Incidents Series Part 6: The Kidnapping Incident
by Maureen Thayer
Categories: Action/Adventure, Angst
Content Warning: Mild Profanity
Author's Note: This is the 6th fanfic in the Incidents Series. I would highly recommend that you read the previous parts before this one, if you have not already done so, in order to understand the plot.
This story switches between Jack's and Daniel's point of view.
I'm not sure exactly when it was that I made the oath, but I had every intention of keeping it, the oath that, when we found the people who took Danny, I was going to make them wish they never came near him.
The day started out so well, Daniel, Carter, Teal'c and I all having a great time. It had been five days since Danny regained the memory of his parents' death, five days for us, around fifteen months for Daniel's memories and his rapidly aging body. Throughout those days, we'd been keeping him pretty busy, not giving him much time to dwell on the memories of the life he had after his parents were killed. He'd started smiling and laughing again, though he was still a long way from the happy, carefree little boy he was before he got back the memory of that horrible day. It saddens me to think that we may never see that Daniel again. As much as we're trying to make his childhood a happy one this time around, we can't blot out the years of memories from his first childhood. I wish we could.
Daniel is nine now, and I swear that he's getting smarter every second. How can a brain that small hold so much stuff in it? He speaks eight languages now, including Ancient Egyptian, and can read and write a bunch of other dead ones. And he already knows so much about mythology, ancient history and archeology that it makes my head spin.
The other day, I asked Fraiser how Daniel could be regaining his memories so quickly yet not get overwhelmed by it all. She reminded me that, when he had amnesia after he descended, he regained virtually all his memories over the course of a month, yet he was able to function just fine during that time. Compared to Daniel recovering the memories of his entire life during the space of a month, regaining approximately three months of memories each day was mild.
We'd decided to take Daniel to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I was grateful to Hammond for lifting the ban on him leaving the mountain. I understood – sort of – why he restricted Daniel to the base after what happened at the zoo, but it wasn't fair to Danny. At that moment, however, I was wishing that we'd stayed inside the mountain. Daniel would have been safe with us rather than out there somewhere, in the hands of people we were afraid would hurt him . . . or worse.
It happened in the museum's Discovery Zone, which was filled with all kinds of science stuff for kids – and adults who never completely grew up – to play with to their heart's content. We all sort of spread out, each of us attracted to different things. Carter stayed with Daniel. She has personally taken it upon herself to interest him in the hard sciences, and she seems to be succeeding. By the time she gets through with him, he'll probably be able to help her build Naquadah generators or something.
We'd been in the Discovery Zone for around half an hour when Daniel was taken. From Carter I learned that he had run off to one of the displays, her trailing after him. She was bumped from behind hard enough that it caused her to stumble and almost fall. The man apologized and helped steady her, asking if she was all right. After he walked away, she looked around and found that Daniel was nowhere in sight. I heard her calling his name and came over. We were soon joined by Teal'c. We looked everywhere. After seven or eight minutes, we were starting to get really worried. After fifteen minutes, we were frantic. We contacted the museum's security, and they helped us look, but Daniel was nowhere to be found. He was gone, vanished. We all knew that someone had taken him. There could be no other explanation. They must have subdued him quickly, used some kind of fast-acting tranquilizer. With the room full of the Saturday crowd of kids and parents, nobody noticed.
We learned that there were security cameras and that the feeds were taped. I've never been happier that I was a colonel in the Air Force, which gave me enough clout to get us into the monitoring room and see the tape. By then, the police had arrived. We gave them the story that I was Daniel's guardian, which we'd used a couple of other times. Fake records of my guardianship, Danny's birth and his fake parents' death had already been put in the system, though the first two had to be updated every four days to change Daniel's birth date and the third one to change the date his parents died. Danny knew that, as far as everyone outside the program was concerned, he was Daniel Nile, who was orphaned at the age of four. Yes, he was the one who picked the last name.
When we played the tape, and I saw what happened, I was chilled to the bone. This was not a random snatching; it had been planned and professionally executed. Within moments of Daniel separating from Carter, two men and two women hurried up to him, getting between him and Carter. On the tape, we could also see Carter getting bumped by the guy, and it was quite clear that it wasn't an accident.
"Oh my God," she said. "He was in on it! He bumped into me and then talked to me so that I wouldn't see them take Danny!"
Grimly, I nodded. I continued watching the playback as the men and women surrounded Danny, blocking everyone's view, including the camera's. When we saw Daniel again, he appeared to be unconscious. He was carried out by one of the men, the other man directly behind to block the view of Danny's face, the women in front. To the casual viewer, it would appear that Danny was merely asleep and being taken home by his parents and another couple.
"This was a professional job," said one of the cops. He turned to us. "I have to ask you. Do you have money or did Daniel inherit something from his parents?"
I shook my head. "I'm just an Air Force colonel. You don't get rich on military pay. And Danny's parents had no money either."
"Then the motive isn't money." The officer's gaze sharpened. "Could this have something to do with your job?"
I hesitated before replying. "What do you mean?"
"Do you have access to any classified or valuable information that someone would be willing to commit kidnapping to get?"
"Well, if I did, I couldn't tell you. I need to call my superior and tell him what's going on."
I went off someplace where I wouldn't be overheard and contacted Hammond.
"Sir, Daniel's been kidnapped."
"What?! How did this happen?"
I briefly filled him in. "Sir, this was obviously planned out ahead of time. Whoever did this has probably been watching us and waiting for the opportunity to snatch him. They must know who he is, General."
"Do you have any idea on the motive?"
"I have some ideas, but nothing concrete. Sir, we need to get the police off the case. This is too hot. If they do too much digging, ask the wrong questions, they're going to find out that something doesn't add up, especially if someone manages to connect us to the incident at the zoo."
"All right. I'll make some calls. Get back here as soon as you can."
The police wanted Carter to come down to the station to see if she could identify the man who bumped into her. She told them that she'd come as soon as possible. After giving the cops my number and a general description of Daniel – saying that I had no photo with me, but would get one to them ASAP – I left with Carter and Teal'c and headed back to the base. We were all in the briefing room with Hammond within minutes of arriving.
"Sir, I think we need to consider the fact that Daniel was taken because of what happened to him," I said.
"You mean because of him being turned into a child?"
"And the abilities he has. There were people at Area 51 and the NID who were extremely interested in him, especially after we learned that he has telekinesis. Now, I know that the NID supposedly cleaned house and got all the bad element out, but that stuff that happened in L.A. a few days ago proves that some of those guys are still out there. If they thought that they could harness Daniel's abilities or figure out how he got them in the first place, they'd see that as a valuable weapon against the Goa'uld."
I noticed that Carter's face had gone pale.
"Sir, the only way they could harness Daniel's abilities would be to force him to help them," she said. "As for figuring out how he got them, we haven't been able to do that even with the aid of the Asgard. I don't see how they could hope to succeed, unless they have access to some unknown technology. Not even an—" Her voice choked off.
"Not even a what, Carter?"
She swallowed. "If the Asgard scans couldn't determine how this happened, not even a . . . a direct examination of Daniel's brain would."
"A direct. . . ." I stopped when I realized what she was saying. She was talking about an autopsy. I suddenly felt sick. Carter looked like she felt the same way. Teal'c looked like he wanted to rip someone limb from limb. I'd be happy to oblige him once we found the people who took Danny.
"The police are in the process of being taken out of the loop," Hammond said, looking grim. "We will be getting the video tape from them. It's possible that we may be able to identify some of the people on it as former members of the NID."
As Carter, Teal'c and I left the briefing room a few minutes later, I was filled with a terrible sense of urgency. My gut was telling me that we needed to find and rescue Daniel fast or something terrible was going to happen.
I was trying really hard not to be scared. If I was still an adult, I knew that I'd be brave. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c would be brave, so I needed to be brave, too. But it was hard to be brave when I didn't know where I was, or who these people were, or what they wanted with me.
I'd only seen two people since I woke up, but I knew that there were more. I heard other people talking outside the door. I also heard dogs barking. There weren't any windows in the room, so I couldn't look out. I didn't know what time it was.
I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with Jack, Sam, and Teal'c and everybody else on the base. They were going to come rescue me. I knew they would. Then they'd take all these people to jail.
I heard the door unlocking and looked up. A man I'd never seen before came in. He sat in the chair near the bed and smiled at me.
"Hello, Daniel. How are you feeling? I hope you don't have a headache from that drug we gave you to put you to sleep."
"I want to go home."
"Yes, I imagine you do, but I'm afraid that's not possible. You see, we're all very interested in you, how you were turned into a child and these abilities you have. We think they could be a big help to us."
"Well, in a way, we're on the same side as the people at the SGC. We also want to get rid of the Goa'uld. We just think there are better, faster ways to do it. We think you could help with that."
"How could I help?"
"If your abilities could be trained, made stronger, they could be used to do a lot of things, things that might help defeat the Goa'uld and save lives. Wouldn't you like to help beat the Goa'uld?"
I did want to help beat the Goa'uld. Jack, Sam and Teal'c had told me all about them, so I knew how evil they were. They'd killed millions and millions of people and forced people to worship them. I knew that when I was an adult, I helped fight against them, and I wanted to still do that.
"Yeah," I said slowly, not sure if I should tell this guy anything at all.
The man smiled at me again. "Well then, we're on the same side, too, aren't we."
I shook my head. "No, we're not."
The man's smile disappeared. "Why do you say that?"
"Because you kidnapped me. If you were good people and on the same side as the people in the Stargate Program, you wouldn't have kidnapped me. You would be working with them."
"We're not bad people, Daniel. It's just that we do things differently than the people in charge of the program. They're not willing to do things that we are, things that are necessary to get rid of the Goa'uld as fast as possible."
I stared at the man really closely. "What kind of things?"
"Things that you're too young to understand."
I once asked Sam, Jack and Teal'c if I was a good person when I was an adult. They told me that I was a very good man who always did what was right even when others wanted me to do things that were wrong. I had a feeling that these people were doing things that were wrong and that, if I was an adult, I wouldn't help them.
"I'm not going to help you," I said. "I think that you're doing things that are wrong, and, if I helped you, I would be, too."
The look in the man's eyes scared me. He was mad. He leaned forward so that he was closer to me.
"All right, Daniel. I see that I'm going to have to get tougher. I'd rather have had your willing cooperation, but it's not necessary." He stood up. "You may be wishing soon that you'd said yes."
He left, and I heard the door lock behind him. Were they going to hurt me, try to make me do what they wanted? I was afraid of what they were going to do to me.
When the door opened again, I thought that they were coming to take me someplace to hurt me. It was the lady I'd seen before. She was holding a white bag and a cup that had the McDonald's logo on them.
"Here's some dinner for you," she said.
"I'm not hungry," I told her even though I really was.
"Eat it anyway. If you get hungry later, you won't get anything."
She put the bag and the cup on the table and left.
There was a hamburger inside the bag, and the cup had coke in it. As I ate, I saw something on the other side of the bag. It was a copy of the receipt. I looked at it and noticed that the address of the McDonald's they got the food from was on it. I was still in Denver. I was glad I was still in Colorado. I'd been afraid that they took me far away.
'I'm in Denver, Jack,' I called silently. 'Please come find me and take me home. I'm scared.'
I didn't get a wink of sleep during the night. I don't think that Carter or Teal'c did either. Judging by the way she looked, I'm guessing that Carter spent a good part of the night crying.
All I could think about was what those people might be doing to Danny. I vowed that if they hurt him in any way, shape or form, not only would I kill them, I'd let Teal'c torture them first – very slowly.
We weren't the only ones whose thoughts were preoccupied with Daniel. I knew that Hammond was worried sick, and the expression I saw on Fraiser's face said that she was, too. And then there was everyone else. I lost count of how many people came up to me asking if there were any developments in the case and expressing their concern for Daniel. Airmen, Marines, civilians. It didn't matter. Every one of them cared about him. In the three plus weeks that Daniel has been a child, he has endeared himself to at least half the people on this base. There would be no shortage of volunteers to go rescue him once we learned where he was.
We'd identified two of the five people involved in the kidnapping, one being the man who bumped into Carter. He'd worn a beard and moustache, and his hair color was different, but she was still able to pick him out of the photos of former NID operatives. Major Saul Peckham. Ex-major now. He'd resigned from the military at the same time as he left the NID. The other person we had a name on was Lieutenant Joanne Whitlock, also no longer in the military. Unfortunately, there was no current address on either of them.
Carter was busy searching for traces of where Peckham and Whitlock had been the past few days. She'd hacked into their credit and other personal records and was looking at credit card statements, phone records, and anything else that might give us some idea on where they'd been spending their time and who they'd been talking to recently.
Agent Barrett at the NID had been contacted and brought in on the search. I'd have preferred to keep the NID out of it, but Carter said that, with their resources and contacts, they'd be a big help.
As for me, I was feeling entirely useless. I called some of my own contacts, cashed in a few favors. The people I called said that they'd do what they could. Now, all I could do was wait for others to come up with the leads. I hated it. I wanted to be out there scouring the countryside for Danny. But we didn't even know if he was still in the state. He could be almost anywhere.
Carter came in, and I could tell by the look on her face that she'd had no luck.
"I couldn't find anything that would tell us what they've been up to," she said. "I did find mailing addresses, but they're not residences. They're mailbox service places in Denver. I couldn't find an actual home address for either of them. My guess is that they've got aliases they're living under."
"Then we're at a dead end."
"For right now. I'm still looking. These people have clearly made an effort to make themselves hard to find, Colonel. We could stake out the mailbox places, but it might be days before one of them shows up." She sat down. "I feel so helpless, sir. I keep thinking about Daniel and what they might be doing to him. He must be so scared."
"This is Daniel, Carter. He might be only nine, but he's still Daniel. He's tough."
Her eyes bored into mine, and I shifted uncomfortably under the weight of that stare.
"I'm worried, too," I finally admitted.
"I just wish that we could have his picture shown on the news and in the papers. Someone might have seen him."
"Yeah, but you know that the higher-ups won't go for that. They'll say that the secrecy of the program needs to be protected at all costs." The thought went through my head that losing Daniel would be too high a price.
Tears came to Carter's eyes. "What are they going to do to him, sir? He's just a little boy."
"We're not going to think about that, Carter," I answered firmly. "We're going to concentrate on getting him back. He's going to be all right. He has to be."
There was a scratching sound coming from behind the wall. I went over to where the sound was coming from and heard whining. It sounded like a dog trying to get in. I sat on the floor and put my ear to the wall.
"Are you trying to get in here to me?" The dog yipped and scratched even harder at the wall. "I wish that I really was Doctor Doolittle. Then we could talk to each other, and maybe you could help me." The dog gave a bark and scratched some more. And then I heard a second dog scratching at another spot on the wall. I wondered if they were guard dogs.
I heard someone yelling, and the scratching stopped. I got up and went back to my bed. I'd been trying to figure out how I could escape, but I hadn't come up with any ideas yet.
I was being watched. They tried to hide the camera, but I saw a spy movie with Jack a couple of days ago, and there was a scene in the movie with a camera that was hidden just like this one was. I'd been pretending that I didn't know about the camera.
I thought about what that man who came yesterday told me. He said that maybe my abilities could be trained, made stronger. All I'd done so far was move little things, and I hadn't done even that since I was told that what I could do wasn't something to play with. I wished that I could lift really big things, that I could break down doors and knock holes in walls. Then I could escape.
I looked at the wall the dogs had scratched at. The dogs were probably outside, which meant that if I could get through that wall, I could escape.
I dug my fingernail into the wall and scratched at it. It made a mark. I started thinking that maybe I could do more than just make a mark.
I stared really hard at the wall, trying to push at it. For a long time, nothing happened, then I saw a tiny crack appear. I pushed even harder, and the crack got a little bigger. If I pushed really, really hard, maybe I could crack all the way through!
But they'd see me with the camera. I had to do it someplace they couldn't see. In the spy movie, the good guy hid from the camera by standing right underneath it. Jack told me that it couldn't see him there because it was a "blind spot." Did this camera have a blind spot?
I got one of the puzzles that the people who kidnapped me left for me to play with and took it over to the corner where the camera was. I sat on the floor right next to the wall and poured the pieces out. And then I stared at the wall, concentrating really hard. In just a little while, a crack appeared. I kept staring, and the crack got wider and bigger, little chunks of the wall falling off. I began hitting at it inside my head, and more pieces broke off. I hadn't been at it for very long when my head started hurting a little. I kept going and made a small hole. I stuck my finger through it and felt something soft inside.
I heard the sound of the door unlocking. I hid the hole with the lid of the puzzle box. Then I pretended to work on the puzzle.
A man stepped in and stared at me, and I was afraid that they'd seen what I had been doing. But he just looked at me for a little while, then went back out. As soon as he was gone, I moved the box and went back to hitting the wall with my mind.
The more I punched at the wall, the more my head hurt until it hurt too much to keep going. I covered up the hole again and laid down on my bed.
Why did doing that make my head hurt? Maybe I was thinking too hard. I decided that, if I slowed down, it might not hurt.
I waited until the headache was gone, then I went back to the wall. I worked slower this time, breaking off little bits at a time. Pretty soon I had a hole big enough to fit my whole hand through. There was some pink stuff on the other side. My memories from before told me that it was insulation, something they put in houses to keep them warm in the winter.
That's when I got an idea. I started tugging at the wall with my hand and pulling at it with my mind at the same time. A chunk broke off right in my hand. I was so excited that I almost shouted. I did it again, and another piece broke off. I could now get both hands in the hole.
Suddenly, I heard the door unlocking again. I quickly hid the hole with the box. Two men came in.
"Come with us," one of them said.
I started getting scared. "Where are you taking me?"
"You'll find out."
I didn't want to go with them, but I knew that I didn't have a choice. They took me down a long hallway, past lots of doors. We stopped at one of the doors. The man who was holding my arm ran a keycard though the slot, and the door opened. There were two men wearing lab coats in the room. And then I saw a chair that kind of looked like a dentist's chair, except that it had straps and weird stuff on it. Beside the chair was a metal table on wheels with needles on it like Janet used when she gave me shots.
"What are you going to do to me?" I asked. I was so scared that it was hard to breathe. They were going to hurt me. They were going to do something terrible to me.
"We're going to change your mind about helping us," one of the guys wearing lab coats said.
I started fighting the man who was holding me. "No! No! Leave me alone! Let me go!"
The man grabbed me harder and forced me toward the chair, and I was scared, and crying, and I wanted to go home, and I wanted Sam, and Teal'c, and Jack! The inside of my head felt like a balloon with too much air in it, getting bigger and tighter. I fought as hard as I could as the man dragged me to the chair, but I wasn't strong enough. He got me all the way to the chair and was getting ready to put me in it.
Then, all at once, it was like the balloon inside my head popped.
The tray with the needles flew up into the air and hit one of the lab coat men right in the head, and he fell to the floor. A mirror on the wall smashed into a million pieces. There was a room behind it with people inside. But I didn't care about the people. I had to run, and get away, and hide!
The other man who got me from my room ran toward me.
"Go away!" I screamed, and he went flying backwards to hit the wall.
I was crying really hard now, and my head hurt, and I was feeling sick, but I had to get away!
The man who was holding my arm raised his fist to hit me. I hit him as hard as I could with my mind. I heard something break in his arm. And then he was flying though the air, too.
The other man in the lab coat was staring at me, his eyes really big.
"You leave me alone!" I screamed at him. And then I turned and ran. I heard an alarm start going off, and I ran faster. People came out of rooms and tried to stop me, but I pushed them all away.
I saw a door that I knew was the way out. I grabbed the handle, but it was locked. I screamed and yanked at it, and the door cracked open and broke apart.
And then I was outside and running as fast as I could toward a forest. I looked behind me and saw people running after me.
All of a sudden, four big black dogs appeared. But they didn't come after me. Instead, they attacked the men chasing me.
I ran and ran and made it to the trees, hearing gunshots behind me. I kept running, going deeper into the forest, looking for someplace to hide. I heard a crashing sound and turned to see a deer. It ran beside me for a little while, then leaped away.
I tripped on something and fell. My lungs were burning like they were on fire, and my head felt like it was going to blow up. I was sick and thought I was going to throw up. But I had to hide or they'd find me.
I got up and looked around. There was a big pine tree with some low branches. I decided that, if I climbed it and got up high enough, they might not see me.
I ran to the tree and started climbing, going higher and higher. I climbed as high as I could, until the branches were so thin that they creaked when I stepped on them. I found a place to sit, and I curled up, trying to make myself as little as possible.
I could hear people shouting in the distance. I knew that they would come looking for me. I hoped they didn't have a helicopter.
After a while, the shouting stopped, and everything was quiet except for the sounds of animals and the wind. It seemed like forever that I waited, and I was just starting to think that maybe it was safe to climb down when I heard voices. My whole body went really tense. I was afraid that if I even breathed too loud, they'd hear me.
The voices got closer. It sounded like two men. One of them was talking to someone on a radio.
"No, nothing so far," he said.
"If you find him, don't delay in using the tranquilizer gun," said the voice on the radio. "He's a lot more powerful than we thought he was. Don't underestimate him just because he's a child."
"Yes, sir. Levinson out."
"Did you see what that kid did back there?" the other man asked. "He snapped Webber's arm like it was a toothpick and knocked Hills and Doctor Bishon out cold. The kid's too dangerous, if you ask me. He's going to be nothing but trouble."
"Yeah, but Mister Cavanaugh wants him in a bad way, even more so now, I bet. From what I know, the plan is to brainwash him, take control of his mind so that he'll do what we want him to. Then we'll use him as a weapon against the Goa'uld."
I was even more scared now. I knew what brainwashing was. If they brainwashed me, they could make me do terrible things.
The men kept getting closer. I didn't move, staying as still as I could. I almost screamed when something touched me. I looked up to see a squirrel. It chattered at me, then climbed onto my head, going down to my shoulder. Then I noticed that there were birds in the trees and two other squirrels, and they were all looking at me. The squirrels started chattering. I wanted to tell them to be quiet. I was afraid that the noise would make the men look up.
I reached for the closest squirrel, and it got on my arm and stopped making noises. The other one ran down the trunk and got on my leg.
The sound of a twig snapping made me look down. Through the branches of the tree I saw the men who were searching for me. They paused right beside the tree, and I was so afraid they'd look up that I stopped breathing. Then they moved on, and I started to relax. I heard them getting further and further away until I couldn't hear them anymore.
I didn't know what I was going to do. I had to try to find help or a telephone. I was really thirsty, and I was getting cold. I didn't have my coat. I looked up at the sky. It was cloudy, and I was afraid it was going to rain or maybe even snow.
I don't know how long I stayed there. I was so afraid to climb down. On the ground, it was possible that they'd see me. But I couldn't stay in the tree forever.
After getting the squirrels off of me, I started climbing down, stopping once in a while to listen for someone coming. Finally, I was back on the ground.
I looked around, not knowing which way to go. I could get lost and never find my way out.
I knew which way the place they were keeping me was, so I decided to go in the opposite direction. I tried to walk as quietly as I could and not step on any sticks.
After a while, I heard a sound that I recognized and started walking faster. I soon saw the stream up ahead. The water was cold and tasted good.
That's when I remembered something Nick once told me. Mom and Dad had taken me to visit him on a dig in the Yucatan. We were out in the jungle one day, and he told me that if I was ever lost in the jungle or the woods to look for a stream or river and follow it downstream because, sooner or later, it might lead me to civilization.
One of the natives taught me how to fish on that trip. That made me think about Jack. Jack loved to fish. He said he'd take me fishing someday and was really happy when I told him that would be fun. I wished that he was there with me. I wished that Sam and Teal'c were there, too. I knew that they'd all keep me safe and would know which way to go to find help.
I began walking again, following the stream, wishing more than anything in the world that I was safe in my room inside Cheyenne Mountain.
I had finally started pacing. Prowling the corridors of the SGC hadn't helped relax me. Actually, it made it worse since people kept talking to me about Danny, asking how things were going, expressing their personal belief that we'd find him. I finally couldn't take it anymore and escaped to my seldom-used office. And that's when the pacing began. I felt like hitting something. I felt like screaming. My head was full of horrid thoughts about what might be happening to Daniel. It was driving me crazy. I was probably halfway to getting an ulcer. Actually, thanks to Daniel, I've likely been on the verge of getting an ulcer for the past six plus years, minus that year he was ascended, that is. That was one good thing about Jonas Quinn. Potential ulcers were not an issue. Of course, if I had to choose between Jonas and no ulcer or Daniel and an ulcer, I'd take the latter every single time.
Suddenly, the door flew open. It was Carter.
"Sir, we've got something!"
I strode forward. "What?"
"Agent Barrett sent some men to the sections of Denver where Peckham and Whitlock get their mail delivered. They showed photos to the businesses and people in the area, hoping to find someone who recognized one of them. They lucked out. A bartender recognized Peckham. The thing is, though, that he knows Peckham by a different name, Carl Reed. I did some searching and found records of a Carl Reed living in a house just half a mile from the mailbox place. But it's even better than that, Colonel. He recently bought a new car equipped with OnStar. Sir, OnStar has GPS tracking. We've got a fix on his location! He's just outside of Denver."
Hope flared inside me. We were going to find him. We were going to find Danny.
"Let's go," I said.
A while later, Carter, Teal'c and I were boarding an armed military helicopter at Peterson, along with a force of three SG teams and four other Marines. There was a look of grim determination on every face there.
The flight to Denver seemed to take way longer than I know it actually did. It was late afternoon now, over a day since Daniel was taken, a day of being in the hands of people who would probably do whatever was necessary to get what they wanted from him.
Carter's eyes were glued to a device in her hands. It was a tracker, set to locate the GPS chip in the car belonging to Major Peckham, alias Carl Reed.
As we reached Denver, she began directing the pilot on which way to go. My teammates and I gathered in the cockpit.
"There!" Carter shouted into her helmet's microphone. "It's right up ahead!"
"We're coming up on a large structure, Colonel," the pilot said.
I looked out and saw a big building sitting near the edge of a forest.
"That's it," I said. "I'll bet my pension on it."
As we descended toward the building, I saw several armed men. A few of them opened fire on us with automatic weapons.
"Orders, sir?" the pilot asked.
"Give them a warning."
The fifty caliber guns mounted on the chopper spit out a hail of bullets, tearing up the ground and sending the men running for cover.
"Get us on the ground, then get back in the air," I ordered. "I want you to cover us. But do not, I repeat, do not fire at the building. There is a nine-year-old child in there somewhere."
The helicopter descended to hover a couple of feet off the ground. The rescue force jumped out, then the chopper lifted back in the air.
We didn't make it far before we were under fire. We all took cover and returned fire. The helicopter swooped in and strafed the ground right in front of the men who were shooting at us from the shelter of the building. It allowed us to advance several yards.
A voice came over the radio. It was the pilot.
"Sir, several individuals are escaping out a back exit."
"Stop them, but don't hit them. One of them might have the boy."
The helicopter flew over the building, and I heard the sound of the fifty cals a few seconds later.
I won't go into details. All I'll say is that we made it inside. I sent two men around the building to secure the back exit and assigned the helicopter to the task of keeping an eye on everything and preventing anyone from escaping out a window or some other door.
We swept through the building, dealing with any resistance and looking in every room for Danny.
I brought one guy down with a shot to the knee. I hauled the man partway off the floor.
"Where is he?" I growled. When he didn't talk, I pressed my finger down hard on his shattered kneecap. He screamed. "I ask again. Where's Daniel?" When he still refused to talk, I turned to the man beside me. "Teal'c?"
With a murderous look on his face, the Jaffa came forward. He lifted the guy clear off the floor and put his lips up to the man's ear.
"I will now explain to you in great detail the methods of torture that the Jaffa use upon their most despised enemies," he said.
"He's gone!" the man cried.
I stepped forward. "What do you mean he's gone?"
"He escaped! Got away!"
"I don't believe you."
"I'm telling the truth! It's all on the tapes! He ran off into the forest. They sent teams out to look for him but haven't found him yet."
We learned the location of the room where we'd find the tape recordings. On the way there, we found another room with something in it that turned my blood to ice.
"Oh my God," Carter gasped, staring at the chair with the tie-down straps, headband and nasty-looking paraphernalia. Scattered on the floor were a tray and several syringes full of stuff that I didn't want to think about.
I was so enraged that I was almost shaking. "I swear to God, if they put him in that thing and injected him with any of that stuff, they are not going to live to see a trial."
"O'Neill, the two-way mirror is broken."
I followed Teal'c's gaze to a mirror across the room. Half of it was shattered, revealing the room beyond.
"What the hell happened in here?" I wondered.
We went on to the monitoring room. Carter found the recording for the room we'd just left.
"Holy crap," I said as we watched it, stunned at the sight of Daniel tossing objects and people about the room with his telekinetic ability. We then watched the recording from the cameras in the hallway and saw our little nine-year-old teammate barreling down the corridor, sending everyone who tried to stop him flying into walls or through doorways. He made short work of what I assumed was the back door. The last feed we looked at showed him running for the trees. And then it showed something else. Three men were chasing after him, but were stopped by four Rottweilers, who appeared to be hellbent on ripping them to pieces. Three of the dogs were shot dead, the fourth running away.
"Holy Hannah," Carter murmured.
"The power of Daniel Jackson's abilities has greatly increased," observed Teal'c.
"That's an understatement," said I.
Carter turned to me. "Sir, we need to find him. The temperature is dropping rapidly, and the sun will be down soon. According to the weather report, it's going to drop well below freezing tonight, and Daniel doesn't have a coat."
I got on the radio to the pilot and told him to start searching the forest for Daniel. I then contacted the SGC and filled Hammond in.
"Sir, we need a couple more choppers here, ones with search lights and infrared equipment. We need to find Danny as fast as possible. It's supposed to get below freezing tonight, and he's definitely not dressed for the weather."
"You'll have them, Colonel."
I disconnected the call and turned to Teal'c.
"Come on, T. We're gonna need your tracking skills."
I was so cold.
The sun was going down, and it was getting harder to see. I had tripped over a root and fell in the water, getting most of my shirt wet. It felt like it was made of ice. I wished I was in Egypt, the hot sun on my skin.
A while ago, I heard a helicopter. Then I heard what sounded like lots of guns firing. I hoped it was Jack, Sam and Teal'c coming to rescue me. But I didn't know what to do. Turn around and go back? Some of those men could still be out looking for me. A while before I fell in the water, I had to hide from some of them. I knew that, if any of them caught me, they'd take me away someplace else.
Just then, I heard another helicopter. Was it the people who kidnapped me or somebody trying to rescue me? I was afraid to show myself in case it was the kidnappers.
But I was so cold.
I heard something coming toward me. Then I saw a black dog. I was pretty sure it was one of the dogs that attacked the men. It might have even been one of the dogs that tried to get through the wall.
The dog came up to me and started licking my face. It was bleeding from a wound in its side.
I started moving again, but it was getting hard to walk, and I kept getting confused about which way to go. Then it began to snow. I stopped and looked around, not sure what I should do. First, I thought that I should keep walking, and then I thought that I should find someplace that I could get out of the snow. It took a while for me to make up my mind. It was so hard to think, like my brain was slowing down.
I left the stream and started looking around for someplace I could get under cover. The sun was almost gone now. I fell, and it was hard to get up. I felt really tired. I thought I heard something, far away voices calling my name. Were they real?
That's when I saw a dead tree still standing upright, with a big hole in its trunk. I tried to walk to it, but I fell again, and I couldn't get up. I crawled the rest of the way to it and got into the hole. The dog got in with me. Even though his fur was wet from the snow, he felt warm compared to me. I curled up next to him with my back against the tree and the dog between me and the hole.
It got darker and colder. It was weird, though, because I wasn't shivering anymore. When did I stop shivering? I didn't know. I felt really, really sleepy, and I wanted to just close my eyes and go to sleep. I decided that it would be okay if I took a nap.
Teal'c was able to pick up Danny's trail even in the rapidly darkening forest. We followed it to a large pine tree. Teal'c determined that Daniel climbed the tree, probably to hide from his pursuers.
"Good boy, Danny," I said.
The trail resumed in a northwest direction. After a little while, we came to a stream.
"Daniel Jackson is following the water downstream," Teal'c announced.
I smiled with pride. It was the right decision for Daniel to make. If the stream kept going in this direction, it would lead him to a residential area. But that was a good four miles away, an awfully long way for a child with no coat in freezing weather to walk.
We kept following the trail, calling out for Daniel repeatedly. I'm not sure how much time had passed when Teal'c stopped abruptly.
"Daniel Jackson tripped here and fell partly into the water."
Carter gasped. "Oh no. Colonel, if he got wet, hypothermia will set in even faster."
My stomach was a tight knot. "Yeah, I know."
We increased our pace, driven by the fear that Danny would die out there before we found him.
After a while, Teal'c stopped again. He knelt on the ground.
"Blood," he said.
That made me even more worried. "Daniel's?"
"No. There are dog tracks here. The dog appears to be following him. The blood belongs to it."
I recalled the tape showing the Rottweilers. One of them had escaped the fate of the other three. I had a sneaking suspicion that the tracks were made by that dog.
At that moment, the situation got a whole lot worse. It began to snow.
"Crap," I cursed. "This is really not good. We have to find Danny now." I looked around in the dim light. "Daniel! Daniel, it's Jack! Come on, Danny. Answer me!" There was no reply.
More yards were covered, Daniel's trail slowly getting covered by the snow. Hoping that he stuck to the stream, we kept to its bank, calling out frequently. We'd had to switch on our flashlights, the daylight all but gone.
Teal'c almost didn't notice when the trail left the stream. I know that I'd have missed it. We followed it just a few more yards and came to a spot where Daniel had apparently fallen again. And then we heard something, a low, menacing growl.
"The dog!" Carter cried. "It might be with Daniel!"
We swung our lights about. Mine caught the glow of a pair of eyes low to the ground. We hurried forward and came upon a sight that put my heart in my throat. Daniel was wedged inside the hollowed out truck of a dead tree, the dog lying beside him. His eyes were closed, and he wasn't moving.
"Daniel?" Sam called out in a trembling voice. She, Teal'c and I approached the tree. The dog snarled and bared its teeth. There was no doubt that it was seeking to protect Daniel, but its protection could kill him if it didn't allow us to reach him. Even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't shoot it. It was too close to Daniel. If we tried to get Daniel away from it, it would likely attack, and the last thing we needed was for one or more of us to get badly bitten.
"Hey, boy. It's okay," Carter said in a soft, soothing voice, taking a slow step forward and holding out her hand.
"That's right, boy," I said in the same tone. "We're friends. We want to help Daniel." I whistled softly, which made the dog's ears perk up. "Come on, boy. Good dog." I whistled again.
We cautiously moved toward the tree, continuing to talk to the dog. We were about eight feet away when I knelt and patted my leg.
"Come on, boy. Good dog!" The animal started to rise, then hesitated. "That's it! Good boy. Such a good dog!"
The dog got to its feet the rest of the way and slowly approached me. I kept encouraging it, holding my hand out to it. It sniffed my hand and drew closer. As soon as it was close enough, I started petting it.
"Good boy! That's a good dog." I received a tentative lick on the chin. "Carter, get to Daniel. Teal'c, take the dog. Talk nice and pet it."
I joined Carter at the tree, alarmed by Daniel's appearance.
"Sir, he's in bad shape," Carter said. "We need to get him warmed up fast."
We took Danny's wet shirt off, and I bundled him up in my coat, then lifted him up into my arms. His skin felt like ice.
"Carter, get on the radio and get one of those helicopters here. There might be a clear area nearby where it can land."
We headed in the direction of the complex, moving as fast as possible.
'Hang on, Danny,' I said silently. 'Hang on. Don't you leave us.'
By the time we got Daniel on the helicopter, he barely had a pulse. We tried everything we could to warm him. In the end, we stripped him down to his underwear, then I did the same and got under the blankets with him, trying to give my body heat to him. As I held him close, I feared that, at any moment, I'd feel his heart stop. I thought about Charlie, how I held his blood-covered body as he died. I didn't think I'd be able to take it if another child I cared so much about died in my arms.
The entire medical staff burst into a frenzy of activity the moment we arrived, all focused on the little boy whose life was hanging by a thread. Fraiser commanded her staff like a general, shooting off orders right and left. We heard terrifying things like ventricular fibrillation, fixed pupils, no brainwave pattern. When Janet began giving CPR, Carter started crying. I felt like every compression on Danny's chest was squeezing my heart. When they used the defibrillator on him, I couldn't breathe. After shocking him twice, Daniel's heart apparently returned to a steady rhythm.
We'd contacted the SGC ahead of time, so the infirmary had been prepared with everything they'd need to get Daniel's core temperature back up as quickly as they safely could. They put him in a tub of warm water, warm intravenous fluids running through his body and an oxygen mask giving him heated, humidified air.
"Is he going to be all right?" Carter asked Fraiser in a scared voice when the doctor took a moment to speak with us.
"It's too soon to tell, I'm afraid. His core temperature is down to seventy-six degrees. From what you've told me, it's a miracle he isn't dead. Getting wet like that would have dropped his temperature faster, and with his accelerated body functions, the cold would have set in even more quickly than it would in a normal person."
"I'm betting we have that dog to thank for Daniel being alive," I said. "It probably gave him enough warmth to keep him from freezing to death. And he kept his wits about him enough to find shelter."
"Well, we're trying our best to get his core temperature back up. I'm hoping that what we're doing will be enough. I'd rather not have to resort to more invasive procedures. Ironically, Daniel being a child is working in our favor. Children have a better chance at surviving hypothermia than adults do."
The minutes that passed were agonizing. We never left the infirmary, afraid to leave for even a second. Hammond joined us for a while. He told us that thirty-one men and women from the complex had been captured or killed. It looked like a few people might have gotten away. Among those captured was Peckham.
It appeared that the complex had been used for conducting various experiments. A team was now going through it, bagging and boxing stuff up for later examination. All the computers were being sent to the SGC so that we could go through them. That was Hammond's doing. The NID was going to take them, but he was concerned that if this group of rogue ex-NID operatives still had connections inside the NID, they'd manage to get someone in to destroy the data.
I was sitting in a chair, staring at the floor when Fraiser came up to us.
"He's going to be all right," she said with a smile. "We've managed to get his temperature back up to normal."
"Thank God," I said, finally letting my body relax.
"We're moving him into the ICU so that we can keep monitoring his heart, respiration and temperature and watch out for any complications."
"Has he woken up yet?" Carter asked.
"No, but he could at any time." She held up her hand before any of us could speak. "Yes, you can go sit with him."
We went to Danny's bed. He was under several blankets, looking so small and helpless. As I sat beside him, a tight lump formed in my throat. I could see that Carter was close to tears again.
"The men who are responsible for this must be punished," Teal'c stated.
"They will be, T," I assured him, "at least the ones we caught. Some of them may give us more information on this group. I'm going to do all I can to see it brought down."
We were with Daniel for just a few minutes when he let out a little whimper. "Jack, Sam, Teal'c," he murmured, moving restlessly, his face twisting into a look of fear.
I rested my hand on his head. "We're here, Danny. You're safe now."
Daniel's eyes blinked open and looked around in confusion. Then he saw us. He sat up and threw his arms around me, his body trembling.
"Shh. It's all right, Danny," I told him gently, rubbing his back. "You're in the mountain, safe and sound."
"I was so scared," he whispered.
"I know. But you're okay now, and those people will never come near you again. I swear it."
After a few more seconds, Daniel left my arms and went into Carter's. She began rocking him gently and whispering to him. It was Teal'c's turn next. The Jaffa's normally stoical face was full of emotion.
Hammond came in just then, and he got a long hug, too.
"How are you feeling, Daniel?" he asked in a gentle voice.
"Okay. I'm kind of tired, and I'm really hungry."
"I bet you are," I said. "It's pretty late, but how about if we get you a snack from the commissary?"
Daniel was all for that idea, and Fraiser said it was okay, so I got him a sandwich and some milk. He wolfed it down, barely pausing between bites.
Not long after every crumb was gone, Daniel's eyelids began to droop. A few minutes later, he was asleep.
"I'm sure he'll sleep through the night," the doc said, "though I suppose it's possible that he'll have a nightmare."
"One of us will sit with him," I told her.
Fraiser looked at us. "Sooner or later, we're going to have to discuss what Daniel did." She had been filled in on what we witnessed. "This isn't just a case of moving small objects about anymore. That kind of power under the control of a child is going to concern a lot of people."
I sighed. "Yeah. I'm betting that this is the end of Daniel's freedom. There's no way they'll let him out of here now, not until he's a whole lot older. I guess it's a good thing that Daniel won't be a child for very long."
The next morning, Fraiser ran Daniel through some scans, which revealed that activity in his brain had increased even more.
We took him to the briefing room, where he told us about his ordeal. I was so proud of him when he talked about standing up to the man that tried to 'recruit' him. That was our Daniel. Even at nine years old, he stuck to his principles.
When he told us about the dogs scratching at the wall, he suddenly stopped. "Where's the dog that found me? Is he okay?"
"He's just fine, Danny," I assured him. "One of the Marines is taking good care of him, probably treating him like a king. That dog probably saved your life."
"What about the other dogs? There were three more."
We all looked at each other, reluctant to tell him the truth.
"I'm afraid that they're dead, Daniel," I replied. "They were shot. The dog that found you was shot, too, but it was just a flesh wound."
Danny's eyes clouded up, and his head hung low. "They saved me from the men that were chasing me," he whispered.
Carter caressed his hair. "We know, Danny. We saw it on the tape. They were all very brave. We owe them a big thank you."
Daniel sniffled and wiped his eyes. Then he continued his narrative. My pride in him went up another notch when he told us about his escape plan and the way he slowly punched a hole through the wall. We were all concerned, however, when he revealed that doing it gave him a headache.
"It may be that using these abilities takes a physical toll on the body," Fraiser said. "This is something we're going to have to keep in mind."
We were silent during the moments that Daniel talked about what happened in that room with the chair. It was easy to see how scared he'd been. I guessed it was his fear that gave him the power to do what he did.
He recounted what he'd overheard while hiding from the men searching for him. Carter wrote down all the names. We were particularly interested in the man named Cavanaugh, who sounded like one of the people in charge. I figured that it was very possible that the man who talked to him was Cavanaugh and that Daniel might be able to identify the guy if we showed him some pictures.
We now knew what their plans had been for Danny. Brainwashing. Just the thought of someone brainwashing a child made me ill and so furious my blood boiled. A child wouldn't have had the ability to resist those kinds of procedures. They'd have turned Daniel into a slave to their will.
Despite the fact that he was here with us – safe, sound and healthy – it still chilled me to hear him talking about slowly freezing to death, getting sleepy and thinking it would be okay to take a nap. That was something we'd have to talk to him about, explain to him the dangers of hypothermia.
"I am so proud of you," I told Daniel after he finished. "This was a terrifying ordeal, but you handled it so well."
"Indeed you did," Hammond agreed.
Daniel's gaze fell to the table. "But I was scared."
Carter touched his arm. "Being scared doesn't mean that you're not brave, Daniel. Bravery is doing something in spite of being afraid. And you were very brave."
"You didn't give up, Daniel," I said. "You could have just sat there and done nothing. Or you could have given in and done what they wanted. Instead, you fought to escape."
"You showed great strength, determination and intelligence," Teal'c told him.
I smiled and tousled his hair. "Which is nothing less than what we'd expect from Doctor Daniel Jackson."
As we left the briefing room a while later, I thought about what was going to happen in the days ahead. I knew that the fallout from these events would be hitting us soon. I could only hope that it wasn't going to lead to big trouble.
THE END . . . until Part 7.