Time and Motion
By Eilidh17

 

The rubble shifted as Sam stepped through the Stargate, pitching her toward the scattered remnants of the MALP among the older scraps of whatever building had once protected the ‘gate from the bruising fury of the continent-spanning storm above them.

Staggering to maintain her footing, and shielding her eyes from the flying debris, Sam watched as Janet Fraiser emerged from the gate, her face morphing into a look of panic as she was hit with a gust of wind that threatened to send her back into the event horizon.

“Janet!”  Sam yelled, knowing that her words wouldn’t carry above the deafening howl of the storm, but hoping her frantic waving would be enough to get her friend’s attention.  “This way,” Shrugging her pack higher on her back, Sam stumbled her way towards the remnants of a low wall, hoping it would afford them a modicum of shelter.  Moments later both women were huddled together in a corner, jackets pulled over their heads as the vicious storm hurled anything that wasn’t secured around them.

Sam dragged the radio on her vest up to her mouth, and pulling the jacket down further to block out the din from the wind, keyed it on. “Colonel?” she yelled, not fully able to gauge the volume of her voice.  “Colonel O’Neill, do you read me?”  Sam waited and tried to listen for a response but got nothing but static. “Where in Sam Hill are they?”

“How far from the gate did you leave them?” 

“About four miles.” Sam released her vest and slumped back against the wall. “Daniel was in so much pain the colonel had Teal’c hide him in a cave we found while we led the Lhavanian’s away from their position.  When we were sure we’d lost them the colonel recommended I go on ahead to get help.” 

Janet nodded her head, pulling her jacket tighter around her chest. “I don’t think we can risk going much further in this weather, Sam.”

“We have to.” Sam struggled to her knees, chancing a look over the decaying wall at the surrounding ruins. “We can’t stay here. I barely made it past the Lhavanian hunting party last time.  No telling if they’re still here.”  Doing a quick visual scan of the area, she briefly turned her attention back to Janet, “And, if my theory is correct, then what is happening to Daniel is in direct proportion to the weather we are experiencing.  I don’t think this storm is going to get any better, in fact-” Sam suddenly fell back to the ground, instinctively covering her head as a branch from a nearby tree sailed overhead at an astonishing speed.  Picking herself up and slinking back to the wall, she moaned, “I think it’s going to get a whole lot worse!”

~0~

“I want my Mommy.” 

Tired blue eyes, their lashes soaked with freshly shed tears peer out at me from behind softly curled bangs, his small thumb detaching from the strong sucking grip only long enough to whimper out his plea.  My heart is breaking.  His already has.  Nothing I say will soothe his frightened mind and no matter how much I reach out to calm him, he pulls away.

It’s been this way for almost a day now. This is an emotional tug-of-war that I know neither of us is likely to win. If we were taking bets though, my money would be on Daniel.  My former six foot, strapping archeologist and best friend, never knew what hit him.  The object that the outwardly friendly Lhavanian’s claimed was a puzzle had looked so innocuous.  A tiny metallic orb, perfectly seamless and decorated with an as yet undeciphered language, had Daniel hopping about with excitement. 

I remember standing amongst the crowd that had gathered, watching Daniel cradle the small orb in one hand, whilst the fingers of the other danced across the inscribed surface.  His face was a mask of concentration, frowning as though the words weren’t behaving to his silent request for them to make sense.  I knew though, knew it would only be a matter of time till this particular enigma was resigned to the great Daniel Jackson book of ‘mysteries solved’. 

I can still feel the small smile that tugged at my lips as I watched him taking notes and peering at this curiosity through the old battered magnifying glass he’d retrieved from the depths of his pack.   I had a feeling of intense pride and relief that came with knowing my friend, whose absence I had so deeply felt when he ascended, was back in my life, filling the emotional void that our team had been living in for so long, and back doing what he loved most. 

My quiet moment of contemplation hadn’t lasted long though.  I watched as Daniel straightened up, and balancing the small orb in one hand tapped several of the finely etched symbols in what seemed like a random order.  Watching the deep frown cross his face raised my alarm bells and had me jogging towards him. I was nowhere near quick enough though.  The orb radiated an orange hue and emitted a whistle so high-pitched we grabbed at our ears in pain.  I reached out  to grab Daniel’s wrist but found myself unable to move, caught in the mesmerising spectacle of this tiny little sphere opening up like petals on a flower to reveal a small gem nestled in its centre.

Too stunned to react, I watched as the gem glowed red-hot, and spat out a beam enveloping Daniel.  He cried out, and catching my glance, willed me to help him before he collapsed, dropping the damn thing on the ground.

My retinas felt like they’d been fried and dark shapes moved across my line of vision.  I called Daniel’s name, but got no response.  Getting down on my hands and knees, and shaking my head to clear my still blurred vision, I began to feel my way around the ground. In my mind, Daniel had to be there, I just didn’t know where.  

A child’s whimper had me stumbling towards the small stone dais I knew was Daniel’s last location.  My hand latched onto a boot and then moved up a leg, but I knew something was terribly wrong.  Too small, everything about this body was too small.  A child blinked back at me with such fear in his eyes, it made me want to cry.  However, even though my mind refused to believe it, in my heart I knew who it was.  The wide-eyed innocent was our Daniel. 

I could hear Sam and Teal’c as they approached us from behind.  Sam’s anguished cry mixed with Teal’c’s admonishment to stay down as he took stock of the situation.

My energy was gone.  Dizzy and still trying to clear my blurred vision, I watched hazily as Teal’c scooped the child into his arms while Sam murmured sombre words of comfort.

That had been two days ago, and a lot can happen in two days.  Unfortunately for us, a lot of thing went wrong in those two days.

 

~0~

“No.”

“No?”

“This is the first time in our established history that the puzzle has been solved.  It is a sign of blessing, of better times ahead.” Zahur laced the fingers of his hands together, bowing his head deeply in reverence.

“So you’re saying that we can’t leave because Daniel solved some kid’s puzzle that no one has been able to solve in years?”  Jack was more than a little bit annoyed at this point.  All attempts to leave the dome had failed, as Zahur, the village elder and head priest, had blocked their path both physically and verbally, insisting that Daniel be left within the dome.

“It is more than a puzzle, Colonel.  The Ipotma has been an item of great religious importance amongst our peoples since the time before recorded history. Its true purpose has been lost but the knowledge that it is a token of great esteem and power has not.” Zahur moved towards the dais, and scooping the small orb into his hand, he caressed it adoringly, running his fingers over the delicate engravings. “Every year the men of the village attempt to decipher the writings on the Ipotma, to solve the riddle that has eluded us for millennia. None have succeeded till now.”

“Daniel thought this was a riddle, some sort of game to be played, and you,” Jack stepped forward, invading Zahur’s personal space and stabbing a finger to his chest, growled, “You let him believe he was doing nothing more than playing along!” 

Zahur looked down at the finger currently resting on his chest and flicked it away with his hand, earning him a scowl from Jack. “My apologies, Colonel, I assumed that Doctor Jackson understood the writing on the Ipotma.”

“Daniel understands a lot of things, he’s a smart guy.”

“Then he surely understood the reward that awaited him.”

“Reward?” Jack asked, eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Yes, it has long been known that he who solved the mystery of the Ipotma would be the savior of our people.”

“Oy vey,” Jack muttered, shaking his head slowly.

~0~

“Over here!” Jack croaked, his voice raw and husky from constantly shouting over the din of the violent storm. Waving his left hand over his head, he signalled Teal’c forward towards his position as the rat-tat-tat of Sam’s P90 let loose a barrage of suppression fire.

“We have no time to stop, O’Neill,” Teal’c stumbled slightly as a strong gust of wind tore its way through the gully, uprooting small trees and other plant life it encountered, “the Lhavanian’s are close behind.” Teal’c huffed breathlessly, the burden in his arms taxing his already drained adrenaline levels.

“I know, T, just get Daniel into the cave and let me worry about our hosts.” Jack ripped the cap off his head before the wind could claim it and thrust it into the pocket of his BDU jacket.

Teal’c, gripping the tiny limp bundle to his chest, turned briefly in the direction of the now distant dome, half-expecting the perusing forces to be right on top of them.  Finding the way behind him clear, he made his way towards the cave, urging his weary body forward, the weight of Daniel’s slumbering body seeming to multiply with every step.

“Take him as far back as you can.”  Jack motioned, sweeping aside a tall bush that was partially covering the entrance to the cave, letting Teal’c and his precious cargo past. “Carter and I are going to try and lead the Lhavanian’s past your location and then we’ll double back. You have to keep him as quiet as possible.”

Looking down at the angelic features of his downsized team-mate, Teal’c sighed and muttered, “I don’t think keeping DanielJackson quiet will be a particularly challenging task, O’Neill.”

“No.” Jack took stock of the pale features of his archeologist and frowned, “How long has he been like this, Teal’c?”

“Since we left the protective biosphere of the dome.” Making his way to the rear of the cave, Teal’c lay Daniel down, careful to keep him tightly bound in his sleeping bag.

Watching as Jack bent down and brushed away the soft bangs from Daniel’s face, Teal’c let a small smile tug at his lips as Daniel immediately reacted by turning his head towards the touch.

“I believe DanielJackson is aware of your presence.”

“Yeah,” Jack sighed and stood back up. “Hold the fort here T. Carter and I will be back as soon as it’s safe.”

Teal’c nodded and turned his attention back to Daniel, tucking the sleeping bag tighter around his team-mate’s body before settling himself at the entrance of the cave. Grasping his staff weapon tightly in his hands, he wished, not for the first time, that this mission had never been approved, that they had never visited this forsaken world.

~0~

“Strong breeze, hey, Carter?”  Colonel Jack O’Neill sneered sarcastically in reverence to the howling wind that had whipped SG1 from the moment they’d set foot on P7Y337, a planet Jack wholly intended to come up with a more user friendly name for. 

Holding her diagnostic tool in front of her at just below eye level, Sam walked a slow circle, a small frown crossing her face as she took in the readings from the device.  “MALP readings from the last few days did indicate a gradual build-up in atmospheric conditions, sir.”

“Are we talking cyclonic here, or just your average day in the windy city?”  Hitching his pack up high on his shoulder, Jack turned to seek out the rest of his team, finding Daniel standing amongst, what the archeologist had suspected, was the ruins of the building that had housed the Stargate at one time.

“I can’t be sure, sir.  Without setting up a long term weather station here I can only guess that this type of activity might be seasonal.  The wind speed has definitely increased by five miles per hour since the last MALP feed over four hours ago.”

“So we’re safe here, right?”  Jack now shifted his attention onto Teal’c, the fourth member of the team, as the big Jaffa walked a tight perimeter circle ever alert for any threats.

“If the increase in wind speed stays constant then I’d say we have at least two days before we’d need to retreat back to earth.”

Two days, Jack thought.  Was that going to be enough?  The strong electromagnetic field that the MALP had detected had Sam and her science department drooling all over the readouts and practically begging Hammond for a survey mission.  Jack wasn’t all that convinced. In the end though, geology had won out when soil samples detected high quantities of Trinium and other SGC wish list minerals, making a manned survey mission to the planet all but inevitable. First though, Jack groaned inwardly, was recon, and who better to send than SG1 and its science twins. 

“How far?”

“To the electromagnetic field reading, sir?”

Jack swung his P90 upwards, resting it comfortably across his left forearm. “No, to dinner, Carter,” he mumbled, “yes, how far to this field thing of yours?”

“Ah, just under five miles,” Sam replied, a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

“Oy,” Jack muttered, shaking his head and slinging his P90 across his jacketed arm, “Well round up the kids and let’s get going before we all get blown to Oz.”

~0~

If it hadn’t been for her trusty diagnostic tool and the fantastic light show that was being bounced off the local vegetation, Sam was sure they would have missed the magnificent spectacle that lay before them.  Six hours from the gate the team came across a gully nestled amongst two mid-range mountains. Perching themselves atop a small bluff, Daniel had been the first to spot the rainbow hue of the flora that seemed to change and bleed away as the sun made a gallant effort to break through the cloud-heavy sky.  Following the spectacle to a point, the team had soon discovered the golden hue of a dome, its brilliant outer skin responsible for the kaleidoscope of colors that danced over the nearby plant life.

“It’s a bio-dome,” Sam announced, juggling her binoculars in one hand and the diagnostic tool in the other. “So perfectly formed it’s barely visible, and if it wasn’t for the light refraction from the sun and the obvious EM issues, I doubt we would have ever known it was there.”  Placing the diagnostic tool down, she inched further along the top of the bluff, taking a moment to scan the area around the structure before turning her attention back towards it. “This is just amazing. The power usage requirement to keep a dome this large in operation must be off the scale.  Considering its size I’m surprised that the electromagnetic field it’s giving off isn’t much stronger. It could be in some type of power-down mode.”  Sam was sure she could feel the colonel rolling his eyes from behind her but shrugged off the annoying thought as she shifted her body again to get a better angle.

“I wonder how many redundant systems they’re using and how their bleeding off excess power?” Lowering her binoculars she flipped over onto her back and sat up. “This is just amazing, sir”

“So you said, Carter.”

“The technology level required to sustain and maintain such an environment is way beyond anything we have.”

“And you can tell this from just looking at the thing?”  Sam couldn’t miss the sarcasm that crept into Jack’s voice and raised her eyebrows, a small smile on her lips.

Lowering his own binoculars and rolling onto his side, Daniel asked, “Anyone we know, Sam?” 

“Well,” Sam paused, chewing on her lip, her brows knitted in thought, “it could be pretty much anyone.  The Goa’uld are renowned for stealing and integrating technology into their own, and the Tollan and Nox are more than capable of producing technology like this.”

“Asgard?”  Daniel asked.

“Maybe,” Bringing the dome back into focus, Sam murmured, “Could be technology indigenous to this world.  It’s seen a lot of years though.  I can see scoring and broken panels on the outer shell.”

“Well, kids, this is what we’re here for.  Let’s see what Oz has to offer us!”

~0~

Sam and Janet made their way along the long, winding floor of the gully, pieces of foliage zipping past their bodies like missiles as the near cyclonic winds battered the landscape turning it into a war zone. 

“Sam!” Janet hollered as she stumbled over an exposed tree root, momentum throwing her forward, launching her bulky pack over her shoulders and driving her head first into the ground.

Sam, having difficulty maintaining her own footing, had barely caught her friend’s urgent call over the roar of the wind.  Turning her back against the direction of the gust, she staggered her way back to Janet, hooking her hand under the strap of her pack and hoisting her to her knees. “You okay?” she shouted, holding onto Janet with one hand and running a hand across her friend’s bleeding temple with the other.

“Fine!”  Janet replied, looking off to her right, tilting her chin towards a nearby cluster of boulders. “Just need to sit down for a bit!”

Taking the hint and realizing suddenly how tired she was herself, Sam guided Janet towards the outcropping of rocks, grateful for the brief respite they afforded from the storm.

“How much farther, Sam?”  Janet asked, taking a cotton swab from her pack and wiping it across her brow.

Sam shook her head, closed her eyes, and leant back against her pack. “I’m not sure.  I’ve tried the radio several times along the trail but I haven’t been able to breakthrough the atmospheric interference.  I think I heard the colonel’s voice at one time, but I can’t be sure if it was him or the wind.”

Taking the diagnostic tool from the pocket of her vest, Sam flicked on the screen and held it in front of her face.  “I’m sure there is some rational explanation for this,” she muttered, her face a picture of confusion as she attempted to make sense of the readings.

“Problem?”  Janet pulled the plastic shield from the plaster on her forehead and packed it away in her pack.

“I’m not sure.” Tucking the tool away in her vest, Sam let her self relax for a moment, lifting her hand to rub at the bridge of her nose, “I’ve been comparing the telemetry from the MALP plus my own readings against those that I took when Daniel triggered the puzzle. I’m not sure of the connection yet but the electromagnetic footprint is almost identical.”

“Coincidence?”

“Normally I’d say yes but my gut is telling me there is something more going on here than we’re seeing.”  Pausing, Sam shrugged off her pack, and unclipping the tabs, she rummaged through it and withdrew the small silver orb.

“What’s that?” Janet leaned in closer, reaching forward to touch the shiny silver ball with her gloved hand.

“This is the orb Daniel touched.” Turning the orb over in her hands, Sam took a moment to run her fingers across the fine inscription. “I thought it might help to have it if we have any hope of figuring out how to change him back.”

Janet pulled her hand back involuntarily as though expecting to suffer the same fate as Daniel. “If the orb is an object of worship by these people, how did you get hold of it?”

Sam ducked her head low and placed the orb back in her pack. “I took it, Janet.  Not my finest hour and not something I’m terribly proud of, but they left us with no choice.  They wouldn’t let Daniel go, and it was a hell of a battle to get him back.”

~0~

Jack watched as Teal’c picked up Daniel, his small archeologist striking out with his tiny fists as the Jaffa’s strong arms raised him off the ground and into his arms. 

“Lemme go!”  Daniel shrieked, his face a picture of fear and mistrust, tracks of tears dropping onto the long white robe the Lhavanian’s had dressed him in. “Don’t wanna go,” he pleaded, little legs kicking against Teal’c’s stomach in protest.

Jack tried his best to ignore Daniel’s pained pleas, keeping his P90 firmly trained on Zahur and the small congregation of villagers that were determined to prevent his team from making their escape.  “Sam?” he asked, chancing a small glance in her direction as she packed the orb in her backpack and shrugged it onto her shoulders.

“Got it, sir.” 

“Good, make sure the way is clear. Teal’c will be right behind you.”  Jack took a step towards the villagers, allowing Sam and Teal’c to move towards the exit with their unappreciative friend. “This will be a whole lot easier on everyone if you just let us leave peacefully,” Jack announced, moving his weapon in a slow arc, encompassing the crowd gathered in the room. 

Zahur, obviously not agreeing with Jack’s interpretation of events, took a cautious step forward arm out in a sign of goodwill but his eyes mirroring a look of defiance. “You know we cannot allow you to leave with the boy.  Surely it is obvious from his reaction to you that he does not wish to leave.” 

“Aht.” Jack brought his weapon back to bear on Zahur. “I wouldn’t take another step if I was you.  Don’t think I won’t use this.” Jack tapped the side of his P90. “You don’t want to know what sort of damage I can do to you right now.”

“Colonel,” Zahur stopped in his tracks, his eyes darting between Jack and the weapon aimed squarely at his chest. “None of us wants to see anyone hurt. Just leave the boy and the rest of your team can go.”

Jack tilted his head to the side, a small sneer tugging at his lips as he fixed a stare at Zahur so fierce he was sure the other man could feel a hole being bored into his head. “Let me make this perfectly clear, just so there’s no misunderstanding. We are not leaving here without Daniel.  I don’t care what you think the kid wants; he’s not yours to keep.  You’ve lied to us from the start and I don’t hand out second chances. Now,” Jack took a step backwards towards the exit, “you can either make a move against us, in which case you’re going to find out personally what I can do with this weapon, or you’ll hold your ground, in which case no one is going to get hurt.  The choice is all yours, but know this.”  Jack aimed his P90 at the ground, and moving his finger from the trigger guard to the trigger, let loose a short burst of fire several feet in front of Zahur.  Watching the other man and his entourage leap back, throwing their arms up in defence, he smiled. “I will use this to defend myself, and my team.”  Jack moved back towards the door and offered his best predatory smile, “Are we all clear now?”

 

~0~

A small muffled groan from the back of the darkened cave made its way to Teal’c’s finely tuned ears, and after once more scanning the clearing in front of their carefully concealed hide-out, he made his way back to his small friend.

“DanielJackson?” Teal’c lowered himself to the ground, reaching out to clasp the thin shoulder that had uncovered itself from the sleeping bag.  The moment his hand connected with Daniel, the boy let out a piercing howl, his small body arching itself off the ground, eyes snapping open, wide and unstaring.

Teal’c panicked, grabbing Daniel by the shoulders and forcing him onto his side as his friend’s body jerked violently from the spasm of a seizure. 

“O’Neill?” Teal’c yelled frantically, one hand maintaining its death grip on Daniel, the other clasped firmly onto the radio attached to the pocket of his vest.

Waiting, but not expecting an answer, Teal’c jumped as a bolt of lightning arced into the entrance of the cave, blue tendrils of electrical charge spreading out from the impact point and lighting up the dark space with an eerie glow. 

Teal’c blinked as residual flash from the lightning left a ghosting image across his sight.  Turning his attention back to Daniel, he pressed his fingers against the pulse point in his neck, sighing with relief as his fingers registered a strong though slightly fast heartbeat.

Easing his friend onto his back, he frowned, the half-light afforded from the cave entrance casting a shadow across Daniel’s features. Smoothing away sweat-soaked hair from Daniel’s forehead, Teal’c ran a finger across the boy’s jaw-line and throat, before gently tugging down the chiton robe, exposing his upper chest.

“This is not right,” Teal’c muttered, covering Daniel’s body back up and tucking the sleeping bag tightly around his shoulders. Sitting back against the wall, he gripped the radio in his hand and tilted his head down to speak into it. “O’Neill?”  Releasing the call button he waited patiently.

Nothing.

Yes, Teal’c thought, something was definitely not right with DanielJackson.

~0~

Sam snatched the cap from her head, frowning as the near cyclonic winds tried to rip it from her hand and send it soaring into the heavens along with the other debris the massive storm was tossing around.  Shoving the cap inside her vest, she rested her cheek against the side of her P90, peering through the targeting sight at the heavily wooded entrance to the gully.

Leaving Daniel and Teal’c in the cave, Sam and the colonel led Zahur and his priests on a wild goose chase leading them away from the dome and out of the gully.  Taking up diagonally opposite locations across the only path leading into the gully, they had laid in wait for the last five minutes, listening intently as the Lhavanian patrol had crashed their way through the undergrowth obviously not caring that their intended targets could hear their every move.  Even the howl of the blustering wind had not been able to dampen their haphazard movements.

O’N…” Sam’s earpiece crackled, static chewing up the words and spitting them out like a broken record.  Looking across the pathway to Jack’s location she could just make out his outline amongst the low-standing shrubs he’d concealed himself in. 

Dragging her radio up to her mouth, she whispered, “Colonel?”

“I heard it, Carter, hold your position.” Jack’s reply echoed through her earpiece.

Releasing her radio, Sam turned her attention back to the slowly approaching Lhavanian’s, watching with curiosity as the men sauntered along the wind-battered path, their crude weapons hanging low at their sides. They have no idea, she thought, moving her P90 from one person to the next, knowing that with one quick burst she could extinguish their lives.

“O’Neill?” Damn, Sam cursed, even though she was silently grateful that the team had employed their earpieces to cut down their chances of being heard by their pursuers.  Looking across at Jack she could tell that he too had heard Teal’c’s now desperate sounding call, but knew there was nothing they could do till the Lhavanian’s had passed their position.

Moments later the Lhavanian patrol was on top of them, the wind pushing so hard against their bodies that every step they took looked like a struggle.  The priests were wearing thick cloaks, their arms wrapped around their torsos to keep the cold out.  Pushing forward, they stumbled past Sam’s and Jack’s location, seemingly uninterested in tracking their targets. 

Sam let out the breath she had been holding, relaxing the grip on her weapon once the patrol had moved out of sight.  Spotting Jack rise from his hiding spot, she followed suit, crossing the path to his position, watching with intense curiosity as she  heard him calling Teal’c on his radio.

“Teal’c, this is O’Neill, do you copy?” 

Sam could see Jack closing his eyes, trying to listen for radio chatter over the deafening sound of the wind. “Teal’c?”  Moving closer, Sam raised her hand to her earpiece, pressing down on the small device in the hope of picking up any faint transmissions.

“O’Neill.”

“We hear you, buddy; sorry about not answering you earlier. We had hostiles at our location.” 

Sam nodded her head, the relief at hearing Teal’c’s voice easing her worried mind.  Cradling her P90, she turned in the direction the departing Lhavanian’s had taken, watching for any sign of their return, and simultaneously listening in on Teal’c’s conversation.

“How’s Daniel?” Jack asked, a hint of concern audible in his voice.

“He has suffered a seizure.  It only lasted a few moments but was quite intense. I am concerned that something is happening to him.”

Sam directed her attention back to Jack, noting the worried look that crossed his face, directly mirroring her own.

“What do you mean? What’s happening to him?”

“His physical appearance has changed.  He seems somehow older than when we first entered the cave.”

“Older?”  Jack questioned, raising his eyebrows and looking at Sam.

“Indeed. When the seizure abated, his facial features seemed altered.  This took place at around the same time that lightning struck the cave that we are currently occupying.  I am unsure as to whether the two incidences are related but the timing seemed most coincidental.”

Sam shook her head, trying to make sense of the situation but knowing she was failing.  How could the weather be related to the changes that Teal’c had noted in Daniel?  Resting her P90 across her left arm, she took out the diagnostic tool from her vest pocket and flicked the screen on.  Scrolling through the readings, she stopped at the readings she had taken previously when Daniel had been struck by the energy beam from the orb.  Frowning, she scrolled even further down, bringing up the results the MALP had taken prior to the team setting foot on P7Y337.

“Problem, Carter?” 

“I don’t know, sir.” Sam flicked the screen off and packed the device back into the pocket of her vest. “I just compared the readouts I’ve been taking on the atmospheric conditions of the planet and running them against the electrical discharge that enveloped Daniel and they are almost identical.” Shaking her head, she continued, “Teal’c gave me the idea when he mentioned the lightning strike coinciding with the seizure that Daniel had and it made me think.”

“And?”  Jack asked, his eyebrows raised questioningly.

“And I don’t know, sir.  The readings are very close but I haven’t quite worked out what the connection could be.”

“O’Neill!”  Teal’c’s frantic called echoed through their ear pieces disrupting Sam’s chain of thought. “DanielJackson is seizing again and the weather in the vicinity of the cave has intensified.  I have turned him onto his side and cleared his airway but I am unable to render any further assistance.”  

“Hold tight, Teal’c, I’m on my way back to you!” Jack turned to Sam, squinting as a sudden gust of wind slapped him in the face. “Carter, I need you to make your way to the gate and get help.  Bring Fraiser back if you can. I’m heading back to help Teal’c.”

Sam nodded her approval. “The Lhavanian’s are still in the area, sir.”

“I know, but I think our options are limited and Daniel’s time is running out.  Keep your eyes open.  I think they’re going to head back in our direction when they realize they can’t track us any further, so you should be safe.”

“I’ll be fine, just take care of Daniel.”

~0~

Teal’c leant close to Daniel, the bone cracking seizures finally ending.  Wiping away the frothing drool from his mouth, he tucked the survival blanket tighter around Daniel’s small form, making note of his pale face. Teal’c was sure the changes he had noticed in Daniel’s features were not a product of his imagination but somehow connected to the escalating weather patterns taking place on the planet.

“DanielJackson,” Teal’c urged, rubbing his friend’s all-too-small shoulder and whispering close to his ear.  “Daniel.”

Teal’c watched closely as Daniel tried valiantly to open his eyes, blinking furiously against the dim light that filtered into the cave. 

Running his tongue over his dry lips, Daniel tried to sit up, his body encumbered by the survival blanket Teal’c had swaddled him in.  Teal’c reached forward to assist his friend only to draw back when Daniel’s eyes suddenly went wide and his face paled. Clumsily pushing the survival blanket down, Daniel scrambled from the sleeping bag, never taking his eyes off Teal’c, his face a mask of terror as he backed himself towards the nearby wall. 

Startled by Daniel’s violent reaction, Teal’c whispered, “DanielJackson, it is I, Teal’c.” 

Daniel’s head shook, his teeth chattering violently.  The tremors continued to course through his body making Teal’c watch him closely. Gripping the discarded blanket in his hand, he held the item out hoping Daniel would take it, but was instantly disheartened when the child ducked his head into his shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut.

Teal’c nodded his head, understanding that this was not the Daniel he knew, this was a child who had no idea where he was or who he was with.  A small child, sick and afraid, that he had little hope of communicating with.  Leaving the blanket just within reach of Daniel, he slowly moved himself backwards, affording his friend some space and opportunity to take the offered warmth if he wanted to.

As he moved closer towards the mouth of the cave, movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention and he was immediately on his feet, priming his staff weapon and bringing it to bear. 

“Whoa!” Jack exclaimed, raising his arms in defence as he swept ungraciously into the cave on the wings of a particularly strong gust of wind. “Just me, Teal’c, stand down.”

Relaxing his stance slightly, Teal’c greeted Jack with a small nod and turned his attention back to the rear of the cave.

“DanielJackson has awoken but appears most disturbed by my presence.”  Teal’c led Jack back to Daniel’s position, noting that the boy hadn’t moved at all, not even to retrieve the blanket.

“Daniel,” Jack whispered, placing his P90 on the ground and getting down on all fours.  “You gonna talk to me buddy?”  Wincing, Jack sat back and grabbed his left knee with his hand, “You can’t be comfortable there, and I know I’m not.  What’s say we get you wrapped up and away from that cold wall?” 

Teal’c watched as his team leader tried to persuade their friend out of the protective cocoon he’d retreated into, without success.

“I do not believe that DanielJackson understands us,” Teal’c stated matter-of-factly as he watched Jack climb back to his feet and back away from Daniel once again.

“Well, something is definitely not right here, T.” Shaking his head sadly, Jack ran his hands over his face and let out a long sigh. “I’ve sent Carter back to the gate to get some help.  I only hope we’re not too late.”

“As do I.”  Tilting his head, his brows knitted in deep thought, Teal’c growled, “I do not believe the Lhavanian leader was honest in his intentions towards us from the start, O’Neill.”

“Oh, Teal’c, in so many ways.”  Jack stepped forward and cautiously pushed the blanket towards the seemingly asleep Daniel with the toe of his boot. “No, my friend I think he had Daniel pegged as their so called ‘Savior’ from the start, and in typical Daniel style, he fell right into it.”

~0~

Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed, “It’s a game, Jack.” 

Jack eyed the small silver orb that rested in Zahur’s hands with deep suspicion.  This wouldn’t be the first time the team had run into a seemingly innocuous object only to have it blow up in their face.  Shifting his attention away from the orb and back onto Daniel, he could see the archeologist’s eyes brimming with anticipation and wonder, one hand slightly outstretched but holding back slightly knowing he hadn’t been given permission to touch yet.

“A game we know nothing about, Daniel,” Jack cautioned, bringing a hint of wariness into his voice.

Withdrawing his hand and lifting a finger to tap at his chin, Daniel shook his head and let out a soft sigh. “Zahur told me that the orb has been part of Lhavanian lore since before they had written history.  The true nature of the object has been lost, but every year the men of the village compete to see who can decipher the riddle etched on its surface.” 

“So,” Jack threw his friend a lop-sided grin, tapping the side of his P90 lightly with the tips of his fingers, “they have no idea what this thing does but they’re willing to hand the thing around every year just in case it actually does something for someone? Have I got that right?” Jack shook his head in despair and pursed his lips, “Does anyone here not see how stupid this is?”

Daniel turned towards Jack, effectively shielding his body from the view of the village leader. “Jack, no one has been able to decipher this thing in over a millennia, I hardly think it’s going to happen now.  For all anyone knows, it’s probably harmless.”

Jack gave Daniel a flat, hard look. “Daniel!” With one word, Jack managed to convey the depth of his scepticism. Shaking his head, he ignored his friend’s pointed finger, and got straight to the point. “Aht-htt! Now, tell me, why do you need to look at this object?”

“Jack, come on! Why?” Daniel’s hands flew in the air, his eyes flashing with indignation. “From what I’ve managed to see, the script on the orb is similar to that of Minoan Linea A.  Jack, the language is largely undecyphered because there have been so very few fragments of the language ever found.  What we find here could be invaluable to understanding the Minoan culture and its language.” Holding his hands out wide, Daniel added, “I just need you to trust me.”

“Oh, I trust you, Daniel. I just don’t know what relevance it has to this mission. Remember the mission? The reason we came here for?” Folding his arms across his P90, Jack waited for Daniel to plead his case. A brilliant linguist, Jack understood the vital role Daniel Jackson played, and he was grateful. As a soldier, the colonel struggled to alter his mindset, a civilian scientist had no right stepping into the line of fire. That was Jack’s job, and he was damn good at it. One day, he knew, Daniel’s words would fail him, and it niggled under the colonel’s skin like a cancer.

“Please, Jack, this could be important.”  Daniel turned and threw a look back over his shoulder at the gathered crowd. “The game is about to start and this is the perfect opportunity for me to take a look at the etchings.”

Nodding his head slowly, Jack reached up and unclipped his P90 from his vest and handed it to Teal’c, “You want a look at this thing, fine, but not without me.” Shrugging his jacket and vest up, he threw a warning look in Daniel’s direction, “We all know what happens when you touch something.”

~0~

Sam pulled the collar of her jacket higher up her neck, hoping it might trap in some meager warmth and protect her from the howling winds that were ripping their way down the gully. Jumpy, her nerves on edge, Sam forced herself to calm down. After parting with the colonel, she had let her imagination run wild. "Calm down, Major! Check for the target and concentrate!" She’d been lucky so far.  Either they were truly as inept at tracking their prey as she’d hoped or they were far more cunning and were hiding their presence well.  Whichever way it was, Sam knew she had no choice but to keep going.

Rounding a small bluff she caught sight of the top of the Stargate, its usually dull-grey Naquadah form bouncing off the last rays of light from the twin suns of the Lhavanian system as they started to set.  “So close,” she whispered to herself, suddenly aware that the remaining distance to the Stargate would have to be crossed in the rapidly fading light.

Winding her way through the undergrowth and trying to keep in the shadows of passing trees, Sam saw movement off to her left.  A flash of red darted behind a nearby outcropping of boulders.  Instantly she dropped to one knee, bringing her P90 up to her shoulder and focusing her vision through its telescopic scope.  “There you are,” Sam muttered, allowing a small smile to grace her face, “not totally useless after all.”  Taking a quick survey of her surroundings and immediately discarding her first option, the direct route to the gate, she chose a second.  Off in the distance she spotted the remains of a settlement.  From the tall beams that she could make out through the telescopic sight on her weapon she guessed that some of the buildings must have been at least two stories high, their once proud walls now fallen away under the constant battering of the high winds.  Moving the P90 in a small arc away from the settlement she tracked her way back to her current location, noting several ideal places that she could hide if her pursuers chose to attack.

“Guess this is it.”  Tightening the straps on her pack and gripping her weapon close to her body, Sam hunched down low and slowly made her way left towards the battered settlement, keeping her attention split between the gate and the boulders the Lhavanian’s were hiding behind. “Just be good and stay where you are, nothing to see here.”

Half an hour of ducking and shuffling through the dense groundcover and battling the once again building winds, Sam found herself approaching the first of the ruins, battered husks of buildings that had had their outer skins peeled away to lay scattered across the terrain.  Warped metal beams had twisted under the relentless pressure of cyclonic winds and lay almost flat on the ground.  If there was any wooden panelling it was long gone, and the only true remains were large weather-worn bricks that looked like they’d been tossed about with abandon by children.

Sam realized she’d lingered too long looking at the dreary spectacle when she heard the sound of voices carrying over the din of the wind. “They don’t know I’m here.” She turned in the direction of the voices, trying to pick out human shapes amongst the dust that was being thrown into the air.  Seeing nothing, she chanced setting off at a jog, grateful for the generous tail wind that was helping to propel her in the direction of the Stargate. 

The murky vision of the DHD loomed through the gloom of the massive storm overhead.  Looking skyward, Sam could see long fat trains of clouds swirling towards a central eye that seemed to be blinking at her.  Letting out a soft sigh and a spine-numbing shiver, she made her way over to the bulging mushroom shape of the DHD and started pressing down the glyphs for Earth.  No sooner had her hand pressed down the glyph for Cancer than a fist-sized rock careened into her shoulder from behind, its force shoving her forward onto the face of the DHD.  “What the—” she yelled, using the DHD for leverage as she turned to look over her shoulder.  There in the distance she could see the ragtag Lhavanian’s, their robes thrashing about in the changing currents of air, one arm up to shield their eyes whilst their other arms were laden with makeshift weapons.

“I don’t have time for this,” Sam muttered, resolutely ignoring her attackers and turning her attention back to the DHD. “Scutum, Eridanus, point-of-origin, come on, old girl, work your magic.”  Watching the inner ring of the Stargate spin and lock, Sam quickly rolled up the sleeve of her jacket and tapped in the iris code on her GDO. “Yes!” she yelped as the master chevron engaged and the wormhole formed, billowing out across the raised dais and settling within the confines of the gate. 

Chancing a quick look behind her, Sam could almost feel the breaths of the Lhavanians on her neck as she turned and ran up the platform stairs and into the welcoming cold of the wormhole.

~0~

Jack hunkered to his knees, groaning at the loud crack.  Looking up, he signed as Daniel maneuvred himself further against the wall.  With a sob, the little boy threw his hands over his head as if terrified by the lightning and thunder.  As a bolt of lightning lit the cave, Jack and Teal’c look at Daniel’s huddled body and shuddered simultaneously.

Running a weary hand over his stubbled face, Jack paused long enough to run his fingers through his doubly grey hair.  He’d been sitting in this position for the last few hours, unable to reach forward and comfort Daniel but at the same time not willing to leave.  Teal’c had been an almost constant figure in this unnerving vigil.  The older man had been wearing a path between the mouth of the cave and Jack’s side, a look of anger mixed with deep sadness etched on his face.

“Daniel?” Jack’s voice was rough, sitting and pleading exhausted him. “Please, Danny, its cold and you’re hurting.  Just reach out and take the blanket.  I won’t touch you, I swear, and Teal’c, he’ll stay out of reach as well.”  Leaning in closer, Jack nudged the blanket towards Daniel, never once taking his eyes away from the shivering child.

“I want my… my mommy.” The voice come out as barely a whisper and at first Jack wasn’t sure if he’d actually heard anything over the earsplitting crashing of thunder and lightning that was still lighting up the night sky outside.

“Your mommy?” Jack asked, keeping the level of his voice just loud enough to be heard. “I know you do, Danny, but she’s not here.” Jack inched his way forward, pushing the blanket in front of him, “She’s not here, but Teal’c and I are, and we want to help you.”

Jack stopped his forward movement when he saw Daniel’s head bob up from under his arms, tired blue eyes wide and full of fear. “No,” he shook his head weakly, “I don’t know you. Mommy said never to talk to strangers.”

“Look, kid, I know none of this makes sense to you right now.  Nothing around you is familiar, but I need you to trust me.”  Jack shuffled himself closer towards Daniel, arms outstretched and eyes pleading. “I won’t hurt you, Daniel.”

“No,” Daniel sobbed, a small grimace of what Jack thought was pain causing his forehead to furrow as he ducked his head back under his arms. 

Jack sighed and let his arms drop back to his lap.  This was going nowhere and Jack could feel his patience starting to ebb away.

Taking the initiative in this game of tug-o-war, Jack climbed to his feet and snagged the blanket into his hand, determined to at least give his friend some warmth from the chill of the cold cave wall.  Taking a half step forward he immediately found himself down on all fours, as a massive clap of thunder reverberated through the atmosphere, shaking the ground with such force that Jack thought they’d been hit by an earthquake.

“Daniel!” Jack shouted, lifting his voice over the thunder that was still bouncing off the walls of the cave.  Raising a palm to his left ear, he shouted out again, watching as Daniel fell forward into a heap on the ground, his limbs jerking and contorting, eyes wide open in shock.

Scrambling to his friend’s side, knees screaming in protest, Jack swiftly maneuvred Daniel into the recovery position.  Noting the taut muscles in his neck, Jack uttered a silent prayer that he hadn’t bitten his tongue.  Shrugging his jacket off, Jack bunched it up and placed it under Daniel’s head then wrapped the blanket around his still shivering form.

“Come on, kid,” he muttered, running small soothing circles on Daniel’s back in the hopes that it might offer him some slight comfort. 

“The atmospheric tremors appear to have ceased for the moment, O’Neill, though the wind speed has increased.” 

“Thanks, Teal’c.  I think Carter was onto something when she said the weather was in some way connected to Daniel’s condition.” Pulling the blanket down away from Daniel’s face, he motioned Teal’c forward. “Take a look.” 

Sliding the blanket even further down, Jack watched as Teal’c took in the form of his unconscious friend.  What was, only moments ago, a child of about four years of age, was now a young boy of about ten years. Arms, legs, and torso had grown, muscles become more defined, and facial features had thinned out. 

Watching as Daniel’s body finally calmed and his face relaxed in sleep, he tucked the blanket back up around his shoulders and gently lifted him across his lap. “I’m a lot warmer than the cold floor, Danny,” Jack whispered, knowing that his friend couldn’t hear him.  Sitting Daniel across his legs, his head nestled in Jack’s shoulder, he reached up and smoothed away sweat-soaked bangs from his face, “Ah, Daniel, can’t keep yourself out of trouble no matter what age you are.”

~0~

“Much farther, Sam?”  Janet yelled, her hair slapping around her face as the wind buffeted her along the densely wooded path. 

“I can’t be sure.” Sam’s reply was muffled as she fought to hold onto a nearby tree, her breath heavy from the energy she was expending to keep upright.  “I think we’re about halfway there but I can’t get a magnetic bearing.  The storm is interfering with my attempts to get a reading.”  Holding her gloved hand out, she reached out and grasped onto Janet as the smaller woman stumbled past her, propelled along by the fierce wind.  “I’ve got you!”  Sam yelled, pulling Janet closer to the tree and pushing her down towards the ground by the shoulder.

“We need to rest, get our bearings.”  Wriggling on her butt, Sam moved herself around the sheltered side of the big tree, sighing in relief as the immense trunk cut out a fair degree of the numbing wind.  Watching Janet slide around to join her, Sam pulled her radio up to her mouth and pressed the transmit switch. “SG1-niner, this is Carter.” Releasing the switch, she leaned back against the barky wall and waited for a reply. 

“Nothing?” 

“Not unless you like the sound of static.” Running a hand through her windswept hair she shook her head and closed her eyes wearily. “I really wasn’t expecting an answer.  We haven’t had a lot of luck with the radios since we got here.  The atmospheric activity is playing havoc with just about every piece of technology we’ve used.”

“Do you think they’re okay?”  Janet asked, biting into the MRE and screwing her face up in distaste at the flavor.

“I honestly don’t know.” Sam looked at the MRE in her hand and tossed it back into her pack. “That’s not our only problem.  I can’t be sure that the Lhavanian’s aren’t still hiding around here.  Considering they only saw one of us passing through the gate, it’s a fair bet they’re still looking for the others.”

Sam looked across at Janet, noting how the other woman just sat there, eyes wide and mouth agape.

“You do this all the time?” Janet asked incredulously.

Shrugging, Sam allowed herself a small smile. “Some days it even gets exciting!”

~0~

Daniel rolled his dry tongue around the roof of his mouth, wincing as bile rose, making him gag. Groaning, he flexed his hand, wondering why his muscles ached and his head throbbed. Forcing his eyes wide open, he blinked with confusion, black stars dancing in front of his face. Swallowing deeply to force back the rising bile, he was suddenly aware of another presence.  “Huh? Who’s there?”

Panic over rode Daniel’s sense of reason, and blindly, he kicked at the blanket cocooning him. Jumping to his feet, the boy looked around wildly for an escape. “Wha—?”

“Daniel!” A gruff voice shouted out near his ear.

Eyes rounding with fear, Daniel felt his arm held firmly. “Hey! No!  Lemme go! Lemmee goooo!”  Determined to break the hold, he eyed the hand restraining him and hissed, “You’ll be sorry, mister!” Grunting, he bit as hard as he could. Pleased with the cry of pain he heard, Daniel snapped, “Told you! I said… lemme go!”

“Holy crap! Did you bite me? Crap!” 

Paying no attention to his captor’s yelp, Daniel kicked out even harder, frantically trying to free his arm. “Ouch! Let me go!”

“Nope, behave yourself!” The man glowered, and wrapping his arm tight around Daniel’s ribcage growled softly into his ear, “That wasn’t nice.  I know you’re scared and confused but that’s no excuse for that type of behavior.  Now, I’m going to let go, and I don’t want you to move.  Think you can do that for me?”

Daniel nodded his head slowly. His options were limited and he knew it. Feeling himself released, he grimaced, his arm throbbing from being held.

“Ouch! You hurt me!” Daniel couldn’t help the whine that slipped into his voice.

“No I didn’t. So, you little hellcat, you okay now?” Daniel watched in confusion as the man grinned at him then sucked at his bitten hand. “I’m the one who should be whining!”

Daniel wrapped his arms around his body and shivered, then immediately felt the softness of a blanket being draped around his shoulders.  He tensed momentarily then gripped the edges of the blanket and hugged it tightly.

“Fine! Not sorry though! I warned you to leave me alone!” Daniel muttered sourly under his breath. “Bully!” Flicking his eyes up, Daniel took a quick breath. “Jack?” Confused, he wondered why the man smiling back at him seemed oddly familiar.

“Hallelujah! Yeah, Danny?”

“Jack? Is that you?” Daniel stared at the lean frame of the man before him. “It is, isn’t it?”  Images flashed into his mind, pictures of places he was sure he’d never been. People he’d never met, and yet in these images Jack was always with him. The memories were so vivid, yet the more he tried to hold onto them, the more they flitted away. Grief and confusion threatened to overwhelm him and he felt an all-consuming tiredness sweep through his body.

“Come on, Daniel, let’s get you warmed up.”

Allowing himself to be guided by Jack, Daniel fell into the sleeping bag and shivered.

 

Part 2

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