"Daniel!" Sam and Janet cried at the same time. They ran to the stricken archeologist and went to their knees beside him.
"I'm all right," he told them in a whispery voice. His legs no longer able to support him, he sat heavily on the floor. "God, I feel so weak."
Just then, the door flew open, and Jack and Teal'c came rushing in. The base's warning claxon could be heard coming from behind them.
"Daniel!" Jack cried as he saw his friend on the floor. He immediately went to the archeologist's side. He looked at Sam. "What the hell happened? We saw that wall over there start going crazy, then there was a flash of light, and the power went out."
Hammond came into the room. "The entire base is on emergency lighting." He looked down at Daniel, who was being examined by the doctor. "How is he?"
"I'm not sure, sir," Janet answered. "His pulse is quite low, and he's very lethargic. I need to get him to the infirmary."
"I'm just really, really tired," Daniel mumbled, his eyelids and head drooping. He was leaning heavily against Sam, as if he didn't have the strength to support himself.
"We're going to need a gurney," Janet said. "I don't think he can walk."
She placed a call, and two orderlies brought a gurney down. They lifted Daniel onto it, and he was taken up to the infirmary. He lost consciousness on the way.
By the time they arrived at the infirmary, full power had been restored. Hammond left to get a report on the base's status while Daniel's teammates waited to find out what was wrong with him.
"How is he?" Jack asked the doctor as soon as she came to them.
"In a word, exhausted. It's like that thing sapped all of the energy out of him. If he was awake, he'd probably feel like he just ran thirty miles, swam ten miles, then went and climbed a mountain. He's deeply asleep, and that's what he needs more than anything else right now."
Sam relaxed slightly. "So, he's going to be all right?"
"I'll be running some blood tests, but, yes, I'm pretty sure he'll be fine."
Relieved, Jack turned his attention to what happened. "So, does anyone have any idea what went on in there?"
"I'm not sure, sir, but it almost looked like some kind of spatial distortion," Sam replied. "I've never seen anything like it before. What totally amazes me is that something that small could contain that much power. To warp space like that would take a tremendous amount of energy."
"Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter and Teal'c, please report to the briefing room," came a voice over the speaker.
The three members of SG-1 went to the briefing room. Hammond came in a few seconds later.
"How is Doctor Jackson?" he asked.
"He's going to be all right, sir," Sam replied. "Doctor Fraiser says that the crystal just sapped all his energy. With plenty of sleep, he'll be fine."
"That's good to hear. Reports have been coming in. The entire complex was on emergency power for several minutes, and we've gotten reports of a temporary blackout in the area. It appears that something absorbed power directly from the power plant and interrupted the flow of electricity."
"I guess that explains where the power that the crystal needed came from," Sam said. "It must have the capacity to draw in as much as it requires."
"Requires for what, Major?" Hammond asked.
"As I told the colonel, from what I could see, the crystal caused a spatial distortion of some kind. If that's true, it's absolutely incredible. We're talking about an object the size of a baseball warping spacetime. There's no telling what could be done with technology like that. I really need to open one of those crystals up and see what's inside."
"Yeah, but what good is it if Daniel's the only one who can make it work?" Jack asked.
"There may be a way to get around that, sir. However, if this technology can warp spacetime, it could be very dangerous. That's not something to take lightly. I'd be very nervous about letting anyone else get their hands on it."
"Unfortunately, I have no choice but to report this," the general said.
Jack made a face. "I suppose you couldn't hold off on that for a while."
"Colonel, the entire mountain lost power, along with a chunk of the city. I've already had people on the phone asking what we're doing down here. I managed to stall them, but I won't be able to keep this under wraps for very long. As long as no one specifically asks, I can leave out the fact that it was Doctor Jackson who made the crystal work. Sooner or later, however, it may get out anyway."
Sam sighed. "This is my fault, sir. I shouldn't have had Daniel change the crystal."
"You had no way of knowing this was going to happen, Major. What's done is done. Now, we just have to handle things the best we can."
"And try to keep Daniel out of the hands of those NID vultures," Jack said, a distinct growl in his voice.
Sam went off to analyze the data gathered from the test, leaving Jack alone with Hammond.
"General, you know what's going to happen if the NID guys get hold of that crystal and find out that Daniel is the only one who can make it work."
Hammond nodded wearily. "Yes, I do. Fortunately, Doctor Jackson can't be ordered to make the crystal work again or to undergo any tests against his will."
"Do you really think that would stop them?"
Hammond paused. "No."
"So, it's going to be up to us to protect him."
"Unfortunately, we can't do that twenty-four hours a day. As long as he's on the base, he'll be safe, but he can't live here day and night."
"I'll do whatever I can to protect him, Jack."
"I know you will, sir."
Jack left the briefing room with a whole new set of worries to add to his collection.
A shapeless black form came rushing forward, tendrils like an octopus's arms reaching for him. A miniature sun blazed between them, and a high-pitched scream pierced through his ears. . . .
Daniel awoke with a gasp. Heart pounding, he looked around and realized that he was in the infirmary. For several seconds, he couldn't remember why he was there, then the memories came back to him. At that moment, Janet noticed he was awake.
"Hello there. How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Okay. I'm little tired. How long have I been here?"
"Not quite two hours. Frankly, I was expecting you to sleep a whole lot longer than this. Do you remember what happened?"
Daniel nodded. "Is everyone else all right?"
"Yes, everyone's fine, though the whole mountain was without power for a while."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know this would happen."
"Nobody's blaming you. Both Sam and Colonel O'Neill wanted to know when you woke up, so I guess I'd better call them."
A few minutes later, Daniel's teammates arrived at his bedside.
Sam gave him a smile. "How are you?"
"I'm all right, just a bit tired. So, I guess I put the base in kind of an uproar, huh?"
"That you did," Jack confirmed. "You seem to have quite a problem with keeping a low profile."
"Well, I always did have a knack for making waves."
"Speaking of waves, Daniel, did you see what happened?" Sam asked.
"Only partly. I wasn't fully aware of what was going on around me. What exactly did happen?"
"I'm not entirely sure, but some of the data that was recorded when you activated that crystal is incredible. I was just about to request a briefing to discuss my findings."
"I want to be there," Daniel stated.
"Sorry, Daniel, but you're too weak to be walking around yet," Janet told him.
"I don't feel all that bad. Besides, I really need to be there. I'm the one who made that thing work, and, when it comes to the Ancients, I'm the closest thing we've got to an expert."
"He's right," Sam said. "And it's possible that Daniel's memory might be jogged by something revealed in the briefing."
"All right, but you're going to have to schedule it for tomorrow," Janet told them firmly. "That's nonnegotiable. And you, Doctor Jackson, are going to stay right there in that bed until I'm sure you're strong enough to leave it, and, after that, you are going to stay on the base for the night, not go sneaking off behind my back."
"Ooh, she's got you this time, Daniel," Jack said with an amused smile.
The archeologist sighed in resignation. "Well, if I'm going to be stuck in this bed, can I at least have a computer so that I can get back to researching those crystals?"
Janet frowned. "You really should try to get some more sleep."
"I'm not sleepy."
'One of these days, I'm going to get a patient who always does exactly what I tell them to and doesn't argue with me,' Janet told herself. 'Yeah, right, Janet. You just keep right on dreaming.' She gave a sigh. "All right, but if I see that you're getting tired, I will revoke your computer privileges."
Daniel was all set to make a retort, but thought better of it. Ticking off your doctor was usually not a wise course of action.
Sam brought Daniel's laptop to him, and he resumed his search. This time, though, he used a different search parameter. A couple of hours later, he stumbled upon something. Following the lead, he soon came upon a site that confirmed what he had begun to suspect. He asked one of the nurses for some paper and a pencil. Once he finished jotting down some notes, he decided to get some rest. He was more tired than he had let on, and he figured that the more sleep he got, the sooner Janet would let him leave the infirmary.
A few hours later, after Janet was satisfied that he was recovered enough to leave her tender loving care, Daniel went to his office and began gathering his findings.
The briefing took place at eight the next morning. In addition to SG-1, Janet was also in attendance.
"How are you feeling, Doctor Jackson?" Hammond asked.
"Good, sir. I've recovered from whatever it was that happened to me yesterday."
"That's good to hear. I understand you have something to add to this briefing."
"Yes. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a copy of my report ahead of time. I only just finished it this morning."
Hammond gave him a kindly smile. "That's all right, Son. I can be surprised along with everyone else."
Sam presented her findings first. "I didn't have the right kind of sensors set up in the room, so, unfortunately, I couldn't record everything that happened in there, but in analyzing the data I did gather, I found some rather startling things. When Daniel activated the crystal, it generated an intense field of energy. We know that the crystal took power from the local power plant. It did not take it through the base's wiring. It absorbed the power directly from the plant's generator."
"How did it do that through all the lead and concrete?" Daniel asked.
"That was a puzzle to me as well. But then I recalled something that didn't even cross my mind before. Normally, the room is ventilated by the base's ventilation system. However, there are sensors in place that will seal the ventilation opening if they detect any harmful forms of energy, radiation, bacteria or other hazards. The room is then switched over to a self-contained system. The device must have drawn the energy it needed via the ventilation shaft. The sensors weren't tripped because they didn't detect anything harmful."
"They didn't think that what happened in that room was harmful?" Jack questioned sarcastically.
"The energy being emitted by the crystal wasn't harmful or damaging, sir. As for what we all saw, that was a localized event and not something that the sensors could have detected." Sam turned back to Hammond. "As I was saying, sir, what happened leads me to believe that the crystal has the ability to draw in as much power as it needs from whatever sources are available. It may even be able to absorb energy directly from the atmosphere. I feel that what we experienced yesterday was only a fraction of its potential."
"Potential to do what?" the general asked.
"Well, sir, like I said, I didn't have any sensors set up in the room other than those for detecting energy, radiation and sound waves from the crystal, so I can't be sure of what happened. If we can believe the evidence of our eyes, the crystal caused a spatial distortion, warped the fabric of spacetime. But I have no way of confirming that with the data I gathered. However, I did learn some other things. The crystal generated infrasonic waves. Those are sound waves below the level that our ears can hear."
"If the sound waves were below what we could hear, what was that noise we all heard?" Jack asked. "And what was it that we felt? I thought my bones were vibrating."
"I can answer that one, Jack," Daniel said.
"Of course you can," the colonel responded.
"When you were a teenager, did you ever crank up your stereo speakers high enough that you could feel the vibrations of the base notes?"
"Sure. What teenager hasn't?"
"I didn't, but that's beside the point. You can feel as well as hear the base booms. That's because, in addition to the range of sound waves that you can hear, there are also sound waves being generated that you can't hear. It's those waves that you feel as vibrations."
Sam smiled and nodded. "Daniel is right. The crystal generated sound waves both within and below the range of human hearing. There are all kinds of things that generate infrasonic waves in nature. The call of whales and elephants, for example. Earthquakes, the ocean surf, thunderstorms and many other things, both in nature and manmade, generate sounds below the ability for us to hear. Thankfully, extreme manifestations are infrequent, since, as Janet would tell you, infrasonic waves can be dangerous, lethal, in fact."
"All right, so what's the big deal about the sound waves?" Jack asked.
"There is a cluster of galaxies called the Perseus cluster around two hundred and fifty million light years from Earth," Sam said. "A supermassive black hole was found to exist within the cluster. It was recently discovered that this black hole is generating sound waves fifty-seven octaves lower than middle-C. That's over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing. It's the deepest note ever detected from an object in the universe. When the crystal was activated, it generated sonic waves that were virtually as deep."
"Okay, so that is impressive," Jack said.
"Yes, it is. Thankfully for all of us, the amplitude of the waves being generated by the crystal wasn't nearly as powerful as that which the black hole generates, otherwise, we'd all be dead. If they had been even a little stronger than what they were or if they had last for several minutes instead of only seconds, we would all be experiencing some very unpleasant side effects."
"As it is, there were two people who reported to the infirmary with a variety of mental and emotional symptoms, including a reduction in intellectual acuity and feelings of fatigue, apathy, and depression," Janet reported. "The symptoms faded quickly, however."
"So, is that what happened to Daniel? Those sound waves got to him?" Jack asked.
The doctor shook her head. "No, what I found in Daniel was something else entirely. My best guess is that the crystal quite literally drained the energy from Daniel's body."
"Like the red ones drain the life from people they're used on?"
"Yes and no. Without running some tests to see exactly what happens to someone who is killed by a red crystal, I can only guess that the cause of death is massive organ failure, like what happened to Daniel when he was attacked by Bendrak, only on a greatly accelerated level. How the crystal drains people of their life force is beyond my ability to understand, unless what it is actually doing is completely draining the electrical current that a living body generates. If the electrical impulses created by the brain were lost, death would be instantaneous."
"All right, so why would the Ancients make something that would drain the energy out of the person who uses it?" Jack asked.
"That's where what I learned comes in, Jack," Daniel replied. Everyone's attention turned to him. "Just before I woke up in the infirmary, I had a dream."
"A dream?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, though I'd call it more of a nightmare. I don't know if it was a memory of something that really happened to me while I was ascended or if it was triggered by some knowledge I have hidden in my brain. Regardless, what I saw led me to make a guess about the crystals. I changed the direction of my search for information. Instead of looking for some reference to the crystals, I went looking for references to creatures like Bendrak. Well, I found something, and it confirmed my suspicions."
"What did you find?" Hammond asked.
"As I said back when I first suspected that the Ancients were the original builders of the Stargates, the early Romans spoke of gods they called the Ancient Ones who taught them how to make roads. Not much else is mentioned about these Ancient Ones, but I did find references to a very old legend. It is said that a creature of darkness came to the land. The people called it the Life Eater because it stole the lives of all whom it touched, leaving no wounds or marks on the bodies."
"That sounds familiar," Jack remarked.
Daniel nodded. "According to the legend, one of the Ancient Ones confronted the Life Eater. The Ancient One took on physical form and held within his hand a clear blue stone that glowed like the sun."
"Yep, that also sounds familiar."
"The legend says that the very air around the Life Eater moved like a hundred serpents and enveloped then consumed the creature, making it no more." Daniel looked at everyone. "I think that the crystals were designed as a weapon against Bendrak's species, and I believe that the way they do it is by sucking the creatures right into the crystals, imprisoning them inside."
"What about the red ones?" Jack asked.
"Somehow, the crystals were altered so that they would draw the life energy out of corporeal beings instead."
Sam nodded. "It does sort of make sense. It would basically be the same principle."
"Do you have an explanation for what the crystal did to you?" Hammond asked Daniel.
"Yes, I do. These crystals were designed to be used by the Ancients, and they're incorporeal beings made of energy. It's likely that the crystals need to draw a certain amount of energy from the user. This wouldn't really bother the Ancients, but because I'm human, it was too much for my body to take."
"So, how is it that you were able to use the crystal at all?" Janet asked.
"That I'm not so sure about. I can only guess that the knowledge of how they work is in my subconscious mind, and that was enough to make it function. I should imagine that the designers never took into consideration the possibility that a formerly ascended person would get hold of one and use it." He looked around at everyone. "You do realize what this means, don't you?" Upon seeing their blank stares, he continued. "We don't have to use a Naquadah bomb to kill Bendrak. I can use one of the crystals."
"Daniel, I could not allow that," Janet said. "There is no telling what would happen to you with a longer or more intense exposure. It could kill you."
"In that case, my official decision on you using one of those crystals ever again is 'no way in hell'," Jack stated emphatically.
"I concur," Hammond said. "It's not worth the risk, not when we have a viable alternative." His gaze took in everyone. "I'm afraid that I have some serious news of my own. As we feared, the NID has gotten wind of what occurred yesterday and are extremely interested in the crystals. A representative will be arriving this afternoon."
"Didn't take them long did it," Jack muttered. "They don't know about Daniel, do they?"
"I don't believe so, at least not yet, but, short of lying in our reports, I don't think we're going to be able to completely keep his role in this a secret."
"Hey, it wouldn't be the first time I've lied in a report," Jack said, thinking about the fact that he lied when he stated that Daniel was dead and that he detonated the bomb on Abydos back when they killed Ra.
"That may be so, but, as much as I may wish to keep this hidden, I cannot take part in a fabrication that could result in a court-martial not only for myself but also everyone else involved."
"And I wouldn't want you to," Daniel said. "It's not worth risking all of your careers and the integrity of the Stargate Program. If the program lost all of you, there's no telling who would get control of it."
"We can, however, choose to put in our reports only the information that is absolutely necessary and leave out anything that is based on conjecture," Hammond continued. "For instance, since we don't know this for a fact, there is no need for them to be told that everything that happened with the crystals was likely because Doctor Jackson retains residual knowledge from his time as an Ascended Being and that he is probably the only person who can control the blue crystals."
"Nope, no reason at all, General," Jack agreed smugly.
"Doctor, do you see a need to report your findings on the changes in Daniel's brain?"
"No, sir. In fact, I could consider it to be within the realm of doctor/patient confidentiality," Janet replied. "There's no reason why anyone besides us would need to know about it."
"And, unless they ask, do we really even have to say that it was Daniel who turned on the crystal in the first place and that he was the one who changed the red ones?" Jack asked.
"My report, as it is now, doesn't mention who was holding the crystal during the test," Sam responded. "I can't think of any reason why I should add that information to it."
"How about you, Doctor Jackson? What's your report going to say?" Hammond asked.
"What report, sir? Was I supposed to write one?" Daniel replied with mock innocence. He looked at the report that was in his hands, the one he'd spent hours compiling. "Hmm. I wonder what this is. Ah, I think it's my shopping list."
Jack, Sam and Hammond all smiled in amusement. Teal'c's mouth turned slightly upward.
"I'd better get right on that report, sir, the one that is based only on the information I gathered from the Internet."
"And you, Teal'c?" the General asked.
"Since the crystals are not of Goa'uld design, I have no knowledge to impart regarding them."
Hammond nodded shortly. "I'd say we're all in agreement, then. All right, we have a lot of cleaning up to do before the NID representative arrives. Dismissed."
Daniel was the last to leave the briefing room, besides Hammond. He turned back to the general. "Thank you, sir."
"There's no need to thank me, Doctor Jackson. All of us here are willing to do whatever we can to protect your welfare." Hammond laid a hand on Daniel's shoulder. "We need you here with us, Son, and we're going to make sure this is where you stay."
Daniel gave him a small smile and nodded his head. Then he went to join his teammates.