Stargate Horizons


Sam, Jack and Teal'c came out the other side of the Stargate and immediately noticed that there had been recent activity in the area.

"These tracks are no more than an hour old," Teal'c stated.

"They seem to be heading down the path to the temple," Sam said.

Jack stepped forward.  "Then let's go see what's going on."

They moved down the path with caution, keeping a sharp eye out.  As they drew near the temple, they all heard what sounded like chanting.  Soon, the ruins came into sight, and they stopped in their tracks.  Twenty men were slowly making their way into the temple.  Each one of them was holding what looked like a glowing red crystal clutched in both hands and was repeating the same phrase over and over again.  The men all wore long, dark brown cloaks and headdresses made with beads, feathers and what looked like small animal bones.

"It looks like some kind of religious ceremony, sir," Sam commented.  "I wonder what those crystals are."

"Well, whatever they are and whatever those guys are doing, maybe they can tell us what's wrong with Daniel.  Since they're not wearing any protective clothing, I'd say that it's probably safe for us to take our helmets off.  We wouldn't want to scare the natives."

The SG-1 members removed the helmets of their Hazmat suits and approached the temple.  Not noticing their presence, the natives continued into the temple.  The sound of their chanting grew louder, carrying on for a couple of minutes, then everything grew silent.  A short while later, the men came out of the temple.  The crystals they carried were no longer glowing.

The moment the men caught sight of SG-1, they stopped.  Jack stepped forward.

"Uh, hey there.  How ya doing?" he greeted.  The men all looked at each other.  "We came through the Stargate, that, um, big circle thing."  Another pause.  "Do you understand anything I'm saying?"

The oldest of the men stepped forward.  "You are not of our people," he said.  "From where do you come?"

"We're from a planet called Earth," Sam replied.  "We're explorers."

"Have you come to give tribute to Bendrak?"

"Bendrak?" Jack repeated.

"The great spirit who lives in this place.  Each year at this time, Bendrak demands tribute.  If you do not have tribute you must leave this place immediately."


"Because Bendrak will grow angry and smite you."

Jack's eyebrows rose.  "Smite us?"  He shook his head slightly.  "Look, we were here earlier today with another person.  This other person went into the temple and, now, he's sick.  He—"

"He went into the temple without tribute?!" the native fairly screeched.  The other men murmured among themselves, looking scared.

"Well, uh, yeah.  We didn't know about this Benny guy.  We thought the temple was abandoned."

The natives were growing quite agitated.  "Your companion insulted Bendrak by entering his temple without tribute.  You must leave!  You must leave now or Bendrak will become wrathful and kill us all!" the spokesman for the group said.

"Whoa, wait a minute.  Nobody's leaving until we get some answers.  We need to find a cure for our friend."

The man was shaking his head rapidly.  "There is no cure.  Your friend is already dead by now.  Bendrak has stolen his life power.  Go now or you will share his fate!"

That having been said, the natives fled away down the path, clearly terrified.  Jack, Sam and Teal'c all looked at each other.

"Well, Benny or no Benny, I'm going to get to the bottom of this," the colonel declared.  He strode toward the temple.

"Sir!  I really don't think you should go in there," Sam objected.  "If there is something in there that made Daniel sick, it could happen to you, too.  Those natives were scared for a reason."

"We came here to find out what happened to Daniel and find a way to cure him, and that's what I intend to do, Major."

Jack took another step toward the temple, then stopped as an icy cold wind swept around them.

"O'Neill!  There is something in the temple!" Teal'c warned.

Jack looked up and saw what looked like an inky shadow hovering in the doorway.  Jack felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

"Sir, we need to get out of here.  Now," Sam insisted.

All of Jack's instincts were telling him she was right.  "Okay, fall back.  Let's get to the Stargate."

They quickly retreated down the path to the gate.

"The presence does not appear to be following us," Teal'c said.

"Maybe it needs to stay near the temple," Sam insisted.

Jack looked with a careful eye at the vegetation surrounding them.  "Or maybe it's just not showing itself.  What was that thing?  Any ideas?"

"No, sir, but, whatever it is, I'm certain it's responsible for Daniel's illness.  We should have listened to him, Colonel.  We should have listened to Daniel when he tried to warn us.  It's our fault that he's ill."

A sick feeling grew in the pit of Jack's stomach.  "No, Carter.  You should say what you're really thinking.  This is my fault.  I'm the one responsible for this.  I'm the one who ignored Daniel's warning and made him go into that temple.  Once again, I let my temper and stubbornness get the better of me, and these are the consequences of my actions."

Silence reigned for the rest of the trip back to the Stargate.  As they exited the other side of the wormhole, they found Hammond waiting for them with an expression of hope on his face.

"What did you find?" he asked.

"Daniel was right, sir," Jack told him, regret and guilt heavy in his voice.  "We should have listened to him."

After removing their hazmat suits, SG-1 quickly debriefed the general.

"So, you're certain that this Bendrak is what caused Doctor Jackson's illness?" Hammond asked.

"Yes, sir," Sam replied.  "The natives were obviously terrified of it.  By what they said, I'd guess that they have some experience with that thing's anger.  It's probably why they bring it tribute, to prevent it from attacking them."

"And you have no idea what those red crystals were?"

"None, sir.  The fact that they were giving off light when the natives entered the temple but weren't when the natives left seems to indicate that the crystals were generating some kind of energy that was drained from them, possibly by Bendrak."

"The man who spoke to us said that Bendrak had stolen Daniel Jackson's life power," Teal'c said.  "If this creature could remove the energy from those crystals, could it not be that it can also remove energy from a living body?"

Sam frowned.  "Um, yeah, I guess.  But, if that's the case, why didn't Daniel die immediately?  The energy from those crystals was completely drained within a couple of minutes.  Daniel was in that temple for a lot longer than that, yet he didn't start showing symptoms until later on."  Sam remembered something.  "That native seemed to think that Daniel would already be dead."

"Well, he's not.  He's still alive," Jack said rather harshly.

"But what if he shouldn't be?  What if whatever it is that Bendrak does to people usually acts a lot faster?  Daniel may only be alive now because there's something about our physiology that enables us to survive longer."  A look of excitement came to her face.  "If Janet could determine any differences between our physiology and that of the natives, it might give her a clue as to what will save Daniel's life!"

"Good thinking, Major," General Hammond said.  He turned to Jack.  "Do you think that you could convince one of the natives to come here?"

"I don't know, sir, but I can damn well try, even if I have to drag one of them kicking and screaming through the gate."

"We don't want an incident, Colonel.  Go back through with SG-9.  Lieutenant Sayers has plenty of experience negotiating with alien cultures.  He may be able to convince the natives to allow one of their people to come with you.  Perhaps if you take along gifts or food you can make a trade."

Sam nodded.  "I'd also really like to find out more about those crystals, perhaps study one."

"All right.  Teal'c, get together with Lieutenant Sayers and gather some food and anything that you and he think would interest the natives.  Major, if there's any kind of equipment that you think you might need, bring it along.  Colonel, you and I will brief the other members of SG-9 in fifteen minutes.  Everyone meet back in the gate room in one hour.  Dismissed."

SG-1 left the briefing room.

"Sir, I want to go see Daniel," Sam said to Jack.

"I, too, wish to see Daniel Jackson before we return to the planet," Teal'c stated.

"Okay, Carter, you go see Daniel now.  Teal'c, as soon as you and Sayers are finished gathering what you need, you can go visit him.  Tell Daniel that I'll stop by before we leave."

Sam headed to the infirmary.  Her eyes went to Daniel as soon as she entered.  Janet was at his bedside.  She saw the major and approached her.

"How's he doing?" Sam asked quietly, her eyes remaining on the archeologist.

"Not good, I'm afraid.  His condition is continuing to deteriorate.  He's beginning to show signs of jaundice caused by reduced liver function.  The latest batch of tests confirms that all his organs are failing."  Janet met Sam's eyes.  "His nervous system is being affected.  He's losing the ability to move his arms and legs, and it will only be a matter of time before the paralysis extends to the rest of his body."  She shook her head helplessly.  "I've tried everything I can think of, but nothing is working."

Sam fought back her tears at the dire news.  "We may have something that will help."  She explained to Janet about what they'd learned and what they were planning on doing.

Janet nodded, a spark of hope in her eyes.  "You may be onto something, Sam.  If you're right about this, it is very possible that there is a difference in the physiology or body chemistry of the natives that makes them more susceptible to this Bendrak's power.  If we can find out what that difference is, I may be able to use the information to boost Daniel's immunity, so to speak."

"Can I go see him?" Sam asked.

"Sure.  He's been asking about you.  He was very upset when he found out that you went back to the planet.  He's worried."

Sam went over to her friend's bedside.  At her approach, his eyes opened.

"Sam!  Are you all right?  What about the others?"

"We're all fine."  The major sat on the edge of the bed.  "Daniel, you were right all along.  There was something there in that temple.  We saw it."

"You saw it?  Did it hurt you?"

"No, we left as soon as we saw it."

"But you might be sick now, too. You shouldn't have gone there."

Sam shook her head.  "We didn't go in the temple, Daniel.  We stayed away from it.  It never touched us."

The archeologist relaxed slightly.  "What did it look like?"

Sam told him about what happened and explained their plan.

"Don't hurt them, Sam.  Don't force them to do anything they don't want to."

"We won't hurt them, Daniel, but we need to get one of them back here so that Janet can examine him."

"Only if you can convince one of them to come willingly," the linguist insisted.

"I don't think the colonel is going to take no for an answer, Daniel.  He's pretty determined to get one of them here.  I know you're worried about the natives, but if this can save your life, we need to do all that we can.  We'll take good care of whomever we bring back with us."

"Sam, listen to me.  If these people are worshipers of this Bendrak, he may be protecting them.  If you threaten them in some way, Bendrak might attack you.  You, Jack, Teal'c and SG-9 can't risk your lives just for me.  It's not worth it."

Sam took her friend's hand.  "It's worth it to us, Daniel.  You're our teammate and our friend.  The colonel, Teal'c and I are going to do whatever is necessary to find a way to save you."

Daniel shook his head.  "Please, Sam.  Don't do anything that might get you killed.  I can accept my own death.  I've faced it enough times that it doesn't scare me anymore.  But if something was to happen to one of you. . . ."

Tears welled up into Sam's eyes.  "Daniel, please don't ask us to throw away what could be your only chance.  We can't just stand by and watch you die if there is something that we can do to help.  If you were in the same place, you'd do all that you could.  You'd risk your life for any one of us.  How can you ask us to do any less?"

"I just . . . I can't lose you guys, too."

"Oh, Daniel," she whispered, feeling a lone tear slip down her face. "You won't lose us."  She ran a hand through his hair.  "I have to go now.  There are some things I need to gather.  Teal'c and the colonel will both be coming by to see you before we head back to the planet.  You get lots of rest, okay?  We'll be back as soon as we can."

Sam left the room, trying to regain control of her emotions.  She wouldn't admit it to Daniel, but she was scared out of her mind.  What if they failed to find a cure for what was wrong with him?  She had seen the look in Janet's eyes and knew that the doctor was helpless against this thing that was draining the life from their friend.  If they couldn't find the answer within the natives of the planet, then there would be nothing they could do to help him.  He would die.

'No!  He can't die!' Sam cried silently.  'I can't go through that again.'

Hastening her steps, Sam made her way to her lab, determined that, one way or another, they were going to find a cure for Daniel.

Daniel sensed a presence beside his bed.  He opened his eyes and saw Teal'c standing there.  "Hey, Teal'c.  Are you getting ready to leave for P7Y-359?"

"That is correct, Daniel Jackson.  Have you been told of what we hope to accomplish?"

"Yeah.  Sam filled me in.  I told her not to force the natives into cooperating.  I don't want anyone to get hurt."

"We will endeavor not to harm any of the native people of the planet, but we must encourage one of them to come back with us."

Daniel knew that when Teal'c said "encourage" he meant that they were going to bring one of them back regardless of what it took.  "Teal'c, you have to be careful.  We don't know how Bendrak would react to any threat posed to the natives.  You could put all your lives at risk if you push things too far."

"We are willing to take that risk," the Jaffa stated, as if there was no question that they would put themselves in danger for his sake.

"But I'm not willing to let you take that risk.  Risking seven lives for the sake of one makes no sense."

"If it was O'Neill, Major Carter or I who was now ill, would you not be in agreement with this plan?"

Daniel was silent for a moment.  "If I couldn't find a way to get the natives to cooperate, then I guess that I'd be willing to temporarily kidnap one of them as long as it didn't result in bloodshed."

"Then why do you insist that we not do the same for you?"  When Daniel did not answer, Teal'c looked at him more closely.  "Do you believe that your life is of less value than ours?"

Daniel didn't reply for a long time.  "You, Jack and Sam are needed in the SGC.  Earth needs you in the fight against the Goa'uld.  I'm not nearly as important."

Teal'c stared at him.  "I do not agree with your assessment.  You have great skills that are of need in our battle against the Goa'uld.  No other individual in the SGC possesses your great knowledge and expertise.  Many missions that we have been on would have been a failure if it were not for you.  We would surely have died on more than one occasion if you had not been with us."

"You got along fine without me for the year I was ascended, Teal'c."

"We did not."


"We did not 'get along fine' without you, Daniel Jackson.  There were times when we almost failed because you were not present to aid us.  Jonas Quinn endeavored to gain your knowledge, but he was only partially successful, and he could not match your skills in other regards.  We missed you greatly during the year that you were ascended, both as a valued member of SG-1 and as a friend.  Since your return, you have once again proven yourself to be a vital asset to the SGC and our continued fight against the Goa'uld.  If it were not for you, all of the men on P3X-403 would have been slaughtered by the Unas.  You are the only one who could have done what you did.  Colonel Edwards gave you high praise in his report.  Because of you, we have a rich source for Naquadah and have gained a strong ally in the Unas.  There may come a day when Unas will fight beside us against the Goa'uld.  With their strength to aid us, we will be more powerful."

Teal'c looked at Daniel intently.  "Do not underestimate your worth to us, Daniel Jackson. We do not wish to lose you, and we will do what must be done to save your life.  I, personally, will gladly risk my life for your sake.  Many years ago, I vowed that I would protect you at all cost to myself.  That has not changed."  He stared at the archeologist for a moment longer.  "I must leave you now.  We will be departing soon.  When we return, we will have one of the natives with us."

The Jaffa turned and began walking away.

"Teal'c?" Daniel called quietly.  The man looked back at him.  "Thank you."

Teal'c inclined his head and walked out of the infirmary.  Only a moment later, Jack came in.

"I saw Teal'c leaving.  Did he just talk with you?"


"So, I guess you know what we're going to do."

Daniel nodded.  "I tried to convince both Sam and Teal'c that you mustn't force any of the natives to come with you, but they wouldn't listen."

"Yeah, well, they were right.  I know you have this thing about making nice with the local people of every world we go to, but this is your life we're talking about, Daniel.  If we have to knock out one of those guys and bring him through the gate against his will, then that's what we're going to do.  Once Janet runs him through all her medical doohickeys and gets all the blood and other stuff she needs, we'll take him back to the planet, none the worse for wear.  Don't worry.  We're not going to shoot a bunch of them in the process.  If we have to shoot anyone, we'll use zat guns."

"I know that you wouldn't shoot the natives, Jack.  That's not what concerns me.  It's what Bendrak might do.  What if he decides that he doesn't like how you're dealing with the natives?  What if he goes after you?  You could all get killed or end up sick like me.  I don't want that to happen."  Daniel looked Jack straight in the eye.  "Please don't risk everyone's lives unnecessarily for my sake."

"Daniel, I don't put my team at unnecessary risk.  Every risk we take is one that I deem to be required to get the job done.  I'm responsible for the lives under my command, and one of those lives is yours."  He met the archeologist's gaze.  "I screwed up, Daniel.  I didn't listen to you, and, now, you're paying the price.  I'll be damned if I'm going to let the chance to fix this get away from me.  We'll take every precaution on this mission, and if it looks like we're going to have to tangle with this Benny guy, then we'll back off, but I'm going to do everything I possibly can to bring one of those natives back with me.  That's all there is to it."

Daniel gazed at him for a long, silent moment.  "Jack, about what I said in my office—"

"No.  Don't apologize, Daniel.  You have nothing to apologize for.  I'm the one who needs to do that.  When this is all over with we'll talk, okay?"

Daniel nodded.  "Okay."

Jack glanced at his watch.  "I gotta go.  We're leaving in ten.  You hang in there."



"Be careful."

"You betcha."

As he left the infirmary, Jack let his mask of confidence fall.  He was scared.  No, he was downright terrified.  Jack had been around Janet Fraiser long enough that he could read her moods, and he knew that she was pinning all her hopes on what she could learn from the natives of P7Y-359.  If it didn't pan out. . . .  No!  It had to!  He couldn't accept anything else.  He'd already had to say goodbye to Daniel too many times.  It was not going to happen again.

Jack thought about the last time he'd helplessly stood by and watched as his best friend died.  He thought about the words they'd spoken to each other in the infirmary.  He almost halted in his tracks when the meaning of something that Daniel had said truly registered on him for the first time.  When he told Daniel that he wasn't going to let everyone put the blame for the accident on the archeologist's shoulders, Daniel had asked, "Why do you care?"  At the time, the meaning behind that question hadn't impacted on Jack, but, now, coupled with what Daniel said earlier today in his office, Jack suddenly knew what Daniel was saying that day, and the knowledge was like a sledgehammer blow to the gut.  Daniel had truly not known why Jack was going to so much effort on his behalf.  Even then, Daniel had believed that Jack no longer cared about him, that their friendship was dead.  Jack's steps faltered.  And, instead of assuring Daniel that was not the truth, he had given him a pathetic, half-assed compliment about admiring him.  He was watching his friend die, and he couldn't even find the courage to say what he really felt, that knowing Daniel was going to die was ripping him apart inside.

'You really are a pathetic loser, O'Neill,' Jack told himself.  'Daniel has been a hell of a lot better friend to you than you've been to him.  In fact, you haven't been much of a friend at all these past few years.  No wonder Daniel thinks you don't care.  And what if he dies again?  What if you have to watch death take him away from you yet again, this time for good?  Are you going to be a coward and let him die without telling him the truth or are you going to shove your pride and that damned stupid wall you keep your emotions locked behind into the nearest black hole and tell your friend how much you care about him?'

Swallowing the rock that seemed to have formed in his throat, Jack increased his pace.  Daniel was not going to die.  It was not going to end this way.  And, if it was . . . if it was, Jack swore an oath to himself that he would say the words he should have a long time ago.

Next Chapter

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