Stargate Horizons


Jack marched down the corridor, his bearing reminiscent of a rogue bear on the rampage.  Everyone who caught sight of him made a hasty retreat, knowing that to even say hi to the man could result in a verbal decapitation.  It had been this way for two days, ever since Daniel Jackson left through the Stargate.  Only the bravest – or most foolhardy – had dared to approach him during this time.  Even General Hammond was keeping his distance.  In fact, the only people who kept company with SG-1's commander were his teammates, which wasn't surprising since their moods were equally as bad.  Sam snapped at everyone, keeping herself cloistered away in her lab all day, hunched over this or that gadget and having no patience for interruptions.  That is except for when her mood would do an about-face and she'd get depressed and silent.  During those times, she would usually retreat to Daniel's office and think about how much she missed him.

And then there was Teal'c.  There was no longer any doubt in the minds of anyone on base as to why the Jaffa had been chosen to be the First Prime of Apophis.  Quite a few people were now in mortal fear of him.  His anger was like a living thing, coiled like a deadly serpent, waiting to strike at the unwary.  He merely had to look at someone to make them want to flee for their lives.  Even the toughest of the Marines on base were nervous.

General Hammond caught sight of the rampaging colonel and sighed.  He continued to his office and sat heavily in his chair.  He rubbed at his forehead, trying to ease the headache he'd had all day.  A knock on his door drew his attention away from the dull throb.  Doctor Fraiser entered.

"Sir, I'd like to talk to you, if I may," she said.

The general motioned for her to take a seat.  "Let me guess.  It's about SG-1."

"Yes, sir.  I just don't know what to do.  They are so full of anger over what happened to Daniel.  It's getting out of hand.  I suggested that they talk to Doctor McKenzie and try to work through their anger and resentment."

"From the expression on your face, I'm guessing that suggestion did not go over well."

"No, sir."  Janet sighed.  "The truth is, General, that they are perfectly justified in being angry.  The NID had no right to keep the Tollans here against their will.  They were not our enemies.  Doctor Jackson did the right thing by helping to free them."

"I know, Doctor, and that is what I have been trying to tell everyone.  The president agrees.  In fact, a lot of the people I've talked to admitted that we did not have the right to keep the Tollans here against their will.  They claim that's not the reason why they wanted Doctor Jackson out of the SGC."

"Then what are they saying is the reason?"

"That this incident puts into question Doctor Jackson's loyalties to Earth.  He freed the Tollans even though Maybourne had orders to take them into custody.  These people believe that if Doctor Jackson could blatantly defy orders in a situation like this, he would do so again whenever he felt that what we were doing was wrong, regardless of the cost to Earth."

"Sir, you don't think that, do you?"

"Absolutely not.  I have no doubt in my mind that Doctor Jackson would never do anything that could endanger Earth.  That boy has more integrity than most of the people I've met in my life.  Hell, it's that integrity that made him do what he did."

"Do you think there's any chance at all that you might be able to change the minds of these people?"

"Some, yes.  In time, if I keep pushing, I could probably get more than half of them to change their minds.  However, they're not the ones who are the real problem.  There are some very powerful people in high places who believe that we had the right to make the Tollans give us their technology since it was for the welfare of Earth.  These individuals are extremely angry at Doctor Jackson for robbing them of their 'prize'.  No amount of talking is going to make those people change their minds."

"I understand that you weren't especially popular when certain people found out that you let Daniel leave."

Hammond nodded in affirmation.  "There were a few irate voices.  Doctor Jackson was right about them.  They wanted him removed from the program, but they didn't want to lose access to his special skills in case they ever had a need for them.  Perhaps if we start losing out on some important acquisitions or fail to make some valuable allies because Doctor Jackson wasn't with us to translate or to act as a liaison, they'll realize that they made a mistake."

"Until then, there's nothing we can do?"

"I'm still trying to get enough support for Daniel to outweigh these other individuals, but it's taking time."

"And, in the meantime, the rest of SG-1 are too enraged and distracted to go on any missions."

Hammond nodded.  "I believe it's time that I order them to take some time off, get off the base.  Perhaps a few days away will cool them down."

"Do you really think that will help, sir?"

"No, not really, but I can always hope."

Daniel sat quietly, staring up at the canopy of leaves overhead.  He could hear footsteps approaching, but did not turn around.  He knew who it was.

Lya gracefully sat upon the log beside him.  "You have been with the Nox for three days, yet, still, you are alone," she said gently.  "We worry that you are not eating or sleeping well."

"I'm okay, Lya," Daniel assured her.  "Back on Earth, I often used to go a couple of days without much sleep, and I never was a big eater.  I sure would love a cup of coffee, though."


"A beverage that has a stimulating effect on the mind and body.  Many people drink it to remain alert, stay awake."

"Why would you wish to stay awake if you are tired?  When you are tired, you should rest."

Daniel smiled at her.  "It's a little tough to explain."  Daniel's smile faded, and he turned back to the trees.  After a moment, he felt Lya's hand rest upon his.

"Your heart is in great pain," she murmured.  "We have all sensed this, but we have said nothing, respecting your wish for solitude.  But it is not good to be alone when your spirit cries out for comfort."

Daniel's head bowed.  He stared at the ground between his feet.  "I've been alone most of my life, Lya.  My parents died when I was a young child, and I had no relatives who could take care of me.  I spent the rest of my childhood in the homes of strangers that I was never with long enough to call my family.  When I grew up, I was still alone.  Very few understood me, so I had few real friends."

"The ones who came with you here before.  Were they not your friends?"

"Yes.  Yes, they were.  They are some of the only true friends I've ever had.  And, now, I've lost them."

"Just because you are no longer with them does not make them lost.  They remain your friends."

Daniel smiled very faintly.  "Yes, you're right, Lya.  They are still my friends.  They always will be.  But they're gone from my life now.  It will be many months before I see them again, and, even when I do, it will be for only a short time."

"You miss them."

"Yes, I do, very much.  It's only been three days, but it feels like three months, probably because I know that I can never go back, that I've lost my whole life yet again."  He smiled sadly.  "Oh, well.  It's not like I haven't started all over before.  I've gotten used to it."

"Can the heart ever get used to losing that which it loves?" Lya asked.

"No, not really.  No matter how many times I've lost people and things I love, it never gets easier.  Sometimes I think that the more often you lose, the harder it gets to recover, like it keeps building up inside you higher and higher until you can't see past it.  But, on the other hand, I've felt the pain so many times that it's become familiar to me.  I know it so well.  I'm accustomed to feeling it."

"Pain is not something with which we should ever become so familiar."


"If you could have your life back, would you take it?"

Daniel looked at the Nox woman.  "Yes, of course I would."

She looked at him closely.  "Even if you would have to undo what you did that caused things to be this way?"

Daniel stared at her.  "If you're asking if I would go back in time and change what I did to help the Tollans, then the answer is no.  I would never change that.  I do not regret helping them.  I only regret what I lost because of it.  Even if I had known at the time that this would be the result, I would still have done it."

Lya gave him a warm smile.  "We have watched you these days, Daniel.  I believe that we did not see you truly before.  You are not quite so young as we had believed."

Daniel looked at her in surprise.  "I think Omoc basically said the same thing to me."

Lya nodded.  "He told us that you were to be considered an honored guest of the Tollans."

"He did?"

"Yes.  But you choose not to stay with them.  Why?"

"I may visit them, but my life cannot be with the Tollans, just as it cannot be with the Nox, though I would like to remain here a while and get to know your people.  I've had two homes in my life, Earth and Abydos.  I gave up Earth when I chose to remain on Abydos.  I lost Abydos when my wife was taken and I had to return to Earth.  Now, I've lost Earth again, and all that's left for me is to return to Abydos, though it can never truly be my home without my wife there.  I have no real home now."

Lya gave him an understanding smile.  "If your heart is where you cannot be, then your soul can have no place it calls home."

"My heart is with my wife and with my friends, and I can't be with either one.  So, yes, you're right.  No place I go can really be home for me."

Lya touched his cheek.  "You are most welcome to stay with the Nox for as long as you desire.  Perhaps it can never be your home, but you have friends here, and you need not be alone."  She rose to her feet and walked away.

Daniel remained where he was for several minutes longer, then got up and headed in the direction Lya had gone, deciding that he didn't want to be alone anymore.

Jack, Sam and Teal'c were all in the colonel's living room, the remains of dinner sitting on the coffee table, barely touched.  None of them had much of an appetite.  There was something missing, an empty space that should have been filled by Daniel.

They had all been ordered off the base with strict instructions not to return until Monday.  Doctor Fraiser had included the warning that if they didn't return in a better mood, she'd force feed them all sedatives.

"I'm thinking that now would be a good time to take some leave," Jack muttered.  "Just say to hell with everything and go disappear in Minnesota for a week."

"Yeah, I have some friends that I've been meaning to go see," Sam said.  "Maybe now would be a good time."

"I, too, have no great desire to resume my duties at this time," the Jaffa rumbled.

They all lapsed into silence.

"You know, I have half a mind to resign," Sam said suddenly.  "I'm really not sure I want to work for an organization that would persecute someone for doing what was morally right."  A moment later, she leapt to her feet and began pacing back and forth.  "God, I feel so guilty!  It may have been Daniel's idea, but we all played a part in helping the Tollans escape."

"I know, Carter.  Believe me, I know," Jack told her.  "And if I thought there was any way that it would get Daniel back in the program, I'd confess to my part in the escape."  He let out a curse.  "I should have snapped Maybourne's scrawny little neck when I had the chance.  He's the one responsible for this."

"If you give me leave, O'Neill, I will quite willingly break Colonel Maybourne's scrawny little neck in your stead," Teal'c stated with complete sincerity.

"Thanks, Teal'c, but we'll hold that in reserve for now.  Perhaps after we get Daniel back, I'll let you go a few rounds with Maybourne.  Right now, we need to figure out how we're going to fix this.  Come Monday, Hammond's going to see about assigning a replacement for Daniel."

"How can anyone replace Daniel?" Sam said, not really phrasing it as a question since she already knew the answer.

"No one can, which is why I'm not going to accept anything less than getting Daniel back on the team."  A thought occurred to him.  "You know, I'm thinking that maybe this is a good time to take some leave, maybe take a little trip to D.C., camp out on a few doorsteps."

Sam looked at him thoughtfully.  "I did mention to Daniel that I have a few friends at the Pentagon."

Jack nodded sharply.  "Okay, let's do it.  I'll call Hammond first thing in the morning and ask for some additional leave."

Minds made up, the three members of SG-1 sat back and began making their plans.

Jack slammed the door shut and made his way to the kitchen.  He pulled a beer out of the fridge and shut the door with enough force that he heard several things in the refrigerator fall over.  Not caring what kind of mess he might have to clean up later, Jack popped the cap off the beer bottle and took it to the living room.  He sat on the couch and rested his head in his hands.  He felt . . . old, old and defeated.  For the past five days, he and Carter had talked to dozens of people in D.C., trying to get them to do something about getting Daniel's job back.  The responses had ranged from sympathy, to disinterest, to outright hostility.  A few had said that they would try to help but explained that they didn't know how much they could do.  As for those who'd shown hostility or had dared to say anything bad about Daniel, a certain Jaffa has done a good job of scaring the pants off of them without laying a finger on them.

They'd been in D.C. for two days when Sam got the idea of calling Catherine Langford and telling her what happened.  The elderly woman had been outraged and swore to use her own connections to put pressure on the right people.

Unfortunately, none of their efforts had paid off.  Daniel was still out of the program.  There was a little more hope, but they didn't know how long it would be before Daniel would be given his job back.

But then, it really didn't matter if it took several months for it to happen.  As long as Daniel was on the Nox world, they'd be unable to contact him, unless they used that Tollan thing.  Daniel had said that he'd be staying on the Nox world until he could return to Abydos – with the exception of a little side trip to the Land of Light – and, by Abydonian time, it would be quite a few months before the one-year anniversary of Sha're's abduction.  Until that day, the Abydos gate would remain buried.

Jack gave a deep sigh and wearily rubbed his face.  Tomorrow, he'd be forced to meet with General Hammond and begin deciding who was going to take Daniel's place as the fourth member of SG-1.  Just the very thought of it turned his stomach.

"Damn you, Maybourne.  I am not going to let you win.  No matter how long it takes, I'm going to get Daniel back here where he belongs."

Daniel sat in the dirt beside Nafrayu, teaching the young boy hieroglyphics.  With a stick he scratched a symbol in the dirt.

"Okay, try this one," he said.  "It's a bit harder."

Studying the picture closely, Nafrayu copied it as well as he could.  Daniel smiled at him and patted his back.

"That's very good, Nafrayu.  I'd say you're a natural."

"What does this one mean?  It looks like a bird."

"Yes, it's a vulture, which is a carrion bird on Earth.  This symbol is part of the hieroglyphic alphabet.  It's pronounced 'ah'."  Daniel smoothed out the dirt and drew a line of several symbols.

"What is that?" Nafrayu asked.

"That's your name."

The boy smiled in delight.  "It is?  Can I try?"

"Of course."

Slowly and carefully, Nafrayu duplicated the row of symbols.

"Wow.  Very good," Daniel praised.  "You've definitely got a talent for this."

Nafrayu beamed at him.  "Show me your name."

Daniel did as asked, and Nafrayu copied it.

"When did you learn to do this?" the Nox boy asked.

"Oh, I started learning this when I was a few years younger than you.  My parents were archeologists.  Those are people who study human history and prehistory by excavating – that means digging up – places where people used to live long ago and study what they find.  My mother was also a linguist, someone who studies languages.  As a young child, I spent most of my life in Egypt, which is the land where this writing was created."  A smile of remembrance curved Daniel's face.  "It was a great life."

Anteaus, Nafrayu's father, stepped into view.  "The midday meal has been prepared.  Come eat."

Nafrayu scrambled to his feet and dashed off toward the hut.  Daniel got up more slowly and dusted off his pants.  Anteaus looked at the writing in the dirt and smiled.

"You are a fine teacher, Daniel.  I have watched you with Nafrayu, and he speaks eagerly about his lessons.  He looks forward to them each day."

"Thank you.  I'm happy to be teaching him.  He's a smart kid, a quick learner."  Daniel's smile faded.  "I'm going to miss him."

Anteaus looked at him closely.  "You will be leaving?"

"In a few days.  I had planned on staying longer, but I know, now, that I can't."

"Why is this?"

"Because I need to . . . to lose myself, to push all the memories away until it doesn't hurt as much.  The only way I can do that is with work, to immerse myself in it, and that's something I can't do here."

"Where will you go?"

"There are worlds my people have been to that have great ruins where I could spend a lifetime and still not see it all.  There are a couple of peaceful civilizations where I can get tools and other things that I will need.  Then I'm going to go disappear into one of those ruins and just be an archeologist until the day that I can go home to Abydos."

"But you will be alone."

"Yes.  But, as I told Lya, that's something I'm used to.  I'll be all right."

"It will sadden us to see you go.  We have enjoyed your company."

"Thank you, Anteaus.  I've enjoyed my time with you."

"Come, then.  Let us go eat and enjoy the time we have left with each other."

Daniel stood before the activated Stargate, facing Anteaus and his family.  Today, he would be stepping through the Stargate to embark on his solitary journey, no friends, teammates or anyone else at his side.  It was a terrifying thought, to know that, once he arrived at his destination, he would be utterly alone.  Many would say that he was crazy for doing this, and perhaps they would be right.  But it was something Daniel knew he had to do.

Lya came forward and handed him a large cloth bag.  "There is food in there and some things that you can use for trade," she told him.

"Thank you, Lya," Daniel said quietly.  He gazed at the Nox woman, knowing that he was going to miss her and her quiet wisdom and compassion.

Lya stroked his cheek with her fingers.  "Be well, Daniel.  I hope that, someday, you will be able to return to where your heart resides."  She then gave him a gentle hug.

As she stepped back, she looked down at Nafrayu.  The boy came up to Daniel and revealed what he'd had hidden behind his back.  It was a piece of parchment with his name and Daniel's colorfully painted in hieroglyphics.  Daniel took the gift with a smile.

"Thank you very much, Nafrayu.  This is beautiful, a very fine gift.  Now, don't you lose that dictionary of hieroglyphs that I made for you.  I expect you to practice every day.  If we see each other again, I'll be giving you a test on how well you've learned."

"I promise I will practice, Daniel.  When will you come back?"  There was sorrow in the boy's voice.

Daniel glanced up at Anteaus.  "Um, I don't know, Nafrayu.  Since I can't come back here without an invitation, that will be up to your father.  I hope it won't be too long."  He knelt and pulled the boy into a hug.  "You be a good boy for your mother and father.  I know that we young ones don't always do as we're told, but try your best, okay?"

Nafrayu nodded.  "I will."

Daniel rose to his feet and smiled down at the eldest of the Nox.  "Goodbye, Ohper.  I've learned a lot from you.  Thank you for your knowledge."

"It was a pleasure to give it to you.  You have a quick and curious mind and a love for learning.  It is a good thing to see."

Daniel gave him a smile, then turned to Anteaus.  "I want you to know that I respect your people immensely, Anteaus, and I hope that a day will come when my people can be more like yours and we can be friends and allies."

The Nox man rested a hand on Daniel's shoulder.  "I believe, Daniel, that if more of your people come to be like you, the day our two races become allies will not be so very far away.  As for this day, we of the Nox know that there is one among your people whom we would call friend and who will always be welcome here."

Feeling his heart swell at the man's words, Daniel smiled and nodded.  "Thank you.  I hope I'll see you again someday."

Daniel gathered up his belongings and turned toward the gate.  Just before stepping through, he looked back one last time at the family that had befriended and sheltered him.  For a moment, his determination to leave faltered.  But then his heart told him again that this was what he had to do.  With a silent sigh, he faced forward and stepped through the gate.

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