O'Neill and Hammond took the suitcase into Hammond's study to check it out. "Wonder if we can read this disk I found?"
"Better let Sam look at it first. We'd probably just erase it or something." Hammond realized Jack had heard him call her Sam. "Didn't she ever tell you? I'm her godfather. Hell, I was the one who kept Jake supplied with coffee while he wore a hole in the hospital waiting room linoleum."
"I knew you and General Carter went way back, sir, but I didn't know about that."
"Y'know, I guess nobody here does."
"She would have served with you both at the Pentagon."
"That's right," Hammond chuckled. "You don't think I'd have dropped a scientist into a first contact team if I hadn't already known for a fact she'd pull her own weight, do you?"
Chagrined, Jack said, "Well, sir, I know that now."
He opened the suitcase and they went through the contents. Hammond sniffed the rifle barrel. "Gun oil. This has been cleaned recently."
"The clothes have been washed not too long ago, too. I wonder if he did a job for somebody?"
"Possible. He didn't keep track of Alvin, so the reverse is probably true as well. He could've been gone for a few days with no one the wiser."
O'Neill thumbed through the passports. "Sir, this one's been stamped. 'Henry Callahan' was in Paraguay a couple of weeks ago."
"Wait a minute, Jack, that rings a bell." Hammond looked something up on CNN's web site and turned his laptop so O'Neill could see it.
A reputed international arms dealer had been gunned down by a 'rival gang.' Apparently unsure where the shot had come from, his bodyguards had opened fire into a group of innocent bystanders, killing several people. It made the news because two of the dead were American tourists.
O'Neill looked up. "He was one of ours. Blamed himself when the job went sour....None of that had anything to do with Alvin."
"Not directly, but I want to know why he took a swing at his kid with a baseball bat."
O'Neill thought it through. "You said Alvin startled him awake. God only knows what he might have flashed back to. And that was why he killed himself. He probably saw it as the only way he could protect his son from what he'd become."
Hammond said, "I'd be willing to bet good money that guy he shot was selling weapons to al Queda. Somebody owes Alvin the truth about who his father was. Somebody owes that to Joe Connell, too."
"Yeah, but which 'somebody....' A lot of alphabet soup agencies could have sent Connell to South America." A year ago they would have gone to Harry Maybourne with this. Jack wondered how that old rascal was getting along with the Tok'ra.
Hammond said, "Let's go through the rest of this stuff. Maybe we'll find a clue to which one. I'm sure they'd be glad to have this rifle back."
"The money too."
"Not if I can help it," Hammond said. "That's Alvin's college fund."
Jack nodded. "I found a couple thousand more and a .38 under the mattress."
"I wonder if this picture is Alvin's mom. Pretty lady, isn't she?"
"That she is."
They counted the money. After another foray onto the web to get the exchange rates for Euros and yen, there was almost a quarter of a million dollars. Then they carefully searched through the suitcase pockets and behind the lining. There was nothing else.
Hammond locked the money in his safe and the rifle and the .38 in the bottom of his gun cabinet. "Take the disk up to the mountain and let Sam have a look at it. I'm going to call a couple of old friends in Virginia and see who'd like to get hold of that rifle."
Cheyenne Mountain was quiet, with most people on stand down. O'Neill passed only SFs on his way to the control room where Carter was working on diagnostics.
She was sitting at one of the stations, intent on her work, but she still looked up and smiled as he came in with two cups of coffee. He could rarely sneak up on her anymore. "Daniel said you went home, sir."
"Not exactly." He explained what had happened, and gave her the disk. "We haven't done anything with it, because we didn't know what kind of security might be on it."
Carter secured things on the gate computers in case there was an offworld activation, then started several programs running before she booted the disk. "OK, we should be able to look at it now. Nothing on the disk will be able to auto-run." She pulled up a screen that asked for a password. "It's encrypted. It will probably take me a little while to crack it."
"Boy, if Alvin's dad did all this, he's sure had everyone fooled. Alvin didn't think he knew anything about computers."
Carter nodded. "This is pretty sophisticated stuff, but it doesn't look like anything I can't crack. We just need to give it some time."
O'Neill found a seat and waited, drinking his coffee. Carter said quietly, "It must have been a hell of a surprise when they blew up the apartment."
"Well, it was when they started clearing the people out of the building. I knew then that something was up."
"I'm glad you got out of there when you did, Colonel."
So was O'Neill. That cleanup crew may not have wanted to hurt anyone, but if they'd caught him in Connell's room going through that suitcase, they may have felt they had no choice except to tie up loose ends.
The decryption program beeped after about fifteen minutes. Carter said, "OK, we're in!" She started to list off the files. "Colonel, this is a list of bank transfers going back a little over three years. Money from several US accounts has been transferred to a numbered Swiss account. It's millions of dollars."
"That would be a hell of a blackmail payoff," O'Neill said. "Who do the American accounts belong to?"
"I can't trace that from here. The CIA and the FBI have access to those files, but the computer databases don't talk to each other. That's been one of the biggest headaches tracking terrorist money post 9-11," Carter said.
"That's exactly what this could be, it has to be arms sales. The amount is just too high for anything else except the highest levels of drug trafficking. But if this is evidence of arms sales to terrorists, why would Connell hide the disk?"
"Maybe it wasn't the terrorists he was afraid of. Maybe it was the owners of these US accounts. One of them may have sanctioned eliminating that man in Paraguay."
"One of them probably did." It was all starting to make a macabre sort of sense to O'Neill. If Connell had found out that the botched job in Paraguay had never been government sanctioned at all, that he had been used to commit a murder, he might have taken the evidence and the money. O'Neill understood very well how living with the guilt for the innocent people who had gotten caught in the crossfire could have driven Connell to suicide. "Carter, can you copy that disk without changing anything on it or anyone knowing you made them?"
"Then make me three copies of it."
She did so. "What are you doing, sir?"
"This money changing hands has already led to a murder and a suicide. If anyone suspects we have it we could all be in danger. I want some insurance in case they figure it out." He put the disks in envelopes, addressed them to an FBI agent he knew, and affixed postage, and gave one to Carter. "If anything happens, you can trust this guy. He knows the business."
"If anything happens, sir, General Hammond and I won't be needing that guy," she replied quietly. But there was a look in her eyes that usually meant she had a Goa'uld in her sights.
O'Neill grinned. "That works too."
Keeping the second disk for himself, he took the original and the last copy to General Hammond.
Both men were busy long into the night working their respective contacts and running down leads.
Just before dawn on the East Coast, a number of FBI agents surrounded a wealthy Georgetown residence and arrested a powerful spymaster who thought he was above the law. By midafternoon he discovered that he wasn't, that he couldn't get away forever with moving people's lives around on a chessboard. Faced with the death penalty for treason and murder, he started naming names, and a ring of individuals who had been backing international terrorism for the lure of oil wealth found themselves in custody as well.
The only ripple through Colorado Springs was the arrival of a man in a black trench coat at General Hammond's door early the next morning. He started to make demands for the rifle and the money.
Hammond fixed him with a glare. "I don't think so. That money never belonged to the US government, did it? Connell got it the same place he got certain computer files."
The agent visibly paled. "I don't know anything about computer files."
"Of course not. Let me tell you what you're going to do. You're going to talk to your superiors. It turns out that Joe Connell had a big life insurance policy, just in case he died as the result of some unauthorized mission. They're going to arrange for the insurance money to go into a trust fund for Connell's son. As soon as that's done to my satisfaction, I'll turn the rifle and the cash over to you. They we'll all put the whole incident behind us and content ourselves with the knowledge that justice was served in the end. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, General, you do. I need to make a call."
The man had a short, urgent conversation on his cell phone. An hour later, a courier from a downtown bank arrived with some papers, and the man in the trench coat left with the suitcase.
Hammond went by Jonathan's apartment to let him and Alvin know that everything had been settled. Both boys were still sick from the flu and the stress hadn't helped Alvin any. Alvin asked, "General, did my dad do anything wrong?"
The general replied, "No, son. I'll probably never be able to tell you exactly who your dad was working for, but he was defending his country. Sometimes doing that requires doing some awful things. Casualties of war don't always die in battle. Sometimes the things they've seen and done kill them inside. That's what happened to your father."
Alvin said, "I wish I'd known him before that happened."
"I'm not saying he wasn't responsible for what he did to you. He should have got some help or at least put you into the custody of someone who could really be a parent to you."
"I don't know if he was able to do that before things went to hell," Alvin said. "I forgive him. I just don't feel like I ever really had a father. There's no one who can tell me about him...before."
Hammond nodded. "He had this picture."
"That's my mother. I haven't had a picture of her in a long time."
Jonathan patted Alvin's shoulder.
Hammond asked, "Are you two doing anything for Christmas?"
Jonathan said, "Nothing big, sir, just around here and maybe at Jack's for dinner, if we're over the flu enough to get out."
"All right then, I'll leave you alone to get some rest."
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