Note: In the first version of the previous chapter I stated that the Giza DHD was missing. Don Sample has pointed out that its fate was revealed in Stargate season 4. I've fixed this on archives that allow editing, on those that don't please ignore anything said about the original DHD. In the revised version SG-1 have assumed that the Key might be a portable DHD, and thus worth keeping safe, but useless while the Giza gate was buried; it was given to monks for safe-keeping until the gate became accessible again.
"Damndest thing I've ever seen, Colonel," said the Department of Transportation's forensic scientist. "Something like a spear went through the windscreen, the driver, and the seat behind him, he was incredibly lucky not to be killed. The only time I've seen anything like it was when a truck carrying rebar lost some of its load and a piece bounced off the road and hit the driver of the car behind."
"How do you know the driver wasn't killed?" asked Jack.
"Not enough blood. Either he didn't die or someone got him out first. If he'd died there the whole seat would have been soaked, not just the cover and the track through the seat."
"So let me get this straight, something impaled the driver somehow, then the van crashed?"
"I think so. The camper was upright when the glass was broken, then we have a ninety degree arc of blood droplets radiating out from the hole in the seat cover, and damage and abrasion marks on the side of the vehicle. My guess, the driver lost control when he was hit, swerved, and the camper went over on its side. Later someone hauled it back onto its wheels then towed it off the road and buried it."
"It couldn't get there under its own power?"
"The crash wrecked the transmission."
"Okay. How about fingerprints?"
"Not my field, as I understand it we've found a few faint marks but nothing useful. It's been a long time, most of the oils have evaporated. Not much chance there's going to be anything we can trace."
"What about blood group, that sort of thing?"
"O positive. Pretty common."
"Apart from the holes in the windscreen and the driver's seat, there are rips in the side and roof of the camper. Something strong and sharp enough to go through sheet metal, most likely swords and axes. Five arrow holes, and a couple of arrows still stuck into the interior fittings."
"Have you tried to match the holes with the weapons from the grave site?"
"I'm still waiting on the report. My guess is they'll find matches."
"Okay, that's pretty helpful."
"Really? Wish you could explain it to me then, I'm still trying to figure things out."
"Like that?" asked Jack, pointing at metal foil which covered most of the remaining windscreen, apart from a narrow horizontal slot.
"Like that. Damned if I know why they did it. Must have really restricted visibility, there's just about enough of a gap to see the road ahead and the exterior mirrors. Might have been trying to stop people looking in, though I would have thought it would just attract attention. If they'd been spotted by a patrol we would have pulled them over. All of the blinds were down too."
Sam beckoned to Jack, and he went back towards the rear of the camper to talk to her. "Find something?"
She held up a newspaper. "Sunnydale Press, the day the camper was stolen."
"And this is odd because...?"
"Firstly, the camper was stolen on its way into Sunnydale, not out, so this confirms that it made a stop there. Second, the number of obituaries and deaths reported is surprising. Assuming that the paper covered most of the deaths in Sunnydale and that nothing unusual was going on that week, the per capita death rate there must have been the highest in the USA, maybe the world outside combat zones."
"Not many seem to have died of old age. Here's one that fell on a couple of chop-sticks he was carrying, two killed by muggers wearing fright masks, another by an animal attack. A page of death notices, causes mostly unspecified. And this is a daily paper, not a weekly."
"Is it possible that they did a round-up once a week or something?"
"No. Most of the announcement are only a day or two old. And they mention... um... eleven different cemeteries and eight funeral homes in the announcements. Quite a few for a town that size."
"And nobody thought this was odd?"
"Apparently not. The front page story is about a shortage of psychiatric beds in the local hospital, the editorial is about delays in rebuilding the high school, so they weren't sounding any alarms."
"It sounds crazy," said Jack, "but I guess someone like Seth could manipulate an entire town to that extent. We've seen things like it before."
"That doesn't explain why the Knights were there. What were they after, and why did they leave?"
"Everything I'm seeing here says they were chasing the camper. That make any sense to you?"
"Not much. What makes it so special?"
"Must be the occupants."
"Not Goa'uld," said Sam.
"It's a little... squalid for them." She gestured at the chipboard and formica cupboards, the peeling upholstery, and the worn linoleum on the floor. "Where's the gold, the gems, the dancing girls, the body-guards? I'd expect a stretch limo at the very least."
"That's odd," Daniel said from the rear compartment of the camper.
"What have you got?" Jack and Sam went back, and found him kneeling, examining something in the mess of broken glass, china, sand, and brittle twigs that covered the floor.
"This camper belonged to an elderly couple?"
"That's right, the Campbells."
"Any kids? Grandchildren?" He held out a small pink stuffed toy pig.
"Not that I know."
"There's nothing else here that might belong to a child, just this."
Jack took it, noticed a little tag under its belly, the initials B.S. in indelible ink. He tilted it experimentally, then squeezed it, but it didn't squeak.
"What makes you think it's significant?"
"I think the Campbells must be heavy smokers, there are three ashtrays in this mess and everything else in here seems to have nicotine and ash stains, even after three years in the desert. The pig's more or less clean."
"It's really reaching but I can get that checked, I suppose. They ought to remember it if it's theirs."
"It's cute," said Sam, examining it. "Well cared-for too. Someone's repaired it a couple of times."
"Okay. Let's bag this vitally important clue and see what else we can find."
"You receiving this, General?" asked Jack, looking towards the web cam. On the computer screen Hammond nodded and said "Go ahead, Colonel."
"Okay, not much to report since yesterday. Several items from the camper turn out not to belong to the owners, or look significant one way or another. We've a definite Sunnydale connection, and some of the news reports of the evacuation of Sunnydale say that a lot of the residents wound up here in LA. I'd like to visit some, find out if any of them can remember anything odd happening in 2001."
"That's already in hand, Colonel. We have four teams covered as National Geographic researchers, they're interviewing everyone on the list."
"That's good. Okay, is Doctor Frasier there? I'll need her help explaining some of this stuff."
"Just a moment..." The screen split to show her in her surgery.
"Good afternoon," said Janet. "Did the police run the tests I suggested, Colonel?"
"Yes. All negative. Okay, we've got a few items here, I'll let Sam talk you through them." He adjusted the camera to give a wider view of the room, covering Sam and Daniel.
She held up an evidence bag, containing a faded comic. "The first item here is a copy of X-Men volume II number 100," said Sam. "Dated May 2000 but went on sale at least a month earlier. Fingerprints, quite well preserved since it's inside a plastic bag, but none of them are on record. Price tag is for Sunnydale Comics, more proof that the camper stopped there. It may be a coincidence that a villain in this issue is named Seth."
"You're kidding," said Jack.
She shook her head. "One badly torn silk scarf with type A negative blood stains. One frying pan, badly dented, with traces of hair, skin, and type B positive blood in the dent. One 'Peaches' toy pig, made by Manhattan toys from the mid-eighties until a couple of years ago, with the initials B.S."
"Were many of them made?" asked Hammond.
"Forty or fifty thousand over fifteen years or so."
"Carry on, Major."
"One last item," she held up an evidence bag, "a bottle containing two Bromopromazine tablets from a batch of twenty-four. Issued by Sunnydale Hospital Pharmacy, labelled with the patient's name of T. MacLay. They're 100 milligramme tablets, dosage is given as 'two tablets if agitated or violent.'"
"What's Bromopromazine?" asked Hammond.
"A tranquilliser," said Janet. "It's a little unusual, used mainly in psychiatry, I'd say for a seriously disturbed patient at that dosage."
"Correct me if I'm wrong," said Hammond, "but didn't the records say that the camper was stolen when the owners stopped for gas on arriving at the town?"
"That's right, General," said Jack.
"Then the tablets and presumably everything else were added in Sunnydale after it was stolen."
"Wasn't there something about psychiatric beds in the Sunnydale paper?" asked Jack.
"That's right," said Sam, "their hospital was having to turn patients away. It doesn't say why."
"So what's your theory, Colonel?" asked General Hammond.
"The camper was stolen by a group of people including this MacLay. They left the town, and at some point the Knights of Byzantium attacked them. During the fight someone was hit with a frying pan, the driver was somehow impaled, then the camper crashed. The occupants took shelter in the old service station and presumably fought off the Knights, since we haven't found any bodies."
"How many people would you say were involved?"
"MacLay, the driver, possibly someone with the initials BS, presumably at least three or four other people."
"Why so many?"
"Why else steal a camper?"
"There could be other reasons, but you're probably right. You're sure that MacLay wasn't the driver?"
"Definitely not, General," said Janet. "Anyone taking Bromopromazine in that dosage would be unfit to drive, and there would be detectable traces in the blood found on the seat. I've also had the samples from the bodies checked, and although it's difficult to be sure after so long it appears that none of them used the drug."
"Thank you, Doctor Frasier. Unless there's something else that needs your attention I'll let you get back to your work."
"Nothing at this end," said Jack. The screen switched back to a view of Hammond alone. "Any word from Teal'c?"
"He's still getting nothing, Colonel. However, I do have some information."
"I've been sounding out various contacts at the Pentagon, and one of them mentioned an odd fact. As you know there are various contingency plans for circumstances such as enemy invasions, terrorist use of nuclear weapons, and the like. There's a disaster plan for these contingencies for every major city."
"Makes sense, I guess."
"Until last year the Los Angeles plan had fourteen nuclear scenarios. Seven involve the use of tactical or strategic atomic weapons on the city itself, six relate to the detonation of dirty bombs, conventional explosives used to disperse nuclear waste."
"And the fourteenth?"
"From nineteen ninety-eight until last year the eighth assumed a nuclear detonation of five or one hundred and fifty kilotons centred on the nearby city of Sunnydale, California."
"Who the hell were they expecting to nuke Sunnydale?"
"I think you misunderstand, Colonel. Depending on the mode in which it is used, the W-80 cruise missile warhead has a yield of five or one hundred and fifty kilotons."
"Isn't that one of ours, General?" asked Sam.
"Correct. Although it was never stated explicitly, the plan assumed that the US government might find it necessary to destroy Sunnydale."
"What the hell was going on there?" mused Jack.
"I don't know, Colonel, and it's still possible that it has nothing to do with us. But until we're sure of that we'll continue to investigate. What's your next step?"
"About the only real lead we have is the label on the pills, so we'll go with that. We'll try to identify this T. MacLay, see where it takes us."
"Very well, Colonel, carry on."
Comments on continuity or factual errors etc. are particularly welcome.