TITLE: Return To The Fold
CONTENT WARNINGS: none
SUMMARY: An AU version of Fallen. Daniel returns in a very unexpected location after making a choice that isn't a choice.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I always wondered what would happen if Daniel descended somewhere other than Vis Uban. Big thanks to Rowan and Lex for helping me out with this story. Thanks, guys! This story was originally published in the zine Ancient's Gate II: Raising The Gate from Ancient's Gate.
First, he felt nothing.
He remembered feeling something – not pain, just a lack of comfort, the loss of warmth.
He was falling.
The wind was whipping around him as he felt the air sucked out of his lungs and saw the ground rushing up to meet him. He was changing as he fell. He could feel… nothing... then everything… then darkness.
“Are you sure?” Siler asked Sergeant Davis as they strolled through the corridor.
“Positive. The last diagnostic confirmed it. Backup computer memory and processing time were affected. Those went below 90% efficiency for a moment. That part of the system lagged, secondary e-mail addresses were affected and that server almost went down.”
“How much bandwidth was it using?” Siler inquired. “Was it enough to jeopardize the gate’s computer network or security?”
“No, since it was on the backup server, it didn’t affect any of the main systems. I don’t think it’s enough to be concerned with, but it did show up on the tracking program. It was for only a few moments, and I can write it off as minor interference in the lines, but if it keeps happening during the times SG-1 is on-world, it’ll look suspicious.”
They paused their conversation as they passed by two other airmen.
“So who won?” Siler asked, his voice quieter than it had been.
“O’Neill. The SGC players beat NORAD’s by at least 400 points.”
Siler stopped, thought for a moment, and then said; “You’d better find a way to keep that information from General Hammond. I don’t think he’d like hearing that Colonel O’Neill and Major Prescott up at NORAD have been fighting cyber aliens in an online game instead of doing paperwork again.”
They shared a conspiratorial smile. Sometimes it was fun watching a little rebellion go on, especially rebellion O’Neill style.
They passed by the storeroom door. The infamous storeroom as it was called sometimes. No one ever called it that when Colonel O’Neill was around. No one wanted to remind him of the time his best friend held a gun on him when coming down from a sarcophagus high. He didn’t like to be reminded of that time or the fact that Doctor Jackson wasn’t on Earth anymore. It was common practice to ignore it.
They turned the corner and walked toward the elevators.
“It looks like it’s going to be a slow day,” Davis told him. “Most of the off-world teams aren’t due to check in until this afternoon and no one’s scheduled to go off-world until tomorrow.”
Siler pressed the button for the elevator and waited. “The general wants us to do an inspection of some of the equipment. He doesn’t want a repeat of that MALP incident last week.”
“I didn’t know MALPs could –“
A brilliant light flashed through the corridor they just vacated, stopping Davis in mid-speech. There was no sound, no blast, just an intense light erupting out of the corridor and then dying down as quickly as it had appeared. The two sergeants pulled their sidearms and rushed back the way they came. Nothing was disturbed… except the storeroom door was open. Siler motioned for Davis to move ahead. Cautiously, they took position on either side of the door and peered into the room. Nothing seemed wrong. There wasn’t a single supply out of place.
“What –" Davis started to whisper before Siler raised a hand to silence him.
There, on the floor behind one of the shelves, was the form of a naked man lying in a fetal position. Siler inched his way into the room, gun at the ready, his attention on everything and everywhere at once as he approached the prone individual. He stopped, looked, then rushed to the fallen man’s position. “I don’t believe it,” he mumbled as he reached out to take the man’s pulse, noting the tremors in the arm beneath his fingers. Then, he put his hand under his nose. “Pulse is a bit erratic but he’s breathing,” he told Davis as he grabbed a blanket from one of the shelves and covered him.
Davis maneuvered a bit to look over Siler’s shoulder. His eyes grew wide at the revelation. “Oh, my God,” he muttered. “He’s alive?”
“Yeah. Better call medical,” he told Davis. “His pulse isn’t doing too good. I think he’s seizing.”
Davis didn’t waste any more time. He hurried to the phone outside in the corridor. “This is Sergeant Davis. We need a medical team at the storage room on Level 21. Doctor Jackson’s back.”
So much for their slow day.
Pain… hurts… where am I… bright… light… falling… help… home…trouble, there’s trouble, danger, have to warn… must get home… no time… have to leave…must find a way back… have to warn them… have to get home… have to find a way… damn rules… forget the rules… have to get home… homehomehomehomehomehomehome…
The thoughts came too fast to be coherent. In the confused state his mind was mired in, he couldn’t make sense of anything. He could feel, but he didn’t know why he could feel anything. Hands, noises, lights, voices, sounds – it was all a mish-mashed jumble of perceptions that pounded his senses and scorched his mind with senselessness. Everything was exploding inside him all at once in a blistering sea of sensations, of sight, sound and touch. He couldn’t understand what was happening, just the ever-present thought of danger and getting home. He couldn’t let it happen… he had to stop it… he had to think… he had to …
He had to choose?
The universe is vast and we are so small. There is only one thing we can truly control -- whether we are good or evil.
What happened? He tried to think in the maelstrom, to try to remember…
He remembered… the only thing needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.
He chose to do something.
“Check respiration and BP. Set up an EEG and EKG,” Janet’s voice snapped through the melee and clamor of the medical team as they wheeled Daniel’s gurney into the infirmary. “Get a blood workup. I also want a DNA test. Let’s make sure this is really Daniel. Set up an IV, benzodiazepine and magnesium sulphate. Be ready in case he starts seizing again.”
Nurse Clark placed the EEG leads on Daniel’s forehead as Janet placed the EKG leads on his chest.
“His muscles are spasming again,” Clark told her quietly.
“Where’s that IV? He may be –“
“Oh my god,” Clark muttered as the first results of the EEG began to show on the monitor.
“What?” Janet moved over to the nurse’s side of the bed. The EEG reading was erratic and off the scale. Daniel’s body began to convulse violently, his body a bundle of brief, massive muscle jerks.
“Move him on his side!” Janet ordered as the medics rushed to turn Daniel over – and it stopped almost as abruptly as it began, before Janet could inject any medication in his IV. A few moments later, Daniel’s eyes opened, but there was no recognition in them. It was as if he were unaware of where he was and who was around him.
“All right, people. Let’s do a full work up,” Janet ordered. “We can’t afford any mistakes on this one.”
Hammond paced slowly back and forth outside the infirmary. He knew his dash to the infirmary was unnecessary, but it was the most natural thing in the world to do the moment Davis called him to tell him the good news -- at least, Hammond hoped it was good. He should have known that Doctor Fraiser wasn’t going to let anyone in there until she said so. Even he didn’t dare violate that private sanctum unless the fate of the universe was in the balance. That dimunitive major wielded a mighty voice, especially when it came to the care of her patients.
This patient… she couldn’t save him before, no matter what she did or how hard she fought. This time, Hammond knew Fraiser wouldn’t be taking any chances.
Not surprising, Hammond wasn’t the only one waiting for news. Others were milling about the corridor. Among the throng assembled there, Siler and Davis were nearby as were Lieutenant Harriman, Major Griff, Captain Coburn, even Major Reynolds. The one non-SG-1 figure that was conspicuously absent was Major Ferretti. The moment he saw Daniel being wheeled into the infirmary, he volunteered his team to take SG-1’s place on their mission to P95-RX2 because, as the major so eloquently stated, there was no way in hell Jack O’Neill would forgive them if they didn’t. A few minutes later, Ferretti was heading through the wormhole to tell Jack the good news. Again, Hammond hoped it was good news.
Everyone was keeping their voices low but their gazes never strayed far from the infirmary doors. How long had it been? Hammond looked at his watch. Twenty minutes since he got the alert that Doctor Jackson had appeared au naturale in the infamous storeroom. Fifteen minutes since he’d arrived at the infirmary, trailing Daniel’s gurney. Ten minutes since the last time he was asked how long it had been. Two minutes since the last time he looked at his watch. That was a long two minutes.
“Sir?” Siler approached the general.
“Do you think he’s back for good?”
Hammond glanced back at the infirmary doors, then straight at Siler. “All I know from the reports Major Carter wrote about her experiences with Orlin is that when an ascended person descends to our realm of existence, they can’t re-ascend without the help of the Others, whoever they may be. As for Doctor Jackson, I honestly don’t know. Oma Desala ascended him to save his life, but he told SG-1 that he was breaking some very big rules on Abydos. They may have sent him back to us or he may have decided to leave. Your guess is as good as mine.”
“He needs to be back,” Siler commented lowly, muttering to himself.
Hammond looked at the sergeant, a bit surprised at the statement coming from Siler. “Sergeant?”
Siler cleared his throat, then said, “I don’t think SG-1 could handle losing him again. Forgive me for saying so, sir, but they’ve never really dealt with him being gone.”
“I know. When a team is as close as they are, losing a member is difficult. They’re not just a team, Sergeant. They’re what every team ought to be.”
“I hope Major Ferretti has reached the colonel,” he added.
Hammond glanced at his watch again. One more minute had passed. Had Ferretti found O’Neill yet? The team needed to be there for Daniel when he woke up. THEY needed to be there when Daniel woke up.
SG-1. When he formed that team, the brass at the Pentagon took bets as to how long they would last. No one thought the mis-matched team would last six months, let alone almost six years. They didn’t understand because they only read the mission reports. They didn’t see these four remarkable people in action day after day. They didn’t sit at a briefing room table listening to them tease or joke or complain or yell or argue loud enough to peel the paint off the walls. They didn’t see how these four people could become a cohesive unit so quickly because each filled a unique part on the team.
The infirmary doors opened, and all talking ceased immediately. Doctor Fraiser stepped out to the waiting group as everyone’s attention was riveted on her.
Janet answered the most pertinent question that was foremost on everyone’s mind. “First of all, yes, it is Doctor Daniel Jackson. All the tests we’ve run so far have confirmed that it’s him. We’re waiting on the DNA test to be absolutely sure. I can tell you that he’s alive and healthy with absolutely no sign of radiation.”
That one statement wiped out the tension and concern of everyone present. Daniel had a lot of friends at the base, and not everyone could be there. The news of his return would be burning a hole in the base grapevine as soon as the impromptu meeting was over – if it hadn’t already done so.
“Will he be all right?” Major Griff asked her.
“It’s too early to tell, Major,” she said quickly. “He woke up momentarily, but at the moment, he’s unconscious again. That might be normal for someone who has just retaken corporeal form, but we’re also dealing with other medical issues. The truth is that he’s presenting a new group of parameters that we’re having to take into consideration.” She gave a stern look to General Hammond, a silent request that he understood all too well. “As it stands now, we’re still running tests. We should know more in a few hours.”
Hammond could feel the tension in the room evaporate. Happy return or no, they still had a base to run. “All right, people. I think we can all get back to work now. Sergeant Siler, I believe you and Sergeant Davis have some equipment checks and diagnostics to run, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” they said in unison as they turned to leave.
“Gentlemen?” Hammond got their attention.
They turned back for a moment to hear him say, “Good job.”
“Thank you, sir,” Davis said, smiling as they left.
It took a few moments for the corridor to clear out so that only Hammond and Fraiser were left. They entered the infirmary, and Hammond saw Daniel lying on the nearest bed. He was asleep and hooked up to every monitor known to medical science. Daniel’s expression conveyed the contentment found only in sleep.
“How is he really, Doctor?” Hammond whispered.
“Alive and I hope well, but I honestly don’t know what to think about some of these results. I’ve never seen anything like this. Let’s go to my office, sir. I think we need to talk in private, and these walls have ears.”
Lou Ferretti and his team had been walking for almost twenty minutes. All his radio calls to SG-1 were still unanswered.
“Think they’re out of range?” Sergeant McCaffey asked after the latest attempt.
Ferretti took his hat off and wiped his forehead as he looked off at the city in the not-too-far distance. “They shouldn’t be. Our signal should reach a good ten miles. Maybe there’s some interference. The report did say the culture here is industrialized.”
The team stopped for a moment, then the sergeant asked, “Do we keep trying to raise them here or go searching for them?”
Ferretti looked back at his team, noticing how anxious they looked – it seemed he wasn’t the only one who was eager to find SG-1 – and put his hat back on his head. “The SGC couldn’t raise them when they tried earlier… Let’s head for the city. They’ve got to be somewhere close.”
JANET FRAISER’S OFFICE
Janet sat down at her desk and handed the general some paperwork. “I wasn’t exaggerating about Daniel presenting new physical parameters. We know absolutely nothing about descension and the toll on the human body. I’m a bit out of my depth, General.”
“I have complete faith in your abilities, Doctor,” he reassured her. “How is he really?”
Janet pointed to the paperwork in the general’s hands. “These are EEG readings I’ve taken from Daniel. The first is one before he … died from the naquadria radiation. The second is the one we ran as soon as we got him to the infirmary. The last is the one we ran a few minutes ago. Notice the differences?”
Hammond glanced through the three printouts. The first looked like any normal EEG reading he’d seen either on base or on television; the second had markings that were clearly erratic and off the scale. The third looked a great deal like the second, only without as many fluctuations. “If I were to make a guess, I’d say that this isn’t normal?”
“It’s extremely abnormal, sir, but I may have an explanation. The Ascended are different from us and work on an entirely different set of parameters, so trying to equate their, excuse the term, physicality to ours is a bit problematic, but here goes. If we assume that an ascended person’s brain processes much more energy and synaptic activity than a corporeal human’s would, then it could be argued that Daniel’s brain is now accustomed to existing as an ascended entity. It’s moving much faster than it would normally.”
“That makes sense,” the general agreed. “Colonel O’Neill told me that Daniel’s consciousness was in that cell with him when Ba’al had him imprisoned. Perhaps we could use the term disembodied consciousness for the Ascended?”
Janet nodded her head. “Yes, that may be part of it. If we use that theory and suppose that his brain was moving more quickly without being encumbered with a physical body, then becoming corporeal may have exacted a toll on him. A couple of seizures and erratically active brain wave activity could be one of the repercussions.”
Hammond placed the paperwork on Janet’s desk and sat back, watching the doctor as she tried to diagnose a strange, new condition. Janet picked up the paperwork, saying, “Perhaps all aspects of his physical self are having to become acclimated to being, well, physical again. Perhaps he descended much more quickly than he should have or there was something wrong with the descension. I don’t know. I do know that his brain wave activity is slowly coming back to normal.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?”
“Yes, sir. When Siler and Davis found him, he’d been descended a few moments. He was already having a very minor seizure. He had another very brief one when we brought him in. We’ve been administering anti-seizure medication, and he hasn’t suffered a third. I’ve already ruled out tonic clonic seizures – the more common name for that is a grand mal. I believe he did experience some myoclonic seizures.”
“How bad is that?”
“Not as bad as you’d think.” Seeing that Janet understood part of what her newest patient was going through, the general visibly relaxed. “A myoclonic seizure involves sudden, brief but massive muscle jerks that may involve the entire body or certain parts of the body. Daniel’s brain is moving more swiftly than his body can handle. When he woke up from the second seizure, he wasn’t moving or responding in any way. After a few minutes, he could move a finger, but I don’t think he was conscious that he was doing that. I think it was involuntary movements.”
“What’s the prognosis?”
“If we were looking at a situation with only corporeal conditions were adding in to it, I could tell you, but I truly believe that part of the problem is triggered by his descension. My best guess is just that, a guess. Right now, he’s still not responding to verbal or tactile stimuli. I think that his brain activity will come down to a normal pace eventually, and he’ll be fine. He’ll have a few rough hours ahead of him.”
“Anything I can do?”
Janet cocked her head and thought for a moment. “Having friends and family around at a time like this is crucial to the recovery of the patient.”
Hammond smiled. “Major Ferretti has already gone to get SG-1.”
Sleep… rest… want to sleep… I’m so tired… I have to warn them… there’s danger coming… there’s danger coming.
Daniel was tired, right down to his very marrow. Then again, he felt like he could take on the world if he could just move. Why couldn’t he move? Was that Janet’s voice he heard earlier? Did she say that he was going to be all right? To rest and get some sleep and he’d be fine?
Sleep… he could do that… sleep, perchance to dream…
As Daniel drifted off, he vaguely realized that he had been thinking in complete sentences.
The village wasn’t very large, perhaps a few thousand denizens, but it was rather “homey,” as Jack had said as they were invited in and allowed to meet and greet the people. Nice people, good food, pleasant atmosphere – not that Jack was interested in coming back for a vacation any time soon, but it was a nice place to spend a couple of days on walking around the town square while negotiating a trade agreement.
Now if Daniel were there…
Jack stopped that train of thought immediately. Daniel WASN’T there. He was ascended and flying around the cosmos with Oma, Shifu and the Abydonians. He wasn’t there negotiating a trade agreement with the government – a negotiation that would have taken half the time that it took him, Carter and Teal’c to establish. He wasn’t there pestering Jack to get a look at nearby ruins or buried nose deep in the local library learning all about the planet’s history and the goa’uld that brought them there. He just wasn’t there.
No one expected to see him again for a while, and that was probably what hurt the most.
Jack missed his friend.
Seeing him in Ba’al’s fortress only drove the fact home to Jack. He knew for a fact why SG-1 wasn’t SG-1 anymore, and it was because it had lost more than its conscience. Daniel’s presence in that cell, that indomitable will and unfailing optimism was testament to how much SG-1 lost.
Then, to see him again in the elevator at the SGC and on Abydos just a couple of weeks ago… forcing him to make a decision that Jack didn’t know the result of… it was frustrating. If Daniel was all right, he’d have made contact, right? Or Oma? Or Shifu? Even Kasuf or Skaara? Wouldn’t someone have told them that Daniel was all right?
Jack sat down on the steps leading up to the “courthouse,” as he called it. He’d walked around the town square, said howdy-do to any and all he happened to pass by and finally decided to sit and wait for Carter and Teal’c to finish the final touches on the trade agreement. These folks didn’t have much, but they did have a plant that had, as Carter put it, incredible medicinal qualities against allergies.
Daniel would get a kick out of that, wouldn’t he? No more allergy shots, no more antihistamines, just put a few drops of this plant juice in a cup of coffee and he’d be right as rain.
“All finished, sir,” Carter said happily as she and Teal’c descended the steps toward him. “They’ve agreed to trade.”
Jack stood up and dusted off his britches. “Good work. Now what?”
“We’ve been invited to remain another day,” Teal’c explained, a rare grin on his face. “They wish to learn more about Tau’ri customs.”
Customs. Sheesh. Just when you REALLY needed Daniel….
A call over his radio took Jack’s attention. “SG-1 niner, this is SG-4 niner. Do you read?”
It was Ferretti. The transmission was full of static and his words were chopped.
Jack answered back, “SG-1 niner. What are you doing here, Lou?”
A brief moment of static passed before the answer came. “We’re taking your place. Where are you?”
“In town. At the courthouse. What’s going on?”
“We’re about ten minutes away. I’ll tell you when I get there. Just be ready to leave. Ferretti out.”
That was informative. “Teal’c, go tell the leaders that Ferretti and his team will take them up on the offer. Knowing Lou, he’ll entertain them with some tall tales. That should keep them busy for a while.”
Teal’c inclined his head and went back into the building to deliver the news. After he left, Carter asked, “What do you think it is, sir?”
“You heard Lou. He’ll tell us when he gets here.”
Jack sat back down to wait.
“Incoming traveler!” Davis’ voice betrayed his excitement as he called out the alert. “SG-1’s signal, sir.”
Hammond waited at the end of the ramp for the team to come rushing back through the gate. He knew more than the usual number of eyes was watching the gate room. More than likely, the event itself would go down as one of the happier ones in SGC history, so who would pass up the chance to see it actually happen? He also knew that Jack would come through the gate running.
He wasn’t disappointed.
Jack ran through the event horizon, not stopping for a moment as he asked, “Where is he?” He had the look of someone who had run a marathon but he wasn’t even winded. The rest of the team came rushing in behind him.
Jack didn’t stop when his feet hit the floor. He headed straight for the gate room doors. Hammond pivoted on his heel and hurried to follow Jack out of the gate room.
“He’s in the infirmary,” he told the colonel. “He descended in one of the store rooms over three hours ago. He was unconscious when he was found; he regained consciousness not long afterwards but has been in and out of consciousness since then. Doctor Fraiser just called to tell me he’s awake now but that won’t last long.”
“Ferretti said he was solid?” Jack asked.
“One hundred percent, Colonel,” Hammond assured him as they reached the elevators.
“Is Daniel Jackson well?” Teal’c inquired.
“According to Doctor Fraiser, there’s no sign of any residual naquadria radiation, and he’s perfectly healthy. She’s concerned with his EEG readings.”
“His EEG?” Sam interrupted quickly as the elevator doors opened and they climbed on board. “What’s wrong?”
Hammond pressed the button for the 21st floor. “Doctor Fraiser’s explanation was that his brain was working faster than his body can handle. She’s performed several tests over the last few hours and each one shows that his mental... speed, for lack of a better term, is slowing down gradually to more normal levels.”
“Daniel’s always thought rings around everyone else,” Jack commented. “How do we know that --”
“Doctor Fraiser has compared his previous EEG readings to the ones she’s taken today. They’re only now beginning to look normal.”
The elevator doors opened and Janet Fraiser was standing there waiting for them.
“Janet?” Sam greeted her friend. “How is he?”
“Before you go in there, there are a few things you need to know,” Janet explained quickly. “He’s awake at the moment, but not very responsive. That’s due to the anti-seizure medication. He probably won’t be able to stay awake for long periods of time until tomorrow at least. He has periods of awareness when it’s obvious he’s listening but unable to respond. The few times we’ve noticed this, we’ve tried to get him to speak, but he’s having a great deal of difficulty communicating. He can get frustrated before he falls asleep again. Some of his movements are a bit clumsy. It could be that as an energy being, his mind wasn’t as influenced by physical laws and could move more quickly and is now adjusting. His last EEG indicates that he should be back to normal in a few more hours. Oh, Colonel, loud noises seem to bother him at the moment, so don’t yell.”
Jack didn’t take the bait at that last sentence. “But he’s alive and solid?”
“Very much so, sir. I think he’s having a little trouble adjusting to his new reality, so go easy on him until he can speak.”
“He can’t talk at all?”
“Not clearly, sir, and even then it’s only a word. Perhaps two. When he first woke up, he was completely uncommunicative. It seemed it took a few minutes for him to realize he was back in our world. His reactions are a little slow. I think his ability to process speech is being affected as well. In short, things are happening very quickly for him but he’s not responding quickly for a while.” She motioned for them to go into the infirmary.
They didn’t need to be invited twice.
Too many sounds… noises… at least it’s not hurting now… things are making more sense… I can think… I have to stop the danger… had to choose… I chose… I chose this… no regrets… had no choice… had to choose… had no choice…
He needed to do something, anything to get himself moving again. He knew he had precious little time to waste.
He tried to sit up, but muscles no longer familiar with gravity and air pressure and sheets and blankets protested. Sitting would be something though. Sitting had a form and a reason and a definition, but he didn’t quite know what it was. He knew that it wasn’t lying down. It was something to try to get him moving. He tried again and after a great deal of effort, finally succeeded in turning onto his side.
Yes! He did it! Actual movement!
The simple exertion of the exercise exhausted him. He had to rest before trying again.
Why… SGC. I had to come back. Had to choose, no, I had no choice…what was I supposed to do… right. I have to warn them about the danger…
He took a breath, not a deep one but one that let him know he was breathing. Solid. Corporeal. Physical. The mere sensation sent tingles like a thousand needles through his nerve endings. It was so strange, so odd. These physical affectations that he once took for granted seemed new yet vaguely familiar. It felt… good.
He knew he was able to think and make some sense out of his thoughts, but he was still in a jumbled mess of too many thoughts and ideas that had no form or order.
He tried to focus.
He needed to focus to stop the unbearable onslaught of incoherent sounds in his mind.
He focused on his choice.
He had to stop the danger.
He had to warn them.
He needed a few minutes before he tried to sit up again.
Entering the infirmary, the team was greeted with a sight they never thought to see again. There was Daniel lying on the nearest bed, his back to the door. He was still hooked up to the monitors but was paying them absolutely no attention.
Even from the back, the team could tell it was Daniel -- flesh, blood and bone all wrapped up in a set of blue infirmary scrubs and infirmary bed linen.
Jack walked over to him, set his gun down on the bed and then kneeled down so he was the one looking eye-to-eye with his friend. He saw that Daniel’s eyes were tightly shut, his forehead furrowed, his brow peppered with perspiration. He knew that look. He’d seen it too many times. It was the confused-but-still-thinking look he would get sometimes when studying an artifact. Jack reached out and took hold of Daniel’s arm. “Daniel? Hey, buddy, can you look at me?”
Moments passed before Daniel opened his eyes and looked uncomprehendingly at Jack with no indication that he recognized anyone. More moments passed before Jack saw any reaction at all. He noticed how Daniel looked at his friend’s hand where it held his arm and then reached out to touch Jack’s shirtsleeve. Daniel was acting as if he’d never seen BDUs before.
“Colonel,” Fraiser whispered, “I think that physical contact is something he’s not used to. We’re being careful about touching him more than necessary.”
“Oh,” Jack said as he gently let go of his friend but didn’t move his arm since Daniel still had hold of his shirtsleeve. Maybe it was okay if Daniel was the one reaching out to touch? It didn’t matter. He’d kneel there all day if it helped his friend.
Sam walked in front of them and sat on the opposite bed. “Daniel?” She smiled at him. “We’re all here.”
Again, moments passed before Daniel moved his eyes upward and looked at Sam. It appeared as if he didn’t recognize her either.
“Indeed we are, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c walked to the far side of the bed that Sam was sitting on. Now, Daniel could see all three of them easily.
However, he focused his attention on Jack’s shirtsleeve again.
“Janet?” Sam whispered.
“I don’t have any answers, Sam. I’m making guesses. If we were only dealing with physical trauma, I could tell you more, but I think the worst part of his condition is from the descension. This is new ground for me too.”
Jack watched as Daniel quit studying the BDUs and squinted at the SG-1 patch on his the shirtsleeve itself. His eyes blinked, he shook his head slightly, and then he looked at Jack, eyes squinting as if trying to bring him into focus.
He was squinting.
Jack couldn’t believe it! Sheesh! Oma sent him back but didn’t fix his astigmatism? Betcha she didn’t fix his nearsightedness either.
“Doc,” Jack motioned her over. “Got a pair of his glasses hanging around the infirmary?”
Janet smiled and retreated to her office. She came back with a single pair and handed them to Jack. “I kept them just in case,” she told him.
Jack promptly put them on Daniel’s nose. “How’s that?” he asked his friend. “Better?”
It must have been better because Daniel quit squinting as he looked at his friends. Daniel’s hands fumbled toward the glasses but couldn’t make contact. He barely reached his nose. It appeared to them as if he were trying to put the glasses on himself even though Jack had already done the honors. It seemed that he realized that moments later and let his hand fall back to the mattress. Again, the patch on Jack’s sleeve grabbed his attention. This inordinate display of concentration concerned them all.
Jack glanced over at Janet. “Doc, maybe we should call the Tok’ra. Maybe they know something about this kind of thing?”
Janet shook her head. “We already have, sir. Selmak told us that they know nothing about the Ascended or the effects on the human body after being descended. However, they would like a briefing on the information we learn from this.”
“I’ll just bet they would.” Jack looked over at the general. “Sir, I say we tell them to find their own descended person.”
“I’ll take that into consideration,” Hammond said, his eyes almost twinkling.
Oh, yeah, good general. He didn’t like that hands-off approach the Tok’ra had either.
“Tok…” Daniel tried to say, his mouth not forming the words correctly.
“Yeah, Tok’ra,” Jack finished for him. “They’re always wanting to horn in our stuff without sharing themselves.”
There was no response to the statement, either verbal or physical. Instead, Daniel reached out and touched the patch on Jack’s sleeve. His movements were slow, something very uncharacteristic of Daniel. He never moved slowly.
“It’s our team patch,” Jack said. Again, he saw Daniel have trouble talking. He kept trying to speak, but nothing was coming out of his mouth. No wonder the doc had said this was frustrating for him. Their Daniel not able to speak or form words, the very things that were part and parcel of his very soul had to be disturbing on a cosmic scale. “SG-1? You, me, Carter and Teal’c. Premiere team? Hammond’s pride and joy? Remember?”
Daniel looked at each one of them in turn, as if trying to put face, name and place in perspective. The look of anguish on his friend’s face was almost too much to bear. He did remember, he had to; he just couldn’t communicate the answer yet.
“It’s okay, Daniel. Doc says you’ll be fine soon, then you can tell us the whole story.”
Sam moved to sit beside Daniel and took his hand in hers. Teal’c took the place Sam had abandoned.
Hammond and Janet looked on silently for a moment at SG-1, whole and intact.
SG-1, as it should be.
Words were supposed to have form of some sort. He’d known that since he was young. Words were his lifeline to existence. They were the connection between thought and deed, idea and communication. They were amorphous, ambiguous, deliberate, concrete, specific, vague. They were hollow syllables and specific utterances that were given meaning by shared reference and experience. They were simple forms so remarkably complex as to be fleeting.
They were his stock in trade.
Then why couldn’t he utter a single, coherent word?
It was exasperating!
He looked at the people around him… his friends. He knew who they were. It took him a little while to put names to the faces, but why couldn’t he say their names? How many times in the past had he yelled out Jack’s name in warning? Didn’t he come back to warn… something…
Why was he back?
He had been ascended… he knew that… but he…
He couldn’t remember. All of his memories were slipping through his fingers like quicksilver.
He had to come back. He had to…
He had to warn them –
“Anubis,” he mumbled, his tongue barely able to form the syllables.
Daniel’s slurred word brought everyone in earshot to immediate attention.
“Anubis?” Sam asked as she tenderly placed a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “What about him?”
Janet spoke quietly. “Sam, he won’t be able to carry on a conversation for a little while.”
“This could be important, Doctor,” Hammond added.
“No doubt, sir, but look.” Janet pointed out Daniel’s EEG readings again. “The readings have calmed down considerably in the last few minutes, but they’re still too fast. I don’t know what the added stress of trying to communicate at this moment will do to him. He needs a little time.”
Time. Four letter word. The literal embodiment of that which built civilizations and tore down mountains, the universal panacea to all ills. The one thing they were going to have to live through before they could talk to their friend.
One look at Daniel showed the anxiety he felt at being unable to speak to them. They only had to wait a little while. They’d waited over a year for his return, they could wait another hour.
Hammond walked over and put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. The younger man looked up at the physical contact. He seemed more aware of what was going on. At least, he wasn’t looking at BDUs like they were an eons old artifact just excavated from the sand and held the answers to all the mysteries of life. “Take your time, son. Tell us when you can.”
The base grapevine was alive with the news that Daniel Jackson was back.
Every face Hammond passed on the way back to his office was either smiling or looked happy. There were murmurs in the hallway, excited utterances and cheerful astonishment.
There was a bit of life returning to the halls of the SGC.
Daniel had fallen asleep again, and Janet took advantage of that by using that time to give the rest of SG-1 their post-mission physicals. Each had questions she couldn’t answer, all wanted to know as much as she could tell.
How many times could she say she wasn’t sure?
She could treat the physical symptoms, but the cause? She could only guess. The descended weren’t cast down with an instruction manual. She kept repeating that he hadn’t had any more seizures, that sleeping was a normal side effect to the medication, that Daniel was perfectly healthy except for his needing glasses, but as far as the physical effects of becoming corporeal were concerned, she was learning things moment by moment.
That didn’t stop the team from worrying. Nothing would until Daniel sat up and tried to con his way out of the infirmary sooner than he should.
“Doc,” Jack spoke up for the third time in as many minutes as Janet took his blood pressure again, “the last time we saw him, he was breaking a lot of rules. Do you think the Ascended could have done something to—”
“Colonel, I don’t know. When he wakes up fully, we’ll be able to learn more.”
“You said when.” Jack pointed out.
“Yes, sir, I did. I don’t think it’s an if situation. All of his tests are coming back good and he’s more responsive than he was when he first woke up. I’m not very worried about him.” She hoped that she sounded convincing because she was worried. How could she not be? This was uncharted territory. “However, this is the second time I’ve taken your blood pressure. I think you should relax and quit worrying so much or you’ll be in the bed next to him. Understand?”
Any protest from the colonel was stopped when Janet raised her hand to keep him from uttering anything other than an affirmative. “Understand, Colonel?”
“Yeah, right, relax. I forced him to choose on Abydos, Doc. What if the Others decided to punish him and this is it? What if he doesn’t get any better?”
Janet glanced over at Daniel who was sleeping peacefully. “Oma Desala saved his life, sir. I don’t think she’d let the Others do anything to harm him.”
“Pfftt,” Jack raspberried the mere mention of the name. “Oma Desala and her whole non-interference-but-I’ll-interfere-when-I-want-to crap. She’s the one who ascended Skaara and the others pretty quick but she made Daniel lay there and suffer.”
“Hey, I’m grateful to her that she saved his life, but she could have done better by him. You saw the hell he went through.”
“Yes, sir, I did. I was here the entire time. I’m not arguing with you, but do you honestly think that after all that, Oma would let anything happen to him? And it’s not just her now either. Kasuf, Skaara and Shifu are all ascended as well.”
Jack stood up, towering over her as he looked down at her. “I don’t think his family would be able to protect him from the Others if they were out to get him, do you?”
Janet watched Jack walk over to Daniel’s bed and sit down in a nearby chair.
He was right. The Ancients, the Ascended, the Others, whatever they liked to be called were the people that built the stargates. These were the people who tried to control time. Would the people that cared for Daniel the most be able to protect him from their wrath if he broke their rules? No, when he broke their rules. Whatever they were, Daniel knew the consequences and took that step over the line to try to save the Abydonians.
Knowing Daniel as well as they did, his choice came as no surprise. Self-sacrifice was his raison d’etre.
There is a place in the nether realm of sleep when someone isn’t asleep but not aware that they’re awake. It’s that level of consciousness that the brain uses as a type of silent alarm clock that helps the sleeper realize that sleep time is over and it is time to wake up. That is the place where memories of dreams reside, in the vast canopy of coming wakefulness only to disappear when full conscious returns, realized only in vague wisps and whispers and déjà vu.
There, tucked safely in that place, Daniel remembered the events that led to his choice.
“Anubis is gathering his forces to attack Earth, Oma. I have to warn them. Maybe they can –“
“You cannot,” Oma warned him. “We cannot interfere. We are as the air and sky. We cannot dwell with the ground below.”
“I wasn’t thinking about dwelling,” Daniel said as he tried to explain his position to his friend and mentor. “Just visiting and giving them a heads up.”
“Each has a path, Daniel. Each must follow his own. We cannot place another path among them.”
It was going to be one of THOSE conversations. He just knew it. “Yes, each must follow a path, but there’s no rule that says we can’t show anyone where the other paths are, just that we can’t choose it for them. There’s a difference.” Why couldn’t the Ascended understand a simple concept like loopholes?
“Anubis is to life as a tall weed in the short grass. One will see him even if he hides.”
No, she didn’t understand. How could she? How many ages had it been since she was human?
“Oma, when you first helped me ascend, you said that the universe is vast and we’re small and the only thing we can control is if we’re good or evil, right?”
“Truth is as the bright sun. One may see it even if not looking directly at it.”
“Yeah, well we have a saying too. All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”
Oma considered that saying and must have agreed since she didn’t argue against it. “You are a good man, Daniel. Your strength in your convictions has led you to dangerous places. If you choose to leave, consequences will find your new path.”
“Leave?” Daniel had thought about leaving, just not yet. Yes, he missed his friends and his home. He missed being “real.” There was so much he could do in the ascended realm, but there were so many rules against doing anything.
“You sought to stop Anubis. The Others would have taken action against us had you succeeded.”
“Yeah, that’s what you told me.”
“You have not agreed with my actions,” Oma declared.
“I could have stopped Anubis and the Abydonians would have been saved.”
“They are,” Oma stated what to her was the obvious.
“They’re alive, and I’m grateful, but it would have been unnecessary if I had stopped Anubis then.” Daniel tried another tack. Maybe Oma could understand friendship? “Why did you take me away from Anubis’ throne room?”
“Your path would have ended if I had not.”
“You did it because I’m your friend?”
Oma smiled. “Yes.”
“And you’d do it again?”
“If necessary. One does not stray willingly else they will lose their way forever.”
“Willingly. So you’re saying that you understand my convictions meant that I had no choice but to try to stop Anubis?”
Perhaps it was circular logic that Oma was unaccustomed to, but her eyes widened with understanding. “Yes. For friendship, you could not stand by and do nothing. You could not let evil destroy the good.”
Daniel walked over to her, hoping that she’d understand more. “The SGC is good. They are a beacon of hope for many who have none. For any to be sacrificed when another choice is available is a destruction of good and lets evil prosper. I couldn’t let that happen then, and I can’t let that happen now.”
Oma nodded her head and placed a consoling hand on his arm. “The Others are watching. If you return to your friends, they will see and take action. They will not tolerate any disobedience to the rules. If you are to warn them, you must return to them fully. I will not be able to protect you otherwise.”
“It is your choice, Daniel.”
“And the consequences?”
“You have seen and learned much in your time here. This knowledge is far greater than many can understand. You will not remember all, only that about Anubis.”
Daniel could only speculate at the great amount of knowledge he could lose if he made this choice. “How much will I remember?”
Oma smiled. “Then your choice is made.”
It was his choice.
He had to warn them.
There was a sense of complete comfort seeping through his sleep-muddled brain. He was warm, rested and … safe?
There was something dancing on the edge of his awareness, something about not being safe, something about a danger, something he had to tell someone…
A familiar sound interrupted his thoughts. He didn’t want to leave his dark cocoon, but there was something… an urgency…
Daniel forced his eyes open. The familiar sound was Jack complaining about the commissary food, how it wasn’t fit for human consumption, that was why he ate Froot Loops and couldn’t they get a decent cook and –
“Daniel?” Sam’s voice was on his right. “Daniel! Janet, he’s awake.”
The clickety echo of heels on concrete were the next sounds he heard and then the pain of a bright light shining in his eyes was the next sensation.
“Pupils are reacting equally and normally. Daniel? Can you tell me how you’re feeling?”
Janet’s voice. That was Janet talking. He’d heard her talking earlier, hadn’t he? Something about resting and feeling better…
“Give him a minute, you two,” Jack’s voice was off to his left. “He just woke up.”
Daniel blinked his eyes, tried to focus… wait. He could see clearly. He lifted his hand up to his face and felt his glasses sitting there – right, Jack had given him his glasses earlier. He remembered that. That’s why he could see.
Looking around, he saw that everyone’s attention was directed at him, waiting for something? He saw Jack and Sam on either side of him, Janet beside Jack, Teal’c at the foot of the bed… bed?
SGC infirmary. Why was he there?
Right. He had a vague recollection of Siler and Davis finding him… then sleeping…
Everyone was looking at him rather expectantly. Why? Janet wanted him to tell her how he was feeling? He tried to say something, but nothing came out. Then he cleared his throat and tried again. “Uhm, hungry.” he finally said, his voice somewhat rough and not very loud. Jack HAD been talking about food, right?
That seemed to move people out of their focused attention on him. “That’s a good sign,” Janet said, smiling.
“I’ve got Froot Loops,” Jack suggested as he held up his bowl. “We can send down for Rice Krispies or Cheerios or Corn Chex or Frosted Flakes – you do NOT want what they’re serving this morning.”
Sam almost giggled. “Sir!”
“The commissary food is quite edible,” Teal’c corrected Jack, his eyebrow raised.
For whatever reason, this was amusing to Daniel who almost smiled despite everything.
“Enough,” Janet demanded quiet in her sanctum. “Daniel, I want to run some tests –“
“Stop,” he whispered, his voice sounding a little stronger than before. Amusement time was over.
Everyone suddenly quieted and stared at him. Perhaps saying stop wasn’t the right word to use? He just needed a few minutes to get his bearings, to get back his “sea legs,” so to speak. “Need a few minutes.” He tried to sit up but he still felt a little weak.
“Oh, no, you don’t, Doctor Jackson,” Janet placed a hand on his chest and pushed him back down to the bed. “You had two seizures after we found you yesterday, and I’m a little concerned about the results of several of your tests. I’d like to recheck a few things to rule out some of the obvious causes, but you’re right. We don’t have to do them this minute. I’ll have some breakfast brought to you.”
Daniel took a deep breath and said with as much clarity as his voice could muster, “Later. Got to warn them about…” He quit speaking. What was it he had to warn them about? Why was he back? He had to tell them about something, some danger that was coming…
“Daniel?” Jack prompted him as he helped him sit up over Janet’s protests. “What is it?”
Daniel thought for a moment, and then one name formed in his head, the one name that could bring about the destruction of everything on the planet.
Janet sat in her office and looked at the last EEG reading. It looked much more like Daniel’s baseline than it had. It was almost normal.
Looking at his file and all the readings they’d taken since the day before, he was bouncing back remarkably well. But, remarkably well or not, she refused to let Daniel leave the infirmary too soon. There were too many results she wanted to double-check and re-verify. Daniel agreed to stay in the infirmary for a little longer IF he could talk to SG-1 and Hammond immediately. Whatever it was, it was too important for him to disregard and far more important than he considered his own health to be. All of Janet’s protests were overruled by a colonel, a major and a Jaffa who argued Daniel’s case for him.
Janet thought about writing a book for doctors who have patients with an indomitable will when they’ve made their mind up. However, she couldn’t blame the colonel from doing anything Daniel asked at the moment. After being without Daniel for a year, if he’d asked for coffee made from fresh Columbian coffee beans, the colonel would steal a Cessna, fly down to South America, hand pick the beans and grind them himself. If Daniel wanted to tell them whatever it was he needed to tell them before being poked and prodded by the medical staff, she wasn’t going to argue… much.
She would wait.
If nothing else, seeing SG-1 smiling again was worth the wait.
From her office, she couldn’t hear what they were whispering about, but now, the looks on their faces were going from happy to worried in a few moments.
Something bad was coming. It had to be.
Hammond looked at the faces around him.
He saw smiles in the faces of SG-1 for the first time in over a year.
Daniel, thankfully, had regained much of his ability to speak. Doctor Fraiser had given everyone a stern warning against tiring Daniel out before she had a chance to run her tests, but she said it with a smile.
Listening to the people around him, Hammond felt like things were getting back to normal. Luckily, normal for SG-1 was rather loud, involved briefings with moments of humor and verbal banter thrown in for good measure.
Hammond had missed “normal,” and he was hearing “normal” by the bucketfuls.
Even though he wasn’t back to 100%, Daniel was giving Jack back as good as he got.
Damn, but life was good.
Eating and talking was a bit of a problem, but they’d been enjoying a little easy conversation as Daniel scarfed down his breakfast. It was when Jack asked about ‘life in the glowy lane’ that Daniel stopped talking altogether.
“Take it slow, son,” Hammond reminded Daniel when he saw how much difficulty Daniel was having recalling the last year. “Tell us what you can.”
Daniel reluctantly placed his coffee cup back on his now empty tray. He had been hungry. His breakfast disappeared before it could get cold which gave Jack a little more ammunition to pester Daniel with. “I remember being in the gate room with Jack and Oma, and Jacob trying to heal me here…” Daniel’s voice, still not as strong as they all knew it would be once he regained his strength, trailed off. He looked as if he were trying to remember something else, perhaps something personal?
Hammond glanced over at Jack who shrugged and told everyone, “We were in this other place before Daniel went with Oma. It was all blurry and shadowy and bright. Then Oma got a wormhole started, we said bye and Daniel went through the gate. Then I was back in the infirmary and the glowy thing Daniel turned into went through the ceiling.”
Hammond shook his head. There was a lot to the ascended way of life that no one had explained to him. He was going to have to have a long talk with his premier team. Later.
Daniel continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted, but it was like he was relating a half-believed dream. “Then there was this conversation Oma and I had, something about me having to make a choice about Anubis.”
Sam leaned forward. “You mentioned Anubis before,” she prompted him.
“Yeah, he’s got some big plans we’re going to have to be prepared for. That I am sure about.” He couldn’t resist. He picked up his coffee cup and drained the dregs. “Any more?”
“Not for you,” Jack reminded him. “Remember what the little powermonger said. One cup until she knows you’re 100%.”
“That’s cruel,” Daniel mumbled.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed. “That’s why she’s here.”
Teal’c, although clearly entertained by the familiar conversational give-and-take between his two friends, was not happy with the name Anubis being mentioned. “What of Anubis?”
“Yes, to business!” Jack chimed in. “No need to make small talk with someone who’s been gone for over a year.”
Hammond saw Jack and Daniel mirror each other’s grins at Teal’c’s seriousness.
Yes. Normal. Typical. Hammond had missed this. He briefly wondered if they’d get a mini-history lesson from their friend, and he found he wasn’t to be disappointed.
Daniel picked up his coffee cup, remembered it was empty and put it down a little more forcefully than he may have wanted to. Suddenly, he was in professor mode. Hammond could always tell. Daniel would get this focused look to his eye where he could look at everyone and not look at anyone in particular, yet everyone would think that he was speaking directly to them. It was an ability Hammond never quite got the knack for. “We knew Anubis was back a couple of years ago when Osiris and Tanith were working for him. He recruited the descendents of the Jaffa who served him before he ascended; they stole some pyramid ships and attacked a lot of smaller goa’uld posts. It was easy enough for Anubis to absorb those Jaffa into his forces. He hit small targets first to get his troop numbers up. Now, he’s attacking large forces. We already know he’s trying to find Ancient’s weapons. If he does, it won’t take long until he’s unstoppable.” Not only was his voice growing stronger with every sentence, his speech patterns were picking up speed to their pre-ascension levels. “He doesn’t want to just take over all the goa’uld regimes, he wants this entire galaxy under his thumb. Earth too. He’s a little upset with us.”
“You don’t say,” Jack joked.
“He’s planning on coming here eventually, and he’ll be bringing more than two ha’taks with him. He’ll bring his entire fleet.”
Hammond stood a little straighter. “So if we can disrupt his plans now before he can get all his forces in line, we may be able to stop him from coming here.”
“I don’t know,” Daniel explained. “I do know we have to try.”
There was a pause as each reflected on the dangers heading their way when Jack asked, “So, remember anything else?”
“No, that’s it. Other than I had to warn you and Oma didn’t want me to, uh, no.”
Hammond wasn’t the only one who saw the disbelieving squint to Jack’s eye. That meant one thing. He just picked up on something Daniel didn’t say. “Oma didn’t want you to warn us?”
“No. That would be interfering.”
“But you just did.”
“And you’re here, not a glowy squid looking thing.”
“You’re here because you came to warn us.”
“Right.” There was a bit of a question to Daniel’s statement.
“You’re here,” Jack stressed the word. “They kicked you out because you were gonna interfere.”
“Oh, no, that’s not why I’m here. Not exactly.”
“If I warned you about Anubis, I’d have to descend first because the Others wouldn’t like it if I warned you. This way, it’s not against the rules.”
“And you don’t remember the past year?”
“No. I think it’s part of the punishment.”
“Punishment,” Jack almost spat. “The Ancients turned Anubis into what he is and then won’t do anything about him, and they’re punishing you for doing what they ought to do. Ya know, Oma may have saved your life, but I think that bunch is about as worthless as the Tok’ra in a fight. You’re better off without them.”
“No!” Jack argued. “Anubis is their fault, and we’re the ones having to do the cleanup.”
That stopped Jack’s next tirade. “I’m right?”
“They kicked Anubis out of the ascended realm but he’s still ascended. Anubis was cast out of their plane of existence and no longer has their full powers or abilities, but he’s not corporeal either. He is still physically ascended. That suit he wears gives him a physical presence in our world. If he leaves his suit, he could give the Jaffa the impression that he’s really a god and one that’s more powerful than any of the others. His biggest problem right now is time. He knows the Tau’ri are looking for the Lost City and are just resourceful enough to find it before he does. He has to attack us, but he needs an army to do that. The Ascended won’t let him use any of his powers to destroy other goa’uld and take their Jaffa so he has to use more mundane means to wage war. Mundane means corporeal, so he can’t bother the Ancients, just us. They won’t take responsibility for their actions or deal with the situation for whatever reason.” Daniel’s voice was back, strong and sure, fast in his convictions and not stopping even if someone tried to interrupt. Not only that, but he was ever the voice of reason where Jack O’Neill was concerned. Hammond couldn’t count the number of times he was grateful to have Doctor Daniel Jackson at the same table with Jack, if for no other reason than to temper anger with sensibility.
Sam had been enjoying the verbal show as much as the others, but even she knew when the show was over. “Do you think that he learned of the location to the Lost City before he was cast out but just hasn’t had the military power to try to come after it?”
“It’s a possibility,” Daniel told her. “There’s no direct record of the Lost City that I know of.”
“Or remember,” Jack chimed in.
“Exactly. It may be that Anubis knows something we don’t and everything he’s doing is toward that end.”
“What kind of timetable are we looking at?” she asked
“I don’t know,” Daniel told her. “If I were to guess, maybe within the year?”
That didn’t give them much time, but now they could form a battle plan.
“And this is all you remember?” Hammond asked again.
“I think Oma let me remember that much. I get the feeling that descending wasn’t something she wanted me to do, but if I was going to give it up, I should at least be able to remember why I was.”
“You chose this,” Jack stated. “You gave it all up just to warn us.”
“I made a choice that wasn’t a choice.”
Ah. A play on words in true Jacksonian style.
“Only from you would that make sense,” the colonel observed. “So what do we do next?
“We find the Lost City.”
“Sure you want to risk this?” Jack asked Daniel as he helped him to his feet. “Doc says she wants to keep you here for a while. Poke, prod, pinch, see if you’re all in one piece.”
“I’m in one piece,” Daniel said as he found his balance after standing up for the first time that day. “And I want coffee. Do you honestly think I’ll get any if I stay here?”
“Uh, no. By the way,” Jack looked around to make sure no one was in earshot and whispered, “I had Siler run down to Starbuck’s. There’s a fresh supply hidden in my office.”
“Let’s get moving,” Daniel said.
“Oh, no, Doctor Jackson,” Janet walked over quickly. “You are not leaving. We haven’t finished half the tests we’re going to run and – “
“Janet, I’m fine. Even you said so,” Daniel told her as he picked up his jacket. “There’s too much to do to just lie around here.”
“I’ll look after him, Doc,” Jack quickly volunteered. “Carter and Teal’c will too. He just wants to take a little walk, that’s all. Like he said, he needs to get his sea legs back. It’s been a year since he’s walked on his own. Right, guys?”
Both Sam and Teal’c nodded and voiced their opinions in the affirmative.
Janet saw the four of them looking at her with vivid determination. There was no arguing with this group when they set their mind to something, and Daniel uttering the words, “Can I get out of here now?” had spurred them into action. Teal’c went to the locker room and found some of Daniel’s clothes at the bottom of his locker – unused for all the time he’d been gone. Within minutes, Daniel was dressed in his BDUs and ready to leave.
“All right,” Janet finally conceded defeat. Daniel needed to move, to get out of the infirmary for a reason he hadn’t articulated yet, and that was good enough for the other three members of the team. If that’s what Daniel wanted, then come hell or high water, the other three would get it for him. She had no doubt that somewhere on the base was a fresh supply of Daniel’s favorite blend. Luckily, Daniel’s demands were usually more sensible. “The second he starts getting tired, I want him back here. I’ve got a couple of dozen tests to run on him, and the only reason I’m letting him out is because he seems to think it will help.”
“We’ll bring him back later, Janet,” Sam promised.
That was a piecrust promise – one easily made, one easily broken. The second Daniel said he needed to do something else, the promise to bring him back to the infirmary would fly out the window.
Daniel was a little wobbly with his first two steps, but then he was walking under his own power. Teal’c and Jack stood on either side of him just in case, but within a few moments, he was walking out the infirmary doors with a steady gait.
“Where to?” Jack asked.
“Your office. I need coffee. Then we need to search through every bit of Ancient’s text we have.”
Sam took the lead. “We can start with the tablet we found on Abydos. You said it mentions the Lost City.”
“I did? What tablet?” Daniel asked.
Sam stopped and looked back at Daniel. “The tablet we found in the hidden room in the Abydonian pyramid. The one you said was more important than anything else there.”
“You don’t remember what happened on Abydos?” Jack asked him.
“No. What happened? Are Kasuf and Skaara all right?”
Jack looked at his friends, took Daniel by the arm and led him down the corridor saying, “Come on, I’ll tell you about it. It’s not the best news you’ll hear all day.”
PERSONAL MEMO: Regarding status of Doctor Daniel Jackson
FROM: Major General George Hammond
TO: Lieutenant General Alexander Vidrine
As per my attached reports, I have reinstated Doctor Daniel Jackson to full status on SG-1. I have approved his reimbursement of one year’s pay, hazard pay and restitution for working with a potential ally for this past year. General Jumper has ordered that a domicile and transportation be procured for Doctor Jackson at our earliest possible convenience. He has undergone a variety of tests from our medical personnel over the previous two weeks and has adequately passed all fitness and endurance tests required for an off-world team. I have also included Colonel Jack O’Neill’s report which endorses Doctor Jackson’s return to SG-1 <see attached memo: O’Neill, Jonathan, Colonel, regarding Jackson, Daniel, Doctor>.
I cannot adequately stress the need for a fully staffed linguistics and archaeological departments. The information of a forthcoming attack by Anubis has made this need far greater than before. Anubis’ use of the Ancient technology and Ancient language is, in my opinion, a greater danger than the Goa’uld represent alone. I have reinstated Doctor Jackson to his former position as head of both departments and respectfully request your perusal of his recommendations of the inclusion of additional scientific staff <see attached memo: Jackson, Daniel, Doctor, regarding Scientific and Linguistic Personnel>.
I would urge the Joint Chiefs to recognize the sacrifices made by Doctor Daniel Jackson for the SGC. I am forwarding a request to the President that official recognition be given to Doctor Jackson for his many contributions to this base, to this planet and to our allies. He has laid the groundwork for a possible alliance with the Ancients, the creators of the Stargate system and by far the most powerful beings we have encountered. Their unwillingness to interfere officially has proven to be an obstacle but we believe that this code of conduct is not absolute. We are pursuing any and all informational leads that can aid us in establishing a dialogue with them.
The one task we are seeking to accomplish is locating the Lost City. We have many artifacts that Doctor Jackson has been translating and he has found several references regarding the city and its location. I have included Doctor Jackson’s reports pertaining to these artifacts and will maintain a current log of this information.
It is our fervent hope that finding the Lost City will allow us to defend not only Earth but also the galaxy itself against Anubis.
Hammond placed his memo on top of the pile of reports he was sending back to Washington. He glanced at the stack and saw the familiar names of the four members of SG-1.
It had been a long time coming.
The day Daniel ascended, Hammond knew that things had changed irrevocably. Yet, at the SGC, irrevocably was a word like death. It wasn’t always permanent. When fate gave a slight twist, things could go back to normal.
SG-1 would be put back on mission rotation the next week. They’d spent the last two weeks getting Doctor Jackson’s life back in order, and it was two weeks well spent. When O’Neill had explained the events on Abydos and the ultimate outcome, Hammond learned that Doctor Jackson knew more swear words in various languages than he’d first imagined. He was angry at himself, at the Ascended, at Anubis. But, as Colonel O’Neill had pointed out, the Abydonians were still alive. They were ascended, just as he was and knowing Skaara, he was having as much trouble keeping to the rules as his brother-in-law had.
Life got back to normal after that. Between the barrage of tests and training sessions, Daniel proved to be as fit for duty as he had ever been. O’Neill had put him through his paces on the firing range, Teal’c had worked with him in the gym, and Doctor Frasier had spent countless hours taking samples and testing his physical condition. Off time, Daniel had stayed at O’Neill’s house until he could find a place of his own, courtesy of the United States Air Force. Major Carter and Teal’c were frequent visitors in their off hours, and the team had rebonded as if a year hadn’t passed since they were all together, Abydos notwithstanding.
In a way, it was as if the last year hadn’t happened, that they hadn’t been separated.
Yet, with his premiere team back together again, that didn’t mean that the mundane routine of running the base had changed. No, indeed. Some things were the same as they’d always been.
Hammond pulled out another memo sheet and wrote:
PERSONAL MEMO: Regarding the use of base computers to engage in the fighting of cyber aliens in online games
FROM: Major General George Hammond
TO: Colonel Jack O’Neill
It has come to my attention that certain individuals have once again reinstated the use of the base’s Internet connection to play online games. It would be prudent for these individuals to cease and desist any and all gaming activities unless working KP in the kitchen is preferred to following this directive.
It has also come to my attention that Colonel Prescott at NORAD has lost five successive games in a row. In light of the good relations we strive to maintain between the personnel of this base and NORAD, it would be acceptable that one more challenge to NORAD be issued and the game lost by said SGC personnel. It may also be advisable to procure a Playstation for SG-1’s personal use. I understand that a certain colonel lost the last three games to a certain archaeologist before his ascension. I have no doubt that a rematch can be scheduled.
Your acceptance of this proposal has already been taken into consideration.
George smiled a self-satisfied grin. Not much happened at the base that he didn’t know about. Jack wouldn’t like the memo, and to tell the truth, Hammond didn’t mind a little downtime, but the online games stole too much bandwidth and could cause the servers to become too busy to deal with daily activities. Letting Prescott win their last match would be punishment enough for Jack.
That taken care of, George glanced at the duty roster and saw the name SG-1 at the top of next week’s assignments.
SG-1, Earth’s premier team heading off to adventures unknown. And like the cliché stated, one for all and all for one.
No, SG-1 wasn’t just a team. It was what a team should be.
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