Stargate Horizons


Daniel took Egeria to his office.

"Why are people from your military and government coming to speak with me?" she asked.

"Well, you see, when I came up with the idea for going back in time to copy your consciousness, General Hammond pointed out some big concerns that the people in charge would likely have.  He suspected that they wouldn't allow us to go on the mission.  So I brought up the fact that, as a former Goa'uld queen, you would have a lot of valuable knowledge that could help us in our fight against the Goa'uld.  That's what those people are coming to talk to you about.  I know that I shouldn't have assumed that you'd be willing to give us that knowledge, but . . . well, I was getting pretty desperate to get them to agree to the mission."

"I will be happy to give you any knowledge I have that can help in your fight against the Goa'uld, Daniel.  You need only ask."

Daniel smiled, not surprised by her answer.  "Thank you.  I'm guessing that most of the questions you'll be asked tomorrow will be on what you know about Goa'uld technology and if you can give us instructions on how to make any of it."

"But have you not already received knowledge about their technology from the Tok'ra?  I passed on a great deal of that knowledge to them."

"Ummm . . . well, you see, the Tok'ra don't really share stuff like that with us."

A frown knit Egeria's brow.  "Why not?"

"Because they think we're not advanced enough or responsible enough to be given that kind of technology.  It's a . . . common theme among the advanced races we've met."

"But do you not already have some forms of advanced technology?  I have heard that you created spacecraft using Goa'uld technology, as well as several other items, like the Naquadah generators in which Samantha takes great pride."

"Yeah, but that was stuff that we managed to do ourselves with things that we got our hands on.  It's not the same thing as them handing us the plans for some Goa'uld weapon that they think we might turn around and use on each other."

Egeria looked at him closely.  "And do they have good reason for their concerns?"

"I wish I could say that something like that would never happen, but I can't.  We are not a peaceful planet, Egeria.  We're made up of a lot of different countries, races and religions that don't all get along with each other.  Now, so far, with the exception of a certain group of people, the program has done a really good job of keeping advanced technology out of the hands of people who'd use it for . . . nefarious purposes.  Actually, out of the hundreds of countries on Earth, only five know about all this, so most of the individuals who would use that technology against others here on Earth don't even know it exists.  That's another reason why we've kept the program a secret."

"But would not having more advanced technology allow you to more effectively fight against the Goa'uld?"

"Oh, there's no doubt of that.  It would probably also save a lot of lives."

Egeria nodded sharply.  "Then I will see that you get it, or at least as much as is within my power."

"The truth is that the weapons aren't what interest me.  I mean, I know we need them, but I'm not eager to get hold of them like the military and government are."

Egeria smiled slightly.  "And what is it that does interest you?" she asked, suspecting that she already knew the answer.

"The knowledge of other civilizations and cultures, the other species that exist out there in the galaxy, all the history that must be in your memory.  We have visited only a relative handful of planets since we started going through the gate and have encountered just a few different species.  There is so much more out there for use to discover."

Egeria's smile softened.  "That is what you would like to do, if you could, explore the galaxy in the pursuit of knowledge."

Daniel sighed.  "Yeah.  If I'm still alive when this war ends, I would like to see us use the Stargate for exploration, to just go out there and see what's there.  Unfortunately, even if we defeat the Goa'uld, exploration alone won't pay the bills around here.  This program costs a lot of money to run, and the government needs to have a return on their investment, and that means continuing to search for more technology and other things of practical value."

Egeria laid her hand on his arm.  "Do not worry, Daniel.  I will see that your government gets a . . . return on their investment.  And I will also tell you all about the many civilizations and people that the Goa'uld have encountered in their travels.  Sadly, many of them most likely no longer exist.  Many died out or were destroyed even before the day you and I met.  I am ashamed to say that my species was responsible for the destruction of more than one."

Not wishing to dwell on the atrocities her species had committed, Egeria smiled.  "We have a few hours before I travel to the Tok'ra base.  There are still a great many things I wish to know about you and your people."

"Um . . . okay.  How about if we go up to the mountaintop.  We won't be disturbed up there."

Daniel took her to the top of Cheyenne Mountain and to a spot where she could look down at the city of Colorado Springs and the surrounding countryside.

"I wish that I could see your world," she said.  "It must have changed so much since I was here."

"Oh, yeah.  Among other things, we have a whole lot more people.  From what we've seen so far, Earth is the most densely populated human-inhabited planet in the galaxy, which makes sense since it's where our race began."

"How long has it been since the Goa'uld left?"

"We don't know exactly.  We do know that people were still being taken up to around eight hundred years ago.  We believe that the Goa'uld abandoned Earth after the Stargate they were using became inaccessible because of the ice.  A few were left behind, though: Setesh, Osiris, Isis and, um . . . Hathor."

Egeria's expression darkened.  "Hathor.  I hope that you can tell me that she is now dead."

"Yes, she's dead.  So are all the others I mentioned . . . except for Osiris."

Egeria saw the expression of sorrow that flashed across Daniel's face.  "What is wrong?"

The archeologist told her about what happened with Sarah.  She took his hand in a gesture of comfort.

"I am sorry, Daniel.  She meant a great deal to you."

"Yeah.  We were friends, more than friends at one time."

Egeria brushed her fingers through his hair.  "You have lost so much at the hands of the Goa'uld."

"A lot of people have."

Wanting to depart from the sad topic, Daniel moved on to other things.  In the end, he came close to telling Egeria his whole life story.  The Tok'ra queen listened to it all eagerly, smiling at the happy things, saddened by the sorrows and hardships.  Finding out about the death of his parents, his years in foster care, and his estrangement from his only living relative gave her a better understand of why he became the man that he was.  She wished that he'd had the full and happy childhood that he pretended he had when he knew her in the past.

Egeria also found out more about what Daniel and his people had accomplished since they began traveling through the Stargate.

"The fact is that what I told you before about our fight against the Goa'uld wasn't entirely truthful," Daniel said.  "Most of the time, we are definitely not working in secret, and our pace has been anything but slow and easy.  It's been only eight years since we killed Ra and, since then, we've added somewhere around a dozen more to the list.  Earth would be a smoking ruin by now if it wasn't for luck and the fact that we are now covered by the Protected Planets Treaty.  Even with the protected planet status, Anubis has tried to destroy Earth twice, and it's probably only a matter of time before he tries again."

Wanting to know more, Egeria began asking question about specific things they had done, things they had accomplished, the Goa'uld they had a part in killing.  The more Daniel told her, the more impressed she became.  Within the span of just a few years, they had become a formidable enemy of the Goa'uld.  And, though Daniel sought to downplay his own contributions, Egeria was not fooled.  It was quite clear to her that he played a vital role in many of their successes.

It was lunchtime by the time they went back inside.  After eating, they went to Daniel's office, which was where Jacob and Ellan found them a few minutes later.

"Your people await you, Egeria," the Tok'ra scientist said with a smile.

Egeria got to her feet.  "I would like Daniel to accompany us."

A slight frown flickered across the man's face.  "May I ask why?"

"That will become clear in time."

Ellan nodded his head slightly.  "Very well."

Realizing that he really needed to talk to Egeria and Jacob about something first, Daniel asked if Ellan could excuse them for a few minutes.  As soon as the scientist was gone, he turned to the other two.

"Okay, I know that the Tok'ra are going to have to be told about me going back in time and all that stuff," he said, "but I would really, really appreciate it if you wouldn't tell them the part about my DNA being used.  I cannot tell you how much I don't want that to become common knowledge."

"Why do you not wish them to know?" Egeria asked in puzzlement.

Jacob was smiling.  "I think it probably has something to do with the method of . . . procurement.  It is rather a private matter, you know."

Suddenly, Egeria understood.  Even if the Tok'ra were not told all the details behind how she obtained Daniel's code of life, it was still a very intimate subject.

"I understand," she said.  "I will say nothing about it, although I would very much like for those who were created with your DNA to know."

"There aren't very many left, I'm afraid," Jacob told her, "just a handful now.  Many died a long time ago, and we lost several more over the past few years, including Per'sus, who was our High Councillor."

Egeria was saddened to hear that so few of the children who bore Daniel's DNA still lived.  She looked at the man she still loved, hoping that he would consent to giving the code again so that the new children to whom she gave birth would carry a part of him within them.  He would not have to mate with her to do so.  She had learned how to artificially inject the seed of a human male into her host's body long ago and had used that method ever since then.  Daniel had been the last man with whom she ever made love, and it would forever remain so.

A while later, Daniel, Egeria and the two Tok'ra were in the gate room as the Stargate was dialed.  When Daniel's teammates learned that he was going to the base, they asked if he wanted them to come along, but he told them no.  Actually, the only one among them that he really didn't want to be there was Jack.  The man already had too much ammunition for tormenting Daniel.  He didn't want to take the chance that the colonel would get even more.

When they existed the Stargate on the planet with the Tok'ra base, they were greeted by two members of the High Council, Delek and Ka'resh.  The council members both bowed their heads deeply.

"Egeria," Ka'resh murmured in a tone of reverence, her gaze still lowered.  "I cannot tell you how honored and overjoyed we are to have you with us again.  This is a great day for all Tok'ra."  She lifted her eyes to her queen.  "We look forward to when we can tell all your children of your return."

Egeria frowned.  "They do not all know?"

Selmak explained.  "It was decided that, until the time device has been destroyed, only the High Council and a few others would be told so that there would be less of a chance for the Goa'uld to learn of its existence."

They walked to the tunnels.  Egeria looked about as the four Tok'ra explained how the tunnels were formed.

When they entered the High Council meeting chamber, every person sitting at the table rose to their feet and bowed.  Egeria was introduced to each one, both the symbiote and the host.  She personally knew only a few, the rest being children she spawned later, when the only time she had a chance to get to know them was during the years she trained them before they were placed in hosts.  She gave an especially warm greeting to Aranae, the only other one there besides Selmak whose genes possessed Daniel's DNA.  Aranae returned the greeting with tears of joy in her hazel eyes.

Just then, another Tok'ra came in.  He came up to Egeria, his gaze fastened upon her unwaveringly.  There was a great deal of emotion on his face, his eyes full of both happiness and sorrow.

"Egeria, this is Malek," Selmak said.  "He is not a member of the council, but we felt that he had the right to know about you."

"Malek, why do you gaze at me so?" Egeria asked.

"He was at the side of your other self when she died," Selmak quietly explained.  "He worked with her to solve the problem with the Tretonin."

"I have no words to express how happy I am that you live," Malek said.  "Watching you die was the saddest moment of my life."

Egeria took his hands in hers.  "Do not think of it.  I am here; I am alive, thanks to this man who stands beside me, as well as his teammates."

Malek's gaze went to Daniel.  "The Tok'ra owe you a great debt of gratitude, Doctor Jackson."

"More than you know, Malek," Egeria murmured.

Before Malek could ask her what she meant, she and the others were called over to sit at the table.

Ka'resh spoke to Daniel.  "Doctor Jackson, as honored as we are to have you here, some of the things about which we wish to speak are private matters.  We hope you understand."

Egeria frowned.  "I would like him to remain."

"It's okay, Egeria," Daniel quickly said.  "I'll just go wander around."

The Tok'ra queen hesitated, then nodded.  Perhaps it would be best for Daniel not to be there.

She gave him a smile.  "I will come find you when we are finished."

Daniel left, a part of him wishing that he could be a fly on the wall and hear the conversation that was about to take place.

The council started off by discussing the preparations that were being made for Egeria's return.

"We have decided that we will set up a second base that will be for the primary purpose of housing you and the larvae as they mature," said Ka'resh.  "Because it will not be a base of operations, it is less likely to be discovered and attacked, although, for the sake of safety, it will have to be the same tunnel construction.  We will keep the knowledge of its location limited to a few individuals."

"What of Jaffa to carry my children?" Egeria asked.

"We're hoping that we will be able to find enough Jaffa among the rebels."

Celdeth, whose host was a dark-skinned woman in her forties, said, "Since most adult male Jaffa in the rebellion would refuse to leave the fighting for the years it would take the larvae to mature, we have decided that it will have to be females that we choose, ones who are willing to live on the base."

"We will have a year to find enough," said Fennol, whose host was a grey-haired man with ice-blue eyes.  "Hopefully, that will be sufficient time."

"Yes, if we can talk them into it," stated Bres En, a taciturn man of swarthy complexion.

"Please explain," Egeria requested.

"We and most of the rebel Jaffa do not always get along well," Selmak told her.  "There have been a few tense situations.  Things are better now than they were a year ago, but they are still far from being ideal."

The Tok'ra queen nodded slightly.  "I can understand why that would be the case.  A great many Tok'ra must have died at the hands of the Jaffa.  However, some of them are our allies now, a fact that should not be forgotten.  More than that, the Jaffa in the rebellion are worthy of our respect.  The Jaffa have been bred for millennia to believe in the godhood of the Goa'uld and to serve them faithfully.  Such a thing would not be easily changed.  And yet some among them have found the wisdom to reject all the things they have been taught from infancy and the courage to fight against not only the Goa'uld but those of their own kind who still serve the Goa'uld.  I have great respect for that, and so should we all."

Selmak glanced at his fellow council members, a couple of whom were frowning slightly.  "I could not agree more."

"Neither could I," said Aranae with the smallest of smiles.

Egeria asked to be filled in on what her children had accomplished since Ra captured her.  That proved to take a while.  She was quite impressed with their achievements and told them so.

"With the help of the Tau'ri and the rebel Jaffa, I must believe that the Goa'uld will soon be no more," she said.

Several of the Tok'ra exchanged a glance.

"The Tau'ri have been of assistance on quite a few occasions," Delek said, "however, their methods differ greatly from ours.  Their propensity to create direct confrontations with the Goa'uld has caused problems and resulted in the deaths of a number of Tok'ra."

"Many of them fail to see the wisdom in operating covertly," explained Fennol.

Delek nodded.  "Sometimes, they have acted with a significant lack of wisdom and prudence."

Egeria didn't like what she was hearing.  "But you cannot deny the truth that the people of Earth have personally brought about the deaths or defeat of quite a number of Goa'uld.  If it were not for them, those Goa'uld would still be a threat."

"No one is denying that they have accomplished a great deal in these years since they joined the fight," said Celdeth, seeing the frown of displeasure on their queen's face.  "But the fact remains that their activities have also cost the lives of quite a number of us."

Selmak decided to step in.  "You may be right about that, Celdeth, but, in spite of the fears some Tok'ra had that we would all soon perish, we are now in a position where the end of the Goa'uld may actually be within sight.  How close to do you think we would be to destroying the Goa'uld once and for all if Earth had never joined the fight?"

"That we cannot know," Delek replied.

"Please," said Ka'resh.  "Let us move on."  She turned to Egeria.  "We would very much like for you to remain with us while we wait for your symbiote body to be cloned."

The Tok'ra queen shook her head.  "Thank you, but I will be returning to Earth.  A meeting with some members of their government and military is scheduled for tomorrow."

Again, some of the council members shared a look.

"Yes, we have been told about that and about the information they want from you," Delek said.  "We think that it would be unwise to give them the knowledge they seek."

Given what Daniel had told her, Egeria was not surprised by the comment, but she still wasn't happy.

"Because you think that they will misuse it," she responded.

"Their history shows that they are prone to waging war on each other," Fennol said.  "With the advanced technology that you could teach them to build, they could cause even more destruction on their planet."

"Yet that has not happened with what they have already obtained and created themselves from Goa'uld technology.  I think you give them too little credit.  From what I have seen and learned, they have, for the most part, shown a great deal of wisdom in how to use that technology.  I have faith that it will continue to remain so.  They are our allies.  To strengthen them is to strength us.  How can you insist that we deny them knowledge that could help them defeat the Goa'uld even more quickly?"

"Or bring destruction upon themselves more quickly," Delek said.  "They are a thorn in the side of the Goa'uld, a thorn that is becoming a greater irritant every day.  If it were not for the fact that Earth is a protected planet, it would have been destroyed years ago.  But that will not save them forever.  More than once, a Goa'uld has sought to destroy them."

"Yes, and, each time Earth was threatened, they saved themselves, quite brilliantly and courageously, I might add," Egeria countered.  "Again, you underestimate them.  They are not weak, Delek.  They are strong and to be greatly admired and respected."

Selmak couldn't help but smile.  As the years had gone by, progressively fewer of the Tok'ra had been in Earth's corner, so to speak.  Now, with Egeria's return, Earth and the Stargate Program had gained a staunch ally and defender.

At that moment, Egeria dropped her bombshell.  "And if it were not for one of them, the Tok'ra would not exist at all."

Frowns of puzzlement formed on the faces of several of the Tok'ra there.

"What do you mean?" Malek asked.

"You know of the time travel device.  What you do not know is that it transported Daniel Jackson over two thousand years into the past, to a day when I was still a Goa'uld.  He was there for several months, and, in that time, he became the dearest, most beloved friend I have ever had.  It was he who encouraged me to speak with my host and, later, allow her to share control of her body.  It was he who guided me to a new way of thinking and ultimately made me decide to create the Tok'ra.  All of you," Egeria waved her hands around, "all of this would never have existed if it were not for his wisdom, courage and compassion and his ability to look beyond what I was and give to me his friendship and trust.  You and all other Tok'ra born from me owe your very lives to him."

The announcement left the chamber in a stunned silence.  The first to break it was Ka'resh, who looked at Selmak.

"You knew of this?"

Selmak nodded.  "Daniel told me everything three years ago."  'And more,' he silently added.

"Then you are saying that he changed history when he went back," Celdeth said.  "Did the Tok'ra not exist before his journey back in time?"

"Yes, they did," Selmak replied, "but before you start thinking that the Tok'ra would have come to be even if he'd never gone back in time, I need to explain something.  From what Daniel was able to determine, he did not change history, he repeated it.  The timeline that existed before his journey back in time was identical to this one.  It is true that, at some point, there was an original timeline, one in which Daniel did not go back in time, but there is something I am quite sure about, and that is that the Tok'ra did not exist in that timeline."

Ellan shook his head.  "We cannot know that.  I must believe that Egeria would have turned from the ways of the Goa'uld and created our race even if she had not met Doctor Jackson."

"I am sorry, Ellan, but your belief is wrong," Egeria stated firmly.  "I know what existed in my heart and mind before the day Daniel arrived.  As much as I despised their ways, never would I have broken from the Goa'uld, and never would I have even entertained the thought of entering into conversation with my host, much less share control of her body with her.  And to spawn Tok'ra without the Goa'uld genetic knowledge?  No such thought would have occurred to me.  I would have remained a Goa'uld and, if I still lived, would have been so to this day."

There was another long period of silence as everyone absorbed what Egeria had said.

"Then we owe Daniel Jackson a very great debt," Aranae said.

"I agree that we owe Doctor Jackson a debt of gratitude," stated Delek.  "However, this does not change the situation with Earth.  I think it would be a mistake to give them the information they need to duplicate Goa'uld technology."  Several other members of the High Council agreed.

"Though I appreciate your concerns," responded Egeria, "the decision is up to me, and it has already been made.  I will give to Earth what knowledge I can."  Her expression firmed.  "My decision is final."  The look on her face hardened even more.  "And know this.  I will stand no further disparagement of the Tau'ri.  When you are in my presence, you will show them respect and honor as befits the valuable allies that they are.  We are all in this fight against the Goa'uld together, and I believe that it is only with their help that the Goa'uld will be brought to an end."

She got to her feet.  "Now, if there is nothing more, I wish to see more of the base before I return to Earth.  I would also like a copy of all of the historical records so that I may study them."

The others rose to their feet as well.

"Of course," Ka'resh said.  "I would be honored to act as your guide."

Egeria smiled.  "Thank you, Ka'resh, but I would very much like it if Aranae and Selmak could do so.  We have so many old times about which to speak."

Ka'resh nodded.  "Of course.  I will see to it that a copy of all the historical records is put upon a storage device that will work with the computers at Stargate Command."

Egeria left the chamber with Selmak and Aranae.  As they walked through the base, they quietly talked about the "old times," being careful to keep their voices low so as not to be overheard.  Their laughter echoed through the tunnels often.

Another thing about which they talked was Daniel, Aranae wanting more details about the months he spent with Egeria.  As the Tok'ra queen spoke, Aranae did not fail to notice the look in her eyes and on her face, the depth of feeling in her voice.  It soon became quite clear that Daniel Jackson meant a great deal more to Egeria than just a close friend.

All at once, realization struck her.  "He is the one," she blurted out.

Selmak chuckled.  "I was wondering how long it would take you to figure that out."

Aranae looked at him.  "Then I am right?"

Understanding what it was that Aranae had guessed, Egeria nodded.  "Yes, you are right.  His genetic code resides within you, as it does in Selmak and all those still living who were raised with you and blended with the first Tok'ra hosts.  It is he who is your father."

Selmak's lips quirked upward.  "I would not let Daniel hear you say that, if I were you, Egeria.  He has been quite . . . vociferous in stressing that, biologically, he is not our father."

Egeria also smiled slightly.  "Yes, technically, he is right, but I have always looked upon him as the father of the children to whom I first gave birth, and I always will." She cupped the cheeks of the man and woman standing before her.  "That is why the two of you and all those others were so precious to me.  I loved all my children, but you are special.  More so than even you can imagine."

Selmak's gaze sharpened.  "What do you mean?"

"Come.  Let us go someplace where we can talk in complete privacy."

They went to the surface and over to a group of trees to get out of the sun.  Egeria told Selmak and Aranae to sit as she did so herself.

"There is something that no one has ever known, not even Daniel," she said.  "When the very first of my Tok'ra children were growing within me, I did something that many would say was not wise.  Toward the end of the gestation period, just before you and your siblings were born, I placed deep within your minds the memories of my months with Daniel, all the things he taught me.  I shared with you the memories of his goodness and compassion, his courage and strength, the beauty of his spirit.  I did it in a way that would assure that you would never consciously remember, but I hoped that, subconsciously, it would have an influence on you and the kind of individuals you would be."  She smiled.  "And I believe that it did."  She took Selmak's hand.  "In you I saw Daniel's wisdom, understanding, and generosity of spirit, his refusal to judge the worth of someone by who or what they are."  She then took Aranae's hand.  "In you I saw his gentleness and kindness, his capacity to forgive even those who have harmed him."  She smiled at both of them.  "It is more than his genetic code that you carry within you.  You also bear the legacy of his heart and soul."

Stunned, neither Selmak nor Aranae spoke for quite a while.

"Wow," was the first word spoken, and it came from Jacob.  He then gave the Tok'ra queen an apology.  "Sorry, Egeria.  I decided that I'd better do the talking for a while since Selmak is sort of at a loss for words right now."

"Yes, Aranae is in the same condition," declared Fiala, Aranae's blonde-haired host.

"Um, not that I don't understand why you did that, Egeria," Jacob said, "but wasn't it awfully dangerous?  What if some of the Goa'uld knowledge had leaked through?"

"You are right, of course.  It was not wise.  I was taking a great risk.  But I so dearly wished for some of my children to know Daniel as I did, even if they would never consciously remember."

"But why did you not just tell us about him?"  It was Aranae who asked, having resumed control.

Egeria explained about what Daniel had told her about himself and how she decided that the best way to protect him was to never reveal his identity to the Tok'ra.

"There were so many times when I wanted to tell you about him, to share with you how, if it were not for him, you would never have been born.  I wanted to tell you how he changed my life and my heart."

Aranae looked at her closely.  "You love him."

A tender, loving smile lit Egeria's face.  "Yes.  He is my Daniel, the love of my life.  He will remain so until the day I die."

"And does he love you?"

"No.  His wife had died only a year before we met, and he still loved her deeply."

"But that was then.  Three years have passed for him since then."

"Aranae," Selmak said.  She looked at him, and he told her with his eyes that she needed to drop this line of questioning.  He then turned to Egeria.  "We should get back into the tunnels.  We're going to have to return to Earth soon."

Once they were back inside, they went in search of Daniel.  When they found him, Aranae couldn't help but stare at him.  It didn't take him long to notice.

"What?" he asked, looking at Egeria and Selmak for answers.

"Aranae and the rest of the council members now know about your journey back in time, Daniel," Egeria said.

"Oh.  Um . . . okay."

"And Aranae knows a bit more as well," Selmak admitted, almost smiling.

Daniel figured out right away what he was saying.  "I asked you not to tell!" he all but whined.

"Aranae is from the same brood as me, Daniel."

The archeologist's cheeks colored slightly.  "Oh.  Then that means that, uh. . . ."

Aranae suddenly started grinning.  "Yes, Father."

Daniel promptly turned crimson, his cheeks looking like they were in danger of catching fire.

"Oh, God.  Please, not you, too," he moaned.  "Jack has refused to let up on the whole Tok'ra daddy thing.  I can't take someone else doing the same thing.  You know it's not really true."  He looked at Egeria pleadingly.  "Please tell me that she's the only one you told.  If anybody else knows, I am never, ever setting foot in the Tok'ra base again!"

Egeria smiled broadly in amusement.  "No one else knows, my Daniel.  I did not tell Aranae about you.  She was able to guess it on her own."

Daniel stared at the female Tok'ra.  He'd met her only twice before and had developed an instant liking to her.  Like Selmak, she seemed to lack the arrogance that pretty much all the other Tok'ra he'd met had displayed in varying degrees, that is except for Per'sus, whom he had also liked quite a bit.  Even Lantash, the symbiote inside Martouf, had shown a hint of arrogance on one of the rare occasions that it was he who spoke rather than his host.

"Don't you dare tell anyone else, Aranae," he said in a stern voice.

"I will tell no one.  I give you my word . . . Father."

Jacob and Selmak saw the look that came into Daniel's eyes, and the host half of the two decided that he just had to get in some fun of his own.

"Be careful, Aranae," Sam's father said.  "He might decide to take you over his knee and give you a spanking."

"Jacob!" Daniel exclaimed in a tone that was close to being a screech.

Egeria started laughing.  The look on Daniel's face was priceless.

"Okay, that's it," the archeologist said.  "I'm leaving before somebody decides to be a real joker and ask me for the keys to the car."  He turned to go, but Egeria caught his arm.

"Forgive us, Daniel," she said, still smiling.  "You cannot blame us for wanting to have a bit of fun, can you?"

Daniel sighed.  "No, I guess not, even if it is at my expense."

"I promise that we will talk of this no further."  She looked at her two children.  "Is that not right," she said, clearly not phrasing it as a question.

"Not another word," Selmak agreed.  He jabbed the woman beside him in the ribs with his elbow.  "Right, Aranae?"

Aranae sighed.  "Yes, not another word."

Egeria nodded.  "Good.  Now that we have is settled that, let us finish the tour.  Daniel?  I would very much like you to join us."

He agreed, and they resumed traveling though the base.

As they walked, Aranae watched her mother and Daniel closely, seeing the way that Egeria looked at him, the smile that came often to her face.  She also watched how Daniel reacted to Egeria.  He, too, smiled often, his face looking more relaxed and somehow younger.

At one point, Egeria and Daniel got into a conversation with a couple of other Tok'ra, the queen pretending to be nothing more than a Tau'ri who was visiting the Tok'ra base for the first time.  Aranae took the opportunity to pull Selmak aside.

"Why did you stop me earlier from asking more questions about how Daniel Jackson feels about our mother?" she asked.

Selmak stared at her.  "You should be able to figure that out for yourself, Aranae.  Egeria will soon be a Tok'ra symbiote again.  Daniel is human.  What kind of future could a relationship between them have?  It could end only one way, even if Daniel agreed to be blended with a symbiote."

Aranae's gaze returned to Egeria and the man she loved, suddenly feeling sad.  Selmak was right.  They could have no future together, not one that would have a happy ending.

"It is such a terrible shame that the drug Egeria used all those years ago has the side effects that it does," she said.

"It may be possible that it could be improved, but it would likely take years.  It took almost thirty years for its inventor to create it, and he spent another eight years unsuccessfully trying to get rid of its negative effects on the body.  I don't foresee us being able to do what he couldn't in time to enable Daniel to start using it while he is still young enough for it to really benefit him."

"But if he became a Tok'ra, he would have more time."

"Yes, but would you really want Egeria to pin all her hopes on something that we might never be able to accomplish?  And taking that drug in its present form would not work.  Do you recall how it ruled Egeria's life, how she had to make sure every day that she got enough sunlight?"

Aranae nodded.  "It was worse in the winter.  She had to remain in the solarium for several hours."

"Yes.  It would be the same way for Daniel, and, unlike the case with Egeria back then, he would not be in some peaceful city where there was little danger.  He would constantly be living under the threat of being in a situation where he could not get out into the sun.  Not only would his own life be put at risk, it could also cause serious trouble for others if he started suffering the results of not getting enough sunlight.  Working at Stargate Command would be problematic, and he could not remain a member of SG-1.  It would be too dangerous.  Staying at the base with Egeria would also be a problem since he would have to spend too much time outside the tunnels."  Selmak shook his head.  "I am afraid that, no matter how you look at it, it would not work.  And that is not even taking into consideration that he would have to have regular access to a sarcophagus."

Just then, Daniel and Egeria came over, halting the conversation.

"It's getting pretty late," the archeologist said.  "We need to get back to Earth."

Selmak nodded.  "I will get a message to the rest of the High Council that we are leaving."

Aranae looked at him.  "You are returning to Earth as well?"

"Yes.  I will be staying there as we await Thor's return.  Jacob is quite happy about that since it will give him a chance to spend some real time with his daughter.  He is also planning a trip to visit his son for a couple of days."

Aranae turned to her mother.  "I wish for you to know that I will be personally involved in finding a host for you.  I want us to find someone worthy of you."

Egeria gave her a smile.  "I appreciate that, Aranae, though the truth is that she and I must be worthy of each other."

Aranae nodded once.  "Yes, of course."

Egeria kissed her cheek.  "Until we see each other again."

Aranae left, telling Jacob that she'd take care of letting the High Council know that the three of them were leaving.

Fifteen minutes later, Daniel, Egeria and Selmak were at the gate.  They were joined by several council members.

"When Thor arrives, you must contact us so that we may send someone to be there for the transference," Ka'resh said.  "We are confident that we will have two or three potential hosts for you to meet by then."

After assuring the council members that they would be contacted at the proper time, Egeria went through the gate with Daniel and Selmak, giving no hint that it was a day she was not looking forward to with eagerness.

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