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Daniel didn't find anything of significance in his research the next day, but Sam and McKay did make great strides in coming up with a better power generator.

The following day, Daniel went to the mainland with Teyla.  He could have flown the puddle jumper himself, but since he had never done so before and had never been to the Athosian village, Elizabeth decided it would be best if they had a pilot.

The village lay within a meadow surrounded by forest.  Being only about a quarter mile from the ocean, it was a good location, enabling the Athosians to catch fish and other seafood.  As they passed the shoreline, Daniel had noticed several small, partially built wooden boats.

He and Teyla were met by Halling, one of the leaders of the Athosians, and several others.

"Halling, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson, the man I spoke to you about," Teyla introduced.

Halling bowed his head.  "We are deeply honored to meet you, Doctor Jackson.  Teyla has told us much about you.  You are the first we have met who has been one with the Ancients."

"It is an honor to meet you as well," Daniel responded.  "I'm looking forward to learning about your people."

"It will be our pleasure to share our knowledge and culture with you."  The man gestured for Daniel to come with him.  "Come.  We have prepared a place for us to talk."

Daniel was led to a tent.  An elderly woman was within, sitting at a table.  Her eyes studied Daniel closely.

"Daniel, this is Charin," Teyla said, a tender expression of love on her face.  "She is like a grandmother to me."

"I'm pleased to meet you," Daniel said.  He realized that she was the only person of advanced age that he'd seen among the Athosians.  Where were the other elderly?

They all took seats around the table.

"Teyla has revealed to us the power you possess because of your ascension," Charin said, her keen old eyes still studying Daniel.  "Such power could bring much death."

Daniel's gaze did not leave hers.  "Yes, it could.  I have taken lives with it, those that I had to, but power like this also comes with the responsibility to use it wisely, to not abuse it."

As if he had just passed some sort of test, Charin nodded, smiling.  "It does indeed."

During the next two hours, Daniel learned a great deal about the Athosians.  In return, he told them some things about his year with the Ancients.

They took a break for lunch, then Daniel went for a walk through the village.  Teyla accompanied him.

"Teyla, where are all the other elderly?" the archeologist asked after a few minutes.

"There are no others," she replied sadly.  "It is very rare for one of my people to reach an advanced age.  They are usually culled long before then."


"Taken by the Wraith to be fed upon."

It sickened Daniel that the word could be used in reference to humans.  "I'm sorry that your people have had to live that way."

"We are not the only ones.  We trade with many people on many worlds, and I have yet to see a human civilization that does not know the horror of the Wraith.  Your people are most fortunate that they live in a galaxy that does not possess Wraith."

"Yeah, well, we have our own problems."  Daniel glanced at her.  "Have you been told about the Goa'uld?"

"I have heard the word mentioned, but I know very little."

Daniel described what the Goa'uld were and how they took unwilling hosts.  "They have killed and enslaved countless millions of humans for thousands of years.  They are utterly evil, with no regard for human life.  They seek dominion over everyone and everything."

"You say that they steal the bodies of unwilling humans, taking possession of them?"

"Yes.  The hosts are powerless to do anything while their bodies are used to commit terrible acts.  My wife was taken as a host."

Teyla rested a hand on his arm.  "I am sorry.  Did you ever save her?"

"No.  She was killed five years ago.  For a long time, I grieved for her, but I finally realized that it was far better for her to have died than to have continued to live in that hell."

Teyla nodded.  "I would not wish to live like that."

Their steps eventually took them out of the village and toward the shore.  As they walked, Teyla gazed at Daniel's profile.  "I must confess something to you."

Daniel looked down at her.  "What's that?"

"I learned that Doctor Weir asked that you remain on Atlantis, but you refused."

"And you wondered why since I could help fight the Wraith."

"Yes, but I understand now.  Your first responsibility must be to fight against the Goa'uld.  Though the horror of being fed upon by a Wraith is great, the pain lasts only moments, and then your suffering is over.  Those who are made hosts to the Goa'uld must suffer for far, far longer.  I would far rather die at the hands of a Wraith than live thousands of years with my body enslaved by a creature that used it to harm others while I watched helplessly."

Daniel nodded.  "So would I.  My brother-in-law was taken at the same time that Sha're was.  Unlike her, he was freed.  He spoke about the horror of the years he was a host.  It haunted him for a very long time.  I had another friend who was also taken and, later, rescued.  She's still recovering from it.  I have a lot of hope that, one day, we'll defeat the Goa'uld.  Many of the Jaffa, the race that has been their warriors for millennia, are rebelling against them.  One of them, a man named Teal'c, is on my team and is a very good friend.  The more Jaffa that rebel, the weaker the Goa'uld become.  I don't know how much longer it will take, but I have a feeling that day is coming when they'll be brought down."

"I hope that is so."

They reached the beach.  Dark clouds were on the horizon, promising rain.

"Where we lived before, there was no ocean nearby," Teyla said.  "I enjoy walking on the beach."

There was a low rumble of thunder, drawing their attention back to the clouds.

"I'd say that today isn't a good day for the beach," Daniel remarked.

"No, and I fear that we will become wet if we do not return to the village," Teyla responded.

There was another rumble, louder than the last.

"I think you may be right," Daniel said.  "It's moving up fast."

They began to retrace their steps.  They'd gone only a few yards when Daniel froze in his tracks, a warning of danger sweeping through him.  His head jerked to the right, his sixth sense telling him where the threat lie.

Just barely visible because of the nearby trees, a thick column of smoke rose into the air in the distance.

"Fire!" Teyla cried, seeing the smoke.  "We must warn the village!  If the direction of the wind changes, it will be threatened."

Daniel and Teyla ran the distance back to the village.  The woman told several people about the fire and commanded that the warning be spread.  She and Daniel then headed to the puddle jumper.

"Get on the radio," Daniel ordered the pilot, who was standing outside.  "We need to evacuate the Athosians."  The man immediately complied, going into the ship.  The archeologist turned to Teyla.  "Start gathering your people.  It'll take a while for the jumpers to get here.  In that time, we can. . . ."

Daniel's gaze suddenly grew distant, his mind elsewhere.

"Daniel?" Teyla inquired, seeing the faraway expression on his face.

"Oh my God," he said.  His eyes turned to Teyla.  "Someone's trapped in the fire, Teyla!  I saw two children."

Horrified, the woman turned in the direction of the fire, though they could not see it from there.  "The jumper!  It could find them."

"The jumper couldn't land in the middle of a forest fire.  Even if the pilot could find them, there's nothing he could do."  Daniel's expression hardened.  "But there's something I could do."

He dashed into the jumper.  "Get us in the air.  There are two kids trapped in the fire."

"What?  But—" the pilot began.

"Just do it!" Daniel snapped.

Only a complete idiot would have refused.  Sergeant Morton was not an idiot.

Daniel turned to Teyla, intending to tell her that she didn't have to go with them.  Before he could utter the words, she said, "I am going."

Grimly, the archeologist nodded.

They took off and headed for the forest fire.  As they drew close, Daniel's sixth sense, seeking the presence of the children, detected them off to the south.  He directed the pilot.  The intensity of the fire made it impossible for the man to fly low.  Tongues of flame shot upward into the sky as if seeking to grasp the small craft.  The fire was still small, perhaps no more than a few dozen acres, but it was spreading rapidly.  Daniel feared that the human lives he could still sense would be extinguished before he could reach them.

"There!  Up ahead!" he cried, pointing.  He closed his eyes and sought the children out with his mind.  Then he saw them in his mind's eye.  They were huddled in a stream, partially sheltered by a boulder.  It and the water were the only things saving them from the flaming debris that was falling all about, from the ravening fire consuming everything around them.

Above the heads of the children, the trees were ablaze, creating a roof of flames.  There was no place for the puddle jumper to land, and, to his horror, Daniel knew that his plan to snatch the children up psychically was not going to work.  He would have to beat back the raging flames at the same time as he telekinetically lifted the kids, something he did not know if he could do.  If his attention strayed for an instant, if he lost control, the children could fall or the fire might engulf them.

"Where's the closest place we can land?" he asked the pilot.

"Land?!  Are you nuts?"

"Look, either you land this thing or I will, and trust me when I say that I can take control from you."

Morton stared at him, seeing the intent in the hard blue gaze.  "Okay, okay.  There's some rocky ground about a hundred yards away.  It's free of fire."

The pilot took the jumper there and landed.  Daniel left the ship, Teyla on his heels.  He looked at her.

"Teyla, you can't come with me.  It's too dangerous."

"You may need my help.  If the children are injured, you cannot carry both of them."

Daniel knew that she was right.  He reluctantly nodded, then turned back to Morton.  "Give me a radio."  The man handed him one.  "Take the ship back up, but don't leave this area.  We'll bring the kids back here, and you can pick us up.  Radio Atlantis and tell them that we may have burn victims."

"Sir, how the hell are you going to get them?  It's suicide!"

Daniel didn't reply.  He and Teyla hurried in the direction of the trapped kids.  They paused, staring at the flames before them.  The heat was tremendous.  Daniel desperately hoped that he could beat the fire back long enough to rescue the children.

Delving deep into the power within his mind, Daniel took a step toward the fire.  It moved back, as if unseen hands pushed it aside.  He took another step, then another.  Teyla, her mind filled with awe, watched as he took control of the fire, bent it to his will.  It parted before them, opening a clear path.  Daniel picked up the pace, his mind focused fully on the fire and on the life force of the children he was seeking to save.  Distantly, he felt the stinging and burning of cinders striking his exposed skin.  Thankfully, most of the smoke was being lifted high into the air.

By the time they were halfway to the kids, the pain in Daniel's head was too great to ignore.  Ruthlessly shoving it aside, he and Teyla pressed onward, the heat making them dizzy and light-headed.  It seemed like an eternity before they saw the stream ahead.  They picked up the pace and were soon splashing in the shallows.

Taking precious but desperately needed seconds, they both dropped down into the water, saturating their hair and clothing and taking great gulps of the cool and welcome liquid.  Then they rose to their feet, and Daniel led them upstream.  The stream was wider here, keeping the flames away and giving Daniel a welcome break.

They'd been running upstream for perhaps two minutes, when they both saw two small figures crouched in the water ahead, up against the bulk of a boulder, just as Daniel had seen.  He and Teyla dashed forward and knelt beside the children.  They both had burns on their arms and faces, the older of the two being the worst.  They were barely conscious.

With great care, Daniel gathered the elder boy up into his arms as Teyla did likewise with the other one.  He looked around at the conflagration.  Logic was telling him that they should wait here where they would be somewhat sheltered from the fire.  With his abilities, he could protect them from burning debris until the fire had passed.  But the children needed medical attention as soon as possible.  They were probably going into shock.  More than that, Daniel's instincts were warning him that it wouldn't be safe to stay here.  He had learned long ago to listen to those instincts.

Daniel looked at the Athosian woman.  "We can't stay here.  It's not safe."

Teyla did not question him, putting complete trust in whatever power was telling him they had to leave.

They headed back downstream to the place they had entered the water.  The fire had reclaimed the ground Daniel had cleared.  He stared at the flames.  He was hurting, the pain in his head telling him very clearly that he was using his power too much.  But he had no choice.  He had to get himself, Teyla and the children back to that clearing.

Tapping into the power again, he commanded the flames to move away, and they obeyed.  He and Teyla, moving as quickly as they could, went back in the direction they had come.  The pain in Daniel's head grew steadily worse, making it harder and harder to concentrate, to keep fighting the fire that roared all about them.  At one point, he stumbled, going down on one knee.  His mind was blazing in agony, like the forest fire was within it.  He was clinging to consciousness with his fingertips.

With a feeling of horror, Daniel realized that they weren't going to make it.  They were not going to get out of here.  His mind cried out in denial.  It could not end this way!  He could not fail the three people whose lives were in his hands.  Sam's face came into his mind.  He couldn't leave her.

Rising to his feet, Daniel shut his eyes and dove even deeper into himself, far deeper than he had ever gone before, searching for the power to continue.

Something happened.  A sensation Daniel could not describe filled his whole body.  The pain in his head vanished, his exhaustion slipping away.  And there was power, a sudden surge welling up inside him and then outward.

Beside him, Teyla gasped.  The air around Daniel had begun to glow with a soft, almost undetectable light.  It pulsed faintly as if in time with his heartbeat.  The outline of his body almost seemed to blur.  His eyes opened, looking as if he gazed at something only he could see, something unimaginably far away.

All around them, the fire reared back on itself, recoiling like a frightened animal.  Daniel stepped forward.  Where he walked, the fire quickly retreated, opening a wide pathway before them.  Minutes passed as they continued forward, Daniel never wavering.

At last they reached the clearing.  The puddle jumper was hovering overhead.  Apparently seeing them, the pilot landed.

Teyla turned back to Daniel.  The strange glow was gone, but the distant look in his eyes remained.  He took two steps and then collapsed.

"Daniel!"  Teyla laid the child she held down and checked the archeologist.  His eyes were open, but unseeing.  She felt for a pulse and found one, but it was very slow.

The Athosian heard running feet and looked up to see Sergeant Morton hurrying up to them.  The man came to a sudden stop when he saw Daniel.

"Is he dead?"

"No, but he is in need of a doctor, as are these children.  Help me get the children into the jumper, then we will return for him."

Morton took the older boy from Daniel's limp arms as Teyla picked up the other child.  The kids, both of whom were unconscious now, were taken to the jumper and laid on the padded benches.  Then the adults returned for Daniel.  He was completely unresponsive.  With Teyla's help, Morton got the archeologist into a fireman's carry, and they returned to the ship.  Daniel was laid on the floor.  Seconds later, they were in the air.

At that moment, the skies opened up, and a virtual flood of rain poured down upon it and the forest.

The other jumpers were arriving.  Knowing that they could handle evacuating the other Athosians.  Morton didn't slow down.  He headed straight toward Atlantis, radioing that he had three injured people, including Doctor Jackson.

When Elizabeth heard that Daniel was among the injured, she turned to Sam, who, along with McKay, had come to the control room as soon as they'd learned of the forest fire.  They didn't know exactly what was going on.  They only knew that a couple of kids were caught in the fire, and that Daniel and Teyla had flown out there in a jumper to rescue them.  The ship's pilot hadn't give details on the situation.

Sam had wanted to fly out there, but all available pilots had already left in jumpers by the time she found out that Daniel was going into the fire.  All she'd been able to do was wait and pray that the man she loved was going to be okay.  Now, with the news that Daniel was injured, her face had paled, eyes darkening with fear.

Unable to wait there a moment longer, Sam hurried to the jumper bay, along with Elizabeth and McKay.  Doctor Beckett and a medical team were already there.

It seemed to take forever for the jumper to arrive.  As soon as it landed, the waiting people rushed forward.

When Sam saw Daniel, she felt a sickening lurch in her stomach.  He was lying on the floor, glazed eyes staring sightlessly up at the ceiling.

"Oh, God," Sam choked out.  She knelt at his side.  "Daniel?"

"I do not know what is wrong with him," Teyla said.  "He got us to the children, pushing the fire back with every step.  It was the most incredible sight I have ever witnessed.  Coming back with them, he appeared to be in a great deal of pain.  At one point, he stumbled.  And then. . . ."  Her voice faded off, and she shook her head.  "I believe that what I saw was a trick of the light, and the glare of the fire was hurting my eyes.  I thought that I saw a . . . a glow about him.  The look in his eyes was as if his mind was no longer fully there.  The fire drew away from us, almost as if fearful of him.  He managed to get us to safety, then he collapsed."

Beckett, who had checked the children first, knelt on the other side of Daniel, having heard what Teyla said.  He checked the archeologist's pulse.

"We need to get him to the infirmary."

"The children?" Teyla asked.

"They'll be all right, some second degree burns is the worst of it."

Daniel and the kids were loaded onto gurneys and taken to the infirmary.  Sam stayed right with the gurney holding Daniel.  Assuming that the archeologist's condition was as a result of overusing his psychic abilities, Beckett took him to do a scan of his brain.  Though the doctor knew that Sam was sick with worry, he insisted that she remain outside.

A while later, he came back out.  The grave look on his face sent Sam's heart plummeting.

"What's wrong with him?" she asked in a scared voice.

"I'm afraid I don't know," he told her.  "There is some hemorrhaging in the brain tissue, but it doesn't account for the fact that he is in a coma.  I see no indications of brain damage.  His brainwaves are in the very low delta range, and he is completely unresponsive to all stimuli."

The symptoms made Sam think of when Daniel had the Ancient knowledge downloaded into his brain and put himself in a state of suspended animation.  She mentioned it to the doctor.

"It does appear to bear some similarities, but, while Daniel's pulse and respiration are very slow, they are not nearly that slow."

"Can you give us any kind of prognosis, Carson?" Elizabeth asked.

"Not at this time, I'm afraid.  At the moment, all we can do is keep him under close observation."

"How are the children?"

"Some of the burns are quite nasty, but not nearly as bad as they could have been.  They were extremely lucky."

"If it were not for Daniel, they would be dead," Teyla said.  "I have no doubt of that."

Daniel was put in a separate room in the ICU, where he was hooked up to several monitors.  The heart monitor showed the very slow beat of his heart, whereas the EEG recorded the slowness of his brainwaves.

Sam sat down beside him, taking his hand in hers.  There was a small bandage on his forearm.  She brushed a fingertip over it.

"A small burn," Carson explained.  "He's got a few here and there, probably from bits of burning debris.  Teyla also has some.  Considering what she's told me it was like in that fire, it is nothing short of a miracle that they weren't burned more."  The doctor's eyes went to Daniel's face.  "A miracle mostly of his making."  He looked at Sam.  Her eyes were filled with fear and anguish.  He laid a hand on Sam's shoulder.  "Now, lass.  Don't you go worrying yourself to death.  From what I've heard, that man of yours is quite resilient."

Sam smiled slightly.  "Yes, he is."

Carson patted the shoulder beneath his hand.  "Then you just keep thinking positive thoughts."

Sam looked up at him.  "Thank you."

The doctor nodded and turned away.

"Doctor Beckett," Sam called after him.  "Someone should contact the SGC, let them know what's happened."

"I'll see to it."

Weir was the one to place the call to Earth.

"Doctor Weir," Jack greeted.  "Calling to ask for more stuff?"

"No.  I'm afraid that I have some serious news.  Doctor Jackson is in the infirmary, in a coma."

Jack's heart lurched in his chest.  "What happened?"

Elizabeth told him about the fire and Daniel's rescue of the two children.  The story left Jack with mixed emotions.  He was proud of what Daniel had done, but he was also mad that his friend had done something that put his life at such extreme risk.

"What's Doctor Beckett saying?"

"For right now, there's nothing he can do.  Daniel's condition is being monitored closely."

"Do you need anything from us?  Medical equipment, medicine, anything?"

"No, I think we're all right.  Doctor Fraiser may want to consult with Doctor Beckett.  She has a lot more experience with this."

"Right.  I'll let her know.  And keep us updated.  We'll send through a couple more of the generators.  We've made some more these last few days."

As the wormhole disconnected, Jack closed his eyes for a moment.  'Dammit, Daniel.  Why do you have to do these things?'

Jack left the control room and headed to the infirmary.  Janet was extremely worried when Jack told her about Daniel.

"I should be there," she said.

Though he was sure that Doctor Beckett was a good doctor, Jack knew that he'd feel a lot more at ease if Janet was taking care of Daniel.  "Can you get someone to take over your duties here?"

"Doctor Warner and Sheffield would be available."

"Then do it.  We can do without you here for a while, Janet.  Daniel needs you more."

Two hours later, with Daniel's complete medical history in hand, as well as a change of clothes and anything else she thought she might need, Janet stood in the gate room, waiting for the gate to dial.  Two men holding power generators were standing beside her.

Jack came up to her.  She stared questioningly at the pack he held.


"Short leave of absence," he said.  "Reynolds can hold down the fort for a day or two."

Another individual entered the gate room, also carrying a pack.

"Teal'c," Janet said, not surprised.

The wormhole burst into existence.

"Here.  Give those to us," Jack said to the men with the generators.  "We'll take them through."

Jack took one, Teal'c grabbing the other.  They and Janet headed up the ramp and through the gate.

As they came out the other side, Elizabeth walked toward them in surprise.  "General O'Neill, Teal'c.  I wasn't expecting you, although I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I'm sure that Colonel Carter will be happy to see you."

"Any change in Daniel's condition?" Janet asked.

"No, I'm afraid not."

Weir gestured for two men to take the power generators, then she led Jack, Teal'c and Janet to the infirmary.

"Sir?" Sam said, surprised.  "I'm glad you're here.  You, too, Teal'c."

The three new arrivals walked up to Daniel.  Janet's trained eyes scanned the readouts on the monitors.  Doctor Beckett came in.

"Doctor Fraiser.  I'm glad that you're here," he said.  "I have no experience with this sort of thing.  I wish it could have remained that way."

The two doctors walked off to confer.  Jack stood beside Daniel's bed across from Sam.

"I heard about what he did," he said.  "Battling a forest fire to save two kids.  Sadly, it doesn't really surprise me."

Sam stroked Daniel's cheek, which felt cold to her touch.  "I don't know all the details.  I wasn't there.  From what I've been told, it was really bad.  He and Teyla had to make their way though a good three hundred feet of burning forest to get to the kids, then come back.  Sergeant Morton said that part of the forest was an inferno, completely engulfed.  I honestly don't know how Daniel managed to do it.  When I think of the amount of power he had to use to control that much fire. . . ."  She shook her head.  "I wouldn't have thought it was possible."

"Daniel and doing the impossible seem to be synonymous, especially since he gained these abilities of his."  Jack caught Sam's eyes.  "He's going to be okay, Carter."

She looked back at him.  "Would you be here if you were completely certain of that, sir?"

Jack didn't reply.

Hours passed as Daniel's teammates remained at his side.  His condition neither improved nor declined.  Janet and Carson had run a new series of tests and compared the data to when Daniel was in the self-induced suspended animation and the other times that he had used his abilities too much, specifically the time that he blew up the Al'Kesh that was attacking SG-1.  Some things matched or were very similar, but other test results bore no resemblance to those other times.  There were strange physical anomalies that neither doctor could explain.  The results of one test in particular surprised both of them.

"The PET scan reveals that the activity in Daniel's brain had increased substantially," Janet told everyone gathered in Daniel's room, "at least ten percent from what it was before, which was already at a much higher level than the average person due to his paranormal abilities.  It's nothing like what it was when he was carrying the knowledge of the Ancients in his conscious mind, but something has caused a significant increase in synaptic activity."

"So, what does this mean?" Sam asked.

"Frankly, we have no idea.  It may be that this increase is temporary, as a result of what he did in that fire.  Whatever the reason, the increase isn't harmful."

"What if it means that the Ancient knowledge is slowly leaking back in?" Jack asked.

"I doubt that's the case, sir.  We're really not going to know until he wakes up."

"And when will that be?"

"I wish we could say," Carson Beckett replied.  "His condition remains unchanged.  He is in the equivalent of a Level One coma, which is the deepest level."  He looked at the three people he could tell loved Daniel very much.  "Studies suggest that some coma patients can hear the voices of people around them even though they can't respond.  Talk to him.  Let him know that you're here.  It will do no harm and may do some good."

As the doctors left, Daniel's teammates turned back to him.  Jack laid a hand on his best friend's shoulder.

"We're here, Daniel.  We're all right here for you.  You come back to us, you hear me?"

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