Stargate Horizons


When Daniel saw his former teammates packing their stuff into their vehicle, he was more than a little surprised.  He walked over to the car.

"Guys?" he inquired, his tone hesitant and questioning.

"It's time for us to go home, Daniel," Jack said.  "We wanted you to come back to the SGC, but that isn't what you want, and it's time for us to accept that."

"We want you to be happy, Daniel," Sam said, her eyes full of regret and sorrow.  "We're so sorry about everything."

Taken completely by surprise by the sudden about-face, Daniel tried to switch mental gears.  Though he had wanted his friends to accept his decision, he'd been certain that they'd keep trying to get him to come back.  Now that they were actually choosing to accept that he wasn't ever going to come back, he wasn't quite sure what to say.

"I . . . I'm not sure what to say.  Thank you, I guess.  But you don't have to leave yet.  You can hang around for a while.  I could take a couple of days off and show you Cairo, the pyramids."

Jack looked into his friend's eyes.  "Is that what you really want, Daniel?"

Daniel returned the gaze.  "Yeah, it is."

"It would be kind of fun," Sam said.  "We didn't get to do any sightseeing when we were here last year."

Jack nodded.  "All right, sounds good."

Daniel smiled, an actual honest-to-goodness smile.  It was by no means a bright one, but it was the most they'd seen in a long time.

"Okay," he said.  "I'll talk to Helen."

Helen was delighted that Jack, Sam and the man she knew as Murray were leaving, silently muttering, 'Good riddance.'  When Daniel told her that he wanted to spend a couple of days with them and show them the sights before they left, she said okay, seeing that it was something he really wanted to do.  Maybe it would be good for him.

Early the next morning, with Daniel driving the Land Rover and Sam in the passenger seat, Jack and Teal'c following behind in the rental car, they headed into Cairo.  The rental was turned in, and the four friends began playing tourist.  Actually, it was more a case of Sam, Jack and Teal'c being the tourists while Daniel was the tour guide.  He took them to a lot of the tourist hot spots in the area, plus a few places that many tourists didn't know about, imparting some of his knowledge of Egypt, both ancient and present.  Jack made a real effort to listen to it all.  This was goodbye, the goodbye to his best friend that he didn't get before.  Jack really didn't want to say goodbye, but it was finally time to do what was right for Daniel.  That's what true friends did.  And so, he would spend these last hours with him, and then let go.

Throughout that day and the next, Sam looked at her friend often, etching his face into her memory.  Deep down inside was a terrible sense of loss and sadness that this might be the last time she'd see him for a long time.  She wanted him to come back with them, if not to the Stargate Program then at least to Colorado, where they could still visit with him.  Surely he could get a teaching job in Denver.

Sam immediately chastised herself.  She needed to let Daniel do what he felt he must, and if that meant living in some faraway city or country, then she had to accept that.  But, God, she was going to miss him.

Teal'c, too, looked often at the man, who, against all odds, had become one of his truest friends.  Though he kept the thought to himself, he believed in his heart that the fight against the Goa'uld was losing one of its greatest warriors, that a day would come when all of them would suffer for the loss of his wisdom, knowledge and skills.

Finally, the time for their goodbyes came.  Daniel took them to the airport and accompanied them inside.  As they approached the security checkpoint, they all stopped.  The three departing people looked at their friend.  Sam was the first one to step forward.  She hugged him tightly, not wanting to let go.  When she finally did, she had to wipe away tears.

"I promised myself that I wasn't going to cry," she said.

"It's okay, Sam," Daniel told her softly, a glimmer of tears in his own eyes.  He turned to Teal'c.

"Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa said.  "I wish you to know that I look upon you as a good and true friend, and, though you have never wished to be a warrior, you are among the greatest we have ever had in our battle against the Goa'uld."

The soft, sincerely spoken words made Daniel's throat start to ache.  "Thank you, Teal'c.  That . . . that really means a lot to me."  His eyes came to rest upon the last person.  "Jack."

"Daniel."  There was a long moment of silence, then SG-1's commander did something that nearly broke Daniel's control: he stepped forward and pulled the archeologist into a hug.  "Goodbye, Danny," he whispered.  Pulling back, he cupped the younger man's neck and face as he once did long ago upon discovering Daniel alive and well after they all thought that he'd perished on Apophis' ship.  For a long moment, he looked into the tear-bright blue depths of his best friend's eyes, imparting with his gaze what he couldn't say with his voice.  He saw Daniel receive the message and accept it.

Clearing his throat, Jack stepped back.  "Now, we expect to see you sometime next summer, so don't be a stranger.  I'm thinking that somewhere around the eighth of July would be an excellent time to visit."

Daniel gave him a little smile.  "Sounds good, Jack."

He watched them get into the security checkpoint line and make their way up to the x-ray machines.  They passed through without incident.  Giving him a final wave, they disappeared into the crowd.

Remaining where he was for a few seconds longer, Daniel then turned around and headed for the exit, experiencing the first real sense of peace that he'd felt in a very long time.

Silently, Jack watched Sam and Captain Lucia Gomez discuss something to do with some project the astrophysicist was working on.  Captain Gomez was the newest member of SG-1, having been on the team since shortly after Jack, Sam and Teal'c's returned from Egypt.  That was one month ago, and, though she would never come close to equaling Daniel, Jack was willing to give her a fair chance, something he realized that he hadn't done with her two predecessors.

Jack's gaze slipped away, his thoughts now on the friend who was no longer there.  He wondered how Daniel was doing.  Was the man finally gaining some measure of peace and letting go of the past?  He really hoped so.  He wanted Daniel to be happy, to have a good life.  Yes, he wished that life could be here, but that was not to be.

The Stargate Program was moving on without Daniel, though not always easily.  His linguistic skills were especially missed on base.  There were a lot more things not getting translated because no one there knew the language or they lacked the skill to decipher a language that had changed significantly from its Earth roots.  Hammond was intending to hire a couple of new people to try filling the gap, but the loss of Daniel's other skills had been felt around there as well, archeological, anthropological and diplomatic, and the general knew that to find someone who could give to them all that Daniel did would be all but impossible.

The loss was being felt on missions, too.  Just last week, SG-1 was on a mission that could have really used Daniel's diplomatic skills.  The week before that, their mission ended without accomplishing or learning anything because Daniel wasn't there to translate the Ancient writing on the walls of the ruins they'd found.

Jack had not truly recognized the value of Daniel's contributions to SG-1 until now, all the ways, both big and small, that the man had helped to make it such a great team.  It was such a shame that he hadn't seen it before, when he could have told his friend how valuable his contributions were.  But then, even if Jack had seen it, would he have told his friend?  Probably not, and that made him feel ashamed.

Christmas hadn't been very festive without Daniel there to celebrate with them.  Jack, Sam and Teal'c had considered not getting together at all, but they realized that Daniel would be upset if he knew that they'd skipped the usual team get-together because of his absence.  And so they spent some time together on Christmas Eve, just the three of them, Major Gonzalez being out of town visiting relatives.  They tried their best to be cheerful, but it wasn't easy.

Their mood was elevated when a package from Daniel arrived a couple of days later with gifts for his former teammates and for Janet and Cassie.  In the letter that came with the gifts, the archeologist chatted about what had been going on at the dig and appeared to be in better spirits.  He told them that he wished he was there to celebrate the holiday with them and promised that, next year, he would be, something that they were happy to hear since they knew that he was considering returning to the dig next fall.

They all knew that they would eventually adjust to Daniel no longer being a daily part of their lives.  It was just going to take time.  Regardless of how much time it took, though, they would never stop missing him and wishing that he was still there.

An excited shout sent several people hurrying toward the source of the outcry.  When Daniel got there, he saw that Annie Penn and Mark Winchester were staring down at something, talking excitedly.  Then he saw what the excitement was about.  The two archeologists had just uncovered something that looked like a relief from a wall or stele.  Recognizing the significance of the find, Daniel told someone to go get Helen.

When the woman arrived, she caught the air of excitement that was now infecting everyone there.  Was this just one tiny surviving fragment or had they found a large piece of an ancient structure or monument?

"Pull everyone else off of what they're doing," Helen ordered.  "We need to see what we've got here."

From that moment on, the entire focus of the dig was centered upon uncovering the stone carving.  They soon discovered that there was a lot more than one small piece and that it appeared to be a large stele, an upright stone slab.  As their efforts continued, more pieces were found and laboriously excavated.  A separate tent was set up and a tarp laid out for the pieces.  Everyone was on the moon, recognizing that this find might put them in the history books, most certainly in the pages of several prominent archeological publications.

It was two days into the excavation process when Daniel saw something that made his breath catch, his stomach tightening.  He made up a reason to take over uncovering that section of the stele, trying not to show what he was feeling.  For the rest of the day he poured every ounce of his attention into revealing the images inch by inch.  As the others were breaking for the day, he kept working, not even aware of what was going on around him.


The hand on his arm made him jump.  He lifted a startled gaze to Helen.

"What?  Oh.  I'm sorry.  Did you say something?"

"The sun's going down."

Surprised, Daniel looked at the sky to see that, sure enough, the sun was hovering on the horizon.  He'd been so focused on what he was doing that he hadn't even been aware of the fading light.

Helen studied him closely.  "Daniel, are you all right?  You seem a little tense."

"Yes, I'm fine, just excited about the find."

"Yes, it is extraordinary."  The elderly woman smiled.  "I heard Annie and Mark talking about posing for their pictures in Archeology Magazine."

Daniel smiled in amusement.  "Yes, the thrilling thought of fame and fortune.  Well, maybe not fortune.  Archeologists usually don't get rich from the things they find."

Helen tugged at his sleeve.  "Come on.  Time to call it a day."

Reluctantly, Daniel stood and walked with her toward the tent where everyone else was congregating.  As they walked, Helen glanced at him more than once.  These past six weeks had seen an improvement in him.  Traces of the old Daniel were coming back.  He seemed to be more relaxed, lighter of spirit, as if whatever burden had been weighing upon his soul was finally lifting.  He had also appeared to be lost in thought quite often.  What those thoughts were about, she did not know.

Regardless of the improvement, Helen had a feeling that Daniel would never fully return to the way he used to be.  Whatever wounds had been inflicted upon his soul had gone deep.  But at least he now seemed to be healing.

There was going to be a position opening up at the Smithsonian in the summer, and she intended to recommend Daniel for the job, that is if he wanted it.  She knew that she'd have an uphill battle on her hands.  Daniel's reputation as a maverick with wild theories still hung over him, but he was more than qualified for the job.  And it would give him the freedom to attend digs like this one, which she would be returning to next fall.

Daniel was distracted throughout dinner, and Helen noticed.  Something about that stele had really captured his attention.  She wondered what it was.

Throughout the next day, Helen spent a lot of time watching Daniel and noticed that he was extremely focused upon uncovering one particular section of the stele.  While everyone else was chatting as they worked, he was completely silent, looking as if he was barely aware that anyone else was even there.  Helen's instincts, which had always held her in good stead, were telling her that there was something to this, far more than just an archeologist's eagerness over discovering a valuable piece of the past.  But what was it?  Her curiosity was piqued, and, whenever that happened, she would seldom let go until it was appeased.

The final surviving section of the stele had been excavated, and the entire thing was now laid out on the tarp, the bits and pieces arranged like a disassembled jigsaw puzzle that wasn't all there.  On some areas, time and the elements had worn away the carvings so much that they were no longer even vaguely recognizable, but enough remained of the depicted scene to fascinate the people who uncovered it and to generate an excited buzz of questions and theories.  Only one person among them understood the true depth of importance of what they'd found.

Daniel's gazed down at what lay before him, taking in every detail.  The scene was that of a great battle, a battle between forces that the people around him had no idea existed.  Considering Egypt's history, it wasn't really surprising that, sooner or later, something would be found that would show an event involving the Goa'uld, but this was more than that.

The archeologist looked at the people in the scene one by one.  The familiar figures of several gods were there.  It was, however, one particular figure that held more importance than all the rest, the one that appeared to be the focus of the battle.  He bore the head and body of a human and was dressed like an ordinary Egyptian – except that he held in his hand a ribbon device, or at least that's what Daniel believed it was based upon the rays of light issuing from it.  Around the figure was something that looked like an aura, and Daniel guessed that it was actually a force field of some kind.  In Daniel's mind, there could be only one explanation for what this was showing.

Daniel was torn about what to do.  He knew what he should do, but, if his guesses were right, it could lead to something that touched upon a horror from his past, something that could have far-reaching ramifications – some of which might be very bad.

Finally accepting what he had to do, Daniel went in search of Helen.  He found her in a conversation with another member of the dig.  The man left as Daniel came up to her.

"Daniel," she said.  "I've contacted the SCA.  This find is way too important to delay telling them about it."

Daniel nodded, having known this was going to happen.  All archeological digs in Egypt that were run by foreigners were required to contact the Supreme Council of Antiquities before any papers on a find were published.  With a find of this significance, the SCA would need to be notified without delay.  This was one of the reasons why he had to hurry.

"When will they be sending someone out?" he asked.

"This weekend."

Good.  He still had a few days, then.

"If you don't mind, I'm going to take a trip into Cairo tomorrow," he said.  "The last time I was there, I met up with an old friend, who insisted that I come visit him for a couple of days.  I promised that I would, but then we found that relief.  He's probably thinking that I forgot all about him."

"Sure, that would be fine.  You've been working hard, even harder than the rest of us.  You haven't taken a day away from the dig in weeks.  It's about time that you took a break."

"Thanks.  Is there anything you'd like me to get while I'm there?"

"No, not that I can think of," Helen smiled slightly, "although I wouldn't mind if you happened to stop by that shop that sells those pastries you know I like."

Daniel returned the smile.  "Sure, I can do that.  Half a dozen or so?"

"That would be nice."

As Daniel walked away, he felt guilty about lying to his friend, but he had no choice.  He had to have an excuse for going to Cairo and being gone for a couple of days.

That evening, Daniel packed a bag.  Within it, he stashed his laptop.  He hadn't used it much since joining the dig, but he was going to need it now.  He was also going to need a sizable chunk of the money that he'd withdrawn from his savings account.

The drive to Cairo the next morning passed quickly, the archeologist's mind occupied with thoughts of what he was about to do and what it might lead to, especially if all his guesses proved to be correct.

The first thing he did upon arriving in the city was to get a hotel room.  He then went in search of a certain person.  Daniel hadn't been lying to Helen when he said that he'd met an old friend there, although Bakari had never really been a friend, more of an acquaintance, someone who could get Daniel what he needed.

"Daniel, my friend," greeted Bakari with a smile when the archeologist found him.  The man's brown eyes twinkled.  "So, are you here to take me up on my offer to find you some female companionship?  I know of a lady skilled in all manner of pleasuring.  She would give you a most pleasant evening."  The Egyptian laughed, well aware that the younger man wouldn't take him up on the offer.

"Thanks, Bakari, but I'll pass.  There's, um, something else that I need from you."

"Name it, and it is yours – for a price, of course."

"I need a cell phone, one that can make international calls, and I need it quickly."

Bakari's gaze sharpened, curious about the reason why Daniel needed the phone.  "There are shops where you could buy such a thing."

"Yes, but there would be paperwork, especially since I am not an Egyptian resident."

"Ah, I see."  The man held back his curiosity.  Most of his clientele did not appreciate questions being asked, so he had learned not to ask them.  "I can get you what you need.  Give me two hours."

"Thanks, Bakari.  How much will it cost?  I have money with me."

"Oh, we can settle that when you return.  I trust you, my friend."

Daniel spent the next two hours wandering the city restlessly.  At the proper time, he returned to the same place and was given the phone.  He paid the price Bakari requested without haggling, then took the phone to the hotel.

Checking his watch, Daniel did a quick calculation in his head.  Should he call now?  It would be in the middle of the night in Colorado Springs.  He chose to wait a couple of hours, then made the call.

"Whoever you are, this had better not be a wrong number," Jack grumbled sleepily.

"Jack, it's Daniel."

There was a pause.  "Daniel?  Great to hear from you, although I would prefer that it not be at four a.m."

"Jack, something's happened, something that needs SG-1."

The colonel was suddenly all business, every trace of sleepiness gone.  "Urgent?"


"Where are you?  At the dig?"

"No, I'm in a hotel in Cairo."  Daniel gave him the name of the hotel and his room number.

"We'll be there tomorrow.  What do we need to bring?"

"One of Sam's scanners, night vision goggles."


"Um, no, I don't think so."

"All right.  If the situation worsens, contact Hammond."

Assuring the colonel that he would do that, Daniel disconnected the call and prepared for the long wait ahead.

It was the following afternoon when Jack, Sam and Teal'c arrived at Daniel's hotel room.  They had taken a military transport that landed at the Cairo West Air Base.  They were tired but also tense about what crisis has spurred their ex-teammate into calling them.

Upon hearing their soft knock, Daniel let them into his room.

"Okay, what's this about?" Jack asked.

"We excavated the remains of a stele.  It was covered in a relief that depicts a battle."  Daniel unfolded a large piece of paper and laid it on the table.  "I did a sketch of it."  He starting pointing out and naming the different Egyptian gods.

"This was a mighty battle," Teal'c observed.

Daniel nodded.  He laid his finger on one figure.  "And it appears to be against this one person."

"Who is it?" Sam asked.  "What's that he has in his hand?"

"I think it's a ribbon device.  The thing is, though, that he is not an Egyptian god, nor, judging by the way he's dressed, a god from any other culture."

"But then what is he?  Only the Goa'uld can use ribbon devices, well, that and ex-hosts like me.  Do you think that's what he was?"

Daniel's head shook.  "No.  I think he was a Harcesis.  More than that, I think he was the first one."  The others stared at him in surprise.  He continued before they could question his theory.  "Think about it.  At some point, there had to be a first one.  Somehow, the Goa'uld found out that the child of two hosts would be born with all of the knowledge of the Goa'uld, not just knowledge gained from the symbiotes inside the parents, but all of the knowledge, everything that the Goa'uld as a species ever learned.  Do you remember what I reported after I woke up from that dream Shifu gave me?  In the dream, I built devices that the Goa'uld couldn't possibly have since, if they did, they'd have been using them against each other and us."

"You know, I still don't understand how all that works," Jack said.  "How could a human kid be born with all that stuff in his head?"

"I actually put some thought into that after that incident, and I wrote a report with my theories.  It doesn't surprise me, though, that you never read it."

"Well, since I don't have that report with me, Daniel, how about if you just summarize it?"

"Okay.  There is a theory that humans are capable of genetically passing on memories to their children."

"You mean like the Goa'uld," Sam said, having heard of the theory.

"Well, yes and no.  From what I've learned about the Goa'uld, that process is different.  But that's not important now.  Let's say that humans can pass on memories genetically, but it's something that almost never happens and is never more than just tiny bits and pieces of things.  What if the Goa'uld figured out that our species had that capacity?  They hook up to our brains, after all, so they'd have learned a lot about us, things even we don't know.  We all know from the Tok'ra that a symbiote can share their knowledge with their host.  We also know that Goa'uld only have the memories of their own lineage, passed down from the queen that spawned them.  So, put yourself in the shoes of some Goa'uld who has another one for a mate, a Goa'uld who was spawned from a different queen.  He starts thinking about what would happen if he and his mate fully turned on the ability their hosts have to pass on memories genetically, then dumped what they know into the brains of those hosts and produced a human child?  That baby would inherit all those memories.  He'd have the knowledge of not one Goa'uld lineage but two.  If that child was then made into a host, the Goa'uld inside him would have quite an edge over the others."

"That was Apophis' intention for the child that his host fathered," Teal'c said.

"Yeah.  So, these two Goa'uld do just that.  But there's a problem.  They don't realize that the baby won't be born with just the knowledge of two lineages, he will have a whole lot more, knowledge long buried inside the Goa'ulds' memories, so deeply that they no longer had access to it.  The child grows up with all that vast knowledge, possibly hiding it from everyone.  Now, whether or not he was actually made a host is something I don't know, although, if that image on the stele is really him, he never got the chance to take on the persona of a god.  Regardless, he starts to make plans of conquest, not just of Earth but the whole galaxy.  Even if he has no Goa'uld inside him, the lust for power is there, and so is the evil."

Something in Daniel's voice made the others look at him closely.  Their friend knew all too well what he was talking about, the evil, the desire for power, all the things that came with the Goa'uld genetic memories.

Daniel continued.  "Before anyone realizes what's happening, the Harcesis has constructed powerful devices, bent upon taking control of everything.  There's a big battle, and it takes the combined efforts of several Goa'uld to stop him.  After that is when it is made forbidden for any Goa'uld to do what those first two did."

Sam nodded.  "It makes sense."  Then she frowned.  "Except for one thing.  How could he have controlled Goa'uld technology like the ribbon device?  He wouldn't have had Naquadah in his blood."

"I was thinking about that, and I believe I might have an answer.  What if all Goa'uld hosts have Naquadah in their blood, not just ones who had a symbiote die inside them like you did?  After all, when a Goa'uld uses a ribbon device or something else like that, the thing is in the hand of the host.  It could be that a Goa'uld injects Naquadah into their host's body so that they can more easily use technology that needs it."

Sam thought about it.  "You might be right.  But that would mean that even ex-hosts like Skaara would be able to use that technology."

"Yes, and that might be a way for us to confirm or disprove my theory.  Anyway, if Naquadah is in a host's body, it could be passed on to the host's offspring, either through the sperm or the umbilical cord."

"Okay, so let's say that you're right," Jack said.  "Why the emergency call?  Do you think that somebody at the dig is going to figure out something from that carving?"

Daniel shook his head.  "No.  Everyone is curious and puzzled about what the scene is depicting, but I really doubt that they could ever figure out the truth.  The reason why I called is this."  He pointed at a structure depicted in the scene.  "I recognize it.  It's in those ruins near our dig.  The structure is notable because some of the damage to it is more than just from age and the elements."

"You believe that it was partly destroyed in the battle," Teal'c surmised.

"Yes.  What if it's where the Harcesis built the things he made?"

"Even if it is, all that stuff would have been taken or destroyed a long time ago," Sam said.

"But what if it wasn't, Sam?  What if there were things hidden away?  Osiris had a ship hidden.  If he could do that, a Harcesis could have had some kind of underground lab that was never found."

The major started to get excited.  "You're right.  It is possible."

"You mean to say that under that building could be some hidden cache of Goa'uld technology?" Jack asked.


"Damn.  We have to check it out."

Daniel nodded.  "That's why I contacted you.  But we need to move quickly.  People from the Supreme Council of Antiquities will be arriving this weekend to look at the relief.  That probably means that there will also be reporters.  Things will be getting busy around there."

"So, we have to be in and out before then."

"Yeah.  The problem is that I don't know if they have any kind of patrol at night.  There was some trouble with looters a few months ago.  I'm going to have to find out before we can go in."

"Will you be able to find out tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I think so.  One of the guys at our dig should know.  I'd have asked him before I left, but he wasn't there."

"All right.  We'll assume that we can make our move tomorrow night.  If that's not going to be possible, contact us."

Daniel got on his computer and showed his ex-teammates photos and video that he'd taken of the ruins when he visited them.  It would help give them a lay of the land and enable them to find the structure they wanted.

"Will you be able to get out of the camp tomorrow night?" Jack asked the archeologist.

"Yeah, that shouldn't be a problem."

"All right.  You know the area better than we do.  What's a good rendevous point?"

Daniel told them about a good spot that would take him only around twenty minutes to reach by foot from the camp.

"Sir, if we find any devices, how are we going to get them out?" Sam asked.  "The Egyptian government doesn't know about the Stargate."

"We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it, Carter.  We might have to call in the Tok'ra for help."

Daniel handed Jack a key.  "I booked a room for you.  It's a couple doors down the hall."

"Good."  Jack caught his friend's eyes.  "You did good, Daniel."

"Thanks, but all this might be for nothing.  We might not find anything."

"I guess we'll find out tomorrow night."

The camp was silent as Daniel snuck out of his tent.  He glanced about, checking to make sure that there was no one around.  Quietly, he made his way out of the camp.

Daniel waited until he was out of sight of the camp before turning on his flashlight.  Making sure that he kept going the right way by checking his compass often, he covered the distance to the rendevous point.  Behind the crumbling walls of an ancient structure he found his ex-teammates.

"Any problems?" Jack asked.

"No.  I found out that we don't have to worry about anyone coming around the area where we'll be going.  It's not presently under excavation, and the camp is at the opposite end of the ruins."

"Good.  That'll make things easier."

"What the hell is going on here?"

The sudden sound of a voice coming out of the darkness startled everyone.  They all turned, and Jack shone his flashlight in that direction, illuminating the speaker.

"Crap," he cursed.

Helen Danson came forward, her eyes coming to rest on Daniel.

"Would you care to explain this, Daniel?"

"Uhhhh. . . ."

"'Uh' is not an answer.  I get up to go use the latrine, and what do I see?  You sneaking off into the night.  Something's been up with you ever since we started uncovering that stele, and I've been wondering what it was.  I can only assume that this . . . clandestine meeting has something to do with it.  So, now, you're going to tell me what's going on."

'Crap again,' thought Jack.  "It's classified," he said aloud.

"Bullshit.  What could possibly be classified about a several-thousand-year-old Egyptian stele?"

"We really can't tell you, Helen," Daniel replied.

The woman's face hardened, angry that a man she had trusted appeared to be involved in some kind of military cover-up.  "Fine.  Then I'm going right back to the camp and putting a call through on the satellite phone to the SCA.  Maybe they can get to the bottom of this."

Teal'c stepped forward.  "We cannot allow you to do that, Helen Danson."

"What are you going to do?  Kill me?"

Jack rolled his eyes.  "Of course not.  We're just going to tie you up and leave you here until we've done what we came to do.  Then we'll drive you a wee bit further out into the desert and let you walk back to camp.  By the time you get there, we'll be on a plane back to the States.  What you do then is up to you, although, based upon your hatred for the military, I don't think you'll be contacting them or the government and bringing down a lot of unwanted attention from them."  He looked at Daniel.  "I'm really sorry, Daniel, but you're going to have to come with us.  I guess it's a good thing I told you to bring all your stuff just in case."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the ground, his heart heavy with the regret that the new life he'd begun to build was over.  He looked up at Helen, who was staring at him accusingly, an expression of betrayal in her eyes.  He hated seeing that look on the face of someone whose opinion of him mattered, somebody who was his friend.

"What if we told her?" he suddenly asked.

"No way, Daniel," Jack responded.  "That is not an option."

"But if she swore not to tell anyone—"

"Daniel, you know what's at stake.  You know how important it is that people don't find out what we're a part of, what you used to be a part of.  We can't trust that secret to someone like her.  She hates the military and all it stands for.  She isn't going to appreciate what it is that we do."

Knowing that Jack was right, Daniel returned his gaze to Helen.  There were now questions and uncertainty in her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Helen," he said.  "I really wish that I could tell you what this is about.  There are so many things that, if you knew about them, it would change your whole world view.  You'd be amazed at some of the things I've seen and done."

"Daniel."  Jack's voice held a note of warning, telling him that he mustn't say anything more.  The colonel turned to Sam.  "Carter, get some of that rope we brought."

Sam nodded and took a step toward their vehicle.


All eyes turned to Helen, but she had her gaze on only one person.

"I know that you are a good man, Daniel," she said.  "So, I'm going to ask you something, and I'm going to trust that what you tell me is the truth.  This thing he's talking about, the thing you were involved with, does it hurt innocent people?"

Daniel hesitated before he replied.  "Some . . . some innocent people have been hurt."  He looked at his teammates.  "But we've helped a lot more people than have been hurt.  We've done a lot of good things, important things, stuff that made a difference."

Daniel's ex-teammates were overjoyed by what they were hearing.  It appeared that Daniel had found his way past his feelings of failure, perhaps not completely, but he was beginning to recognize that the things he'd done hadn't been for nothing.

The archeologist turned back to Helen.  She searched his eyes intently.  And then she nodded.

"I'll keep your secret," she said.

Jack stared at her narrowly.  "And how can we be sure that we can trust you?"

Helen straightened her posture, meeting Jack's gaze unflinchingly.  "I swear on the grave of my son."

That hit Jack in a way that only someone who'd lost a child could be hit.  He looked at Daniel.

"Helen lost her son in Vietnam," the archeologist explained.

Jack turned sharply back to Helen.  "Is that another reason why. . . ."

"I hate the military?  Yes.  They took my baby boy from me, my only child."

"I'm sorry."

Helen nodded, hearing the sincerity in the words.

Jack nodded.  "All right, but there's no time to explain everything now.  We've got to get going.  You can wait for us here and walk back to camp with Daniel after we return or you can go on back to camp now.  I'll let him be the one to tell you everything."

Helen shook her head.  "Whatever it is that you're going to do, I'm going with you."

"That can't happen.  We need to move quickly and stealthily, and you don't have the training."

"Where are you going?"

Jack hesitated before replying.  "To the ruins near your dig."

"Then I can help.  I worked on the dig there for three years.  I know the place well."

"It would be helpful to have someone who knows the place, Jack," Daniel said.  "I wasn't able to spend much time there, so my knowledge of the ruins is limited."

The colonel studied Helen, his eyes running up and down her slender form, taking in the sweat pants, the hastily donned jacket and boots.  The woman guessed what he was thinking.

"If you think I won't be able to keep up with you, think again.  I may not be quite so young anymore, but I'm no rocking-chair-bound old fogey."

Jack's lips twitched upward at the comment.  "All right, but if you start lagging behind, we're not gonna slow down.  You'll just have to come back here and wait for us."


"Okay, then let's go."

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