“Hot off the presses, sir,” Colonel O’Neill announced as he lead the way into the
briefing room. “P49-7… 7…” he trailed off, shooting a silent query to his team for
help. Sam and Daniel, both seemingly lost in various readouts and UAV photos, unintentionally
“738,” Teal’c finished smoothly.
Jack snapped his fingers as he lowered himself into a chair. “Thank you, Teal’c.
738.” With a slight bow of acknowledgment, Teal’c found a seat as well.
“What have you got?” Hammond asked, settling in at the head of the table.
“Well, we haven’t really had time to work up a report,” Daniel responded as he thumbed
through the images and spread them out on the table as he studied them. “Like Jack
said, the ink’s still wet, so to speak, and the pictures are unusually poor in quality.”
“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “I noticed that, too. We think the problem is environmental
rather than our equipment...”
“People,” Jack prodded gently to get them back on topic.
“Yes,” Daniel continued, intentionally misinterpreting the request. “They’re human.
I don’t see any evidence of Goa’uld occupation at this time or in the recent past,
and I’m guessing late Bronze Age in development. Looks like a mostly agricultural
civilization eking out a living on overworked farmland, nothing of particular interest
there… but Sam’s got something urgent on the atmosphere?”
“Major Carter?” the general asked.
“Yes sir,” Sam replied pulling her attention from the more or less raw data in her
hand. “These readings are incredible.”
“How so?” Daniel inquired.
“Well, for one thing, the UV radiation is abnormally high, which might explain the
condition of the plant life. In the twenty-four hours the MALP has been there, the
levels have spiked and receded several times.”
“Sun flares?” Jack queried, leaning forward to glance over the Major’s shoulder.
“Massive ones,” Carter readily agreed. “And 738 is much closer to its smaller sun
than we are to Sol.”
Jack nodded. “So the flares take less time to reach the planet.”
“And they lose less of their intensity along the way, which also explains why we
couldn’t get any decent pictures.”
“Are the people in any danger?” Daniel asked with concern.
“It’s hard to say for sure without taking a closer look, but yeah, I would think
so. In the long run anyway.”
“We have to do something,” Daniel declared.
“What can we do?” Hammond questioned the resident astrophysicist.
“About the sun? Nothing, unfortunately,” Sam responded, reining in her enthusiasm
considerably. “But if we could set up some monitoring equipment this could provide
invaluable data about stars in general, sir.”
“Should we not also endeavor to warn the native peoples?” Teal’c inquired.
“Warn them to what? Stick their heads in the sand? It’s not like we can evacuate
a whole planet,” Jack pointed out.
“Why not?” Daniel argued. “We’ve done it before.”
“Right,” Jack drawled. “We’ll just pop in and say, ‘Oh, by the way, your sun is
on the fritz. You need to leave your homes and travel to another planet to start
life all over again… all because we say so’.”
“Well that certainly beats leaving them there to starve to death and die of skin
cancer,” Daniel retorted stiffly.
“You know how these primitive folk are, Daniel. We’ll never get ‘em close to the
gate, let alone through it.”
“I think we should be careful who we label as primitive.”
“What kind of timetable are we looking at, Major?” General Hammond broke into the
argument before it escalated.
Sam sighed. “Obviously this has been going on for some time, decades at least, probably
longer. Just a wag, but the UV levels only started to reach dangerous proportions
in the last year or so.”
“Wag?” Daniel turned to ask Jack quietly.
“Wild ass guess,” Jack supplied succinctly.
Sam ignored them and continued with her lecture. “Essentially, the star is becoming
unstable, so it’s only going to get worse. Of course the planet will be unsuitable
for life long before it actually goes nova.”
“Are the current… whatever… levels high enough to hurt us?” Jack asked pensively.
“Short term, no,” Sam responded. “But I wouldn’t want to hang out for too long.”
“That’s encouraging,” Jack muttered.
“Well I think Teal’c is right,” Daniel insisted. “We have to warn the people. At
least give them the opportunity to evacuate.”
“If they want to,” Jack corrected.
“If they want to,” Daniel agreed. “What harm will it do to give them a choice?”
“Very well,” Hammond allowed solemnly. “Let’s see if we can come up with an appropriate
planet for relocation.”
“So we have a go?” Jack asked.
“If, and only if the MALP still shows an acceptable level of radiation,” Hammond
allowed, “SG-1 has a go for thirteen hundred tomorrow for first contact.”
“Pack your sunscreen, kids,” Jack advised cheekily. “It’s gonna be a hot one.”
“Carter, what’s the hold up?” Jack asked as he wandered into the control room. Down
below Teal’c and Daniel looked up at them, waiting patiently at the foot of the ramp
in front of the already open wormhole.
“Sorry for the delay, sir,” Sam explained, “We’re having trouble with the MALP telemetry.”
“The RV acting up again?”
“UV, sir,” Sam corrected automatically with a knowing grin at her CO’s antics. “No,
I’m afraid it’s electromagnetic interference from another solar flare affecting the
MALP’s video feed…”
“Ack!” Jack warned, raising a finger. “Is it safe?”
“Well we can’t get a picture, but the UV levels are still reasonably consistent with
our last readings.”
“Colonel?” General Hammond inquired.
Jack shrugged his eyebrows. “I say we go, sir.”
“Very well,” Hammond granted. “Let us know if we can do anything from this end.”
“What I mean is the people must be aware of the changes on their planet,” Daniel
was explaining to Teal’c as Jack and Sam joined them.
“So?” Jack ventured to ask.
“So this isn’t a sudden thing; crops have failed, people have become ill. They might
very well listen when we tell them it’s time to move.”
“Or,” Sam debated, “The changes might have been so subtle that they didn’t notice
them at all. If that’s the case, they won’t be inclined to abandon their homes.”
“True,” Daniel conceded with a sigh.
“Don’t worry, Daniel,” Jack replied supportively, slapping his friend on the shoulder
as they clattered up the ramp. “If anybody can BS a whole civilization enough to
relocate to another world… it’s you.”
Daniel snorted at the backhanded compliment. “Thanks, Jack, then all we have to
do is round them up I guess,” he retorted sarcastically as he stepped into the event
“You the man,” Jack pronounced with a grin as he followed, waving the rest of the
Daniel stopped abruptly as he exited onto P49-738. Jack came through right behind
him and ran smack into his back, all but knocking him off the dais.
“Daniel,” Jack grunted as he grabbed the man’s arm to keep him from tumbling down
the four shallow steps of the arrival platform. “Warn a guy!”
“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed, moving aside slightly to avoid another collision just as
Teal’c and Sam stepped through, never taking his eyes off of the large crowd already
gathered in front of the stargate.
Bedraggled men, women, and children in dirty, homespun clothing spread out before
them. They pulled carts and led overburdened, underfed farm animals directly to
the gate, lining up as if for departure. Even more apparent refugees spilled over
the distant horizon in a continuous stream. As the wormhole disintegrated, the people
setting up tents behind the gate dropped their tools and edged closer from the back
side, effectively leaving the team nowhere to retreat if things got ugly.
“Hel-lo,” Sam muttered, hefting her weapon slightly at the unexpected sight and turning
to guard their left flank.
“Yeah, turns out a picture would have been nice,” Jack agreed, subtly fingering the
trigger of his own P-90, rotating enough to keep an eye on their right side. Beside
him Teal’c lowered the tip of his staff weapon as he turned to watch their backs
through the open gate.
“They don’t seem hostile,” Daniel ventured hesitantly, staring open-mouthed at the
equally stunned crowd. “Someone must have noticed the MALP. The opening of the
gate might have religious significance to them. They do appear to be on some sort
“Daniel,” a hushed, alto voice murmured.
“Sam?” Daniel answered, turning slightly to spare a quick look at his female teammate.
“What?” Sam asked, briefly glancing back at him over her shoulder. “I didn’t say
“You called me.”
“That wasn’t me,” Sam denied, still scanning the crowd for any sign of aggression.
“Somebody said my name,” Daniel insisted.
“I heard it as well,” Teal’c decried.
“Daniel,” a man’s voice called tentatively from a little farther away.
“Okay, that definitely wasn’t you,” Daniel agreed. “You don’t think they mean me,
do you?” he asked worriedly.
“Nah,” Jack assured, sounding somewhat less than certain. “Daniel’s a fairly common
name around the galaxy, right?”
A new chorus of ‘Daniel’ sounded all around them, a little louder and a lot more
“Sure,” Daniel half-heartedly agreed. “So is… Jack. Or Sam.”
“Maybe Daniel is the name of their leader or something,” Sam offered, as the increasingly
desperate calls rose to near cacophony.
Looking a little apprehensive, Daniel stepped forward to the edge of the platform
and raised his hand in a hesitant greeting. The mob slowly fell silent waiting for
his words. “Hello,” he began. “My name is…”
“Daniel,” a scrawny, middle-aged woman finished for him, climbing the steps to drop
at his feet.
“That’s, ah… that’s right. I’m Daniel Jackson and this is…”
“Desert Son,” the woman continued, staring up at him with tear-filled eyes and a
“Excuse me?” Daniel asked, stopping in mid turn towards his teammates to introduce
them. “Desert sun?”
“Desert Son!” someone from the crowd shouted, starting a mantra that rose in volume
as it was picked up by the people further and further away until it rode the air
on thousands of voices.
“Daniel?” Jack queried loud enough to be heard over the roar as the natives chanted.
“I have no idea,” Daniel shouted back in bewilderment. Turning to the people who
crowded together at the bottom of the steps he raised his voice to get their attention.
A wave of shushing rolled away from the gate but cries of ‘Desert Son’ could still
be heard in the distance for several minutes.
“Please, get up,” Daniel muttered, bending to slide a hand under the woman’s arm
and pull her to her feet. “I don’t understand what’s going on here,” he confided
“Yes,” she agreed simply, grinning broadly as tears flowed down her face. Tentatively,
she reached out as if in awe and touched Daniel’s chest as he released her.
Other people pressed forward and crept up the steps, their hands snaking forward
for timid touches to Daniel’s boots and lower legs while mixed whispers of ‘Desert
Son’ and ‘Daniel’ echoed once again. Jack latched onto the back of Daniel’s jacket
and pulled him closer to the rest of the team.
“We are ready, Desert Son,” a shabby man proclaimed as he stepped forward and wrapped
an arm around the thin woman’s shoulders.
“I think he means you,” Jack advised the speechless linguist.
“I, ah… yeah… ready for what?” Daniel questioned, tilting his head quizzically. “Why
have you gathered here?”
“You came to take us to another world. A place where our crops will not die in the
fields, a place where our children may play in the sunlight, and we may grow old
in peace,” the woman responded. “You came to lead us. We are ready.”
“They’re reading our minds,” Daniel guessed quietly.
“Telepathy?” Sam questioned, unconsciously shaking her head in disbelief. “I don’t
think so, not unless they’re precognitive as well.”
Daniel shot her a look and turned back to the woman. “Yes, we have come to offer
you a better place on a planet not damaged by the sun.”
“Okay, that’s getting a wee bit annoying,” Jack blurted out.
“But how did you know to come here?” Daniel queried the crowd, leaning forward intently.
“How did you know we were coming at all? How do you know my name?”
“It was written,” the woman replied, bowing her head and once again dropping to her
knees. The man followed and with a slow ripple effect, the natives bowed down as
far as the eye could see.
“Well, that certainly clears things up,” Jack replied turning in a leisurely circle
to take in the staggering sight of the kneeling masses.
“What do we do?” Daniel asked, more than a little freaked out by his instant veneration.
Jack frowned as he considered the surrounding landscape. Every inch of ground not
covered by people or livestock was occupied by the hastily plotted tent city behind
the gate. “I guess we should contact Hammond and get a team to greet them on the
“I don’t think there’s time for that, sir,” Sam interjected. “The crowd seems to
be continuously pushing forward. If we don’t open the gate soon there’s likely to
be a crush, especially if they start to get restless.”
“There were no people here this time yesterday,” Teal’c agreed. “We have no way
to know how many more will arrive in the time it takes to assemble a relocation team.”
Daniel nodded vigorously. “The general wasn’t expecting a large scale exodus anytime
“What are you saying?” Jack asked.
“Look, the people are already here and they do seem pretty cooperative… eager even.
This puts us weeks ahead of schedule. Why don’t we just do it?”
“Sheesh. You sound like a Nike commercial.”
“It would seem prudent under the circumstances, sir,” Sam granted. “We could at
least send enough through to ease the crowding a little.”
Jack pursed his lips and nodded in agreement at his team’s appraisal of the situation.
“Okay. Sounds like a plan. Dial us up, Desert Son. PJ1… PJ1…”
“04,” Teal’c completed the designation as he moved down the steps, clearing a path
to the DHD.
“They say that memory is the first thing to go,” Daniel commented sardonically as
he followed Teal’c.
Jack glared at Daniel, but nodded for Carter to guard his back as they wound their
way through the fixated mob. Sam fell in line quickly and flinched each time a hand
shot up to steal a caress on Daniel’s leg or backside as he carefully picked his
A general air of excitement grew and the people began to shuffle back to their feet,
inching forward as they rose and pressing ever closer. As three-fourths of SG-1
neared the DHD, Daniel appeared a little rattled by all the attention. All the same,
he made an effort to touch as many of the upraised hands as he could reach. He didn’t
understand the significance, but the gesture seemed to mean a great deal to the ones
he actually made contact with.
Jack moved over by the MALP to get out of the way and ensure no one inadvertently
ventured back onto the dais. The position also offered an excellent view of the
crowd and his team. “This could take a while,” he mused, pulling out his binoculars
to scan the enormous gathering of people.
“Yes sir,” Sam agreed, standing directly behind Daniel as he prepared to dial. “Especially
since we can only sustain a wormhole for thirty eight minutes at a time.”
“Desert Son,” Daniel murmured to himself, still puzzling over the strange moniker
as he punched in the stargate address of the planet they had picked for the refugees.
Cries of amazement and joy rang out as the silver-tinged swoosh blossomed and settled
into the iridescent blue pool. Then the crowd fell silent and no one moved.
“Okay. This is it,” Jack announced. “There aren’t any steps on the other side,
but you have to keep moving once you exit. We don’t want a pile up.” He motioned
the nearest people forward. No one budged. As one, they turned to look in Daniel’s
direction. “Now what?” Jack asked irritably.
“And the Desert Son shall lead the way through the circle of light…” someone quoted.
“Ah for cryin’ out loud,” Jack grumbled, fidgeting with his sunglasses. “Teal’c,
you and Daniel head through.”
Teal’c inclined his head and led the way back through the throng. A barely controlled
exhilaration in the crowd increased to near euphoria as Daniel climbed the steps.
He paused at the top and tried to take in the enormity of the task they were preparing
to embark on. A sea of quiet, hopeful faces stared back at him, the soft mewing
of animals and a strong smell of waste wafted in the hot, dry air.
“I think you’re supposed to say something profound,” Jack advised.
“Nothing comes to mind,” Daniel quoted dryly before disappearing into the event horizon,
Teal’c hot on his heels.
Jack allowed a smirk at hearing his own words from another long ago mission. As
he turned back, the crowd suddenly surged forward, each person weighed down with
personal belongings, household goods, and whatever else they owned that could be
carried. Cartloads of grain and heavy barrels of water groaned ominously as they
were wheeled up the steps. This was a one-way trip and they knew it, and all without
Daniel launching into the lengthy explanation he had prepared.
Retreating to the top of the MALP, Jack glanced over at Sam as the combination of
humanity and beast plodded past them to funnel into the gate. “You okay?” he called
“Fine,” Sam answered from a spot where the crowd steered around the DHD leaving her
a tiny bubble of space.
Jack lifted one knee to rest a foot up on the crook of the MALP’s sturdy arm while
leaning forward to settle his weapon on his thigh. “This is gonna take a while,”
he repeated to himself as he adjusted the brim of his cap against the unrelenting
rays of the sun.
Sam checked her watch and made note of the time, then pulled a bottle of sunscreen
from her pocket and reapplied.
“It’s SG-1’s IDC, sir,” Sergeant Davis announced only moments after arriving for
Not having made it up to his office yet, General Hammond handed off his briefcase
as he moved to stand behind the gateroom technician. “Open the iris,” he ordered
The metal shield swirled away and a moment later a rather tired looking, pink in
the face Major Carter stepped through. Hammond hustled down to the gateroom and
met her at the door.
“Sir,” Sam greeted with a wan smile. “The colonel sent me to give you a report.”
“Is everything alright?” Hammond questioned as he ushered Carter toward the briefing
“Everything’s fine, sir,” Sam assured as they walked. “In fact, the natives were
waiting for us around the gate when we got there, packed up and ready to go. The
evacuation has been underway for roughly seventeen hours.”
“Well done, Major,” the general praised. “We’ll get another team out there right
away to help out while we make arrangements for some emergency supplies.”
“That would be great, sir.”
Hammond paused as they made their way through the crowded control room. “So the
people were already on their way out?”
“Not exactly,” Sam hedged, turning to face him at the bottom of the stairs. “They
were waiting for us. Or more precisely, they were waiting for Daniel.”
“To the best of my knowledge, SG-1 has never been to P49-738,” Hammond stated with
“No, sir, we haven’t. It’s more complicated than that. From what we’ve been able
to deduce in the short periods between evacuations, there was a… prophecy,” Sam paused
as every head in the control room swiveled to look at her. She grimaced sheepishly
and sent a longing glance towards the stairs.
“Carry on, people,” Hammond ordered and started up the steps. Sam sighed her relief
and followed, not particularly wanting an audience for her strange tale.
“How’s it going?” Jack queried as Daniel stepped out of the event horizon for the
umpteenth time in as many hours. Although the sun had only just risen, the heat
was already beginning to climb, too.
“Surprisingly well,” Daniel ventured, stopping to adjust the bandana on his head.
“A few people seem to want to hang around, but they leave when I tell them to move
along. In fact they all do exactly what I ask them to do without question. It’s
a little unnerving.”
“Well don’t get cocky. Some folks might let that power go to their heads,” Jack
teased as the wormhole sputtered out.
“Too tired to get cocky,” Daniel grumbled starting towards the steps, knowing Sam
had already headed back to Earth.
“I’ll get it,” Jack volunteered, giving Daniel a gentle shove off to the side of
“Shut up and rest for a minute.”
“You sure you know the address?”
“I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that,” Jack groused as he trotted down the steps,
carefully avoiding the smeared patches of oxen dung that seemed to be spreading with
each wave of evacuees.
“Have we made any progress at all?” Daniel asked, checking out the new faces in the
morning light. As a whole, the crowd seemed relatively unchanged from the last batch.
Or the one before that… or the one before that… and still they stretched to the
horizon. The only real constant was the adoring gazes leveled unrelentingly in his
direction. He tried to smile and gave a desultory little wave, causing a stir of
exhilaration to ripple through the weary peasants closest to him.
“Patience, Danny,” Jack soothed as he punched in the now well known coordinates.
“It takes time to get to the promise land.”
Daniel harrumphed as the stargate exploded with a new vortex. “You wanna be Moses
“Wouldn’t dream of stealing your thunder,” Jack drawled happily. “Consider it your
cosmic good deed for the year.”
Feeling a little punch-drunk, Daniel couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at his lips
as he moved to stand directly in front of the gate. “Cosmic good deed?” he questioned
with a laugh.
Jack grinned back at him roguishly. “Okay, people, watch your step. This sh… stuff
is slippery,” he cautioned loudly. “We’re gonna have to hose this thing off somehow
before too long or we’re gonna be knee deep in it,” he added to Daniel, wrinkling
his nose at the smell and knowing it was only going to get worse as the day wore
on. “We got cow shit, chicken shit, horse shit… it’s a regular Raw Hide around here.”
“Wagons… hooooo!” Daniel proclaimed with an exaggerated flourish of his arm as he
turned and vanished through the gate.
With an amused smirk, Jack checked his watch and leaned on his elbows against the
rim of the DHD to watch the hoard swarm by him. He already knew it was no use trying
to strike up a conversation. As the fatigued populace finally reached the gate,
they were too focused on passing through it to their new home to linger and talk.
In fact, it was getting harder and harder to slow their progress between waves and
he had his doubts that he could pull it off by himself. With a tired snort, he decided
he would give himself ten minutes for the task this time and set the alarm on his
watch for twenty-eight minutes instead of the usual thirty-five.
In spite of the never-ending stream of people, livestock, furniture and fowl, it
belatedly occurred to Jack that the resettlement as a whole seemed to be going entirely
too well. Luckily, a bony cow picked that exact moment to lift its tail and leave
a deposit of used grass right next to him. Envisioning a rare steak, Jack shook
off his boot and shifted farther to the right, feeling as if everything might turn
out just fine after all.
Hammond grimaced as he watched the major happily down a glass of water from the carafe
left over from the day before. It was still early and no one had even started the
coffee brewing just yet, let alone refreshed the water supply.
Pouring herself the last half-glass, Sam settled into the chair on his right. “Sorry,
sir,” she mumbled apologetically.
“Prophecy, you say,” Hammond prodded, wanting to get the report over quickly so his
exhausted officer could get some food and much needed rest.
“Yes, sir,” Sam answered with a barely-there scoff to her tone. “It seems that a
long time ago someone foretold that the land would dry up and the crops would wither
away, which is exactly what began to happen when their sun…”
“Went on the fritz?” Hammond asked, using his favorite new Jackism.
Sam nodded and managed a smile. “Anyway, this person also prophesized that a man
named Daniel would come through the ‘stone ring’ just in time and transport them
all to a new world.”
“Quite a coincidence,” Hammond mused thoughtfully.
“Yes sir,” Sam allowed, finishing her water. “From what we could gather, someone
saw the MALP come through and spread the word. There were literally thousands of
these poor people gathered around the gate when we got there. And they were very
well organized; going so far as to set up tents behind the stargate to distribute
food, maintain order, and even handle medical emergencies.”
“All because of a prophecy.”
“Yes sir. In fact, they believed in it so strongly they developed a plan for this
mass departure generations ago. I understand they’ve even held small scale practice
runs in the past.”
“And how is Doctor Jackson taking his new found fame?” Hammond asked solicitously
as he toyed with a pen on the table.
“Well, you know Daniel,” Sam smiled again. “Unfortunately, the people have taken
the prophet’s words quite literally. They believe they have to be led by Daniel
and since we can only sustain a wormhole for a limited time, he has to take each
group through and in thirty eight minutes turn around and come right back for another.
It’s the only way they’ll agree to pass through the stargate.”
“That must be a little wearing.”
“He’s okay,” Sam assured. “For now.”
“What about the radiation?”
“Well, Daniel spends most of his time on PJ1-04, so his exposure is limited. Teal’c’s
been on 04 continuously, but his symbiote would probably protect him anyway.”
“So we need to rotate personnel at the launch point,” Hammond surmised.
“Yes sir. I think that’s probably why the colonel sent me home. But I don’t think
he’ll leave voluntarily when Daniel can’t.”
“We’ll work something out,” the general assured. “In the meantime, get down to the
infirmary and then get some rest. That’s an order, Major,” he added to stem the
protest he could see on her face.
“Yes, sir,” Sam acquiesced. “The colonel said he’ll report in at the scheduled time.”
Hammond nodded, already making notes of what needed to be done. “You don’t believe
in prophecies, do you, Major?” he asked quietly without looking up.
“I don’t know, sir,” Sam allowed before slipping out the door.
Teal’c surveyed the temporary structures that had risen shortly after the first group
of immigrants had arrived, tucked behind the stargate and out of the way. The people
in charge, although not part of a structured government, showed an amazing amount
of forethought and good sense. Food was carefully rationed out to the refugees before
they were sent on their way, dispersed in different directions in large familial
bands to scout the lush landscape of their new home, making room for the inevitable
Officially, Teal’c’s job had been to police the area in front of the gate to keep
it free of stragglers, but surreptitiously he also endeavored to insure that Daniel
Jackson was not mobbed by the adoring crowd, a duty he took very seriously. He had
finally been able to convince his human friend to accept a meal and lay down in the
medical tent for a few minutes during the current window offered by the flow of bodies
pouring out of the gate.
Unfortunately, the women manning the first aid station were as enamored of their
reluctant hero as everyone else, and their constant fussing over him did not allow
him proper rest. Just as Teal’c steeled himself to act on Daniel Jackson’s behalf,
the living deluge trickled to but a few last minute travelers, signaling the impending
collapse of the wormhole. Even as the blue curtain disappeared, Daniel rose from
his resting place and threaded his way through the small crowd of alien ‘Red Cross’
workers over to the DHD.
After pressing in the correct symbols, the lights lit as expected before stuttering
and blinking out. Daniel stared at the gate dumbly for a minute before dropping
his confused gaze back to the dial home device. “Did I misdial?” he asked with a
“Is it not time for O’Neill to contact General Hammond?” Teal’c reminded him gently.
Daniel’s face lightened up as he pulled back the Velcro covering on his watch to
have a peek. “Oh yeah, you’re right,” he agreed. “It’s just a busy signal… I guess
we should give it a minute, huh?”
Daniel stifled a yawn and stretched expansively. “Did you ever get something to
eat?” he asked.
Niceties expended, with Teal’c especially not big on small talk, a comfortable silence
stretched out between them as they waited. Daniel closed his eyes and leaned back
against the DHD with the knowledge that Teal’c would alert him if anything happened.
After several more minutes, the chevrons began to light up one by one. Daniel straightened
and joined the Jaffa in front of the gate just out of reach of the expected whoosh.
“Hey,” Jack greeted as he sauntered through.
“What’s up?” Daniel asked taking off his shade covered glasses and rubbing his eyes.
“Hammond has ordered us back to the SGC to get some sleep,” Jack provided, swiping
the bandana from Daniel’s head.
“We can’t stop now,” Daniel protested as anticipated.
“Daniel, you’re exhausted. Teal’c needs to meditate and Carter and I need to get
out of the radiation and away from that damn stench for a while. Why do they all
shit on that side of the gate anyway?” Jack complained, checking out the relatively
cleaner ground in front of the arrival gate. “Damn, it must be twenty degrees cooler
on this side,” he added, taking a moment to enjoy the reprieve from the heat.
“What about all those people waiting to come through?”
“Relief teams are standing by to keep up the evacuation,” Jack supplied in a lower
voice as he produced a boonie hat and stuck it on Daniel’s head. “Put your glasses
Daniel did as he was told, watching as Jack wandered over to the DHD. “We’ve already
been through this. They won’t come through without me and I don’t have the energy
to argue with them about it again.”
“Relax. Hammond has a plan. We’re gonna pull a little bait and switch,” Jack assured,
punching in the coordinates to the smelly planet. “But you have to bring one more
group through first.”
Daniel exchanged a bewildered look with Teal’c then obediently followed as Jack stepped
into the wormhole. “We’ll be right back, I guess,” he muttered before he, too, vanished.
After evacuating one last group, Daniel and Jack collected Teal’c and headed back
to the SGC. As they stepped onto the ramp and got a glimpse of the man standing
with SG-2 next to General Hammond, Jack grinned widely. “This’ll work,” he decided.
“Maybe,” Daniel agreed hopefully, taking in the young man who bore more than a passing
resemblance to him; same height, same basic frame, similar hair color but in a shorter
high-and-tight military style. When the man clipped some shades onto the frames
of his newfound spectacles the most noticeable difference, his green eyes, were hidden
from view. He slipped a boonie onto his head and the transformation was complete.
“It’ll work,” Jack reiterated. “Provided we got enough of the people through who
might have had a good look at you... and the folks behind the gate in the tents only
see this guy’s back,” Jack added as they came to a stop in front of the general.
“Very sneaky, sir,” he approved. “I didn’t know ya had it in you.”
Hammond smiled craftily. “You’d be surprised, colonel. Doctor Jackson, this is
Lieutenant Dillard. He’s going to be taking over for you for awhile.”
“The workers on PJ1-04 might be a problem,” Daniel worried. “They’ve seen me up
“What do they care? They’re already on the other side,” Jack argued. “Even if they
don’t like it, what can they do about it? None of them know how to work the stargate.
We’re home free by the time they hit 04.”
Daniel shrugged, accepting Jack’s reasoning as he offered his hand to his doppelganger.
“Thank you, sir,” the man replied, with a firm handshake. “I won’t let you down.”
“SG-2, you have a go,” the general announced, turning to head back to the control
Jack punched Ferretti on the shoulder playfully. “You’re in for a real treat.”
“Yeah, just watch your step on the other side,” Daniel cautioned the departing team,
earning an elbow in the ribs from Jack. “Ow, what was that for?”
“What’s up, Daniel?” Ferretti questioned, stopping just short of the event horizon
to eye O’Neill suspiciously.
“You’ll see,” Jack taunted, steering Daniel out of the gate room before he could
answer. “And you’ll smell, too.”
“Okay, gate virgin,” Ferretti replied, turning his attention to his temporary team
member. “Get ready for the ride of your life.”
Dillard stared at the hypnotic blue shimmering before him. He had been briefed extensively,
but the idea of actually stepping through into another world wasn’t quite sinking
in. “You’ve done this before?” he asked. Never in his wildest dreams would he have
guessed what was really going on inside the mountain he had guarded from the outside
for the last three months.
Ferretti grinned and latched on to the back of the man’s jacket. “At ease, marine,”
he ordered, dragging Dillard into the light.
Dillard stepped onto 738 and almost gagged. His first trip through the gate had
been a little nauseating, but he’d quickly acclimated himself to the ride. In fact,
it was exhilarating and exciting and like nothing he’d ever experienced before and
he really, really wanted to do it again… he just wanted to land somewhere else.
With a high security rating and an immaculate service record, Dillard had been promised
that he would be transferred to a post inside the Cheyenne Mountain facility in short
order, even though at the time, he’d had no idea what that entailed. Naturally,
he had been thrilled to find out only hours ago that he’d been hand picked by a general
for a special assignment, even if it was just to impersonate some geeky scientist.
Now that he was ‘in’, he expected to take the fast track to an SG team, which is
what his short-term teammates insisted he wanted to do.
Still, no matter how many times he stepped out onto this dung encrusted world, the
smell nearly undid him. Something about the heat and the dust from the overly trampled
ground combined with the animal waste to produce a most disgusting odor. He carefully
kept a neutral expression, no need to give the Air Force punks another good laugh
at the expense of one weak-stomached marine. Sucking up his discomfort, he continued
with his mission knowing in only a few short hours the scientist would be back on
the job for another shift anyway.
Besides, he realized that he could have it much worse. The lowest ranked member
of SG-2 stood off to the side of the steps still holding the shovel he used to keep
the immediate area clear of manure. Other than brief conversations with the airmen
back on the more pleasant planet, he had been too busy to get to know his new buddies,
but he was dying to talk to them at length about their adventures in outer space.
Dillard shot Romano a sympathetic grin, but he was too busy staring off into the
distance to notice.
Following Romano’s gaze, Dillard caught sight of the odd movement in the crowd and
moved toward the leader of SG-2. Major Ferretti waited by the DHD, warily watching
the activity as well. “What’s going on, sir?” Dillard asked, reflexively standing
Ferretti wordlessly tossed him the binoculars. Where once there were wall to wall
bodies, now several areas had begun to open up, parting straight down the middle.
A contingent of newcomers moved forward at a much slower, somehow dignified pace,
steadily filling the gulf opened by the peasants. Many of the new arrivals rode
in fancy, covered carriages and the abundance of silken streamers and flags carried
by a uniformed cavalcade up front all but screamed ‘royalty’.
“I don’t like this,” Ferretti muttered apprehensively, noting the anxiety level of
the crowd as it grew by leaps and bounds. “Romano, get back to base and advise the
general that we’ve got a new wrinkle.”
“Maybe they just want to evacuate, too,” Dillard offered.
“God, I hope so,” Ferretti sighed, already punching up the address for Earth. “In
the meantime, let’s get a couple more groups through before they get here. No need
for these people to wait on the fat cats if they don’t have to.” When the wormhole
settled, he punched in the iris code. “Romano, go.”
The Sergeant sketched a salute and pelted up the steps and out of sight. As soon
as the event horizon collapsed, Ferretti was dialing again.
“Okay folks,” Dillard announced in a loud, authoritative voice. “Remember to keep
moving when you reach the other side.” For the first time since he’d taken over,
the people hesitated, looking back fearfully over their shoulders. “Don’t look at
them,” Dillard ordered. “Look at me. I said let’s go.”
Uneasily, several men moved forward, breaking the tension and starting an urgent
new wave of evacuation. Ferretti watched them go for a minute before tightening
the grip on his weapon and turning his attention back to the unknown arrivals.
“What’s going on?” Daniel asked as he entered the briefing room and found a seat.
Freshly showered and shaved, he felt like he could still use a couple more hours
“It looks like the city folk have decided to join the party,” Jack explained as he
slid a cup of coffee in front of his glassy-eyed friend.
“A governing body?” Daniel queried, lifting the cup to his lips without conscious
“That’s what we were guessing. They’ve got militia with them as well,” Romano supplied
uneasily. “They didn’t show any signs of aggression and their advance was slow so
the major decided to continue with the evacuation ‘til they got closer.”
“That’s why we haven’t been able to establish a wormhole to either 738 or 04,” Sam
Hammond nodded unhappily. “As soon as we do make contact, we need to replace Lieutenant
Dillard with Doctor Jackson in case we have to negotiate.”
Jack harrumphed, tapping the table lightly with a ballpoint. “It’s a little late
for negotiations, don’t cha think? Sir?”
“Well, just because the destitute farmers were so eager to move on doesn’t mean that
they had permission from the government,” Daniel reasoned, spreading his hands. “In
fact, they might have been escaping an overbearing monarchy of some sort, one that
might take exception to our interference.”
“Yeah, but they can’t do anything about it now,” Sam rejoined. “It’s not like they
can make them come back.”
“No, but they can keep any more of them from jumping ship,” Jack noted. “Or they
can take it out on the one that helped them get away,” he added, tipping his pen
in Daniel’s direction.
“Major, how much longer until we can dial 738?” Hammond asked, turning to Sam.
“Judging by the time Romano got here and assuming they immediately established a
wormhole to 04, I’d guesstimate fifteen to twenty minutes, sir. We’ll keep trying,”
Sam suggested, pointing towards the stairs to mutely ask for permission to return
to the control room.
Hammond nodded and watched the Major go before turning to the only member of SG-2
present. “Sergeant Romano, good job, son. Stand down.”
“Yes sir. Thank you, sir,” Romano responded. Even so, he followed as the rest of
SG-1 went to wait for a wormhole.
As a column of horses broke free from the approaching party to gallop down the ever
widening path, the panicked rush of people through the gate surged. On top of that,
the thirty-eight minute time limit was dwindling fast, Ferretti noted.
Now instead of herding the cattle patiently through the gate, the peasants began
to leave them or shoo them back the way they’d come. Without the animals slowing
the flow of foot traffic, the humans poured into the gate at an as yet unseen velocity.
Further back, families dropped their possessions and sprinted for the stone steps,
leaving a swathe of deserted belongings behind them. It seemed that everyone wanted
to get away before the well-to-do parade reached them, leaving everything but their
children behind in their bid for freedom.
Fighting his way through the moving crowd, Lou finally made it to the steps and tried
to anchor himself as he was all but swept away, losing his hat in the process. “Stop!”
he shouted, trying to make himself heard above the roar of trampling feet. “You
have to stop now!” Releasing the safety on his P-90, he fired a short, controlled
burst into the air. Concerned as his arms were jarred dangerously from side to side,
he ceased firing immediately.
A few people continued their flight, but most halted abruptly and stared at him in
fear. Quickly checking his watch and spotting a natural break in the crowd, he nodded
at the people already on the steps. “Go,” he told them. “Hurry.”
Ferretti stepped forward and fired off another volley stopping the next wave of peasants
in their tracks. “You have to stop,” he advised them gently. “It’s dangerous now.”
Within a minute of the last traveler, the event horizon sputtered out. Lou sent
a quick prayer that he hadn’t let them go for too long, hoping everyone made it to
the other side.
Looking back toward the horizon unhappily, the people who didn’t make it through
began to solemnly gather the debris in front of the gate and clear the area. They
appeared defeated, but moved with a single purpose as they rounded up the still startled
cattle and righted the overturned carts to pull them away, abandoning their prized
‘next in line’ positions for the newcomers.
A chevron lit up and drew Ferretti’s attention away from the mournful faces. A minute
later, Dillard stepped out of the newly formed event horizon and looked around. “What
the heck happened?”
“We need to contact the SGC,” Ferretti announced, keeping an eye on the rapidly approaching
horses as he waited for the gate to clear.
“Looks like a tornado swept through here,” Dillard commented from his perch on the
dais. “Major!” he shouted as one of the horsemen loosed an arrow in Ferretti’s direction
which fell short by a dozen yards or more. The peasants still in the proximity of
the gate quickly scattered.
“Take cover!” Ferretti ordered, rounding the DHD. Dillard rapidly joined him, pulling
out his berretta. The thunder of horses’ hooves drew closer and suddenly, they were
surrounded as the riders dismounted abruptly all around them. Gleaming swords and
lances pointed at them from every direction. “Hold fire,” the major said quietly
as he rose, holding his hands up slightly in supplication.
A striking, elegantly clad woman remained mounted and stared imperiously down at
Ferretti, obviously unimpressed as he surrendered his weapon. When Dillard stood
up, her attitude faltered as he handed over his sidearm. “Desert Son,” she murmured
sotto voce. One of the soldiers held her horse and another helped her down.
“I’m Major Ferretti of Stargate Command…”
“Silence,” the woman ordered coolly, holding up a hand in Ferretti’s face without
even looking in his direction as she advanced on Dillard. Up close, they could see
that she wasn’t quite as young as she had first appeared. Tiny lines of responsibility
edged her mouth and eyes.
“You are Daniel?” she asked as if in awe.
Dillard shot Ferretti a questioning glance. Lou scratched his thinning hairline
and shrugged in reply. “Yes,” Dillard answered hesitantly. A round of gasps sounded
from the soldiers who lowered their weapons and stepped back slightly.
“You are the Desert Son?” she queried again, sounding mistrustful this time.
“Yes,” the young Lieutenant responded, with more self-assurance.
The woman’s face grew hard as she narrowed her eyes and pulled Dillard’s boonie off
of his head. The marine stared back at her impassively as she removed his shaded
glasses as well. A strange combination of triumph and disappointment crossed her
face as she dropped his hat and shades to the ground.
“Seize them,” she spat viciously as she turned and walked to her horse, roughly capturing
the reins from the man who held them. She mounted the animal effortlessly and never
looked back as she rode out to meet the distant convoy, even as the chevrons began
to light again.
“We’ve got a picture, ma’am!” Sergeant Davis announced excitedly after the seventh
chevron finally engaged and he established contact with the MALP.
Sam adjusted the feed and tried to bring the camera into focus. “The people are
gone,” she muttered in disbelief.
“Whadda ya mean gone?” Jack asked, leaning forward to try and make out the scrambled
image of the empty ground directly in front of the gate.
“There!” Daniel exclaimed, noticing a human shaped shadow moving along the edge of
the screen. “Pan toward the DHD.”
“Crap,” Jack groused as the view shifted to the right. “Looks like a rescue mission
is in order, sir,” he stated to the general.
The monitor showed Ferretti and Dillard on their knees with large swords pressed
firmly against their throats. Their captors wore uniforms and appeared much cleaner
and far healthier than the peasants who had so far been relocated.
“I take it these aren’t local boys,” Hammond guessed gruffly.
“No, I’d say not,” Daniel agreed pursing his lips as he studied the pristine white
pants, shirts, and turbans, shiny black boots and deep purple sashes, “Maybe a royal
guard, definitely an organized militia.”
“Definitely well fed,” Jack added with contempt. “Bastards.”
“What are we going to do, sir?” Romano asked pointedly, speaking for the first time
since they had left the briefing room.
“Well you aren’t going to do anything except go to the infirmary and get checked
out, Sergeant,” Jack replied, having forgotten all about the man, but admiring his
concern for his team. “SG-1 is gonna head back and try to reason with these nut
jobs, right sir?”
Hammond hesitated. “I thought they were all in awe of the ‘Desert Son’?” he asked,
alluding to the fact that Dillard was now a hostage and apparently in great peril.
“Yeah, these guys don’t seem too impressed with him do they?” Daniel responded.
“Maybe they found out Lieutenant Dillard was an imposter,” Sam offered, glancing
up at Daniel.
“Sam, I’m an imposter, too. Remember?”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, “but you’re the original imposter.”
A puzzled frown crossed Daniel’s face for a second as he pondered Jack’s logic before
he got back to the problem at hand. “Sir, there’s a lot more at stake here than
Ferretti and Dillard. If these soldiers stop the evacuation, then thousands of the
remaining peasants will die. I mean they’re starving to death as we speak and their
own government doesn’t seem inclined to do anything about it. And if they don’t
die of starvation, the sun is going to get them.”
“Well, not right away,” Sam corrected, avoiding Daniel’s aggravated gaze by studying
the MALP telemetry.
“No, not right away,” Daniel allowed, “but if we attempted another evacuation later,
who’s to say we would be able to gather them all together again?”
“Sir, we’ve at least got to try,” Jack implored. “Besides, it kinda looks like they’re
The soldiers seemed to be examining the event horizon cautiously, weapons at the
ready, unaware that they themselves were being watched.
“Why don’t we speak to them first,” Hammond suggested, motioning Daniel towards the
microphone. “Test the waters.”
Daniel nodded and leaned in. “Hello,” he said into mic. “Over here.”
Stunned, the men turned toward the camera and scanned the MALP warily. “Who speaks?”
the oldest man asked hesitantly.
“Uh, hi… my name is Daniel Jackson…”
“Daniel?” the man asked, turning to look back at Dillard. A confused medley of ‘Daniel’
and ‘Desert Son’ sounded all around him.
“Yeah, just Daniel, not, you know… the other. Not Desert Son,” Daniel explained
badly, shrugging off Jack’s irritated glance.
“Look, you’ve got our people and we want ‘em back,” Jack declared, smoothly hijacking
“We want to negotiate for their release,” Daniel continued firmly, putting one finger
in the middle of Jack’s forehead and pushing him out of the way. “We’re coming through
to talk to you. Our weapons are far superior to yours, so please don’t try anything.”
“What cha doin?”
“I just think we’ll accomplish more face to face.”
“Sir?” Jack asked.
Hammond didn’t look happy, but slowly nodded. “Very well, I’ll give you twenty-four
hours to negotiate, and then I’m sending in a rescue party.”
“Thank you,” Daniel sighed, turning back to the microphone. “We’re coming through.
Please… stand back.”
Jack shook his head as he led the way to the gate room to gather his gear. “I hope
you know what you’re doing.”
“About like usual,” Daniel replied, ignoring Jack’s snort. He paused as he passed
Romano. “We’ll bring ‘em home,” he assured solemnly.
“Yes sir,” Romano responded with a respectful nod.
Jack and Teal’c exited first, followed by Daniel and finally Sam bringing up the
rear. Three of the four automatically kept the formation as they eased their way
down the steps.
“Damn it, I was gonna bring air freshener,” Jack grumbled after taking his first
“Wouldn’t help,” Daniel comforted offhandedly. “You guys okay?” he called out as
they approached their captured comrades.
“God, I’m glad to see you, Daniel,” Ferretti greeted. “That’s him, the real Desert
Son in the flesh. Now let us go,” he urged the soldiers.
Daniel grimaced and turned to the eldest of the guards who also happened to have
the most ribbons sewn onto his shirt. “Hi, I’m Daniel,” he said, frustrated at his
attempt to communicate by the large Jaffa stepping between him and the grizzled old
warrior. “But like I said, I’m not the person you call Desert Son. I don’t actually
understand that reference?”
“I have sent notice to the queen,” the old man responded, obviously out of his element
dealing with the diplomatic side of things. However, he did remember to bow reverently.
“Oh good! That’s very good. We’ll, ah, just wait for her then,” Daniel approved.
“I don’t suppose you could let our friends get off the ground in the meantime?”
“No,” the man muttered apologetically, mirroring the nervousness of the rest of the
fancily dressed group. He bowed again, eliciting small bows from several of the
other soldiers who seemed as in wonder of Daniel as the peasants had been.
“Oh, okay,” Daniel accepted with a regretful sigh. “Sorry, Lou.”
“Ferretti,” Jack cut in, “what the hell happened?”
“The people kinda freaked when they saw the caravan coming,” Ferretti explained,
keeping his movements to a bare minimum as his Adam’s apple bobbed dangerously close
to the blade every time he spoke. “They started dumping their stuff and running
for the gate. It was like their lives depended on it.”
“That’s not a good sign,” Jack agreed dryly.
“A bunch of horses rode ahead and got here a lot faster than we anticipated. Then
the folks just sort of gave up and pulled back. Some broad talked to Dillard for
like two seconds before…” Ferretti strangled off his sentence as the sword changed
angles, slicing a superficial path across his neck. Blood dripped slowly down onto
the neckline of his sweaty brown tee-shirt.
“Do not speak of the queen in such a manner,” the man behind him warned angrily.
“Hey!” Jack shouted, jerking his P-90 up threateningly. “Ease off.” Teal’c and
Sam followed suite, assuming defensive positions.
“Everybody just calm down,” Daniel interjected, stepping between the two groups and
lifting his empty hands in an urgent plea. “I’m sure Major Ferretti meant no offense
to your queen. Right, Lou?”
“Yeah, sorry,” Ferretti managed to spit out. The swordsman eased off on the pressure
and everyone seemed to take a breath.
A lone rider galloped to the edge of the group and made a strange hand gesture that
could loosely be translated as a salute as he pulled back on the reins and hastily
stopped the horse. “The queen wishes to hold council with Desert Son in her coach.”
“Okay, that’s a problem,” Daniel ventured. “There’s been a misunderstanding. None
of us are… him.”
“You can’t even say it, can you?” Jack asked. “Just tell them you are… him, and
get down to negotiations.”
“It doesn’t make any sense to lie about it. Let me explain the situation to the
queen, I’m sure she’s reasonable.”
“What if she’s not?”
Daniel glanced at Ferretti’s rapidly reddening shirt and swallowed reflexively. “Then
“Tell the queen that she talks to all of us or none of us,” Jack instructed the messenger.
“Jack,” Daniel objected. “You can’t dictate to their sovereign like that. I’ll
be okay alone.”
“I do not think that is wise, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c spoke up.
“Well if I don’t go to her then we’re stuck here in this Mexican standoff,” Daniel
reasoned. “Or do you think we could actually shoot all of them before they decapitate
Ferretti and Dillard?”
Dillard’s eyes went wide and Ferretti paled a little more.
“Probably not,” Jack admitted caustically as he examined the mass of gleaming swords
Daniel dropped his pack and removed all his equipment except for his canteen and
holster. Then he unsnapped the strap across the top of his berretta and handed the
firearm butt first to Sam, who reluctantly took it.
“You might need that,” Jack argued.
“To do what? Kidnap the queen?”
The soldiers stiffened and muttered uneasily amongst themselves.
“Well that option is out now,” Jack grumbled, eyeing the troops to make sure none
of them got any funny ideas about putting down a possible threat to their leader.
Rolling his eyes at Jack, Daniel turned back to the rider. “Tell her majesty that
I’m on my way.”
The messenger nodded and wheeled the horse around to head back toward the procession
of wagons and carriages that was steadily drawing closer.
“Tell her Daniel, not…” Daniel yelled at his back urgently as he quickly rode away.
“Just tell her… never mind.”
“Oh for crying out loud,” Jack complained. “Teal’c, go with him anyway.” The soldiers
seemed to hesitate, but allowed the escort after Teal’c handed over his staff weapon
to Jack and dropped his pack.
“We’ll be back,” Daniel said, plodding off to meet the queen, Jaffa shadow in tow.
“Be careful,” Sam called after them.
Daniel waved, but didn’t turn around, watching his step and carefully avoiding the
largest of the flattened piles of manure that speckled the landscape. Well aware
of an audience that buzzed with excitement along the periphery of the now wide open
field in front of the stargate, he paused long enough for Teal’c to catch up. “Things
were going so well,” he lamented as they walked together.
Another column of mounted soldiers passed them at a quick gait with an overloaded,
rickety wagon clattering along behind them. Teal’c raised an eyebrow and cast a
glance over his shoulder. To his relief, Dillard and Ferretti were now standing
and talking with the rest of SG-1; unfortunately, the whole group was surrounded
by white turbans.
“I believe the queen will allow the evacuation to continue,” he stated with calm
“Really?” Daniel queried thoughtfully. “Why do you say that?”
“These warriors do not behave as if they are under the power of an immoral ruler.”
“You mean they weren’t… mean, just protective of their leader.”
“So if the queen doesn’t have some ulterior motive, we might be able to reason with
“There is also the prophecy.”
“Teal’c,” Daniel said, stopping in his tracks. “We can’t use their beliefs against
them. Not even to save their lives.”
“And yet we have already done so,” Teal’c insisted, turning back to face his stubborn
“Well, yes and no,” Daniel hedged. “We never actually told them I was their Desert
Son; we just didn’t say anything to dissuade them of it, either,” he added guiltily.
Uncharacteristically, Teal’c appeared to hesitate. “Are you certain that you are
not the man of whom the prophet spoke?” He finally asked, his dark eyes boring into
Daniel gaped in mute surprise. “Uh… yeah, I’m sure,” he finally managed. “How can
you even entertain the notion that I am? I’ve never been here, I have no connection
whatsoever to these people, how could I be the one?”
“In all my years, in all the places I have been, I have seen many things, Daniel
Jackson. Do not be so quick to discard that which you do not understand,” Teal’c
With a conscious effort to close his mouth, Daniel began to walk again. The first
of the wagons passed them and Daniel let the intricately painted woodwork distract
him momentarily. “I suppose we should try to learn a little more about their belief
system,” he allowed. “Prophet, you say?”
“How else does one receive a prophecy if not through a prophet?” Teal’c asked astutely.
“Good question,” Daniel sighed he continued to trudge along.
Jack walked a modified perimeter around his people as Sam treated Ferretti’s wound
and Dillard stood guard with Daniel’s handgun. They had not been allowed to send
them back to Earth to get them out of the sun, but they still had their weapons,
so Jack felt a little more in control of the situation. Still, with their every
movement strictly monitored, it felt an awful lot like being prisoners.
Half of the soldiers surrounded them, but the others began to unpack the contents
of a wagon that had rolled right up next to the DHD. Seamed sections of a thick,
pastel fabric resembling a small circus tent were unrolled and spread out on the
relatively clean ground in front of the stargate, thanks to Romano’s earlier efforts,
by some of them while others erected a wooden frame.
“What’s that?” Jack asked curiously
“It is a shelter,” the closest man replied with obvious disdain.
“Well you can’t put it there,” Jack goaded, pacing off the estimated distance of
a full blown wormhole vortex. “Nope, you need to move back a couple yards to be
The man ignored him, going so far as to turn his back on the group completely.
“Hey, I tried,” Jack shrugged with a mischievous grin as he turned back to his own
people. His humor quickly faded as the next layer of the cart, heavy walls of iron
bars, were unloaded. “Crap,” he muttered.
“Sir?” Sam asked, looking up in concern at the clanking noises.
“Looks kinda like a cage to me,” Jack observed unhappily. He climbed the MALP and
studied the horizon with his binoculars. In the distance, he could still make out
two indistinct desert-camo blobs, too far away to give or receive assistance. “Stay
on your toes,” he ordered quietly.
More and more of the fancy carriages and utilitarian wagons passed them as Daniel
and Teal’c continued their quest to meet the queen. “It’s like a city on wheels,”
Daniel observed, returning the frequent waves from the people peering out at them
in wonder as they drove by. His hopes were bolstered as he realized they were seeing
another wave of refugees, even if these appeared to be a lot better off than the
“I believe this is what we seek,” Teal’c decided, pointing to an elaborate coach
parked across the barren field on the other side of the stream of traffic. The messenger’s
stallion was tied to the back and several auxiliary wagons and coaches pulled up
“Yeah, it looks like it,” Daniel agreed, following as Teal’c held up a hand to slow
the next wagon in the procession so they could cross safely.
“Desert Son,” the driver of the large cart called to them, smiling broadly as he
stood to beckon them on, coming to a full stop.
“Right,” Daniel replied with a half-hearted acknowledgment as they quickly crossed
in front of it. Before they made it completely across, an extended family poured
out of the back, surrounding them.
“Desert Son, bless the children,” one of the women begged.
“What?” Daniel asked, taken aback by the request. “I’m not… I don’t… do I look like
“Please, Desert Son,” an older women beseeched as the next wagon in line stopped
and unloaded its passengers as well. “Bless us all.”
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c warned softly as the traffic behind them backed up and the
crowd grew rapidly with the potential to turn into a mob. “You must appease them
Daniel groaned miserably. “I hate this,” he muttered under his breath. With a resigned
sigh he raised his hand. “Live long and… uh, prosper,” he improvised loud enough
to be heard.
A cheer went up just as a group of the white clad soldiers on horses cantered over
to the rescue. “Return to your wagons immediately,” one of them warned. “If you
do not proceed, you will forfeit your position in line.” Taking the threat seriously,
the people did as they were told, apparently quite pleased with the blessing.
“Thank you,” Daniel replied, making eye contact with the soldier.
The man bowed his head reverently for a moment. When he once again lifted his face,
it bore an expression of extreme sadness. “The queen awaits, Desert Son,” he uttered
Exchanging a glance with Teal’c, Daniel moved toward the gilded carriage. As they
approached, the door opened and two soldiers stepped out followed by a servant girl.
She curtsied deeply and as Daniel passed her to climb the cushioned steps she caught
his foot and began to wipe his boot with a rag. Looking around sheepishly, Daniel
unclipped his shades as he allowed her to finish before presenting her with the other
foot. When both soles were somewhat free of dust and dung, Daniel took a deep breath
and climbed into the coach.
“Your majesty,” he said, bowing slightly not only as a symbol of respect but also
because there wasn’t room for his full six foot height in the confined space. Appearing
something like a miniature parlor, the coach interior was very elegant, if a little
stuffy. A shelf of books, knickknacks, and personal items sat behind the seats on
both sides and Daniel wondered how the objects didn’t come crashing down when the
carriage was in motion. The door closed behind him and it became apparent that Teal’c
hadn’t been invited in.
“Sit,” the woman offered without looking up from the parchment in her hand. She
was a handsome woman with the dark skin and hair of her people, but Daniel couldn’t
see her eyes with her head down.
Still looking around, Daniel gladly did as he was told, pushing his hat off and letting
it fall to hang by its strings as he took a seat across from the queen. While he
waited for her to begin, he stole a closer look at the elaborate embroidery on the
cushion behind him, running his fingers delicately over the intricate design.
“You are Daniel?” the queen asked eventually with a distinctly snobbish air.
“Yes,” Daniel replied as he turned back to face her.
She gasped as their eyes met for the first time. Her royal persona dropped away
momentarily as she seemed at a loss for words. “You are the Desert Son,” she managed
at last, not a question this time.
“No, I’m not,” Daniel insisted gently. “This has all been a misunderstanding. I’m
sure we can straighten it out and reach some sort of equitable agreement.”
“Are you not Daniel born unto Claire, after whom my own name was taken?”
“You were named after my mother?” Daniel questioned incredulously, unintentionally
answering the question.
“As were many,” Claire assured. “It is a most honored forename.”
“Wow, that’s… that’s quite a coincidence.”
“Were you not born in a sea of sand in a land far removed from your own people? Do
you not speak numerous foreign tongues? Read diverse languages? Are you not a scribe
with many titles?” she questioned relentlessly, passionately.
“I… well, sort of,” Daniel admitted with a frown. “I suppose you could say all those
things are true on some level, but that doesn’t mean that I am… who you think I am.”
“Were your parents not crushed when you were but a boy?”
“What?” Daniel gasped in shock.
“Was your wife not taken from you and ultimately killed to protect your own life
by one that you love as a brother?”
“I assure you; I did not knowingly come here to fulfill any prophecy,” Daniel rejoined
in a stunned, shaky voice. “I am not this Desert Son you’ve been waiting for.”
His answer seemed to disturb her royal highness as she clutched a fist to her chest
and turned away.
“Look, I’m sorry I’m not who you want me to be,” Daniel offered sincerely, calming
down. “But we really need to talk about the welfare of your people. And the safe
return of mine.”
“Speak,” Claire sighed, clenching her eyes shut.
“Okay, uh, let’s start with the basics. Your sun is becoming dangerous. But don’t
worry, we’ve found you another planet, it’s beautiful, and it’s very safe…”
Slowly Claire began to shake her head from side to side in agitation. “Have you
not already begun to take the souls of the peasants?” she interrupted, opening her
eyes to stare at him mournfully.
“Take their souls?” Daniel asked in shock. “You think they’re dead?”
“Have they not passed through the portal?”
“Well yes, but they’re still very much alive! They’ve only been relocated,” Daniel
explained hastily. “And they went willingly, you must know that.”
The woman blinked back tears of relief or anger or some other emotion Daniel didn’t
quite comprehend as she momentarily turned her attention back to the yellow paper
in her shaking hands. Daniel accepted it cautiously when she offered it to him.
“This is Desert Son?” he assumed taking in the faded charcoal drawing of a man that
could be a rough representation of himself, or Dillard, or any of a hundred other
men wearing glasses and a floppy hat. “It’s very old,” Daniel observed, carefully
smoothing the rough edges of the parchment.
“It is only a replica. The original was drawn by my ancestor, Olivia, after she
was visited by the prophet many generations ago. Through the years it has been copied
“Well, I assure you, it’s not me,” Daniel decried handing the sketch back. “But
how did you know it wasn’t Dillard… uh, the other guy?” he asked, pointing in the
direction of the stargate. “I mean, he fooled hundreds, maybe thousands of others.
What made you decide that he wasn’t the one?”
Claire shook her head, seemingly amused. “It was written long ago that Desert Son
would have eyes the color of a summer sky,” she replied as she glanced up at him
demurely from under her lashes.
Daniel cleared his throat as he leaned back uncomfortably. “That’s hardly the basis
for a positive identification,” he argued.
“We have a very detailed description of Desert Son,” the sovereign advised matter-of-factly.
“Tell me, Daniel, do you have a scar along your right side?” she asked, drawing
a finger along her boned and fitted bodice to just above her right hip.
“No,” Daniel lied, fighting the urge to clamp his hand over his appendix scar. “But
even if I did, that still doesn’t prove anything.”
“You are Desert Son. Why do you deny it?”
“I’m not!” Daniel persisted, throwing his hands up in agitation. “That picture was
drawn years and years before I was even born. It’s not me. What can I do to prove
it to you?”
“Show me your side. If there is no scar there, I will believe you,” Claire replied
“No,” Daniel steadfastly refused, crossing his arms over his chest.
“You have no need to fear, I will not order your blood to be shed. The sacrifice
must be made willingly.”
“Sacrifice?” Daniel asked, leaning forward in surprise. “Nobody said anything about
As the coach door closed, one of the soldiers assumed a position of guard in front
of it. Teal’c took up a spot close beside him with his hands clasped lightly behind
his back, severely infringing on the other man’s space. He ignored the outraged
glare he received, feeling that what he had to protect inside was every bit as important
to him as the queen was to the soldiers. Even unarmed, Teal’c was well aware of
his imposing presence. The other man finally relented and scooted down almost a
foot to give him some room. Were he so inclined, Teal’c might have smiled at the
Nearby, another less opulent carriage opened and an elderly woman was tenderly helped
down the steps. Teal’c turned his head to scrutinize the new arrivals as the woman
and a flock of soldiers and servants drifted in his direction. Dressed head to toe
in a gauzy black material, the woman bore an imposing presence in spite of her diminutive
size. She uncovered her face as she approached and smiled delightedly as she took
in Teal’c’s bulk.
“Leave us,” she ordered the group in general, much to the dismay of the soldiers.
To Teal’c’s surprise, everyone did as they were told and left them a wide berth without
argument, including the man guarding the door, which spoke volumes about the woman’s
“I am Alva, Oracle of my people, keeper of the prophecy. What are you called?” she
“I am Teal’c.”
“And what does that mean?”
“It means strength,” Teal’c explained, raising an eyebrow as he stared down at the
“Well named,” the old girl approved as she reached up to pat him affectionately on
the chest with one hand. “With goodness in the heart and evil in the belly,” she
quoted, slowly bringing her hand down until it rested over his pouch, causing him
to nearly flinch in amazement. “Do not be surprised, Dark One, for the prophecy
speaks of you as well.”
“Tell me of your prophecy,” Teal’c requested with great respect.
“It speaks of you as protector of Desert Son; with a love as of kindred, born of
guilt, steeped in respect and admiration. Is this not so?”
“Then hear me, Teal’c,” Alva pledged as she raised her other hand and blew fine,
red dust into his face. “I will carry your burden. No harm will come to Daniel,
Son of the Desert while I watch over him.”
The old woman stepped away as Teal’c choked and staggered to his knees, gasping for
breath that wouldn’t come, his head spinning. As his symbiote became agitated, his
vision began to gray. Collapsing to the ground, he saw a glimpse of black boots
before his sight blanked out completely. For a moment he could still hear voices
from inside of the coach as he succumbed to the drug, until they, too, faded away.
The large cage went up quickly and the canvas material formed an open-sided sunshade
over the top of it. Unfortunately, one side of it sat well in the path of any forming
wormhole, a fact the mismatched team kept to themselves.
“This isn’t necessary,” Sam pleaded, as the soldiers tried to force them inside.
“We’re not gonna let you lock us up,” Jack reiterated for the fourth time.
Severely outnumbered and completely surrounded, Jack raised the tip of his P-90 and
fired once in the air to demonstrate their superior weaponry. The attack came without
warning before he could even lower his gun. With no room to maneuver and no desire
to wipe out the soldiers, they were brutally taken down without another shot fired.
A blow to the back of the head left Jack disoriented as he was roughly stripped of
his equipment. Pushed into the cell, he landed on something soft and managed to
roll off an unconscious Ferretti and onto the dirt floor of the cage. “I knew this
was gonna happen,” he swore fiercely, clamping a hand to his aching head. “Carter?”
“I’m okay, sir,” Sam assured, suddenly at his side.
“He’s out, sir,” Dillard answered, appearing at Jack’s other side, looking unharmed
except for a trickle of blood oozing from his nose.
Outside the cage, the soldiers began to dissipate to set up camp now that their captives
were under lock and key.
“We should probably move,” Sam suggested, realizing in their current position they
would be disintegrated if the gate should activate.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed. “I’m okay, get Ferretti.”
Dillard and Sam pulled the injured man to the far corner as Jack staggered to his
feet and joined them, glancing over his shoulder as he moved. He could see that
their packs and weapons had been conveniently stacked under the empty wagon next
to the DHD.
“The ground is packed solid,” Carter commented as she kicked at the floor with the
heel of her boot. “We’re not going to be able to dig our way out, that’s for sure.”
“Teal’c and Daniel will get us out,” Jack assured, noticing the first of the carriages
as they arrived.
“If you will not willingly lay down your life for my people, then you cannot be the
one of whom the prophet spoke,” Claire finally pronounced, ending the protracted
“Thank you!” Daniel responded in exasperated relief. “That’s exactly what I’ve been
trying to tell you. It’s a moot point anyway. No one has to die, there doesn’t
have to be any sacrifice and everyone gets to live happily ever after. All you have
to do is step through the stargate… the… the… stone ring. It’s that simple.”
“You are challenging the very tenets of our civilization,” Claire continued to resist.
“We have waited for this moment for generations. How can we throw out hundreds
of years of expectations? Unless the prophecies are met, we will not follow.”
“How are you going to follow if I’m dead?” Daniel reasoned.
“If you are Desert Son, death will not hold you.”
“And if I’m not?”
“Then we will return to the city to await the real Desert Son to lead us.”
“But thousands have already gone through,” Daniel retorted, his voice rising with
his frustration. “As we speak they are settling into a new life on a healthy, fertile
planet. And trust me; I didn’t have to die to get them there.”
The queen harrumphed distastefully. “Ignorant peasants.”
“Ignorant peasants who were smart enough to get out while they could,” Daniel countered
heatedly, reaching the end of his patience with the spoiled monarch. “You know,
I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt and think of you as a wise ruler only
trying to do what’s best for your people. But the more we talk, the more I’m convinced
that you’ll do whatever is necessary to keep your power base intact. That’s what
this is really about, isn’t it Claire? If these people win, then you lose.”
“Get out,” Claire spat, glaring for a second before throwing the nearest item within
reach, a small glass box, at the man who dared to question her motives. Furiously,
her hand found a book, which she also threw before grabbing something else.
Daniel covered his head with one arm to fend off the barrage of household missiles
while he fumbled for the door latch with the other. When the door finally swung
open, he jumped to the ground and slammed it shut behind him to stop the flow of
increasingly heavy objects aimed at his head. For a moment loud thumps continued
to rain on the inside of the door.
“Prove me wrong, Claire,” Daniel challenged loudly as the coachman received orders
from within and urged the horses into motion. “Make the right decision. Be the
leader your people need you to be!”
He reached up to wipe away the drop of moisture sliding down his cheek, surprised
to find it red on his fingers. The cruel midday sun quickly pulled Daniel from his
angry fugue and he realized that he was alone.
“Teal’c!” he called out, turning in circles, but his friend was nowhere in sight
and the other wagons that had stopped were long gone as well.
The sea of peasants had already given a wide berth to the line of more privileged
refugees that still streamed single file towards the stargate. Putting on his hat,
Daniel sighed and began the long trek back, falling in parallel to the stylized wagon
Jack exchanged a worried look with Sam and then nudged Dillard’s foot to rouse the
dosing man. “Up and at ‘em, Lieutenant, we’ve got company,” he ordered quietly.
A horse and rider edged close to the cage to release a very familiar form to the
hands of the awaiting soldiers. The prone body lying limply across the front of
the flat leather saddle never moved as the group of men grunted under his weight
and lowered Teal’c gently to the ground. One of the men unlocked the cell door while
several others stood ready with swords to fight off any attempt at escape from inside.
“Crap,” Jack muttered as he and Dillard clambered to their feet.
Carter held Ferretti, who had yet to waken, a little tighter. “Is he breathing?”
she asked anxiously, looking at Teal’c.
Kept at arms length by the wealth of pointy blades while the soldiers deposited their
teammate unknowingly in harms way, Jack and Dillard scrambled to his side as soon
as the door swung shut. “Geesh,” Jack grumbled as they dragged the solid mass of
Jaffa muscle back to the safe end of the cage. “It’s a good thing he’s not usually
the one who gets knocked out.”
Dillard shot him a confused look but didn’t ask. Instead he felt for a pulse while
Jack did a quick once over, checking for obvious injuries. Sam slipped Ferretti
out of her lap and lay his head on her folded up jacket and joined them.
“His heart rate is really slow,” Dillard offered.
“Yeah, and he’s not bleeding anywhere,” Jack agreed worriedly. “Teal’c! Come on
buddy, talk to me,” he urged as he patted his big friend’s face urgently. “This
isn’t good,” he insisted when he failed to get a response of any kind.
“Maybe he’s drugged,” Sam suggested as she untucked his tee-shirt.
“Junior wouldn’t stand for that, would he?” Jack asked, grimacing as the edges of
Teal’c’s pouch came into view. “What cha doing?”
“Checking Junior,” Sam replied, pulling a face as she slipped her hand into the warm,
sticky muck of Teal’s symbiote womb. Inside the parasite nuzzled her hand briefly
before going still. “It’s alive,” she shuddered, withdrawing her hand and flicking
her wrist to dislodge the gooey residue that clung tenaciously to her fingers.
Dillard gaped at the sight and turned a little green. He had been briefed about
the different alien species, but somehow it hadn’t seemed real before.
“Ew, don’t get gut snot on me,” Jack advised, reaching into his pocket for Daniel’s
bandana that he’d been meaning to give back to him. “Here.”
“Thank you,” Sam responded, eagerly wiping her hand on the cloth before she really
examined it. She studied her C.O. for a second, but he smiled back at her innocently
so she let it slide.
“So who’s going to rescue us now?” Dillard asked dismally, folding his legs under
him as he settled beside Teal’c.
“Daniel’s still out there,” Jack pointed out irritably. “He’ll get us out of here.”
Dillard snorted and muttered something under his voice as he turned away.
“What was that, marine?” Jack growled as he narrowed his eyes angrily.
“I said ‘fat chance’, sir,” Dillard responded bravely, if stupidly. “I mean if they
subdued the big, bad Jaffa, what chance does one civilian scientist have?”
“The big, bad Jaffa’s name is Teal’c,” Jack countered with an icy tone. “And don’t
underestimate ‘the scientist’ either. He’s saved our asses plenty of times. Just
not always in the way ya might think…” he trailed off with a grimace, apparently
thinking of past adventures.
“Don’t worry, Dillard,” Sam soothed. “You know SG-1. We get outta these jams on
a regular basis.”
“Ma’am, until yesterday, I was a surface guard. I didn’t even know the stargate
“That’s where I saw you,” Jack chimed in. “You used to check ID’s at the main gate.”
“From gate guard to Daniel’s understudy, nice promotion,” Jack congratulated. “Bet
you wish you’d never got on that elevator, huh?”
“Desert Son?” someone called tentatively.
Used to the address now and more tired than he felt he should be, Daniel raised a
hand in greeting but plodded on without looking.
“Desert Son? Would you honor us with your presence?”
“Huh?” Daniel replied, finally glancing up. “You want to give me a ride?”
The large canvas-covered wagon slowed and Daniel trotted gratefully to the back and
accepted the assist from the multiple hands reaching down for him. He was easily
“Thank you,” he responded, taking in the group of mostly women, children and elders
crowded together in the back. With minimum fuss, they shifted to make room for one
more and Daniel found himself seated in the middle of the family. A water bladder
was pushed into his hands and he took several long swigs before capping it tightly.
“Thank you,” he said again, handing it back. “I’m Daniel.”
“Yes,” a young woman directly across from him answered with a shy smile as she held
a baby to suckle at her breast. “We know.”
“Right,” Daniel responded awkwardly as a more mature woman next to him presented
him with hard bread and some type of jerky. “No, no, I don’t want to take your food,”
Daniel objected, recognizing immediately that this particular wagon was not filled
with privileged rich people, but rather a large working class family not so very
far removed from the farmers.
“All that we have is yours,” the woman responded kindly.
Not wanting to offend, Daniel tore off a piece of the bread and began to eat, realizing
that he was in fact quite hungry. Only the tough texture, and the constant observation
by his rapt audience, kept him from devouring the food without thoroughly chewing
it. While simple, he found the bread quite good and it reminded him of Abydos. The
meat was spicy and the unexpected burst of zest made his lips and tongue tingle.
“Can you fly?” a small boy asked, mesmerized by Daniel’s presence.
“What?” Daniel choked out through a mouthful of the dried meat. “Fly?”
“Angels fly,” the boy insisted.
“I’m not… I’m not an angel,” Daniel denied after swallowing hastily. “I’m human;
flesh and blood, just like you.”
Silence fell as the group considered his words. The wagon bounced along and Daniel
self-consciously finished eating, wiping his slightly greasy fingers on his pants.
“Will you tell me something?” he asked at last, turning to the woman who had fed
“Of course,” she replied with an honored smile. “What would you like to know?”
“I’d like to hear about the prophecy.”
“Surely you know better than I?”
“You’d be surprised,” Daniel assured. “Please, tell me everything you know. Don’t
leave anything out.”
Sam checked her watch then worriedly pressed her hand to Teal’c’s forehead. The
skin was cool and dry, but she had never known the man to stay passed out for more
than a few minutes at a time unless he was gravely injured or his symbiote was deathly
ill. It would be dusk soon and he had been back since early afternoon and hadn’t
made a peep as yet. Fighting back a wave of revulsion, Sam decided to check Junior
again. Jack watched her warily when she moved her hand down to the hem of Teal’c’s
Sam released the shirt and turned her attention back to her friend’s face. “Teal’c?”
“Teal’c!” Jack echoed, moving close enough to shake a large shoulder. “Come on,
big guy, open your eyes. Nappy time’s over.”
“What’s going on?” Ferretti mumbled, waking from a fitful dose and trying to sit
“Easy, Major,” Dillard soothed as he pressed a hand gently to the wounded man’s chest
to keep him in place, “The Ja… Teal’c is coming around.”
“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c slurred as he blinked his eyes open.
“Daniel’s fine,” Sam lied boldly, hoping in fact it was the truth. “How are you
Looking around very briefly before dropping his head back down to a makeshift pillow
of several jackets, Teal’c moaned again. “Prisoners?” he managed to ask clearly.
“Welcome to the Shit-hole Hilton,” Jack greeted. “Hope you don’t have to pee, ‘cause
we’re a little lacking in facilities. On the other hand this whole planet is one
big, stinkin’ toilet so it’s not really a problem.”
“Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked again as he stiffly rubbed his abdomen with one hand.
“Daniel’s not back yet,” Jack provided truthfully. “You’ve been out for a while.
What the hell happened?”
“There was a woman…” Teal’c started tentatively before pausing in thought.
“The queen,” Sam prodded.
“No,” Teal’c corrected. “Daniel Jackson was with the queen. It was an older woman;
the Oracle, the keeper of the prophecy who approached me.”
“You’re telling me you were taken out by a little old lady?” Jack asked in disbelief.
Teal’c managed a fairly ominous glare, but his growl came out a little weak. “I
“A very potent drug at that,” Sam agreed. “It took both you and Junior out.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed, sounding almost pitiful as he continued to massage his belly
to revive the little monster that lay inside.
“So what happened to Daniel?” Jack inquired. “Was he knocked out, too?”
“I do not believe so. As I succumbed to the poison, I could yet hear Daniel Jackson
speaking with the queen.”
“Okay, we need to talk about that, big T. Never, ever leave Daniel alone with any
female type royalty. It always ends badly.”
“Hey, I heard that,” Daniel complained as he neared the cell, appearing out of the
slowly lengthening shadows as he picked his way through the soldiers’ camp.
“Daniel!” Sam exclaimed in relief.
“What happened?” Jack asked, grunting as he cradled his ribs and got to his feet
to meet Daniel at the bars. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Things didn’t go so well with Claire, though.”
“Claire?” Jack mocked. “You’re already on a first name basis with the queen? Oh,
this doesn’t bode well. In fact I seem to remember another time when we were all
stuck in a mine while you were playin’ footsies with the local princess.”
A hurt look crossed Daniel’s face and he lowered his eyes. “It’s not like that,”
Jack sighed guiltily, well aware of at least two, probably three if Ferretti was
still awake, accusing glares boring into his back. “What’s it like?” he asked a
“I think this whole situation boils down to a power play between the monarch and
another local figure called the Oracle,” Daniel replied, deliberately changing the
subject however slightly.
“Yeah, Teal’c met her while you were dallying with her majesty.”
“Teal’c? I was worried when I couldn’t find you,” Daniel gushed, turning his attention
to his stoic companion still flat on his back. “Are you all right?”
“I am,” Teal’c croaked out, sounding anything but all right.
“You know me, Daniel,” Ferretti replied. “It takes a lot more than a bump on the
noggin to take me out of the game.”
“Yes, you do have a hard head, don’t you?” Daniel teased gently. “Don’t worry guys,
I promise I’ll get you out of here. Where’s our stuff?”
“It’s under the wagon by the DHD,” Sam provided.
With a nod, Daniel made his way over to the stash, stopping when two soldiers, not
much more than boys stepped into his path. “Come no farther,” one of them warned.
“Do you know who I am?” Daniel asked in a tired monotone.
“Yes, Desert Son.”
“Well my friends need food and water and medical attention,” Daniel lectured gravely.
“So unless you’re planning to be to one to take my life, I suggest you get out of
The young men looked at each other uncertainly before stepping aside. As Daniel
grabbed the first two packs he came to, the young soldiers quickly jumped in to gather
“We cannot let you take the weapons,” one of the boys apologized.
“Weapons aren’t going to solve anything here,” Daniel assured, lugging his bounty
back over to the cage. He stopped in mid stride and took in the location of the
cell in relation to the stargate, his eager help almost colliding into his back.
“Uh oh,” he replied.
“Yeah, keep the ‘uh oh’ on the QT,” Jack advised.
“Okay,” Daniel agreed after calculating that the far end of the cage was safe enough.
“Right there is fine,” he instructed the soldiers, dropping the packs he carried
next to the cage. “Thank you,” he added, dismissing them after they unloaded their
burdens. Reluctantly, they obeyed, drifting back toward the wagon but continued
to watch him intently all the way.
“Daniel,” Jack called as the linguist began to dig out canteens, a med kit, and some
“Jack?” Daniel answered as he handed the supplies through to Sam since the packs
themselves were too big to pass between the bars.
“What was that bit about ‘the one to take my life’?”
“Oh that,” Daniel sighed dismissively as he settled on the ground close to the wall
of the cell. “See, in order for the monarchy to be satisfied that I am Desert Son,
I have to…uh, die.”
Jack scanned the area quickly for any possible threat before dropping down next to
Daniel on the other side of the bars. “Well then, tell them that you’re not Desert
“Now why didn’t I think of that?” Daniel mocked, letting his frustration with the
situation slip out.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to step into your arena.”
“Hey, sarcasm is an art form,” Jack insisted haughtily.
“Yes. Unfortunately your chosen medium is crayon. The big fat ones…”
“Daniel,” Jack warned, raising a finger.
“…like they use in pre-school,” Daniel finished meanly.
“Enough. I get it.”
“You know, there is something to be said for subtlety.”
Dillard watched the display with an open mouth. “I guess they don’t like each other
very much,” he surmised quietly as he helped Ferretti ease into an upright position
for a much needed drink of water. Beside him, Teal’c groggily sat up as well and
leaned heavily against the cage.
“Sure they do. They just… do that,” Ferretti assured with a painful chuckle.
Carter tried to hide a smile as she opened the first aid kit and moved closer to
Ferretti who was the most banged up at the moment. “Daniel? Can I get some light?”
“Sure,” Daniel responded, realizing that daylight was fading fast. He turned back
to the packs and fished out a couple flashlights, which he passed through the bars
before pulling out two more MREs. “Spaghetti or frankfurters?”
“Spaghetti,” Jack responded, accepting the parcel and immediately tearing into the
tough plastic with his teeth.
Daniel toyed with the second one for a minute before returning it to one of the packs.
“You can have the spaghetti,” Jack offered the chewed, half-open package.
“Go ahead,” Daniel muttered leaning against the metal bars and closing his eyes.
“I’m not really hungry.”
“Daniel, you’ve got to eat.”
“It’s okay, I had some bread and dried meat earlier. I just need to rest for a minute.”
Jack snaked his hand out to feel Daniel’s forehead. “You are a little pink. I think
you got too much sun today. Drink some water.”
Daniel nodded, fumbling with his half-full canteen before managing a drink.
“See?” Ferretti exchanged an amused glance with Carter as she began to patch him
up while Dillard held the light. “Best buds.”
Teal’c looked at the MRE Sam had handed him and placed it on top of his makeshift
pillow. Nausea was not something he was used to and he had no desire to vomit. Steeling
himself, he staggered to his feet and made his way over to Jack and Daniel. “The
queen was not receptive to the evacuation?” he asked as he gently lowered himself
back to the ground.
Daniel’s eyes widened as he got a good look at the sick Jaffa. Knowing better than
to fuss, he sighed and turned away. “You could say that. When she finally stopped
trying to get me out of my pants, she started using my head for target practice.
Don’t ask,” he cut off Jack’s query before it left his mouth. “She doesn’t want
me to be Desert Son and as long as I refuse to let them kill me, she can say that
“You’re not,” Jack reminded him as he turned his attention back to his MRE, fishing
out the main course and the long handled plastic spoon.
“I know,” Daniel muttered quietly.
“But the people were willing to follow me,” Dillard spoke up. “I mean you. Us.”
“Yeah, at least before the city folk showed up,” Jack agreed.
“Actually, that was part of the prophecy, too, right down to our ruse. I got the
whole story on the way back.”
“Well don’t keep us in suspense,” Jack encouraged, taking a bite of his dinner.
“Okay, long story short…”
“That’ll be the day,” Jack scoffed lightly. “Sorry, go ahead.”
Daniel cut his eyes at Jack but continued his narrative anyway. “Some time ago,
a young pregnant woman was praying at the stargate for the health of her unborn child.
This was not unusual since they had a whole semi-religious fertility thing going
with the gate. Her name was Olivia and she was frightened terribly when the chevrons
began to light. As she got up to run away, a wormhole established and a man stepped
“Desert Son,” Jack guessed.
“No, a prophet who foretold of Desert Son,” Daniel corrected pointedly. “He gave
Olivia two documents; one an in-depth description of the man and his life, and another
step by step account of what would occur before and after this man arrived. After
spreading the word to her people Olivia became the first in a long line of what the
people considered to be oracles or seers, even though none of them actually had any
“Although the content of the documents was made public, Olivia shared the prophet’s
words only with her daughter when she came of age. They continued this way passing
the wisdom down orally from generation to generation, mother to daughter. No one
else knows what was said, thus keeping the power of the Oracle intact. Somewhere
along the way they lost possession of one of the documents to the local head of state
and two separate but closely related quasi-religions were formed.”
“Yes, the group who followed the Oracle’s teachings took the prophecy quite literally
and remained close to the gate in spite of the worsening conditions.”
“That’s why the peasants were so eager to go through,” Sam broke in, moving closer
to her team as she packed away the first aid kit. “They really were expecting you.
I mean Desert Son.”
“Yes. But through the years the number of them dwindled as many of the younger,
less devout people made their ways to the cities for an easier life. In fact, Claire
herself is a descendant of Olivia,” Daniel explained. “On the other hand, the city
people, the followers of the monarchy, took the story of the prophet in a much more
spiritual sense. They believe Desert Son to be something like an angel who accompanies
the souls of the dead through the portal to heaven. They believe he has the power
over life and death and for them to believe enough to go through the gate, Desert
Son has to die and then come back to life.”
“Been there, done that,” Jack replied with a smirk. “And so have you.”
Daniel snorted. “Yeah, but unless you’ve got a sarcophagus in your pocket, I’m not
especially eager for a repeat performance.”
“What I’m saying, Daniel, is that you’ve already died… a couple of times. Isn’t
that good enough?”
“No, I don’t think so. I have no way to prove it,” Daniel sighed unhappily. “The
good news is Claire won’t have me locked up or killed because that would cause the
peasants to revolt. Right now they’re willing to wait her out because the prophecy
told them their exodus would be interrupted.”
The group sat quietly for a few minutes while they digested the story. “So what
happens now?” Ferretti asked at last.
“According to the tale, Desert Son willingly lays down his life, revives after a
day and then leads all of the people through the stone ring and everyone lives happily
“How do they kill him?” Jack asked grimly.
“I’m not sure,” Daniel hedged. “I understand there’s some bleeding involved.”
“Dial us home,” Jack ordered abruptly, dropping the rest of his meal and grabbing
his jacket. “Carter, get ready with the IDC, Dillard help Ferretti and I’ll grab
Teal’c. As soon as the cage is down, bolt for the gate.”
“What? Why?” Daniel questioned rapidly as he reached through the bars and grasped
his friend by the arm.
“Because we’re getting the hell out of here.”
“Jack, we can’t just abandon these people. I’ll talk to the queen again; I’ll make
her understand. I’m not going to let them kill me.”
“Yeah, damn right you’re not. Let the real Desert Son save them.”
“Jack, I…” Daniel hesitated and released Jack’s arm before exchanging a tentative
glance with Teal’c. “What if I am Desert Son?” he asked very quietly.
Jack snorted in disbelief. “Nice to meet cha, Desert Son. I’m the Tooth Fairy and
this is my good friend Santa Claus.”
“They know things,” Daniel insisted.
“Come on, Daniel,” Jack all but pleaded. “You know how these people operate, right?
They make all these vague predictions that could fit almost anybody.”
“Not vague,” Daniel argued. “They know very, very specific details about me, about
my life. Claire keeps insisting to see my appendix scar. She knew Dillard wasn’t
Desert Son as soon as she saw his green eyes. Jack, she’s named after my mother!”
“For cryin’ out loud,” Jack grumbled. “Dial the gate, Daniel. Now. We’ll sort
this out back on Earth.”
“O’Neill,” Teal’c warned, still intensely alert in spite of his illness.
Four large soldiers emerged from the darkness to form a half circle around Daniel,
blocking him from the DHD. “It is time,” one of them advised reverently, reaching
down to him.
“Time for what?” Jack asked in alarm.
Daniel swallowed nervously and wiped his palm on his pants leg before accepting the
offered hand. “I think I should probably go with them,” he replied as the bigger
man pulled him smoothly to his feet.
“No,” Jack disagreed, grunting as he found his own footing. Behind him everyone
but Ferretti got up as well. “Daniel, don’t do it.”
“I don’t think I have a choice.”
“Don’t you hurt him,” Jack threatened the guards as they led his friend away. “Dammit,
Daniel, no bleeding!” he shouted. “That’s an order!”
Torches and campfires illuminated the way as Daniel was escorted through the soldiers’
camp and into the immense and far less organized area where the wagons and carriages
had come to a stop. In spite of the slight differences in beliefs, the city people
had also come prepared. A makeshift bakery was already baking bread in stone ovens
in the back of a large metal-bottomed cart and tiny storefronts were setting up all
around. Even a butcher shop had erected a small slaughter yard complete with a modest
assortment of unsuspecting pigs, fowl, and even a few cows.
Families gathered outside whatever means of transportation had brought them, cooking
their evening meals, talking softly among themselves of what the end of their journey
would bring. Meats sizzled and stews bubbled over flames and the smells hung in
the hot air to compete with the ever present odors of manure and urine. Although
most of the herds had been scattered or already passed through the gate, their legacy
lived on in the countless wooden wheels and the soles of everyone’s shoes. And now
the multitude of horses added to the mix.
This time instead of calling out as Daniel and his entourage passed, the citizens
fell quiet. The atmosphere of expectancy and apprehension was palpable. As Daniel
looked from face to face, the people slowly turned away, apparently saddened by his
eminent demise. Daniel kept it to himself that he had no intention of sacrificing
his life just to uphold their prophecy, knowing that no good would come of it if
he did. Sooner or later they would all be packing up and heading back to the city
when he failed to make a miraculous recovery.
Unexpectedly, the sprawl of the jumbled encampment stopped, forming an island of
empty ground around a lone structure that hadn’t been there earlier in the day. The
soldiers gestured that Daniel should approach, but they remained on the edge of the
clearing. Many others drifted out of the camp to join them on the periphery, forming
a silent wall of humanity, ready to mourn his passing.
With one last glance over his shoulder, Daniel moved forward to meet the servant
who waited for him halfway. He patiently lifted one foot and then the other as his
boots were thoroughly cleaned, noting that the remainder of the path to the entrance
had been raked free of animal droppings as well. When she finished, the girl smiled
up at Daniel with a look of such pure hope that it caught him by surprise. Everyone
else seemed so sad, so apprehensive of his supposedly looming death; the girl’s faith
was incredibly humbling. Fighting the urge to explain to her that he wasn’t the
one, Daniel merely touched her hair and smiled back at her gently. She impulsively
reached up to peck him on the cheek before darting away and disappearing into the
Daniel watched her go before squaring his shoulders and advancing on the structure
for round two with Claire. He entered the dwelling cautiously, taking in the rich
textures and deep, earthy colors of the interior. More permanent than a tent, and
yet less structured than a hut or cottage, its flowing fabric walls fit around a
wooden frame and partially open roof. The floor was padded with thick rugs and covered
so completely that no dirt showed at all. In spite of the heat, an open fire pit
was the centerpiece of the comfortable room. A heavy scent of spice hung in the
air and for the first time since he’d arrived on the planet, Daniel wasn’t overpowered
by the odor of dung.
A matronly little woman sat nestled amid satin cushions at the base of a simple altar,
languidly winding yarn into a ball from the outstretched fingers of a small servant
girl. Dressed unassumingly and all in black, she never-the-less exuded an air of
“Excuse me,” Daniel apologized, backing toward the door. “The queen wanted to see
me. I must be in the wrong place.”
The older woman graced him with a beatific smile. Gathering the yarn into her lap,
she shooed the servant outside. “Come my dear,” she beckoned, waving Daniel over
to the scattered pillows around the fire. “It was I who sent for you.”
“You must be the Oracle,” Daniel surmised cautiously as he remained standing across
from her on the other side of the pit.
“What happened to your face?”
Daniel fingered the tiny cut under his eye self-consciously. “Oh, uh, Claire… I
mean the queen, clocked me with a jewelry box.”
“You angered her?”
“Good for you,” the old woman laughed approvingly. “You may call me Alva,” she added
with a tiny bob of her head.
“Hello Alva, I’m Daniel. But I suppose you already know that.”
“Yes. I have waited my entire life to meet you, Daniel,” Alva replied coyly, narrowing
her eyes at the twitch that teased the corner of Daniel’s mouth. “I amuse you?”
“No! Not at all, that just sounded a lot like ‘where have you been all my… life’…”
Daniel trailed off. “Never mind. Um, no offense, but you made my friend very sick,”
he quickly changed the subject. “I don’t suppose you have anything to make him feel
“I am something of an apothecary,” Alva conceded, reaching into a pouch on the floor
and producing a scant handful of sawdust, agilely leaning forward to sprinkle it
over the flame. The spicy scent seemed to blossom in the air. “Perhaps I could
“Would you? Please?”
Carefully selecting another smaller bag from among those arranged next to the stone
pit, Alva hefted it thoughtfully in her hand. “This will stir the creature within
from its ennui,” she assured.
“Thank you,” Daniel sighed, warily circumventing the fire to take it from her. As
his fingers grazed the velvety material, Alva pulled the bag away.
“But it will cost you.”
“Of course it will,” Daniel uttered in disgust as he pulled back his hand. “Let
me guess, my life?”
“How wise you are,” the Oracle teased, tucking the bag safely away behind her. “Come
closer,” she urged, lifting the ball of dyed yarn. “Help an old woman with her thread?
Perhaps I will fashion you a scarf.”
“Look, I’m gonna go,” Daniel ground out angrily. “I’ll leave instructions with someone
on how to work the stargate and you and your people can save yourselves or you can
stay here and fry. It’s up to you.”
“You would leave your friends?”
“No, we’re not as helpless as you seem to think,” Daniel replied as he turned to
“Without my remedy, the beast inside the Dark One will die,” Alva threatened as she
nonchalantly straightened out the mess of fiber in her lap, “There is nothing else
that will save it.”
Daniel froze at the door but didn’t turn around. “And if I don’t cooperate, you
won’t give it to me.”
“Is it not evil? Should we not kill it?” Alva asked maliciously.
“No,” Daniel objected wheeling back on her. “Without it, Teal’c will die as well.”
“Help me,” Alva pouted, leaning forward to sprinkle more sawdust on the fire. This
time the scent was sweeter and the smoke took on a yellowish hue as the flame sputtered
and died down. “If you help me, I will help you. Come. Sit with me.”
Clenching his jaw, Daniel bit back the scathing retort on the tip of his tongue.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked in defeat, rounding the pit to drop down in
front of her on a pillow.
“Such long fingers,” Alva approved as she gripped his hands and positioned them in
front of her, “So much better than those of the child for this task.”
Daniel allowed her to position the filaments around his fingers and watched distractedly
as she began to once again wind it into a ball. “What about Teal’c?” he asked, his
mouth suddenly going dry.
“There is time for what must come,” the old woman promised. “The poison is slow.
When the deed is done, I will send the treatment to your friend.”
“Look,” Daniel implored, stopping to lick his lip. “I want to help your people.
I really do. That’s what I came here for, but I’m not willing to die when I don’t
have to. I am not the one you call Desert Son, I have no ability to rise from the
“You don’t doubt the prophecy, you doubt only yourself. So it was written,” Alva
soothed quietly, the yarn slipping quickly between her fingers as the ball grew.
Daniel found himself mesmerized by the blur of blue slipping away from his hands,
one silky strand at a time. “So the fact that I’m skeptical only enhances your belief.”
“Yes. Isn’t that ironic?” Alva beamed. “However, you are correct. The death of
Desert Son is merely a perversion by the monarchy long ago to dissuade any from unjustly
claiming the title. The prophecy states only that Desert Son had met with death
on several occasions and had come out victorious after each.”
Feeling like he couldn’t quite catch his breath, Daniel realized he was sweating
profusely in the hot, smoky tent. Colors seemed to fade in and out and the sight
of the rapidly disappearing yarn suddenly made him queasy. He clenched his eyes
shut and his hands faltered. “And yet you’re still going to kill me. Why? To make
“No,” Alva assured, slipping the remaining strands free and laying the ball aside.
“I have vowed to Teal’c to watch over you and I will not break my promise. But
for my people, all of my people to be persuaded, both sides of the issue must be
satisfied. I am asking for your trust.”
“How can I trust you?” Daniel scoffed dizzily as he toppled back into the pillows
behind him. “You drugged me,” he charged, drunkenly pointing a finger at the old
Hands suddenly appeared on his arms as servants he hadn’t seen enter the tent began
to remove his boots and jacket. Their faces were covered and several waved large
fans to dissipate the smoke. Seemingly immune to its effects, Alva watched serenely
as Daniel was lifted to lie on the altar. The servants disappeared as quickly and
quietly as they had come.
“I don’t submit my life freely,” Daniel slurred stubbornly. “If I say that I do
later, it’s because of whatever I inhaled in that smoke.”
“Hush, child,” the Oracle replied moving to wipe his face with a cool, damp cloth.
“First we must convince Claire that you are Desert Son. We only wish to ask you
some questions. The drug merely ensures that you speak truthfully, it doesn’t affect
“I wouldn’t lie,” Daniel promised, enjoying the feel of the soothing cloth on his
face and neck in spite of himself. “Unless I have to…”
“I know,” Alva whispered. “Daniel, listen to me well. I am the last to know the
secrets of the prophet.”
“You didn’t have a daughter?” Daniel asked, struggling to stay lucid.
“I did. But some years ago she married the king, turning her back on my teachings,
betraying my beliefs. Therefore I did not impart to her my knowledge of the prophet’s
“Claire is your granddaughter,” Daniel guessed, making an effort to look at her.
“Yes,” Alva smiled, extremely pleased he followed her in spite of his state. “Now
you and I will be the only two people to share the prophet’s wisdom.”
“What did he say?” Daniel asked expectantly, fighting to stay awake.
“He said ‘sometimes fate needs a hand’.”
Daniel frowned and dropped his head back to the altar. “That’s it? That’s the great
big secret?” he asked in disappointment. He sighed and gave in to the growing need
to close his burning eyes. A moment later, he was fast asleep.
Alva selected a large bag of herbs and carefully sifted through it to reveal another
package hidden inside. Taking a large knife from its sheath under the altar, she
tore through the wrapper and liberally coated the blade with the black juice of the
berries inside, taking great pains not to touch it with her bare hand. When the
liquid was fully dry, she returned the knife to its scabbard and tossed the remains
of the package into the embers in the fire pit. The flame rose up once again to
consume all evidence of her deception.
“Teal’c? Stay with us,” Jack requested as he tapped a finger against a hot, dry
cheek, resulting in a flutter of dark eyelashes but nothing more. “How’s Junior?”
he asked Carter who was once again wrist deep in Teal’c’s pouch.
“Not good,” Sam reported, withdrawing her hand and wiping it unashamedly on Daniel’s
bandana. “It’s not responding. I think it’s in a coma.”
“How do you know it’s not dead?” Dillard asked, studying the incised X on the Jaffa’s
abdomen in repulsed fascination.
“Because it’s not,” Sam insisted.
“Dammit,” Jack murmured to himself worriedly. It was bad enough to have one team
member out of contact, but far worse to have one badly injured and another dying
right in front of him.
“O’Neill,” Teal’c croaked out, breaking in to Jack’s bleak thoughts.
“Right here, buddy.”
“What of Daniel Jackson?”
Jack helped his friend lift his head while Sam held a canteen to his parched lips.
“I wish I knew,” he answered belatedly.
“What is your name?” a deep voice asked, breaking in to Daniel’s peaceful catnap.
“Huh?” Daniel painstakingly opened his eyes, realizing immediately even in his drugged
condition that his glasses were gone. He tried to raise his head, but the effort
left him panting for breath. The room was dim but the firelight threw darker shadows
onto the walls all around him and he realized he was surrounded by people he couldn’t
see. “Alva?” he called out, feeling terribly defenseless at the moment.
“I am here,” Alva soothed from right next to his ear. Calming fingers shifted through
his hair. “Answer the question, Daniel.”
“Who is that man?” Daniel queried drunkenly.
“He is a scribe. He has come to take down your story so we may compare it with the
“This is not necessary,” Claire’s impatient tone sounded from across the room and
Daniel squinted to try to find her in the dark corner. “He has already refused us.”
“You have heard his words,” Alva scolded quietly, “And yet you have not listened
to his heart. We will hear him now.”
Claire harrumphed, but held her tongue, unintentionally demonstrating who in the
room held the true power.
“What is your name?” the scribe asked again.
“You already know my name,” Daniel protested wearily. “It’s Daniel.” Closing his
eyes, he listened distractedly to the scratch of a quill against parchment.
“Tell us of your life.”
“I…I don’t know where to begin,” Daniel stammered, unable to gather his thoughts
into anything that made sense. “Nothing much to tell.”
“Begin with your birth,” Claire prodded with annoyance, moving to stand at his side.
Daniel sighed, squinting one eye open to glance up at her. “Well, I’m sure I was
there, but I don’t really remember too much about it,” he mumbled, earning a sharp
rap on the knee. “Ow. This must be the torture portion of the evening.”
“He is too strong willed for this,” Claire decreed. “He is wasting our time.”
“Daniel,” Alva whispered, leaning close to his ear. “For every minute you do not
cooperate, your friend suffers needlessly.”
“What?” Daniel asked, jerking his eyes fully open to look at her in dismay, his mind
“Teal’c is ill,” Alva reminded him gently. “When you answer our questions, I will
send the antidote.”
“Send it now and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know about my life. But you
have to understand, there are other… things I can’t tell you about,” Daniel pleaded.
“We have no interests in other things.”
“You’ll send the cure?”
“After,” Alva promised.
Daniel acquiesced reluctantly with an awkward nod, as Alva pushed him back down to
“He’ll be much more cooperative now,” Alva assured the queen, smiling smugly. “Tell
us of your life, Daniel,” she requested again. “Tell us everything.”
Hours later, after hastily relaying countless personal details of his life from childhood
to college to losing his wife, Daniel Jackson slumbered fitfully on the altar. His
fatigued audience left the tent one by one until only the queen, the oracle, and
an exhausted scribe remained.
Reaching under the altar, Alva reverently removed a sealed package with one of the
sacred documents inside. Although she had studied copies of it until she could quote
the passages verbatim and guarded it faithfully her entire adult life, she had never
once opened the box containing the original. She turned to her granddaughter.
“Shall we compare the stories?” she asked holding the ancient sachet in one hand
and reaching to take the new scroll from the scribe.
Claire shook her head wearily. “I have heard enough.”
“But not enough to believe? What will convince you?”
Moving silently toward the sleeping man, Claire gently untucked Daniel’s tee-shirt
from his pants. Alva joined her and tugged the belted waistband down sufficiently
to reveal the narrow, slightly angled scar running along the right side of his lower
abdomen. She motioned the scribe forward to look as well so that he could record
With shaky fingers, Claire traced the one imperfection on the warm skin. “It is
so,” she declared tearfully, pulling her hand away.
“Yes,” Alva agreed with a tender smile as she straightened Daniel’s clothes. “Leave
us,” she instructed the scribe as he finished with the document and set it aside.
“What do we do now?” Claire asked, sounding fearful. “What if the prophecy doesn’t
“Where is your faith?” Alva rebuked, bending to retrieve the knife. She slid it
out slowly and let the firelight flicker ominously on the blade, pleased to see no
trace of the toxin.
Claire’s eyes went wide as the old woman pressed the handle into her hand. “He hasn’t
willingly submitted,” Claire objected, pushing the knife away.
“But he has,” Alva lied deftly, insistently offering the weapon to her queen. “He
spoke his true intentions to me earlier before you arrived.”
Claire numbly accepted the knife and held it uncomfortably. “What do I do?” she
“I… I can’t.”
“You must. As queen, you must be the one to bring first blood. It was written.”
Alva twisted the prophecy to meet her needs, knowing the younger woman was not as
devote as perhaps she should be. Hoping she wouldn’t know the difference.
“No,” Claire refused, lowering the blade in defeat. “I can’t do it.”
“There, there, child,” Alva comforted. “We’ll think of something.”
“I’m not a child,” Claire retorted petulantly. “I am the leader of my people. I
must fulfill their destiny,” she insisted, however pale and unsteady she became as
she raised the knife over Daniel’s chest.
“Have you not already drawn his blood once?” Alva questioned abruptly, turning Daniel’s
head slightly into the light to reveal the small bruise and cut under his eye. He
mumbled inarticulately in his sleep, but didn’t wake.
“I did that?” Claire gasped, lowering the knife to study the small laceration.
“Yes. In a fit of anger I believe,” Alva chided. “But I suppose it does get you
off the hook. If you don’t have the stomach to slit his throat then I would be willing
to do it for you.”
“Why?” Claire questioned suspiciously.
“Are you not of the loins of my own daughter? Even if you were denied to me when
you were born, are you not of my flesh?” Alva poured it on. “Do I love you any less
for our differences?”
Claire’s lip trembled as she fought back the tears that threatened to fall. “No,
Grandmamma,” she whispered, sounding like very much like a child after all.
“Return in the morning,” Alva ordered matter-of-factly, patting the younger woman
on the arm. “It will be done.”
With a grateful nod, Claire hurried out of the tent. Exceedingly thankful not to
have to be the one to fulfill the prophecy, she wanted to be as far away as possible
when it happened.
Alva sagged with relief as she let out the breath she had been holding and placed
a hand in the middle of Daniel’s chest. “The lengths I go to for you,” she commented,
allowing a doting smile.
Fading in and out, Daniel tried to follow the conversation, but the fervent whispers
didn’t seem to be directed at him. After a while someone lifted his head to place
the rim of a cup to his lips. Rousing a little, Daniel eagerly sipped the cool,
sweet liquid, disgruntled when the challis was pulled away. The juice eased his
dry throat but he didn’t enjoy the relief long before the strong urge to sleep began
to pull him back under.
“Rest,” Alva’s voice appealed from somewhere above as gentle fingers caressed his
eyelids. With a soft sigh, Daniel obeyed.
Alva waited until she was certain the man before her was completely under the spell
of her concoction. His breathing was slow and steady, but perceptible with only
a glance and his pulse still pounded steadily against her fingertips as she pressed
them against his wrist. Dipping one corner of a clean rag into a cup of strong alcohol,
she carefully cleansed his throat and let it air dry as she retrieved the prepared
Knowing her victim was far beyond feeling anything, Alva nevertheless hesitated.
She took a deep breath and tried to calm her unsteady hands before taking great
care to make the cut with the tainted blade. Stepping back, she admired her handiwork,
pleased with the results. Deceptively shallow, the laceration appeared much worse
than it was. Blood ran freely for a moment but soon began to slow, due in part to
the properties of the drug.
Slowly, as the night passed, Daniel’s chest rose less noticeably and his pulse faded
to almost nothing. Fighting the urge to cover him, Alva knew for her plan to work
his body heat must dissipate before morning as well. An hour before sunrise a servant
peeked in from the well-hidden back entrance of the dwelling with the final piece
of the plan.
Alva quickly gestured him in. He approached the altar with a wooden pail of still
warm blood from the slaughter yard. Alva stepped back and the servant poured the
contents of the small bucket onto the chest of the deeply drugged man, creating a
gruesome if misleading display.
“Take this to the friends of the Dark One,” Alva instructed the servant as he prepared
to go. “Have them give him a pinch under the tongue until the beast within revives.
Tell them it comes from Daniel, but tell them nothing else.”
Mindful of the crimson rivulets that quickly found their way to stain the pillows
and rug beneath the altar, Alva wrapped herself in a shawl to keep watch over her
charge for what little remained of the night.
The trusted servant bowed and disappeared back the way he had come, taking the incriminating
bucket with him after wiping the rim with his hands so as not to leave a trail. Outside,
the vigil continued in front of the tent, but no one saw the man move through the
darker shadows behind it.
Teal’c moaned softly and rolled his head from side to side, but remained unaware
of his surroundings. Sam felt his clammy skin and looked up at the Colonel worriedly,
fearful that a fever would soon follow.
Shaking his head, Jack turned back to continue pacing, ever watchful for any sign
that the stargate might activate. Thankful for the cool night air and the slightly
diminished smell at the moment, he knew when the sun came up everything would notch
back up to just short of unbearable. He tried not to let his worries about his teammates
dominate his thoughts.
Movement in the darkness behind a nearby tent caught his attention and he tracked
a man as he stealthily approached the cage. Meeting him at the back corner, Jack
crouched by the bars, aware as Dillard dropped down behind him.
“This is from Daniel,” the man whispered in haste. “Place a pinch under the sick
man’s tongue to restore the beast in his belly. You may have to do it more than
once.” Pressing a tiny cloth bag through the iron bars, he rose to leave.
“What the hell is this?” Jack questioned gruffly, reaching outside the cage to grab
the man’s black stained hand and prevent his escape. “Get a light,” he instructed
Dillard and was instantly rewarded with an intense beam, which turned the black splotches
Blinking for a second to adjust to the sudden glow, Jack stared in horror at the
unmistakable drying blood covering the man’s hands. Disturbed by the gory sight,
Jack nonetheless released the visitor’s arm and allowed him to slink back into the
patchwork of shadows as a soldier approached from the other side. He slipped the
bag into a pocket and slid down to sit on the ground, wiping away the gooey residue
now marring his own sweaty palm.
“What’s going on?” the guard asked, advancing on the cell with a torch in hand.
Dillard flicked off the flashlight and rose to his feet. “Just taking a piss,” he
informed the man, pretending to button his fly. “That okay with you?”
The soldier snorted and moved back to his position near the DHD.
“Carter,” Jack called softly, tossing her the bag as he accepted Dillard’s hand and
let the marine hoist him off the ground.
“What did he say?” Sam asked, opening the sack to run her fingers through the minute
“He said to put some under Teal’c’s tongue,” Jack explained. “He said it was from
Sam carefully isolated one granule and touched it experimentally to the end of her
own tongue. “Oh. It tingles.” She turned to spit out the bitter remains.
“Wrong patient,” Jack growled, snatching the packet away, spilling some on the ground.
“Sorry, sir, I was just…” Sam started to explain. “Are you sure about this?” she
“Why would they try to finish him off now?” Dillard queried, anxiously standing guard
over them. “I mean, he’s already pretty sick. But as far as they know, none of
us are any threat locked up in this cage.”
Sam sighed and tentatively nodded her agreement. “I know, but why did they poison
him in the first place?”
“Look, Hammond’s gonna be calling in less than six hours if he hasn’t heard from
us in the meantime,” Jack reasoned. “Do you think Teal’c can hold on that long?”
Turning to examine Teal’c’s eerily pale skin in the faint pre-dawn light, Sam shrugged
uncomfortably. “I don’t know, sir. I doubt it.”
“Okay,” Jack decided. “Let’s give it a try.”
“Wow,” Sam muttered, perking up considerably as she poked at her now strangely numb
tongue, “I feel like I’ve had a whole pot of coffee.”
“So it’s a stimulant,” Jack mused keenly.
Sam shrugged again. “Yeah, that’s what it feels like.”
“Do it,” Jack requested, handing the tiny pouch back to her before levering Teal’c’s
Taking a delicate pinch of the gritty substance, Sam positioned it in the space under
Teal’c’s tongue. She closed the bag carefully, wiped her fingers to remove the sandy
residue, and sat back to wait.
“Anything?” Jack asked right away.
“I think we should give it a minute, sir,” Sam advised patiently. “I mean, I didn’t
feel anything at first either and now I feel like I could run a marathon.”
“So you don’t think we should we do it again?”
“Sir,” Sam pleaded.
“Right,” Jack sighed, settling back. “We’ll give it a minute. How’s Ferretti?”
“He’s in and out,” Dillard supplied. “I’m pretty sure he’s got a concussion.”
Teal’c moaned, but not any longer or louder than he had since he’d been unconscious.
“Hit him again, Carter,” Jack ordered.
“Yes, sir,” Sam responded reluctantly, taking another pinch and depositing it into
Nothing happened for several seconds, and then suddenly Teal’c’s eyelids twitched.
Just as Jack leaned in for a better look, a large hand grabbed him roughly around
“Kell shak kree, Apophis!” Teal’c shouted, sitting up and squeezing hard as he glared
unseeing at his captive.
“Teal’c!” Jack squeaked out through the vise grip around his vocal chords. “It’s
“Teal’c, let him go,” Sam urged desperately, adding her hands to Jack’s against the
Dillard captured Teal’c from behind, attempting to break his concentration, but proved
no problem to the determined Jaffa. “Damn!” Dillard swore as he was thrown off by
one shake of the large shoulders, landing perilously close to a knocked out Ferretti.
“What’s going on in there?” the guard shouted once again, drawn this time by the
noise of the struggle.
Dillard regrouped and jumped onto Teal’c’s back, squeezing an arm tightly around
his neck, but achieving no obvious reaction. “Let go!” he commanded loudly.
“Teal’c,” Jack managed again as his vision began to fade.
“O’Neill?” Teal’c queried suddenly, quickly releasing his friend.
“Aurgh,” Jack grunted as he sank away from the bruising fingers, blacking out briefly.
Teal’c stared at his own hands and then gently but firmly disengaged Dillard’s arm
from around his neck. “What has transpired?” he asked in confusion.
“You tried to snuff out the Colonel,” Dillard explained breathlessly.
“Sir?” Sam called worriedly, checking a pulse, relieved to find Jack’s breathing
“What happened?” Ferretti muttered, waking for the first time in several hours, his
soft question nearly drowned out by the group of disconcerted soldiers gathering
outside the cell.
“What is going on?” one of them insisted.
“Nothing,” Sam spat at him. “Everything is fine now.”
“Yeah. Peachy,” Jack agreed, remaining flat on his back as he came around. “Guess
we should have waited before that second dose, huh?”
“Are you injured,” Teal’c asked with concern as he helped Jack into a sitting position.
“No, no,” Jack denied. “Been better, but nothing’s broke. No blood, no foul.”
“We’re fine,” Sam reiterated to the soldiers. Slowly they dispersed and melted back
into the camp, the first rays of the sun giving them an eerie, otherworldly appearance,
Jack rubbed his neck and closed his eyes. “Teal’c? You okay?”
“Indeed,” came the deep rumbled reply.
“All is well, O’Neill,” Teal’c assured as he got up and began to work out a little
nervous energy. “When my symbiote calms sufficiently, I shall attempt Kel-no-reem.”
“Yeah, that might take a while, Teal’c. We might have inadvertently overdosed you
a little,” Sam admitted guiltily, still feeling a bit keyed up herself.
In the distance, a chorus of voices split the peaceful morning air with a wail of
despair. The sound grew louder and closer as word passed from camp to camp. “It
is done,” one of the guards guessed sadly, dropping to a knee in prayer.
“What?” Jack asked urgently, moving over to the bars. “What is done?”
“Desert Son is no more,” another soldier explained.
“No, it had to be voluntary,” Dillard disagreed. “That’s what Doctor Jackson said.
Surely he wouldn’t just let them kill him. Would he?”
“Oh God,” Sam muttered, looking down at the pouch in her hand and over to a healthy
if somewhat jittery Teal’c.
Teal’c’s eyes widened subtly at the implication Daniel had offered himself up in
return for the small bag of medicine. He clenched his jaw to keep from crying out
his anger and pain.
Stunned but not entirely surprised, Jack closed his eyes and grabbed the nearest
bar, unaware as the pressure turned his knuckles white.
“He wouldn’t do that, would he?” Dillard asked again.
“Obviously you don’t know Daniel,” Jack responded, his voice thick with suppressed
emotion. “Dammit,” he snapped, smacking the cage with his hand. “I said no bleeding.”
As the temperature continued to climb, so did the odor. Jack sat and numbly stared
at the ground between his feet. They weren’t due to check in for another four hours
and it would probably be half an hour after that until Hammond would try to make
contact, so they sat and waited for the inevitable wormhole to take out the cage.
He and Teal’c would charge for their weapons and this time he had no qualms about
putting down anybody who got in their way.
Before he could pass on the plan, a commotion further back in the camp caught his
attention. Rising to his feet, Jack paced the end of the cage trying to identify
the cause, but lost interest quickly when a soldier stepped up to the cell and began
unlocking the door.
“What’s going on?” Jack queried sullenly.
The man merely pulled the door open and walked away.
“Weapons,” Jack ordered making a break for the wagon, but Teal’c was already two
steps ahead of him. No one tried to stop them as they quickly gathered their impressive
array of firepower. “Get Ferretti home,” he added. “Me and Teal’c are going after
Dillard and Sam roused Ferretti enough to get him to his feet and hustle him out
of the cage, then they headed straight for the DHD. Sam started to dial but froze
when a servant girl appeared in front of the gate and reverently placed a pair of
boots and familiar jacket on the steps of the dais.
“Sir,” Sam called out, as a procession led by the queen slowly made its way through
the camp and toward the stargate. She choked back a gasp as she caught sight of
the body on the stretcher carried solemnly by a group of soldiers.
Jack handed off the excess weapons to Dillard as he passed the DHD and pushed his
way through the gathering crowd with his P-90. He faltered slightly as the stretcher
was lowered onto the dais and the soldiers shifted out of the way, leaving the blood
spattered body in full view.
Wavering for only a second Jack moved close enough to hold a hand over the too pale
face. Feeling no movement of air, he slipped his hand down to the side of the bloody
neck not marred by the vicious looking wound. Closing his eyes to concentrate, he
willed a pulse to beat, believing for a hopeful second that he felt one. But the
skin under his fingers was far too cool and the amount of blood was too much. As
much as he wanted to, there was no denying Daniel was dead.
Aware of a stifled gasp next to him, he pulled his gaze away from the tranquil features
of his best friend to glance at a stunned Carter, Teal’c right behind her. “Dial
us up,” he whispered hoarsely.
Sam nodded as she quickly wiped away her tears and disappeared into the growing sea
of soldiers and families, rich and poor alike. Teal’c bent and gently gathered Daniel
into his arms as Jack picked up Daniel’s things, strangely heartened to see a pair
of glasses stuck into the top of one of the boots. He listened numbly as Dillard
warned the people to stand back. An old woman in black tried to approach him, but
Teal’c growled at her with such ferocity Jack wondered if his arms hadn’t been full
if he wouldn’t have struck her.
The wormhole took out almost the entire front half of the iron cage as well as scorching
the gory stretcher left on the dais. Frightened by the violent display, the people
jumped back, murmurs of worry and sudden fears of reprisal sweeping through the growing
masses. Wordlessly, Sam punched in the IDC before helping Dillard get Ferretti up
the steps. They waited for Teal’c to carry Daniel through first and then followed.
Jack paused and looked back at the crowd. “We could have saved you,” he said simply.
“I hope you burn,” he added, glaring directly at the queen before turning to go.
“Oh, that’s right, you’re going to.”
After confirmation of the iris code, General Hammond made his way to the gateroom,
confident that SG-1 had managed to find a solution to the problem with the natives
of P49-738. He stopped dead at the foot of the ramp when Teal’c stepped through
stoically carrying another man, dark stains standing out starkly against the tan
and brown of the uniform. Expecting to see the young marine lieutenant, Hammond
was stunned to realize it was Doctor Jackson instead.
“Medical team to the gateroom,” Davis’ voice echoed over the intercom immediately.
“Teal’c! What happened?” the general asked as Major Carter and Dillard all but carried
a gravely injured Ferretti through the gate.
“Daniel Jackson is dead,” Teal’c answered morosely, refusing to relinquish his burden
to the concerned SFs who surrounded him.
Doctor Fraiser burst into the room a moment later and made a beeline for Teal’c.
“Janet,” Sam called. “Ferretti needs you.”
Confused, the doctor changed her course and helped to settle the wounded man on a
stretcher, glancing back to check on Daniel. Sam shook her head sadly and moved
over to stand next to Teal’c, reaching up to absently stroke the soft brown hair
of the head resting against his shoulder.
Just then O’Neill stepped through the event horizon. “Shut it down,” he demanded,
watching as the medics swept Ferretti away.
“Colonel?” Hammond questioned urgently. “What the hell happened?”
“They killed him,” Jack explained, a cold, hard expression on his face. “To fulfill
that damned prophecy of theirs, they killed Daniel.”
“I believe in order to save my life, Daniel Jackson offered his own,” Teal’c added
“I say we lock that God forsaken place out of the dialing computer,” Jack urged,
his jaw set in stone.
“We’ll discuss it later,” Hammond soothed in his soft southern drawl. “Right now
let’s get you all to the infirmary.”
Jack let the nurse take his vital signs and clean his various cuts and abrasions,
but he kept his eyes on the curtained off area where Daniel had been taken and left
alone. As always, worst come, first served, so Ferretti and the walking wounded
took precedence over the dead.
After what seemed like forever, Ferretti was wheeled away to the CT scanner and Fraiser
was freed up to give the once over to the rest of the team. Teal’c was badly in
need of Kel-no-reem, but appeared otherwise unharmed, physically at least. Because
he had been drugged, Janet asked him to stick around for a few minutes until his
blood work came back.
Between Sam and Dillard, they had a lot of bruises and were slightly dehydrated but
Janet released them almost immediately when they promised to push fluids for a few
days. After they’d been discharged, both of them continued to linger until Janet
put her foot down, insisting they go get something to eat and rest before the scheduled
briefing in a few hours.
Finally, the doc moved toward Jack, pulling out her penlight. “I understand you
had a loss of consciousness?” she grilled, all business.
“How do you do that?” Jack gaped, not having heard anyone mention a word about his
“That’s my job,” she replied matter-of-factly, shining the light in one eye and then
the other. “Headache?” she asked when he flinched.
Oh yeah, Jack was sick to his stomach all right, but it didn’t have anything to do
with the little bump on his head. He shook his head no in answer.
“If the pain persists or you experience blurred vision or excess nausea, let me know
and we’ll get a head CT on you, too.”
“Whatever,” Jack sighed indifferently. “What about… Daniel?”
“Standard procedure,” Janet muttered, managing to keep a professional demeanor as
she palpated his neck. “There’s some nice bruising on your throat.”
“Yeah, never give a Jaffa a Jolt Cola,” Jack deadpanned, shooting an apologetic grimace
to Teal’c on the next bed over. “Standard procedure, that means an autopsy,” he
A little misty eyed, Janet nodded an affirmation.
“Will you do it?”
“No,” Janet choked out. “Doctor Arnett from the Academy Hospital usually handles
that for us. He’s on his way in now.”
“He’s good, right?” Jack inquired doggedly. “A decent guy?”
Janet nodded again and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “Yes, he’s a well
respected pathologist. He’ll take good care of… of Doctor Jackson. He’ll be very
“Okay,” Jack agreed softly.
A medic presented Janet the latest labs and she quickly scanned them, apparently
pleased with the results.
“You two are free to go. Teal’c, I’d like you to meditate as soon as possible.”
“I do not believe that would be possible at this time, Doctor Fraiser,” Teal’c replied,
still a little twitchy and looking as grim as Janet had ever seen him.
“As soon as you can then,” Janet reiterated. “Maybe a hot shower will help.”
Teal’c looked dubious, but bowed his head in acknowledgement anyway. The medic returned
with Ferretti and Janet glanced towards Daniel’s bed before joining them.
Having finished up with the rest of the team and completed the necessary paperwork,
two of the nurses disappeared behind the curtain where Daniel lay. From their movement
and hushed conversation, it was obvious they were undressing and cleaning up the
body. Straining to hear every word, Jack waited the entire twenty minutes until
they were done, Teal’c standing statue still at his side.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jack requested as the nurses wheeled the stretcher past
them, a pristine white sheet covering Daniel head to toe.
After settling Major Ferretti into the ICU, Doctor Fraiser joined the debrief already
in progress. With Dillard sitting unawares in Daniel’s place, it would have been
easy to pretend all was well with SG-1 and that the archeologist had simply gotten
another, more severe haircut. But when Dillard glanced up at her, the illusion was
“Sorry I’m late,” Janet uttered, taking a seat next to Sam.
“How’s Lou?” Jack asked quietly.
“Actually, he’s lucky to be alive,” Janet informed the group. “If you’d waited another
few hours, I doubt he would be.”
“What’s his prognosis?” the general questioned worriedly.
“Well, he’s going to be out of action for a little while, but with the proper care
I think he’ll be just fine in the long run,” Janet assured, opening the file she
had been handed on her way out of the infirmary and scanning it briefly.
Jack nodded and managed a tiny smile. “That’s great.”
“Oh my,” Janet exclaimed, reading through the lab report one more time and a lot
“What?” Sam asked, leaning closer to try to read over the doctor’s shoulder, noticing
the file had Daniel’s name on it.
“Well Daniel didn’t bleed out,” Janet announced, sounding as stunned as everyone
“Of course he did,” Jack argued. “I saw it. You saw it.”
“The sample taken from his uniform wasn’t his blood,” Janet insisted. “It was animal
blood, probably from a pig or some other type of alien swine.”
“Why?” Jack asked, leaning forward in his seat. “Why would they do that?”
“Probably for show,” Sam guessed, looking ill at the notion. “I mean, I had no problem
realizing he was… gone with just a glance.”
“If he did not bleed to death, why then is Daniel Jackson deceased?” Teal’c queried
“I’m not sure,” Janet muttered, turning the page to glance through the toxicology
data. “The autopsy will tell us more, but according to this there were at least
three different drugs in his system and… Oh my God!”
“What?” Jack asked in concern.
“Oh my God, the autopsy,” Janet almost shouted as she jumped to her feet and ran
to the door. “Call the morgue,” she instructed, pausing for only a second. “Stop
“Do it,” Hammond ordered, pulling rank and following as Teal’c and Jack bolted from
the room after Doctor Fraiser.
Sam exchanged a confused glance with Dillard as she raced to the phone.
“…Caucasian male, mid to late thirties. Weight one hundred eighty-four pounds, height
Hearing came back first as a voice broke the depths of the void where he drifted
and led him back bit by bit to the edge of consciousness. Gradually becoming aware
of the cold, hard surface he was laying on, Daniel assumed he was still on the altar
in Alva’s tent. However as his sense of smell returned, he knew that to be incorrect.
The stench of manure overlaid with spice was replaced by a strong antiseptic odor
and a faint hint of old blood. Suddenly a bright light burned its way past his eyelids.
Still unable to move or talk, Daniel listened to the words and began to understand
he was about to be mistakenly vivisected. Pushing back an overwhelming sense of
panic, he tried in vain to force a sound from his lips or move an arm, a leg, a finger…
anything. Physically unaffected by his own terror, he continued to inhale and exhale
almost imperceptibly, in spite of the growing need to take a deep breath. The inability
of his lungs to work properly as he became alert was horrifying and he felt the crush
of suffocation rapidly descending. He realized he would probably be dead before
the first cut was made.
“…but the eighteen centimeter, superficial laceration does not appear to be the cause
of death as the carotid artery remains intact…”
Pain shot down Daniel’s neck as a probe was inserted into the cut and worked around
in the tissue. He tried to scream, hoping the agony would be the catalyst to breaking
through, but his body steadfastly refused to react to the signals from his brain.
As he began to succumb to the lack of oxygen, Daniel made one last ditch effort
to shout. A tiny gasp escaped his lips.
“Aw,” the clinical tone continued as the unintentional torture stopped. “We’ve got
a postmortem escape of air from the lungs. The bane of many a medical student,”
the voice added lightly. In the background, a phone began to ring, but Daniel was
too busy silently fighting for his life to notice.
“Could somebody get that please? Hello?” Doctor Arnett called. He sighed and went
back to work, curious as always about what had killed the poor, unidentified soldier
“I’ll begin the internal exam with a Y incision,” he persisted, choosing a scalpel
and positioning it over the corpse’s right clavicle.
The continual ringing of the phone distracted him again and he turned to glance out
the small window on the door. A female airman who had been stationed at the desk
had seemed quite disturbed when she had viewed the body and he had simply assumed
she hadn’t worked in the morgue for very long. It hadn’t occurred to him at the
time that she might have known the man. Now she was nowhere to be seen and the phone
was ringing off the hook.
Thinking it might be his office calling, Doctor Arnett laid the scalpel back on the
Mayo stand and pulled off his already slightly soiled gloves, tossing them in the
trash before reaching up to turn off the microphone hanging over the gurney. “Don’t
go anywhere,” he advised his patient absently as he pushed through the door and grabbed
the phone just as it stopped its incessant noise.
“Hello?” Doctor Arnett greeted cheerfully as he picked up the receiver, only to find
the line already dead. With a resigned sigh, he made his way back to the situation
at hand. “Sorry about that,” he apologized dutifully.
Turning away for a moment to don fresh gloves, he missed the slight twitch of the
body’s right hand. He frowned as he turned the mic back on.
“There appears to be some bluish discoloration around the mouth that I didn’t notice
before,” he reported. “Very odd.” He lifted the scalpel and pressed it against
the cool flesh.
“Stop!” a woman in a lab coat screamed as she burst into the room, making him jump
enough to accidentally dig the blade slightly into the chest. Much to his surprise,
a stream of fresh blood oozed from the wound and trickled down, bringing up chill
bumps on the supposedly dead flesh.
“Doctor Fraiser? What the devil is going on?” he demanded, dropping the scalpel
and stumbling away from the table.
“Doc?” a gray-headed man queried urgently as he rushed into the room with more men
hot on his heels.
“Medical team, now!” Fraiser shouted, rushing towards the dead man. “Get me an ambu
bag,” she requested before realizing where she was.
“A what?” someone asked.
“Forget it,” the doctor muttered, positioning the cadaver’s head and then unbelievably
pressing her lips to the cold, blue ones. The chest rose easily under her ministrations
as she blew breath after breath into the body.
“Excuse me,” Doctor Arnett ventured, ignored as he was gently deposited out of the
way by an extremely serious looking mountain of a man with a strange tattoo on his
forehead. “What’s going on?”
“Do you want me to do compressions?” the gray haired man asked anxiously.
Fraiser stopped long enough to palpate the neck. “No. I’ve got a weak pulse,” she
advised, tears streaming down her face as she went back to breathing for the supposedly
Another taller woman stormed breathlessly into the room as if she had run a long
way in a short time. “Couldn’t get an answer, sir” she panted. “Holy Hanna.”
A medical team arrived, forcing everyone further into the small room and filling
it to capacity. Everyone spoke at once, but as Doctor Fraiser stopped her frantic
mouth to mouth in lieu of bagging the patient, her voice carried above all the rest.
“Give me a hundred percent oxygen, move it. Two lines LR. Kelly, I need some Edrophonium
“We don’t have that in the med box.”
“Well get some!”
“Yes ma’am!” the nurse shouted, pushing her way out of the room for a frantic run
back to the infirmary.
The onlookers were sandwiched even closer together as a medic wheeled a gurney into
the room parking it along side the autopsy table.
“On three,” Fraiser ordered and everyone grabbed onto the sheet under the naked man
to slide him over. “One, two, three! Call ahead and get a warming blanket ready…”
Doctor Arnett stared wide-eyed as his subject was covered and carted away in a rolling
rush of emergency interventions. The non-medical portion of the group followed a
little slower, appearing to be as shocked by the goings on as he was.
The gray haired man stopped in the door and glared at him. “Don’t you ever check
a pulse?” he growled.
“Not once in thirty years,” Arnett responded numbly, collapsing onto a metal stool.
“Around here you might want to revise that policy,” the man advised sincerely, before
disappearing out the door with enough force to leave it swinging wildly behind him.
“Actually,” Doctor Arnett sighed to himself. “It might be time to start thinking
As they rolled into the infirmary, Kelly met them at the door and pressed a loaded
syringe into Doctor Fraiser’s hand. Even as they moved Daniel over to the bed with
the warmer in place, Janet began pushing the drug. “Draw up another dose just in
“Do you want a vent?” another nurse asked as she covered Daniel with a warm blanket.
“If this works, we won’t need one,” Janet replied, pulling the needle out of the
line and watching for any improvement. “Come on, Daniel,” she whispered urgently.
“Doc?” Jack asked anxiously, lining up with the rest of his team and the general
out of the way. Dillard stood just inside the door, unable to tear himself away
from the unfolding drama.
“He’s alive,” Janet smiled triumphantly fighting back new tears as she looked up
“How did you know?” Hammond questioned in hopeful disbelief.
“Just a hunch, sir.”
“A pretty damn good hunch,” Jack retorted with a snort, bouncing slightly on his
toes with nervous energy and a futile need to do something.
For several long minutes nothing happened. Daniel’s chest continued to rise and
fall as he was bagged and his color looked much better, but he made no move to breath
on his own. With an expectant sigh, Janet pushed the second dose.
“You sure you wanna do that,” Jack began, stopping cold at the ‘who’s the doctor’
glare shot his way. “I’m just saying,” he muttered sotto voce, rubbing a hand over
his throat in remembrance of Teal’c’s abrupt awakening.
Another minute passed with no discernible results. “Dammit,” Janet swore. “I was
sure that would work. One of the drugs in his system was a curariform. Draw up
one more dose and get the vent.”
“Curare?” Sam asked in shocked surprise. “Isn’t that a poison?”
“No, not a poison; it’s a paralytic. Basically, it arrests the action of motor nerves
by preventing acetylcholine from moving across neural junctions…”
“Uh, English, please,” Jack interrupted.
“It’s a very strong muscle relaxant,” Janet simplified, not taking her eyes off Daniel’s
face. “Victims die because it immobilizes the muscles around the lungs leaving them
unable to draw breathe.”
“So why isn’t Daniel dead? I mean, he’s not, right?” Sam asked hopefully.
“Not dead,” Janet assured as she gave the third dose of the antidote, “just paralyzed.
This should counteract the curare effect, but even if it doesn’t, I believe it’ll
wear off by itself. Eventually. But that could take days for all I know. In the
meantime, we’ll just have to help him breathe.”
Jack drew closer, looking over Janet’s shoulder at his friend, relief evident in
his posture. “So, how long until he’s awake?”
“I suspect he’s awake now. That’s why I really don’t want to tube him if we don’t
have to, but we can’t bag him forever.”
“Oh God,” Sam murmured, grasping Teal’c’s arm in horror. “You mean he knows what’s
been going on.”
“Yeah,” Janet said quietly, brushing Daniel’s hair away from his face. “He knows.”
A nurse wheeled the ventilator next to the bed and Janet sighed reluctantly. “Alright,
let’s get him intubated,” she ordered, reaching for an ET tube off of the cart and
moving around to the head of the bed. As the nurse pulled the ambu bag away, blue
eyes snapped open and stared up at her.
Gasping for breath, Daniel took a couple deep gulps of air, weakly pushing away the
oxygen mask a nurse steady tried to slip onto his face. “Hiber…” he panted softly.
“Hibernation?” Janet finished for him, grinning ear to ear as she took the mask and
held it about an inch in front of his nose and mouth. “That’s right, Daniel. I’m
thinking one of the other drugs in your system put you into a deep state of hibernation,
lowering your metabolism enough to keep you alive on the scant amount of oxygen you
were taking in. Unfortunately, that drug wore off first.”
“So it was like when someone is submerged in icy water for hours and then they make
a full recovery,” Sam guessed, pushing her way through the nurses to catch hold of
Daniel’s hand. He squeezed her back feebly, managing a lopsided smile.
“You’re not dead until you’re warm and dead,” Jack quoted, leaning over Janet to
ruffle Daniel’s hair. “Arctic survival.”
“Definitely… not ... dead then,” Daniel shivered, his teeth beginning to chatter.
“Get some more blankets,” Janet ordered, rubbing his nearest arm with her free hand.
“Thanks, Janet,” Daniel replied, closing his eyes and enjoying the sensation of moving
air in and out of his lungs on demand. “Nice save.”
“I can’t imagine anything worse than waking up in the middle of your own autopsy,”
“He’s alive,” Dillard stuttered in disbelief, speaking for the first time as he leaned
against the wall for support.
Teal’c and Hammond turned to spare him a glance. “That he is,” Hammond beamed.
“Stick around, kid,” Jack teased without looking back. “You get used to this sort
of thing from Daniel.”
“No, I mean… Desert Son,” Dillard explained awkwardly. “He fulfilled the prophecy.”
“Indeed,” Teal’c replied with a raised eyebrow and a smug look on his face.
“Go back?” Jack barked in irritation, thumping his hand down on the briefing room
table. “Forget it.”
“No, Daniel. Those people killed you for Pete’s sake.”
“No they didn’t. In fact Alva went to great lengths to keep anyone from killing
me,” Daniel argued calmly, looking a whole lot better after a non-drug induced night’s
sleep. Except for a couple of stitches in his neck and a few more on his chest,
he emerged from the ordeal remarkably none-the-worse for wear. “She set the stage
to rescue her people.”
“If Fraiser hadn’t figured out what that crazy old woman did to you, you would be
dead right now,” Jack insisted, tight-lipped and angry as hell.
“General Hammond,” Daniel implored, going over Jack’s head with his plea as he turned
to the other man at the table. “All I have to do is make an appearance. The conditions
of their prophecy have been met. It’s all down hill from here.”
“General?” Jack protested vehemently, taking his glare off Daniel for a second to
shift it to his boss for even considering such a thing.
“What about all those children, Jack? Are you going to condemn them because of the
act of one ‘crazy old woman’?”
“Low blow,” Jack muttered, his defenses crumbling slightly.
“Don’t they deserve a second chance on a new world? In spite of what has been done,
our objectives haven’t changed,” Daniel pointed out adamantly. “And what about Sam’s
atmospheric monitoring equipment? She never did get to set up her… uh, stuff. And
what did she say? That it could provide invaluable information?”
“You know damn well that’s what she said,” Jack grumbled, guessing by the look on
Hammond’s face that Daniel had already convinced him.
“Doctor Fraiser doesn’t want any of you back under that radiation for very long,”
Hammond cautioned in a very fatherly tone.
“We won’t stay long,” Daniel promised, looking at Jack sympathetically. “Or maybe
I could just go back with another unit…”
“Like hell,” Jack butted in. “If you’re going back, I’m going with you.”
“We,” Sam put in from the top of the stairs as she, Dillard and Romano ventured tentatively
into the room. Teal’c, however, didn’t seem to have any reservations about joining
the meeting uninvited, striding into the room with his usual dignity. “We all request
permission to finish the mission, sir.”
Hammond narrowed his eyes at them for a minute before coming to a decision. “Four
hours,” he announced, raising a hand to cut off the expected protest from Daniel.
“That gives you time to make an appearance and show them how to activate the gate.
From what you’ve told me about their preparations, these folks should do just fine
on their own.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jack and Daniel muttered simultaneously, each feeling as if he
had won the debate, at least a little.
Along the outskirts of the makeshift village the peasants settled in for the long
run. As a group, they had hoped to be among the first to make it to the new world,
but they had come prepared to wait. The city people however were already beginning
to pack up to head back to their homes. Some were disillusioned, but others were
still hopeful that someday Desert Son would return. None had actually turned back
The remains of the cage had been dismantled and stacked off to the side of the stargate
and out of the way, but none who had seen its destruction could forget where the
line of safety was. Now the area in front of the gate was kept completely clear
except for the large white mechanism left by the other-worlders. A single soldier
stood guard, watchful for any sign that the stone ring might awaken. Midmorning
on the second day, it did.
Jack and Teal’c exited first, eyeing the crowd warily. “That smell never gets any
better does it?” Jack complained. After a moment of taking in the silent, frightened,
hopeful faces, he keyed his mic. “Okay, come on through.”
A moment later, Daniel stepped onto the dais with Sam, followed by Dillard and Romano.
The crowd reacted with gasps of awe coupled equally with shrieks of terror and cries
of joy. Some danced delightedly between the tents and wagons; others fell to their
knees repentantly. Chaos reigned for close to ten minutes until the chorus of ‘Desert
Son’ took hold and everyone stopped shouting to chant instead.
“Daniel,” Jack pleaded loudly. “Can we get on with this?”
Whole-heartedly agreeing, Daniel stepped forward and raised a hand. “Shh.”
Every eye on Daniel, the people quieted almost instantly and knelt on the ground.
Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed. “Return to your wagons,” he advised. “Pack
your things, but do not move toward the stargate. Wait until someone directs you
to proceed. Please, let’s do this in an orderly fashion. Go on.”
Obediently, but chattering animatedly among themselves, the crowd began to dissolve
back into the camps, save for the soldiers who gathered at the base of the steps.
“What would you have us do, my lord?” one of them asked.
“Don’t call me that,” Daniel balked. “Please, just… Daniel.”
“Okay,” Daniel sighed, sharing a look with Jack. “Go with these people. They’re
going to teach you how to use the DHD, uh, that thing, and then they’re going to
help you devise a workable evacuation plan.”
“This way,” Sam said, directing the group toward the dial home device. Dillard and
“I will take you to the queen,” the remaining soldier volunteered.
“Why don’t you just bring her majesty to us instead,” Jack suggested coolly.
“Actually,” Daniel replied. “I think I’d better talk to Alva.”
Teal’c scowled protectively and Jack grimaced behind his shades.
“Oh, hell no,” Jack objected immediately. “You might as well consider me your shadow
for this entire trip, Daniel. Cause that’s the way it’s gonna be.”
“I will accompany you as well,” Teal’c agreed, leaving no room for discussion.
“Fine,” Daniel groused, secretly touched by his overly protective teammates. “Take
us to see the Oracle.”
“Why can’t she come here?”
“Come on, Jack, she’s a little old lady.”
“A damn spry little old lady, and a deadly one at that,” Jack rebutted.
Daniel inclined his head towards the camp and the soldier bowed quickly before leading
them toward Alva’s tent.
“If we’re not back in one hour,” Jack called back to Sam, “send a rescue party.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam answered dutifully, looking up from her teaching. “Be careful.”
“An hour? That barely gives us time to get there and back.”
“Jack, that’s not long enough,” Daniel complained, following their guide.
“Bitch, bitch, bitch,” Jack teased, falling in beside his friend. “You have the
survival instincts of a lemming.”
“I do okay,” Daniel countered with a frown.
“Thank God,” Jack agreed dropping his mocking attitude and patting Daniel affectionately
on the back.
Daniel eyed him suspiciously for a second before accepting the time limit and picking
up his pace. As they moved out of the area where the soldiers had set up quarters
and into the evacuees’ camp, the queen arrived on horseback with several more troops.
“Desert Son,” the monarch called out breathlessly, blinking at Daniel incredulously.
“Hi, Claire,” Daniel greeted with a wave, not bothering to slow down.
“How ya doin?” Jack asked acerbically, sending the queen a sloppy salute as he passed
her. “Get comfortable. We’ll be back later.”
Teal’c tilted his head ever so slightly to acknowledge the queen, but kept moving
Claire looked around in confusion, stung by the snub but unwilling to risk the anger
of the newly arisen and obviously quite powerful man or his associates. Fighting
back tears, she urged her horse towards the stone ring where the rest of Desert Son’s
entourage gathered. Her soldiers hesitated momentarily, but then followed at a distance.
As they approached the dwelling, a number of servants ran excitedly out to meet them.
Jack and Teal’c both reacted defensively, but the group of mostly teenage girls
ignored them and barraged an unsuspecting Daniel with hugs and kisses. Several of
them tried to clean his boots at once, leaving him flailing around for Jack’s arm
to maintain his balance.
When one of the youngest in the group gazed up at Jack adoringly and moved as if
to put her arms around his neck, Jack softened his ‘colonel’ persona minutely and
shifted his weapon to return a hug. Another girl tugged at his leg and he hesitantly
raised his foot for her to wipe his boot. As he was pulled into the group hug, kiss,
and boot cleaning frenzy, he looked over to find Teal’c in similar straits.
“Okay, okay,” Daniel laughed self-consciously as he extricated himself. “That’s
good, that’s great. Really, thank you.”
“We knew you would come,” one of the young women gushed.
“Uh, thank you,” Daniel repeated uncertainly as he turned toward the tent. Jack
slapped a hand to his chest and brushed past him to take point. Shooting a longsuffering
glance to Teal’c, Daniel saw no sympathy there and resigned himself to being sandwiched
between the two for the duration of their stay.
Reaching the doorway, Jack hesitated slightly as he pushed the flap open with the
end of his weapon. As his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light, he ventured into the
tent to find the old woman stretched out on a cot next to the fire. “I told you
air freshener would work,” he muttered as Daniel entered behind him with Teal’c bringing
up the rear.
“Alva,” Daniel exclaimed, moving directly towards her, much to Jack’s irritation.
“Just resting, my dear,” the Oracle replied, reaching out to him. “I was terribly
worried about you.”
Daniel took her hand and settled on the edge of the small bed. “I’m fine,” he assured.
“He almost died,” Jack put in cantankerously.
“And yet here he is,” Alva laughed with relief.
“You should have told us your plan,” Daniel scolded gently. “Do you know what they
do when someone is killed on my planet? They split them open and have a look inside.”
“How barbaric!” Alva exclaimed.
“Yes, well, I didn’t think so until now.”
“But now all is well. You are alive, your friend is once again healthy, and my people
may now proceed to the new world without interference.”
“Yes,” Daniel agreed. “It didn’t have to happen this way, but it’s over now.”
“But it did,” Alva insisted. “Steps had to be taken to ensure the outcome.”
Daniel cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. “Yeah, I wondered about that.
Just, ah, how many of these steps have you taken through the years? I mean, it’s
lucky for you that you have such a young, naïve queen, easy to handle…well, for you
anyway. What happened to Claire’s parents?”
“They both died, the king long ago, my daughter only last year.”
“Of?” Jack queried.
“Very mysteriously,” Alva replied evenly. “In fact they both died in their sleep,
leaving the throne to an inexperienced and often childish Claire.”
Daniel moistened his lip and shot a nervous glance towards Jack. “Really.”
“Perhaps you should be certain you want the answer before you ask the question,”
“How did you know?” Daniel continued insistently. “I mean, what made you so sure
Desert Son would come in your lifetime?”
“When my daughter betrayed me and the king kept me locked in a gilded cage, away
from my people, I realized I would be the last Oracle. Even within the palace, there
were those who would do my bidding. I do not regret anything I have done.”
“So when you get right down to it, you orchestrated the whole thing. The prophecy
was a fake,” Jack replied. “I knew it.”
“What has come has come. Regardless of distasteful deeds, all is well.”
“Uh, I think she’s saying that the end justifies the means,” Daniel clarified.
“Well put,” Alva praised. “How very wise you are.”
“I didn’t say I agreed,” Daniel objected, still looking a little freaked by the woman’s
seeming lack of conscience.
“Fear not, as my penance, I shall never see the new world.”
“Is that part of the prophecy?” Daniel asked seriously.
“No,” Alva sighed. “It is my own design.”
“Daniel, time’s up,” Jack interrupted, checking his watch.
“We have to go,” Daniel explained, rising to his feet.
“Remember what I told you,” Alva warned, not releasing him.
“Uh… what did you tell me? When?” Daniel questioned in bewilderment.
“On the night of your death.”
“Oh. I really don’t remember too much about that,” Daniel confessed. “What did
you tell me?”
“Your memory will serve you when the time is right,” Alva assured, kissing his hand
before letting it go. “Thank you, Daniel. Be at peace, Desert Son.”
Daniel worried at his lower lip with his teeth as he tried to figure out what she
was referring to, but came up empty.
“Daniel,” Jack prodded, breaking into his thoughts.
“I’ll check on you later,” Daniel promised, gracing the old woman with a tiny smile.
Alva nodded and closed her eyes wearily as they left.
They made it back to the gate with only minutes to spare on Jack’s self-imposed deadline.
An awning had been erected on the spot where the cage had stood, back far enough
not to be disturbed by an incoming wormhole. Currently, the queen sat in a decorative
chair under it, impatiently waiting their return.
“Claire,” Daniel greeted to appease her briefly before turning his attention to Sam.
“How’s it going?” he asked.
“Very well,” Sam responded with a grin. “In fact, Dillard and Romano have marked
out a series of grids so the groups can alternate from left, right and center and
not come from every direction at once. It seems to be the fair way to do it.”
“So the farmers who were here first won’t necessarily be pushed all the way to the
back,” Daniel mused loud enough for the queen to hear him. “That’s great.”
“What about dialing skills?” Jack asked, amused as her royal highness flinched at
Daniel’s subtle barb.
“We’ve already sent some of the soldiers through to help out on the other side,”
Dillard responded. “I mean, they did,” he corrected.
“Dialed out themselves?” Jack approved. “Our work here is done.”
“Yes sir,” Sam agreed. “They picked it right up, and now they can come back and
forth for more supplies as they need to.”
“What about your doohickeys?” Jack queried, thumbing towards the MALP.
Sam shook her head. “I don’t think we’re going to miss anything in the few weeks
it will take to complete the evacuation,” she began. “And since the gate will be
in constant use for that time, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the equipment anyway.”
“Few weeks?” Daniel interrupted to ask.
“Yeah,” Sam replied. “It turns out; this is just a portion of the population. There
are still whole cities and towns farther away that the inhabitants haven’t even arrived
yet. They started sending messages to them as soon as they saw you, actually.”
“Right. So we’ll just have to come back later.”
“Well, Desert Son,” Jack replied pleasantly, “why don’t you bid the queen farewell
and we’ll get the hell out of here.”
Daniel nodded and crossed the few meters to where the monarch watched unhappily.
“Your majesty,” he said formally with a bow.
“So now you will abandon us,” Claire replied dourly.
“As it was written,” Daniel responded with a twitch of his lip, turning the prophecy
back on her for a change.
The queen glowered at him for a moment before an evil glimmer sparkled in her eye.
“I saw your scar,” she goaded.
Daniel fingered the bandage on his neck in confusion before narrowing his eyes and
dropping his hand to touch his jacket over his appendix scar. “Oh,” he replied in
surprise, clearing his throat and feigning nonchalance as he crossed his arms over
Claire smiled at him broadly, enjoying his discomfort. “I have something for you,”
she decreed, changing the subject as she handed him an aged, animal skin satchel.
“This is the prophecy?” Daniel questioned, running his hand gently over the well-worn
“Part of it,” Claire explained with a look of regret on her face, “the part that
separated families, friends… a nation. Now we must repair that divide.”
“I can’t accept this,” Daniel declined softly, trying to hand it back. “Even out
of context, this is a valuable historical document. It belongs to your people.”
“This, too, was written,” Claire assured in complete seriousness. “For my people,
I thank you.”
Clutching the gift, Daniel bowed again. “Good luck, Claire.”
“I will be the leader my people need me to be,” the queen promised, inclining her
head as well.
“Daniel,” Jack warned just before a rushing vortex roared out of the stargate. “Let’s
Daniel nodded once more to the queen and trotted up the steps with his treasures,
stopping at the top to wait as Sam maneuvered the MALP through the gate.
“Desert Son!” a man called loudly as he ran through the camp.
“What now?” Jack bemoaned before recognizing the man as the one who had brought the
antidote to Teal’c.
“Desert Son,” the man repeated breathlessly as he reached the steps. “This is from
the Oracle.” He placed an ancient box and a brand new scroll side by side on the
step at Daniel’s feet.
“The rest of the prophecy,” Daniel guessed, bending to retrieve it.
The man nodded and smiled, still panting heavily as he stepped back. Daniel took
in the small gathering of people around the base of the dais and waved to them before
turning to disappear into the blue with his friends.
“Open ‘em up,” Jack requested as they descended the ramp. “Let’s have a look.”
“Jack, these are probably hundreds of years old,” Daniel gasped in horror at the
suggestion. “They have to be opened very carefully, under exacting conditions of
light and temperature to preserve what’s left of them. We’ll have to put them in
a vacuum to photograph them and then…”
“Forget I asked,” Jack backpedaled, throwing up his hands. “I’m just glad this whole
ordeal is over.”
“Yeah, me too,” Daniel agreed, glancing back as the wormhole sputtered out, certain
he had forgotten something.
“Welcome back, people,” Hammond greeted from the control room. “If there’s nothing
urgent, we’ll debrief tomorrow morning at oh nine hundred.”
“I’m sure it can wait,” Daniel responded, looking at Jack who nodded his approval.
“In the meantime, Doctor Fraiser is expecting you,” the general informed them glibly.
“Of course she is,” Jack grimaced. “Let’s get this over with.”
As he waited for his report to print, Daniel sipped his coffee and read over his
life story, painstakingly laid out on the new scroll. Whether it was the actual
document written while he’d been drugged or merely a copy, he had no way to know.
He shuddered however at the accuracy, glad he didn’t remember uttering the frank
and brutally candid words out loud in front of an audience. Interrupted by the printer’s
dreaded ‘out of paper’ noise, Daniel set his coffee aside to tend to the task of
filling the tray.
“Hey,” Jack greeted as he wandered into the office and approached the desk. “You
were here late last night. Did you even go home?”
“No,” Daniel replied, tearing open a new ream of paper. “I wanted to get an early
“This it?” Jack asked, moving Daniel’s full coffee cup to the edge of the desk before
picking up the scroll.
“No, that’s just a bad episode of ‘This is Your Life, Daniel Jackson’,” Daniel sighed.
“I keep expecting my fifth grade teacher to come breezing in. Please don’t read
“Daniel Jackson,” Jack read, “conceived of the desert, only son born to Claire and
“Jack,” Daniel objected grumpily, shoving the paper tray back into the printer a
little roughly. “Please!”
“Sorry,” Jack muttered, not sounding sorry at all as he dropped the parchment back
to the desk. “I’ll wait ‘til the movie comes out.”
“Yeah, you do that,” Daniel rejoined, hitting the reset button.
Jack huffed, but managed not to grin, ever proud of his ability to get Daniel’s goat.
Daniel glanced at the printer as it picked up where it left off with ten more pages
to go. “Just about.”
“Nine o’clock,” Jack reminded, tapping on his watch face.
“Yes, Jack, I know. I’ll be there in plenty of time,” Daniel promised.
Jack nodded dubiously and backed out of the room, mumbling “Yeah, sure,” as he went.
With a smirk of his own, Daniel gathered the pages as they printed and tapped them
gently on top of the counter to even them up. Turning to grab the stapler, he bumped
his coffee cup which wasn’t where he had left it.
“Dammit,” he swore, setting the report safely out of the way before grabbing up the
scroll, which was greedily soaking up the liquid.
“Nyan? Hi,” Daniel greeted, holding up the scroll to shake off the excess moisture
that hadn’t already penetrated the layers of the rolled up parchment. “Quick, grab
me some paper towels.”
As his assistant cleaned up the desk, Daniel unrolled the scroll on the counter next
to the printer and placed heavy objects around the edges to flatten it out before
carefully blotting the text with paper towels.
“That’s too bad,” Nyan commiserated as he glanced at the blurred ink.
“It’s okay,” Daniel sighed giving up trying to save the keepsake and turning to face
the younger man. “I know this story too well anyway. What have you got?”
“Pictures of the documents you brought back from P49-738,” Nyan supplied, laying
out a series of photographs on the now dry desk.
“Already? That was fast,” Daniel replied, glancing at the clock.
“Well, only the single page document. Turns out, it was a scroll that had been folded
and there was a sketch in there as well,” Nyan explained, pulling out one of the
photos and handing it over. “Nice likeness,” he teased.
“Thanks,” Daniel grunted accepting the picture to glance at it briefly before setting
“We also took a shot of the other document. We’re having some trouble separating
the pages and the, um, coversheet for lack of a better word is severely worn away,
but you can clearly see the text on the next page.”
“Okay, good. What about the carbon dating?” Daniel asked, retrieving his preliminary
report and stapling it.
“Not complete yet, but Doctor Gibson is estimating 350 to 400 years old. But the
paper is not at all what he expected, much too refined, and the document is held
together by a metal brad.”
“A staple?” Daniel asked, looking at the mechanism still in his hand.
“Yeah, something like that.”
“I wouldn’t have thought them that advanced,” he puzzled, “unless they have somehow
regressed over the centuries. Well, keep at it. I’ve got a meeting.”
“See you later,” Nyan said, eager to get back to work.
Daniel put down the stapler, looking around to see what he needed, knowing time was
slipping away. He grabbed a new manila folder, shoved his report inside and gathered
up the pictures, stopping to stare in shock at the one that landed on top of the
pile. Dropping everything else, he moved over to the counter to compare the spotty,
“Daniel… desert… son… born to Claire…” he read off of the photo, swallowing when
he realized that the words in the first line of text on the new scroll that had not
been obliterated by the unfortunate spill now read exactly the same. “Oh my God.”
He spun back around and grabbed the other pictures, rapidly thumbing through them
until he found the one he wanted and placed it under his magnifying glass. Overwhelmed
as he confirmed his suspicion, he collapsed into his chair to let the significance
Jack sighed as the meeting continued without a certain wayward archeologist. Hammond
didn’t look especially pleased, but he hadn’t yet sent anyone looking for him either.
Otherwise, the briefing went quickly and everyone had reported except for Daniel.
Sam stalled by talking about the tests she would eventually run when they went back.
Twenty after nine, Daniel drifted into the room as if totally unaware he was late.
He clutched a folder in his hand as he settled into a chair appearing somewhat befuddled.
“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond queried with a note of reproach in his tone.
“I’m the prophet,” Daniel announced without preamble.
“Huh?” Jack muttered, leaning forward in his chair.
“Daniel?” Sam asked with concern from across the table. “Are you okay?”
Fraiser quietly left her seat and pressed her fingers to the inside of his wrist.
“I’m the prophet,” Daniel repeated, looking up at the doctor with a lost expression.
“No, you’re not,” Jack corrected. “You’re not even the guy the prophet, you know,
“Yes, I am,” Daniel argued, turning his wide-eyed stare to his friend. “But I’m
also the prophet. I mean I was. Uh, I will be. I wondered how Olivia could draw
an accurate picture of Desert Son when she would never meet him. She couldn’t. She
didn’t, she sketched the prophet.”
Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “What has led you to this conclusion, Daniel Jackson?”
he asked gently.
Daniel extricated his wrist from the worried doctor and dug through the photos to
toss one into the middle of the table. “Because yesterday we brought back a four
hundred year old copy of the report I just finished writing thirty minutes ago.”
“Are you sure?” Jack questioned, grabbing the picture and studying it intently.
Slipping off his glasses, Daniel let them clatter to the tabletop as he rubbed his
eyes with shaky hands. “Somehow, some… day, I’ve got to go back in time and deliver
the new versions of these documents to those people.”
“No you don’t,” Jack argued. “It already happened. It’s over.”
“Exactly!” Daniel agreed.
“Huh?” Jack repeated, looking around the table for someone to clarify the situation.
“I’ve got to go back to 738. Alva has to tell me what to do.”
“Daniel, we won’t be able to get through until the evacuation starts to slack off.
That could be weeks from now,” Sam explained gently.
“Well what do I do in the meantime?” Daniel asked in puzzlement. “What if I’m supposed
to be doing something now?”
Sam shrugged and shook her head. “I’ll be monitoring the situation,” she placated.
“As soon as we get through, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks, Sam,” Daniel sighed.
Hammond shook his head and rose to his feet. “Good job, people,” he praised, efficiently
ending the briefly. “By the way, Lieutenant Dillard has been reassigned to the gateroom
while he waits for an opening on an SG team.”
“That’s great,” Sam smiled, glancing over as Daniel glumly replaced his glasses.
“Dismissed,” the general ordered, stopping on his way to his office. “Doctor Jackson?
Can I see you for a minute?”
Daniel nodded contritely as he gathered his papers and got to his feet. His apprehensive
C.O. followed him towards the general’s office.
“Colonel?” Hammond asked in an uncompromising tone, allowing Daniel to pass, but
stopping Jack at the door. “I think we can handle this by ourselves.”
“Of course,” Jack replied, not backing down an inch. “I just thought as Daniel’s
team leader I should be there…”
“That dog won’t hunt, Jack. Dismissed,” Hammond reiterated leaving no room for further
“Yes sir,” Jack responded, shooting one last glance at his tardy teammate before
the door was shut in his face. He watched through the starmap as Daniel took a seat
in front of the general’s desk. Hammond moved to the window and shooed him away.
“Uh oh,” Sam empathized as everyone but SG-1 cleared the briefing room.
“Come on,” Jack muttered, leading the way. “We’ll wait in the hall.”
“I’m sorry I was late,” Daniel ventured as the general rounded the desk and took
his seat. To his surprise, Hammond laughed lightly.
“That’s all right, son. I suppose you were a little preoccupied. Something like
this is bound to be stressful.”
“You have no idea,” Daniel sighed, studying his hands.
“Don’t I?” Hammond queried gently.
Daniel looked up, his forehead creased in contemplation.
“Somewhere around thirty years ago I meet an extraordinary group of people who changed
my life,” Hammond continued, watching Daniel for a reaction, knowing the nimble mind
wouldn’t disappoint him.
“Nineteen sixty-nine,” Daniel breathed in awe.
“That’s right,” the general beamed for an instant before continuing more seriously.
“For a while, I let it consume me. It was very difficult to let go of the thought
that I was somehow responsible for something that hadn’t even happened yet.”
“How did you handle it?”
“I made a concentrated effort to put it aside. I have to tell you, Doctor Jackson,
it was tough. The more I tried not to think about it, the harder it was not to.
But it got easier as time passed. In fact, there were periods of years that I didn’t
think about it at all. And then I got assigned to the Stargate Project. After that,
it became a lot clearer to know what to do.”
“Like having Sam work on the time travel aspect of the gate.”
“That’s right, I also allowed a certain strong-willed civilian archeologist in need
of a haircut to join the premier front line SG team. Turns out I made the right
“Wait a minute, what about when I was on Abydos? Surely you thought I was dead.
That changed things.”
“I knew you couldn’t be dead because I had already met you,” the general explained.
“Poor Jack never did figure out how I knew his report wasn’t entirely accurate.
It was a little bit harder the time we actually held a funeral for you, but even
then I held out hope you would return. And you did.”
“That’s an awful big leap of faith,” Daniel insisted.
“Faith is the hard part, son. But I know you’re up to the task.”
“Well, like Jack said, it’s already happened,” Daniel mused, relaxing slightly. “I
don’t suppose there’s any way for me to screw it up, because if I do, things would
have already gone wrong. Right?”
“Can I give you some advice?” Hammond asked quietly, amused by Daniel’s reasoning,
having had the same thoughts many times himself.
“Of course,” Daniel agreed readily.
“You may not get a warning. Tuck the things you need away in your backpack every
time you go through the gate.”
“What if I lose them before I need them?”
“What if you need them and you don’t have them?”
Daniel’s eyes went wide and he gripped the arms of the chair.
“Well, maybe you should make copies as a safety net,” Hammond suggested reasonably.
“Copies,” Daniel repeated. “Of course.”
“That’s crazy,” Jack persisted.
“Why? With the wide array and frequency of solar flares on P49-738, I think it’s
entirely possible for Daniel to go back in time,” Sam argued.
“We have experienced time travel ourselves, O’Neill,” Teal’c pointed out.
“Yeah, but we had Hammond’s note and Carter’s research to guide us. If Daniel goes
off on a little time trip by himself, how are we gonna get him back?”
“The flares would have been present even hundreds of years ago, just not as frequent
or as severe,” Sam replied before sagging against the wall in defeat. “But it would
take an amazing amount of luck to dial out at the right time. I doubt it could be
“That’s all I’m trying to say,” Jack responded, laying the matter to rest. As the
general’s door opened, he straightened and acted like he hadn’t been waiting for
“Thank you, sir,” Daniel said solemnly shaking the general’s hand.
“Any time you wanna talk about it, son,” Hammond soothed, “my door is always open.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Colonel?” Hammond asked, turning to Jack and feigning surprise. “Is there something
I can help you with?”
“Ah, no sir, we were just passing through,” Jack lied, putting a hand on Sam’s back
as he pushed her on ahead of him down the hall, motioning furtively for Teal’c to
“In a pig’s eye,” Hammond snorted, stepping back into his office.
“How does he always know?” Jack grumbled, herding his team towards the elevator.
Daniel grinned to himself and fell in beside Teal’c. After his chat with the general,
he knew the next three weeks wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Finally back on P49-738, Daniel sulked as he surveyed the barren field where thousands
of people had once waited their turn to pass through the gate. Without conscious
thought, he caressed the soft blue scarf in his hand.
“Carter? Are you almost done?” Jack asked wanting nothing more than to get back
to the SGC and forget all about this particular planet.
“Yes, sir. Just let make a few little adjustments,” Sam replied, busily calibrating
“I can’t believe she’s dead,” Daniel muttered, staring at the lone tent being dismantled
in the distance, the funeral pyre behind it still smoldering.
“Yeah, you mentioned that,” Jack commented with a sigh. “A couple of times. Come
on, Daniel, she was old. There was a lot of blood on her hands. Why are you taking
this so hard?”
Daniel frowned until he turned to see Jack’s concerned expression. “Well, as selfish
as it sounds, I was hoping she could tell me what I’m supposed to do,” he confessed.
“How will I know when it’s time?”
Jack eyed the stargate suspiciously. “How do we know we won’t end up in Camelot
as soon as we step through this time? Carter says the flares are already getting
“That’s unlikely,” Daniel assured offhandedly. “I mean the prophecy didn’t mention
you or Sam at all.”
“Ya know, I really don’t have a problem with that,” Jack replied. “Carter?”
“Yes sir, I’m ready,” Sam called over her shoulder, nevertheless still tinkering
with one of her devices.
“Teal’c, dial us home,” Jack ordered, patting Daniel on the shoulder to urge him
back towards the gate.
As soon as the wormhole was established, Sam straightened up and joined them while
Teal’c punched in their code. Everyone hesitated at the bottom of the dais.
“So hypothetically, what happens if we do end up back here in the past?” Jack asked.
“Well, hypothetically, we wouldn’t be able to dial Earth,” Sam supplied reluctantly.
“Because four hundred years ago the gate on Earth was still buried in Giza,” Daniel
“I knew that,” Jack mumbled under his breath.
“But we wouldn’t be able to stay here either,” Daniel continued. “If we did, we
would risk doing something to disturb the prophecy and all this would have been for
nothing. We’d have to find another planet somewhere to live. Maybe PJ1-04. We’d
be long dead before they came to settle it.”
“So basically, if we ever do go back, it’s a one way trip,” Jack summed up.
“Probably,” Daniel agreed. “Doesn’t mean we wouldn’t try.”
“But if you get the chance, I suppose you’re gonna do it anyway,” Jack grumbled unhappily.
“I don’t think I have a choice,” Daniel shrugged. “Besides, it might be thirty years
down the road anyway. By then we may have the technology to go back and forth in
time at will. For now I suggest we take General Hammond’s advice and relax. When
it happens, it happens.”
Jack looked around one more time. “You know, it still stinks around here,” he complained,
leading the way up the steps. “Let’s go home.”
Stepping out into the familiar gateroom, each member of SG-1 gave a little sigh of
Six months later
“So what’s it say?”
“Huh?” Daniel looked up from the crumbling wall he’d spent all afternoon excavating.
He hadn’t heard Jack’s approach and wondered offhandedly how long he’d been sitting
there watching him.
“The wall. What’s it say?”
“Oh,” Daniel uttered, sitting up straight and rubbing his cramped neck muscles. “It’s
a parable actually. This part literally reads ‘woe to he who seduces the hand of
fate,’” he paused briefly, the words triggering a foggy memory. “The hand of fate...
sometimes fate needs a hand,” he muttered, working through his thoughts out loud.
“What?” Jack asked, his mind obviously already somewhere else.
“Nothing,” Daniel breathed softly. His gaze was drawn inexplicably to the stargate.
“How much more time do you need?”
“I’m done,” Daniel responded, uncharacteristically giving up on the fable.
“No way,” Jack argued. “This is a first.”
“Yeah. I’ll, uh, gather up this stuff if you want to help Sam and Teal’c break camp.
I’ll meet you at the gate.”
“Oh I know what you’re up to,” Jack accused, rising from the stone block he had settled
“You do?” Daniel asked nervously, licking his lip.
“Yeah, I do. You think you can squeeze a few more minutes out of me if you keep
Daniel released a guilty sigh as he got up as well. “Yep, you got me,” he fibbed.
“Take your time,” Jack offered generously. “I’m in a good mood.”
“Half an hour,” Jack called over his shoulder as he trudged down the hill towards
“Jack,” Daniel shouted, racing to the trailhead before his friend got out of sight.
“What’s wrong?” Jack questioned, looking up apprehensively.
“Nothing,” Daniel hedged, swallowing the lump in his throat. “I just… I just wanted
to say… thanks.”
Jack snorted and waved as he continued on his way. “Thirty minutes and I don’t mean
Daniel-minutes either,” he threatened.
Waiting until Jack rounded the bend at the bottom of the hill, Daniel frantically
gathered his things, taking care to check that his documents were in place, and sprinted
to the gate. His hands shook slightly as he dialed 738. He looked back once more
before bolting through the wormhole.
As soon as he hit the other side, Daniel ran to the DHD. He dialed the planet his
research over the past few months had shown to be in a trajectory directly on the
other side of 738’s sun. Sworn to secrecy, Sam had reluctantly confirmed it was
probably, hypothetically the best choice for an attempt at a slingshot through time,
if they ever figured out exactly how to predict a solar flare.
If he was wrong, he would end up going home to an angry Jack with a lot of explaining
to do. If he was right, he might not ever be able to go home. When the vortex receded,
Daniel paused on the dais and took a deep breath. Closing his eyes he stepped into
the event horizon.
“What was that?” Jack asked, knowing full well the sound he heard was a stargate
activation. He dropped the tent pole in his hand and grabbed his gun.
“Maybe it’s General Hammond,” Sam offered doubtfully, snatching up her weapon and
trotting after Teal’c who was already halfway up the trail.
“It could be hostiles,” Jack argued as they ran.
Clearing the rise, they spread out in a defensive posture, sweeping the little plateau
with their eyes as the wormhole sputtered out.
“Daniel,” Jack whispered loudly. “Shit. Where is he?”
“There appears to be no one here,” Teal’c stated the obvious as he rose and closed
in on the DHD.
“Daniel!” Sam called louder, moving over to the abandoned site he had been excavating
for the past two days. “All of his stuff is gone,” she confirmed.
Jack joined Teal’c and they shared a grim expression of realization before Jack started
to dial in to the dreaded 738. “I’ll kill him,” he muttered under his breath. “If
we ever find him, Daniel Jackson is a dead man.”
The first thing he noticed was the clean fresh air with a hint of mowed hay. Daniel
sneezed twice before he opened his eyes. A fertile, green field in front of him
bore no resemblance to the barren wasteland he had come to know as 738. Movement
in the high grass off to the side of the dais startled him and he found himself staring
down into the frightened eyes of a young women crouched there.
“Olivia,” Daniel breathed softly, dropping his pack in awe that he had actually made
Even more afraid when the apparition spoke her name, Olivia backed away. In her
haste to turn she stumbled and fell, revealing the embodiment of the term ‘heavy
“Wait, wait, wait,” Daniel pleaded rapid fire. “I’m not going to hurt you. Please,
don’t hurt yourself. Just stay there, I’ll help you up.”
Shocked beyond reasoning, the pregnant woman did as she was told and lay still as
Daniel slowly approached, his empty hands spread wide. “Easy,” Daniel urged as he
let her grasp his wrist and pull herself upright. “Come on.” He gingerly took her
elbow and steered her to the steps where he lowered her into a sitting position,
wincing at her skinned knee.
“Sorry about that. Uh, my name is…” Daniel stopped himself, not sure how much to
reveal. “Actually, my name is not important,” he amended with a sigh. “But you
are Olivia, and I have a message for you.”
“I don’t understand,” Olivia began to sob, holding her belly protectively as the
tears of fright streamed down her face. “How do you know me?”
“I’ll explain everything. Please don’t cry,” Daniel implored gently, getting a little
choked up himself over causing her distress. “Everything is going to be fine, I
Daniel located his first aid kit and took out some cotton and a tiny bottle of peroxide.
“Here, let me clean that.” He dabbed the slightly oozing wound, then blew on it
gently when Olivia flinched at the sting. “This will help it heal,” Daniel explained,
taking out a tube of triple antibiotic ointment and squeezing out a dot on top of
the scrape. Next he found a large Band-Aid and applied it as well, leaning back
to inspect his work.
“You are a god?” Olivia asked with trepidation as she cautiously examined her patched
“No,” Daniel denied quickly. “Not a god. I’m a… a prophet,” he added with a grimace
at the pretentious sounding announcement. “I have a story to tell you and I need
you to pay attention.”
Nodding her agreement, Olivia relaxed slightly to hear him out.
“First of all, I want to tell you that your baby will be born healthy and live a
long and prosperous life. I can also tell you that it’s a girl. In fact, your lineage
for the next couple hundred years will always have at least one daughter in every
Digging through his pack again, Daniel pulled out his report along with the flattened
and folded scroll. “Your planet is in trouble because your sun is beginning to change.
Eventually, it will harm your crops and make your people sick. But don’t worry,
because before things get too bad, a man will come through the stargate, this stone
ring, and lead the people to safety.”
“Everything you need to know is in here,” he added, handing over the documents. “Learn
it well, share it with your people, but guard it carefully.”
“Why me?” Olivia asked fretfully.
Daniel couldn’t help but laugh. “Because the fickle hand of fate picked you, I suppose.
The same way it picked me. You’ll do fine. You’ll be the first in a long line
of Oracles, the keepers of the prophecy.”
Fingering the strange paper thoughtfully, Olivia sighed, considering the idea.
“I’m sorry to do this to you, but it can’t be avoided. Now, why don’t you head back
home and tell your family what happened while you were out?”
“I’ll do my best,” Olivia promised meekly, struggling to her feet.
“I know you will.”
“Will I see you again?” she asked.
With a nod of her head, she started down the steps and entered the waist high grass,
her long hair fluttering in the slight breeze.
“Olivia,” Daniel called after her, realizing he had left out one very important piece
of the puzzle. “One more thing.”
He closed the space between them and took her hands. “It’s very important that you
share what I’m about to tell you with your daughter when she comes of age. Make
sure she knows to pass it on to her daughter as well, sharing it with no one else.
This must happen every generation until the message can be delivered to… to Daniel.
Without it, he won’t know what to do. Do you understand?”
“Sometimes fate needs a hand. Say it.”
“Sometimes fate needs a hand,” Olivia repeated uncertainly.
“That’s right,” Daniel praised. “Remember, it’s imperative. I can’t stress that
enough. Say it one more time.”
“Sometimes fate needs a hand,” Olivia said again with a lot more confidence, suddenly
reminding Daniel of an old woman in another time.
“You’re gonna do great,” he smiled with an overwhelming sense of relief that he’d
done what he came to do.
Olivia returned the smile and made her way through the field, parting the grass with
a subtle waddle. Daniel sat on the top step and watched until he couldn’t see her
anymore and then made his way to the overgrown DHD. Fighting back sneezes, he cleared
away enough of the weeds to dial out.
“Okay fate, I’ve done your bidding,” he muttered sardonically as he pressed the symbols.
“You owe me one.”
“It’s over, Jack,” Hammond declared sadly. “We can’t keep risking people to find
“I know,” Jack swore softly, handing over his resignation.
Carter had become sick from all the time she spent on 738 under the worsening conditions
and had been pulled from active duty. Worse, they had lost Teal’c in an experiment
and could only hope he was alive and well somewhere in the planet’s history. Unfortunately,
all their research leaned towards the likelihood that he’d been flung far into the
future, a future where no one, not even a Jaffa, could survive.
As a unit, SG-1 was officially dead.
Out of supplies and soul weary, Daniel decided to try again. Spending most of his
time on PJ1-04 to avoid any chance that the natives of 738 might return to the gate
to try and prove or disprove Olivia’s story, he kept his cautious return trips to
night time hours. Half starved, his uniform hung on him and with his shaggy hair
and beard, he was sure he looked a fright. He doubted if Olivia would recognize
For kicks, he decided to dial Earth this time, knowing full well the cover stone
would prevent a wormhole from forming. But he was homesick, and it felt good to
punch in the familiar address, pretending for a moment he was really going home.
To his amazement, the seventh chevron locked and a wormhole blossomed before him.
Either the gate had somehow activated under the coverstone, which Daniel knew couldn’t
happen, or the wormhole had established somewhere, or rather, some time else. Jumping
at the opportunity, he gathered his almost empty pack and rushed up the steps into
the event horizon.
Daniel stumbled as he stepped through the gate, feeling as if he’d been hit by a
sledgehammer. The god-awful odor added to his nausea and he sank down to the steps,
hoping he wouldn’t throw up on himself.
“Come on, Daniel,” Jack replied, patting him on the back and placing a canteen in
his hands. “The smell’s not near as bad as it used to be.”
“Are you unwell, Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked attentively.
Looking back at the gate for a minute, Daniel cleared his throat and took a long
drink of the offered water. “No, I’m okay,” he managed. “I just had the strangest
“Carter? Set up your toys. Teal’c can help you. I’ll go with Daniel to visit the
“She’s dead,” Daniel muttered, staggering to his feet and heading off for the tent
clearly visible in the distance, leaving Jack’s canteen on the step.
Jack grabbed his water and trotted to catch up with the determined archeologist.
“How do you know she’s dead?” he inquired.
“Because that’s a funeral pyre,” Daniel replied, pointing out the flames roaring
into the sky on the other side of the structure.
Daniel let out a little laugh that sounded suspiciously like a sob and purposefully
stayed a couple steps ahead. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Oh. So why are we rushing out there to see her if she’s dead? Obviously, she’s
not going anywhere.”
“Because I’d really like to get this over with and go home.”
“Oh. So why are we rushing out there at all?”
Stopping abruptly, Daniel turned back to face his friend, pulling off his glasses.
Though his eyes were full of tears, he was grinning broadly. “Alva left me a gift.
I want to retrieve it.”
“What kind of gift?” Jack questioned distrustfully.
“It’s a beautiful blue scarf. Really soft.”
“Right,” Jack muttered. “And you know this how?”
Daniel’s smile faltered for a second, but he quickly recovered. “I don’t think I
want to tell you.”
“This isn’t part of that prophecy crap, is it?”
Wiping his eyes, Daniel laughed again. “Not exactly.”
“Daniel,” Jack said in a threatening tone.
“I’ll tell you all about it,” Daniel replied, continuing his trek, but at a much
calmer pace. “About six months from now. After the hockey finals are over.”