Early the next morning, Sam got busy on the sensor that would be set to detect the unique energy signature of a personal cloaking device, everyone having agreed that they needed to follow through on their plan to have a TER permanently set up at the second checkpoint. The Tok'ra also wanted one for both the main base and the one that was Aranae's home.
"So, what are the odds that there's a Goa'uld who knows about Egeria and Aranae?" Jack asked over breakfast.
"Well, Dad said that the Tok'ra haven't heard one peep from the Goa'uld about them," Sam replied, having taken a break from her work to share breakfast with her teammates and Egeria, "which would seem to indicate that they're all still in the dark, although we can't be sure of that, especially in regards to Anubis. I don't think that the Tok'ra have any spies in his ranks."
"Unfortunately, if there's any Goa'uld who does know, it would be him," Daniel said.
"Yeah, he does have an annoying habit of finding out things that we don't want him to," Jack responded.
Sam looked at her watch, then stood. "I need to get back to work on that sensor." She left the table with her tray, tossing the garbage in the trash. As she headed out the door, she passed her father, who was on the way in. They spoke for a moment, then she left, and Jacob came over to SG-1's table, taking a seat beside Egeria.
"How's Nefer doing?" Daniel asked, knowing that Jacob had intended to visit the man.
"He's doing well. He's been released from the infirmary and is with Aranae. There are definite advantages to being a Tok'ra. If he was human, he'd be healing from that wound for months."
"If he was human, he'd probably be dead."
"True. I talked to Aranae about going back to the base. Though she's disappointed that she isn't going to get to stay here longer, she agreed that, as soon as we have a working sensor, it would be best for her to return to the base."
"Get back to making those babies, huh?" Jack said.
"Well, there is that, but the Tok'ra are also understandably nervous about her safety. They want to get her back in the fold as soon as possible."
"Hey, it wasn't our security that Bres En slipped through. It's not our fault that you didn't notice that he was missing."
"He wasn't missing, Jack. Bres En was supposed to be off-world on a minor mission."
"Is it common for a councillor to go on unimportant missions?"
"Not really, but it's not unheard-of. Bres En volunteered. We didn't see anything strange in that. Of course, now, we realize that he was using it as a way to explain his absence."
Everyone went off their separate ways fifteen minutes later, Daniel returning to his office. He had just finished typing his report on the previous day's events when Egeria came in. She got a chair and sat beside his desk. Studying her expression, the archeologist silently sighed.
"I suppose you're going to get on my case again about my ribs," he said. "I knew you wouldn't leave it alone. I'm still waiting for Janet to ball me out."
"No, this is not about that, although I am still not pleased with you for hiding the truth of your injury. This is about what you said last night."
Daniel's forehead furrowed in puzzlement. "Last night?"
"I speak of your statement about having personal experience with the corrupting influence of power."
Daniel visibly tensed. "I really don't want to talk about it, Egeria. It's just something that happened a long time ago. It's in the past."
Egeria searched his eyes. "I do not think that it is, Daniel, at least not for you. Whatever this thing is, it still weighs heavily upon you. Please do not fear to tell me what it is. Nothing you could say would lessen my opinion of you as the strong, kind, wonderful person I know you to be."
Daniel abruptly rose to his feet and moved away a short distance. "I'm not all that strong, Egeria, not as strong as you think I am."
Now upset, Egeria asked, "Why do you say that?"
"Because, when put in the same position as you, I was no stronger than any of the Goa'uld you despise." He turned back around. "I can't talk about this." He grabbed the report off his desk. "I need to get this to Hammond. I'll see you later."
With a deep frown, Egeria watched him walk away. What did he mean by his statement? She needed to know, but whom could she ask? Perhaps Samantha would know the answer.
Egeria went to Sam's lab, where she found the major hunched over a device that she assumed was the sensor. Sam smiled upon seeing the black-haired woman.
"Hi," she greeted with a smile. "What brings you here?"
"I was speaking with Daniel, and he said something that I did not understand. I was hoping that you could explain."
"Um, okay. I'll see if I can help."
Egeria repeated what Daniel had told her.
"Oh," Sam said, her gaze falling away from Egeria's for a moment.
"You know to what he was referring?"
"Yeah. It has to do with Apophis and his queen, Amaunet."
"The Goa'uld who possessed Daniel's wife."
"Yes. They produced a human child together or I should say that their hosts did."
"That is forbidden, a violation of one of the highest laws of the Goa'uld."
"Yes, because of what the child would be, a Harcesis, someone who has all of the knowledge of the Goa'uld. Apophis' plan was to make the kid his host once it matured. To make a long story short, Daniel and Teal'c managed to prevent Apophis from getting the baby after he was born. Later, he was taken by an Ancient named Oma Desala, and she blocked all of the Goa'uld knowledge from his mind. A few months after Daniel returned from his trip back in time, we encountered the boy again, who'd been named Shifu. He was already around eleven years old because Apophis had artificially accelerated his growth rate with things we call nanocites. Oma stopped the process before it could go all the way. We all wanted the knowledge that was in Shifu's head because we thought it would help us defeat the Goa'uld. He tried to tell us that it was too dangerous, but we weren't listening. To teach us what we were failing to see, to teach Daniel, he put Daniel in a kind of dream. In the dream, Daniel was given all the knowledge and memories of the Goa'uld. It, uh . . . took him over. He became something completely contrary to the kind of man he is, evil, heartless and utterly lacking in conscience. For all intents and purposes, he became a Goa'uld in that dream. He just didn't have a symbiote inside him."
Egeria was horrified. What happened in that dream was far worse than Daniel being taken as a host by a Goa'uld, for it was Daniel himself who became evil.
"After Daniel woke up from the dream, he understood what Shifu had been trying to tell us, that the Goa'uld knowledge was too dangerous because of the evil that came hand in hand with it. It could never be used for good, because, in the end, it would destroy us." Sam sighed. "The thing is that the dream also did a real number on Daniel's self-image, which was never all that glowing in the first place. In his eyes, it proved that he wasn't a very strong person. He thought that he should have been able to do a better job of fighting the corrupting influence of the memories. I'm afraid that knowing that you managed to do it probably didn't help."
Egeria's heart ached for Daniel, that he should see himself as weak because of this, something that was so very untrue.
"I must speak with him about this. I must tell him that he is wrong."
"That would be great if you could, Egeria. I had thought that, after all this time, Daniel had gotten past that belief, but, apparently, he never did."
Egeria went straight back to Daniel's office and waited for him. When he walked in the door and saw her, he paused. In the silence that followed, Egeria rose to her feet.
"Samantha has told me about the dream you were given by the Harcesis child," she said.
Daniel's gaze instantly dropped to the floor. "I really wish she hadn't done that. I didn't want you to know."
"Why? Because you see it as a failure?"
Daniel lifted his head. "How could I not see it that way, Egeria? I've gone through a lot of things in my life, and I've always managed to stay true to who I am, to do what I thought was right. And yet I failed the greatest test of my character, not just a little but completely. I became something utterly despicable, something that still makes me sick to my stomach to think about. I know that evil didn't come from inside me; I recognize that, but that's not the point. The point is that I didn't fight it. I didn't put up even a token struggle when it started taking me over. I became a Goa'uld, and I . . . and I liked it. I liked the power, the knowledge. It made me feel so strong, so superior. I think about how you managed to overcome all that evil, yet I wasn't able to do the same, and it makes me feel so—"
Daniel's voice broke off. He quickly crossed the room to one of the shelving units, head bowed and hands gripping the edge of a shelf.
Egeria came around to stand beside him. "Daniel, do you understand what a Harcesis truly is? Do you know why it is so forbidden for one to be created that some Goa'uld have been killed for daring to do so? You already know that no Goa'uld has all the knowledge that has been gathered throughout the many millennia of our race's existence. They have only what is passed on to them through the queen from whence they came, and the knowledge that each queen possesses is not complete. But when two Goa'uld spawned by different queens do as Apophis and Amaunet did, their combined knowledge is passed through to the human child."
"So, the child gets the knowledge of two lineages."
Egeria shook her head. "No, it is far more than that. A Harcesis is born with all of the knowledge of the Goa'uld in its entirety, Daniel, everything we have ever learned, ever known. That is why Apophis wanted that child, because he knew that, in such a host, he would have knowledge far beyond any other Goa'uld. He would have had the power to make himself the ultimate ruler of the galaxy."
Daniel thought about what she was saying. "I did wonder why it was that I had knowledge of weapons and other technology that the Goa'uld obviously didn't have. I figured that it had something to do with the combination of the knowledge of the two Goa'uld."
Egeria met his eyes. "Daniel, if it had been I who was given that dream, that knowledge, I would have had no greater ability to fight the evil than you. What you were given was so much more than the Goa'uld knowledge and memories I possess. There would have been no hope of you being able to withstand it, no hope of anyone being able to do so. It would have been impossible." She cupped his cheek. "You are not weak, my Daniel. You are so very strong. Please do not doubt that. I beg of you."
Daniel searched her eyes. If this was true, then he really would have had no ability to fight the corrupting influence of all that knowledge, even if he had tried. Shifu had made it clear that the evil of that knowledge was too strong to deny, even by an ascended being, as Shifu was. If not even one of the Ascended could overcome it, how could he have done so?
After three years, Daniel finally let go of the shame he'd felt over what he had perceived as a failure of strength and character. He gathered Egeria into his arms and pulled her close.
"Thank you," he murmured.
Egeria wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. She felt him wince in pain and remembered his damaged ribs. She loosened her hold on him and looked up into his face.
"Now that we have that settled, I intend to scold you again about hiding your injury."
Daniel let out a groan. "Egeria, can't we just let that slide? I told you why I did it. I know you're not happy about it, but, in a similar situation, I'd do the same thing. Your safety is always going to be more important to me. Get as mad as you want to about it, but that isn't going to change. If I'd had reason to think that my injury was life-threatening, I'd have said something, but it wasn't, so I didn't."
Egeria drew away from him. "And what if you had underestimated the seriousness, Daniel? What if there had been internal damage? If our situation had been reversed, would you not now be displeased with me?"
Daniel opened his mouth, then closed it. He had to admit that she had a point. If she'd done what he did, he would be pretty upset about it.
He heaved a sigh. "Okay, you're right. If you'd done what I did, I'd be pretty ticked off."
"Then you will not do it again?"
"I won't do it again. I promise."
"Good. Then there is no further need to discuss it." Egeria gave him a quick kiss.
"Now, I just have to make the same promise to Janet and hope that's enough for her."
Daniel got his chance to make that promise less than an hour later when he was called to the infirmary. Before Janet even had a chance to open her mouth, he apologized and swore that he would never hide an injury again. Never having received such a promise from the stubborn archeologist before, the doctor stared at him for a moment, then smiled ever so slightly.
"Got scolded out by Egeria?" she asked in amusement.
"Good. I hope you realize that what you did was foolhardy, Daniel. Where Bres En landed that blow could have resulted in internal hemorrhaging. And you were fortunate that the ribs were only cracked, not broken. I don't think you've forgotten what happened the last time that you ignored a medical problem."
Daniel grimaced slightly. She was referring to his appendicitis. When his stomach first started to hurt, he'd passed it off as an upset stomach caused by the emotional fallout of the events with his grandfather. It wasn't until the pain was making him double over that he'd finally realized it was a whole lot more than that. He was at home at the time, and a five-car pile-up delayed the ambulance in getting to him. By the time he was rushed into surgery, his appendix had burst, and peritonitis had set in. Janet told him several times that he was lucky to be alive. He should have learned his lesson then, but he didn't. But things were different now that he had Egeria. For her sake, he had to be more responsible with his own health and well-being.
Janet began examining him, gently probing his side and asking pointed questions on how much pain he was feeling and if he'd noticed any other symptoms. Daniel answered with complete honesty.
"So, how are things going with you and Egeria," she asked after a while as she studied the extensive bruising marring his skin.
"I assume you mean personally. It's going great. I didn't realize until now how much I was missing having someone in my life like that."
Janet met his eyes. "I don't think I have to tell you that I couldn't be happier for you. I told Cassie about the two of you, although I decided to let you be the one to tell her who Egeria really is and the story of how you met and were reunited. She's delighted that you have a girlfriend and can't wait to meet Egeria."
Declaring him healthy other than the injured ribs, the doctor let Daniel leave, extracting a promise from him that if he showed any other symptoms, he was to get his butt back there immediately.
On the way back to his office, Daniel decided to stop by Sam's lab to see how she was progressing.
"How's it going?" he asked as he entered the room.
"Pretty well. Fortunately, the energy signature of the cloaking device is quite unique, so it's just a matter of tuning one of our present scanners to specifically detect it and incorporating an alarm and automatic triggering device that will turn on the TER."
Daniel's gaze went over to one of the worktables. Underneath a cloth he could make out the outline of the Ancient Repository of Knowledge.
Sam noticed the direction of his gaze. "A couple of the scientists were studying it this morning. They didn't learn much, I'm afraid, although I really didn't expect it to be easy." She returned her gaze to Daniel. "Area 51 wants to study it."
"No surprise there."
"No. Thankfully, the fact that you and Colonel O'Neill are the only two people we know of who can control Ancient technology has convinced the higher-ups that keeping it here would be the smartest thing to do." Sam paused for a few seconds. "You should probably know that there's a doctor who's very interested in what makes you and the colonel different. He's a medical doctor but also a brilliant geneticist. His name is Beckett. He wants to study your DNA."
Daniel made a face. "Jack's going to be so thrilled to hear that."
He walked up to the repository and pulled the cloth back partway, being careful to keep the "business end" covered. He ran his fingers over the cool metal, feeling the lure of all the knowledge contained within the device. For someone like him, having this here and knowing that to interface with it and gain all it held would be fatal was almost agony. All his life had been spent in the pursuit of knowledge, and right here before him was something that held more knowledge than he could gain in a thousand lifetimes as a human, but, unless they could discover a way to safely download it, it would remain forever out of their reach.
Sam watched him, seeing the play of emotions over his face. She understood how he must be feeling. She had to admit that she, too, had spent a lot of time thinking about what the repository held, knowledge of science and the universe. To have that knowledge, to know what the Ancients knew, would be beyond the dreams of any human scientist. For Daniel, though, there was also the fact that, for a whole year, he had possessed that very knowledge, but had it all taken from him. If she was in his shoes, the thought of getting it back would be extremely tempting.
The phone rang, and Sam went to answer it. It was the general's aide, who told her that Hammond wanted to see her and her teammates in the briefing room. She told the aide that Daniel was with her, and they'd be right there.
Ten minutes later, the four members of SG-1 were sitting at the conference table. The general came in and took a seat.
"I have been on the phone with the president," he said. "He and several others are expressing serious misgivings about the security of the lab on Egerania, especially in light of the events with the Ashrak and Bres En. They are concerned that the likelihood of the Goa'uld learning about the lab and the weapon has increased substantially."
"But Bres En didn't know about the lab or its contents," Daniel responded, "and neither did the Ashrak."
"Well, that is until the second before that drone blew him up," Jack corrected.
"That may be so," Hammond said, "but we have orders to remove the control chair and drones ASAP."
"And the lab?" Daniel asked.
"That's a stickier subject. Everyone wants to retrieve as much of the information as possible, but the threat of it falling into enemy hands is too great. From a military standpoint, since there is no useful information of defensive or offensive technology other than the weapon system installed there, a case has been made that it would be best to destroy the lab now and end the threat. Yet we can't ignore the scientific and possible commercial applications for what might still be in those computers."
"Yes, we mustn't forget about all the money that can be made," Jack responded a bit sarcastically. "The bigwigs have been whining for years about all the dough that's being tossed into the program with little return."
"As true as that may be, Colonel, this time, the military point of view has won out."
"They want us to destroy the lab right away," Daniel said. Though he understood the decision, the thought of all the knowledge that they would be sacrificing was more than a little upsetting.
"I'm sorry, Doctor Jackson. I can understand how you must feel."
"If there's nothing in the computers that the Goa'uld could use as weapons, what's the big problem?" Jack asked. "What's the brass worried about?"
"They are worried that the Goa'uld will be able to adapt the technology that is explained in the computers and ultimately make devices that will strengthen them. We already know that the Goa'uld take technology they acquire and change it to suit their purposes. We do not want them to get anything that is in those computers."
"And it isn't just that," Daniel said. "If a Goa'uld goes there, the people on Egerania will be the ones who suffer the most. You know that they won't be left alone."
Everyone there knew that he was right. Regardless of what Goa'uld came, the people of Egerania would either be wiped out or enslaved. The danger to them would be even greater if it was discovered that they were descended from Egeria's human subjects.
Hammond broke the silence. "If Major Carter can complete work on the sensor for the warning system today, you are to return to Egerania tomorrow with a team of scientists and technicians to remove the weapon system and power source. You are then to set charges that will ensure complete destruction of the lab and all its contents."
"In that case, sir, I would like permission to leave right away for the lab with some scientists to resume downloading as much as we can from the computers," Daniel responded.
General Hammond glanced at the clock. "By the time you got there, it would be late in the afternoon. You wouldn't have much time."
"We would if we worked all night. In that time, we could save a lot, still only a small fraction of what's in there, but at least it would be more than we have now."
Hammond thought about it for a moment. "Very well, Doctor Jackson. You have my permission to take a science team to the lab. Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c will accompany you for the sake of safety."
"Thank you, sir."
After leaving the briefing room, Daniel went to Egeria's lab and told her what was happening. She could clearly see how upset he was.
"I am sorry, Daniel," she said. "I understand how difficult this must be for you."
"I keep thinking about all the things we might be sacrificing, possible cures for diseases, knowledge of races and civilizations we've never met, stuff that could change the things we think we know about the universe, stuff about the Ancients themselves. Before the Ashrak attack, we were scrambling to get all we could, picking and choosing what we thought was most important, but how can we really know what would prove to be most important at some time in the future?"
"Yet you knew even then that, eventually, the lab would have to be destroyed."
"Yeah, but we all thought that we'd have several days. Now, we have just one more night. I wish we'd contacted the Asgard and taken the chance that they'd have let us keep the knowledge. With their technology, they could have downloaded everything in those computers." Daniel let out a sigh.
Egeria gave him a gentle hug, wishing that there was something she could say or do that would make him feel better.
"I will miss you tonight," she said.
"I'll miss you, too." Daniel gave her a kiss. "I need to get ready. We'll be leaving in less than an hour."
Egeria thought of something. "What is Selmak going to be told? He will be aware of your departure."
"Crap. I didn't think of that. He and Jacob are going to be really curious about where we're going in such a hurry. If Jacob asks Sam, she's not going to want to lie to him."
"I know that you did not want to tell the Tok'ra for fear that a spy in their midst would inform the Goa'uld, which turned out to be a wise precaution. If Bres En had learned of that lab and the weapon, he would have done all he could to gain possession of it. However, now that the lab is to be destroyed, perhaps it will not matter if Selmak is told. I believe that he will agree to keep the knowledge to himself until the lab has been destroyed and the weapon is here on Earth."
"You do have a point. Sooner or later, the Tok'ra will have be told anyway. I'll go talk to the general and see what he says."
In the general's office, Daniel approached Hammond about telling Jacob about the lab, recounting what he and Egeria discussed.
"I'm afraid that telling Jacob at this point is not a decision I can make without approval, Doctor Jackson," the commander of the SGC responded. "I'll make sure that he is kept busy until after you leave, and if he has any questions about where you went, I will field them."
Nodding, Daniel left the office and went to get ready for the mission. He didn't envy Sam, who would no doubt be the first person Jacob questioned.
When the three male members of SG-1 and the science team left for Egerania, they did it without General Hammond watching their departure from the control room. Instead, the general had invited Jacob to join him in the commissary for a cup of coffee and some conversation. It was over an hour later that Sam's father found out that his daughter's three teammates had left on a mission. More than a little curious, he went to Sam's lab.
"I just found out that Jack, Daniel and Teal'c are off-world," he said. "So, where'd they go off to in such a hurry?"
"It's a mission that suddenly came up," Sam replied, trying to hide her tension.
"Too important to wait until tomorrow?"
"Yeah. It's not dangerous, though. It's a planet that we've been to before."
"And they won't need you?"
Jacob stared long and hard at his daughter. She hadn't met his eyes even once during the conversation. "Sam, what aren't you telling me? What is this mission?"
The major let out a soundless sigh. She should have known that she couldn't fool her dad. "I can't tell you."
"I can't say any more. You need to talk to General Hammond."
Jacob kept his gaze on his daughter a moment longer, seeing how uncomfortable she was. "All right." He gave her back a little rub, feeling the tension in her muscles. "Don't worry, Sam. I understand that you're just following orders."
Sam relaxed a bit and met her father's eyes. "I really would tell you if I could, Dad."
He gave her a smile. "I know."
Jacob immediately went to Hammond's office. When the general saw the Tok'ra's expression, he knew that the cat was out of the bag regarding SG-1's departure.
"Sit down, Jacob," he said, motioning to one of the chairs across the desk.
Jacob took a seat. "So, are you going to tell me about this hush-hush mission that Daniel, Jack and Teal'c went on?"
"I would if I'd been given permission to do so, but, at this time, I'm afraid that you're going to have to wait a while longer."
Jacob frowned. "Is it just me that you can't tell or is it the Tok'ra?"
"It isn't you personally, Jacob."
"I see. From what you said, I'm guessing that you will be telling us eventually."
Hammond nodded. "After the mission is complete."
"Which will be when?"
"Tomorrow. Then, with permission from the president, you and the other Tok'ra will be told."
"All right. I guess there's nothing I can do about that. I do want to know one thing, though. How much of a blow-up can Selmak and I expect from the rest of the Tok'ra when you do tell us? We'd sort of like to be prepared for the fallout and to handle damage control."
"I'll just say that the Tok'ra are not going to be happy about having been kept in the dark. At the same time, however, they will be able to recognize that, if we had told you beforehand, it could have been a disaster."
Jacob's gaze sharpened. "You're talking about Bres En."
The Tok'ra nodded once. "Okay. I'll be waiting with bated breath."
Daniel was in the midst of an argument with one of the scientists. The man was failing to grasp the importance of downloading any of the cultural information Daniel had discovered on the Ancients.
"Look," the archeologist said, beginning to lose patience. "This information could give us valuable insights on the Ancients as a people. The more we understand about them as a race before they ascended, the closer we come to understanding how they came to their beliefs and decisions about ascension."
"What does that matter? I don't see how it makes any difference."
Barely containing a more scathing remark, Daniel said, "So, are you saying that if someone on another planet wanted to know why the U.S. government decided to develop the atomic bomb and then drop it on two cities, the reason why we did it wouldn't matter?"
"Because we'd want them to know that it was for a good reason."
Daniel's eyes narrowed dangerously, his lips pursing in a hard line.
Jack, seeing the danger sign, quickly stepped forward.
"Daniel, I think it's time for you to go to your happy place again," he said. He turned to the scientist. "How long will it take to download that stuff he wants you to?"
"Maybe twenty minutes, give or take."
"Then do it."
"You heard me."
Looking like he'd been forced to suck on a lemon, the scientist spun around and told one of the others to do as Jack had commanded.
The colonel took hold of Daniel's arm and pulled him off to the side.
"You need to chill out, Daniel," he said. "You're not doing yourself or anyone else any good in the state you're in right now."
Daniel visibly tried to relax. "There's just so much there, Jack. The more we delve into those computers, the more I see how much we're going to lose when we blow them up. What if something we haven't found could help us destroy the Goa'uld or end world hunger or—"
"I know, Daniel," Jack interrupted, "and, as much as it may surprise you, I do understand. But there's nothing we can do about it. We just need to make the best of a bad situation, get as much as we can, and hope that what we do get turns out to be stuff that we can really use."
Daniel rubbed his hand over his forehead, trying to ease his headache. "You're right. It's just hard for me. The deliberate destruction of knowledge has always been hard for me to swallow, like the destruction of the library at Alexandria. I think about all that was lost, knowledge that we will never get back. . . ."
"And your head wants to explode?"
"Not exactly. It just really bothers me."
"But this isn't the same situation. We have to destroy this place to keep anyone who shouldn't have that knowledge from getting it. It isn't just wanton destruction."
Daniel studied his friend, surprised by the comment. He nodded. "You're right. Thanks, Jack."
The colonel patted his shoulder. "Sure thing. Now, get on back to work. Time's a wastin'."
Several hours later, as dawn lightened a sky that the people in the underground lab could not see, a weary Daniel and the scientists took a very brief break to eat something. In just a few more hours, Sam and the team that would be pulling out the chair and drones would arrive. Then, the charges would be set, the power module would be removed, and all the knowledge they'd had no time to save would be destroyed. They could all feel the weight of that fact bearing down on them. As the night wore on, progressively more arguments had broken out between the scientists on what to save and not save. Keeping Jack's words in his mind, Daniel had tried to play peacekeeper, but everyone's nerves were frayed, tempers on edge, and they were all exhausted. Daniel wished that he could curl up in the corner and go to sleep. He envied Jack and Teal'c, who were both up top, probably having a lot better time than he was.
After shoveling down his MRE without really tasting it, Daniel rose to his feet and returned to one of the computers, bringing up the menu to the place he'd left off. He scanned the Ancient text, seeing so many categories that he ached to explore. Viciously shoving that ache down deep inside, he focused on the task of deciding what knowledge would be the most valuable to the program and Earth as a whole.
When Sam arrived at the lab, accompanied by Jack, she could see at a glance how Daniel was doing. She walked up to him and rubbed his back.
"How are you doing? Not that I really need to ask. I can tell just by looking at you."
"It hasn't been fun," the archeologist replied, not elaborating.
He and his team continued to work as the drones were harvested. Then came the job of removing the control chair. The thing was quite heavy, and it took four men to get it over to the transporter. Jack accompanied it up, where Teal'c and three others helped get it on the vehicle that would transport it to the city.
"Okay, boys," Jack said to Daniel's team upon returning to the lab. "Wrap it up. Time for you to go topside."
Reluctantly, the men disconnected the storage devices from the Ancient computers, gathered up all the equipment, and went with Jack to the surface. Sam got busy setting the C-4 charges, deliberately not looking at Daniel, who was standing at one of the computers, staring at the holographic screen.
Once the last charge was set, she went to his side.
"Daniel. I'm sorry. It's time."
The archeologist sighed softly, his eyes closing for a moment. He felt like he was committing a great crime against humanity and the Ancients. The Ancients had left this knowledge here, perhaps hoping that someone worthy would come along and make use of it, and, now, he was going to be a part of destroying it.
His heart heavy, Daniel shut down the computer. He went to the panel behind which was the power module and opened it. Sam removed the module and slipped it into a bag. She then pulled out a remote and pressed the button. The countdown on the charges began.
Seconds later, they were on the surface. Jack met Daniel's eyes, seeing all he needed to know there.
The three members of SG-1 joined Teal'c and all the others outside the complex, where everyone waited in silence. Sam began counting down the time as it reached ten seconds to detonation. When she reached zero, everyone tensed, but they felt nothing, not even the slightest tremor, the lab too far underground for an explosion of that size to be detectable.
"How can we be sure the charges went off?" one scientist asked.
"There's only one way," Daniel replied, "if we try going down there and fail, then we know."
"Negative," Jack said. "Those charges were big enough to destroy the computers, but we can't be sure that the transporter was totally destroyed, especially not if it's as hard to knock out as a Stargate. I don't want you to find out that you can get down there but not get back. It worked. The place is history."
Daniel's gaze dropped to the ground. He felt sick at the loss of all that knowledge.
"I understand your distress, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c stated softly.
Daniel nodded slightly, saying nothing.
For Daniel, the trip back to the city seemed to take far longer than it actually did. In the SGC's gate room, he looked at no one, remaining mostly silent throughout the post-mission exam that followed. Then came the debriefing, where Daniel filled Hammond in briefly on how the night went. He said nothing about the arguments and squabbles, keeping to the bare facts.
The moment he and the others were dismissed, he went to his quarters, not needing the general's quiet command to get some sleep. But sleep did not come. He was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, when Egeria entered. She slipped off her shoes, lay down beside him, and pulled him into her arms.
It took a while, but, in her embrace, he slowly relaxed and slipped into sleep. As the hours passed, Egeria remained where she was. She wished that they could go somewhere far away, someplace where Daniel could forget about what this day had brought, but that would not be possible. Now that the lab was gone, the Tok'ra would be told about it and the weapon. She did not doubt that some members of the High Council would be furious over the SGC deliberately keeping the knowledge of the lab from them, and she needed to be here to help calm their ire.
With that thought in her mind, Egeria closed her eyes and drifted off into a light sleep.