Blair mingled with the other soldiers milling around. His fake papers had gotten him into the area. All the soldiers there were recruits specially selected for assignment to SGC. If Spider were as good as he seemed, Blair’s fake name would be on the list, too. He could just see Simon’s face Monday morning when he didn’t show up for work. He was sure the captain would find some way to cover for him, but he’d be in serious trouble when he got back. He didn’t tell Simon was he was going to do. There was no way he would’ve let Blair go through with it. So Blair had written him a letter. Spider was going to make sure he got it Monday morning—enough time for Blair to be so far away Simon wouldn’t be able to stop him.
The sergeant began calling out names. Each young man or woman would go forward, show ID, and get in the truck headed for Cheyenne Mountain. Blair was shaking like crazy inside. If Jim were with him, his Sentinel would be going nuts over how fast his heart was pounding. He was not scared. He was not scared. Blair took a steadying breath.
Blair stepped forward and showed his ID. The sergeant motioned for him to get in the truck. Within minutes they were on their way. He looked at up at the sky and wondered if Jim were really out there somewhere.
SG1 sat around the conference table discussing their options. General Hammond looked at Jack. “So this Kuk has been kidnapping people from Earth?”
“Yes, sir. We knew about the Cascade PD’s interest in him, but it seems the FBI suddenly wanted in on the action. They just connected him with other disappearances across several western states. It also looks like some of his little playmates are wanted criminals who were into everything from drug trafficking to armed robbery before they ‘saw the light’.”
Daniel spoke to no one in particular. “Or the dark, as the case may be. He is the God of Darkness, after all.”
“I stand corrected.”
Samantha finished what the colonel was saying. “He was at the warehouse, Sir. Two detectives, a James Ellison and Blair Sandburg had him cornered. Then Kuk and Ellison just vanished.”
“What did this Det. Sandburg have to say about Ellison’s disappearance?”
“He said he was knocked almost unconscious and was so groggy he didn’t see exactly what happened. When he looked up, they were both gone.”
Teal’c looked thoughtful. “It seems, General Hammond, that the Tok’ra’s fears are justified. Kuk has become a dangerous madman. And he possesses the means to teleport himself anywhere.”
“What is he doing on Esmus, then?”
Daniel looked up. “General Hammond? He may have been Tok’ra once, but he’s acting more like a Goa’uld now. Maybe he’s building an empire of his own. Then he’d need humans for slave labor—mining, farming, building. He also might need a new host or symbiote. The police reports stated that he was a very frail-looking old man.”
“But is it possible for a Tok’ra to become a Goa’uld? The Tok’ra have told us that the first among them chose symbiotic relationships, but that it became a genetic difference over time. They always strongly protest when anyone calls them Goa’uld.”
Samantha shook her head. “I don’t think it’s a cut and dried as that, Sir. The Tok’ra hate the Goa’uld so much, that they want to distance themselves as much as possible. I do believe there are some slight genetic differences, but most of it’s, well, wishful thinking on the Tok’ra’s part.”
Hammond’s frown deepened. “Colonel. I want SG1 ready to move out in fifteen minutes. I want to know what’s going on on Esmus.”
“Yes, sir. Let’s not forget to pack our toothbrushes everybody.”
As they left the conference room, Daniel wondered why Blair Sandburg had approached them at the scene as a civilian. He’d been wondering that ever since they read the police report listing him as the partner of the missing detective. SG1 did some more research on him and came up with a strange picture. He’d been a promising grad student in anthropology working on his dissertation. His paper was published, but then he refuted it at a press conference—proclaiming himself a fraud. The university turned its back on him. He felt a pang at the memories it brought up of his own experiences.
Daniel thought the topic of his fraudulent dissertation was an interesting one—people with super-heightened senses. He supposed there might be people out there who could see, hear, feel, taste, or smell better than others. But he didn’t seriously think there were individuals with the incredible range Blair described.
After the press conference fiasco, Blair dropped out of the academic world and became a detective. Somehow Daniel couldn’t see the Sandburg he remembered from the Barbary Coast dig as a detective. Too much of a free-spirit, anti-cop kind of a person. Maybe they should have another talk with him when they got back from Esmus.
Blair had endured the long truck trip, the waiting in line, the introductory speeches, and the tedious assigning of gear and quarters. He thought people were kidding when they always said the military made its soldiers “hurry up and wait”. It was no lie. And he had a hard time keeping still. So far, the military was more boring than those stupid seminars Simon always made them go to.
He was extremely grateful for Spider’s repetitive lessons in military etiquette and protocol, though. He’d made sure Blair knew whom to salute and how to salute. Without such good practice, he’d have been doomed. He had a hard time remembering to call Simon “Captain” when they were at work, let alone trying to figure out Air Force ranks on his own.
When Blair went to his quarters, he found himself bunking with a talkative man who kept trying to get him into a conversation. Normally Blair would be right in there shooting the bull with him, but he didn’t have time. He made some lame excuse about being tired and pretended to go to sleep. His bunkmate left a little while later—probably to get something to eat. Blair quickly dug into his duffle bag, opening the hidden flap inside. There were several different patches and pins for different ranks and security passes to get him into anyplace. There was one thing he knew about the military. If you wanted answers, you needed to go to the top. They always kept the little guy out of the loop. He had to see General Hammond. He’d memorized the layout from the diagrams. He just had to get there—the passes would take care of that. He fixed up his shirt to look like a colonel’s, checked the hall, and headed out.
When he got to the General’s office, he found it guarded by two tough-looking goons. So what? He looked at his shirt. He outranked them. He steadied himself and walked up. They both saluted.
“At ease. I’m here to see General Hammond.”
“The General’s busy and left orders not to be disturbed, Sir.”
“This is very important—a matter of national security. He should have been notified of my coming.” Blair hoped he’d been notified.
One of the guards spoke into his headphone then turned back to Blair. “Colonel, Sir. General Hammond will see you now.”
The door slid open. “Colonel Sanders, come in.”
Blair almost groaned. Colonel Sanders? What that Spider’s idea of a joke?
“I’m sorry about the confusion. I only received notice of your arrival a few minutes ago. They said you were coming in incognito with the new people. What is this all about, Colonel? Why all the extra secrecy?”
“It’s about Kuk, Sir. And a missing detective named James Ellison.”
“Apparently this detective tried to stop Kuk and both of them disappeared.”
“Sir, it is important that we find out where Detective Ellison was transported to when he and Kuk went through the mirror gate.”
Hammond’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “That information wasn’t in any official police or FBI report. So far it’s just SGC’s theory—one that hasn’t left this base yet. Who are you and what’s your interest in this?”
Blair couldn’t believe he’d given himself away already. He’d thought for sure Hammond would keep his superiors up to date. He noticed that Hammond was reaching for something. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Blair pulled out his own gun first. “I think maybe I should ask the questions here. And if you don’t put your hands out where I can see them, I’m going to shoot you.” Blair hoped the general wouldn’t see how nervous he really was. Pulling a gun on a general had to be a hanging offense or something. Boy, was he going to get a lecture from Jim about this.
General Hammond raised his hands slowly. “Let’s talk about this, son. No one has to get hurt.”
“They won’t if you tell me where James Ellison is.”