Stargate Horizons


Daniel slept for four hours, which was not as long as Egeria had hoped.  As he took a long shower, she went to the commissary to get something for them to eat, having guessed that he wasn't in the mood to socialize.  She saw Sam, Jack and Teal'c at one of the tables and went over to them.

"How's Daniel doing?" the major asked.

"His heart is heavy.  It hurt him a great deal to lose that knowledge."

"I know how he feels."

"Is he coming here?" Jack asked.

Egeria shook her head.  "No, I am here to get something for us to eat in his quarters.  Do you know when the Tok'ra will be told about the lab?"

"Not exactly.  Hammond was going to be talking to the president about it today, so I'm guessing that it'll be tomorrow, which is too soon for me.  I'm not looking forward to dealing with a bunch of pissy Tok'ra."

Egeria tried her best to lift Daniel's mood as they ate and succeeded in getting a small smile or two out of him.  After the meal, he wanted to go to his office to get some work done, but the former queen insisted that he relax for the rest of the evening.  That night, she made love to him slowly and gently, taking care not to aggravate his injury.

The Tok'ra were contacted the next morning.  It was Selmak, Delek and Celdeth who came through.  They went to the briefing room with SG-1, Hammond and Egeria.  The general first asked how things were going with setting up the sensors.  Delek replied that there had been no trouble and that both bases were now protected against a cloaked person entering undetected.

"That's good."  Hammond exchanged glances with SG-1 and Egeria before turning his gaze back to the Tok'ra.  "We have some things to tell you about a discovery we made off-world.  Doctor Jackson, I believe it would be best for you to start."

Daniel launched into an explanation about the Ancient ruins they'd discovered.  He did not say anything about the fact that it was upon the planet that held the descendants of Estrania's human population, figuring that the Tok'ra didn't need to know that right now.  As he got to the part about the lock barring entrance to the tower room, the interest of the Tok'ra increased substantially.  Then he told them about being accidentally beamed down to the lab.

"What did this lab contain?" Celdeth asked.

"I'll, uh, get to that in a moment."  He told them about being trapped, not knowing where he was or how to get out, then about Jack's entrance.

"None of us had seen Daniel disappear," Sam said, "but I saw when the colonel was beamed away.  Teal'c and I discovered that the transporter would not work for either of us."

"I would assume that was because of the Naquadah in your blood and the Tretonin that Teal'c takes," Delek surmised.

"That's what we thought, but we were wrong."

"It has to do with something that's different with me and Jack," Daniel explained. "It won't work for anyone except the two of us.  Now, for me, I'm guessing that it's because I was ascended.  We don't know about Jack, though the Asgard told us a while back that he is genetically different from the average human."

"Interesting," Selmak said.  "It might be beneficial to find out how you and he differ genetically from other humans."

"Yeah, well, you can forget about poking and prodding us," Jack responded.  "It's bad enough that some of our own scientists want to dissect our DNA to see what's going on."

"We can talk about that another time," Daniel said.  He paused a moment, then told them about the computers in the lab and what they contained.

"This is an incredible find," Celdeth said excitedly.  "We will, of course, want to study the knowledge."

"Um . . . that's not going to be possible," Sam told them, "at least not all of it."

It was Jacob who responded.  "Why not?"

"Because we blew it up yesterday," Jack replied bluntly.

The three Tok'ra stared at him and the others like they were insane.

"You destroyed a lab that contained priceless Ancient knowledge that may have helped us defeat the Goa'uld?" Jacob asked, his voice heavy with disbelief.  "Why on Earth would you do that?"

Over the next several minutes, he and the other Tok'ra were filled in on everything that had happened, the fact that it was there that the Ashrak attacked Egeria and SG-1, the discovery of the repository, the weapon system and power module, and more about what the computers contained and didn't contain.

"Why were we not told about this immediately?" Delek asked, obviously ticked off.

"Does the name Bres En ring any bells?" Jack answered.

"We were afraid that if there were any Goa'uld spies among the Tok'ra, they'd report the existence of the base to whatever Goa'uld they were in league with," Daniel added.  "Now, Bres En wouldn't have done that since he wasn't working for a Goa'uld, but I'd rather not dwell on what he'd have done to get hold of that lab and what was in it."

The three Tok'ra shared a long look.  It was Selmak who spoke.

"We can't deny the threat that Bres En would have posed if he had learned of the lab and its contents."

"That is true," Delek said.  He glared at the others.  "But that does not take away from the fact that you deliberately kept vitally important knowledge from us, knowledge that, under the language of the Earth/Tok'ra alliance—"

"Oh, here it comes," Jack interrupted.  "Why is it that when we're the ones not telling you things or you're the ones asking for something from us, you throw that damn alliance in our faces, but when the shoe is on the other foot, that alliance isn't quite so important to you?  How many secrets are you keeping from us, huh?  And what about all the knowledge and technology that you're refusing to share with us?"

Egeria caught the gaze of her three children, subjecting them to a look that told them that Jack had a valid point.  There was one secret she knew of that the Tok'ra were keeping from Earth, and there were likely others, perhaps ones even bigger than the locations of Tok'ra spies within the ranks of the Goa'uld.  And she had already expressed her displeasure that the Tok'ra had been withholding valuable technology from Earth that could help them fight the Goa'uld.

Celdeth turned away from the hard gaze.  "If there are things that we have not revealed," she said defensively, "it has been to preserve the safety of the Tok'ra or because we believe that Earth is not ready for the knowledge."

"And we kept the knowledge of that lab hidden from you for the sake of this entire galaxy," Daniel countered.  "And, as it turned out, it's a good thing that we did."

Selmak looked at his fellow Tok'ra.  "He is right, and, as much as you might hate that he is, you need to accept it.  They made the right decision.  Telling us could have resulted in a catastrophe, giving vast knowledge and power to someone who would have used it to take over control of the galaxy, if he could have found a way."

"That is if Anubis didn't take it from him."

Daniel's statement chilled the Tok'ra.

"I cannot deny that telling us before Bres En's treachery was discovered could have been a disaster," Delek conceded.  "However, Bres En is dead and no longer poses a threat, yet still you kept this from us."

"How could we be sure there wasn't another traitor among the Tok'ra?" Sam countered.  "What if Bres En had accomplices?  There is a possibility that he did."

Selmak handed over control to Jacob.  "That's no longer going to be a concern.  This latest incident has made it clear that we need to do periodic questioning with a Zatarc detector on all Tok'ra, especially those of higher rank and ones in positions that could seriously compromise our security.  All of the remaining High Council members have already been tested, as will the Tok'ra who takes Bres En's place.  As for everyone else, they are presently in the process of being tested as well.  If there are any more traitors, we'll find them."

"I am sure that we are all relieved to hear that," Hammond said.  "I assure you that if it was safe to do so, we would have told you of our discovery when it was made.  My superiors made the decision that they felt they needed to under the circumstances.  Now, shall we move forward?"

The Tok'ra were told the rest of it, including a brief synopsis by Daniel of what kind of information was retrieved from the computers, as well as their hopes for getting into the knowledge that the repository held.

"Then you have the repository, power module and the weapon system in your possession," Celdeth said.

Sam nodded.  "At this point, the weapon can't be controlled by anyone but Daniel and Colonel O'Neill, and it would be suicide to allow anyone to interface with the repository, but, like Daniel said, we're hoping that, with what we learned from the computers in the lab, we can find a way to set the repository for partial downloads or perhaps even download the entire contents into something else."

"It may be possible to download information into storage crystals," Delek said.

"We'd welcome any help with that.  The things in that repository would be of immense value to both of us."

"We would also like a copy of the things you retrieved from the computers," Celdeth said.

"Of course," the general responded.  "We'll see that you get it as soon as possible."

"I wish to examine the control chair and one of the drones," Delek stated.

Hammond nodded.  "Major Carter can take you to where we're keeping them."  He looked about at everyone.  "Are there any other questions at this time?"

"What are your intentions regarding the weapon?" Celdeth asked.

"Our ultimate goal is to set it up here on Earth to protect the planet against a Goa'uld attack."

Delek frowned.  "A weapon of vast power that you know little to nothing about."

"We know more than you think," Jack corrected.  "We've already used it once.  Or I should say that Daniel has."

The three Tok'ra looked sharply at the archeologist.

"The Ashrak," Jacob guessed.  "You said that he was blown up."

Daniel nodded.  "There was no other choice."

The meeting came to an end, and the Tok'ra were taken by Sam to see the chair and the drones it controlled.  She discussed the technology with them, sharing her guesses and what had been learned about it from the lab computers.  Delek wanted one of the drones to take back to the Tok'ra base to study in more detail.  Sam said that he'd have to talk to the general about that.

"Where is the power module?" Celdeth asked.

"It's in my lab.  We've already begun to study it, and what we've learned so far is incredible.  That module alone is one of the most significant finds we've made since we first started going through the gate.  If we could find more of them, we would have an enormous source of power.  I can only imagine how fast a ship with a hyperdrive powered by one could fly.  Unfortunately, we couldn't find any information in the lab on where we could find more of them or how to make them, so, unless we stumble across one or we can find out from the repository where there are more, that one will have to do, and we'll need it to power the chair."

The group went to Sam's lab, where the Tok'ra studied the power module intently, commenting on its crystalline design, which was reminiscent of their own use of crystals.

Sam glanced about the lab and suddenly realized that something was missing.

"Where's the repository?" she wondered.

"It was in here?" Jacob asked.

"Yeah, right over there."  Sam went to the phone and made a call.  What she learned made her frown.  Daniel had requested that the repository be brought to his office.  Wondering what he was up to, she headed over there, the three Tok'ra coming along.

What Sam saw when she got there made her more than a little concerned.  The repository was sitting on a cart, and the cloth covering it had been completely removed.  Daniel was at his computer, studying something.

"Daniel, what are you doing?" Sam asked.

"Trying to learn how to use it."

"Without someone here with you?  Daniel—"

"I'm being careful, Sam.  I have no intention of sticking my head in that thing."

The astrophysicist studied him closely, wondering if this had been motivated by his feelings about the destruction of the lab.

"Even so, this should be done in a more controlled environment," she told him, "with another person present in case of an accident."

Daniel met her eyes, seeing her concern.  "Sam, you know as well as I that, at this point, if someone accidentally interfaces with that thing, there's nothing that anyone else could do to halt the download."

Deciding that this was something to be discussed later, Sam said nothing.

Celdeth walked up to the repository, which did not react to her presence.  She stared at the opening, though she took care to keep her head away from it.

"You had another one of these at one time, did you not?" she asked.

Sam nodded.  "Yes, but we were never able to get it to work again, and we figured that the download into Colonel O'Neill drained the last of its power."

"How can you be certain that the same is not true with this one?"

In reply, Daniel approached the repository.  It immediately reacted and grew in size, telescoping upward, which startled the three Tok'ra, making Celdeth take a hasty step backwards.

"Whoa," Jacob said.

Celdeth studied Daniel with interest, at that moment more of a scientist than a councillor.

"Do they respond only to you and Colonel O'Neill or to anyone who does not carry a symbiote?" she asked

It was Sam who replied.  "We don't know.  The first repository we encountered appeared when Colonel O'Neill crossed a circle of writing on the floor.  It did the same thing that one just did when he got close to it, but it didn't react at all to Teal'c's presence.  Daniel has been the only one who triggered this one.  We had some scientists studying it the other day, but they kept the opening covered, which appears to deactivate the device."

"So, you haven't tested to see if it reacts to anyone else besides Daniel or Jack," Jacob said.


"With your permission, I would like to conduct a test and see if it would do so," Celdeth said.  She glanced at the cloth sitting on the table beside the Ancient device.  "You said that covering the opening deactivates it."  After asking Daniel to step away from the repository, she picked up the cloth and draped it over the opening.  The Ancient device quickly shrunk back to its former size.  Celdeth turned her gaze on Sam.  "Since you have Naquadah in your blood, testing it with you would not give us a definitive answer.  Would you call someone else into the room, please?"

Sam called one of the scientists who'd been studying the repository.  Once he arrived, Celdeth uncovered the repository and asked the man to come closer.  He hesitated and looked at Sam, who told him to do it.  Clearly leery of the thing on the cart, the scientist slowly approached it, but very quickly jumped back when it responded to his presence.

"Interesting," Celdeth murmured as she covered the opening again.  "It would appear that this device will respond to any human without a symbiote."

Now dying of curiosity, Sam walked up to the repository and carefully uncovered it.  She was thrilled when it reacted to her.

"Apparently, it's able to tell the difference between a host and a former host," she said.  "But this doesn't tell us if any human who isn't a host could interface with it.  Judging by what Thor said, it could be that only someone like Daniel or the colonel could take the download."

After covering the repository back up, Sam gave Daniel a look that told him she wasn't pleased about what he'd done.  The thought went through his mind that he seemed to be getting into a lot of trouble with the female gender lately.  But then, when Jack found out about this, he wasn't going to be all that pleased either.

It turned out that Daniel was right about that.  Jack came marching in around half an hour later, a hard look on his face.

"What did you think you were doing when you brought that alien head-sucker in here?" he asked, waving his hand at the thing.

"Technically, Jack, it's not a head-sucker since sucking would mean extracting something rather than the opposite."

"Don't play the semantics game with me, Daniel.  You're going to answer my question."

The archeologist gave a sigh.  "I had all the information we got on it from the lab copied into my computer, and having it in front of me as I read about it made things easier.  I also wanted to study the casing in more detail, make sure that there wasn't some kind writing or symbols that I didn't notice before."

"And what would you have done if you'd gotten too close to that opening, and it grabbed that idiot head of yours?"

"I was careful.  I didn't uncover the opening until just a few minutes before Sam and the others showed up.  I wanted to make sure it was still working."  Seeing that his friend was still pissed, Daniel said, "Jack, how many times has Sam or some other scientist worked all by themselves on a potentially dangerous piece of alien technology?  I'm not talking about on a mission, but right here, on base?"

"I don't know.  A few times, I guess."

"More than a few.  Yet nobody made a fuss about it.  So, do you think that I'm not as capable as them or that I'm more careless . . . more clumsy?"

"No, I don't think that, Daniel."

The archeologist stared straight into his eyes.  "Then why do you think I'm incapable of studying a piece of technology belonging to a race that I've spent five years learning all I can about without getting into trouble?"

Unable to hold that challenging stare, Jack looked elsewhere.  "Okay, so you knew what you were doing.  But you know how I feel about those things, Daniel.  They give me the willies.  If it wasn't for what we might be able to learn from it, I'd recommend blowing the damn thing up."

"I know."

"So, have you learned anything?"

"Actually, I have."  Daniel's lips twitched ever so slightly.  "You can set it so that it doesn't grab your head."

Jack's voice was heavy with sarcasm when he said, "Oh, I am just so thrilled to hear that."

When Daniel went to lunch, he saw Sam sitting with her father and asked if he could join them.  When he sat down, he moved the wrong way, sending pain shooting through his ribs.  The other two people at the table noticed his wince.

"How are the ribs?" the Tok'ra asked.  He smiled slightly.  "I understand that Egeria wasn't happy with you that you failed to tell anyone about them."

"She's not the only one.  Janet wasn't very pleased with me either.  They're still sore, and I have to be careful not to lay on that side.  What's worse is that I'm off full active duty until they completely heal, which is going to be a while.  At times like this, I almost wish I was a Tok'ra."

"Well, maybe I could do something about that."

Daniel stared at him.  "Excuse me?"

Jacob almost laughed at the archeologist's expression.  "No, I'm not suggesting that you become a Tok'ra, Daniel.  I was talking about the Goa'uld healing device.  I no longer have with me the one I used on the SF, but you guys still have one, don't you?"

Sam nodded, thinking about the last time her father used it.  She quickly shied away from the memory of that awful day when her best friend left them.

Daniel agreed to let Jacob use the device.  Knowing that Janet would want to monitor the process, they all went to the infirmary, stopping to get the device first.

It took only a few seconds for Jacob to heal the cracked ribs and soft tissue damage caused by Bres En.  Daniel was relieved that the pain was now gone and thanked the man.

Sam's father and the other Tok'ra left a few minutes later.  Before leaving, they said that they would send a couple of scientists as soon as possible to study the repository for a way to download the information into crystals.

For the rest of the day, Daniel focused all his time on studying the information about the repository that was retrieved from the lab computers.  Unfortunately, there was nothing about how to download the knowledge in some other way besides a direct interface.

While in the midst of reading the stuff on doing partial downloads, he found something that sent him over to Sam's lab.

"I don't think we're going to be able to do a partial download from the repository," he told her, "at least not by interfacing with it.  I was reading the stuff we got from the computers, and, apparently, there's supposed to be a second device that acts as a controller.  You use it to program what information a repository downloads."

"Did it say what the controller looks like or where it was kept?"

Daniel shook his head.  "From what it said, they were portable, so they were probably brought to the repository by whomever was going to use the thing.  This seems to confirm my belief that the entire contents of those repositories aren't meant to be downloaded all at once.  I always wondered about that."

"So, without the controller, the repository doesn't know what it's supposed to download, so it downloads it all?"


"Well, it's doubtful that anyone would have been allowed to interface with that thing anyway, even for just a partial download, so this may not matter.  Our focus needs to be on how to get that information out of there in another way."

Daniel nodded slightly, not revealing his disappointment.  He had been hoping that, if they could have set it for a partial download, he would have been given permission to take it.

"Speaking of the repository," Sam said, "I'm still not happy that you were studying it without any kind of safety measures in place.  That thing is dangerous."

"Yes, it is, Sam, and I appreciate that.  I may not be a scientist like you are, but I have come to respect the dangers in handling alien technology.  I've nearly died more than once because of some alien device we encountered.  I'm not eager for it to happen again."

Sam realized that he had a point.  "You're right.  I'm sorry for coming down on you.  I'm just worried that you want that knowledge so badly that you might not be as careful with that thing as you normally would be."

Daniel's gaze slid away from hers.  "I do want it, Sam.  I sometimes think about all the things I lost when I descended.  For some people, it would be the loss of all that power that would bug them the most, the stuff like controlling lightning and fire.  But, for me, it's the loss of the knowledge.  I guess it's just as well that I can't remember most of that year.  If I could actually remember having that knowledge, it would be even worse.  But then again, what good did it do to have it?  I possessed all that knowledge, yet I wouldn't have been allowed to pass it on to others or do anything with it that would have helped anyone."

He walked over to the Ancient power module, but, though he was looking at it, his mind was not on it.

"When I wanted to stay behind to study the device on Heliopolis, Ernest told me that no prize was worth attaining if you could never share it, that there would be no point."  Daniel turned back to Sam.  "The Ascended have all that knowledge, yet what do they do with it?  Do they share it with people who could really use and appreciate it?  Do they use it to make a difference in the lives of others?  What good is it if they just keep it to themselves?  At least Oma tries to help people reach ascension.  At least she's doing something.  And she's an outcast because of it.  I'm not talking about knowledge of weapons.  What happened on Velona was a great example of what happens when a civilization is given advanced weaponry that they are not responsible enough to use the way it should be.  But what about all the other stuff, knowledge that could help so many people?"

"I know, Daniel.  I doubt I will ever understand why the Ascended have their rules.  But maybe now that we have that repository, we'll be able to get that knowledge and use it to do some good."  Sam smiled.  "And on that subject, I was wondering if you'd like to work with me and the Tok'ra scientists on it.  It's been ages since you and I worked together on a project, and your knowledge of the Ancients and their language may really be needed."

Daniel returned the smile.  "Sure, I'd like that.  When do you expect the Tok'ra scientists to arrive?"

"That's a little up in the air.  Dad said that they'd send someone as soon as they could.  Whoever comes will also have some storage crystals for the stuff we got from the lab computers, although I have to wonder how well any of the Tok'ra read Ancient.  Dad says that Selmak's knowledge of the language is very limited."

"Well, just as long as they don't expect me to translate all of it.  That would take forever."

Daniel returned to his office.  Egeria came in a short while later and convinced him to take a break and go with her for some dessert in the commissary, giving him a hard time about the fact that he worked through lunch.

As Egeria ate some pie and Daniel had a sandwich, they talked about what they were working on.  The archeologist told her what he'd discovered about the repository.

"Then your only hope of retrieving the knowledge is to find a way to download it into something else?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

Egeria studied him closely.  "You are disappointed."

Daniel let out a sigh.  "Yeah, a little."  He paused.  "Okay, maybe more than just a little.  I know that I probably wouldn't have been given permission to interface with it for even a partial download, but now it wouldn't matter even if I could have talked someone into allowing it.  It makes losing those computers even worse."

Egeria rested her hand over his.  "We just need to keep hoping that you will succeed in retrieving the repository's contents in another way."

Daniel nodded and returned his attention to his sandwich.

The entire following day, Daniel kept his attention on the things retrieved from the Ancient computers.  As the only person who was fluent in the Ancient language, he knew that the bulk of the translating would be up to him, and he could foresee many late nights in his future.

The archeologist's attention was pulled away to something else when the SGC was contacted by a Jaffa named Ryk'l who was in the service of the Goa'uld Moloc.  He wanted to meet with SG-1, claiming that he had important information about Moloc.

When Egeria heard which Goa'uld the Jaffa was serving, she asked to be a part of the briefing, and Hammond agreed.  Teal'c knew very little about Moloc, except that word among the rebel Jaffa was that many in his service secretly longed to be free.  Daniel, on the other hand, knew quite a bit about the part Moloc played in Earth's history as Moloch, the sun god of the Canaanites in ancient Palestine, an utterly evil deity to whom firstborn children were sacrificed by being burned to death.

"All of the Goa'uld have done evil, despicable things," Egeria said in response, "but, of them all, Moloc is one of the cruelest and most malevolent.  He also has great contempt for women, considering them to be of little value."  The look on her face told everyone that there was something personal behind her statement.

"Let me guess," Jack said.  "You had a bit of a run-in with him."

Egeria's expression darkened even more.  "In his opinion, Goa'uld queens have no purpose except to spawn larvae.  He did not believe that I should be allowed to have my own domain to rule, but should, instead, be under the rule of a System Lord."

"Wow," Sam said in response.  "I know that some Goa'uld in male hosts can be chauvinistic, but that is something else.  That's like men here who think that women should be only housewives and baby-makers.  Does he feel that way about all Goa'uld in female hosts?"

"No.  Though he has far less respect for a Goa'uld who chooses to have a female host, because those Goa'uld are not female themselves, his attitude is not quite so . . . chauvinistic.  Moloc has no priests serving him, only priestesses because it pleases him to place women in subservient roles.  His priestesses are not allowed a life outside of their service to him.  Their only freedom is their ability to travel throughout his territories in the attendance of their duties."

"Sounds like a real charming fellow," Jack remarked.  He turned to Hammond.  "If this Jaffa of his is on the level, I'd sure love to do what we could to stick it to this Moloc character."

"I agree," said Sam, who was steamed about the Goa'uld's attitude about women.

"As do I," stated Teal'c.

"You can add me to the list," Daniel said.

Hammond nodded shortly.  "Very well.  You have a go for the mission."

SG-1 left for the planet early the next morning.  From that point on, things went downhill fast.  No sooner had they met Ryk'l when they found themselves under fire, Ryk'l dying immediately from a shot in the back.  Things were not looking good when, all of a sudden, someone else started firing upon the attacking Jaffa.  SG-1 thought that some rebel Jaffa might have come to their rescue.  And then they saw who their saviors were: a group of six female Jaffa.

The dark-skinned woman who appeared to be the leader of the group wanted SG-1 to come with them, having assured the team that she and the others meant them no harm.  The appearance of death gliders heightened the level of urgency.  Jack was considering just going back to Earth when he and his teammates were shocked to see one of the women remove the larva from one of the enemy Jaffa, who was still alive.

Daniel asked what the woman was doing and was told by the dark-skinned Jaffa that there was no time to explain there.  She asked again for SG-1 to come with them.  The Jaffa who had removed the larvae blurted out something in Goa'uld, not looking pleased, and the other woman responded.

As the women continued the tense conversation, Jack asked Teal'c what was going on.

Teal'c gestured toward the apparent leader of the female Jaffa.  "This one believes we should return to her planet.  That one believes it would not be wise."

The dark-skinned Jaffa turned to SG-1.  "Please.  We knew you'd be here."

Teal'c was instantly suspicious.  "How?"

"Our intelligence network runs deep within the Jaffa of Moloc.  We came to ask for help.  I promise you will be safe."

"Well, they did save us," Daniel pointed out, thinking that they should at least listen to what the Jaffa had to say.  He and his teammates exchanged glances.

"What the hell," Jack said.  "I guess it won't hurt to go with them."  He looked up as another glider flew overhead.  "And I'm thinking that going now would be a good idea."

A while later, as they exited the Stargate, they were greeted by the sight of yet more female Jaffa, two of whom were on horseback.

"Welcome to Hak'tyl," said the dark-skinned Jaffa, whose name was Mala.

Daniel leaned toward Teal'c.  "Independence?"


Mala gestured toward the south.  "Our dwellings are this way.  Please."

"Ah, y'know, we really should call home first," Jack said, "let the folks know where we are.  It's past our curfew."

"By all means."

As Sam went off to dial Earth, the Jaffa named Neith spoke out again to Mala.

"Why have we brought them here?"

"Because that was our mission."

"Why was I not told?"

Daniel and Teal'c looked at each other in concern, seeing the friction between the women.

"Because we knew you would disagree," Mala told Neith.  "Go ahead.  Tell Ishta of our success."

Neith mounted one of the horses and rode away.

On the walk to the settlement, SG-1 talked about who the female Jaffa were.  Teal'c had never before heard of a Goa'uld who would allow his women Jaffa to be warriors.

"Based on what Egeria said about Moloc and his attitude toward women, I really find it hard to believe that he would," Daniel said.  "They do seem well trained, though."

"All females receive training," Teal'c told him.  "They are expected to defend their homeworld with their lives if their men are called to battle."

Daniel said that he couldn't help but think of the ancient Greek myth of the Amazons.  This led to Jack wondering if the reason they'd been brought there was for him, Daniel and Teal'c to mate with the female Jaffa, just as the mythical Amazons captured men for the purpose of mating with them.  Daniel, who was now feeling just a tad nervous, said that he didn't think so, formulating in his head how he was going to turn the women down if it turned out that he was wrong.

When the members of SG-1 entered the encampment, they all noticed the lack of men, confirming what they'd already begun to suspect.  There were, however, lots of children, which naturally led to the question of who fathered them.  Jack thought about bringing up the whole mating thing again, but decided against it.

As SG-1 walked with Mala through the camp, they noticed how nearly everyone looked at them with mistrust and, in some cases, even a hint of fear.

"You must forgive them," Mala said as they came to a large tent.  "For many of the young this is the first time they have seen men."

Just then, a woman with long blonde hair exited the large tent, her bearing that of a woman who was in charge.

"This is Ishta," Mala said, "our leader."

Ishta came down the steps leading up to the tent's entrance, Neith behind her.  Jack began to greet her, but she went right past him as if he wasn't there, going straight to Teal'c.

"Teal'c of Chulak," she said, "former First Prime of Apophis, Shol'va who has become a legend."

Jack leaned closer to Daniel.  "Bit thick don't you think?"  Daniel ignored the remark.

"I am no legend," Teal'c told Ishta.  "I fight, as any true-hearted Jaffa, for the freedom that we deserve."  He bowed his head, and she returned it.  He then gestured toward his teammates.  "This is Daniel Jackson, Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill."

Ishta came over to the three, and Jack said hello.

"I have asked you here so that I may propose an alliance," Ishta told them.

"That's a fine idea," Jack responded.  "We should sit, talk, nosh."

His expression hard, Teal'c said, "No alliance can be formed between the Tau'ri and those who would steal symbiotes from their brother and leave him to die."

"He was no brother of mine," Neith exclaimed angrily, "just a murderer of innocent children!"

"Shal kree!" Ishta commanded firmly.

Neith folded her arms, obviously not happy.

Ishta turned back to SG-1.  "There is much to discuss."  She beckoned a teenaged girl to come over.  The girl shyly obeyed.  "This is Synak.  This morning, she laid on her deathbed.  She reached the age of Prata three days ago."

"Hmm?" Jack queried, not understanding.

"Puberty," Daniel explained.


"Without the symbiote we procured this morning, she would be dead now," Ishta said.  She gestured to another teenager, who came over and stood on her other side.  "This is Nesa, younger sister to Neith.  She is next to reach the age.  Without a symbiote, she will die," Ishta paused, "as will all our children."

The members of SG-1 looked about at all the kids, some of whom were barely more than babies, realizing the situation that these Jaffa were in.

Daniel turned back to Ishta.  "But I don't understand.  Why are you here, and why aren't there any men?  Did you rebel against Moloc and are now hiding from him?  Why not just join the other rebel Jaffa?"

"There is a great deal for us to tell you," Ishta replied.  She asked for Sam to join her in the tent, making it clear by the way she looked at the other members of SG-1 that the astrophysicist was the only one being invited inside.

"Um, hold on there a minute," Jack said.  "I'm the colonel, which means that I'm the one in charge of SG-1."

Ishta stared at him.  "I am aware of this, Colonel O'Neill.  However, I would prefer to discuss this with Major Carter.  Rest assured that you will be told everything."

Jack opened his mouth to object, but Daniel stopped him.  "Jack."


Daniel gave him a look that clearly told him to just go with what Ishta wanted.  Still not happy, Jack sighed silently and motioned for Sam to go on.

Sam followed Ishta, Mala and Neith into the tent, and they took a seat.

Ishta began to speak.  "Thirty years ago, Moloc decreed that only male children would be allowed to live.  Only they could strengthen his armies and lead him to victory in the war of the gods."

Sam didn't know if she should be surprised or not.  Given what they'd learned from Egeria, it was no surprise that Moloc would have such a viewpoint, but it was also totally illogical.

"Well, aside from the obvious immorality, that doesn't make sense," she said.  "How do you sustain a population of any gender without women?"

"The Jaffa life span is longer than humans.  This could go on for a hundred years.  Any female child is to be sacrificed in the ceremony of fire immediately after they're born."

Sam was now filled with horror.  "They're burned to death?"


"Oh my God.  He's doing it again."

"What do you mean?"

"Centuries ago, Moloc lived on Earth, posing as a god, and the humans who worshiped him sacrificed their firstborn children to him, both male and female.  They were burned to death."

Ishta exchanged a look with Mala and Neith.

"This we did not know," Ishta said.  "Then his evil is even greater than we had believed."

Sam suddenly realized what was going on here.  "So all these kids here, they were supposed to be sacrificed, and you somehow saved them?"

It was Mala who answered.  "Yes, we rescued them from their fate.  Sadly, we cannot rescue them all.  Many children still perish."

"So, how did you start bringing them here?"

"As a temple high priestess, part of my duty is to keep record of births," Ishta replied, "and to preside over the ceremony of fire itself."  Her anger became more evident, barely held in check.  "I could not sit back and watch my sisters being murdered and do nothing.  As high priestess, I, along with my seconds Mala and Neith, are allowed relatively free access to the Chappa'ai of the worlds under Moloc's rule."

"No one outside this camp knows you're doing this," Sam guessed.

"No.  Our duties require us to attend to many missionary matters on various planets."

"So, you offer the parents of these children a chance for their daughters to live."

"All but a few Jaffa under Moloc worship him religiously.  Not even the parents can be trusted.  The children have to be spirited away secretly for fear of being reported to the Imperial Guard."

"It is punishable by death to even question the rules of the god," Mala explained.

"Over the moons, we have succeeded in saving many from their birthright of death."

"So, you want our help to overthrow Moloc?"

Clearly surprised by Sam's question, Ishta, Mala and Neith exchanged glances.  Ishta then began to smile.

"We may have underestimated you," she said.

"We've gone after Goa'uld before," Sam told her.

"Moloc is very powerful.  His armies are vast."

"We have our ways and some very powerful allies."

"Forgive us, but our immediate goals are somewhat less ambitious."

Neith took over the explanation.  "It is an ongoing struggle to procure the symbiotes needed for our young to survive.  We lose many of our warriors in these raids.  It is said your weapons are formidable."

"We also require sustenance," Mala said.  "Food and supplies among our growing population are scarce."

"We are proud warriors," Ishta declared.  "We offer you our services and our knowledge in return.  We have an extensive intelligence network among the Jaffa under Moloc."

The thought came to Sam that Tretonin might be the perfect solution for these people.  Then they would no longer have to hunt for symbiotes.  She was just about to suggest it when she suddenly thought of something else.

"I think that there's another way we can help you, one that will mean that you'll never have to make another raid.  You would also be helping one of our allies."

Curious, Ishta asked what she was talking about.

"I need to talk to my teammates first."

Ishta nodded.  "Very well."

Sam left the tent and went to the others.  They all went to a place at the edge of the camp where they could talk in private.  The major filled them in on what she'd learned.

"Now, my first thought was that we offer them Tretonin," she said, "but then I thought of the Tok'ra."

Daniel nodded.  "That could work, although we'd obviously have to talk to the Tok'ra about it.  One of them would probably want to come here."

Jack looked over at the camp.  "Yeah, I'm not so sure that these ladies would want anybody with a snake in their head coming here, even if it is a Tok'ra."

"You are likely correct, O'Neill," Teal'c said.  "They must take great care that what they are doing is not discovered by Moloc and may be unwilling to trust the Tok'ra with their secret."

"But they're going to have to if they use Tok'ra larvae."

Daniel thought of something.  "What if we had someone else pave the way first, act as a sort of . . . envoy?"

The others looked at him.

"What are you thinking?" Sam asked.

"I think we need to bring Egeria here."

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