Daniel caught a taxi back to his hotel room. It was now one o'clock, and his flight back home didn't leave until early tomorrow morning. He could have booked a flight out for today, but when he made his reservations, he hadn't known exactly when the meeting would take place or how long he'd be at the White House.
After eating lunch at the hotel's restaurant, Daniel decided to spend the rest of the day playing tourist. As he wandered around DC, taking in all the points of interest, he got the very strong feeling that he was being watched. This was a feeling he could not ignore or chalk up to his imagination.
Catching another taxi, he had it take him to a shopping district. There, he went from shop to shop, pretending that he was window shopping. What he was actually doing was trying to catch a glimpse of the person or persons who were following him. Attempting to sense their presence would be impossible in this crowd, so it was necessary to do this the old-fashioned way.
At last, Daniel caught sight of someone that he knew he'd seen before. A few minutes later, he saw them again. Now that Daniel knew exactly where the man was, he decided to try something. Closing his eyes, Daniel mentally reached out in the direction the man was in and 'scanned' him. When he opened his eyes again, he could now sense the unique feel of the man's presence. Now, Daniel would know the man's position at all times as long as he stayed within range of the archeologist's sixth sense.
Daniel went to a restaurant for dinner. His "shadow" was sitting at a table about three yards behind him, along with another man, whose presence Daniel would now also recognize. He had to wonder who sent the men. He didn't think that it was the president. Hayes didn't strike him as the kind of man who would have him followed. No, Daniel's money was on Kinsey.
The archeologist's fingers brushed against the pocket that held the object he'd gotten from General Hammond. It was the computer disk that contained the evidence against Kinsey linking him to the secret NID operation run by Maybourne out of Area 51, the involvement with the Russians, and the threats to Hammond's family that forced the general to retire over three years ago. Daniel had brought the disk thinking that it might be necessary to give it to the president. But he had chosen not to because he didn't want to take the chance that Hayes would question its authenticity. He had decided that, if Hayes went ahead and chose to replace Hammond, he would then see that the president got the disk. But, now, Daniel was beginning to think that he needed to change his plans.
Coming to a decision, the archeologist realized that he was going to have to lose his tail. He finished his dinner, paid the bill, and left the restaurant. He caught a taxi to one of the big malls, knowing that it would still be open. He headed straight to one of the large shops there and over to the glassware department.
Finding a shelving unit filled with lots of breakable things, he passed by it, continuing down the aisle. As he had hoped, the man following him took the same route. Just as the guy passed the shelves, Daniel gave them a little psychic shove. The unit tipped, spilling its contents all over the floor with a loud crash. Several people came hurrying to see what had happened, and, in the confusion, Daniel quickly slipped away. He headed straight toward the exit of the store that went outside rather than the one that went out into the mall since he knew that the second man was waiting at that other exit. The problem was that Daniel had no way of knowing if there were other people following him, people who could be keeping an eye on this door.
Looking around, he saw that he was in the men's clothing department. An idea came to him. He went over to where the coats were and found a trench coat. He then got a hat. Quickly making his purchases, he changed into the trench coat, putting his own coat into the empty bag. Donning the hat, he exited the shop and headed out into the dim light of the parking lot, hoping that he would not be recognized. He found a taxi and told the driver to take him to a park. There, Daniel wandered around for several minutes, his senses alert for the presence of someone following him. Being that time of night in the middle of winter, the park was empty, so it didn't take Daniel long to determine that he wasn't being followed.
Confident that he'd lost his tail, the archeologist got another taxi, knowing to whom it was that he had to give the disk, but also hoping that he was making the right decision.
Richard Woolsey, pulled into the driveway of his house. He'd just had a meeting with General Maynard to discuss his suspicions about Vice President Kinsey. Maynard had told him that some kind of proof against Kinsey would be needed before any actions could be taken, and Woolsey had been thinking about it ever since then.
Woolsey pressed his garage door opener and drove his car into the garage. He got out of the car and headed for the door to the house.
Woolsey gasped and started at the unexpected sound of someone speaking his name. He spun around to see a figure step out from their hiding place in the corner. Realizing who it was, fear raced through Woolsey's mind, and he backed up a step.
"Please don't be afraid," Daniel said. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"What are you doing here?" Woolsey demanded to know. "I could have you arrested for breaking and entering."
"Yes, you could, but I'm hoping that, instead, you'll let me tell you why I'm here. You must realize now that I have no intention of harming you. If I wanted to kill you, you'd already be dead."
"All right, so what do you want?"
"May we go inside?"
Woolsey thought about it for a moment, then nodded. He entered the house, turning off the alarm as Daniel followed him in. They made their way to the living room.
"All right, so tell me why you're here," Woolsey demanded. "If you've come to try to convince me that I'm wrong—"
Daniel held up his hand, silencing him. "No, I'm not here for that. But there is one thing I have to know. Do you honestly believe the things you said or are you simply doing and saying what Vice President Kinsey tells you to? When we met before, I believed that you were merely someone who was in Kinsey's pocket, being paid to do and say what he ordered you to, but, today, I began to suspect otherwise. Call it natural instinct, call it my psychic abilities kicking in, but I feel that you honestly believe what you said about General Hammond and SG-1."
Woolsey stared at Daniel closely, speaking after a few seconds. "Yes, I do believe it. I stand by everything I said. Though the vice president is the one who requested my services, I am not 'in his pocket'. If, during my investigation, I had come to feel differently about what was going on at the SGC, I'd have said so, and my report would have reflected as much."
Daniel nodded his head. "That's all I needed to know." He took the disk out of his pocket and handed it to Woolsey.
"What's this?" the man asked.
"Evidence tying Kinsey to several illegal activities."
"How do I know this is real? It could have been fabricated."
"You know about what happened three years ago when General Hammond suddenly retired without explanation and was quickly replaced by General Bauer. You're a smart man, Woolsey. Didn't you ever wonder about that?"
Surprised, Woolsey said nothing for a moment. On the drive home, he had begun to think about this very thing. "Yes, I did. I have begun to suspect that he was blackmailed."
Daniel nodded. "He was. Someone threatened his family, told him to leave the SGC if he didn't want to see them get hurt." He looked at Woolsey more closely. "So, if you had begun to suspect that Hammond was blackmailed, did you also begin to question how it is that he was able to return to the SGC?"
Again, Woolsey was surprised and more than a little spooked. These thoughts, too, had been running through his mind tonight.
"Are you reading my mind, Doctor Jackson?" he asked bluntly.
"No, I'm not. As far as I know, I don't have that ability. I'm guessing that your question means that you have thought about why Hammond was able to return to the SGC. The answer is on that disk."
"Where did you get it?"
"From General Hammond."
"He's had it all this time?" Woolsey asked.
"So, why didn't he give it to someone?"
"Because he didn't know who to trust," Daniel replied.
"And you're trusting me to do what should be done with it?"
"I'm hoping that you will. But that isn't the only copy, so, if it turns out that my hope in your integrity was misplaced, I or General Hammond can still see that a copy gets to the president."
"Why didn't you give it to him yourself?"
"I wanted to make sure that he believed what it shows. I think that if you're the one who gives it to him, he will believe it without question."
"Because I'm working for Vice President Kinsey and, therefore, would have no reason to make up false evidence against him."
"All right, I'll take a look at it, and, if I believe it's real and that it's something that the president needs to see, I will give it to him."
"There is something that I need to know, Doctor Jackson," Woolsey said. "Was Vice President Kinsey behind the attempts on your life?"
Daniel hesitated for a moment. "Yes," he answered. "I don't know why, but he is the one who hired the hit men."
"You're the one responsible for the fire at his estate."
Daniel gave a single nod.
The archeologist's confirmation of what Woolsey had suspected made several more pieces fall into place. "He knows that it was you, doesn't he. That's why he is so afraid of you."
"Oh, yes, he knows. I had a little chat with him, told him to leave me alone."
Woolsey studied the archeologist closely. "You could have killed him. He attempted to kill you, destroyed your house. You had a big motive to want him dead. Why didn't you?"
"Because, despite what you may think about me, Mister Woolsey, I am not now nor could ever be that kind of person."
Woolsey let that statement sink in. Daniel turned to go.
The archeologist looked at Woolsey, whose eyes searched his for a long while.
"I . . . may not have been right about everything I said at that meeting," the NID man finally admitted.
Realizing that Woolsey was talking about him, Daniel gave him a little smile and a nod of the head, then quietly left the house.
As Daniel approached his office the next day, he could sense the presence of his teammates inside. Not the least bit surprised, he smiled a little and entered the room.
"Hi, guys," he said. "Been waiting here all morning or did you have the guards at the front gate tell you when I arrived?"
"We have been here only a few minutes, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c answered. "O'Neill informed us that you had arrived."
"Okay, enough for the chitchat," Jack said in his no-nonsense voice, eyes on Daniel. "Where have you been and what did you do there?"
Daniel came further into the room and leaned back against the worktable. "I went to Washington and had a lovely chat with our new president."
Everyone blinked in surprise, well, except for Teal'c, that is, who just stared at him.
"You what?" Jack said. "You talked to Hayes?"
"Yep. Oh, Kinsey, Woolsey and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs were there, too, by the way."
Jack frowned severely. "Woolsey? Okay, Daniel. What's going on?"
Daniel became serious. "Before I tell you, you have to make two promises," he looked at everyone, "all of you?"
"What promises?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"First, that you won't attempt to get involved in any way and try to talk to the president yourself. Second, that you won't tell General Hammond. He can't know about this. I'm sure that he already suspects I went to Washington, but he must not find out why or what I did there."
"Daniel, General Hammond is our C.O.," Sam pointed out. "If we have information he should be given, we're duty-bound to tell him."
"Sam, how many times in the past have we kept things from him? This wouldn't be the first time."
Sam thought about that. "I guess you're right about that."
"Besides, the only reason why I even know these things is because of my precognitive abilities. If not for them, I wouldn't have had a clue, and Hammond wouldn't have found out anyway, not until the thing I'm hoping I prevented happened."
"All right, we won't tell Hammond," Jack agreed. "As for the other promise, I can't make it until I know what's going on."
Daniel shook his head. "Sorry, Jack. If you can't make that promise now, I can't tell you. I have to be sure that you're not going to try to interfere. I don't think that the president will appreciate it."
"I promise, Daniel," Sam said, trusting his judgment.
"I also give my word," Teal'c stated.
Jack looked at everyone and sighed explosively. "All right, I promise. But I had better not regret it."
Satisfied, Daniel gave a nod. "Kinsey and Woolsey had a meeting with the president to convince him that General Hammond and all of us should be removed from the program."
"Those little weasels," Jack growled. "You know, this doesn't surprise me at all. I'm telling you, Daniel. You should have let me shoot Kinsey. It would have saved us all a lot of trouble."
"What about General Maynard?" Sam asked.
"Oh, he's definitely in our camp," Daniel replied. "From what I saw, he did a pretty good job of defending us."
"Remind me to send him a nice fruit basket on his next birthday," Jack said. "I'm guessing, though, that his defense of us didn't do any good, not in the future that you saw."
"Well, from what I saw, we were all still a part of the program."
"But not Hammond."
"No. He was replaced by someone else."
"I can't tell you that. All I'll say is that it was a civilian."
"A civilian?" Sam said in surprise. "I can't believe that the president would put a civilian in charge of the SGC."
"Daniel, please tell me it wasn't some pain in the ass politician," Jack pleaded.
"No, it wasn't a politician."
"Is that all?" Sam asked.
"I wish it was," Daniel replied. "In my vision, Hayes also chose to shut down the SGC for a three-month review, at the end of which a newly formed government department would take its place."
"Damn," Jack muttered. "This is so not good."
Sam's expression reflected Jack's words. "Three months? We can't afford to lose that much time."
"I know, Sam. That's why I knew that I had to do what I could to talk Hayes out of it."
"And did you succeed?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. I tried my best. I explained to him the dangers that we're facing right now and why we can't afford to lose that kind of time in our search for the Lost City. I also pointed out that this would be the worse time to have someone new in control of the SGC, somebody who really didn't know what they were doing. I also tried to shoot down some of the arguments that Kinsey and Woolsey had against us."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "What arguments, for instance?"
"I think it would be better if you didn't know, Jack. It would just piss you off."
"Oh, I'm already pissed off, Daniel."
"Okay, so it would piss you off even more. Besides, you don't really need to know."
"So, what do we do now?" Sam questioned. "Do we just sit and wait and hope that you managed to change the president's mind?"
"I guess so. That's really all we can do. I did do one other thing, though. I made arrangements for the president to get a copy of a certain computer disk."
Sam and Teal'c both looked at Daniel questioningly, but Jack figured out right away what the archeologist was talking about. He smiled.
"Oh, really," he said. "Well, that should certainly shed a new light on things. Maybe I won't have to shoot Kinsey after all. The president might take care of that."
That's when Sam realized what disk Daniel was talking about. "You gave the president the disk with the evidence against Kinsey?"
"Not personally, but I did give it to someone else whom I'm pretty sure will pass on the information."
Jack's smile widened. "Sweet."
Sam's smile only lasted a moment. "So, what's going to happen if Hayes does remove General Hammond and shuts down the SGC for three months?"
"I don't know, Sam," Daniel replied. "My dream didn't show me that, and, to be honest, I'm afraid to take a look."
"Well, we just have to think positive," Jack stated.
Daniel and Sam nodded.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "I am confident that Daniel Jackson's words succeeded in influencing President Hayes' mind."
"Sure they did," Jack responded. "If he can talk an Unas out of eating him, he could manage to talk the president out of making one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency."
"The difference between Chaka and the president, Jack, is that Chaka wasn't concerned about politics," Daniel pointed out. He straightened. "I need to go talk to General Hammond. I'm surprised that he hasn't called me to his office yet."
"What are you going to tell him?" Sam asked.
"Just that I tried to prevent the president from making a big mistake. I don't want him to know that I went to Washington to save his job. If he found that out, it might affect his decisions."
Jack nodded. "You're right. This is something Hammond is better off not knowing."
Fortunately, the general did not push Daniel for details. He trusted that the archeologist knew what he was talking about when he said that it would be better for Hammond not to know. All he did ask was if the president now had the disk. Daniel told the general that he was pretty sure he did.
One thing that Daniel didn't tell anyone was a certain suspicion that he had. In his vision, he saw how Woolsey and Kinsey tried to use the psychological report that MacKenzie had written to convince Hayes that he was mentally unstable. The fact that they had that report made the archeologist suspect that Kinsey was behind the psych evaluation that was done on him by MacKenzie. Hammond had said that someone gave MacKenzie the green light to do it even though, up until then, nobody had been willing to allow it. The question is, did Kinsey encourage the psychiatrist to find Daniel mentally unstable? If things had gone differently and MacKenzie's report had been believed, Daniel would probably now be an unwilling guest at Mental Health, drugged to the gills. Either that or he'd have had to escape from Earth again. There was no doubt that drugged into insensibility and locked up in a mental ward for the rest of his life would be the next best thing to being dead, as far as Kinsey was concerned. Daniel would be out of the way and no longer a danger to him. And there was always the possibility that an "accident" at Mental Health would have eventually gotten rid of Daniel permanently.
Whether MacKenzie had been a willing participant in this or just another person that had been unwittingly used by Kinsey was something Daniel might never know. Either way, the psychiatrist's career was probably over, definitely his involvement in the Stargate Program.
All Daniel hoped now was that he'd managed to preserve the program as it was.
"Thank you for seeing me, Mr. President," Richard Woolsey said.
"Is there something that you wanted to add to your report, Mister Woolsey?" Hayes asked from his seat behind his desk in the Oval Office.
As Woolsey replied, he felt a resurgence of the regret and shame he'd been experiencing ever since he figured out how wrong he'd been to ally himself with Kinsey. "Yes, sir. As I'm sure you're aware, the NID does not exactly have a spotless record. For several years, a group of rogue agents operated inside of its ranks. They were acting on behalf of a cabal of international business interests intent on acquiring alien technology for their own profit."
"One could only hope."
That statement confused Woolsey. "Mister President?"
"I know they're out there, Mister Woolsey. What I'm saying is, one could only hope that money was their chief motivation. However, I doubt the type of person who's behind this is short-sighted enough for that, given what he must know. In light of the new reality that the Stargate presents, there are aspirations beyond mere financial greed. That could be much worse."
"I agree." A greed for money was one thing, but a greed for power was something else entirely, something far more dangerous.
"You're here to tell me that the Vice President is still in league with them?"
Woolsey couldn't say that he was all that surprised that the president already knew about Kinsey's past involvement with the rogue NID. It seemed that he was the only one among them who'd been naive enough not to see it. Well, at least this would make his job easier.
"If these people are as powerful as we both think, it does make one wonder what the Vice President could have possibly offered them in exchange for the price on his head," he said.
"Obviously, the full control of the Stargate Program that the White House affords."
"The Vice President brought key financing to your campaign victory. I just hope it didn't come at too high a cost." Woolsey took an envelope out of his pocket and placed it on President Hayes' desk. He then turned and walked to the door. He paused before exiting, turning back to face the President. "I also hope history one day shows that I tried to do the right thing."
"Whose version of history, Mister Woolsey?"
Woolsey gave a rueful nod and left the room. The President looked down at the envelope lying on his desk, then picked it up. Inside, he found a computer disk and another envelope. Written on the second envelope was a note that said, "Do not open until after you have viewed the contents of the disk."
President Hayes went to his private office and put the disk in his computer. As he had already guessed, it contained damning proof of the vice president's involvement in the illegal activities of the rogue NID agents, including threats that were made against General Hammond three years ago to get him to leave the SGC.
Hayes knew that this evidence was enough to have Kinsey arrested for treason, but he couldn't go public with it, not without revealing the existence of the Stargate Program. Yet the truth remained that the vice president was involved with a group of people who were willing to commit murder to get what they wanted, people who were willing to destroy entire civilizations, as evidenced by some of the acts they had committed to get advanced technology.
So, what should he do? Have Kinsey killed? Even if he was the kind of man to do something like that, which he wasn't, it would raise too many questions in the minds of the American people. With the resources Hayes had available to him now, he knew that it would be possible to frame Kinsey for some other act of treason, but would that be wise? If the vice president felt that he was being backed into a corner, there was no telling what he might do. And there was the people Kinsey was aligned with to consider as well. If they became concerned that they were going to be exposed, they might take drastic actions.
The president picked up the envelope that was with the disk and opened it. Inside was a typed letter.
Dear Mister President,
Now that you've seen the evidence against the vice president, it is vital that you know about something else that I have discovered, something that is not on that disk. As you are probably aware, several months ago, multiple attempts were made on the life of Doctor Jackson. I must tell you that Vice President Kinsey was behind those attempts. I can only assume that he feared that Doctor Jackson would discover the things he is involved with and the plans he has to gain control of the Stargate Program. I am ashamed to admit that I played an unwitting part in the vice president's decision to have Doctor Jackson killed. I can only be thankful that those attempts failed and that Doctor Jackson was able to see to it that his life would not be threatened again, or at least I hope so.
Hayes stopped reading. So this was the thing that was between Jackson and Kinsey. There was no doubt in the president's mind that Daniel was responsible for the fire that destroyed Kinsey's garage and all its contents, a warning to Kinsey to leave him alone. Judging by how afraid the vice president was of Daniel, Hayes guessed that the archeologist had done more than just burn down that garage. The president smiled slightly, thinking that he'd probably have enjoyed seeing whatever it was that Daniel did to make Kinsey so terrified of him.
Hayes turned his attention back to the letter.
Knowing what I do now, I realize that I was wrong in many ways, not the least of which was my beliefs about Doctor Jackson. I have come to regret the accusations I made against him, and I hope that nothing I said about him will negatively impact your opinion of him. Though I still stand behind my belief that General Hammond and SG-1 made serious errors during their years at the SGC and that it would be best to have them removed from the program, I know that they are all good people who have been fighting for the welfare of Earth.
In the end, all I can say is that it grieves me that my ignorance and blindness led to me being used in this way. I hope that this will not result in a tragedy for this country, this planet, for I fear what the vice president and the people he is allied with will do to get what they want. Please take great care, sir.
Hayes folded the letter and put it and the disk back in the envelope they came in. They would be going in the safe for safekeeping.
Woolsey's last paragraph made Hayes think about what all this might mean for him. He was not stupid enough to believe that he was safe just because he was the president. If these people truly believed that having him assassinated was the only way to get what they wanted, they wouldn't hesitate to do so.
Yet again, Hayes asked himself what he should do. He thought about it for a long while. Finally, he decided that, for right now, it would be best to do nothing about Kinsey. Sooner or later, the vice president would have to be dealt with, but that time had not yet come.
The last couple of days had passed quietly for SG-1, though the thought of what might happen soon prayed heavily on the minds of all of them. It was now the morning of the third day, and Daniel had finally decided to take another peek into the future. Unfortunately, all he saw were quick flashes of what looked like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and then a desolate, snow-covered landscape, ships battling overhead. It was the second image that made him remember another vision he had months ago.
Later that day, Jack stopped by Daniel's office and immediately saw that something was bothering the archeologist.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
Daniel looked up at him from his chair behind the desk. "I remembered something earlier today. When you were hit by that staff blast on the mission to rescue Airman Wells, I wondered why my abilities didn't warn me earlier that something was going to happen to you. I realized a couple of hours ago that I did get a warning."
"You did? When?"
"Do you recall the vision I had after I, um, accidentally made a mess of my office?"
"The one that was so intense you weren't even aware that you were cutting your hand to ribbons on that broken glass?"
"Yeah. In that vision, I saw so many things. Images were flashing by so fast that I couldn't even register some of them. I realize now that one of the things I saw was that battle on P3X-666. I saw you go down." Daniel shook his head. "When we got to the battlefield, I didn't make the connection. I didn't recognize that it was the same as what I'd seen in my vision. If I had, I could have prevented what happened to you."
"Daniel, don't beat yourself up over it. You had that vision months ago. You can't be expected to remember everything. Besides, everything turned out fine. I'm alive, aren't I?"
Daniel nodded. "Yes. Yes, you are. There is one thing, though. In that vision, I saw another big battle. It looked bad, Jack. Our ships were fighting Goa'uld ships over what looked like some kind of ice planet or maybe just an area of a planet where there was a whole lot of snow. Earlier today, I took a look into the future and saw it again."
"Were we winning?"
"I couldn't tell. The image only lasted a couple of seconds."
"So, sooner or later, we're going to duke it out big time with the Goa'uld, huh?"
"Yes, unless something happens to change it, and I have a feeling that might not be possible." Daniel's eyes drifted away from Jack's. "Something's coming, Jack, something that is going to change everything."
To be continued.