The pain was pounding through Daniel's brain like a jackhammer as he opened his eyes. For hazy seconds he laid there, confused about what had happened, where he was, and why it was so dark. As his mind cleared, the impact of what he'd just done hit him. Now inside his brain were two copies of the Ancient knowledge, one that was hidden and unretrievable and one that would gradually fill his mind and overwhelm him until his brain could no longer survive and would shut down, unless help from the Asgard could be gotten in time.
Feeling dizzy and light-headed, Daniel struggled to his feet. He stood there swaying until he felt capable of walking. He then made his way to the door. Still a little dizzy, he bumped into his desk, grabbing it to steady himself, then managed to make it the rest of the way.
The light from the corridor as he opened the door speared into his eyes, increasing the strength of the headache. Giving himself only a moment for his eyes to adjust, he left the office and walked to the elevator.
The men at the checkpoints commented on the brevity of his stay, and he told them that it had turned out to be a wasted trip. Once he was back in town, he went to a pay phone and called the number he'd been given.
"Is it done?" asked a voice he recognized as belonging to the grey-eyed man.
"Where are you?"
Daniel gave the man his location and was told to stay there. Several minutes later, a black van pulled up. A man got out and told Daniel to leave his keys in his car and get inside the van.
The back of the van had no windows, and there was a partition between it and the cab, so Daniel was unable to see anything throughout the drive and had no idea where they were when they arrived at their destination.
When Daniel exited the van, he saw that it had been pulled into a warehouse. He watched as his car was brought in as well. Beyond the open door, all he could see were trees, giving him no clue as to where they were, except that it must not be in town, which was something he'd already figured out by the length of the drive to get there.
As the door was closed and Daniel was led around the van, he saw Egeria. She rushed over, her eyes searching his.
"I did it."
Worry filled the green depths gazing at him.
"It'll be okay," he assured her, though he was anything but sure of that.
The grey-eyed man came out of what looked like an office and walked up to them.
"Okay, I did what you wanted," Daniel said. "So, what now? We all sit around playing Monopoly as we wait for something to start happening? As I told you before, it's going to be a while."
"We have a room where you and Egeria can get some rest. I suggest that you take advantage of it. Once you start getting access to the knowledge, you will not be getting much sleep."
Daniel glared at him. "As I'm sure you know, I am very likely going to start speaking Ancient. I can do my own translating at first, but what happens when I'm no longer capable of doing that? Do you have someone who understands Ancient?"
"We will worry about that when the times comes, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel and Egeria were taken to a room with two fold-up twin beds and a small bathroom off to the side containing a toilet and sink. The door was shut behind them, a lock sliding into place. Daniel went straight to the sink and splashed cold water on his face. The headache was mostly gone, but he knew that was only temporary. It would return and get progressively worse, just as it did with Jack.
As he exited the bathroom, Daniel saw Egeria staring at him.
"You should not have done it," she said.
"I had no choice. I wasn't going to let them kill you."
The look of fear in her eyes deepened. "But what if—"
"Don't think about it, Egeria. We'll get out of this, both of us."
They pushed the two beds together. Suspecting that there might be a camera hidden somewhere, Daniel kept the light on in the bathroom, but left the door open just a crack. He then turned off the light in the main room. He and Egeria got under the covers, facing each other, their faces only inches apart. She laid her hand on his cheek.
"I will die if you die, Daniel," she said in an unsteady, barely audible whisper. "I will not wish to live without you."
"Don't say that, Egeria," he told her in an equally quiet voice, not wanting the men he knew were listening in to hear.
"But it is true. If I lost you, there would be no joy left to me. My life would be empty."
Daniel pulled her into his arms and held her close. It was a long time before he felt her relax as she fell asleep. More minutes ticked by as he remained awake.
In his mind he prayed, 'Please let this turn out all right.'
Distractedly, Sam picked up the phone, not taking her eyes from the readout on the computer screen. "Carter."
"Sam, it's Daniel. I just wanted to let you know that I won't be coming in today. I woke up sick this morning, some kind of flu bug. Egeria's going to stay with me and be my nursemaid."
Her full attention now on the conversation, Sam asked, "Did you tell Janet?"
"Yes. She wanted me to come in, but it's just the flu. I'm sure I'll be fine in a few days."
"Is there anything you need? I could run to the store for you after work."
"Thanks for the offer, but we're good. Besides, I don't want you coming here and getting whatever I have. Could you let Jack know about this? As usual, he's not in his office."
"Sure, I'll tell him. I hope you feel better soon and that Egeria doesn't catch what you've got."
Daniel disconnected the call and looked at the man he had named Mister Grey, not having a real name for the guy.
"You know that this is only going to work for so long. Sooner or later, Janet is going to stop by my place to check up on me, and, as soon as someone tries to call me and gets no answer, they'll know something is up."
"Yes, we are aware of that. This is only meant to give us a couple of days before the search for you begins."
Daniel joined Egeria where she sat at a table in a section of the warehouse where six-foot-high partitions had been set up, forming an open-ended seating and kitchen area. He sat down and took a drink of his coffee, grimacing at the bitter taste. He had half a mind to tell someone that, if they were going to keep him and Egeria a prisoner, the least they could do was provide a better brand of coffee.
"How long will it be before you begin to see the effects?" Egeria asked, ignoring the pastry before her.
"I can't be sure. It was over two days before Jack started showing signs, but it could be different with me. It might happen faster." Daniel looked into Egeria's eyes. "About what you said last night."
She turned away. "I do not wish to speak of it."
"Egeria, I have to know that, if I don't make it, you're not going to—" He stopped himself from saying what he was thinking. The mere thought of her taking her own life was too much to bear. Would she really do that? She was so strong. A weak person could not have made it through all she had. But he had to know for sure. "You have to promise me that, if I die, you'll go on without me. Please."
Egeria finally turned back to him. She looked into his pleading eyes. For the longest time, she didn't speak, then she touched his face.
"I promise," she whispered.
Daniel relaxed, breathing a silent sigh of relief.
He looked around the warehouse, noting the locations of everyone in it. All of the men who'd been at his house were there, as well as four others, two of whom were stationed at the exits, armed with pistols. There were other firearms on a table against the far wall, which was also where the cars were parked and where two of the other men were stationed. The archeologist wasn't foolish enough to believe that he'd be allowed anywhere near them or the exits.
He'd been trying to figure out how he and Egeria could escape, but he really didn't think it would be possible. Taking one of the cars would obviously be out of the question, and escaping by foot would likely result in them being recaptured very quickly.
Like it or not, they were probably in this for the long haul – unless a certain person at the SGC picked up on the little clue he'd given to her.
Janet frowned down at the chart in her hands, her mind not really on what it said. Instead, she was thinking about Daniel. He had insisted that it was just the flu and that there was no need for her to examine him, but she would still feel better if she could, especially since it wasn't flu season. The thing about off-world travel was that there was always the danger that someone would be exposed to an alien virus or bacteria. It had happened more than once, the worst being the histaminolytic virus that infected the entire base, turning everyone who got it into the equivalent of neanderthals. Every time someone on one of the SG teams got sick, they had to consider that it might not be just a garden variety Earth illness. If he wasn't better in a couple of days, she was going to insist that he come in.
Turning her attention back to the chart, she checked it over, made a couple of notations, then hung it back on the foot of the bed.
Janet went to her office and got on the computer, but, again, she found her mind going to Daniel and her conversation with him. There was something nagging at her, and she couldn't put her finger on it. She thought back over what was said.
"Daniel, I'd feel a lot better if you came in and I took a look at you."
"I'll be fine, Janet. It's not like I haven't had the flu before. I'm not nearly as sick as I was that last autumn before I ascended. I'll stay in bed and get plenty of rest. Egeria will take good care of me. If I get really sick, I'll call. I promise."
"Well . . . all right, but if you notice any unusual symptoms, I want to hear about it right away."
All at once, Janet realized what was bugging her. Daniel didn't get sick during that last flu season before he ascended. A nasty flu bug made the rounds of the SGC that fall, striking before the annual flu shots had been given out. Both Sam and Colonel O'Neill got it, but Daniel remained completely healthy, a fact that the ill colonel grumbled about more than once.
Had Daniel just gotten confused? He had gotten the flu the previous year, though it was just a mild case. In fact, the only time he got a case of the flu that really laid him up was the first year he was in the program. How could he get confused about that?
Janet began getting concerned. Could this be some kind of strange symptom of an alien illness? Daniel had sounded completely cognizant, no slurred speech, mispronounced words or other audible signs of neurological problems. It was probably nothing, just a simple mistake.
Janet tried to focus her attention on what was on her monitor, but she finally gave up. She looked at her watch, seeing that it was almost 11:30. She could take an early lunch and run over to Daniel's. He'd probably accuse her of being a mother hen, but it would make her feel better.
Telling one of the nurses that she'd be off-base for a while, Janet changed into her civilian clothes and left the mountain. When she got to Daniel's house, she noticed that his car wasn't anywhere in sight. Perhaps he went to the store to get some over-the-counter flu medicine.
Thinking that Egeria might be there, the doctor went up to the door and knocked. Getting no answer, she glanced through the window. She noticed several shopping bags sitting on the floor as if they'd been dropped there and forgotten.
Janet returned to her car, deciding to wait for Daniel and Egeria to return. As the minutes passed, she kept glancing at her watch. Over twenty minutes went by without any sign of them. It wouldn't take this long for Daniel to get some flu meds, not when there was a pharmacy just a few blocks away.
Janet got her phone and called Daniel's cell. The call went straight to voice mail. That's when she knew that something was wrong. Had they gone to get some medicine, and Daniel suddenly became ill enough that he was rushed to a hospital? That wouldn't explain why his phone wasn't ringing – unless they got into a car accident.
The doctor dialed another number. That call was picked up.
"Sam, it's Janet. I'm at Daniel's place. He and Egeria aren't here, and I've been sitting here for nearly half an hour. I tried calling him, but either his cell is off or it's not working. I decided to come here because of something odd that he said when he called me this morning."
Sam was frowning. "What did he say?"
Janet explained everything to her. "I know that it might have just been a simple mistake, but it was bothering me, so I decided to check on him. They shouldn't have been gone this long, Sam, and Daniel's phone should not be off."
"You're right. You think that something happened? An accident?"
"That's what I'm afraid it might be. If he was driving and suddenly became incapacitated because of his illness, he could have lost control of the car."
"All right. I'll start calling the hospitals."
"I'll head back to the base."
Sam hung up the phone. She then dialed the number for Jack's office. Not surprisingly, there was no answer. She dialed another number and requested that a call be sent over the P.A. system for her C.O. to come to her lab. She then got the phone book and looked up the numbers for the local hospitals. She was on the phone with the first one when Jack came in. He listened to the conversation, frowning when he realized what the call was about.
"What's going on, Carter?" he asked when she hung up.
Sam filled him in, deepening the frown on his face.
When the calls to the hospitals came up blank, Sam contacted the police to ask them about accidents. None of the car crashes in the area involved a vehicle with the make and model of Daniel's. As she was making these calls, Jack tried twice to get through to the archeologist, first calling his cell phone, then the one at his house. The cell was still going straight to voice mail, and the land line was being picked up by the answering machine.
"This stinks to high heaven," Jack declared. "Daniel would not deliberately cut off communication like this."
"No, he wouldn't."
"We need to get to his place and check it out."
Sam called Janet to give her an update as Jack contacted Teal'c.
A while later, the three members of SG-1 were at Daniel's house. As they stepped inside, they immediately noticed the bags sitting on the floor. Sam noted the name on one of the bags and glanced inside to see some lingerie. There's no way that they were shopping at the mall today, which meant that the bags had been sitting there on the floor since yesterday.
Sam looked up at the colonel to see that he was holding something. It was Daniel's cell phone.
Teal'c came walking back into the living room. "The bed has been made. I do not believe that they would have taken the time to make it if they were merely going to purchase medicine."
"Which means that it hasn't been slept in since night before last," Jack concluded.
"But Daniel called me and Janet just this morning to tell us that he was sick," Sam said.
"The question is, was he calling of his own free will?"
Sam looked at the colonel sharply. "You think that they've been kidnapped?"
"I'm thinking that there are certain nefarious people out there who would probably like to get hold of the Goa'uld knowledge that Egeria has."
"You're right. We should have considered this all along. We know that some of the people who were running the rogue NID operation are still out there and that they still have an agenda of some kind. That knowledge would be very valuable to them."
"Let's get back to the SGC. We need to let Hammond know."
As soon as they arrived on base, SG-1 went to the general, who was alarmed by what they told him.
"It makes sense that they'd leave Daniel's cell phone," Sam said. "They wouldn't have wanted us to trace the GPS signal. Daniel's call this morning was probably made on a disposable phone with no GPS."
"When was the last time that any of you heard from Doctor Jackson before his call this morning?" Hammond asked.
"He called me late yesterday afternoon," Sam replied. "He sounded a little odd, but he said that he was just still upset about the. . . ." Her eyes widened. "Oh my God."
"What?" Jack asked. "What is it?"
"Daniel said that he wanted to take a look at the repository this morning, that there was something he wanted to check. He asked me to have it sent to his office. I didn't think there was anything strange about it, so I had it taken over there."
"Oh, I am not liking this one little bit."
SG-1 hurried to Daniel's office. Sam froze when she saw the repository.
"Sir, the cloth has been taken off," she said with a sinking feeling in her gut.
They came further into the room. A pile of files on Daniel's desk had fallen over, and several sheets of paper were on the floor.
Sam's eyes met Jack's. By the look in the coffee-brown depths, she guessed that he was thinking the same thing she was.
"Those who would seek to gain the knowledge of the Goa'uld would consider the knowledge of the Ancients to be of even greater value," Teal'c stated, revealing that he was thinking the same thing as well.
"Oh, God," Sam gasped. "Daniel interfaced with the repository. They must have forced him to do it, threatened to hurt Egeria if he didn't cooperate."
Jack called Hammond and told him what they'd found and what they suspected. He told them to return to his office. When they got there, the general was hanging up the phone.
"I just confirmed that Doctor Jackson arrived at the base shortly before midnight last night," he said. "He left less than fifteen minutes later."
"Which would be enough time for him to take the download and recover from the effects enough to make it out of here," Sam determined.
"Damn," Jack cursed.
"But why didn't he get a message to someone while he was here?"
"They were probably monitoring him somehow." The colonel turned to Hammond. "General, we need to contact the Asgard immediately. They need to be standing by when we find him."
The general nodded sharply. "I'll have the call sent out right away. Major, I want you to call Agent Barrett. We may need his contacts and the manpower of the NID to find Doctor Jackson and Egeria. At this point, we have no idea where they are."
SG-1 went to Sam's lab, where she made the call. Barrett said that he'd put everyone he could spare on the case.
The astrophysicist's stomach was clenched into a tight knot as she hung up the phone.
"Colonel, we have no idea how much time we'll have before Daniel succumbs to the download."
"We should have a few days, shouldn't we?"
Sam shook her head. "We can't know that for sure. You heard what Thor said. Because of the greater development in Daniel's brain, he might have a greater capacity to retain and utilize the knowledge. That also might mean that the knowledge will filter into his consciousness at a faster rate of speed. We may have only a couple of days to find him before it's too late."
The first word in Ancient was spoken at a little before one o'clock. Daniel was in a quiet conversation with Egeria when he spoke the word "eetium" instead of "yes." When he saw how she was looking at him, he asked what was wrong.
"I guess this answers the question of how fast it's going to start affecting me," he murmured after she told him what he'd said.
The look of fear returned to Egeria's eyes. "It is too soon."
"Yeah. I thought it might happen sooner than it did with Jack, but not quite this soon. I guess Thor really was right about my brain."
Egeria glanced at their captors. "Are you going to tell them that it has started?"
Daniel shook his head. "I want to keep them in the dark for as long as possible, which means that I have to limit how much I speak within their earshot. I can't control when I'm going to say something in Ancient. In the beginning, ego won't even know when I'm speaking it."
Egeria's fear deepened. "You just said ego."
Daniel sighed. "Crap. This isn't good. I'm probably not going to be able to keep this from them for long." He rubbed his temple. "The headache's coming back."
He noticed the man he thought of as Mister Grey in an intense conversation with one of the other men. Neither of them looked happy. The other man walked away, heading over to two others, whom he talked to for a couple of minutes.
"Something's up," Daniel guessed. "Whatever it is, they don't look happy about it."
"Do you think it is possible that our disappearance has been discovered?"
"Could be. I really hope so."
Over the next hour, Daniel's use of words in Ancient grew in frequency. He kept his voice low, saying nothing at all when one of their captors was close enough to overhear. Fortunately, they were mostly being left alone, probably because the men didn't think that anything would be happening with Daniel for at least another day.
When "Mister Grey" came over, Daniel merely glared at him – that is until he told Egeria to come with him.
"Where are you taking her?" the archeologist asked, choosing to take the chance that he'd say something in Ancient.
"It's time for her to start giving us the information we want from her."
Daniel's questioning gaze went to Egeria.
"Ah, I see that she didn't tell you," said Mister Grey. "You are not the only one who can provide us with knowledge that we want. There is Goa'uld knowledge that we will find very useful." He turned back to Egeria. "Come with me."
Daniel stood up when Egeria did. "I'm coming, too."
"No, you are going to stay right where you are. But don't worry. We're not going far, just to a room that has been set up with a video recorder, a computer and several other things. You will be seeing it soon enough when it's your turn to share."
Daniel angrily watched as Egeria was led away. He kept his eyes on her until she disappeared through a door, then he sat back down, resting his head in his hands. The headache was a lot worse now. He had to wonder how bad it was going to get.
More disturbing were the things that had begun leaping into his brain: confusing images, small bits of math equations that he didn't understand, something that he recognized as part of a schematic. The knowledge was already starting to leak through. It wouldn't be long before he would no longer be able to hide it. And then he would be the one taken to that room, where he would have no choice but to give the knowledge to people who would use it for things that would further their own agenda.
Daniel was determined to keep as much from them as he could, but he didn't know how much control he'd have. Jack had very little control over what he did. The archeologist could only hope that Thor was right, and he'd be able to do better.
Sam walked into Daniel's office.
"I just got an update from Agent Barrett," she told her two teammates. "They learned that someone matching Daniel's description was seen late last night in the parking lot of a closed convenience store being led from a car that sounds like his to a dark-colored van and loaded inside. The person who saw it was suspicious because of the time of night and because someone who'd been in the van then drove Daniel's car. The person didn't get any license plate numbers. The NID was able to track the route of the van and Daniel's car by searching video feeds from cameras in the area, but only for a few blocks. They also got a sketchy description of the other people that the witness saw."
"That isn't much to go on," Jack said.
"No, but it's better than nothing. A BOLO has been put out on Daniel's car. If the police see it, they'll call it in. Normally, we wouldn't involve the police because of the security issue, but Malcolm thinks it's worth the risk."
"They can get the damn Boy Scouts involved, if it'll find Daniel faster. Any word from Thor yet?"
Sam shook her head. "It's probably too soon to expect him. But we should still have time. It's only been fifteen hours since Daniel interfaced with the repository. Chances are that he's still okay."
"But we can't know that for sure, now can we. We don't know anything for sure, except that he's going to die if Thor doesn't get here in time."
Sam's eyes closed for a moment. She was sick with worry over her friend. She wanted to be doing something to help find him, but she didn't know what she could do. There was no trail to follow, no leads to check on, except that one brief sighting. Daniel and Egeria had vanished, and the truth was that they could be anywhere in an area of hundreds of square miles. If they were loaded on an aircraft, they could be even farther away than that.
Jack stared at an artifact on Daniel's desk, cursing the day they found that underground lab. If they'd never found it, they would never have learned about the repository. Daniel would be safe here on base instead of out there somewhere in the hands of people who would probably let him die once they got what they wanted from him.
Jack was actually wishing that Harry Maybourne was still around. The guy was a snake, but he had lots of connections and could probably find out where Daniel was being kept.
There was someone else who probably already knew where Daniel was: Senator Robert Kinsey. Jack had no doubt that he was still involved with that group, even though they'd tried to kill him. If Jack thought it would be possible, he'd borrow a jet and fly to DC, put a gun to Kinsey's head, and make him tell all he knew.
"Sir, I have to wonder about this whole thing," Sam said. "Let's assume that the people who took Daniel and Egeria knew that we've been trying to download the information in the repository, which I think is a pretty safe assumption. They would know that, if we succeeded, it would be a lot easier to gain access to the information off of a computer than it would be to get it from the mind of someone who had interfaced with the repository. But then we found out that we weren't going to be able to get past the safeguards, meaning that probably the only way to get at the information would be to let someone interface with the device. The thing is that we found that out only day before yesterday, and Daniel and Egeria were apparently taken the very next day. I'm finding it hard to believe that these people were able to put together a professionally executed kidnapping plot and carry it out in one day's time."
"You're thinking they had it planned out ahead of time."
"Yes, sir. I think they were making plans for both contingencies, if we could download the information and if we couldn't. I also think that the reason why they moved so quickly to grab Daniel was that the repository is going to be shipped off to Area 51, if the Asgard refuse to help us. Once it was there, Daniel wouldn't have been able to interface with it."
At that moment, a terrible thought hit Sam. She glanced about the room. "Um . . . I didn't have any lunch, so I'm going to go get a little something. I could use some company."
Seeing the way that she was acting, Jack and Teal'c exchanged a glance, then agreed to join her.
Once they were there and had taken a seat, Jack said, "Okay, Carter. What's up? You seemed anxious to get out of Daniel's office."
Sam leaned forward and lowered her voice. "Agent Barrett said that they canvassed Daniel's neighborhood, but nobody saw anything suspicious, no strange cars parked on the street for an extended length of time, which would seem to indicate that the people didn't set up a stakeout. So, how did they know that Daniel and Egeria weren't on base yesterday? Except for that four-day leave, Daniel has only been going home every now and then to pick up his mail and take care of other things, so they couldn't have anticipated that he'd be at home yesterday."
"Good question. Got any answers?"
"Well, I had been thinking that maybe they tapped into the GPS signal of Daniel's phone and were tracking it, but there is another possibility: they have a spy here on base."
"Oh, I definitely don't like that second possibility."
"Me neither, sir, but it's a possibility that we can't dismiss. If there is a spy, he may have planted some bugs around the base."
"You mean like in Daniel's office."
Sam nodded. "And my lab. There might also be ones in the briefing room and General Hammond's office. Those would be the most important places to put some."
"Crap. We need to let Hammond know."
A few minutes later, Jack entered the general's office.
"I was just wondering if you had any news, sir," he said. "Can we expect to get any help looking for Daniel besides from the NID?"
As he spoke, he placed a note on Hammond's desk that read, "The room may be bugged."
Reading the note, Hammond paused a couple of seconds before replying. "Not at this time, I'm afraid, though the president wants to be kept apprised of the situation." He got to his feet. "Come walk with me, Jack. I need to stretch my legs a bit."
They left the office and walked down the corridor several yards.
"All right, Colonel," Hammond said. "What's this about?"
Jack filled him in on what Sam had said. There was a deep frown on the general's face by the time he finished.
"I don't think I have to tell you how disturbed I am that there may be someone under my command who is in league with these people. I had hoped that there were no more traitors on my base."
"There may not be. We just need to make sure. Carter says that she can scan your office and the briefing room for bugs. If there aren't any, then we may be in the clear."
Hammond gave a sharp nod. "Do it."
A short while later, Sam silently entered Hammond's office. It was empty, the general sitting in the commissary with Jack, waiting for news of what she found.
She began the search, running her scanner over everything. As she passed the device over the bronze eagle, it gave a silent warning. Very carefully, she picked the statue up and examined it. She found what she was looking for on the underside of the tail.
Knowing what this meant, Sam gave a mental curse. After finding no more bugs in the office, she moved on to the briefing room, where she discovered one on the underside of the conference table.
There was no doubt of it now. There was a spy right there in the SGC, somebody who was involved with the people who took Daniel and Egeria.