Stargate Horizons


When Daniel returned to his room, he received quite a surprise.  With the exception of the gun, clips of ammo and knife, all his things were sitting in a neat pile on the table.  Daniel's gaze fixed upon the camera, a smile coming to his lips.

The next day, the archeologist set about providing himself with rock solid evidence that his trip back in time actually happened.  He went out into the city and filmed until the batteries in the camera went dead, making sure to get shots of the palace and temple so that he'd have a "before and after" comparison.  He received a lot of odd looks from people, but he didn't care.  He now had on tape a record of his visit to Egeria's city.  Not even Jack could deny this proof.

It was four days later that Daniel was again told to go see Egeria.  This time, it was in the eastern garden, which was filled with a variety of flowers, some of which Daniel suspected were not native to this planet.  There was an artificial pond filled with fish around which was a grassy area.  Egeria was sitting on the grass, tossing bits of bread into the pond.  She gave Daniel a smile when she saw him and told him to take a seat on the grass.

"You have quite a talent for charming people," she observed.

Daniel blinked.  "I do?  That is news to me.  I can think of a whole lot of people who most definitely do not find me charming."

The Goa'uld queen laughed lightly.  "Yet the fact remains that you have charmed Decimus the same as you did Aulus.  He says that you are quite the most intelligent man he has ever met, a true wonder with languages.  He suspects that the knowledge you have shared with him to date is only a tiny portion of what you know."  She focused her eyes upon him.  "So, tell me, Daniel.  How much do you truly know?"

Daniel was suddenly very worried.  Had he talked too much, revealed too much?  He'd tried to be careful not to say anything that a man who'd done a lot of traveling around the galaxy could conceivably know.

"I don't really know all that much, Egeria," he replied, attempting to remain outwardly calm.

Egeria studied Daniel.  She had not missed the expression that passed over his face for a brief moment.  He was worried.  She wondered what secrets he possessed, what knowledge he had that he feared to tell her.  If she was like her fellow Goa'uld, she would torture him to find out or, if that failed, would turn him into a host so that the symbiote could rip the knowledge from his mind.  The thought of doing either turned her stomach.

"You have no reason to fear, Daniel," she told him gently.  "I swear that I would not harm you if you revealed something that might be displeasing to me."  She smiled again.  "Perhaps we can start with something that I already suspect."

"What's that?"

"That you know a great deal more about the Goa'uld than most other humans, enough that you do not believe we are gods."

Daniel paused, wondering how to respond.  There didn't seem to be much point in lying, even if he was willing to do so in regards to this.

"Yes, I know the Goa'uld are not gods," he admitted.  "I know they are symbiotes that take humans as hosts.  I know that they are not immortal, that they can be killed.  I have witnessed the death of more than one of them."  Of course, Daniel would have been insane to add that he'd actually had a hand in killing some.

Egeria absorbed what he'd said.  She had seen something flicker in his eyes for the briefest of moments when he spoke of Goa'uld taking hosts, emotions she had recognized as anger and pain.  She began to suspect something.

"Someone you knew was taken as a host," she guessed.

Daniel jumped to his feet and moved away, but not before she'd seen the anguish in his eyes.

"Tell me who," she said, wanting to know.

"My . . . my wife," Daniel murmured.

"But you said that she was dead."

"Yes.  Yes, she's dead."

Egeria got to her feet and walked up to him.  "Tell me what happened, Daniel."

Knowing that he had no choice, Daniel did as she asked.  "She was taken by a Goa'uld that raided the planet we were on.  She was . . . she was very beautiful and caught his eye.  I wasn't there to protect her, not that I could have anyway.  I'd just have ended up dead."  Daniel tried to swallow away the tight lump that was forming in his throat.  "For . . . for two and a half years, I tried so hard to find a way to save her, but, in the end, I failed."  His voice trembled.  "I watched her die before my eyes when the Goa'uld inside her tried to kill me."

"You were not the one who killed her."

Daniel shook his head.  "I-I couldn't.  I had my gun pointed right at her, but I couldn't pull the trigger, not even when she raised the ribbon device.  I knew that she was going to kill me, but I couldn't shoot her.  It was someone else who did instead to save my life."

Daniel's anguish tore at Egeria.  Never before had she spoken to the loved ones of a person taken as a host.  Never before had she seen the grief and pain suffered by the families of people the Goa'uld chose against their will.  Some thought it to be an honor to have a family member chosen, those who worshiped the Goa'uld without question.  But the Goa'uld did not choose hosts only from such people.  In fact, some preferred to take unwilling hosts for the pleasure of subjugating them.  Egeria was not one of those.  Her host willingly submitted to it, was actually quite eager since she was dying from an incurable illness at the time and wanted to live.

"I am sorry, Daniel.  It distresses me that you suffered such pain."  Her expression hardened.  "Tell me the name of the one who stole your wife."

Daniel knew that this was a question he could not answer with the truth.  "It doesn't matter anymore.  He's dead, too," he lied, wishing it was true, that Apophis really was dead.

Egeria was glad to know that the Goa'uld who'd hurt Daniel so deeply was dead and wondered if he died at Daniel's hands.  She hoped that was the case, that Daniel had been able to get revenge upon the one who took his beloved wife from him.

That's when a sudden thought hit her.  "You must hate the Goa'uld for what we took from you."

"Yes.  Yes, I hate them, the one who took her most of all."

"And yet you display no hatred toward me.  Instead, you treat me with respect and honor."  She paused.  "Do you hate me for what I am, Daniel?"

The archeologist heard a note in her voice that he would not have expected.  She was upset that he might feel that way.  He looked at her, seeing the same emotion in her eyes.

"No, I don't hate you, Egeria.  You made me a slave, but, since then, you've treated me very well.  I don't think you're like the others I have met.  Virtually every other Goa'uld I've met would have either killed me for going into that temple without an offering or made me work in a Naquadah mine for the rest of my life, probably after torturing me to find out where I got all those things I had with me."

The Goa'uld queen could not deny that Daniel's words about the others of her kind were true.  "I am glad that you do not hate me, Daniel.  It would distress me if you did."  She couldn't help but wonder, though, if he could ever come to care about her in the way she wanted.

Egeria walked back to the grass.  "Please come sit back down, and we will speak of something pleasant."

Daniel really didn't want to stay.  His emotions had been rubbed raw by resurfacing the pain of losing Sha're, and he wanted to be alone for a while.  But he didn't have the freedom to refuse her request.  She might be quite different from other Goa'uld, but he suspected that there was a limit to how much latitude she'd give him.

Egeria gently nudged Daniel into telling her about some of the more amusing things he'd seen in his travels, and he ended up telling her about the time that Jack ran afoul of a creature that, much to his dismay, turned out to be that planet's version of a skunk.  Daniel had to change some of the facts, but the tale made Egeria laugh.

"When we got back home, everyone within smelling distance made a very hasty retreat," Daniel said with a smile.  "As fast as they scattered, you would think they were under attack.  It took days for the smell to go away even though we tried everything we could think of to get rid of it."

Egeria laughed again.  "How very embarrassing for your friend.  Did he ever live down the shame?"

"In time, though, for quite a while afterwards, he did keep getting teased by some people."  Daniel knew that it would have been even worse if Jack hadn't been a colonel.

After that, the conversation moved onto a variety of things, Daniel telling Egeria about some of the things he'd seen in his travels, she, in turn, telling him about the worlds she'd visited.  She could tell that there were questions he wanted to ask but was holding himself back.

"Is there something you wish to know?" she finally asked.

"I, um, wouldn't want to anger you."

"I will not be angered."

Daniel glanced at her.  "I was . . . I was wondering about your host."

Egeria smiled.  "Ah.  Yes, that is understandable.  I did not take her body by force, Daniel.  This I swear.  Her name is Arria.  She was an Etrusci peasant girl.  At the time I met her, I was in another host, someone who also became one willingly, and I had just recently arrived upon the planet."

"Why did you go there?"

"Mostly out of curiosity.  Though there are now many worlds that are populated by humans, none of them are like the first world, so rich with its many cultures and peoples, none of whom have any idea what the gods that they worship truly are.  The Goa'uld amuse themselves with taking on the mantle of those gods and doing as they please, watching the rise and fall of civilizations, sometimes as observers, other times as participants."

Daniel was fascinated.  He'd sometimes wondered why the Goa'uld kept spending time on Earth after the rebellion when, by then, there were already plenty of other planets out in the galaxy populated by humans that they could have ruled over.  Was it because Earth was the first world, the birthplace if humanity?  Was ruling over a portion of Earth considered to be a status symbol?  He wanted to ask but decided against it.

"When I met Arria, she was ill from a disease for which there was no cure," Egeria said, pulling Daniel's thoughts back to her.  "I was struck by her beauty and by the courage with which she was facing death.  I toyed with the idea of healing her, but events transpired to change my plans.  She and I were alone when we were attacked by a band of armed men.  Their intention was to rape and murder us, but they did not plan upon my power.  I killed several of them before the rest chose to flee.  Sadly, my host was gravely injured.  She was dying, the damage too great for me to heal with my power alone."

"You couldn't call your ship for help?"

"No.  The device to call those onboard had been damaged, and I had foolishly wandered too far from my servants."  Egeria smiled.  "Though her own strength was not great, Arria tried to help me back to my servants, but I did not think we would make it.  I knew that my only chance was to take Arria as my new host, but I did not wish to do so against her will.  I told her a little about what I was and said that if she agreed to be my host I could heal the sickness killing her.  She agreed quite willingly.  And that is how I came to be in the body you see before you."

Daniel did not ask if Arria had come to regret her decision.  That really would be pushing it.

Egeria looked at the position of the sun, surprised by what she saw.  She had not realized that so much time had passed as they talked, having found the time so enjoyable.

"I must let you return to your duties," she said.  "We will talk again another time.  I have enjoyed our conversation."

"I enjoyed it, too," Daniel responded.  "Thank you for answering my questions."

"You may ask others the next time we talk, though I will not promise to answer them all."

Daniel returned to the library, where he was subjected to a long, piercing gaze from Decimus.

"You were gone for quite some time," the old man said.  "Were you with our queen for all this time?"

"Yes.  She wanted to talk about some things.  She's curious to know more about me and the things I've seen."

"Ah.  Curious, eh?  Well, I can certainly understand why her curiosity would be piqued by you.  You are an interesting man, my young friend."

Not quite knowing what to make of that remark, Daniel did not respond, getting back to work instead.

The weeks passed, Daniel slipping deeper into his new life, though he still thought a lot about going home.  He was surprised by how much he missed his teammates and how much he thought about them.  Actually, that wasn't exactly true.  He wasn't surprised that he missed Sam a lot.  The two of them had formed a close friendship, and, though they no longer spent as much time together as they used to, that friendship was still strong.  He also wasn't all that surprised that he missed Teal'c.  Though he'd never have believed in the beginning that he and the Jaffa would become friends, that's what they were, and Daniel missed the big guy.

No, the biggest surprise was how much Daniel missed Jack.  Things had not been very good between them recently.  It seemed like Jack was mad at him more often than he wasn't, and Daniel still hadn't quite gotten over the way Jack treated him on Euronda.  It had hurt, and it was taking longer for the pain to heal than Daniel would have thought it would.  There were times when he questioned if Jack even thought of him as a friend anymore.  Daniel had to wonder if Jack would even miss him if he never came home.

With increasing frequency, Egeria had been calling Daniel to come join her in conversation and, occasionally, a meal as well.  She was gradually becoming freer with the things that she would tell him about herself and the Goa'uld, and, in turn, he was revealing more about himself, though he always had to be careful not to say anything that would make her question the truth about him.

He was quite surprised when she presented him with a gift one day, a small vase from her sitting room that he'd admired.  It was seventh century Roman and in perfect condition, an exquisite example of the artistry of that time.

Something that surprised Daniel even more was how much he was coming to like Egeria.  Never in his life would he have thought he could befriend a Goa'uld, yet there could be no doubt that's what he was feeling.  But then, Egeria was not like the cruel, egotistical, power-hungry Goa'uld that Daniel had met.  More than once, he wondered why.  She had the same genetic memories as all of the others.  Why had they not corrupted her as well?  It certainly wasn't because she was a queen.  Hathor had proved that Goa'uld queens were no better than the rest of them.

Daniel has found a historical account of the founding and construction of Egeria's domain.  It spoke of the goddess Egeria coming down in a great flying chariot and taking men and women she deemed worthy to serve her and giving them the task of creating her city.  After the burial of the gate in Egypt, the only ways to get people off Earth would have been through the gate in Antarctica or by ship.  According to this account, the people were taken by ship to the Antarctic gate, then completed their journey to their new home that way.

With some of the money Egeria gave him, Daniel had purchased some paper and writing implements, knowing that there was no way his journal would fit everything he'd have to write and that his pen would no doubt run out of ink well before the year was out.  He also got gifts for Aulus and Decimus, the latter actually blushing with delight when Daniel presented it to him.

And then the day came when Daniel found the beans.  He was walking through the marketplace when he noticed some beans that bore a striking resemblance to cacao beans.  He found out from the vendor that they were used to make a bitter drink that helped to lift the mood of those who drank it.  That got Daniel excited.  For most of chocolate's history, it was consumed in the form of a beverage and was not sweetened.  The part about lifting moods meant that these beans might have the same chemical properties that gave chocolate its well-known ability to alter the mood of some people for the better.

Daniel purchased some of the beans and set about the task of creating his own chocolate.  Sugar being unavailable, Daniel used honey as a sweetener.  It took quite a bit of trial and error, and he ended up making a lot of messes.  The kitchen slaves probably thought he was nuts, but they didn't say anything except to ask what he was doing.  He just told them that he was trying to duplicate a candy that he'd discovered in his travels.

On the day he was finally satisfied with his recipe, he poured the chocolate into little candy molds that he'd paid the metalsmith to make and let it set.

When he tried the first chocolate, letting the sweet goodness melt in his mouth, he couldn't prevent the little sigh of pleasure that escaped.  When he opened his eyes, he saw that everyone was staring at him.  Grinning, he started handing out the chocolates.  Needless to say, there were a lot more sighs of pleasure being uttered.

Daniel quickly whipped up a second batch.  Once they'd hardened, he borrowed a bowl from the kitchen and put the chocolates in it.  Then he went in search of Egeria.  He found her in one of the gardens, sitting on a bench.

Smiling, he came toward her.  "I've made something for you."

Surprised, Egeria looked at the bowl, which was covered by a cloth.  "What have you made?"

Daniel whipped off the cloth.  "Chocolate!"

Egeria's eyes grew wide.  "Truly?"

"Uh huh.  I knew that chocolate was made from some kind of bean that tastes bitter when you cooked it and that you needed to add sweetener to make it taste right.  I was in the marketplace a few days ago and found some beans that I thought might work.  I didn't know much more about the recipe, so I had to do a lot of experimenting."  He held the bowl out to Egeria.  "I hope you like it."  He grinned.  "The servants in the kitchen did."

Egeria gazed at the bright, beautiful smile on Daniel's face, feeling something inside her quiver at the sight.  She took one of the candies and delicately put it in her mouth.  The explosion of luscious sweetness caught her by surprise.  This was many times more glorious than her first experience with chocolate.

"It is wonderful!" she exclaimed.  She took another, consuming it in short order.

Daniel laughed.  "Be careful not to eat too many.  They're fattening."

Egeria gazed up at him.  "You did this thing for me?"

Daniel shrugged.  "I knew you were disappointed that I couldn't tell you how chocolate was made.  Besides, I'm rather addicted to the stuff myself and was really missing it."

Egeria was deeply touched by what Daniel had done.  She had received gifts before, but none of them had been created or given with the unselfishness that this one was.  She knew that Daniel did not do this to curry her favor.  He had done it simply because he wanted to do so.  His feelings for the Goa'uld made it even more amazing that he would do this.  She did not consider for an instant that they might be poisoned.  Daniel would not do such a thing.

Egeria got to her feet.  She touched his cheek lightly with her fingers.  "Thank you, Daniel.  This is a wonderful and generous gift, one that I know is being given out of the goodness of your heart."

"You're welcome.  I don't know if I should mention this, but chocolate can also be put in cakes, and pies, and other desserts."

Egeria smiled.  "Is that so?  Well, my Daniel.  I do believe, then, that a new task has been added to your duties.  You must teach the kitchen staff how to make these and how to create other chocolate desserts."

"Well, I am definitely no baker, but I'll do my best."

Every female servant in the palace was now quite in love with Daniel.  Why?  Because he had given to Egeria's domain the wondrous, magical thing called chocolate.  The vendor of the beans Daniel used had his entire stock purchased by the palace and was given a command to buy more, much, much more.  Since the beans came from off-world, the deliriously happy man was given permission to go through the gate to get them, with a promise that he would be making a healthy profit.

By the end of the first week, Daniel's creation had spread beyond the walls of the palace and into the homes of the citizenry.  The archeologist was a little concerned that he'd be responsible for the expanding waistline of every human on the planet, but the smiles he got from all the people in the city who knew that he was the candy's creator made him feel good.  He was thinking, though, that maybe his next "invention" should be toothpaste and the toothbrush.  He'd already managed to figure out a way to more thoroughly clean his own teeth than what was available on the planet, and he figured that to avoid being the one responsible for thousands of cavities, he might want to consider teaching the populace about better dental hygiene.

With a little advice and guidance from Daniel, the palace baker managed to create a chocolate cake that made Egeria sigh in delight and the baker beam with pride.  Daniel occasionally wondered what kind of impact all of this might have on the future, but he didn't see how it could possibly lead to anything bad.

Though the archeologist was quite happy about his success at creating chocolate, what he really wished for was coffee.  During the first few weeks here, he was missing it so much that he actually had dreams about the beverage.  He had finally reached the point now where he'd "detoxed" and was able to stay alert during the day without caffeine, but he still desperately missed his favorite beverage.  He'd searched for some kind of alternative, but had been unable to find a substitute.

One afternoon, Daniel was bent over a translation, struggling to keep his eyes open.  He'd been up way too late the previous night and was now paying the price.

"I'd give my soul for a cup of coffee right now," he muttered.

"What is coffee?" Decimus asked.

"A beverage that helps keep you awake when you're sleepy.  I used to drink a lot of it."  Daniel sighed.  "I loved my coffee.  I miss my coffee."

Decimus asked Daniel a few more questions about what coffee was made from and how it tasted.  After sending the archeologist off to his quarters for a nap, the old man went to see Egeria.  He told the woman about Daniel's lamentation over not being able to have this beverage he loved so much.  Egeria learned everything from him that Daniel had said about coffee, deciding that it was time to pay Daniel back for his gift to her.  She sent people to talk to the merchants, traders and vendors on the streets, asking if any of them had heard about the beverage called coffee.  None of them had.  However, when told about the properties of coffee and how it tasted, one merchant said that he believed he knew of a drink that might be similar.  He was told to go get some as soon as he was able.

What the merchant brought back was not the brewed beverage but the ground beans that would make it, along with instructions on what to do with them.  The palace kitchen servants were then given the order to make coffee.

The following day, Daniel was told to go to the sitting room.  When he got there, he stopped dead in his tracks.  There was a scent in the air, a scent he had not smelled in months.  It was not exactly like coffee, but it was close enough that his mouth started watering.

"That . . . that smells a little like coffee," he said, his eyes coming to rest upon a pitcher that had steam rising from it.

Egeria smiled.  "Decimus told me about this beverage you love so much.  I sent people out to find it, but they could not."

Daniel nodded, knowing that finding coffee would have been impossible since it wasn't invented until the ninth century.

"They did, however, learn of a beverage that appears to be similar."  She gestured at the pitcher.  "Please try it and tell me if you like it.  I have tasted it, but it is not to my liking."

"It's an acquired taste for a lot of people," Daniel explained.  He walked up to the table and poured some of the dark brown liquid into a cup.  He lifted it to his nose and drew in a deep breath, his eyes closing in pleasure.  He took a tentative sip.  It was little sweeter than coffee without sugar and was a bit on the weak side, but the flavor wasn't bad.  It would be easy to make it stronger, and he didn't mind the sweetness since he often added sugar to his coffee anyway.

Daniel took another sip, then turned to Egeria with a smile.  "Thank you so much.  This is great.  It's a little different from coffee, but it's still very good."

The Goa'uld queen returned the smile, very pleased that she'd made Daniel happy.  "Consider it an expression of my gratitude for the chocolate."

Daniel's smile widened.  "Okay."

"You are welcome to take the pitcher back with you to the library.  Perhaps Decimus would like to try this beverage."

Daniel did as she recommended.  Decimus didn't like the taste either, so Daniel had it all to himself.  He drank two cups, which was what he usually consumed each morning at home.  Unfortunately, he'd forgotten to take something into consideration.  After so long without caffeine, his body was not used to it, so those two cups were the equivalent of drinking half a dozen in a row would have been to Daniel back on Earth.  In a very short time, he was almost literally bouncing off the walls, his body supercharged with the stuff running through his system.  He couldn't sit still for more than ten minutes, and he was so wide awake that he wondered if he'd be able to sleep for the next week.

Decimus watched him with a bewildered look, not accustomed to seeing the normally quiet Daniel so restless.

"Is this what coffee does?" he asked after watching Daniel get up, wander around the room for a while, then sit back down.

"No, I was stupid.  I drank too much of it.  My body isn't used to it anymore."  Daniel looked down at his hands, which were trembling from the caffeine overdose.  He got up again.  "I need to go for a walk."

Daniel left the palace and started a brisk walk through the city.  He passed several slaves he knew, who greeted him pleasantly.  A prostitute standing in front of her house propositioned him teasingly.  It was not the first time.  After she learned that he had money, she started doing so every time she saw him.  The first few times, her offer had been in earnest, but after she realized that she would have no luck with him, she started doing it in jest.  He smiled and waved at her and walked on by.

Daniel suspected that at least half the city knew about the money Egeria had given him and had to wonder what people were thinking.  He just hoped it wasn't the same thing that Aulus had.  The thought that people might believe he was a Goa'uld queen's boy toy was definitely upsetting.

Daniel went all the way to the western edge of the city.  He sat down on a low wall and looked out across the fields that stretched to the hills in the distance, his eyes coming to rest on the Furling ruins.  How far would he be able to get before the ones monitoring his tracking device realized that he was trying to make a break for it and send Jaffa out to drag him back?  If he got his hands on a horse, he bet that he'd be able to make it.  Once that door to the chamber was closed, they wouldn't be able to get to him, unless they blasted it to bits with staff weapons.  Actually, they probably wouldn't even be able to find him.  If that chamber blocked radio waves, it would very likely also block the signal from the tracking device in the bracelet.  If he acted quickly, escape might actually be possible.

There were just two problems with that idea.  The first was that, if he made it to those ruins and suddenly vanished without a trace, they'd know that something was going on.  They'd try to find out what and might discover what the pedestal could do.  What would Egeria do with that kind of power?  The bigger and more disturbing question was what another Goa'uld would do if they got their hands on it.  It would be a catastrophe on a galactic scale.  Any Goa'uld with the power to go back in time could change history to suit their own purposes, turn themselves into the most powerful of the Goa'uld, with all the others either dead or under their rule.  That alone was a big enough reason for Daniel not to attempt an escape.

The other reason was more personal.  He'd feel like he was betraying Egeria.  Most people would think Daniel was crazy for thinking that way when she was the one who made him a slave, but, during these past weeks, she had been very kind to him, and she was under no obligation to show him any kindness at all.  She was a Goa'uld queen, and he was a human being commanded to serve her for a minimum of one year, yet not only had she shown great kindness, she was actually becoming a friend.  To throw that back in her face and escape would make Daniel feel terribly guilty.

The archeologist could actually hear in his head what Jack would say to that.

"Daniel, she's a Goa'uld!  I don't care whose mother she's going to be.  She forced you to be a slave just because you went into her temple without some fruit for the altar.  You'd have no reason to feel guilty for taking the opportunity to escape.  If she was really a good Goa'uld, she'd let you go free."

Daniel sighed softly.  It really didn't matter anyway.  As long as he was wearing the slave bracelet, he couldn't go anywhere near those ruins.

After sitting there for a while, Daniel retraced his steps.  Deep in thought, he was not aware until too late that he was being shadowed.  He was passing through a narrow alley between buildings when, suddenly, there was a knife at his throat.

"Give me your money," said the man who held him from behind.

"I have no money," Daniel told him.  He hissed as the blade cut into the skin of his neck.

"Do not lie.  I have heard about you, the slave of Egeria's to whom she gives money."

Daniel schooled his voice to a gentle tone.  "I don't have the money with me.  I just came out for a walk.  The money is in the palace."  He winced as the knife bit a little deeper.  "Please believe me.   That money is not worth my life.  If I had it, I would give it to you."

There was a long pause, then the man said, "Then I will have to kill you and leave empty-handed."

"You don't have to kill me.  You can just leave."

"No, if I leave you alive, you will tell Egeria, and she will send her Jaffa to hunt me down."

"I haven't seen your face.  I couldn't identify you.  And think about this.  All you have done right now is attempt to steal from me.  If you kill me, how angry do you think Egeria will be?  One way or another, she will find out who you are and kill you."

The pain in his neck as the knife dug in even deeper made Daniel wonder if he'd chosen the wrong thing to say.  He wished that he knew some kind of martial arts technique to disarm the man, but he wasn't confident enough in any of what Jack had tried to teach him to chance it.  He might end up accidentally slashing his own throat.

The archeologist breathed a silent sigh of relief when the cutting pressure of the blade eased.

"You will keep your back turned and not attempt to see me," the would-be thief commanded.  "If you see my face, I will kill you."

"I understand."

The man released Daniel, who then heard him running away.  The moment Daniel no longer heard the footsteps, he relaxed.  His hand went to his neck, which was bleeding quite heavily, though not so much that he thought he had to worry about the blood loss.

Tearing off a piece from his tunic, Daniel pressed it against the wound, then exited the alley.  He received several stares, but no one came to offer assistance until a slave Daniel had chatted with several time saw him.  The man rushed forward.

"Daniel, you are injured!"

"Um, yeah.  I had an . . . encounter with someone who wanted my money."

"We must get you to the palace.  There is much blood."

The slave helped Daniel the rest of the way.  The second that the Jaffa on guard at the palace entrance saw the blood, one of them came forward.

"What has transpired?" the Jaffa asked.

"He was attacked by a thief," the slave replied.

Every one of the Jaffa knew that Daniel was a favorite of Egeria's, so they wasted no time in getting him inside and calling for someone to assist him.  One of them went to tell Egeria what had happened.

Ten minutes later, Daniel was lying on a couch, a slave who knew a bit about healing attending to him, when Egeria came bursting into the room, her eyes burning with anger.  When she saw the blood covering Daniel's neck and clothes, the anger turned to concern.

"What did he do to you?" she demanded to know.

"It's not serious, Egeria," Daniel told her.  "It is just a cut on my neck.  I will be fine."

The queen told the slave treating Daniel to move out of the way.  She looked at the cut, seeing that it was deep but had not damaged any arteries.  If it had, Daniel would have bled to death before he reached the palace.

Egeria lifted the device in her hand.  "With this I can heal you, Daniel."

He nodded.  "I've seen one before."

The Goa'uld extended it over the wound and concentrated upon healing the injury.  Being so minor, it took only seconds.  She smiled down at him.

"There.  You are well again.  You are no doubt shaken by your ordeal and would like to rest."

Daniel sat up.  "Oh, this was no worse than other things I've gone through, not nearly as bad as some.  I'm fine."

"Nevertheless, you need to clean up.  I insist that you use the palace's private bathhouse, where the water is warm and soothing."

Surprised by the offer, Daniel accepted, just the thought of actually taking a hot bath too tempting to refuse.  As a slave, he was not allowed to bathe in the city's public bathhouse, regardless of the fact that he had the money to pay the fee.  So, like the rest of the slaves, he bathed in the river.

The gentleness in Egeria's expression vanished.  "Did you see who attacked you?"

Daniel shook his head.  "He came up behind me."

"You are fortunate that he did not kill you."

"I know.  I had to do some fast talking to convince him not to.  He ended up with nothing.  I didn't have my money with me."

"Then you are doubly fortunate, for he could have slit your throat out of anger."

After getting a change of clothes from his room, Daniel went to the bathhouse.  It was quite tiny compared to the public one.  The bath itself was around four times the size of a four-person hot tub.  The only people who used it were the few servants in the palace who were freemen.  No slave would normally be allowed to use it.  Egeria did not use this bath, having her own private one off her chambers.

Daniel was happy to see that the bathhouse was empty when he got there.  He quickly stripped off his bloody clothing and ease himself into the water, sighing in pleasure.  Though not really cold at this time of year, the water in the river wasn't exactly warm either, so, to Daniel, this felt almost sinfully decadent.  He closed his eyes and rested his head against the edge, letting the heat soak into his body.  He allowed himself the luxury of just soaking for around fifteen minutes, then decided that he'd better wash up and get out of there.

Using a crude bar of soap that he'd made from a very old recipe, Daniel scrubbed the blood off, then washed the rest of his body, doing likewise with his hair while he was at it.  He'd have to see about getting another haircut soon.  It was getting pretty long again, and he wanted to keep it at the same length that it was before his trip back in time, not wanting to shock his teammates with suddenly longer hair when he returned.

Feeling clean and refreshed, Daniel was about to get out of the water when a voice made him freeze.

"Are you feeling better?"

Daniel sank deeper into the water and turned around to see Egeria just inside the doorway.

"Y-yes, much better.  I was, uh, just about to get out."

The woman made no move to leave, which shouldn't have been surprising.  The ancient Romans had a completely different viewpoint about nudity than most of the Earth societies in Daniel's time.  To them, it was no big deal to be naked in front of each other.  Though Egeria was not actually Roman, he bet that she had pretty much the same viewpoint.

Daniel started to blush, wondering what he was going to do.  Egeria saw the blush and realized why it was there.  She let out a laugh.

"Daniel, are you shy to reveal your body to me?  From what I can see of it, it is strong and well formed."

Daniel's blush deepened.  "Where I come from, bathing is done in private.  Nudity is not allowed in public . . . well, except for certain exceptions.  We have a different viewpoint on it than you do here."

Egeria's lips were quirked in amusement.  "Very well.  I will let you dress in private.  There are other things I must attend to anyway.  I came only to see if you were recovered."

"Yes.  Thank you.  I feel good."

Once she was gone, Daniel scrambled out of the water, hurriedly dried himself off and got dressed.  After disposing of the bloody clothing, he headed to the library, where Decimus, who had heard about the incident, asked him what happened.

"At least there is one good thing about this," Daniel remarked after recounting the event.  "I think the fear of having my throat cut succeeded in using up some of that extra energy.  I have absolutely no desire to do any more walking today."

When Daniel returned to his quarters a few hours later, he stopped dead in his tracks, staring in utter shock at what lay on the table.  It was his gun, knife and extra ammunition.  He saw that there was a note with them and picked it up.

"So that you may protect yourself," the note said.  There could be no doubt that it was from Egeria.

Daniel's gaze returned to the weapons.  He could understand her giving the knife back, but the gun?  Even though she had never seen it used and, therefore, didn't know the extent of its deadliness, she did know that it could kill a Goa'uld.  What he'd told her about the confrontation with Amaunet would have made her realize that.  Giving this back to him was a demonstration of trust, a great deal of trust.  She was telling him that she knew he would not hurt her with it.

Daniel put the weapons in the chest.  Though he might carry the knife the next time he left the palace, he wasn't sure about the gun.  He'd never liked carrying it anyway.  Hopefully, he wouldn't have to worry about ever again being in a situation like the one today.

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