SG-1 and That Brit, part 1
A/N: This is a sequel to “The League of Extraordinary Women”. It will make a lot more sense if you read that first. Also, this chapter is a follow-up to the first chapter in this story, so go back and read that if you haven’t done so.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. If you want details on ownership and all that jazz, you’ll want to read the appropriate intros in “The League of Extraordinary Women”.
Daniel hadn’t expected to end up in a bidding war. He had come to Syria with Jack in tow, while trying to track down what were possibly some ancient Egyptian tablets that shouldn’t have been allowed out of Egypt. In fact, they shouldn’t have been allowed outside of an Egyptian museum. They shouldn’t have come to light at all! But somehow, they had come on the black market in Damascus.
Daniel still had a lot of contacts on the seamier side of Egyptology and archaeology, so he had heard about this early enough to get into the meeting. And early enough to bring Jack along as his ‘security’. And that was a good thing.
He recognized Khatami at once. And he could tell by the minute stiffening of Jack’s shoulders, and the way Jack’s hand twitched in the direction of his shoulder holster, that Jack did too. Khatami was an Iranian who had earned a Ph.D. in archaeology, but had abandoned that to become a terrorist. Khatami had two men with him, and if neither was carrying firearms, Daniel would eat those tablets.
He didn’t recognize the man in the black suit, but he knew the Russian sitting beside him. Andre Kolokhov was an Egyptologist who had an unfortunate reputation. Valuable finds tended to disappear on digs when he was around. And those finds usually ended up being sold on the black market shortly thereafter. The man was persona non grata in the business, far more so than Daniel was. Kolokhov and Mister Black Suit were sitting with two thugs who might as well have had ‘psycho bodyguards’ tattooed across their forehead in Cyrillic.
Jack tapped his arm, and he glanced down surreptitously. When did Jack learn American Sign Language? Jack spelled out ‘x-k-g-b-g-u-n-r-u-n’. Oh. Ex-KGB agent, now a gunrunner. That wasn’t good either.
Daniel had to wonder what Khatami and Kolokhov were there for. Why were a terrorist and someone consorting with an international gunrunner interested in ancient Egyptian tablets? Oh no, what if word had leaked out that the tablets might provide directions to some sort of ancient weapon? Several hours ago, he had been given enough time to ensure that the tablet was too old to be a forgery, and he had deciphered enough of the hieroglyphics on the first tablet to see that they began with complex directions to a location that should be well into the middle of what today was called Syria.. But he had no idea what was at the location. It might be an archaeological find. It might be a sarcophagus. It might be a Gou’a’uld sarcophagus with a Gou’a’uld
inside. It might be a cache of staff weapons and zats. It might be an Al’kesh or a Ha’tak. It could be anything, but the odds were that it was something extremely bad which could not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
Then towards the back, there was Moustafa El Kedwany, who Daniel knew slightly. The man was an assistant curator for The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. Moustafa was sitting nervously with a small man who looked like an accountant. Daniel was fairly sure they were there to try and buy back the tablets for the museum, with the smaller man presumably there to make sure Moustafa didn’t offer more than the museum could afford.
And then in walked the last participant in the auction. Rupert Giles. What was Rupert Giles doing here? The British Museum would never condone stealing something like this from the Egyptian Museum. Not in today’s political climate. Not to mention that whole chat two months ago about ‘I prefer not to leave my safe little office’. So what the hell was Rupert Giles doing at a black market auction?
* * * * *
Rupert Giles had been in the hotel room overlooking the building for three hours, just to see who was coming to the auction. Fortunately, he had a video camera set up to record, because Fatima was almost inexhaustible in bed.
He used a small laptop to scan through the recording. Hassan Khatami and four of his fellow Iranian terrorists. That wasn’t good. That scum Kolokhov was with a Russian whom Rupert ought to be able to recall. Wait… wait… That was it! Viktor Khalinin, better known in the gunrunning trade as ‘Mister Black’. Charming. Kolokhov just kept digging himself deeper into the sewage, didn’t he? And he didn’t look very happy to be there with Khalinin and his muscle. That was probably worth noting.
And there was poor old Moustafa El Kedwany. Undoubtedly, Moustafa had drawn the short straw, so to speak, and had been sent out to acquire what ought to be in his museum already. Rupert knew there was no way this would end well for Moustafa. The museum would never let him bid the kind of money Khatami or Khalinin could wield, and that meant going home empty-handed. He would be in trouble over this one.
There was a veritable olio of ‘K’s today. What else was on the tape?
And… Damn and blast. It was Daniel Jackson, with a silver-haired man Rupert didn’t recognize off the top of his head. But the black leather jacket suggested he was American, which went with Jackson’s work. And the walk suggested military or ex-military. Jackson said something, which made the man laugh out loud. So a colleague and friend.
The laugh triggered a memory from a meeting. Not a recent meeting. Rupert had been there in the background, while M argued with some other people in similar roles. An American general, getting off track and complaining about his best Spec Ops officer, who unfortunately couldn’t behave for ten consecutive minutes. One Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neill. Rupert ran the footage back and zoomed in on their mouths. Lipreading was a ridiculously difficult and imprecise art, but sometimes you simply didn’t have a bug in place or a handy parabolic mike. It looked like Jackson might have said, ‘Don’t jinx us, Jack.’ And ‘Jack’ said something back, which might have started with ‘Daniel, would I’.
M hadn’t been able to find out what Daniel Jackson worked on, only that it was called the SGC, and that it was based in Colorado Springs underneath NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain. She had also found out that it had Need To Know secrecy which was frustrating even other American agencies. But what could possibly be the link between a disgraced archaeologist and linguist, a badly-behaving Spec Ops expert, and a secret U.S. DoD project inside Cheyenne Mountain? And how could any of those go with this tablet?
He was going to have to go with the ‘nervous Rupert Giles’ persona with Jackson present. That meant wearing the tweed blazer, and that would allow him to carry a decent weapon. If he had gone with ‘man of the world Rupert Giles’ and the white linen suit, he wouldn’t have been able to hide any sort of firearm without his special concealment holster, just a few holdouts. The concealment holster was excellent, but when one wore it under a shirt and suit jacket, getting at the handgun when suddenly attacked could be… problematic.
He kissed Fatima, patted her on her lush bottom, and sent her off to wait for him. She was a marvelous bed partner, but a lousy agent. He knew full well that she was supposed to be spying on him for the Syrians, and he knew that she was already failing to provide full intel to her handlers. If she didn’t get herself killed on this mission, he was going to make her a double agent and then get her some better training in tradecraft.
What was it about these tablets? He had been sent here on a tip from the Syrian government, because there was a rumor that the tablets could lead someone to something very dangerous. But as one of the bidders, he had been allowed a look at the tablets, and they appeared to be genuine. They certainly pre-dated anything he could think of as a viable threat, unless someone had managed to preserve anthrax spores in a canopic jar, or something just as nasty. Even ordinary viruses and bacteria wouldn’t survive thousands of years in a sealed container in this climate.
But someone certainly believed the tablets would lead them to something like a weapon. Khalinin wouldn’t be in this auction if he weren’t expecting to get a weapon out of it. Khatami wouldn’t be in the auction if he weren’t expecting to gain a new terrorist attack out of it. Jackson? It would really be helpful if he knew what Jackson was doing at the SGC. Still, it wasn’t as if the tablets would lead the buyer to some sort of Indiana Jones miracle of archaeological nonsense. There wasn’t going to be a Lost Ark or the Cup of Christ, or anything like that.
And if he had to listen to one more idiot blather on about the Spear of Longinus, he was going to break something. Perhaps one of their metacarpals. Why did people have to make up these ridiculous treasures, when there were fascinating objects of real interest in any reputable Egyptology exhibit?
So why were these tough, no-nonsense men willing to spend this kind of money on Egyptian tablets? He didn’t like going into an assignment with clearly inadequate intelligence on the mission, or on the players, or on the background. It usually led to someone – or a lot of someones – getting killed.
He encoded the images and his real message, then sent off a request for more museum catalogues for later meetings with Syrian museum curators, with his encoded information hidden steganographically behind an attachment – an ordinary-looking photo of him standing before a local mosque of historical interest. Then he disconnected the laptop from the sat phone and started the program to wipe any files newer than four hours old. The sat phone was a nuisance to carry around, but it did make life much harder for anyone trying to get a copy of his messages, and it did make it possible to send or receive messages in the middle of nowhere. He put the sat phone, the video camera, the laptop, and most of his other equipment into the rolling suitcase he had open on the floor. He locked the case. Then he set the arming charge in case anyone tried to break into it or walk off with it. After all, it would be utterly unsurprising if the Russians or the Iranians weren’t doing roughly what he had been doing, not including the horizontal tango he had been performing with Fatima.
The suitcase hanging on the clothes rod had the tweed blazer and accompanying clothes, the white linen suit with its white concealment holster, and two other clothing options. It was inevitable that one ended up needing to ‘dress the part’ regardless of the locale.
He strapped the forearm guard onto his left forearm, and checked that the two throwing knives were secure in their slots. He put on the ecru shirt and made sure he had the fake onyx cufflinks. Then the right pants and shoes. He checked that he had the correct belt, and then checked that his Walther PPK was fully loaded. It went into a clip-on holster that slid inside his waistband and clipped to his belt. It wasn’t comfortable having a lump of steel pressing into one kidney, but concealment was significantly more important than comfort here.
He slipped on his unneeded glasses and his tweed blazer. Then he apportioned his other equipment. His Omega Seamaster wristwatch, his cigarette lighter, his money clip, his wallet with the special credit card, his keychain, and his passport. He tossed some loose change into his pants pocket, and he moved to the door.
He carefully checked the hallway before he moved out of the room. This would be tricky enough without getting caught in here by some of his opponents’ minions. He moved quietly down the hall to the broom closet that Fatima’s people had supposedly prepared, and he ducked inside. Sure enough, the ceiling had been cut through properly, so he could clamber up to the floor above and steal out through a rear window so he could make his way down what passed around here as a fire escape. Then he used a back alley to move two blocks further away from the auction location before he stepped out onto a main street to stroll calmly over to the auction.
He wasn’t calm at all, but he could make himself look calm. He could make himself seem calm. And really, he had been in far more dangerous situations than this one.
Unfortunately, some of the players today might be aware of that.
He walked into the building and across the rough floor. Then he stepped past the sign which said ‘no admittance’ in Arabic, and slipped into the back of the auction room. Jackson and O’Neill turned their heads his way, and he gave Jackson a nervous wave. El Kedwany looked his way, and he gave the man a tentative smile. The two Russian bodyguards stared at him, and he pretended to flinch. They turned back, apparently unaware of his identity. The terrorists gave him a thorough looking over, which he handled by acting intimidated and polishing his glasses thoroughly.
Al-Jimani came out, wheeling a cart with the three tablets under glass. He was flanked by two men who were obviously armed bodyguards. Considering who was bidding on the tablets, that was eminently sensible. And Muhammad Al-Jimani was very sensible. For a vicious, untrustworthy, disreputable piece of slime. Al-Jimani was the sort of man about whom the word ‘weasel’ could not be used, because the Weasel Anti-Defamation League would initiate protests. Not for the first time, Rupert considered how Al-Jimani might have gotten the tablets. Given the people in the room, he now had a working hypothesis. And if he was correct, then things could get quite nasty after the auction.
The bidding proceeded more or less as Rupert had expected. The Americans leapt in with both feet at the very beginning. He and El Kedwany were quickly left in the dust, as the bidding rapidly moved to a level where even the Americans had to drop out. El Kedwany made a quiet exit from the room, while Rupert stayed to watch the drama. The two K’s were glaring at each other as they raised the bid again and again. He wondered idly if they might decide simply to go straight to the armed warfare portion of the negotiations, and he made a couple mental notes about places in the room that might provide cover from automatic weapons.
Finally, Krykov tendered a bid which Khatami couldn’t match. Khatami kicked over a couple chairs and stormed out. Rupert listened closely to determine whether Khatami and his men really left the building or not. Two of the sets of footsteps did not.
Rupert slid out of his seat and moved out of the room. Was he going to let Khatami’s men kill Krykov and take the tablets? That sounded counter-productive. Krykov might be a despicable weapons dealer, but he only had a handful of footsoldiers and bodyguards, and most of them were probably still in Russia. Khatami might have dozens and dozens of men in place throughout the city, with more lurking menacingly outside for the right signal. It had to be simpler to assist Krykov and then steal the tablets from him, rather than take on brigades of terrorists without backup.
He moved to the stairs and went up, stepping as quietly as he could. The Walther was already in his hand, and he was screwing on the newest silencer from Q. Once he had that in place, he made ready a throwing knife in his left hand. He had to assume Khatami’s men might have anything from machine pistols to a small grenade launcher, and one of them would be watching the stairwell.
This might get a bit sticky.to be continued