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One cargo bay had been carefully transformed into a banquet room, and several tables laden with food lined the walls. Most of the food had been brought on board earlier in the day, from the same caterers who were supplying the reception at the conference. Chairs were available, although most of the guests would remain standing for the duration of the party. Marine One and Two, along with SG-6, stood guard inside the bay, and Marine Three was standing guard in the corridor.
Chancellor Earnswelle hurried to Daniel as soon as he and Casey entered the bay. "Doctor Jackson! I am so sorry that your lecture was interrupted! I was so hoping that you would be able to help us sway public opinion in our favor."
"I'm afraid that's going to take more than just one speech," Daniel said. He put his arm around Casey's waist. "Chancellor, I'd like you to meet my Wife, Casey Jackson."
The gray haired man smiled at the young woman, and took her hand. "Charmed, Mrs. Jackson, I'm sure," he gushed.
She smiled. "I'm pleased to meet you, Chancellor Earnswelle. Please, call me Casey."
"Delighted…Casey," the man beamed. He motioned to several people who were hovering nearby. "Please, allow me to introduce the staff of the Archaeology department at UCLA. This is Doctor Dennis Walters, Department Administrator; Doctor Mary Sue Browning, Director of Research; Doctor Taylor Anderson, Director; and Doctor Bradley Van Kemp, Graduate Program Advisor. Doctors, may I introduce Doctor Daniel Jackson, and his charming wife, Casey."
Greetings were exchanged, handshakes given and received. "Doctor Jackson, I must know, how did you ever decipher the mystery of the Pyramids? What caused you to conclude, correctly, may I add, that they were landing bases for alien spacecraft?" Dr. Van Kemp, a small, balding man, asked.
Daniel shrugged. "It's actually in the glyphs at Giza, if you just look for it. I guess I approached the writings with an open mind."
'Score one for the brilliant Doctor Jackson.'
His hand was on her waist, he pinched it slightly. He 'heard' her giggle. Struggled to control the urge to laugh with her.
Dr. Van Kemp had a finger on his lips, and was nodding vigorously. "Yes, yes, I do believe I understand what you're saying. We have accepted the 'original' translations for so long, never questioning, never seeking to know if they are correct. Obviously you were years ahead of your contemporaries, and those of us too enamored with the writings of the 'greats'. I must congratulate you on opening the door to literally thousands of new worlds."
"Thank you," Daniel replied graciously. He glanced down at his wife. She was looking at him with such love, and admiration, and pride, that it made his knees weak. None of the gathered scholars missed the look, nor was there any room for misinterpretation.
"Doctor Jackson, don't you feel a bit guilty? I mean, it was your work that ultimately led Earth to become a target for these…Goa'uld," Dr. Anderson asked. He was a handsome man, Casey thought. He looked more like he should be on the beaches surfing than teaching archaeology at UCLA. She immediately disliked him.
"It was only a matter of time before the Goa'uld returned to Earth. At least we have a chance to stop them. Had they simply appeared, we would have been no match for them, " Daniel replied calmly.
"Yes, I suppose so. I guess that thought would make it easier to sleep at night," Anderson sneered.
"We have discovered enough medicinal plants, and how to use them, to cure every known disease on Earth. Those discoveries alone make opening the Stargate worth the danger. Of course, the pharmaceutical companies will continue to fight for control of these substances, and continue to deny people the treatment they need," Daniel replied coolly.
"Ah, but you do admit that there is danger," Anderson said.
"Actually, it was Daniel's work that allowed us to learn of the threat before the Goa'uld were ready to attack Earth. We have been able to stop many of these Goa'uld, and we've freed dozens of planets from Goa'uld occupation. It was because of Daniel's work that we were able to meet the First Four, and specifically the Asgard, who have become one of our strongest allies. It was because of Daniel's work that we were able to defeat the Replicators. All in all, I think every person on the planet owes him a great debt of gratitude," Casey said, her anger barely concealed in her voice, her eyes flashing.
"None of these…threats…were immediate to Earth," Anderson insisted.
"It depends on what you consider 'immediate'. In 1997, when the project was first started, that was possibly true. By 1999, the Goa'uld were already on the move back toward the 'first world.' The Replicators were on a direct course for Earth," Casey replied. "And yes, we have proof of all of this." She looked up at Daniel. "Sweetheart, I didn't have lunch today. Shall we get something to eat?"
He smiled at her. "Of course." He looked at the faces around him. "It was nice to meet you. If you'll excuse us." He led her toward one of the tables.
"I couldn't take any more of that ass," she whispered vehemently as they moved away from the group.
"My Tiger," he grinned. They stopped at one of the buffet tables. "So, what do you want?" He took a plate and handed it to her, grabbed one for himself.
She looked at the food that was displayed. "I'd like some of that shrimp, I think. And a few of those hors d'oeuvres."
Daniel put a few shrimp, and a spoonful of the cocktail sauce on her plate, took some for himself. They each took a few of the tidbits, and found a platter of small sandwiches. "Don't look now, but it looks like another group of scientists are headed this way."
Casey glanced at him. "I don't suppose you could just zap them back down there, could you?"
He grinned. "Tempting, but no, I can't."
She took a deep breath. "I am so glad we don't have to do this often!" She smiled brightly as the scientists greeted Daniel, and introduced themselves. She was her most charming, and kept her hand on Daniel's arm the entire time. Even those who disliked Dr. Jackson, whether on a personal level or out of professional jealousy, had to admit that he was a gracious man, and his beautiful wife was bewitching. Several of the scientists envied Daniel his lovely wife.
A A A A A A
Three hours later, comfortably dressed in BDUs, the Jacksons joined the interrogation that was going on in the holding cells.
Jack looked up when the two walked in. "I take it the reception is over?"
"Thank god," Casey huffed. She dropped down on the chair beside the general. "So, who do we have?"
Jack read off the names. "None of them seem very willing to talk."
"There's a surprise," Daniel muttered.
"So we have no idea if Daniel was the intended target, or just any Immortal they could grab?"
"Nope, no idea," Jack replied. "The good news is the EDA is demanding that we turn these people over to them, for 'questioning'. Then it will be decided if they'll be charged with any crime."
Casey moaned, Daniel rolled his eyes. "In other words, the EDA wants us to turn them loose," she said.
"Yep. Duncan has already filed a complaint, and said that since the intended targets are citizens of Gamma, they'll be tried on Gamma. We can't prove that we were the intended victims, and because of that, we can't really get by with taking them home and holding them. But it's buying us some time to deal with them."
"I don’t suppose they'd believe us if we told them that we were questioning them in one of the bays, and somehow it became depressurized and sucked them into space, would they?" Casey asked.
Jack laughed. "Probably not, but I like the idea."
"So, what do we do?" Daniel asked.
"I was thinking about bringing in a few of the Jaffa to talk to them. I don't know if these agents speak Goa'uld or not; I know that most of the Jaffa on the Phoenix speak English now. But I was thinking a Goa'uld interrogation just might be the ticket," Jack replied. "Case, you can sense when they're lying, I'd like you to sit in on this. I want you here, too, Daniel. I'm betting you were their target, and I want to know why."
Daniel and Casey both nodded.
A A A A A A
The first prisoner was brought in. He was a young man, not more than twenty-five. According to the ID they had found on him, his name was Robert Gutherie. He glared sullenly at the two men and the woman who sat at the end of the table. He dropped into the chair, leaned back, trying to act uninterested and unconcerned. His eyes widened when four Jaffa entered the room.
"Ai'emain!" One of the tattooed men said gruffly. [Stand up!]
The young man looked at the Jaffa, then at Jack.
" Ai'emain!" This time the young man was jerked forcibly to his feet. [Stand up!]
"Nobody said you could sit down," Jack said amiably.
"Bon'iqua?" the 'spokesman' of the Jaffa demanded. "Jankin! Pa'kree?" [Why? Tell us at once! What is going on?]
"I don't understand what he's saying," he said angrily. "Speak to me in English!"
"Don't be frightened. We're not going to hurt you. And you're kind of cute," Casey said softly.
The young man blushed.
"And you understand Goa'uld perfectly well," she added.
He jerked when he realized what had happened. "Bitch!"
Jack grinned. "I wouldn't get too mouthy. Daniel here is liable to toss a fire ball straight into your heart if you keep talking to his wife like that."
"Right. Like I believe that could happen," the young man said, rolling his eyes.
Daniel raised his hand, and tossed a small ball of blue flame into the table, creating a hole the size of a grapefruit through the metal top.
Robert Gutherie nearly passed out from fright. He dropped onto the chair. "The Director says that the chatter about The Chosen is just bullshit."
"Yeah, tell that to Anubis. Daniel killed that slimy bastard. Tell that to an Ancient named Simmons, whom he killed. Tell that to the twenty-four men he saved," Jack said, his voice steady…deadly.
"You have eyes. You have a brain. Use them," Casey said, her own voice calm. "Who was your target?
The young man raised his chin, pressed his lips together.
She reached out, touched his mind. He was terrified. But she sensed he was more afraid of those he worked for, than of the people in the room with him. "If you want to seek asylum, we could help you," she said softly.
Again he jerked, narrowed his eyes and stared at her.
"You're afraid of them. If you go back down there, they'll kill you. You failed, and you know too much," she continued.
"And if I tell you everything, what happens to me?"
"That's for the court on Gamma to decide," Daniel answered honestly. "It also depends on what information you give us."
The young man shook his head. "Even if you took me to Gamma, they could still reach me."
Jack bit back a smile. After the ordeal with Sheila Roberts, two NID spies had been caught. Duncan had allowed Methos to 'talk' to one of the men, and they had learned enough that they were able to keep sending 'reports' back to the NID contact the spies had used. As far as they knew, the NID had no idea that their spies were in sitting in a prison on Langara, having been found guilty of treason against Gamma. The Immortal community had no facilities for long term prisoners, so had an agreement with Langara for confining any prisoners they did have. Every report being made, every mission log being filed with the contact was completely bogus. It had allowed several other agents to be caught, three of them on Terra, where those men were in prison. "We could protect you."
Again the young man shook his head. "You don't understand, they have people everywhere! They have two agents on Gamma!" He flushed, then looked away. He had just given them information that would most certainly cost his life.
"You'd have a better chance with us than you would if we hand you over to the EDA," Jack insisted. He was thrilled to learn that the NID wasn’t aware of the fact that they didn't have agents on Gamma any longer.
"Maybe he just needs time to think about it," Casey said.
With a nod from Jack, the Jaffa led young Mr. Gutherie back to his cell.
Each interrogation was the same. The agents were young, and frightened. None of them were willing to make a deal with the Gammians.
"We're missing something here," Daniel said, frowning as he watched the tape of the last interrogation. "These are just kids we're dealing with. And they aren't the usual NID type that we seen before, convinced that they're doing what's best for the country, or the planet, and that their way is the best, the only way."
"Maybe we should see what we can find out about them," Jack suggested.
A A A A A A
Two hours later, SG-1 was in a teleconference with Duncan, and General's Hammond and Monroe. All three sites had joined the search for information on the captive NID operatives.
"Nothing exists on these kids, nothing. We've checked records everywhere, but nothing comes up. It's possible that the names on the ID's are fake. If they are, I don't know that we'll ever get their real names," Jack said.
Casey was frowning.
"Angel?" Daniel asked softly.
"Check prison records," she said softly. It only took thirty minutes to have the rap sheets on each of the six prisoners.
"Holy Hannah!" Jack exclaimed. None of the crimes were particularly heinous; mostly drug related, two for assault and battery. But each of the young people had been signaled out, for whatever reason, and had been 'recruited' into the NID. Their escapes had been carefully planned with outside help. Obvious NID help.
"Apparently recruiting opportunities are becoming rare on Earth," General Hammond said, "if they're willing to go into prisons to find agents."
"Why didn't the NID erase these files? They erased birth certificates, school records, medical records, everything but this. Why?" Casey asked.
"To blackmail them with. As long as those files remain, these kids are considered fugitives," Daniel replied.
"How difficult would it be to get into the proper computers and erase this stuff?" Jack asked Sam.
"I don't know. It depends on where the files are kept. If they're in regular police and prison records, it shouldn't be too difficult to hack in and erase them."
"Can you get verification that the files are gone?"
"Not really. Only doing a search for police records would show that they're gone," Sam replied.
"Do it. Get rid of those files. Then we'll see if any of them are grateful enough to talk," Jack said.
The meeting was adjourned; until any of the captured agents were willing to talk, there wasn't much that the colonies could do.
A A A A A A
With the help of one of Methos' contacts on Earth, Sam was able to get several codes needed to hack into the FBI files, and those of local police, and the three prisons that the young people had been taken from. In just a matter of hours, all of the files on the former prisoners were gone.
General Hammond, General Monroe, and Duncan were once again contacted, and would hear whatever transpired in the interrogation room. Robert Gutherie was brought into, and put in front of a computer terminal.
"Search for your prison records," Jack said.
The young man nearly jumped out of his skin at the command.
"It's okay," Casey said softly. "Just do it."
With a frown, the young man began his search. After fifteen minutes, the frown had deepened, and he continued to look for the record that he knew existed. Another ten minutes and he looked up at the faces around him.
"It's gone," Daniel said quietly. "They erased your existence, but they left that record, so that you couldn't fight them. Now it's gone. We erased it. Even if the NID has copies, it won't be easy to put them back on the computers the information has to be on in order to make it… dangerous…to you."
"Why?" he asked hoarsely.
"Because we really hate the NID," Casey said. "Anything to stick it to them. And because we don't like the idea of them using you. Or your friends."
The young man nodded slowly. "Doctor Jackson was the main target. We were to try and get him on his way back to the room where you ringed into. Mrs. Jackson was our secondary target. And General O'Neill was the third target. They wanted the Jaffa and Colonel Carter as well. But they wanted Doctor Jackson badly."
"They keep saying they don't believe in The Chosen, but they were going to find out for themselves how powerful he really is," Casey said.
The young man stared at her. "If you already knew that, why ask me?"
She smiled. "I didn't know it, until just now. I…felt it…from you. I understand why Jack was a target, he's stopped them cold several times. But why me?"
"Because holding you would make Doctor Jackson more…cooperative. They were going to…torture you…in front of him…to make him do what they wanted."
Anger flared in Daniel's eyes. He unconsciously slipped his arm around Casey's shoulders. She had shivered, and stepped closer to him without even realizing it.
"I'm surprised that they told you all of this," Sam said.
The young man smiled. "They didn’t. But I'm very good at overhearing things. Especially in rooms I've bugged."
Jack laughed. "I'd say they didn't have a clue just what they had in you, young man!"
Daniel was frowning. "Just because we have these kids doesn't mean that they'll give up on this…plan…of theirs."
"I agree. Okay, we can't settle these kids on any of the colonies, that will be the first place they look for them."
"Terra or Langara." General Moore suggested.
"I agree," General Hammond said.
"Okay, I'll contact Jonas," Duncan said. "He'll get the ball rolling on this. Jack, head the Phoenix to deep space. I'll contact you when I have permission for them to arrive on Langara."
The meeting adjourned once again. Robert Gutherie was returned to his cell. He told his friends what was happening. All of them heaved sighs of relief that they were finally going to be free of the clutches of 'The Boss'. None of them complained about remaining in the cells.
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