By the time SG-1 got to the SGC, word of the murder attempts had spread throughout the base. The mood there was very somber, and more than one person looked angry. It was one thing for the Goa'uld to attempt to kill "one of their own", but for a human right there on Earth to do so made everyone mad, especially because the target was Daniel, whom virtually everyone at the SGC had come to greatly admire and respect.
Word had been left at the final checkpoint that Doctor Fraiser wanted to see both Daniel and Sam the moment they arrived, which didn't surprise SG-1. As the two scientists went off to the infirmary, Jack and Teal'c went to fill the general in on what they knew. Hammond's manner became even more serious when he learned of all the evidence indicating that it was a professional hit man after Daniel. Someone was trying to kill one of his people, and he didn't like it one little bit.
"Do any of you have some idea on who might be behind this?" the general asked.
"Carter suggested that it might be the ones who were responsible for that stuff in L.A.," Jack replied. "She figures that they might see Daniel as a threat to their plans. It makes sense, sir. If there is anyone on Earth who could find and stop them, it's Daniel."
Hammond nodded. "I intend to call the president as soon as you leave this office. He'll want to know about this. I wouldn't be surprised of he gets the NID in on the investigation."
"The NID, sir?" Jack questioned, not really all that thrilled about those people getting involved in this. "Wouldn't the FBI make more sense?"
"Normally, yes, but the FBI doesn't know about the Stargate Program, which means that they couldn't be given all the facts."
"But, sir, the NID. . . ."
Hammond held up his hand. "I know what you're thinking, Colonel, and I have to admit that I agree with you. The NID's track record, especially in regards to Doctor Jackson, isn't all that stellar, which is why I'm going to request that Agent Barrett be put in charge. We know that he can be trusted."
"I still don't like the idea of them being involved, sir."
"Perhaps it would be best if we were to handle this matter ourselves, General Hammond," Teal'c stated, agreeing with Jack's views on the NID. "Though Agent Barrett appears to be an honorable man, he would still be using the resources of the NID for his investigation."
Jack nodded. "Right. And if this group still has some ties to the NID, there could be a leak of information."
"Point taken, Colonel," Hammond said. "I will recommend to the president that we keep this in-house."
"Well, you have some spectacular bruises, and you've lost a bit of skin here and there, but, other than that, you appear to be fine," Janet told Daniel. "You were very lucky. If you had been any closer to that explosion, you might have sustained some serious injuries."
"How's Sam?" Daniel asked.
"Oh, she's fine. She has some bruising on her back from the impact with her car, but nothing extensive." The doctor's expression changed to one of sympathy. "I'm so sorry about your house, Daniel."
"Do you realize that this is the second time in the span of a few months that I'm having to start all over? At least when I came back from ascension, Jack, Sam and Teal'c had saved a lot of my things. I'm just about starting from scratch this time. I've got a few items still in storage, but not much, and there wasn't much in my house that was salvageable."
Janet laid her hand on his arm. "I can imagine how rough this must be for you."
Daniel gave her a shrug and a small smile. "I'll survive, Janet. Compared to what I've lost in the past, this is nothing. They were just things, most of which can be replaced." His gaze went to the closed curtains that hid Sam from view. His expression darkened. "But something could have happened to Sam, and I can never forgive them for that."
Concerned by the look on Daniel's face, Janet said, "Daniel, I know that you want to get the people responsible for this, but please don't go out looking for revenge. Sam wouldn't want that."
Daniel turned back to her, his blue eyes meeting hers, hiding nothing. "I don't want revenge, Janet. You should know me better than that. I want justice, and I want to make sure that they'll never be able to hurt me or someone I care about."
Janet berated herself for thinking that Daniel could ever turn into some kind of vigilante. Despite the ways that he had changed since gaining his psychic abilities, he was still the same fine, compassionate, honorable man he had always been.
"I'm sorry, Daniel," she apologized. "Yes, I do know you better than that, and I'm sorry that I doubted your intentions. So, do you have any idea at all who's behind this?"
"The only theory we have right now is that it's the same people responsible for that stuff in L.A. Long before the first murder attempt, I was experiencing a premonition that something was going to happen, but when I tried to find out what it was about, my abilities drew a complete blank, and I mean that literally. I couldn't see anything at all."
"And has that ever happened before?"
"No. I've always gotten at least some kind of image, though, quite often, it's not clear enough to make out."
Janet gave a small nod. "You are aware that the subconscious is capable of blocking things from the conscious mind if it thinks those things are too traumatic for the conscious mind to handle, right?"
"Well, what if the reason why you were unable to see anything is that your subconscious mind wouldn't let you witness your own impending death?"
"I didn't think about that," Daniel admitted. "So, you're saying that my subconscious blocked out the vision because I'd have seen myself die in it?"
"Well, it's just a theory, but it makes sense."
"Yes, it does, which would mean that I would never be able to predict my own death."
"Which, as far as I'm concerned, might be a good thing. It's traumatic enough to witness the upcoming death of a loved one, but to see yourself die would be quite a shock to the mind. That's why many people never have dreams in which they die. The dream will get right up to just before the moment of death, but the person wakes up before their dream self actually dies."
"The problem is that, because I was unaware that someone was out to kill me, it almost happened, twice," Daniel pointed out. "I think I'd rather witness my own death in a vision and be forewarned."
"Unfortunately, we can't really tell our subconscious minds what to do."
"Yeah." Daniel got to his feet. "So, are you done with me?"
"Yes, I am." She gave him a tube of antibacterial cream. "Use this on those scrapes until they completely scab over."
He took the tube. "Thanks. I'll add it to my growing collection."
After leaving the infirmary, Daniel got some help bringing his salvaged possessions to the quarters that would be his home for the foreseeable future.
"Thanks for the help, Marcus," Daniel said to the airman who'd helped him as they brought the last of the stuff in.
"Sure thing, Doctor Jackson. Those swords are pretty cool. You think that they'll clean up okay?"
Daniel looked at the three soot-covered blades. "I think so."
"That's good." The airman paused. "We're all really sorry about your house, Doctor Jackson. That was a tough break, especially considering that you, um, just came back to Earth a few months ago. I thought you'd like to know that we've started up a collection for you. We know that you make a lot more money than any of us do, but we just wanna help out. A lot of the people here owe their lives to you. Heck, we all do since you've helped save the planet more than once. But, even if it wasn't for that, well, you're one of us, sir, and we stand by our own."
Daniel felt his throat tighten at the airman's words, deeply touched by them. "Thank you, Marcus, and please thank everyone else for me. You have no idea how much that means to me."
The airman nodded, smiling. "Well, I'll leave you alone, sir. If there is anything else that you need, just let someone know."
As Marcus was leaving, Jack came in.
"Got all your stuff?" he asked.
"What there is of it."
Jack looked at the pathetically few items that had been spared from destruction. "I'm really sorry this happened, Daniel. If I were you, I'd be pretty pissed right about now."
"Yeah, I think 'pissed' is a good word to describe my feelings."
Jack looked at him closely. "I just don't want you to go off half-cocked and do something stupid."
"Don't worry, Jack. I have no intention of doing something stupid."
"That's good to hear."
Daniel sat on the bed. "This isn't exactly how I planned to spend my weekend," he said, a touch of weariness in his voice.
"Did you have something special planned?"
"No, but just about anything would be better than hiding out from a hit man. Well, okay, so I can think of some worse things, but this is definitely not my idea of fun."
"No, fun it is not. So, have you considered using the old All-Seeing Eye to find out who's behind this?"
"All-Seeing Eye? Jack, the only All-Seeing Eye that I have is the one that's on the dollar bills in my wallet. I tried twice to find out what the reason for my premonition was with absolutely no luck. I couldn't get any kind of image at all. Janet thinks that the reason is that my subconscious mind wouldn't allow me to witness my own death. I'm not sure if it would make a difference that I now know that someone is trying to kill me. The thing is, though, that I don't want to take a peek into the future; I want to find out who's behind the murder attempts, and I wouldn't even begin to know how to go about doing that."
"Couldn't you do something like you did when the Prometheus was missing and you went looking for Carter?"
Daniel shook his head. "I knew who I was looking for that time. I could focus on Sam. And I think it helped that we have a personal connection to each other. Unfortunately, this ability of mine isn't like a TV, where I can just tune in whatever station I want."
"So, you're saying that we might have to find out the old-fashioned way who hired those men to kill you."
"Unless some sudden vision comes to me, then I'd say the answer is yes."
"Then I guess we'd better get started, huh?"
"You screwed up, Price," Kinsey said into the cell phone, making it clear that he was not happy.
"Jackson is proving to be a harder target than I anticipated," the man on the other end of the line said.
"I told you in the beginning that this would not be a simple job. I said that you had to do it in a way that would be quick, not giving him any time to react."
"You also said that it had to look like an accident, which limits my options considerably."
"Well, Jackson and everyone else know now that someone's trying to kill him, so it no longer matters if it looks like an accident," Kinsey told the hit man. "The problem is that he's taken refuge inside the mountain."
"He's got to come out sooner or later."
"He could stay in there for weeks, even months. This can't wait that long. He needs to be taken care of before the elections."
"So, how do we flush him out?"
"Short of threatening someone he cares about, which would just complicate things even more, there really isn't any way. Therefore, I'm going to have to get you in there."
"The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is about as high security as you can get," Price said.
"I am well aware of that. I have connections that can do the job. Is bringing a weapon in secretly going to be a problem? Unless you can sneak up on him and kill him instantly with it, a knife will do you no good."
"I have a weapon that I can use," Price assured him. "Will I be going in as a civilian or someone in the military?"
"Military, most likely, probably an officer. It'll be much easier to arrange. Not as a new member of the personnel, though. That would have to go through the base commander. You'll have to pass through a hand scanner to get in, so I am going to need your hand print."
"I get very nervous about people having my fingerprints, Senator."
"It's the only way you can get in. The FBI already has your fingerprints on file. They just don't have a face to go along with them, and, if you do your job right, they still won't. However, if you don't want the job, I'll find someone else better suited to the task."
Price thought about it for a moment. "Very well. Where do you want me to send the hand print?"
The two men made the necessary arrangements.
"I'll contact you when everything is set up," Kinsey said afterwards. "Oh, and, Price? If you miss again, I just might have to rethink our arrangement – that is if you're not caught and are still alive. Do not underestimate Jackson. He is very dangerous."
"The man's an archeologist. How can he be that dangerous? What is he, Indiana Jones?"
"Indiana Jones wouldn't stand a chance against him. Take my word for it, Price. If you give him an opening, he will take you down."
After Price hung up, he retrieved a briefcase from a hidden compartment in his closet. Opening the case revealed several handguns of various types. He selected one of the weapons, a small, .32 caliber automatic. Like the popular Glock, the frame and grip of the gun were made of a high-strength plastic polymer, the barrel constructed of metal. Unlike the Glock, however, as many of the internal components as possible were also made of plastic.
The true uniqueness of the weapon soon became apparent as Price began to disassemble it. Most of the frame and the grip had been ingeniously designed to break down into smaller pieces, small enough to hide inside boots and other articles of clothing. Next came the barrel, which unscrewed into three pieces, the silencer making a fourth.
Price picked up the tiny, four round magazine. It was gold-plated with intricate engraving on one side. The assassin retrieved another item, a large, gold, ornamental belt buckle. There was a rectangular hole in the center of the buckle, which the magazine snapped into. Looking at the buckle now, the magazine appeared to simply be a part of the buckle's design. But this was not the most ingenious part of the design, for, mounted right in plain sight all the way around the buckle, were the bullets that the gun used. They were painted gold and appeared to be permanently mounted on the buckle but could be easily removed by pressing the hidden catch.
Flipping the buckle over, Price opened the back and placed inside all of the metal pieces of the weapon. He then attached the buckle to the belt that was designed for it. Even if he was to remove the belt and give it to someone to examine, they would be unable to tell what the buckle's true function was. This was not the first time that Price had used it, and he figured that it wouldn't be the last. Though he would take heed of Senator Kinsey's warning, he had full confidence that he'd succeed in his job. This Daniel Jackson might be good, but he couldn't outrun a bullet.
It had been three days since the second attempt on Daniel's life, and, so far, nobody had had any luck finding out who was behind it. They'd been unable to learn anything about the rogue NID group that everyone thought might be responsible. Sam had even contacted Agent Barrett, who told her that his investigation into the incident in L.A. was at a standstill, and nothing more had been uncovered about the people behind it.
Even though the NID was not directly involved in the investigation, they were aware of the murder attempts on Daniel, and Barrett had offered his help, officially or unofficially, if it was needed. Sam had thanked him and let him know that, if they needed anything from him, she'd give him a call.
SG-1 quietly celebrated Jack's birthday in Daniel's office that afternoon. As the archeologist had hoped, his friend loved the autographed card. Much to his surprise, however, the colonel did not make the expected wisecrack about the hockey history DVD. Instead, he'd thanked Daniel and said that this was one history program he'd enjoy watching.
Once the gift-giving was done, the conversation inevitably turned to the attempts on Daniel's life and their inability to find out anything about the rogue NID group.
"You know, this is the first time that I actually wish that Maybourne was still here on Earth," Jack muttered. "The guy's an S.O.B., but he had connections, and he knew what he was doing when it came to this sort of stuff. He'd probably have been able to find out something on these people. But then again, he might have decided to be one of them."
"Is there any chance that we're going about this the wrong way?" Sam asked. "What if that rogue NID group isn't responsible for this?"
"Who else could it be?" Daniel questioned. "Not counting the Goa'uld, I usually don't go around making enemies of people. I'm not saying that I haven't ticked off some people and that I don't have any enemies on this planet, but someone who's a big enough enemy that they'd hire somebody to kill me? I honestly can't think of anyone."
"Perhaps the motive for these attempts on your life is something that we are completely unaware of or have not yet considered," Teal'c suggested. "While watching your television, I have seen that premeditated murders on Earth are usually committed for one or more of four reasons: hatred, greed, jealousy, or because the victim posed a threat to the murderer or something the murderer valued. You have said that no one on Earth would feel enough hatred for you to do this, so we must look at the other possibilities."
"Okay, it can't possibly be greed," Daniel responded. "Nobody who would do something like this would benefit financially from my death. Most of the people who are in my will are right here in this room, all except for Janet and Cassie. And there is nobody I can think of who would be so jealous of me that they'd want me dead."
"Which leads us right back to this being because you're a threat to someone," Jack said.
"So, who besides these rogue NID people would consider me that much of a threat?"
"Well, that's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, now isn't it. My money's still on them, though. Considering what they did in L.A., they clearly have no conscience or at least not much of one."
"So, we just have to keep trying to dig up something on them," Sam stated.
Jack stood. "Well, I think that we should all take a break from this. It's a lovely day outside, even if it is a bit nippy, and Daniel has been stuck inside this mountain for two and a half days. What say I go get us something good to eat and we all go up top?"
Sam blinked in surprise. "Sir, are you suggesting that we have a picnic?" She couldn't quite keep the amusement out of her voice.
"No, Carter, I did not say anything about a picnic," Jack answered testily.
"I don't know, Jack," Daniel said, the smallest of smiles on his face. "It sounds an awful lot like a picnic to me."
"It is not a picnic!" Jack insisted. "Just because we'd be eating outside—"
Daniel's smile got bigger. "With the trees, and the birds, and the insects, not on a mission or camping out—"
"Oh, for cryin' out loud! All right, it's a picnic!" Jack shouted.
"I would be most interested in experiencing a picnic," Teal'c intoned.
Daniel and Sam burst into laughter.
"A picnic sounds wonderful, sir," the astrophysicist said. "Great idea."
That caused Jack to smile proudly. "Yes, I thought so myself. And we can consider it a part of my birthday party."
And so it was that SG-1 had their first real picnic together, and they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Jack and Sam talked about picnics they had shared with family in years past, and Daniel mentioned a few that he'd had with foster families. This, of course, was Teal'c's first picnic.
The four friends were sorry when the descent of the sun behind the mountains brought an end to their picnic, and they decided that they'd have to do this again someday.
Daniel went to bed that night with a feeling of happiness, his thoughts far away from the deadly threat hanging over him.
Price came up to the final checkpoint that would allow him entry into the lower levels of a facility that, up until yesterday, he had known nothing about. He had gone through the previous checkpoints with no great difficulty, though his written orders were thoroughly examined, and he'd had to submit to some pretty strict security measures. The hand scanner had given him a moment of unease, but, apparently, Senator Kinsey had taken care of that, just as he had said he would.
The one problem Price would have to deal with was his escort, who had been tagging right alongside him since Level 1.
"Good morning, Major," one of the men at the final checkpoint said.
"Good morning, Airman. Here are my orders." Price handed the papers to the man. Because of the metal detectors, it had been necessary for him to remove his belt so that he could pass through the scanners, which he had anticipated. Seeing that this checkpoint had no detectors or scanners of any kind, he started putting the belt back on.
"That's quite an unusual belt buckle, sir," the man sitting at the desk said. "Definitely not military issue."
"Yes, it's a good luck piece. I don't go anywhere without it. I had it custom-made a few years ago."
"The bullets look real."
Price immediately replied with the rest of his cover story. "They are. They belonged to an old pistol that my father owned. I had them gold-plated and mounted on the buckle. He was an avid member of the NRA, and that gun was his pride and joy. I've got it mounted in a glass case at home."
The airman looked over the papers, then handed them back to him. "Well, it's quite the buckle, sir."
A couple of minutes later, Price stepped beyond the checkpoint, certain that, very soon, Doctor Daniel Jackson would be dead and he'd be on his way back home, yet another contract successfully completed.