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nightspear ([personal profile] nightspear) wrote2009-06-08 12:50 am
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Archaeology (20/30)

Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Pairings: Gen.

Chapter1 Chapter2 Chapter3 Chapter4 Chapter5
Chapter6 Chapter7 Chapter8 Chapter9 Chapter10
Chapter11 Chapter12 Chapter13 Chapter14 Chapter15
Chapter16 Chapter17 Chapter18 Chapter19

XXXXX

Chapter 20: Shifu

XXXXX

26 April 2001; Control Room, SGC; 1000 hrs

"You look tired," Sam said when the unauthorized off-world activation alarm summoned them into the control room. "Late night?"

Daniel watched Jack yawn his way up the stairs behind Teal'c. "Something like that."

"Who is it?" General Hammond said.

"It's..." Sergeant Harriman turned around to face them with a frown. "SG-1, sir."

"Hello," Jack said.

"How can that be?" Sam said.

"Let's find out," the general said, then ordered, "Defense teams stand by. Open the iris."

As the iris opened, something fluttered through the wormhole and landed on the ramp, rolling to a stop just as the Stargate deactivated again. Daniel leaned forward to see what it was, and it looked almost like...paper?

"Stand down," the general said, and they followed him into the 'gate room. "What is it?"

Jack stepped up the ramp, picked it up--it was paper--and returned, reading it silently. "Well?" Daniel said impatiently.

"You tell me," Jack said, handing it to him.

Daniel took the paper, surprised when he saw reddish splotches on the note. "'Under no circumstances go to P4C-970,'" he read aloud. "'Colonel Jack O'Neill.' That looks like your handwriting."

"It is my handwriting," Jack said as Daniel handed the note over to Sam. "And that's my signature."

"Though you sent no such note," Teal'c said.

"This looks like blood, sir," Sam said.

"Have Dr. Fraiser analyze it," the general ordered. She nodded and handed the note to an airman, who headed away in into the corridor.

"General," Jack said, "wasn't '970 one of the next ones on our mission list?"

"Not anymore," the general said. "I'm not taking any chances. I want P4C-970 removed from the dialing computer immediately. Dismissed."

Daniel didn't argue but couldn't figure out what had just happened or why. "Um..." he said.

"Under very specific circumstances," Teal'c told him, "the Stargate can allow travel through time. SG-1 experienced such an event before you joined us."

"Oh, right," Daniel said, remembering a report he'd read about that. General Hammond must have been remembering the same thing to have accepted the warning so readily.

"I wonder why you sent it," Sam said, looking at Jack. "I wonder when."

"Yeah," Jack said, sitting down on the ramp. "You gotta wonder."

The klaxons sounded again, and Jack leapt off the ramp. "Unauthorized off-world activation!" Sergeant Harriman called. "Security teams to the 'gate room."

As the security team poured in again, Daniel followed his team back out and up the stairs. "What now?" Jack said.

"Remote signal--it's the Abydos special code," Harriman said. As Daniel turned and started for the stairs again, he added, "We're receiving a transmission from the MALP!"

Daniel sighed and moved back to the console, where Skaara's face appeared on the screen, looking serious. "Hello?" Skaara said into the MALP camera. "Can you hear me?"

Sergeant Harriman moved aside for Jack to reach the microphone, just as General Hammond returned to the control room. "Skaara--it's O'Neill. We hear you."

"You must come," Skaara said. "There is a child here who appeared in...in a sandstorm. He says he is the son of Sha'uri. He says he is Harsesis."

"Wha--" Daniel took the microphone from Jack, but then the only thing that came out of his mouth was, "What do you mean, 'he says?' How old is he?" Shifu should be less than three years old now, and definitely not capable of appearing in storms.

But Skaara only shook his head. "It is not possible; I do not understand it. My sister believes he speaks the truth, but I am uncertain if she is being deceived."

Jack leaned forward and said, "Skaara--you said he appeared in a sandstorm?"

Nodding and wide-eyed, Skaara said, "This part, I saw with my eyes. There was a storm--we heard the name of Sha'uri on the wind, so we went to see. When the winds disappeared, a boy stood there, untouched by the sand or the wind. We do not know what to believe."

"We have to go," Daniel said, turning to the general. "Sir?"

"Dan'yel," Skaara added, "some of us heard your name, too. The boy is with Sha'uri now, but he has asked to meet you. If he is not who he says he is, how could he know of you?"

"Any Goa'uld who tried hard enough could find out your name," General Hammond said, looking troubled, but he said, "You have a go, but be careful--this could be a trick."

"We're coming, Skaara," Daniel said. "Wait for us."

XXXXX

26 April 2001; Nagada, Abydos; 1100 hrs

"I am Shifu," the boy said, looking at SG-1, then turned around and looked up at Sha'uri, who stood behind him. "I am Harsesis."

Daniel looked from the boy's face to Sha'uri. With one hand on the boy's shoulder, she said, "He speaks the truth."

"Jack," Daniel said, "could you guys give us a minute?"

Jack hesitated, giving Daniel a warning look. "We'll be right outside," he said. With a nod to Sam, Teal'c, and Skaara, he led the way out of the house and let the curtain fall shut behind them.

The boy was quiet when Daniel turned back to look at him. Lowering himself to one knee, Daniel studied the boy's face intently, searching for similarities to the baby he'd cradled for days and weeks and months, but he finally admitted, "I don't, uh...recognize you." That slight tilt of his eyes, perhaps, but if this was indeed the same person, then he had changed far too much.

"I grew like the weeds," the boy said.

Right. They'd found nanocytes in him when he'd been at the SGC. The age difference was possible, he supposed. But--"How do you know?" Daniel said, looking up at Sha'uri.

She looked a little uncertain, but she said, "A mother knows. I can feel it."

Daniel wished very much that that could be enough for him, but the Goa'uld had tried to fool them before, and they'd used human children. "But--"

"Kal'ma kree shashan," the boy said, watching him calmly. Daniel rocked backward onto his heels. "Kal'ma ta'i or'intani... You recited this when I refused to sleep, as an infant. You called me sinu'ket--your small brother."

"Shifu?" Daniel breathed, reaching out tentatively to touch the boy's shoulder. "What...it's really..." He snatched his hand back, scrubbing it through his hair. "I've been hoping I'd find you somewhere..."

"Now he has found us," Sha'uri said, smiling down at her son. "He came here to learn about us--his mother whose blood he carries and the brother who cared for him."

Swallowing, Daniel said, "You remember? Even from when you were...a baby?"

"I am Harsesis," Shifu repeated patiently, as if that were enough to explain it.

At that, Daniel looked up sharply to see Sha'uri return the look, nodding determinedly. "Then, if you are Harsesis," Daniel said carefully, "does that mean you also have all of the knowledge that Apophis and Amaunet had?"

"Oma taught me to forget," Shifu said.

"Oma Desala," Daniel clarified. "From Kheb?"

Shifu nodded once. "She is my teacher." Daniel stood and looked around, almost expecting--hoping and dreading at once--to see a glowing light appear, but Shifu continued, "Oma teaches that, ultimately, a man travels his chosen path alone."

"You have forgotten all that the Goa'uld knew?" Sha'uri said, glancing at Daniel. She was the one, after all, who'd first told them what the Harsesis might mean in the war against the Goa'uld.

"Shifu," Daniel said, "do you remember the SGC? You lived there before, for a short time."

It took a moment, but then Shifu nodded. "There were many people there who wore white robes."

"White...? That's right--you spent most of the time in the infirmary," Daniel said, smiling at the memory. "And the nurses and Dr. Fraiser made sure you stayed healthy."

"Yes," Shifu said.

"But we also know why you've been able to grow so fast, and I'm worried it might still be happening. If it is, you would grow too old too quickly." He looked past his brother at Sha'uri and added, "Would you mind coming with us to Earth to see about that?"

Sha'uri's expression became alarmed, and she nodded behind Shifu's back. "I would like to see the SGC again," Shifu said. "It was once my home. Can my mother come, too?"

"Of course," Daniel said quickly. "I don't want to take you away from her. And you've never seen it, Sha'uri--you'll be able to speak with General Hammond and...everyone. Is that okay?"

Sha'uri nodded again. "I would like to see this place, too."

XXXXX

26 April 2001; VIP Room, SGC; 1700 hrs

"Dr. Fraiser says that you're in no physical danger," Daniel said, climbing onto the bed to sit opposite Shifu as Sha'uri sat beside the boy. "So that's good."

"Shifu," Sha'uri said, looping a hesitant arm around his shoulder, "you know who Apophis is."

"He is the one who fathered me," Shifu said solemnly.

Daniel glanced at Sha'uri, who didn't look back at him. "Yes, that's...yes," Daniel said. "Do you know that he's hurt a lot of people?"

Shifu looked up into Sha'uri's face. "He hurt you."

For a moment, Daniel thought she wasn't going to answer, but then she said, "Yes, my son. He hurt me."

"And he hurt you also," Shifu added, turning to Daniel.

"He's hurt a lot of people I care about," Daniel agreed. Perhaps ignorance would not have been better, but he couldn't deny that there were times when he missed the days when he'd had his parents, known nothing of the System Lords, and dreamed about legends instead of trying to fight them. Daniel had chosen this life and the SGC in the end, but Apophis had ripped that other life and Abydos from him first. "We're doing everything we can to stop him, Shifu, but he's become very powerful, and we need your help."

"Oma has taught me to forget the evil I once knew," Shifu told them again.

"We know," Sha'uri said, "and if we did not have to, we would never ask you to think of such terrible things. But I have only a few memories from Amaunet; it is not enough in our battle."

"The Tok'ra have a way to help you remember," Daniel added. "Maybe, with their help, you can just remember things like...like how their technology works or what their weaknesses are."

"And perhaps this...Oma could help you to forget again," Sha'uri said.

"If the instrument is broken, the music will be sour," Shifu said. "Oma teaches the true nature of a man is decided in the battle between his conscious mind and the desires of his subconscious. Oma teaches the evil in my subconscious is too strong to resist, and the only way to win is to deny it battle."

Daniel closed his eyes briefly, quashing the familiar frustration he remembered from speaking with the guardian of the temple where they'd first met Oma Desala. "But we can't deny the battle with the Goa'uld. They'll kill us if we don't do something. They'll hurt more people."

"Oma sees much," Shifu said. "Oma says that your path is unclear."

Sha'uri exchanged a glance with Daniel. "This...Oma has been watching us?" she said, looking unsure whether to be wary or defensive about this other Mother.

"You fight the Goa'uld," Shifu said, and this time, he was looking at Daniel.

"I'd rather not have to fight," Daniel said carefully, "but we don't have a choice."

Maybe this was why Shifu had been drawn to the two of them, aside from connections of blood and memories. Skaara had found a way to return to life on Abydos, but Daniel was still at the SGC and Sha'uri was actively trying to help the SGC mining efforts. If Oma Desala had been watching them--and he didn't doubt she could--she must know that they were the ones with connections to Shifu who were most likely to want to use his knowledge against the Goa'uld.

"You have chosen a path that led to me because of this?" Shifu said.

"Yes," Daniel said. "I have been looking for you."

"You must release your burden before you can find your own way again."

"I released you to protect you," Daniel said, folding his hands in his lap, because he'd thought that was what the temple guardian had meant the last time they'd met, when he'd said to release his burden. But he'd mentioned hate, too, and seeing beyond what was before them, and choosing a path...

Things had been so much simpler when Shifu had been a baby.

"As did I," Sha'uri said.

"We have to fight the Goa'uld however we can," Daniel said. "I chose this path to honor the ones who have already been lost."

"And perhaps this is my role in this battle," Sha'uri added. "There is more to lose than the three of us in this room. The Goa'uld cannot be allowed to win."

Shifu turned again to study her. "I understand," he said.

"You do?" Daniel said, leaning forward.

"Yes." Shifu reached out with one hand to touch Daniel's forehead and with the other to touch his mother's. And then the world became dark.


Janet's face was the first thing Daniel saw when he opened his eyes. She turned away immediately and picked up a phone to say, "Colonel, he's awake."

"What happened?" Daniel said, frowning when he couldn't quite piece together--

(...met tal arik kek ...)

"--talking to the boy," Janet was saying, "and then you both suddenly collapsed."

Daniel sat up, shaking his head to clear it of--

(...naquadah satak hatak...)

--the haziness remaining. "Sha'uri?" he said, turning his head just in time to see his sister sit up in a nearby bed.

"Dan'yel? Shifu?" Sha'uri said. "What happened?" As Daniel watched, she squeezed her eyes shut, then suddenly opened them again, catching his gaze with her own. "Can it be...?"

"Hey," Jack said, walking in and looking between the two of them. "How're you feeling?"

"Fine," Daniel said with dawning understanding as images and memories and words he didn't know flashed through his mind. "We're...fine."

"Fine," Sha'uri repeated distractedly.

"What happened with Shifu in there?" Jack said.

"We asked him for anything that could help us fight the Goa'uld," Daniel said, looking at his hands and almost expecting them to look different, now that he could almost grasp what it was that made them unable to use the most useful of the technology they'd seen.

"Yeah?" Jack said.

"He gave it to us," Sha'uri said, looking at her own hands, and Daniel remembered with a sudden flash of envy that, while he might be unable to use Goa'uld technology, Amaunet had died within his sister's body, and she could use it--she could use anything they could make, and they could make just about anything now. "We know everything--not just knowledge passed on by a queen Goa'uld to her spawn, but all the knowledge gained over millennia."

Jack raised his eyebrows. "Everything?"

"Well--" Daniel started.

(...in orbit...)

"--not yet," he finished, then tapped his temple. "But Shifu gave it to us. At least..." He thought for a second. "Not Amaunet, I think. But Apophis's memories, yes."

"No," Sha'uri said, not at all doubtfully. "Only Amaunet's."

("...almost time, my love," he whispered. "I have found you a new host.")

Daniel stared at her. "Shifu gave you Amaunet's memories and me Apophis's."

Sha'uri tilted her head, then nodded. "I know all that the queen knew."

Queen.

The queen always withheld knowledge from her spawn, out of spite and jealousy; no infant Goa'uld knew as much as a queen. Not questioning how he knew that with such certainty, Daniel countered, "And I know all that the most powerful System Lord knew." Tactics, inventions...Apophis had known a lot of things Amaunet hadn't.

And yet, Amaunet had hidden things from him. Apophis hadn't known whether knowledge of Kheb had slipped accidentally into Sha'uri's mind or if Amaunet had deliberately planted the idea. Actually...Daniel wasn't sure, either, whose idea it had been. Sha'uri could be sneaky, too.

"Okay, whoa," Jack said, slicing a hand through the air. "So...she has Amaunet in her head again--sorry," he added to her, wincing, but she didn't seem to notice, "and you've got Apophis."

"We're not hosts to parasites, Jack," Daniel said. "Their knowledge, but we're in control."

"All their knowledge," Jack repeated infuriatingly. "Right now."

"It's coming; it just...it'll take a little time. We can win this war--I can see it right now..." He squeezed his eyes closed, searching through the thoughts flitting through his mind. "It's almost there. I can beat them, Jack."

"We," Sha'uri corrected, swinging her legs off the bed and standing up to give Daniel a piercing look. "We will beat them."

"Right," Jack said. "So."

The schematics for part of the design snapped into place. Daniel fumbled in his pocket until he found his notepad and pen and started to sketch it. "Look, here," he said, closing his eyes briefly until the image became clear again. "This is the..." He paused again.

"Okay," Jack said, reaching out slowly to grasp the notepad. "Look, obviously, you two are--"

"Dammit, Jack!" Daniel snapped, pulling it back. "You don't understand. You wanted the knowledge of the Goa'uld? Now we've got it, but it's coming in...odd...leaps, so I'm having trouble putting it into words. Inertia," he said, finishing his sketch. "The...what do they call it here--you need inertial dampeners if people are in it while it's launched into--where's Sam?"

Daniel stood and checked to make sure he hadn't left anything behind him on the bed before heading out of the infirmary and toward the briefing room, where General Hammond, Sam, and Teal'c were all waiting.

Before he could say anything, though, Sha'uri said from behind him, "General Hammond, we can protect our planets from the Goa'uld."

"Sam," Daniel said, sliding his notepad across the table to her. "You've been working on figuring out the inertial dampening systems and the propulsion on the X-302 project, but even with Martouf's help, you've stumbled in several places."

"That's tr--oh my god," she said, staring at it. "Did you draw this? Just now?"

"That is only a very small portion of what will be needed to complete our project, and not even the main part," Sha'uri said. "We must--"

(shol'va)

"--first determine all the necessary steps. Then, I and Dan'yel will devise a plan to carry out what must be done."

Daniel found his gaze drawn to Teal'c, then looked away, confused by the rush of hate-fury-traitor that rose in him as he turned to General Hammond instead. "Uh...I'd...you should contact the President, sir. We'll need a lot of resources, but trust me: this is the end of the war against the Goa'uld."

"Wait, wait...just...hold it," Jack said, standing in their way as both of them tried to leave the briefing room. Daniel suppressed a swell of irritation but held his ground. "So the Harsesis just magically transferred the information to you?"

"Saying the word 'magically' doesn't make it more absurd," Daniel said. "You saw what Oma Desala could do. She made him forget the secrets of the Goa'uld; why couldn't he make us understand in turn?"

"You're not worried at all about the fact that he somehow--"

"No, Jack!" he scoffed. "Did you hear me? This is our way out of this war. People will stop being killed by the Goa'uld..."

"We are wasting time," Sha'uri said. "Come, Dan'yel--we should go somewhere we can discuss the details of our plans."

Her words chafed--like he was to obey her--but he said only, "Let's go to my office. Sam, come with us. I'm not familiar enough with all Tau'ri capabilities to know what we can expect from...our people."

Our people.

The SGC was his people, but beyond that? He answered ultimately to a Tau'ri leader of a Tau'ri country. He was a Tau'ri citizen by right of blood. Abydos knew Dan'yel already, but if he played things right, perhaps the Tau'ri would know him, too, and would finally acknowledge--in every way--all that he had done and would do. And as thoughts churned in his head, he remembered and saw and knew exactly why so many System Lords set Earth as a target.

"There is no time to delay," Sha'uri added before following Daniel to the elevator, Sam hurrying behind them.

Sha'uri smiled amicably at Sam as Daniel pushed the button that would lead them to the archaeology office. The last thought he had before the elevator closed was the reminder that there was a reason why most System Lords didn't have partners--they couldn't be trusted.

...x...

It took days--four, precious days--for Sam to understand what they had to do and for Major Davis and the bureaucrats at the Pentagon to realize this was something they needed.

"Obviously," Daniel said when they were finally all gathered at the briefing, "this defensive satellite system requires much more naquadah than is available on this planet, and much more technological sophistication and manpower than is available on Abydos. To that end--"

"I will ensure that as much naquadah as possible is retrieved from our planet," Sha'uri interrupted. "The purification methods you have been using are primitive compared to that of the Goa'uld--I will require your aid to build a refinery on Abydos in order to produce enough material to use. Dan'yel will oversee the operations on Earth."

"Excuse me?" Major Davis said.

"Is there a problem, Major?" Daniel said stiffly. When were they going to realize he wasn't some alien with no standing who could be swept out of sight when they thought him too incompetent? "Perhaps you can explain the construction of these systems instead."

"Ah--" Jack raised a hand. "I...think the good major is just saying you're going to need help from someone who actually knows about this planet."

"And that's true," Daniel agreed. "I have the names of a few people here who can help me." His eyes unwittingly found Teal'c again--

("...within your rights to take my life as payment...")

--and away again. "Sam, I want you to supervise the science effort, of course. We've all just seen recently what happens when the Pentagon sends someone to do it," he added, with a pointed look in the direction of the Pentagon delegation.

"Dan'yel has offered the current research and science SG teams to be at my disposal on Abydos," Sha'uri said.

"That's SG-5, -7, and -11 for now," Daniel clarified, suppressing a thrill of excitement at the eager way some people listened to him now, scrambling to write down his instructions as soon as he said them. "But while Abydos can serve as one of our two main bases of operations, we may still need more naquadah than we'll get there--certainly, we'll be able to work faster if we spread out among other planets. Jack, I'd like you to coordinate the efforts of the other teams in finding enough naquadah."

"What about SG-1?" Jack said.

Daniel shook his head. "We don't need to explore, not when we can win with what we already have. Sam will be too busy, I need you to find enough material to protect two planets, and Teal'c...obviously, there are assignments for which his skills are better tailored."

"Perhaps Teal'c can come to Abydos with me," Sha'uri said abruptly, giving the Jaffa a considering look. "I am certain we could use his skills to help us there."

"We'll finalize assignments by the end of the day," Daniel said. "Keep in mind, everyone--changes will have to be made, on Earth and on Abydos. If it seems daunting, imagine what would happen if even a single Goa'uld mothership attacked us now. No cost is too high when the reward is the lives and safety of all the billions of our people."

"I am told you have hundreds of millions of people in this nation alone," Sha'uri said. "I give you my word that the Abydons will do their part. The Tau'ri must also do theirs."

"Look," Sam said uneasily, "even if we bring in every person in America with enough clearance, it won't be enough to get this done in the timeframe you've set. I know our more advanced allies haven't always come through for us, but I'm positive the Tok'ra would--"

(cowards traitors spies thieves)

"--if only because it'd help them, too, not to mention that we have a treaty with them. And with the Russians, by the way."

"Sam, you know as well as I do that the Tok'ra haven't always held up their end of that treaty," Daniel said, "and we were bullied into a treaty because the Russians were blackmailing us with secrets they'd learned from harboring an NID traitor. How many times have the Tok'ra almost been destroyed from within by a spy? We can't trust them. We don't need them; if we split tasks, I'm sure we could find people with somewhat lower clearance who'd help us complete this."

"And," Sha'uri added, smiling, "I am certain you all know the story of the Tok'ra. Their queen years ago withheld essential knowledge from her spawn, thinking it would protect them, but in doing so, she also limited what they remembered from their ancestors."

"Isn't that what makes them not evil?" Jack said.

"It also makes them...incomplete, Colonel," Sha'uri said. "Their very minds are defective."

"The point is...Sha'uri and I don't suffer from that particular disability," Daniel said. "That's what's so special about the Harsesis. So in a way, you could say we're mentally more advanced than the Tok'ra. We can do this without them."

He turned to Sha'uri and raised his eyebrows in question. She shook her head.

"That's all," Daniel told the others. "We'll have exactly defined assignments for you in the next several hours."

...x...

Teal'c found him in his office after Sha'uri returned to Abydos to explain to her father and all of their people. "Daniel Jackson," he said. "We have not spoken in days."

("You're my teacher," Daniel insisted. "I'm learning from you."

"Very well...chal'ti," Teal'c said.)

"Well, it's been very busy," Daniel said, not looking up from his work. There was an error in one of the plans someone had drawn up as a more primitive, Tau'ri adaptation of his original design. They were trying to take shortcuts--

("I am to blame for the abduction and deaths of your kin," Teal'c said.)

--which was unacceptable. "Did you need something?" Daniel said.

"Sha'uri wishes me to serve her on Abydos," Teal'c said. Daniel nodded, reaching under his glasses to rub a tired eye. Sha'uri would know what to do with Teal'c. "But I will not leave you if you have need of--"

"You'll do what we need you to do," Daniel interrupted. "Just like everyone else. I'll manage." His friends were too distracting. No wonder they had been such a pain when--

No. That was Apophis's memory. He closed his eyes and forcibly separated it from his own thoughts, but the conclusion was the same: they were too distracting to have here now.

But Teal'c didn't move. "Something has changed in you. What did the Harsesis do to you?"

Daniel slammed his pencil back down on the table. "Did it ever occur to you, between teaching me to fight and telling me Goa'uld histories, that maybe I want to be done with all of this? You want to win the war, I want to win the war--I'm giving us a way to win the war."

"I thought you had learned better than to believe that was all that mattered," Teal'c said in a low voice. "You have said yourself that victory means nothing if we--"

Picking up his pencil, Daniel set to work again. "I don't have time to be your chal'ti right now, Teal'c."

Teal'c took a step further into the office. "Then I have failed you."

("Danny!" his mother screamed. Teal'c raised his weapon.)

"If Sha'uri wants you on Abydos, you should go to her," Daniel said.

"Do you wish me to go, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c said.

("There's a Goa'uld in you," Daniel said, and, "Sometimes I want to kill it.")

"I think you should," Daniel said stiffly, and made a mental note to warn Sha'uri about him. She would know how to handle him.

...x...

Just over two months into their project, Sha'uri appeared at the SGC again and found him in his office. "You have a djera'kesh," she said. "I want to take it back with me to Abydos."

"Why would you need a hand device?" Daniel said, already thinking rapidly over the possible uses and knowing that, within them, there still remained the primary purpose--that of torture, death, and personal protection.

She raised an eyebrow. "It will speed many of our operations. As you know well, there are many functions that cannot be accessed by one such as yourself."

"I have two people who can use it," Daniel said.

Still smiling slightly, she said, "The Tok'ra? You cannot trust him. And Major Carter--you told me you have had problems with her."

"I'll handle Sam," Daniel said. There were already people keeping an eye on her activities. He supposed that, if he wore a rank on his shoulders, she would listen to him without so much as a second thought. How much had he and Teal'c had to plead with her to be wary around General Bauer, while she might have simply proceeded on his orders otherwise? And now, because the orders came from Daniel...

"We cannot allow this to continue longer than it must," Sha'uri said quietly. "The faster I provide naquadah, the faster you can build the devices."

Daniel nodded, conceding the point, and reached behind his desk for the ribbon device. When she looked amused at where he'd been keeping it, he reminded her, "I've put together designs for a modified version of the Goa'uld personal shield using this. I wouldn't mock if I were you."

She took the device and threaded it over her hand. "Ah, yes," she said. "You cannot use the real thing." Daniel clenched his jaw as he watched the main crystal begin to glow. It wasn't until she allowed the device to inactivate that he realized he'd been tensing for...something.

Sha'uri wouldn't attack him, though. She didn't have enough influence on Earth, and they needed to finish building their weapons network before anything else. It was when they finished the weapons system that he'd need to be wary.

"When the AG network is ready to be launched," Daniel said, "we'll launch the completed satellites from Earth first."

"Why would we do that?" she said coolly.

"They are being built by people from Earth," he pointed out. "Even you've been using the SGC's resources in your mining operation, and you have to admit most of the labor is being done here."

"And Abydons are the ones working in the mines," she countered. "Without our people and what they provide, and without the part of the designs that Amaunet knew, you have nothing."

"Well, we have the designs now," Daniel said. "Jack has four other sites ready for teams to start working, and believe me, we can find miners on this planet. If you'd like, we can start using those instead of Abydos for our naquadah supply, but then we'd also need a lot less without Abydonian participation--just enough to cover this planet with our shields."

Her smile slipped slightly. "Abydos is your home, Dan'yel," she said.

"So is Earth," Daniel said. "And the SGC is the greater threat to the System Lords--if they attack us, they will attack me first. You can afford more time--it'll only take about a week, Sha'uri."

"I can afford? When did the Abydons stop being your people?" she said.

I have the bigger, better trained army, he thought. "They didn't," he said. "Sister, we need each other to finish this. Think of how much Earth has done for the Abydonian people. We can't protect Abydos if it's at the expense of Earth."

A noise at the door interrupted them. Daniel turned to see Jack at the door. "Whoa!" Jack said, staring at the ribbon device.

"Do not worry, Colonel O'Neill," Sha'uri said, smiling gently at him as she held up her hand in the ribbon device. He flinched slightly, then began to relax when nothing happened. "I know exactly how to use this properly."

"Ye-eah," Jack said, not looking reassured. "That's comforting."

Sha'uri turned back to give Daniel a somewhat less warm smile. "That is good advice, brother. I wish you luck with your efforts on Earth."

Daniel watched her leave, then said, "Do you need something, Jack?"

Jack was still looking in the direction she'd gone. "What was that?" he said, jerking a thumb out into the corridor. "Was that a ribbon device on her hand?"

("Kneel," Daniel said, raising the device on his hand. Jack knelt.)

"What did it look like?" Daniel said, blinking to dispel the image and the rush of foreign hatred that came with it. "There are other functions than hurting people--shielding, moving material, even the heat generated... They'd all be useful for a mining operation and the minor construction taking place there. Jack, did you need something?"

"Yeah--what's with the construction on the lower levels?" Jack said.

"The control stations we have right now aren't powerful enough to accommodate the new weapons systems once they're built," Daniel said. "Don't worry; everything's planned out to the proper specifications. Sergeant Siler's watching over it."

"And about that," Jack said, taking a few steps into the office and frowning at the empty space where the other desk used to sit. "Well, not about that exactly, but where's Carter? And I thought Martouf was working on stuff with her."

"Martouf's being cared for in a facility better suited for the neurological damage he suffered," Daniel said. "He's been getting worse. And Sam's...visiting her brother, I think. I told her to take a few days off--the stress was getting to her."

"Uh-huh."

Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Is there something you want to say?"

"The stress was getting to her?" Jack repeated. "This is Major Samantha Carter you're talking about, right?"

"Jack, you know as well as I that Sam is good with technology and imminent danger, but people? Maybe I made a mistake giving her the burden of overseeing the science efforts. I've had a few other names suggested to me. Sam's used to taking orders"--except from me--"not giving them."

"Because...you've got a lot of command experience."

"I've got thousands of years of command experience in my head," Daniel pointed out. "It's why people are"--finally--"willing to trust my decisions."

"Good advice?" Jack said.

"Obviously, I won't use it the same way Apophis did," Daniel said, rolling his eyes, "but the knowledge and experience are there, all the same."

"Right, well...where's Teal'c? I haven't seen him in weeks."

Daniel forced himself not to look away. "On a mission for me and Sha'uri."

"What mission?" Jack said.

"The mission she sent him on," Daniel said, exasperated. "Jack...don't you have work to do?"

"Nope," Jack said. "I'm sitting on base, watching miners go through the Stargate." He made a halfhearted motion with his arm, like something zooming through the 'gate, then dropped it.

"Well, I do have work," Daniel said, sitting down.

"Okay, so, about that..." Jack started. Daniel paused, scowling. "You've been working non-stop for...what, two months now? You haven't even left the mountain since then."

"There's a lot of work to do," he said slowly. "I need the technical staff to have exact instructions if everything is to be built correctly."

"Yeah, well," Jack said. He shrugged. "Happy birthday."

Sparing a glance at a calendar on the wall, he said, "I suppose it is, not that it makes a lot of difference at the moment."

"I thought maybe you'd want to come home for a day," Jack said. "I'm just worried about you, Daniel. I know how you can get when you want to finish something."

"How I can get?" Daniel repeated, looking up in annoyance. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Jack threw his hands up. "This! Working and not leaving the damn office. You told me you wanted to do something that didn't include bombs and weapons--"

"And you looked at me like I was crazy!" Daniel retorted, standing back up. "Wake up, Jack. We have a war to win, and we can't win it by wasting time."

"You know," Jack said, "before, you would have taken a day off to read and learn a language or something. I might've called it wasting time, but you never would have."

Daniel tapped his forehead. "Do you know how many languages Apophis knew, Jack? I don't need to learn another one now. And right now, I need you to make sure we have enough naquadah to build the system that will protect Earth from the Goa'uld forever."

Jack stared at him for a long moment. Impatient, Daniel sat back down and went back to the progress reports he'd been reading. "I just don't like what this is doing to you," Jack said. "It's a little... It's odd. For you."

("I'm not your kid!" Daniel snapped at Jack.)

Squashing another wave of frustration, Daniel forcibly produced a sigh and said, "And in less than a year, we'll be safe. We'll never have to deal with the Goa'uld again. You know how much I've wanted that, Jack, and I know you do, too. You trust me, don't you?"

"Daniel..." Jack said, looking remorseful, which meant Daniel had already won. "Yeah. Of course. I trust you. Just...take care of yourself."

...x...

"Come in," Daniel said at the sound of a knock. General Hammond opened the door. "General. What can I do for you?"

Hammond folded his hands in front of himself. "Mr. Jackson, we need to talk."

"Go ahead," he said.

"I hope you realize," Hammond started, "how much I've come to trust you--to depend on you--over these last years. You're...special to us and to me, you have to know that."

Daniel looked down, toying with his pen, then back up. "Yes," he said. "In many ways, I grew up under your command--under your roof, as it were."

"And I've never had cause to be anything but proud of the man you've become," Hammond said, and Daniel was surprised and disgusted by the pride that tried to surface. "Until now."

"What do you mean by that?" Daniel said calmly, quashing the odd moment of weakness. The base was his now, by order of the President. Friend of Hammond's or not, no man wanted to be remembered through history as the president who had resisted efforts to protect the planet from alien attack.

Stepping further into the office, Hammond said, "Do you remember a conversation we had once about a man named Machello? You said he'd spent his life fighting the Goa'uld, and after a while, he lost sight of what mattered. You said he'd become like a Goa'uld. I don't want to see that happen to you, but I'm starting to think I'm too late to stop it."

"I'm not stealing people's bodies, General," he said angrily.

"You're not taking hosts, no," Hammond said. "But that's not all the Goa'uld do. They take hosts because they have to, to take power."

"I haven't taken any power," Daniel said, pushing back from his desk and standing up. "Whatever authority I have was given to me by your Commander-in-Chief, General Hammond."

"Mr. Jackson, if you still respect me at all, listen to me," Hammond said, walking closer and placing his hands on Daniel's desk. "Do you remember what I told you then? What made us different from Machello?"

("Machello was alone," the general said.)

"Did you count how many people you passed coming in here?" Daniel said. "All of the offices in this mountain are filled with people working alongside me. There's an entire country of people working with me, and a planet full of them just a wormhole away. You don't have anything to worry about."

"Where are your friends?" Hammond pressed. "Son, the times I've been the most afraid for you--physically or mentally--were when you didn't have your team. Where are they now?"

"They're fulfilling their role!" Daniel said. "Just like I am, and just like you should be. And if you can't do that..."

Hammond straightened. "Then what?" he said, challenging but with a whiff of apprehension. He knew where the power lay, too.

Daniel folded his arms, looking thoughtfully at the older man. After the number of times he'd stood before commanders and wished they didn't see him as a troubled and troubling child, he found it was surprisingly refreshing to see the tables turned. "You liked being in charge of the SGC's operations. Now that we're not working in that way anymore...well, you were about to retire before this program started, weren't you? I think that would be best."

An expression crossed Hammond's face that would have seemed surprised if his bearing hadn't looked so resigned at the same time. "Daniel. You're really doing this. Is that what happened to Dr. Fraiser? Or did you threatened her and her daughter?"

"Of course not. Janet resigned--there's not much work for her to do around here, and she felt more useful elsewhere. You may have noticed our death toll is almost zero these days."

"What if I refuse to step down?" Hammond said. "What will you do to me, Mr. Jackson?"

"Nothing," Daniel said. "I won't let anyone hurt you, your granddaughters, or anyone in your family. But you won't do anything to me, either; don't bother trying. It's time for you to retire, General. You'll see in a few months, when our project's done. You'll be honored by the world as the general who held the Goa'uld at bay until we were able to find the Harsesis."

"You know better than anyone that what the world believes isn't the same as the truth," Hammond said softly, but uselessly.

Daniel sat back down. "I'm sure you don't need anyone to escort you to the proper location, General, but I'd be happy to call someone if you need it."

"No," Hammond said, turning, and Daniel knew he'd won that one, too. "I'll show myself out."

...x...

There was no knock before Sam barged through his door. "Permission to speak, sir?" she said facetiously.

Daniel looked up, amused, and waved the SFs away when they tried to follow in Sam's typically unsubtle path. "What would you do if I said 'no?'"

"I talked to Skaara, Daniel," she said, pushing the door shut before she stalked to his desk.

"What were you doing on Abydos?" Daniel said. "I gave you specific instructions--"

She laughed, not quite maniacal, but close enough, for Sam. "What the hell is going on? Your brother says Sha'uri's making everyone work the mines, just like it was under Ra! He says there are Jaffa around, and if they're not biologically Jaffa, they're her loyal soldiers and overseers anyway. I've never heard Skaara say a word against her, and... Don't you see what's happening?"

"Skaara doesn't remember Ra any better than I do," Daniel said, and then tapped his temple and amended, "Actually, he remembers Ra a lot worse. If it weren't for the fact that the Goa'uld are never really children, I'd have a lot of interesting childhood memories of Ra."

"Daniel!" she snapped, then took a breath, raking a hand through her messy hair. "Daniel," she said more softly. "God. What happened to the person who...who told me to risk court-martial and defy a two-star general because it was the right thing to do?"

"And who was the one who didn't want to listen?" Daniel retorted. "You were willing to build an enhanced nuclear bomb, Sam. I'm asking you to build shields."

"Shields with missiles," she said. "You don't think I found other pieces of your grand design? And you're advocating enslavement. Of your own people--your own family. If that's how Sha'uri sees Abydos, is that how you see Earth?"

Of course not. Earth, with six billion people, most of whom didn't know about the Stargate program, much less Daniel's name, was a trickier situation than Abydos. But it was the better base, too--Abydos's one advantage was its mineral supply, and that wasn't infinite. Eventually, the one who held Earth would be better off.

"Two months, Sam," Daniel said. "In two months, we'll be done. No one on Abydos will ever need to work in the mines again. No one on Earth will ever need to risk his or her life traveling through the Stargate again."

She pulled a chair closer to his desk and sat down next to him. "What'll you do? You fought for years to be able to explore and learn things--think of what we've learned, Daniel! And now you're saying you'll launch the AG network, and then you're done?" She looked around the room. "What, you'll hole up and read every book in the world for the rest of your life?"

"You're oversimplifying things," Daniel said patiently, pushing down his irritation--there was more to him than reading and being their junior member who couldn't be trusted to handle anything important. "There'll be more to do after the network's in place."

"Well, obviously there's be a diplomatic side to things," she said, "since the whole world will...know..." She trailed off, staring at the desk.

"As we've seen ourselves, over and over," he reminded her, "there's a lot of cleanup left to do after a major event like this. As SG-1, we usually left that mess to the local people. Well, now, I'm one of the local people, and I'm going to help--"

"You're not going to help," she interrupted, standing quickly and backing away. "You're..." She looked around the room again, then at one of the security monitors. "My god, Daniel--you're building a fortress out of this planet!"

"The very definition of which," Daniel said, standing up, too, "is that the defenses will be essentially impenetrable."

"To people outside it, yes!" she said. "But you--you were planning this all along. You want to rule this planet--like your sister is doing on Abydos."

"That's insane," he said, part of him amused to say that after however many times he'd been called that by someone. "I know a lot of things right now, Sam. I'm just trying to put it to use."

"Yeah, you know those things because of that damn Harsesis," she said, still backing toward the door. "What did he do to you? The truth, this time."

"You should be more polite to my family," Daniel said, tapping the security call button with his foot.

"He's the son of two Goa'uld!" she said. "We've seen what they can do. Mind control...and, and...sending Trojan horses and..." She yanked the door open. "I'll get some answers out of him myself."

"He's on Abydos with his grandfather!" Daniel said, loud enough for everyone in the corridor to hear. "Sam, that's crazy--you need to get some perspective back--"

She marched back to him. "I want my friend back," she said angrily. "But I also want the world safe from him."

"And how will hurting my brother do that?" he said reasonably. "Shifu is a little boy who's growing up like any other little boy on Abydos. Sam, leave him alone. Calm down before you do something stupid."

"I will not calm down, Daniel!" she said. "You're out of--"

"Major, we'll escort you out of the mountain," Captain Lawrence said as a security team came around the corner.

Sam turned to look at Daniel, her eyes wide. "I can't believe you're doing this," she said. "To me. Is this what happened to Teal'c?"

Daniel nodded to the security chief. "Maybe you'll feel better after you've had some time off," he told Sam. "Go home, Sam. Get some rest. Okay?"

As she was led away, looking stunned, one of Daniel's assistants came out of the office down the hall to say, "Wow. She's really lost it."

"The stress must have been too much," Daniel agreed, watching until she was safely out of sight. Turning to his assistant, he added, "I don't think she should have access into the mountain anymore, much less the Stargate. Did you hear what she wanted to do to Shifu--that little boy you met last time?"

"I'll take care of it immediately, sir," the young man said. "Should we have someone watch her outside the mountain, too?"

"For her own safety," Daniel agreed, then returned to his office and closed the door.

He reached into his drawer for his long-range communications device and activated it. It wasn't long before Sha'uri's face appeared. "Dan'yel," she said. "It is good to see you well."

"Have you been watching your brother?" he said without preface.

She smiled very slightly. "Has Major Carter visited you?"

Angrily, he said, "You knew they were talking and you didn't stop them?"

"I was certain she would not pose too many problems for you, Dan'yel," she answered. "And as I have already told you, I am watching Skaara closely. He began asking questions about Teal'c."

"Skaara has the ears of almost every man and boy in Nagada," Daniel warned her. "A lot of people will listen to him."

"Perhaps you forget how many people listen to me," she said. "See to your planet, brother, and I will see to mine."

Our planet, he thought. My planet. "Good," he said. "And watch over your son. Anyone who questions us will start wondering about Shifu, and it's not like he can defend himself."

She looked surprised for a moment, then nodded. "I will, Dan'yel," she said, and he thought that might be the only sincere thing they'd said to each other in months.

...x...

Daniel waved Jack in when his arrival was announced. "Jack," he said, smiling as he reached into his pocket and quietly activated a modified force shield around himself. "It's nice to see you."

"You, too," Jack said, a little more subdued than normal, though that might have been because he was too absorbed in looking around the office. "Is this place bigger than it used to be?"

"Well, I got Nyan into a good school," Daniel explained, "and we don't do much translating or archaeology anymore, so it just made sense to expand the spaces that were being used."

"So the SGC is pretty much..." Jack gestured vaguely around himself. "Your house."

"Not so different from before when I lived here all the time," he said, "except that there's a little more space to move around now." Jack nodded, looking awkward. "I know I haven't been able to talk to you in a while, but--"

"Ah, you've been busy," Jack said, waving it off. He glanced at the console where Daniel was sitting. "Obviously."

Daniel switched on the monitor, making Jack jump as images appeared on the far wall. "Did you come to watch the launch?" he asked, knowing Jack knew about the top secret date, even though he'd been taking off direct involvement with the project months ago.

"Is that today?" Jack said, unconvincingly, and then, "Is Abydos launching today, too?"

"No; those won't be ready for a few more days," Daniel answered, watching the personnel on the screen make their way to their posts. "But soon, yes, and Sha'uri should be arriving any minute to watch this with us."

"How is she?" Jack said, turning in a slow circle as if unsure where to focus his attention. "She must've been pretty busy on Abydos."

(don't trust her)

"Apparently," Daniel agreed calmly. "You know, we've divided things and...there's just been so much to finish that I don't know everything that's been going on. But it's almost over, right?"

"Mm-hm," Jack said. "So...is there some sort of schedule, or...?"

"You're actually a couple of hours early for the scheduled launch," Daniel told him, "but it's okay--we're mostly just waiting now."

"Ah," Jack said.

"How have things been?" Daniel said, then saw an alert on his screen. Jack started to answer, but Daniel held up a hand to cut him off as he reached with the other for his communication device. "Lieutenant Grane," he said once he saw the face in the ball's metallic surface.

Jack leaned over to see what he was doing. "What is--since when have you had one of those? And who is that?"

"He's been stationed on Abydos," Daniel said absently. "Lieutenant, what is it?"

"She's launched their network ahead of schedule, sir," Grane reported. "I think she's planning to target Earth, and there are some modifications that you were never sent."

"Sir?" Jack repeated as Daniel's grip tightened on the ball, and then, "She? As in Sha'uri? Is that--you planted a spy on Abydos?"

Daniel gave Jack a sharp look and deactivated the communications device without a word, then said, "You know that already, don't you? Sam told you when you visited her in her cell."

He was rewarded by a slight tensing of Jack's muscles, but no answer.

Returning to his task, Daniel stood up and reached into his drawer for the weapons he'd need. "I should have known she'd lie," he muttered. "They weren't supposed launch their network until after we did--"

"Why is that?" Jack said as Daniel began to leave the room. He turned around to see Jack frowning at him. "I mean, why not just launch all at once on both planets?"

"The politics are a little more complicated on this side," Daniel pointed out, "and the Goa'uld threat is more serious here. I don't have time for this, Jack--if Sha'uri's launched ahead of schedule and is targeting Earth before we're ready to get ours into the air... Major," he added to one of his subordinates as he left the room, "get the network into orbit now, deal with the repercussions on Earth as quickly as you can by whatever means necessary, and go on alert for an attack from Abydos."

"Yes, sir," the major said.

"Daniel!" Jack said, following him out. "What do you mean--"

Ignoring him, Daniel passed a control device to the major. "I'm authorizing you to use the override if you encounter resistance from Washington."

"What?" Jack said, then grabbed his arm and pulled him to a halt. Four guards pulled their weapons and aimed at him. Jack let go and held up his hands. "Daniel, what the hell is that?"

"Our way to win the war," Daniel said, then added to the guards, "Everyone stand down. No one, under any circumstance, hurt Colonel O'Neill. Jack, we've seen what happens when we leave things to bureaucrats. I can't have people waste time when we have the means to end all of our problems before real damage can happen."

"You think Sha'uri's going to attack Earth because she got her system up first," Jack said, following him down the hall to the transport room. "What were you going to do when you got your system up first?"

"I think she's going to attack Earth because my operative told me so," Daniel said, pulling the door open. "She knows she can't work effectively from Abydos, so she wants to take Earth before we have a chance to stop her. The situation isn't the same in reverse."

"No," Jack said, still following him, "because you just handed over a button to take over the President! Daniel, this is--holy crap, you're bringing a gun and...and a...what is that, a knife? To meet your sister!"

"She made the first move."

A door slammed shut, leaving the two of them alone in the room. "Stop right now and take that override thing back," Jack said, but his command voice was tired and out of practice. "This is treason--this is...worse than treason. This is what the Tollan were afraid of when--"

Daniel turned around, holding up another controller. "Don't worry; if my man betrays me, I can still override him or anyone in the world I want. Jack, this is the way things are going to be now. You can stand with me or--"

Jack reached under his jacket, pulled out a gun, and fired.

The bullets stopped less than an inch from Daniel's chest and dropped to the ground, easily blocked by his personal shield. He sighed, watching Jack lower his gun. "I feel sorry for you," he said honestly. "I know what it must have cost you to pull that trigger."

"Yeah," Jack said quietly, slumping and staring at the gun in his hand.

"Don't worry," Daniel added, reaching for the control panel on the wall and stepping onto the platform. "I've already given you immunity with my people. You're going to be a hero, Jack." Rings shot up around him and transported him below to the embarkation room.

...x...

Daniel found Sha'uri at her console in Ra's pyramid. "So it's true," he said, glancing at the monitor long enough to see that she'd sent their weapons system into orbit minutes ago. Earth's coordinates had been set as a target, and guided missiles were on their way, but the network on Earth should be up by the time they arrived. "You lied about how much you'd managed to complete on Abydos and launched before schedule."

She nodded to the guards around her, who obediently left the two of them alone in the pyramid. Daniel looked back at her console, saw that she was still wearing her ribbon device, and clasped his hands behind his back to reach for the knife he kept there. He still had his shield and she would have her own, but a ribbon device or a knife could still penetrate enough to kill.

"I have a proposal," Sha'uri said, standing up. "Join me."

"Why would I?" Daniel said. "I have all of Earth at my disposal. We can build faster there than you can here. Besides, I've heard that a few key people--including your father and your brother--have become suspicious of you."

"And I hear the same is true of you on Earth, from your friends," she retorted. "You imprisoned Major Carter even before I was forced to do the same with Skaara. But together, we can do much more. You cannot rule a planet on your own."

"I don't need to," he said. "I have a lot of people loyal to me. The answer is 'no,' sister."

"What a shame," Sha'uri said, and raised her ribbon device.

Daniel drew his knife and plunged it toward her--

--and felt something sharp ram into his chest before he could finish.

The knife dropped from his fingers. Daniel looked down to see Sha'uri's other hand holding a blade of her own, his blood spilling onto her fingers, and he thought with an odd sense of wonder that, for all the times he'd thought he was going to die, the only time he actually had so far was at the hand of his brother, and that now it would happen again fighting his sister.


26 April 2001; Infirmary, SGC; 2200 hrs

"Dan'yel!" Sha'uri cried. "Na nay--Dan'yel..."

With a gasp, Daniel sat up and turned toward her voice. "Sha'uri," he said, patting himself and finding no blood or weapons or... "Oh, gods," he said as images flooded his mind--not those of Goa'uld devices, this time, but rather of what he would have done with that knowledge. "What did we--"

"Dr. Fraiser!" Skaara called.

Daniel just had enough time to register his brother's presence before Sha'uri flung herself onto his bed and lifted his shirt up frantically. "Oh, my brother," she breathed, sagging when she found nothing wrong and wrapping her arms around him. "Forgive me."

"I'm sorry," he said back, clutching her to himself. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I can't believe...how could I have..."

"I would have killed you," she said. "I would have--"

"And I was going to--" he started, then gave up and squeezed her tight, tangling his fingers in her hair.

"That is what we were asking," she whispered into his shoulder. She pushed back suddenly, her eyes wide. "Shifu. We asked for knowledge of the Goa'uld. Where is my son?"

"Sha'uri," Skaara said, utterly confused as he looked between the two of them. "Dan'yel. What--"

"Where is he?" Daniel said urgently, turning to Janet as she hurried into the infirmary. "Where's Shifu--"

("You can't do this," Janet said angrily. "This isn't right!"

"We won't be needing your services anymore, Janet," Daniel said. "These men will escort you back to the surface.")

"Are you okay?" Janet said as Daniel flinched away from her.

"F-fine," Daniel lied.

"They just woke up?" Janet said to Skaara, who nodded wordlessly. "Shifu is with SG-1 and Aldwin right now, so don't worry. I need you both to--"

Sha'uri scrambled off the bed, freeing Daniel to extract himself, too. "We have to stop them," Daniel said, grabbing Sha'uri's hand and leading her out of the infirmary.

XXXXX

26 April 2001; Observation Room, SGC; 2200 hrs

Jack thought there was something unnatural about how Shifu didn't seem at all worried about being strapped into the zatarc detector and didn't even flinch when Aldwin stuck the memory disc onto his temple. He decided he'd liked the kid more as a baby, when there hadn't been any sign of zapping people into comas.

"Questions are plentiful," Shifu was telling Aldwin sagely as Teal'c stood guard at the door and Carter helped to set up the machine. "Answers are few."

Yeah. There hadn't been any of this crap, either.

"He'd better have a few answers about how to wake up Daniel and his mom," Jack said quietly in the observation deck. The general didn't answer, but he looked like he agreed.

"First question," Aldwin said. "What is your name?"

"Shifu," Shifu said.

Jack glanced up at the monitor. Truth. Not particularly helpful, in the 'what's in a name' sense.

"Are you Harsesis?"

"I am many things," Shifu said.

"Oh, come on," Jack muttered.

Aldwin looked similarly frustrated but said more precisely, "Do you possess the genetic knowledge passed on to you by Apophis?"

"Yes," Shifu said.

Jack looked up at the monitor again. Truth. So he was the Harsesis. "That still doesn't mean he has good intentions," General Hammond said, looking up at the screen, too.

Echoing the general's thoughts, Carter said, "What did you do to your mother and Daniel?"

Shifu turned to looked at her thoughtfully, then said, "Dreams sometimes teach. I am teaching them."

"Teaching them what?" Carter pressed.

"That the true nature of a man is determined between his conscious mind and his subconscious...and that the evil in my subconscious is too strong to resist."

Which Jack thought was pretty much a load of crap until Daniel appeared in the doorway with his sister in tow and walked into the lab. "The only way to win is to deny it battle," Sha'uri said. Skaara showed up behind them a second later, looking considerably more confused about this than his siblings were.

Shifu nodded, watching them as Sha'uri quickly undid the straps holding him to the zatarc detector. "As Oma teaches."

Dr. Fraiser walked into the observation deck. "They woke up just now," she said. "They were very insistent on getting to the boy."

Daniel looked around the lab, skimming over the people gathered in there, and finally smiled feebly at Shifu. "I suppose I should start listening to her," he said.

"What happened?" Carter said.

Not looking away from Shifu, Daniel pulled his sister closer to himself and said, "We were having a dream."

"You were...a dream, like both of you were having the same one?" she said. Daniel and Sha'uri looked at each other. "About what?"

"I--I don't..." Daniel started, then stopped. "It doesn't matter. But..."

"We must choose a different path," Sha'uri said.

"Yes," Daniel agreed, looking down at the floor.

Shifu nodded again. "Then it is time for me to continue on mine."

Skaara was looking up into the observation deck wearing an expression that said, 'what the hell?'

Jack nodded to Hammond, then quickly descended into the corridor outside the lab in time to see Sha'uri drop to one knee as Shifu climbed out of the zatarc detector and to the floor. She brushed her hand over his hair and down his cheek. "Will we see you again?" she whispered, which was when Jack realized something was going wrong and slipping very quickly out of their control.

"All roads eventually lead to the great path," Shifu said.

"Eventually," Daniel said wistfully.

"Many cross on the way," Shifu added.

"I am very proud of you, my son," Sha'uri said, starting to cry softly as she pulled him in for a hug that Jack had a feeling was to be their last.

"Thank you, mother," Shifu said, smiling for the first time when she released him. He turned to Daniel and added, "And I am proud of you, brother." Daniel stared at him but didn't answer. He looked like he couldn't do much more than stand still at the moment. Shifu looked up briefly at Skaara and nodded once. Skaara glanced at Jack, who had no more idea about what was going on than anyone, and awkwardly patted the boy on the head. "My burden is released," Shifu said.

"What is happening?" Aldwin said. "We cannot just let him leave?"

Before Jack could warn him about what had happened last time they'd seen Shifu, on Kheb, with the glowy mom, Carter spoke up to say, "I don't think we have a choice."

Shifu closed his eyes. He began to glow, more and more until Jack was squinting there was nothing left of the boy but light, just like Oma Desala, and it floated gently toward the door. Daniel tugged Sha'uri to her feet and hurried out of the lab, following Shifu.

An alarm started to sound. Quickly, Jack turned toward the observation window and called, "General, I highly recommend you order all personnel to stand down and get the heck out of the way. The alternative might not be so pretty."

Before anyone could answer, he gestured to Carter and Teal'c and left the lab, catching sight of Skaara as he rounded a corner in the direction of the stairs.

"All personnel, this is General Hammond. A glowing energy being is moving through the base, likely heading for the 'gate room. Lower your weapons and do not attempt to intercept it."

Jack reached the control room and saw Daniel and Sha'uri standing in front of the window with Skaara hanging close by and the energy-being hovering before an active wormhole.

"The 'gate just opened, sir," Sergeant Harriman said.

On the ramp, Shifu's figure appeared again amidst the bright light and turned around to wave at them.

Sha'uri raised a hand slowly and leaned against Daniel, resting her head against his shoulder. Daniel grasped her hand in his own and waved back at Shifu. The boy turned around and stepped into the event horizon. The Stargate deactivated.


From the next chapter ("SG-5"):

Jack dropped into a chair. "Is that what you meant last night when you said you had to choose another path?"

"I'm not transferring to SG-5, Jack; it's one mission." Which didn't answer the question. Jack raised his eyebrows. "It's a little more complicated than that," Daniel amended. "I think. I haven't quite figured out what it means yet."


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