He paused in his story and let his eyes drift over his surroundings.  Shafts of sunlight poured between tree branches, illuminating fluffy seed pods and tiny insects that filled the air.

The faces in the circle around him wore smiles as they waited for him to continue his story.  Other sounds drifted to him—people beginning the task of preparing the evening meal, animals moving about their pens, lowing softly.  He closed his eyes and felt the warmth of the sun on his face.  He could also feel the warmth of the people around him like a comforting blanket.  There was no sand here, but with his eyes closed, he could just as easily have been on Abydos.

The tug of a small hand on his shirt brought him out of his reverie, and he reluctantly opened his eyes and looked down into the face of the young child in his lap. 

“Danyel, what happened next?”

He smiled and opened his mouth to continue his story, but was stopped by the feeling of another pair of eyes on him.  He turned his head and saw Jack watching him from under a tall shade tree.  Jack smiled and jerked his thumb over his shoulder.  Daniel smiled and nodded his head as Jack turned and headed for the river, where Daniel knew there was a fishing pole waiting. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

3 Days Earlier

The stargate came to life on P2R-171, its’ blue cloud billowing out in front of it before settling into the rippling waves of the event horizon.  The four travelers stepped through and immediately took in their surroundings.  Teal’c stood at the top of the dais, both hands gripping his staff weapon.  Major Carter and Colonel O’Neill both held their P90’s at the ready as they scanned the nearby forest.  Even Daniel hesitated slightly before descending the steps to check the DHD.

“Well, campers, there’s a sight you don’t see everyday,” O’Neill said sarcastically.

“What’s that, sir?” asked Major Carter, knowing what was coming.

“Trees.”

“What have you got against trees, Jack?” asked Daniel.

“Nothing, they’re just all the same.  Why couldn’t they be blue or pink for a change?”

“Pink, Jack?”

“Okay, not pink.  How about red then?”

“Why do you wish the trees to be another color, O’Neill?” asked Teal’c.

“Well, you know what they say, variety is the spice of life.”

“To what spice do you refer, O’Neill?”

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud!  Just forget it!  Let’s get this show on the road.”

“Which show are you referring ….”

“T!”  , Jack interrupted.  “Let’s just move out.”

Daniel glanced at Teal’c in time to see the corners of his mouth turn up slightly.  He grinned himself, and glanced at Sam, who was also trying to hide a smile.

“The UAV showed a small settlement about 2 clicks in that direction,” she said pointing straight ahead.

“All right, I’ll take point, Daniel, you’re next, then Carter, and Teal’c’s got our six.”

They headed away from the gate under bright sunshine following a small, mostly overgrown path through the trees.  Carter and Daniel were discussing the findings of the UAV while Teal’c silently scanned their surroundings for any threats. Just like old times, Jack thought.

He felt good, even with the uneasiness of possibly meeting an alien culture for the first time.  He felt good because his team was together again.  They had only gotten Daniel back a couple of months earlier after his year with Oma and company.  Even though they had been on several missions since his return, Jack still got a warm feeling whenever he saw Daniel standing with the rest of his team.  That year had been hard—harder than he had let anyone know.    He had pushed his feelings of emptiness and loss down deep, but they were never truly gone.  The gift of having Daniel returned to them was one Jack would be forever grateful for, and he had made a vow to himself that he would never lose Daniel again.  He glanced at his friend now, still chatting with Sam.  She had been hurt by Daniel’s departure, too, as had Teal’c, and was just as happy to have him back.
His contemplations came to an end as they emerged from the trees into a large clearing.  Not far ahead was the village.  There were a few people working in a large garden and several more standing next to what appeared to be a home.  They stopped their activities when they noticed the strangers approaching. 

“Heads up, everybody.  Daniel, you’re on.”

Daniel moved forward with Jack at his elbow.  Jack, Sam, and Teal’c all took a firm hold of their weapons, but didn’t raise them.  Several villagers moved forward also, with a dark-haired, middle-aged man taking the lead.

“Hello, I’m Daniel Jackson.  We are peaceful travelers.  We mean you no harm.” 

The villagers looked at each other and spoke a few words among themselves that Daniel couldn’t quite hear.

Then, the man who appeared to be their spokesman stepped forward, speaking in his own language. “We do not understand your words, but I am Ransha,” he said, pointing to himself.  “This is the village of Patras.  Who are you and where do you come from?”

Jack could see the glint of recognition in Daniel’s eyes as he listened to the man.

“Daniel?”

“Jack—the language sounds very similar to Greek.  There are a few differences, but I think I can translate.”

“Why don’t you do that, Daniel.  Now would be nice.”

“Oh, sorry, Jack.  Just trying to figure out some of the changes.  I really need to hear more, but I’ll give it a try.” 

He turned back to face the man called Ransha.  “ My name is Daniel Jackson.  We are peaceful travelers from a place called Earth.  We would like to be friends.”

Ransha’s face brightened into a smile. “Welcome, Daniel Jackson.  We are happy to have new friends in Patras.  Who are your companions?”

Daniel translated for the rest of SG-1 before introducing them to Ransha.  Other introductions were made and they soon found themselves following the group into the village.

 

As they walked, Jack quietly asked, “Does anyone else think it’s a little odd that they just took our word for it that we’re friendly?”

“They do seem unusually accepting, O’Neill.”

“Sir, maybe the Goa’uld haven’t been here—at least not recently enough for them to fear strangers.”

“Jack, not everyone is as suspicious as you.”

“I’m not suspicious, just cautious.  Anyway, don’t they worry about someone attacking them?”

“Maybe they have a peaceful co-existence with other villages, Jack.”

“Well, everyone stay on guard and keep your eyes open.”  Jack was privately glad that after everything Daniel had been through, he hadn’t lost his ability to look for the good in people.  He noticed Daniel taking in his surroundings with a slight wariness, though, which meant he knew better than to be unprepared for anything that might happen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Present time`

Daniel had been searching for a place to belong, a family, most of his life:  after his parents died, after his grandfather refused him, after being alienated from his colleagues in the archaeological community, when he took the offer from Catherine, when he stayed behind on Abydos, and when he had argued to be part of SG-1.  In one way or another, that’s what he had always been striving for.  Maybe even when he ascended.  And maybe the reason he had descended.  There were no family connections on the “higher planes.”  He didn’t think he had even seen Shifu—the closest thing to family he would have there. 

He looked at the child in his lap.  With her dark hair and dark eyes, he imagined this is how his and Shar’e’s child would have looked. Would have. It was something he had wanted so much, and now his chance was gone.  He would never have that unique experience of raising a child.  He would never have that connection to the future.  What would be left behind when he was gone?  Translations, theories, cultural observations?  Those were important, but not in the same way.  He sighed.  Maybe all that was important was the here and now.  Thoughts of Jack, Sam, and Teal’c made him realize that he had his own unique kind of family.  Family was not defined as being of the same blood. 

Another tug on his sleeve ended his musings.

“Danyel, are you All right?”

“Sorry, Kaytah.  Just thinking.  Now, where was I?”

He heard a few chuckles from the circle around him as he took up the thread of his story once again.

* * *

The sun crept further behind the trees and the shadows began to lengthen as Daniel finished his tale.  Kaytah jumped up and gave him a quick hug.

“Thank you for the story, Danyel.”

“You’re welcome, Kaytah.”

Kaytah’s mother approached and placed her hand on the child’s head.

“Kaytah, it will be time for dinner soon.  Go find your brother and tell him to come and prepare.”

“Yes, Mama,” Kaytah replied as she bounced off to look for him.

Daniel rose and stretched, accepting the hugs and clasps on the shoulder from the others in the circle as they began to prepare for the community meal being held in honor of SG-1.

Daniel knew Jack would soon be returning, reluctantly, from his fishing trip, and Sam and Teal’c would be coming back from their survey of a possible mining location.

Suddenly, a shout shattered the calm of the village, and Daniel saw a young man running towards them. 

“Run!  We are being attacked!”

Before Daniel could take another step, he heard the undeniable, and all too familiar, sound of staff weapons firing.  Panicked villagers began to run in all directions, screaming for family members, as the Jaffa became visible through the trees surrounding the village.

Daniel could not see an opening—they had effectively surrounded the village.  He reached for his gun and realized he had left it and his pack in Kaytah’s family’s house.  He and his team had been so sure they were safe here;  the Goa’uld were only mentioned in the villagers’ most ancient stories of being brought to this place by the gods.

Daniel darted behind a hut as two Jaffa passed, dragging a villager between them.  Other Jaffa were herding more villagers toward the entrance to the village and the path leading to the stargate.

What could he do?  He had no weapon; Jack, Sam and Teal’c were still not back—where were they?  Surely not captured.  No!  He refused to follow that line of thought.  He began working his way to the edge of the village and the tree line, trying to stay out of the line of sight of the Jaffa.  He couldn’t quite make out the emblem on their foreheads, so he couldn’t tell which system lord they served.  Maybe he could at least follow them to the gate and get the address of the planet they were going to.  They would rescue these people—they couldn’t abandon them.

As he made his way through the trees following the shouts of the Jaffa and the screams and crying of the villagers, another sound caught his attention—a moaning from the clearing in front of him.  It was Jaynat, Kaytah’s older brother, lying at the edge of the stargate path.  Daniel jumped through the bushes and paused at Jaynat’s side.  He could see the young man was bleeding from a staff wound in his side.

“We have to get off this path, Jaynat.  I’m going to have to move you, and it’s going to hurt.  Try not to make any noise or the Jaffa will find us.”

“I understand, Danyel.”

He lifted Jaynat up and slung his arm around his neck.  There was a soft grunt, but the young man made no other sound as Daniel pulled him off the path and into the relative safety of the bushes.

“We’ll stay here until they’ve gone.  Just hang on.”

“Thank you, Danyel.”

Daniel turned his attention back to the path just in time to see Kaytah dash into view, trip, and go sprawling.  Before her name could leave his lips, two Jaffa stormed into the clearing, looming over her.

“She is too young to be of use.  We do not have time to fool with this,” said the first Jaffa.  He pointed from the other Jaffa to the girl and said, “Shoot her and let’s be gone.”

The second Jaffa hesitated and looked at the first Jaffa.

“My lord?”

“We are doing her a favor—there is no one left for her here.  Do it!”

As the second Jaffa turned back to the girl and lifted his staff weapon, Daniel leapt  forward without thinking, the words coming automatically from his mouth in Goa’uld.

“No!  Don’t hurt her!”

Both staff weapons came to bear on him as he gathered Kaytah in his arms.

“This one will do however.  Take him and shoot the girl.”

“No!  She….she’s my daughter, let me take her.  Please!”

“Very well, but if she falls behind we will shoot her.   Now, we must go—move!”

The second Jaffa grabbed Daniel’s arm, pulled a pair of shackles from his belt, and snapped them on first one wrist and then the other.  There was a short chain connecting the two and another short chain attached between them with the other end held by the Jaffa.   Daniel looked up as the last shackle snapped into place and saw that the Jaffa was looking at him with—curiosity?  It was not what he expected.  He had expected disdain and revulsion, which were provided by the first Jaffa as he renewed his command, “Move!”

Daniel quickly bent and told Kaytah, “Climb on my back and put your arms around my neck.”

She quickly obeyed just as the Jaffa tugged on the chain, pulling them forward.

Daniel stumbled along the path with Kaytah hanging fiercely onto his neck.  His mind began to process what was about to happen.  He had finally gotten a good look at the Jaffa tattoo.  It was a circle, representing the full moon, with the outline of a crescent moon inside of it.  He now knew which Goa’uld these Jaffa served—Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge and scribes.  He didn’t think that would make any difference in their situation—they would still be slaves. 

God, Jack’s going to kill me! Jack!  Come on, Jack, now would be a good time for a rescue.’

It hit him how absurd that statement sounded.  They might not even know he was missing yet and here he was hoping for rescue.  There had been no sign of Jack, Sam, or Teal’c.  Hopefully, they hadn’t been captured, too.  His thoughts abruptly focused on his own situation again as they entered the clearing where the stargate stood. 
Most of the villagers now stood in the same state as Daniel.  Many were crying and hanging on to one another or looking desperately for other family members.  The only positive thing was that he didn’t see any sign of the rest of his team.  Hopefully, that meant they were safe.  He counted only about a dozen Jaffa.  That must be why they’re in such a hurry, he thought.  They were a relatively small group and probably had no idea what they would be facing from the native population when they came through the stargate.  They must be desperate for slaves if they’re willing to take that kind of risk.

Kaytah tightened her hold on Daniel and finally spoke, “What is going on, Danyel?  Where’s Mama?”

He could hear the hitch in her voice as she spoke and knew she was terrified.

“It’s okay, Kaytah.  I’m here.  Don’t be frightened, but I think we are going through the stargate.”

Her arms tightened even more and she began to sob.

“Shh, it’s okay.  I’ll be with you and we’ll find your mama.”

Daniel began searching the crowd for Kaytah’s mother.   He was torn between wanting to find her, and not wanting to find her.  If she wasn’t here, then she could be safe at the village and Daniel was taking her daughter away from her.  Or she could be dead, and they might never know.  If she was here, then she was about to be ripped from the life she knew and thrust into a totally different one on a totally different world.   In which case she would at least be with her daughter, if only Daniel could find her.

Before he could finish scanning the crowd, the Jaffa leading him yanked on his chain, pulling him forward.  Two other Jaffa were holding a bigger chain and were fastening each person’s individual chain to it. 

His chest fluttered briefly with panic and he fleetingly considered trying to escape.  Chained, and with Kaytah holding on to him, he knew it would be futile.  As his chain snapped closed onto the larger one, his thoughts again turned to Jack, Sam, and Teal’c.  Any chance of rescue rested with them.  He just hoped they would get here in time to see the coordinates for wherever they were being taken. 

The sun began to set as the stargate flared to life.  As the train of captives was pulled forward into the shimmering pool, Daniel took one last look around, hoping his team was nearby.  He had faith in them.  He knew they wouldn’t give up until they found him.  That’s what family did.

Then he was pulled into the wormhole, followed by the last of the captives and the Jaffa. The gate shut down, leaving the clearing in twilight and silence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jack leaned back against the tree and tilted his head upwards catching the warming rays of the sun.  It was getting late and he knew it was time to head back to the village and the banquet being prepared for SG-1.  He thought about Daniel sitting in the circle of villagers with the young girl on his lap, all enthralled with the story he was telling them.  It was a sight that he once thought he would never see again.  There were a lot of things he thought he would never see again:  Daniel totally fascinated by some ancient writing on some ancient building; Daniel and Carter lost in their own world, bouncing ideas off of each other like a couple of tennis players; or Daniel giving his “peaceful explorers” speech without any regard to the weapons aimed in his direction.  They would get that chance now—already had.  Things were right in Jack O’Neill’s world again.  He shifted against the tree and his thoughts shifted with him.  But were things right for Daniel again?  He seemed happy to be back.  Jack knew how disenchanted he had become with Oma’s little club.  And there was still the question of whether Daniel had been kicked out or had “requested” to leave.  At first he had leaned towards the “kicked out” theory, remembering Daniel’s words in Baal’s prison.  There was just too much knowledge to be had as an ascended being for Daniel to pass it up.  But then he remembered Daniel becoming fed up with the no interference rule and crossing the line to face Anubis.  He could have been kicked out for that, but Jack was beginning to think Daniel had chosen to return.  Was he content to be back at the SGC, back with his friends, his family?  The image of the girl in Daniel’s lap flashed through his mind.  She looked like a miniature Sha’re.  Is that what Daniel was thinking, too?  It was one of the things his friend had been denied. How sad that was, Jack thought.  What a wonderful father Daniel would have been.

He was snapped back to the present by Marnos calling his name. 

The two men walked together along the path leading back to the village.  Marnos had their string of fish slung over one shoulder.  It always amazed Jack how closely some alien creatures resembled their Earth counterparts.  His stomach rumbled in anticipation of the coming meal.  Other than that, the only sound was their footsteps crunching along the path.  The only sound?  He remembered the cacophony of bird calls and songs they had heard on their way to the river.  Those were conspicuously absent now.  The hairs on his neck began to prickle.  Jack had an uneasy feeling that something wasn’t right.  And why, why, why did his little voice tell him it had something to do with Daniel?

He clicked his radio.  “Carter, Daniel, Teal’c?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sam shifted her pack as she prepared to descend the gravel-strewn gully.  It was slightly heavier than when she had started out that morning, due to samples of some interesting looking minerals the locals had taken them to see.

Teal’c was already making his way down the side of the gully, and behind her Tellus and Icos, their village guides, chatted animatedly in their native tongue.  The air was filled with the fragrance of something that reminded Sam of lilacs.  There was a light breeze and the temperature seemed just about perfect as the sun began to make it’s descent towards the horizon.  Perfect—that was a pretty apt description of this entire mission, she mused. It was great to be on a mission to a peaceful planet with friendly inhabitants and no sign of the Goa’uld.  And the four of them were together again, which was perfect in itself.

Sam thought back to the previous night and the sight of Daniel sitting in a circle of villagers exchanging stories.  Sometimes it was hard for her to believe he was back with them in the flesh.  She had missed him so much—their easy camaraderie, sharing ideas over a cup of coffee, working together late into the night in one of their labs.  He had offered to accompany her and Teal’c today, but Sam said no, they would get by just fine.  She wanted to let him continue his storytelling.  He knew it, and accepted the gift she was offering.
They had crossed the gully and come up the other side, now standing on a ridge that looked across a small valley to another ridge which Sam knew overlooked the village.  She was anxious to get back and spend the evening with her team.  She knew Teal’c was thinking the same thing when he turned to her and said, “The village is just over the next rise, Major Carter.  I believe we will arrive in sufficient time to join the others for the banquet.”

“I’m really looking forward to it, Teal’c.”

“As am I.”  He turned his gaze from her back to the distant ridge, and she could see him stiffen immediately.

“What is it, Teal’c?”

“There is smoke coming from the direction of the village.”

“Could it be from the cooking fire?” she asked, squinting to try and see it.

“I do not believe so.  It appears to be coming from several locations.”

“I’d better contact the colonel and Daniel and see what’s going on.”

Before she could hit the button, her radio crackled and O’Neill’s voice came through.

“Carter, Daniel, Teal’c?”

“Here, sir.  I was just about to contact you.  We’re still a couple of clicks from the village, but Teal’c sees smoke coming from that direction.  Are you at the village, sir?”

“No, Carter, but I will be in a few minutes.  Things are too quiet here—I think something’s up.  Daniel, report!”

Silence.

“Dammit, he’s probably left his radio somewhere.”

“I’m sure that’s it, sir.”  She could hear the worry underlying his sharp words. 

“I’ll contact you as soon as I get there,” he said.  She could tell he was running as he was speaking.  With a nod to Teal’c, she also quickened her pace as she headed down into the valley.

“We’re on our way, sir.”

* * * * * *

Jack didn’t acknowledge Carter’s final transmission as he flew over the path towards the village, ignoring the branches that occasionally snagged his jacket and tried to hold him back.  He could hear Marnos struggling to keep up with him, but the older man was tiring, and Jack couldn’t afford to wait for him.  He knew Carter and Teal’c would be double-timing it to get back to the village, too.

As the trees began to thin, he could see the smoke Carter had told him about.

“Daniel, report!”

Still no response.

Anger and fear fought for control, but he forced himself to calm and focus on the situation.  Surely Daniel would have contacted him if there was a problem.  Right, he told himself.  This was Daniel he was talking about.  The man would forget everything else, including his own self-preservation, if someone were in trouble. 

As he got close to the village outskirts he slowed his pace and began to survey the area.  A sound to his right pulled him up short, squatting low and bringing his gun into position.  He moved closer to the rustling sound, finger on the trigger.  He pushed his way quickly through the bushes and came face to face with one of the women of the village.  She was crouched with her arms around a child of about 10, her eyes wide with fear.  He quickly lowered his gun and, recognizing him, she began to sob. 

“Shh, it’s okay,” he said.  “What happened?  Are you all right?”

Her words came rushing out and Jack didn’t have a clue what she was saying.  Where was Daniel when you needed him?  Where, indeed?  That was the $64,000 question. 

“Have you seen Daniel?”  He saw recognition in her eyes at the name, but she shook her head “no”.

Crap.  Jack needed to get into the village and determine what had happened and where his missing archaeologist was.  He motioned with his hands for her to stay put and she nodded in understanding.  He again lifted his gun and began pushing his way through the brush as quietly as possible.

He slipped into the village and pressed himself against the wall of the first building he came to.  He saw a few people staggering through the streets, some moaning or crying and some simply in a daze.  The smoke was coming from several houses that had caught fire.  The thing that caught his eye, though, was the unmistakable scorch marks of a staff weapon.

Damn, damn, damn!  This cannot be happening!

“Carter, Teal’c—what’s your position?”

“Should be there in 5, sir.”  She sounded slightly breathless and he knew they were pushing themselves to get to the village.

“Heads up.  Looks like the Jaffa have been here.  No sign of them, or Daniel, at the moment.”

“Understood, sir.  I’ll contact you when we get there.”

He darted to the next building, still closely hugging the wall.  He peered around the corner but still the only thing in sight was a couple of people wandering between the houses, calling out the names of their loved ones.  There was still no sign of Daniel.

At that moment his radio crackled.

“Sir, we’ve just entered the south edge of the village.”

“Good.  Meet me at that town hall building in the center of town.  I haven’t seen any Jaffa, but be careful—we don’t know for sure that they’re all gone.  And Carter, keep an eye out for Daniel.”

“Yes, sir.”

He made his was to the center of the village scanning the area as he went.  He hadn’t seen any dead bodies on his trip through the small settlement.  Actually, he hadn’t seen many live bodies, either.  Where was everyone?  Probably still hiding.  Hopefully hiding.  But the absence of the villagers and disappearance of the Jaffa equaled—well, something Jack didn’t want to think about.  And adding to the growing knot in his stomach was the fact that they still hadn’t had any contact from Daniel.

Her grabbed his radio and tried again.  “Daniel, report!”

Still nothing.  This was getting old fast.  He jumped as the radio came to life, but instead of Daniel, it was Carter.
“We’re approaching the village center, sir.  No sign of any Jaffa, or Daniel, either, sir.”

“Understood.”  He sighed and leaned his back against the building.  God, Daniel, where are you?  Maybe he was hiding with the missing villagers.  He wanted to hang on to that hope, but it was fading with each passing minute that Daniel was unaccounted for.

Just then, Sam and Teal’c entered the town center, accompanied by Ransha.

A few other villagers began to gather near the settlement’s main building.  It was a pretty simple structure adjacent to the outdoor fire pit where a few short hours ago Daniel had been telling stories.  There were a few embers still burning faintly, just like the hope Jack was still holding on to.

Ransha and a few other villagers hugged and spoke in low tones as they consoled each other.  Jack needed to find out the details of what had happened—but how was he going to communicate?  He didn’t know how long it had been since the village was attacked, but they needed to get to the gate in case the Jaffa and their prisoners were still there.  It was possible they had come in ships, but he felt he would have heard or seen them, and the villagers had not made any signs that they had been attacked from the air.

“Carter, you stay here and check out the rest of the village.  There’s a woman and child hiding just outside the west entrance. Get Ransha to help you.  Try to find out what the hell happened.  Teal’c and I will head back to the gate.  Check in every thirty, or if you find anything.”

“Yes, sir.  Be careful.”

Jack and Teal’c took off at a run towards the path leading to the stargate.  The shadows were lengthening quickly as the sun began to set.

As they entered a small clearing, Teal’c held up his hand, bringing them to a halt.  He bent down and examined the path closely.

“A group of perhaps a dozen Jaffa passed through here.  There appear to be many villagers with them.”

“Then let’s get a move on, T.”

“I also believe Daniel Jackson came this way. “

“What?”

“These appear to be his boot prints.  They leave in the direction of the stargate.”

Double crap.

Before they could take a step back on to the path, they heard a voice faintly calling out from the bushes.  Bringing their weapons up at the same time, they moved towards the bushes.

O’Neill hesitated, then peered over the top of the bush into a familiar face. 

“It’s Jaynat,” he said, lowering his gun and moving through the brush to the young teen’s side, followed closely by Teal’c.

“He has been shot with a staff weapon, O’Neill.”

“I see it, T.”

Jaynat grabbed Jack’s sleeve and said, “Danyel.”

“What about Daniel?”

Jaynat wrapped his fingers around one of Jack’s wrists, then wrapped the fingers of his other hand around the other wrist and pulled them together.  The knot in his stomach tightened again as his worst fears were confirmed—Daniel was a prisoner.

Jaynat spoke a few more words he didn’t understand, except for one—Kaytah.  She must have been taken with Daniel.

He keyed his mike. “Carter.”

“Here, sir.”

“Jaynat’s injured.  He’s just off the path to the gate about ½ a mile from the village. Send someone for him.  Daniel and Kaytah were taken—Teal’c and I are going after them.”

“Roger that, sir.  It looks like there are a lot of missing villagers, too.”

He motioned for Jaynat to stay put and said, “Carter.”  Jaynat nodded his understanding.

Jack and Teal’c sprinted down the path.  The trees soon began to thin and Jack could see a blue glow coming through them.  As they burst into the open, still some yards from the gate, the wormhole shut down.

“The address!” he shouted as they ran for the DHD.  But it went black seconds after the gate.

“No!” He slammed his fist down on it.

A few silent moments passed before Teal’c spoke.

“O’Neill, should we not contact the SGC and inform General Hammond of the situation?”

He sighed and rubbed his temple.  “Yeah, T.  Dial it up.”

As darkness enveloped the gate, and his soul, the words of his earlier thoughts came back to taunt him.  Just like old times.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The SGC had sent through teams to help the villagers and someone who could speak Greek to translate.  At last count, 55 villagers were missing, several were injured, and 2 were dead.  According to Jaynat, he and several other youth had tried to fight back with their hunting bows, but were no match for the Jaffa.  They had questioned the remaining villagers to see if anyone had seen the Jaffas’ tattoo, but they had been too busy running for their lives to take notice of it. 

Three-fourths of SG-1 now stood at the gate ready to leave.  Ransha, Jaynat, and some of the other villagers were there to see them off. 

“Thank you for your help, O’Neill,”  Ransha said through the translator  as he clasped Jack’s hand. 

“We’ll do what we can to find your missing people,” Jack said, wondering how the hell they were going to do that with no gate address and no clue which snake they were dealing with.

“And Danyel,” Ransha said, looking at Jack with understanding in his eyes.

Jack stood in front of the DHD and took one last look around before punching in Earth’s address.  The members of SG-1 walked up the steps and passed through the event horizon, returning to Earth to figure out where to start looking for the needle in the haystack.

* * * * * *

The chill of the wormhole evaporated the second Daniel stepped through the gate and felt the suffocating heat of the planet.

He staggered slightly, trying to adjust to Kaytah’s weight on his back.  Her arms squeezed his neck in a vise-like grip while she tried to bury her head in his shoulder.

“It’s okay, Kaytah.  It’s over—we’re here.”

Her arms relaxed slightly and she cautiously lifted her head. 

“Where are we, Danyel?” she whispered.

“I don’t know,” he replied as he surveyed the landscape around him.

The circumstances of his situation were temporarily forgotten as he gaped at the sight before him.  It was a desert.  There was sand as far as he could see, with only the occasional scrubby plant to break up the monotony.  The path from the gate was now a road paved with stones leading to a large city.  Beyond it, in the distance, he could see green fields and trees bordering a river—just like the Nile, he thought.  He felt as though he’d been transported to ancient Egypt.

A tug on his chain brought his focus back to his predicament.  The captives were pulled forward down the steps of the gate platform.  He tried to search through the sea of frightened faces for Kaytah’s mother, but he was hindered by the short length of his chain.

“Danyel, my arms are tired.”

“Do you think you can walk?”

“Yes, I think so.”

Daniel bent down and Kaytah released her arms, and her legs that had been around his waist, and slid to the ground.

“Hang on to my shirt, Kaytah.  I don’t want us to get separated.”

She did as she was told, and they continued walking.

He didn’t recognize the two young men on either side of him.  He could see that the Jaffa had chosen the younger and stronger men and women of the village—those they knew they could get the most work out of.  There were several young women holding small children, unchained.  He supposed it was because they weren’t as likely to try and escape and risk something happening to their children.  He wondered how many had been captured—it looked like a lot to him.  He could only imagine what kind of effect losing this many people would have on the village.

As they approached the city, the road became lined with statues.  On one side were ibis-headed figures, and on the other baboons.  He knew these were both representations of the Egyptian god, Thoth.  They reminded him of the avenue of the sphinxes that lined the road at the temple of Karnak.

They soon arrived at the city gates.  He looked up at the high, thick walls covered in many hieroglyphic carvings leading off to either side, surrounding the city.  They looked in disrepair—there were pieces lying crumbled in various places at the base of the wall.  Their security seemed pretty lax, too—he only saw two Jaffa standing guard at the top of the wall.  He wondered where the rest were.

They passed through the gates into the city and found themselves in a large plaza.  In the center was a large square containing gardens and small statues.  The gardens must have once been quite beautiful, but were now overgrown and withering.  In the very center stood a tall obelisk covered in hieroglyphics.  As the captives were pulled past it, Daniel began to translate some of the words.

That can’t be right.  He expected accolades to Thoth, but what he was reading was a description of the greatness of Apophis followed by a list of his accomplishments.  What is that doing here?  As they continued to be pulled to the left past the square, he took in the grandeur of the palace behind it.  It was huge, extending back into the city farther than he could see, and typically Goa’uld.  The front consisted of a row of tall lotus-topped columns with elaborate carvings highlighted with gold.  His view of it was obscured as they passed behind another building.

They continued to make their way through the city, passing from areas of large buildings to areas of more modest buildings.  They were finally brought to a halt in front of a large circular pen that was open between the waist-high walls and the high roof.  Here the captives were released from the large chain and separated into two groups: men and women.  After Daniel was released, he began to cross the open space to the men’s group, Kaytah still hanging on to his shirt.  Suddenly, they heard someone shout, “Kaytah!”  He turned to see Kaytah’s mother standing with the group of women.  Kaytah shouted, “Mama!” and releasing Daniel’s shirt, ran across the pen and into her mother’s arms.  The Jaffa seemed only slightly annoyed and indicated he should stay put.  Kaytah’s mother looked across at Daniel, tears in her eyes, and mouthed a thank you to him.  He nodded in response as he was shoved by a Jaffa towards the group of men.  He was glad they had found her mother because he had begun to worry about what would have happened to Kaytah if they hadn’t.

After everyone was separated, several Jaffa began to herd the women out of the pen and towards a nearby building.  Several men in his group shouted to their loved ones being taken away and were silenced by sharp commands from the Jaffa.  It needed no translation.

The Jaffa began to push the men into a single long line.  Once they were lined up, the two Jaffa who had captured Daniel and Kaytah began walking down the line, stopping in front of each prisoner.  One by one, each of the men were examined and sent to stand in one of four groups.  As they got closer, Daniel could hear their conversation.  He discovered that they were being separated by where they would be sent to work:  the fields, the livestock pens, the armory, or construction.  The two Jaffa stopped in front of Daniel and he risked looking up at them.  The head Jaffa still looked at him with disgust.  Daniel’s anger flared as he stared at this man who would have taken Kaytah’s life without a second thought. 

The first Jaffa was still looking at him with the same curiosity he had shown earlier. 

“This one has a most unusual eye color, my lord.”

The head Jaffa grabbed Daniel’s chin and looked at him menacingly.  “Yes, he does.  But it is of no importance. 

All that matters is that he is strong and healthy.”

Daniel wanted to say ‘It isn’t all that matters, you bastard,’ but held his tongue and jerked his head free of the Jaffa’s grasp.

“He has spirit, too.  But we can break that,” he sneered.

Just try Daniel thought, and lifted his chin defiantly, eyes blazing.

“Send him to work with the building crew.”  The Jaffa passed on to the next man, and Daniel let out a small sigh. 

Actually, he really didn’t want him to try, but he wasn’t about to let them see his fear.  He would do what was needed to survive until his team could get here.  He just hoped that time wasn’t too far away.

The Jaffa finished their inspections and the groups were led away to a large building.  Once inside, the groups were separated and led to different sections of the building.  Daniel’s group was led into a large, dingy room lined with low cots.  There were only a few small windows, all high up near the ceiling, lending only a small amount of light to the room, but at least allowing the air to circulate.  The Jaffa motioned for each man to stand in front of a cot.  Two young boys hurried into the room, their arms full of white cloth.  They stopped at each cot and deposited one of the cloths.  As soon as they left the room, two Jaffa stepped forward and began to unlock each captive’s manacles.  Daniel was aware of the other Jaffa raising their zats in case anyone tried to escape.  He rubbed his chafed and bruised wrists, but the feeling of relief was short-lived as the Jaffa now began placing a new metal band around each person’s right wrist.  He noticed it had a raised section on it that could still allow a chain to be run through it. 

The head Jaffa took one last look at the captives—slaves, Daniel corrected himself—barked an order to his men and left the building.  The curious Jaffa, who Daniel ascertained was named Val’nor, gave instructions for the slaves to change into the cloths laid out on their cots.  The villagers looked confused and Daniel said, “They want us to change into these cloths.”  Val’nor looked at Daniel again, but allowed him to translate without interference.  Each man turned to his cot and picked up the cloth laid out for him.  Daniel could see it was a coarse linen kilt like those worn by the ancient Egyptians.  Seeing they would be allowed no privacy, Daniel began to remove his SGC clothing.  Probably for the best, he thought.  Working in the heavy BDUs and boots would be much too hot for the climate.  He put on the kilt, taking care to show the others how to wear it. 

When they had all changed, orders were given to move outside again.  Once back in the blazing sun, Daniel realized they still had a few hours of daylight left on this world.  Guess they’re going to get their money’s worth out of us.  Just outside the door was a pile of sandals, and they were urged to put on a pair.  At least their feet would have some protection.  They were then shown to a trough of watery looking mud.  Natural sunscreen, he mused.  He explained to the others how to apply it to their shoulders, chest, and back, and the men helped each other make sure they were sufficiently covered.

Another sharp order to move and they were soon on their way to the day’s worksite.  He had studied the culture of ancient Egypt for most of his life, but he never expected to be living it. I can do this, he thought.  It’s just until SG-1 finds us.  And I’d better be ready when they do.  With a critical eye, he began to assess his surroundings. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SG-1 minus one had arrived back through the gate, endured their medical exams, showered, and were now sitting around the briefing room table.  A wave of déjà vu hit General Hammond as he entered the room and took in the somber faces of his premiere team.  It was only a year and a half earlier that these people had sat at this table mourning the loss of the very same teammate.  Could they endure this again?  He hoped the outcome would also be the same—that of the eventual return of said teammate.  He also hoped it wouldn’t take a year to get him back this time.

He took his seat at the table and addressed his 2IC.  “Colonel, what happened?”

O’Neill studied his folded hands a moment longer, then said, “We lost Daniel, sir.”

“I am aware of that, Colonel,” the general said patiently, “but I would like to have a few more details.”

“Yes, sir.”  O’Neill took a deep breath and began to relate the events on P2R-171.

* * *

“And that’s about it, sir,” he concluded.

“You’re sure no one saw the gate address or the Jaffa’s symbol?”

“We questioned everyone, sir,” Carter replied.

“Teal’c, do you have any idea which Goa’uld might be actively seeking slaves in this area?”

“I do not, General Hammond.  According to the natives, no Goa’uld has visited the planet since transplanting the people many years ago.”

General Hammond sighed, glancing at each of the faces at the table.  Time to get their minds off their grief and on to finding a solution.

“Ideas, people?”

O’Neill spoke up.  “We need to contact Thor, sir.  And—I can’t believe I’m saying this—the Tok’ra.”

“I agree, Colonel.”

“General Hammond, I request permission to contact Master Bra’tac.  Perhaps someone among the free Jaffa will have information that will help us.”

“Permission granted, Teal’c.”

Major Carter hadn’t spoken yet, and Hammond looked at her with thoughtfulness.  “Do you have any suggestions, Major?”

“Well, sir,” she began, looking rather hesitant, “I do have one idea—but it would be a long shot.”  She bit her lip.  “I’m really not sure….”

“It’s okay, Major,” Hammond interrupted before she could express her doubts, “Just tell us your idea.”

“Yes, sir.”  She glanced at each of her teammates, worried that she might be giving them false hope, before returning her attention to the general.  “At one point we were doing research on DHD crystals.  This was after Teal’c was stuck in transit.  One of the things being studied was how the symbols were recorded and transmitted to the gate. It might be possible that the coordinates are stored in the crystals and could be retrieved.”

O’Neill sat forward with renewed interest.  “You mean like a memory redial?”

“Something like that, sir.  I think it would at least be worth studying.”

“Major, I have every confidence in your abilities.  Proceed with your research and keep me posted,” Hammond said, knowing that his people wouldn’t give up until they had a solution.

“Yes, sir.”

“Colonel, Teal’c—let me know if you have any luck with your contacts.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I will, General Hammond.”

“Dismissed, everyone.” 

As General Hammond left the room, the members of SG-1 rose from their seats, preparing to follow suit.

“Carter?”

“Yes, sir?”

“How much of a long shot are we talkin’ about?”

“I don’t know, sir.  I’m not sure if the crystals even retain the address, or if they do, for how long,” she said, stress creeping into her voice.

He placed his hand on her arm.  “It’s okay, Carter.  Do what you can.”

“I will, sir.  It’s just, we don’t know what’s happening to Daniel, and . . .”

His hand squeezed her arm lightly.  “He’ll be fine, Carter.  Daniel’s tough.  He’ll hang on till we get there.”
“Indeed,” intoned Teal’c.

She smiled slightly at the support her team was giving her.  She could do this.  They would get him back.  There was no other option. 

Their paths diverged as they left the briefing room, each going to do their part to get their teammate back. 

Part 2

link image
link image
link img
link img
link img
link image
isis link
Eilidh17
DennyJ
Amberfly
Carlyn
Winterstar
LadyD
Isis
  lk lk lk lk lnk  
  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
link img
link img
link image
lk
lk
lk
lk
Marzipan
JAJJAJ
Gemsong
Cancer
Taylyn
GateGremlyn
Pough