The sounds around him and the all too familiar feeling of the bed were the first things that told Daniel he was yet again in the infirmary. Next came the things his body was telling him. He was a little tired, but that was nothing compared to how much his chest hurt. It felt as if an elephant had been tap dancing on it.
'I have really got to stop doing this,' he told himself. Then he opened his eyes.
"Ah, sleeping beauty awakens at last," said a voice off to his left. Daniel turned to see Jack sitting in a chair, a newspaper in his hands. The colonel put down the paper and leaned forward. "How ya feelin'?"
"All right. Where are Sam and Teal'c?"
"Teal'c's off Kel'no'reeming, or whatever it is he does now that he doesn't have Junior, and I hope that Carter's still sleeping. She sat with you pretty much all day and the better part of the night. I finally had to order her to go get some sleep."
Daniel frowned. "How long have I been here?"
"You've slept for nearly twenty hours, Daniel," answered Janet, who came up to the bed.
Daniel's eyebrows rose. "Twenty hours?"
"Uh huh, and you needed every one of them. Your body was already suffering from your first exposure to that crystal. What happened yesterday completely drained what was left of your energy."
Daniel looked back and forth between the two people at his bedside. A vague memory came back to him. "I died again, didn't I." The expressions on their faces told him the answer. "How long this time?"
"Not quite as long as last time," Janet replied. "The colonel and Sam's best guess is around fifteen minutes, maybe a little less."
"We did CPR, but it didn't help," Jack said in a low voice.
"Oh. CPR. I guess that explains it," Daniel muttered.
"Um, my chest is a little sore."
The doctor smiled. "Considering that the colonel and Sam were doing CPR almost the entire time you were in arrest, I'd guess that it's more than a little sore. Am I right?"
Daniel was silent for a long moment. "Yeah, I guess."
"Uh huh. That's what I thought. I'll fix you up with some pain meds."
"So, I just came back to life on my own again?" Daniel asked a few minutes later after the medication had been administered.
"It would seem so," Janet answered. "And, like before, there is no sign of damage to your brain caused by the extended loss of blood flow to it, which goes against everything we've come to know about the human brain. You are a bonafide medical miracle twice over, Doctor Jackson."
"Ah, just what I always aspired to be."
Jack got to his feet. "Well, I'd better call Carter. She made me swear to call her when you woke up. If I don't, I might find myself in the next bed over."
About ten minutes later, Sam came hurrying into the infirmary. Teal'c, whom Jack had also called, appeared in the doorway behind her. Sam smiled brightly when she saw Daniel looking at her. She came up to his bed and took his hand.
"Daniel. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine, Sam. Hey, Teal'c."
"It is good to see you well, Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa said.
"How much do you remember about what happened?" Sam asked.
"Pretty much all of it, I think," Daniel replied. "Is Bendrak gone?"
"Yeah, there's no sign of him," Jack said. "You got him, Daniel."
"Where's the crystal?"
"We had Gennae put it in that Vault of Life of theirs for safe keeping."
"We're not sure what to do with it," Sam told Daniel. "We don't know what would happen if it broke open."
"I need to destroy it."
"Do you know how?"
Daniel nodded. "I remember it all now, about what Bendrak is and what the crystals are."
"I assume you're going to share your knowledge with the rest of the class," Jack said.
"Jack, when was I ever reticent about sharing knowledge?"
"But Hammond should hear this, too."
"We'll schedule a briefing as soon as the doc here lets you go free."
"Which will be when I decide he's strong enough and not a second sooner," Janet responded.
Janet allowed him out of the infirmary that afternoon, again ordering Daniel to stay on the base overnight. They had the briefing at three o'clock. Like before, Janet was there, only, this time, at Daniel's request.
"All right, I'll start off by saying that the dream I told you about was of something that really happened," Daniel began.
"What was the dream?" Sam asked.
"I dreamt about being attacked by a creature like Bendrak. Yesterday wasn't the first time I've confronted one of those things. It happened once while I was ascended. I defeated it just like I did Bendrak, with an abikar. That's why I recognized those crystals and knew how to use them."
"So, you don't have any Ancient knowledge in your head?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. It's still possible that I might, but it wasn't any knowledge of their technology that enabled me to use the abikar. I was simply remembering how I did it before. Using the abikars is one thing that the Ancients did teach me."
"Actually, this is good news," Sam said. "If the NID does learn that it was Daniel who controlled the crystals, we won't have to worry so much about them thinking that he's a source for information on Ancient technology."
"Yeah, well, I'd still prefer that they didn't know the truth," Jack stated.
"Please continue, Doctor Jackson," Hammond said.
"When Oma taught me how to use the abikars, she also told me all about Bendrak's species. He belongs to a race called Gorrums. In a way, they are like the Ancients, but they were never humanoid. The Ancients don't know whether the Gorrums evolved naturally into what they are now or if they found a way to accelerate the process. The Ancients first encountered them on the Gorrums' home planet several hundred years ago. They quickly learned that the Gorrums had the ability to kill them."
"Gorrums can kill Ancients?" Sam asked.
Daniel nodded. "The same way that they kill humans and other corporeal lifeforms, though it is much more difficult to kill an Ancient that way, and the Ancients have the power to fight back. Once the Ancients realized that the Gorrums were a threat to them, they got to work on a weapon against them, just in case they needed it."
"Yes. I hate to tell you this, Sam, but you were wrong about what the abikars do, though I can understand why you thought what you did."
"So, what do they do?" she asked.
"Well, I'm afraid I can't give you a long, technical explanation since that isn't my field of expertise."
"Thank God," Jack muttered.
Amused, Sam glanced at the colonel, then returned her attention to Daniel, who continued his explanation.
"The abikars are actually an extension of the Ancients' ability to control the element of air. They can move air molecules around and can change the atmospheric pressure in any given space, increasing or decreasing it as needed, even compressing it like the air inside a can of compressed air used for cleaning electronic equipment."
"Wow. That's amazing," Sam said. "If there was a way to harness and adapt that power, it could be used for all kinds of applications, including controlling the weather."
Daniel nodded. "It all connects to what we've seen the Ancients do, except that the abikars can affect atmospheric pressure and air molecules to a higher degree than an Ancient alone can."
"How come the wall in the test room started doing all that weird stuff?" Jack asked.
"It didn't. The wall was never affected. It was just an optical illusion caused by the distortion of light. It's like the way that heat waves will make things look as if they're wavering and rippling. The rising hot air has a lower pressure and causes the light to be distorted as it passes through it. The abikar was altering the air pressure so that you had both higher and lower pressure areas."
"Which caused the refraction of light waves to vary," Sam finished, nodding her head. "That, in turn, caused the rippling effect we all saw. It makes perfect sense. I'm surprised I didn't think of this before." She smiled. "I guess I'm so used to things like time warps, wormhole physics and other higher concepts that the simpler answers tend not to occur to me."
Daniel smiled, too. "Well, sometimes, you just have to get back to basics." His smile faded. "Controlling air molecules is one of the abikar's primary functions, but it also has the capacity to extract energy from just about any source, except from living corporeal beings. The Ancients deliberately put safeguards on them to prevent them from accidentally withdrawing energy from living creatures that happened to be in the area."
"But did not the abikar draw energy from you?" Teal'c asked.
"Yeah, it did. You see, the Ancients also designed the abikars not to take energy from their own kind, with the exception of the one who was controlling the abikar. It taps into the energy of its controller and uses part of that energy. But, like I suggested before, the Ancients never anticipated that a descended human would try to use one. The abikar tapped into the energy within my body just like it would have if I was ascended, the difference being that a human body does not contain the amount of energy that is within an ascended being."
"So, it pretty much sucked you dry," Jack said.
"Yeah, you could say that."
"So, what exactly does an abikar do to a Gorrum?" Sam asked.
"First, it stuns the Gorrum using infrasonic waves, which the Gorrums are very susceptible to if they are at a low enough frequency. Actually, 'stuns' isn't the right word. As we already know, Gorrums can alter their density and can change from incorporeal to corporeal. Extremely low frequency infrasonic waves force the Gorrums into a semi-corporeal state, increasing their density, which is necessary for what the abikar does next."
"Which is?" Jack inquired.
"It increases the air pressure to a point where the Gorrum is immobilized, unable to escape. Lastly, the abikar draws the Gorrum right into the crystal and imprisons it there."
"So, that thing really is still alive and in that crystal?" Jack asked, not at all happy about the news.
"Okay, so how do you kill it?"
"The crystal has to be destroyed, disintegrated."
"The vortex from a wormhole?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, that would probably do it, though, to be on the safe side, we should take the crystal to one of those nice planets that wouldn't win any awards as a vacation spot and do it there."
"Well, out of my own personal favorites, I'd say that planet where we found the orb with the very hungry alien organism inside it would work out great," Jack remarked. "Nice, lunar-like landscape, terrific sub, sub, sub zero temperatures, and no air pollution to speak of . . . no air to speak of at all, in fact. Yep, ol' Benny would love it there."
Sam turned to her best friend. "Daniel, if the Ancients can kill the Gorrums, why would they have imprisoned Bendrak on Dichar instead of destroying him?"
"They didn't. I was wrong about that. I believe that either Bendrak was hiding there or that he got stranded there. I'd actually heard about him. He was being pursued by the Ancients. He stole something from them, but, if I ever found out what it was, I don't remember now. They lost track of him and never found him. He's probably been on Dichar the whole time."
"Why would he pick an uninhabited planet to hide out on?" Jack asked.
"Well, if it was by choice, my best guess would be that it's because he figured that he'd be safe there. The Gorrums both hate and fear the Ancients. The Ancients are the only beings who can easily kill them. Since there were no intelligent lifeforms on Dichar, the Ancients would have little reason to go there, so Bendrak could hide in peace. Obviously, he didn't anticipate that an Ancient would bring humans through the gate to populate the planet." Daniel's expression grew thoughtful. "And I think I also just figured out why he didn't want any of the Dicharins to go through the gate. He'd have been afraid that the Ancients would find out about him from one of them."
Daniel shifted in his chair slightly. His chest was still sore, though not nearly as bad as it could be considering the severity of the bruise that now adorned the skin over his breastbone. "Anyway, Bendrak must have wandered across the planet for centuries, feeding off the animal life to sustain himself. Eventually, he made his way to where the Dicharins are. By that time, he was probably pretty ticked off by the whole situation. He tore into the population, wiping out hundreds. Afterwards, he cooled down, and we know what's been going on since then."
"So, where did these Gorrums come from?" Jack asked.
"I don't know where their homeworld is. The only thing I know about their planet of origin is that it generates a very unusual energy field, which the Gorrums use for food. The energy is quite similar to that which a living body generates. Without that energy to feed them, the Gorrums can't survive more than three hundred Earth days, which is roughly the length of a Dicharin year. They were unable to synthesize the energy they feed upon and never figured out a way to gather and store it. So, since the Gorrums don't have faster than light interstellar travel, they were confined to their native solar system. Unfortunately, all that changed after they met the Ancients."
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"Somewhere along the way, the Gorrums got hold of a whole bunch of abikars and figured out how to alter them to suit their needs. They originally planned on using the abikars to absorb and store the energy from their planet, turning them into something like our MREs, portable food containers. This would allow them to leave their solar system. But there was a problem. They soon discovered that they couldn't reproduce the technology and build their own abikars, so the only ones they had were the ones they'd stolen. Well, that wasn't going to work out for them since the number of abikars they had was only sufficient to store enough energy for a handful of Gorrums to make it to the closest inhabited planet and back again, which wasn't much of an improvement on their present situation. So, they came up with another idea. They removed the safeguards that prevents an abikar from drawing energy from a living corporeal creature and disabled most of the other functions."
"So they could then replenish their supply of energy simply by stopping at a world that contained corporeal lifeforms," Janet said.
"Yeah. The Gorrums don't have very high moral principles, so they'd take the energy from both animals and species of higher intelligence without even a twinge of conscience. Some of them, in fact, have a special taste for higher forms of life."
"Yeah. I'd guess that Bendrak is one of those. On an aside, I'm guessing that he managed to do some additional alterations to the abikars so that they could be controlled by the Dicharins. Normally, that wouldn't have been possible."
"So, did the Ancients do anything about this?" Jack asked. "After all, the Gorrums wouldn't have been able to leave their planet if it wasn't for them."
"Yes, they did. When the Ancients found out, they decided that they needed to stop what was happening. First of all, they took back all of the abikars that were still on the Gorrum homeworld. Then they began hunting down the Gorrums who had already gone off-world. Now, if things had continued this way, the situation would probably have been solved pretty quickly since, even with the abikars, the Gorrums were very limited on where they could go."
"Because they had to stick to traveling to planets that had lifeforms that could be used for food and that were within reaching distance," Sam said.
"Yeah. The problem is that the Gorrums discovered the Stargate network. With the Stargates, they could travel to thousands of occupied worlds and feed to their heart's content. They no longer needed their ships. However, they kept their abikars just to be safe."
"What's going to happen if these Gorrums ever make their own energy collectors and develop faster-than-light ships?" Jack asked. "We'll end up having bad guys out there who are even more dangerous than the Goa'uld."
Daniel shook his head. "I don't think that's going to be a problem. The Gorrums are becoming extinct. The energy fields on their planet that they feed off of are failing. Within a few decades, the Gorrums will be gone. I know that the Gorrum I killed when I was an Ancient was one of the last ones who were still free."
"No great loss there." Jack looked at Daniel. "So, is that it?"
"In regards to the Gorrums and the abikars."
"So, what's the next topic?"
"Okay. Personally, I think it's a fascinating topic for discussion, but what precise thing about you are we going to be discussing?"
"The reason why I'm not dead."
Daniel looked around at the others. "Everyone here knows about what Janet discovered in those scans she did of my brain, the increased dendrite connections and glial cells. Mind you, this is all conjecture, but I think that has a direct connection to the reason why I'm not dead."
"How so?" Janet asked.
"Well, as I'm pretty sure we all know, many people firmly believe that human beings tap into only a small fraction of the full potential of the human mind. Like Janet said, our brains possess the capacity to grow as many as one million billion dendrite connections, yet, as far as we know, no human has ever had more than a fraction of that many. That means that there is a huge, untapped wellspring of mental abilities sitting right there in every one of our brains. And I'm not just talking about increased intelligence and memory."
"Okay, what are you talking about, then?" Jack asked. "Stuff like what Carrie did to get even at the prom?"
"If you're talking about paranormal abilities, then, yes, Jack, that is one of the things I'm talking about. Is it really so hard for you to believe that humans have the capacity to move things with their minds, or speak telepathically, or light fires through willpower alone, or even predict future events? We've met alien races that can do many of those things, so why not us? What rule is there that says we can't do those things, too?"
"Maybe because no one ever has."
"Ah, but you're wrong there, Jack. There are clearly documented cases of people exhibiting powers of telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, psychometry and a number of other psychic abilities. You cannot discount all of them as tricks."
"Daniel Jackson is correct," Teal'c said. "On Chulak, there is occasionally born the rare individual who shows abilities that are beyond what is normal. For instance, those who can see events that are taking place far away. Unfortunately, most of these Jaffa are quickly killed by the Goa'uld since they pose a threat."
Daniel nodded at Teal'c in thanks. "I really think that the only reason why most humans don't have these abilities is that they are unable to consciously tap into the right areas of their brain. Have any of you ever had a feeling, for seemingly no reason at all, that something was wrong, and your feeling turned out to be correct?"
"Of course. That happens lots of times with military people while on missions or on the battlefield. It's just instincts," Jack replied.
"Just instincts? You somehow know without a doubt that there's danger right around the corner, or in the next room, or whatever even though there is no logical or physical evidence to support that feeling. Tell me, Jack. How is that not proof of paranormal abilities?"
The colonel didn't reply.
Daniel looked down at the table. "One night when I was a child, I had a nightmare," he said in a low voice. "Though I couldn't remember the dream after I woke up, it terrified me and left me with a sense of dread. I told my mom and dad that I wanted us to all stay home where it was safe. They didn't listen to me." He looked up at everyone. "Later that day, they were crushed beneath an ancient Egyptian coverstone."
The room was utterly silent. Sam's hand slid across the table and gave his hand a brief, comforting squeeze.
Daniel cleared his throat. "I think that all of us have at least some small measure of psychic abilities. It's just that a rare few of us are able to connect to that part of the brain more fully."
"Daniel, I do agree with you that there is evidence to support the existence of paranormal abilities in human beings, but what does this have to do with the fact that you managed to come back to life, not once but twice?" Sam asked.
"It has to do with another thing that many people don't believe in but that there is plenty of evidence to support, and that's our ability to consciously control the biological processes of our bodies. Eastern Yogis and Tibetan monks have exhibited phenomenal control over their autonomic nervous system. They can do things like slow their heart rate at will or raise the temperatures in their bodies to the point where they can sit out in freezing weather with no clothes on and even dry wet towels on their backs. People who use biofeedback can control their heart rates and blood pressure, speed healing, reduce pain, and so many other things. It is accepted by many in the medical community that the human race has an enormous, untapped capacity for self-healing."
"Daniel, are you saying that the explanation for what happened is that you've somehow tapped into a natural healing ability of your body?" Janet asked.
"I don't know. It may not be that simple. There could be some other factor involved as well. But the only other answer I can come up with is that some external force is responsible. If it had only happened the one time, I could more readily believe that, but twice? I don't think the answer is that my guardian angel is watching over me."
"Daniel, if you've got a guardian angel, she's doing a lousy job of keeping you out of trouble," Jack remarked. "They're supposed to help prevent you from getting killed, not bring you back to life after you do."
"Daniel, is there any chance at all that Oma Desala had something to do with it?" Sam asked.
The archeologist shook his head. "For what purpose? If she was that eager to keep me alive, she'd have healed me of the radiation poisoning instead of encouraging me to ascend. And if Oma was there when I confronted Bendrak, she'd have taken care of him herself instead of letting me do it when she'd have known that it would probably kill me." Daniel glanced about at everyone and saw varying degrees of acceptance and doubt on their faces. "Look, I'm not saying that this is the answer. I'm just saying that it's something we can't discount."
General Hammond nodded. "Very well, Doctor Jackson. You've given us all a lot to think about. As Doctor Fraiser recommended, I'm putting SG-1 on stand-down for two days to give you a chance to fully recover from your ordeal. Dismissed."
As they walked out of the briefing room, Jack stepped up beside Daniel. "Come on, Wile E. Jackson. Let's see what kinds of trouble we can keep you out of for the next two days. If you do have a guardian angel, she could probably use a break."
"If I have a guardian angel, his name is Jack O'Neill," the archeologist said with a soft smile.
Jack looked at his friend in surprise. Then his expression changed. "Daniel, so help me, if you start calling me Angel, I'll brain you."
"Jack, you may be my self-appointed guardian angel, but an angel you're not."
Jack stopped walking for a moment. "Hey! What's that supposed to mean?" he called after the departing archeologist. Then he shook his head, smiled faintly, and hurried to catch up to his best friend.