs my colleague there, Doctor Ja Dammit! Now where's he gone?!"
"Well, if he gets in the way of my men, he's likely to get himself killed, Colonel."
"Wouldn't be the first time," O'Neill muttered. Aloud he said, "If anything happens to him, I'm gonna hold you personally responsible!"
Daniel took advantage of attention being focussed on Colonel O'Neill to slip away unnoticed. He crossed as little of the gravel drive as possible. Skirting close to shrubbery, he headed along the right-hand side of the house towards the back. A figure crept around the corner and into the moonlight. Daniel stepped into the bushes and released the safety catch on his Beretta. As the man came alongside, Daniel recognized him.
"Hold it, Parker," he said, slipping out of the shadows, "and drop the gun."
From inside the house came a rattle of machine gun fire. Panicking, Parker turned his pistol on Daniel.
A single shot rang out.
When O'Neill looked around and found his archaeologist missing, he had mixed feelings. That Daniel had gone off and done his own thing no longer surprised him. That was just Daniel. It still irked him a little - well quite a lot actually - but Daniel was pretty savvy in the field these days.
He was impressed by the way the civilian had taken advantage of the situation to sneak away. But underneath it all, he was worried. A kevlar vest didn't prevent you from getting shot, just reduced some of the damage, and when Daniel got a bee in his bonnet, all sense of self-preservation went right out of the window...
Teal'c was also missing, but that was to be expected. Jack hoped they were together - especially when the shooting started.
As Daniel had hared off down Oxford Drive followed closely by O'Neill, Teal'c had crossed to the other side of the road, taking advantage of a little cover, and shadowed them. He was aware that they were in no immediate danger from those who'd apprehended them. O'Neill had no need of his assistance.
He observed Daniel slowly back away towards the other side of the van while the other men were distracted by O'Neill, then leg it through the gateway. He followed swiftly and silently. He reached the front corner of the building as another man appeared from the back of it - observed Daniel blend into the bushes - watched him challenge the man - heard a rat-a-tat-tat of automatic fire from inside - saw the man swing his gun towards Daniel...