Daniel was mostly just poking at his breakfast the next morning, his thoughts still on the repository. After brief attempts to draw him into the conversation, the others at the table chose to let Daniel be, though Egeria exchanged glances with the archeologist's teammates more than once. She knew that he still wanted to take the download, but she also knew that he wouldn't do it unless given permission by General Hammond.
Daniel hadn't been in his office for very long when he was visited by Teal'c.
"I'm guessing that this is about the repository," he said. "I was wondering when you were going to give your opinion on this whole thing. I already know what Jack, Sam and Egeria think."
"They do not wish you to interface with the device because of the danger it would pose to you. You, however, feel that the benefits we may gain would be worth the risk."
Daniel nodded. "It's not like it would be that much of a risk if Thor was here to remove the knowledge before it killed me. Jack was all right afterwards."
"I am not aware of all that was transpiring within O'Neill's brain when he was carrying the Ancient knowledge, but it would seem to me that you must not assume that because he suffered no permanent ill effects, neither would you."
Daniel thought about that. "You're probably right, but I still can't help but think that it's worth the risk."
Teal'c looked at him closely. "Would you believe it to be worth the risk for someone else?"
Daniel's eyes met his. "You're asking if I think it would be worth it to have Jack do it again."
"Or someone else whom we had reason to believe would be capable of the interface." Teal'c's gaze sharpened. "If Egeria had the ability, would you allow her to do it?"
"Absolutely not," was Daniel's instinctive reply. Seeing the slight smile on the Jaffa's face, the archeologist sighed. "I fell right into that one, didn't I. Okay, so I admit that my opinion would be different if it was someone I cared about who'd be doing it. I really wouldn't want Jack, or Egeria, or somebody else taking the chance."
"Then I believe that you must . . . put yourself in their shoes, Daniel Jackson."
"It's not that I don't understand why they feel that way, Teal'c. I do understand. I just believe that the risk I'd be taking is worth it for what we might gain. So, what do you think? There have been a lot of times when you've taken big personal risks for things that you knew might not pan out. When you rebelled against the Goa'uld, you knew that you'd be fighting a battle in which the odds would be against you."
"This is true. Sometimes, it is necessary to take great risks on the chance that great rewards will be reaped. However, there were times when my actions were foolhardy, driven more by emotion than clear thinking."
"So, you think that I'm being foolhardy?" Daniel asked.
"No, I do not believe that you are, Daniel Jackson. However, I do believe that logic is not the only thing that is driving you."
Daniel's eyes fell away from his. "Because of what happened when I was ascended. Egeria told me that she talked to you after our argument, and you said something about my ascension."
"You still bear the guilt of what transpired during that time because you were not allowed to interfere. You now wish to do what you were unable to do then."
"Yes. Yes, I do. I know that it isn't going to make up for the things that happened, the things I couldn't prevent. It isn't going to bring Abydos back. It isn't going to reverse what Jack went through. But . . . but it might give us something that would help fight the Goa'uld. It might give us the chance to use some of that knowledge to help humanity and the rest of the galaxy. I can't put my own welfare above that."
"This I understand . . . and with which I agree."
Shocked, Daniel stared at him. "You mean to say that you're on my side?"
"I am not taking sides, Daniel Jackson. I merely understand that the welfare of a single individual must sometimes be placed at risk in order to achieve a worthy goal. O'Neill, Egeria and Major Carter also understand this and have risked their own lives to achieve something of significance. I believe that if what we would gain was certain, if we knew that what you could provide us would be of great value in our battle against the Goa'uld or in the defense of Earth, their arguments would not be so adamantly against this course of action."
"It's because there's a big chance that I could be taking a risk for nothing. What I get from the download might not help us at all. I do know that it might not do any good, Teal'c. Jack really wasn't in control most if the time. We're probably lucky that he gave us so much stuff that was a big help. Whether or not I'm right about what Oma said about me, I know that I might not be any more capable of sorting through the knowledge and giving us something important. But I'm not going to know for sure unless I'm given the chance."
Teal'c nodded ever so slightly. "If Major Carter and the Tok'ra are unable to obtain access to the knowledge in another way and you again approach General Hammond about being allowed to interface with the repository, I will not stand against it."
Daniel gave him a look of gratitude. "Thanks, Teal'c."
The Jaffa exited the room, leaving Daniel alone with his thoughts.
It was a little after nine a.m. when the Tok'ra scientists returned, bringing with them some equipment that they hoped would succeed in getting them past the safeguards.
Daniel came to Sam's lab and watched them hook up the stuff. After a while, a little frown formed on his face.
"Sam?" he finally said.
She glanced up at him. "Yeah?"
"Aren't there computers that, if you breech their security, they're programmed to delete everything to prevent the information from falling into the wrong hands?"
"Yes, some systems with sensitive information are set up that way." Sam studied him. "You're thinking that the repository might have something like that?"
"Well, I was just thinking that the Ancients clearly didn't want that knowledge being accessed by anyone who wasn't supposed to have it. They must have realized that, eventually, someone would come along who was smart enough to get around the safeguards. If I was them, I'd program it to delete the stuff if someone got through."
Sam frowned and stared at the repository. "There would be no way for us to tell. But you're right. That's what I'd do, too."
"Yet the fact remains that, if we do not get past the safeguards, we will be unable to retrieve the data," said one of the Tok'ra. "I believe that we should take the risk."
"I can't make that call. We need to talk to General Hammond."
Sam, Daniel and the Tok'ra went to the general's office, where Daniel explained his concerns. The Tok'ra both believed that they should proceed.
"Major Carter, what is your recommendation?" Hammond asked.
"I honestly don't know, sir. If we stop what we're doing, it's unlikely that we'll get anything off that repository, but if Daniel's suspicion is right and we trigger a program that deletes everything, there will be no hope at all. We'll lose everything with no chance of getting it back."
"Um, okay, I know we talked about this when we found the lab, and we decided against it," Daniel said, "but since we're at a stalemate here, maybe we should consider contacting the Asgard. They may have a way of retrieving the stuff that would be safe. If they refuse, then we're no worse off than we are now."
Sam nodded. "I have to agree. That's probably the best thing to do."
The general thought about it for a moment. "Very well. I will have a call sent out to the Asgard. Until we hear from them, leave things as they are. Do not make any further attempts to retrieve the data."
Since there was no telling how long it would take the Asgard to respond, the Tok'ra returned to their base. SG-1 and Egeria discussed everything over lunch.
"I bet the Asgard can get that stuff off of it," Jack said.
"They probably can, but will they be willing to give it to us?" Daniel responded. "Recently, they've been willing to give us some things, but they're still holding back on big stuff, especially any kind of weapon. They might think that what's in that repository is too much for us to have. That's what we were afraid they'd say about the stuff in the lab, although, looking back on it now, there probably wasn't anything on those computers that they'd have considered to be too dangerous for us."
"Well, I guess we'll find out when we talk to them," Sam said.
Thor arrived the following morning. He was told about the repository and asked if it was possible for the Asgard to retrieve the data.
"Yes, we have already downloaded a portion of the data from the Ancient Library of Knowledge."
That surprised everyone.
Sam was the one to respond first. "You have? When was that?"
"Many years ago. If you are intending to do the same, I must tell you that your efforts would be futile. The Ancients programmed into each repository a complex network of safeguards that prevents tampering. It took some time for us to bypass it."
"Well, we were kind of hoping you'd help us with that," Jack said.
"Even if the Asgard High Council were to agree, the information would be of little use to you. You cannot even begin to comprehend the vastness of what the Library of Knowledge contains. We have been studying what we retrieved for as long as I can remember, and, though we have learned much in that time, we have barely scratched the surface. With your present level of technology, you could not hope to store more than a very small fraction of the data, and what you did retrieve would be unorganized."
"Are you saying that there isn't any kind of structure to it?" Sam asked. "No organization into categories at all?"
"No. It was necessary for our scientists to study the data and categorize it ourselves."
"If you think about it, that does make sense," Daniel said. "I mean, the data was designed to download into an Ancient's brain. All the stuff we have in our brains isn't neatly categorized and labeled."
"Doctor Jackson is correct," Thor confirmed. "The brain has the capacity to seek and find specific information contained within it."
Jack was frowning. "But I thought there was supposed to be some kind of doohickey that let the Ancients download just certain stuff from one of those things."
"Yes, sir, but we really don't know how it worked," Sam responded.
Daniel was frowning. "So, basically, what this means is that, even if we could retrieve some of the information, going through it for anything of specific value could take a very long time."
Thor nodded. "Yes. Without the direct conduit that a living brain can provide, to learn specific information from it would be a very lengthy process."
Daniel opened his mouth, but was stopped by Jack, whose finger shot upward.
"Don't even say it, Daniel," he warned. "I already told you no."
"It isn't going to hurt for me to tell Thor what we learned."
Daniel filled the Asgard in on the discovery that he and Jack could operate Ancient technology, what he'd found out about the genetic key, the info on the research into ascension, and what he'd remembered of his conversation with Oma.
"You are correct that O'Neill has the genetic key," Thor confirmed. "We were unaware that the anomaly we detected was for that purpose or that it had originally been created through genetic manipulation."
"And what about Daniel?" Sam asked.
"We have had no reason to scan his genetic code, so that is unknown."
"Could you do it now?" Daniel asked.
Jack was glaring at the archeologist. "Daniel."
"What? Jack, we need to know if I have the gene, too, or if there's some other reason why I can operate Ancient technology."
Unable to argue against that, Jack acquiesced.
Thor beamed Daniel and the rest of SG-1 up to his ship, where he quickly did some scans of the archeologist.
"Doctor Jackson does not have the same genetic anomaly that O'Neill has," he announced. "However, the scans have detected significant differences in his brain's physiology."
"What kind of differences?" the archeologist asked.
"There is greater development in some areas of your brain than that of the average human. At least some of these differences would have been present at birth and indicate that you are a significant step forward on the evolutionary path. There are other anomalies, however, that I do not believe were present at birth. It may be that they are due to your ascension. We would have to study this at length to determine what effects these anomalies might have."
Daniel absorbed the knowledge that his guess had been correct. "Um, this greater development in my brain. Would it enable me to better handle a download from the repository?"
"Dammit, Daniel!" Jack yelled. "I told you not to ask that!"
"I have to know, Jack."
"It is possible that you may be able to retain and utilize the knowledge more readily, but it would eventually overwhelm your mind and kill you, just as it was killing O'Neill."
"You see?" Jack said. "No download."
Thor looked at Daniel. "I am assuming that you are unaware that you presently already possess what must be a significant portion of that knowledge."
"What?!" Daniel, Sam and Jack exclaimed.
"In scanning Doctor Jackson's brain, I saw that there is a massive amount of information stored in his subconscious mind at a level too deep to retrieve through ordinary means. The content is far too great for it to be what he has learned during his time as a human, so I can only assume that it is what he gained during his ascension."
Sam was the first one to recover enough from the shock to speak. "But how can that be possible? How can he store all that knowledge in his mind at all?"
"For an ordinary human it would not be possible," Thor explained. "Even though the human brain has the capacity to store many times the amount of information than would be gathered in an average lifetime, it would still not be enough. But Doctor Jackson's brain has a far superior capacity to store information."
"So, you're saying that, though he can't hold all the knowledge from a repository consciously, he's already doing so subconsciously?" Sam asked.
"I think I need to sit down," Daniel mumbled. "I thought Oma took it all, wiped all that knowledge from my brain."
"Apparently not," Jack said.
Sam shook her head. "I still don't understand how that's possible."
"It is likely that the reason why he is able to retain the knowledge subconsciously is that it was already present when he was descended," Thor explained. "Because it was there when he was made human again, his brain did not have to suddenly adjust to it. The physical structures adapted at the moment of recreation, enabling his brain to handle the presence of the data."
"So, it was sort of like a forced evolution. It was there, so his brain had to reform in a more evolved state to contain it."
"In a manner of speaking."
"We might also have Oma to thank for this," Daniel murmured, wondering what her motive was if that was true.
Jack didn't much care how it was possible. He was more concerned about what would happen because of it. Would Daniel go on a crusade to get at that knowledge in his subconscious? What would happen if he succeeded?
As if the archeologist had picked up on Jack's thoughts, he asked Thor, "Would there be any way for me to get at the knowledge?"
"It is doubtful that any technology or process you presently have would be capable of doing so."
"What about a Tok'ra memory recall device?"
"Those devices are designed to retrieve memories that are closer to the surface. I do not believe that they could do so with information that is so deeply buried."
Daniel met the Asgard's eyes. "Could you do it?"
"Daniel," Jack said in a tone of warning.
"That is something I do not know," Thor answered. "Even if we could, there would be no way to limit the access, and it could result in all of the knowledge being released into your conscious mind. You would then be in the same situation that you would be in if you were to use one of the repositories."
"Okay, there's your answer, Daniel," Jack said. "Time to drop the subject."
Daniel didn't drop the subject. "But then you could just remove it from my mind as you did from Jack's, right?"
"Yes, in that eventuality, we could remove the knowledge, but you must understand that there would still be a risk. The human brain is not designed to have such a massive quantity of data downloaded into, particularly at the rate of speed that happens when interfacing with a repository. Severe brain damage is a possibility. O'Neill did suffer some damage to his brain, but it was minimal and easily healed. Though we may have been able to heal more extensive damage, he could have suffered the permanent loss of some or all of his own memories and knowledge, as could you. The loss could be extensive enough that your mind would be left blank of all its contents."
"Okay, now there is definitely no way that you're doing it, Daniel," Jack declared.
The younger man said nothing more, though his silence didn't really ease Jack's mind. He knew his friend too well to assume that this was the end of the matter. Crap. Why did Thor have to blab about this?
Figuring that having even a tiny portion of the data in its unorganized form would be better than nothing at all, Sam asked Thor to try getting permission from the Asgard High Council to help them get around the safeguards. He promised to do so.
After being returned to the SGC, SG-1 filled Hammond in on what they'd learned. He was understandably disappointed to find out that they might not be able to make use of anything on the repository. He told the others that he would let the Tok'ra know what Thor had said.
After the debriefing, Daniel went straight to his office. He hadn't been there even five minutes when Jack walked in.
"I hope that what Thor said has convinced you that interfacing with that thing or trying to get at what's already in your head would be too dangerous," the grey-haired man said. The silence that followed was not what he wanted to hear. "I'm not hearing a 'Yes, Jack,' Daniel. You heard what he said. You could get brain damage. You could be left some kind of mindless blank slate. That's too much to risk on some shot in the dark that we might be able to get something useful from you before your brain fries. And if you still don't think so, then don't think about yourself; think about Egeria and what it would do to her if something terrible happened to you. Would you want to put her through that hell?"
Daniel closed his eyes and let out a long, low sigh. "No."
Seeing the sadness on his friend's face, Jack softened his voice. "I'm sorry that we probably won't be able to get anything from that repository, Daniel. I know how much you wanted it. Maybe when they think we're ready, the Asgard will share with us what they got from one of the things."
Daniel nodded slightly, but didn't say anything. Not knowing what else to say, Jack left. The archeologist remained where he was for a couple more minutes, then abruptly rose to his feet. He went to the elevator and ascended to the top of the mountain. There, he sat on the remains of a dead tree and stared at the ground between his feet. That is where Egeria found him ten minutes later. She sat beside him.
"Samantha has told me what you learned," she said. She placed her hand on his back. "I am so sorry, Daniel."
"Millions of years of knowledge," he said in a low, sorrow-filled voice. "Knowledge of the universe, things that could teach us so much, that could help so many people. It's all sitting there in Sam's lab, and we'll never have any of it. It's all in here," he waved his hand at his head, "and I'll never see any of it. It would have been better if Oma had erased it. Why did she leave it there when she must have known that I would never be able to use any of it?"
"I do not know. If it was deliberate, she must have had a reason."
Daniel's gaze returned to the ground. "I envy you."
"You have all that knowledge in your mind, and you're able to do something with it. You're able to share it and use it. You'll get to see it accomplish something."
Egeria was upset by the defeated tone of his voice. "You have accomplished things with your knowledge, too, Daniel. Perhaps not the knowledge of the Ancients, but the things you learned throughout your life. You have done good things with it, saved lives. There are many others who could not say the same." She grasped his hand in both of hers. "Please do not let this hurt you so. It grieves me to see you this way."
"I just really wanted it, Egeria. I wanted to use it the way I should have been allowed to when I was ascended. And I guess . . . I guess I also wanted to show the Ancients how wrong they are in not using what they have to make a difference in the universe . . . not that they'd actually pay attention."
Not knowing how to make Daniel feel better, Egeria rested her head on his shoulder. They stayed that way as the minutes ticked by. Daniel finally decided that it was time to go back inside, especially since it was getting a little hot sitting there in the sun. They went to the commissary for some lunch, though Daniel wasn't all that hungry. He was glad that his teammates weren't there since he was in no mood for conversation.
Later that afternoon, SG-1 and Egeria were called to the briefing room.
"I have a couple of announcements to make," Hammond said. "First of all, I have received orders to turn the Ancient repository over to Area 51 once we have heard back from Thor on whether or not the Asgard will help us retrieve any data from it."
"Why?" Sam asked. "What do they think that they can get off of it?"
"The president feels that there is no harm in letting them take a crack at it, if the Asgard refuse to help. They have the time and manpower to devote to it, whereas our primary mission is continuing our efforts against the Goa'uld. Once they have exhausted all efforts to retrieve the data, they will be dismantling the device to study the technology, which they are hoping will give us some valuable information, perhaps even ways that we can backwards engineer some of it for other purposes."
The thought of taking apart something that carried so much priceless knowledge within it really upset Daniel. But the fact remained that what they learned from the technology might be the only thing of value that they'd ever gain from the repository.
The general's expression lightened a bit. "Considering this news and what we learned earlier today, I'm sure we could all do with a bit of good news for a change. I have received word that the liquid Naquadah manufacturing facility on M6F-202 is ready to go into production."
The announcement surprised Sam. "Already? It's only been two months since Egeria gave us the information."
"The facility was a top priority. There have been work crews on the planet working around the clock to get it done as soon as possible. And it will not be long before we have weapons ready for what that facility produces. Area 51 is busy working on hybrid weapon systems for both the 302's and the Prometheus, as well as for all future ships we build." The general turned to Egeria. "I have a personal thank you from the president for the information you gave us that made all these things possible. Those weapons alone will be of tremendous help to us in fighting the Goa'uld, and there is no telling what other uses we may find for liquid Naquadah."
Egeria smiled. "I am very pleased that I could help you in this way. If it helps bring about the downfall of even one Goa'uld, it will give me great joy." She looked at Daniel to see the ghost of a smile on his face. She turned back to the general. "I must point out, though, that, if it were not for Daniel's efforts, I would not have been here to give you that information."
"I assure you that the president appreciates the part that Doctor Jackson played in this whole thing. He has added it to the growing list of things to which we owe Doctor Jackson a great debt."
Daniel remained silent. He knew that Egeria bringing up his part in this was an attempt to show him how his knowledge and skills have benefitted Earth.
As SG-1 and Egeria walked toward the elevator, Jack smiled. "Okay, so I take back some of the bad things I said about those guys at Area 51. I can't wait to see those new weapons and what they can do. Now, ya see? We don't need that Ancient knowledge. We're going to be able to kick Goa'uld butt with their own knowledge, which I find so sweet."
Jack's comment made Sam look at Daniel. He wasn't sharing Jack's smile. She could understand how he felt. She, too, had really wanted that knowledge, though her reasons weren't as personal as his.
Daniel chose to go home that evening rather than staying in his quarters. Tomorrow was supposed to be his day off, and he intended to take it this time. Egeria accompanied him home and insisted that they spend the next day out on the town.
The following morning started with a big breakfast at one of Daniel's favorite cafes. Afterwards, the couple went to a mall, where a horribly embarrassed Daniel was dragged into a lingerie shop. Egeria spent the next half-hour modeling sexy lingerie for him, basing her choices of what she would buy on the way that Daniel stared at her in each outfit. By the time they left the shop, the archeologist was quite eager to get home and have Egeria model the lingerie for him again. She was in a teasing mood, however, and insisted that they continue shopping, this time for things for him to wear. Daniel told her flat out that she was not getting him into a Speedo.
After lunch, the couple had ice cream sundaes at the park as they watched children frolicking in the playground. Daniel found his eyes going often to Egeria, thinking about how good she made him feel. Yesterday, he'd been frustrated and depressed. Today, those feelings were gone. Yes, he was still upset that they would likely not be able to get any of the Ancient knowledge, but things were looking up in their ongoing efforts against the Goa'uld. With what Egeria had given them, they would have a powerful source of energy, not just for weapons but also other things. And still more had yet to be created with her Goa'uld knowledge. Ultimately, it might even prove to be enough to tip the scales in their favor.
Looking yet again at Egeria and seeing the smile on her face as she watched a three-year-old boy being swung around in the air by his father, Daniel's thoughts turned to more personal things. He was so in love with her. She was the most important thing in his existence, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted to marry her.
That thought made him pause as he recalled when he had it before. It had been only five weeks since they began this romance, less than ten weeks since they were reunited, yet he knew with complete certainty that he wanted this woman beside him to be his wife, to share his life and have his children, the children that he and Sha're were never able to have together.
Daniel had always believed that Sha're was his soul mate. If that was true, then he had found a second soul mate in Egeria, a woman who was so different from his wife in many ways, yet so much like her in others.
But it was still too soon to be seriously thinking about marriage. He'd had no say in the matter when he was rushed into marriage with Sha're. There was no need to rush this time.
It was late afternoon by the time the couple went home. As they entered the living room, laden with shopping bags and chatting about something they'd heard on the radio, Daniel thought he heard a sound in the kitchen. And then, suddenly, four men with guns appeared, quickly surrounding them. Daniel stared at their stern faces, not recognizing any of them.
"Who are you?" he asked. "What do you want?"
"Please put down the bags, Doctor Jackson," one of them said, "both of you."
Obeying the polite yet firm command, Daniel and Egeria set the bags on the floor. Daniel was then searched, his cell phone and car keys taken. Egeria's purse was also searched, though the only things removed from it were objects that Daniel realized could conceivably be used as weapons.
"What do you want?" he asked again, aiming his question toward the person who'd spoken before, a thin man with light grey eyes.
"Something that only you can give us, Doctor Jackson."
"The Ancient knowledge contained within the repository."
Stunned, Daniel stared at the man. He now had a pretty good idea who these people were.
"You're part of the group that tried to assassinate Senator Kinsey and frame Jack for it, aren't you. I wasn't around then, but I read the reports. You're connected to the rogue NID group that was stealing advanced technology. Agent Barrett and his people cleared you guys out of the NID and SGC, but we all knew that a lot of you must still be around."
"Who we are doesn't matter," the man stated. "All you need to concern yourself with is getting us what we want."
"And how am I supposed to do that? Walk past the checkpoints with the repository tucked in my pocket? There's no way that I could get it off the base."
"We do not want the repository itself. It would be useless to us since we would have no way to retrieve the information from it. We know that Thor has told you that getting past the safeguards would be impossible without their help."
Daniel was disturbed by how much these people knew. How could they have found out all those things? Did they have a spy in the SGC? Or was their informant further up the chain of command?
All at once, Daniel realized what they wanted him to do. "You want me to interface with it."
"No!" Egeria exclaimed. "It would kill him."
The man's cold eyes turned to her. "The SGC is expecting Thor to return with his answer about whether or not the Asgard will consent to help them get through the safeguards. If we have what we want by then, you and Doctor Jackson will be released so that he can receive help from Thor."
"And if it doesn't work out that way?" Daniel asked. "We have no idea when Thor will get here. He could arrive tomorrow, which would be too soon, or he could come in a week, which would be too late, at least for me."
"You will simply have to hope that the SGC can contact the Asgard, and one of them will arrive in time."
Daniel glared at the man. "And what if I refuse?"
The man glanced at one of his companions, who shifted the aim of his gun to point straight at Egeria. Daniel's heart began racing, fear tightening his stomach.
"I would advise you not to refuse," said the grey-eyed man.
Daniel met Egeria's eyes. Those eyes were begging him not to do it, but he had no choice. He couldn't let her be killed. He knew that these men could be lying to him, that their real intention was to kill both him and Egeria after they got what they wanted, but as long as he and Egeria were alive, there was hope that they'd get out of this.
Daniel returned his gaze to the man he assumed was the one in charge. "All right, I'll do it."
"Wise choice. If, however, you are thinking that, while you are at the SGC, you will be able to alert someone as to what is going on," he pulled two things out of his pocket, "you will be wearing these." He handed the objects to Daniel. "One is a listening device that will enable us to hear everything you say. The other is a miniature video camera that will allow us to see where you go on the base. Once it is attached to your belt, it will be virtually unnoticeable."
"And do you also have a handy device that will enable me to get into Sam's lab, take the download, lie unconscious on the floor for several minutes, and then stagger back out of the lab without being noticed?"
"You will make your move tonight, after the majority of the personnel are off-duty. I am sure that you will be able to navigate Major Carter's lab without turning on the light."
Daniel shook his head. "Sam always keeps a light on, even when she's not in there." He noticed the look that passed between the grey-eyed man and one of the others. "I guess that's one thing you didn't know."
The guy who had been doing all the talking turned back to Daniel. "What about your office?"
"Sometimes I keep a light on and sometimes I don't."
"Did you leave a light on when you left yesterday?"
"No," Daniel replied after thinking back for a moment.
"Very well, then this is what you're going to do."
Daniel listened as the man told him step-by-step what to do, warning him often that he was to make no attempts to alert his teammates or anyone else about what was happening.
Finishing his instructions, the man hit the speakerphone button on Daniel's land line telephone. "Make the call."
"What if she's not there?"
"As I told you, we know that she is on the base. You will just keep trying until you get her."
Hesitating only a second, Daniel stepped up to the phone and dialed the direct number to Sam's lab.
"Hey, Sam. It's Daniel." he said when the astrophysicist answered the call.
"Daniel. I thought you were taking today off."
"I am. Um . . . I'm going to be coming in early tomorrow, and I'd like to take a look at the repository again. There are some things I want to check out. Could you see to it that it's put in my office before you leave tonight? It'll be a lot easier if I can look at it there."
"Uh, sure, I can do that." There was a pause. "Is everything okay, Daniel? You sound a little off."
Daniel glanced at the man standing beside him and saw a warning glittering in the grey depths of his eyes.
"Yeah, I'm okay, Sam," the archeologist replied, making more of an effort to sound casual. "I'm just still a little upset about everything."
"Yeah, me too. Okay, I'll make sure that the repository is put in your office. I'll go ahead and have it done now since I'm not planning on doing anything with it."
Daniel hung up the phone and turned back to the man with grey eyes. "Okay, it's done, and I have your instructions. Now what?"
"Now, we all wait here until you leave tonight. Then my companions and I will be taking Egeria someplace more secure. Once you have accomplished your mission, you will drive to a pay phone and call this number." The man handed Daniel a slip of paper. "Someone will be sent to pick you up."
The hours that followed dragged by. During most of the time, Daniel and Egeria were made to sit on the couch. Egeria kept a tight grip on his hand. He knew that she was afraid, not for herself but for him.
Just before it was time for him to leave, Daniel was taken into his bedroom and strip-searched to make sure that he hadn't managed to hide a note or had something else that he'd use to pass on a warning to someone on the base. The archeologist suffered through the embarrassing and humiliating procedure without a word. Once he was dressed again, the miniature video camera was attached to his belt, and the bug was put in his pocket. Both items were made entirely of materials that the checkpoint scanner wouldn't detect.
As he stood at the front door, Daniel's gaze met Egeria's. He wanted to hug her, but the men wouldn't allow it, so all he could do was tell her with his eyes that he loved her.
Watching Daniel walk out the door do to something that could result in his death, Egeria wanted to scream at him not to do it, that she'd rather die than lose him, but it would be useless. All she could hope was that these men honored their end of the agreement and that the Asgard would arrive in time to save the man she loved more than life.
Once Daniel was gone, she turned a cold, hard gaze on the leader of the men. "Where are you going to take me?"
"Someplace where we can be certain that we will not be disturbed."
"Do you truly think that your plan is going to prevent Daniel's teammates from discovering that he and I are missing?"
"Not for the full time, but it will delay the discovery long enough. Even after they figure out the truth, they will have a very hard time finding you. That we made sure of. In the time that will give us, Doctor Jackson will provide us with a great deal of information . . . as will you."
Surprised, Egeria stared at him. "Me?"
"You possess the knowledge of the Goa'uld, things that we want. Yes, some of it we could get from what you have already given to the SGC, but there are other things we want that you haven't yet given to them."
Egeria lifted her chin. "I would sooner die than give you any knowledge."
"Oh, I have no doubt of that, but would you be willing to watch your lover die? If you don't cooperate, all we'd have to do is stand by and let the Ancient knowledge kill him."
Her hands curled into fists, Egeria turned away. She couldn't let that happen, and they knew it. She would have no choice but to give them what they wanted from her.
As Daniel drove, he tried to figure out what he could do to stop this or at least get a warning to his teammates, but he couldn't come up with anything. The men who were holding Egeria as a hostage to assure his cooperation had been very thorough. They had emptied his car of anything that he could have used to write a note. His cell phone had been confiscated. Even his wallet had been emptied of everything except his driver's license and base keycard.
At the first checkpoint, Daniel gave the reason that he'd been told to give for his arrival in the middle of the night, explaining that someone on his staff who was working late had discovered something that could be extremely important, but he needed Daniel's expertise. When he reached the checkpoint with the scanner, he kept hoping that it would detect the camera and bug. Unfortunately, he passed right on through without a problem.
As ordered, Daniel went straight to his office, saying nothing to the people he passed. He paused at the darkened entrance. In the light from the corridor, he dimly saw the repository sitting on a cart in the corner, the opening covered by a cloth.
Daniel stepped inside and hit the button to shut the door, plunging the room into complete darkness. After so many years, he knew the layout of the room like the back of his hand and was able to navigate through the darkness without bumping into anything.
As Daniel's hand came in contact with the repository, he really thought about what he was about to do. Just two days ago, he had wanted to do this very thing. But that was before he learned that it could result in brain damage, that it could destroy all his own memories and knowledge, leaving him a tabula rasa, a blank slate, without even the knowledge of how to speak. And, two days ago, he had wanted to do it because he believed that what he gained might benefit the Stargate Program and the rest of humanity. Now, it wasn't humanity that would benefit, but, rather, an unscrupulous group of people who would use what they learned for things he didn't want to think about. If it was only his life on the line, he'd have told them to go to hell, but his was not the life he was protecting by doing this.
Positioning himself between the repository and where he knew the camera was, Daniel felt for the cloth and removed it. The repository immediately sprang to life, growing in height. He stared down into the faint light being emitted from the opening. By sense of touch, he found and pressed the small raised area under the opening that his research had said would set the device not to grab the user's head.
Daniel slipped off his coat and draped it over his head, a necessary precaution to prevent the camera from seeing the light of the activated repository. He then stood there for a moment, eyes closed, and prayed that he wasn't dooming Egeria to the horror of watching him die or being turned into a mindless shell.
Drawing in a deep breath, Daniel opened his eyes and lowered his head to the opening. Deep in his mind, he sensed a connection being forged. And then it was as if the floodgates of a dam had been opened, drowning him in sights, and sounds, and sensations, mercilessly bombarding his mind. He was frozen in place, unable to move as millions upon millions of years of knowledge poured with unimaginable speed into his brain.
The flood stopped as suddenly as it started. Daniel's legs gave out, and he crumpled to the floor, unconsciousness descending upon him like a cold, black cloud.