Stargate Horizons


Daniel returned to his office and sat back down at his computer.  He had a niggling feeling in the back of his mind that there was something he should be remembering, something important.  The last time he had such a feeling was when he was getting flashbacks of something he'd seen while ascended.  That time, his memory saved the lives of Rya'c and Bra'tac, as well as many other Jaffa who then joined the resistance.  What secret was trying to surface from the confines of his memory this time?  Daniel was sure it had something to do with the crystals.

Daniel turned his attention back to his search.  He was only a few minutes into it when a thought came to him.  Back when the knowledge of the Ancients was accidentally downloaded into Jack's brain, Daniel came up with the idea that the Ancients might have been the race that the Romans called the Ancient Ones, the 'gods' that taught them how to build roads.  If these crystals were Ancient technology, it was safe to assume that, if there was any mention of them in Earth's history, it would most likely be within the history of the Roman civilization.

Narrowing his search to Roman myths and legends, specifically those associated with the gods they called the Ancient Ones, Daniel continued his search.  Before he knew it, it was 12:30.  He headed over to Sam's lab.  There was an expression of bewilderment on the major's face.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I don't know.  The energy readings have gone up again.  I just can't figure it out.  They dropped back down and have been holding steady until just a few seconds ago.  Now, they've increased substantially again."

"And you have no clue what's causing the increase?"

"None.  We haven't done a thing."

Daniel looked at the crystals.  "I'm assuming that you won't be going to lunch."

"I can't, Daniel.  Something is affecting these crystals, and I need to figure out what it is.  I have to determine if they pose a danger to the base."

"Okay.  I hope you have some luck, Sam, and if you want any help, just let me know."  Daniel smiled.  "Maybe we can put our heads together like we used to."

Sam returned his smile.  "You know, I wouldn't mind that at all.  Maybe we'd get this thing figured out.  How about if you go get your lunch and bring me back something?"

"Sure, I can do that.  I'll be back in a few."  He left the lab and headed to the commissary.  He was looking forward to working with Sam.  There was a time when they did that a lot, but, over the years, it had become less frequent.

Daniel got sandwiches for himself and Sam, along with two cups of coffee, then returned to the lab.  By the look on Sam's face, he knew that she was pretty frustrated.

"Did it do it again?" he asked.

"Yeah.  After you left, the levels went down, and, now, they've gone back up again," she replied.

Daniel put the food down and approached the case containing the crystals.  "They went down after I left?"

"Uh huh."

"Right after I left?"

Sam looked at him, frowning.  "Yes."

"When did they start going back up?"

"Just a moment ago."

"Just before I came back?"

"Yeah.  Daniel, what are you thinking?"

"Sam, every time the levels were high, was I here?"

Sam stared at him, realizing what he was inferring.  "Daniel, are you saying that you're the one causing the increased levels of energy?"

"Well, I don't know, but it seems kind of coincidental that each time the levels went up was when I came here.  It would be easy enough to test.  I'll walk out of the room, and you see what happens."

Sure enough, as soon as Daniel left, the energy output from the crystals decreased.  A few seconds later, they began climbing again, and a moment later, Daniel walked into the room.

"This is unbelievable," Sam said.  "The crystals are actually reacting to your presence.  The closer you are to them, the higher the energy reading is."  She looked at him.  "Daniel, there has to be something within you that's causing this."

Daniel's brow knit with a frown.  "I wonder if it could have anything to do with this chemical anomaly that Janet's been keeping an eye on."  The doctor had been periodically running blood tests on Daniel and, to date, the anomaly was still present.

"Um, I don't know.  I guess it's possible.  We really don't know how these things work."

"Well, we're pretty sure that they are controlled by thought processes.  Our brains regulate the production and release of a lot of the chemicals in our bodies.  This chemical anomaly might be a result of some change in my brain that Janet hasn't detected, and the crystals are somehow picking up on it."

"I think we should go see Janet."

A little while later, they were in the infirmary.  Jack showed up a few minutes later, having been called by Sam.

"Okay, so what's all this about?" he asked.

"Somehow, Daniel's presence affects those crystals," Sam told him.  "Whenever he's nearby, there is an increase in the energy they emit."

"You're kidding.  How?"

"That's what I'm hoping to find out," Janet said.  "I'm going to be running some tests on Daniel that I didn't get the opportunity to after he . . . came back to life, plus a few more that I wouldn't normally do."

Daniel found himself once again subjected to a plethora of tests.  Finally, Janet told him she was done and let him join the rest of his team, who were all hanging out in the commissary.

"Remind me never to get sick or injured ever again," Daniel said as he plopped heavily into a chair.

"Well, you've got about as much chance of that happening as I do of my hair spontaneously turning brown again," Jack stated.

"Did Janet say anything?" Sam asked.

"No.  She said it would be a while before she gets the results from the million different scans she did of my brain.  Now I know what bacteria feels like when it's under a microscope."

Daniel was finally called back to the infirmary.  The others went with him.

"So, what did you find out?" the archeologist asked.

"Something pretty startling," Janet replied.  "Okay, first of all, I should explain some things.  Though science has been able to figure out what certain portions of the brain are used for, there are still large areas that are a complete mystery to us.  Though there has been plenty of conjecture, we honestly don't know what functions those areas of the brain serve."

"Isn't it true that there are portions of the brain that don't seem to be used much?" Daniel asked.

"There is evidence that seems to support that, and it has to do with my next point, which is the role that glial cells and dendrite connections play in the functioning of the brain."

"What and what?" Jack asked.

"Among other things, glia are the supporting cells of the nervous system," Janet explained.  "You could think of them as the scaffolding for our neurons.  They provide both support and protection.  They supply oxygen and nutrients to the neurons, insulate neurons from each other, and remove the carcasses of dead neurons.  The fact is that we are only just beginning to fully understand and appreciate the importance of their role in the functioning of the nervous system.  It has recently been determined that they are directly responsible for how many connections neurons form so that the neurons can 'talk' to each other."

"And these dentine things?"

"Dendrites are the tree-like fibers along which information flows from one nerve cell to another.  You could call them the antennae for our neurons.  They are responsible for transforming the information received from synapses into a neural code that is then transmitted to other neurons.  Dendritic signal processing is fundamental for learning, memory and behavior.  The more dendrite connections there are, the greater the amount of information that can be processed.  Dendrites grow as a result of stimulation from and interaction with the environment and from gaining new knowledge.  Greater usage of the brain through learning and stimulation creates greater dendrite connectivity.  Our brains have the capacity to grow as many as one million billion dendrite connections, yet no member of the human race has more than a fraction of that many."

Though he had trouble with some of the terminology, Jack managed to understand what she was saying.  "So, what does this have to do with Daniel?"

"Well, many years ago, in studying Albert Einstein's brain, it was discovered that his brain had an unusually high number of glial cells in his parietal lobe, the area of the brain that is believed to facilitate abstract thought.  From this discovery it has been theorized that higher numbers of glial cells in various areas of the brain is an indicator that those areas of the brain are being used more cognitively and extensively than normal, which would fit in with the recent conclusion that glia are responsible for how many connections neurons form."

Janet looked at everyone, to make sure they were following along.  "I have on file an old scan of Daniel's brain, one taken before he ascended.  The most notable thing about the scan is that it shows a great deal more dendrite branching than what you would see in an average human of his age."

"Because of his level of intelligence and knowledge," Sam said.

Janet nodded.  "It also shows a far higher than normal glial cell count in several portions of his brain."

"Which would be understandable if the theory about glial cells is correct."

"Yes.  But here's the kicker.  The new scans I just took show a massive increase in both dendrite connections and glial cells in several parts of Daniel's brain.  The difference is staggering."

"How is such a thing possible?" Teal'c asked.

"Well, as I said before, new dendrite connections are made through learning or through stimulation.  Now, obviously, while Daniel was ascended, he learned new things, gained new knowledge, and since he descend he's gained still more knowledge.  So it would stand to reason that there would be new dendrite connections."

"Is this something like what happened to me when that thing on P . . . whatever dumped all that Ancient gunk into my brain and overloaded it?" Jack asked.

"Ah, now that leads to the point that I was just about to make.  While it is true that new dendrite connections are made as we learn new things, it's also true that if those same connections no longer receive stimulation, they actually retreat and disappear.  When I did your scan after that incident with the Ancients' repository of knowledge, it showed an enormous number of dendrite connections throughout your brain, but if I was to do a scan now, most of the dendrite connections that grew then would be gone because the knowledge was removed, and you are no longer using those connections."

"I think I see where you're going with this, Janet," Sam said.  "Even if Daniel was given all the knowledge of the Ancients when he was ascended, he no longer has that knowledge, so the dendrites would be retreating, just like in the colonel."


"Actually, I don't think I was ever given all of their knowledge," Daniel said.

"Why do you think that?" Sam asked.  "Wouldn't it make sense for them to give that knowledge to you?"

"Yes, you'd think so, and it's true that I must have been given at least some of their knowledge, but I had to have been kept quite a bit in the dark.  You told me that, in that secret chamber on Abydos, I was surprised to learn that I was an Ancient, or, rather, that I was the same type of being as the Ancients.  Considering what I already knew about them, doesn't it stand to reason that, if I had been given all of their knowledge, I'd have been able to figure out that Oma Desala and her kind were the Ancients?"

"Yes, you would think so," Sam said, knowing that Daniel would have easily been able to make the connection.  "So, why didn't they give you all their knowledge?"

"I don't know.  There must have been a reason.  Regardless, whatever knowledge they did give me was removed when I was kicked out of the club, so to speak, though some residual memories are still there, and I have complete knowledge of their language."  Daniel looked at Janet.  "Sorry about that.  We sort of got sidetracked."

"That's okay," the doctor assured him.  "So, there is the mystery of why all these new dendrite connections and glial cells have grown.  And there's something else, the fact that a huge number of those cells, as well as a great many of the new dendrite connections, are in portions of the brain that we have no knowledge of regarding what functions they serve.  More than that, there is dendrite branching in some of the areas of the brain where we normally see very little.  In other words, Daniel, there are parts of your brain that have suddenly been made a great deal more active than they were before."

"So, what caused this?" Sam asked.

"I wish I knew.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a scan of Daniel's brain after he descended, so I have no way of knowing if some of these changes were caused by his ascension.  However, the fact that the new dendrite connections presently exist means that either they are still actively being used or that they were very newly formed.  I know for a certainty that the chemical anomalies in his blood were not present before this latest incident."

"Okay, so what does all this mean?" Jack asked.  "What does it have to do with the fact that, when Daniel gets near those crystals, they start going nuts?"

"Daniel and I both suspect that these crystals work like some of the Goa'uld hand devices in that they are controlled by the mind of the user," Sam answered.  "If that's true, the crystals are most likely detecting the differences in Daniel's brain and responding to it."

"Yeah, but what I want to know now is what all this new activity in my brain means," Daniel said.  "I haven't seen a difference in the way I am now than what I was before I ascended.  I mean, I'm no smarter, and I don't seem to have any new abilities."

"It's hard to say," Janet admitted.  "It could be that you simply don't have the capacity to consciously access the areas of your brain that have been opened up more fully."

"Daniel, when you changed that crystal, you didn't do it consciously, did you," Sam said.

"No.  I wasn't even aware that I was doing anything to it," Daniel told her.  "I just knew that there was something wrong with it."

"So, whatever you did to it was done on a subconscious level."

"You know, hypnosis can be used to access the subconscious mind," Janet said.  "Deep regression hypnotherapy is often used to reclaim repressed memories.  I don't know if it would do any good in this regard, but it's something worth thinking about."

"Um, I'm not so sure this is something that we should mess around with," Daniel said.  "I have a feeling that this could be a Pandora's box that we need to keep a lid on, at least for now."

"I agree," Jack said.  "I really, really don't like the idea of opening up Daniel's brain and digging around in there."

"Oh, thank you so much for that lovely mental picture, Jack," Daniel said.  "Now I'm going to have nightmares of people with shovels digging through my brain matter."

"As many brains as you have, Daniel, they'd need a backhoe."

"Thanks . . . I think."

"So, I guess the question now is, what are we going to do?" Sam said.  "I've gotten nowhere in trying to figure out how those crystals work, and I have no clue what the one Daniel changed even does."

"How dangerous is this energy that the crystals are giving out?" Janet asked.

"I don't think it would be harmful to the human body, if that's what you're asking," Sam told her.  "We didn't detect any form of radiation.  However, if the levels got high enough, it is possible that it could adversely affect electronic equipment.  I'd like to run a test, but I'm going to need General Hammond's permission for it."

"What sort of test?" Jack asked.

"I want to see what happens when Daniel holds the crystals."

"Uhhh, I'm not so sure that's a good idea."

"Jack, I held them on Dichar, and they didn't hurt me, even when I accidentally changed the crystal," Daniel reasoned.

"Now, you see, we don't know that.  Maybe all these new dentine and gal things grew in your head because of those crystals."

"Even if that were true, it can't harm me to have more glial cells and dendrite connections."

Sam smiled faintly.  "Actually, just the opposite, since it can potentially increase your intelligence."

"Do we really want Daniel to be smarter?  He already runs rings around most of the rest of us," Jack muttered.

Sam's smile grew, and she glanced at Daniel, who looked both amused and embarrassed by the compliment.  She then became serious.  "If we do decide to do this, it would be a wise precaution to do it someplace where the exposure of vital electronic components to the energy would be limited."

After being assured that all precautions would be taken and there would be no physical danger, Hammond agreed to the test, and the crystals and monitoring equipment were taken to a room on the sub-basement floor of the complex.  The concrete walls of the room were a foot thick and lead-sealed.  If anything went wrong, the effects would, theoretically, be limited to the room.

Daniel, Sam and Janet entered the room.  Janet had insisted on being there to monitor Daniel's physical condition.  In the room next door, Jack, Teal'c and General Hammond were gathered.  They would be observing the events via closed circuit camera, which was broadcasting a picture onto a large monitor.

"All right, Daniel, we're ready," Sam told him after Janet got him hooked up to an EEG.  "Why don't we start with the blue one."

Daniel opened the case and picked up the blue crystal.  He detected the same feeling of warmth in the crystal that he'd felt before.

"As I suspected, there was a huge jump in the energy output as soon as Daniel touched the crystal," Sam announced.  She studied the readout.  "I'm also seeing some other variations here.  Hmm.  That's interesting.  I'm picking up infrasonic waves issuing from the crystal.  They're extremely weak, though."

"That concerns me," Janet said.  "Infrasound has been proven to cause all kinds of harmful effects in the human body, anywhere from mild nausea to the rupturing of organs and death."

"The amplitude of these infrasonic waves is far too low to have any ill effects, Janet," Sam assured her.

The doctor took a look at Daniel's EEG.  "I'm seeing a slight elevation in Daniel's brainwave pattern.  Are you feeling all right, Daniel?"

"Yes, I'm fine," he assured her.

"Okay, let's try the other crystal," Sam said.

Daniel replaced the blue crystal and picked up the red one.  The moment he did, he got that same sensation that there was something wrong with the crystal.

"All right, we're seeing a dramatic increase in the energy level, just like we did with the blue one," Sam said.  "Wait.  The level is oscillating.  We're getting sharp spikes."

"Daniel?  Daniel, are you all right?" Janet asked with some urgency.

The archeologist blinked a couple of times, then turned to look at her.  "Huh?  Oh.  Um, yeah, I'm okay."

"Your EEG reading was increasing significantly."

"Daniel, what just happened?" Sam asked.  "The energy output of the crystal was getting pretty erratic.  Now, it's leveled out."

"I think I started to change it, like what happened with the other one," Daniel told her.  "It's almost instinctual.  I can feel that the crystal is wrong, that it's not supposed to be like this, and something in my mind automatically tries to fix it."

Sam looked at the crystal in Daniel's hand, then up at the camera.  "Sir?  If Daniel is willing, I'd like to go ahead and let him change the crystal.  I want to see what happens during the transformation."

"Is that wise, Major?" General Hammond asked.

"I did it before, and nothing happened to me or to anyone else," Daniel replied.

"It might give us a better idea of what we're dealing with," Sam said.

There was a pause, then, "All right, Major, but be careful.  You, too, Doctor Jackson."

Daniel shared a look with Sam.

"We don't have to do this if you don't want to, Daniel," she told him.

"No, I think we should.  It'll be fine.  I did it before without any problems."

Daniel looked down at the red crystal in his hand.  He lifted his arm and aimed the crystal toward the far wall, just to be safe.  He then concentrated on it, willing it to change to what it was supposed to be.

"Energy levels are growing erratic again," Sam announced.  "They're increasing."

"Daniel's brainwave pattern is increasing, too," Janet said.  "It's—"

The crystal abruptly exploded with a brilliant white light, like what happened on the planet.  This time, Daniel did not drop the crystal.  He continued to focus his mind on it, his will bent to the task of making it work.

"Energy output is going off the scale!" Sam yelled.  "Infrasonic waves are increasing!  Daniel!  Daniel, stop!"  She gasped.  "Oh my God!"

Sam's last outcry came when the air in the room suddenly seemed to ripple.  A deep, thrumming, throbbing pulse that could be felt in their very bones vibrated through them.  The overhead lights flickered and dimmed.  All at once, the wall across the room appeared to warp out of shape, twisting and undulating crazily.  There was an intense flash of light that blinded everyone, then the room went black and there was dead silence.  A moment later, the emergency lighting snapped on.

Sam blinked her eyes clear just in time to see Daniel sway drunkenly and crash to his knees, the crystal falling from his grasp.

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