Bless the Children (Gen Version)
Categories: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Drama
Content Warning: Mild Profanity
Spoilers: Anything up to the middle of Season 7 is fair game.
Author's Notes: There is also a Daniel/Sam Ship version.
The town was an odd mixture of technology and primitiveness. The buildings and the clothing that the people wore were simple and similar to what would have been seen in rural Europe during the early to mid nineteenth century, as would the carts being drawn by horse-like creatures. Yet there were also electric lights, vehicles powered by what Sam guessed was either electricity or some sort of clean-burning fuel, and other objects of a pretty advanced technology. It was as if the town was in a time warp that blended the present with an era of long ago.
The people gazed at SG-1 with curiosity, but no fear, some doing no more than glancing at them before continuing with whatever they were doing.
"Either these people are used to visitors or they're all gellin'," Jack remarked.
"What is the meaning of the word 'gellin', O'Neill?" Teal'c inquired.
"It's from those ridiculous commercials for gel insoles. You know, the ones they claim are so comfy that not even some idiot ramming your car from behind will wipe the asinine smile off your face."
"How could having comfortable insoles for your shoes prevent you from being angered by such an incident?"
"Good question. Maybe you should write to the company and ask them."
The conversation was cut short by the approach of three people, two men and a woman. They came to a stop before SG-1.
"Welcome to Cedarna, strangers," the man in front greeted, "our homes are yours."
Daniel stepped forward. "Thank you. I'm Daniel Jackson. This is Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter and Teal'c. We are explorers. We've come to meet your people and get to know you, perhaps find things of interest to trade for."
The man smiled, as did the other two people. "Then you are doubly welcome, friends. I am Esha." He gestured toward the other man and then the woman. "This is Cath and Derdri. We are the governors for this town. Are you the leader of your group?"
"No, that would be me," Jack said, taking a step forward. "Daniel is sort of our spokesperson, the one who always makes nice with the people we meet . . . or at least tries to."
"Ah." Esha stepped back and gestured for them to move forward. "Come then, friends. Let us go to the Hall of Meetings so that we may speak."
Though the people seemed friendly, Jack never relaxed his guard as he and his teammates followed the three natives to what appeared to be the largest building in town. They walked through what was obviously some kind of public hall and went into a much smaller side room furnished with a dozen chairs positioned around an oval table. Esha, Cath and Derdri sat at one end and motioned for SG-1 to sit at the other.
"You have come through the ring, have you not?" Esha asked.
"Yes. We call it the Stargate," Sam replied.
"Others have come through before. Some were like you, seeking knowledge or trade. Others came with evil intentions," the man looked at Teal'c, "ones who bore a mark on their foreheads as you do."
"Jaffa have come here?" Daniel asked in interest. "Didn't they try to enslave your people?"
"Yes, they demanded that we worship their god, but we refused."
"So, how come you're still alive?" Jack asked. "The Goa'uld, these so-called gods most of the Jaffa serve, generally don't take no for an answer."
"Though we use it only in times of great need, there is a powerful weapon at our disposal."
That instantly piqued the interest of Jack and Sam.
"What sort of weapon?" the colonel asked, leaning forward.
"It draws its power from the heart of this world. It was already here when we came to this planet. Its power destroyed the ships of those who came, then killed a great many of the warriors that had come through the ring. The ones who survived fled and never returned."
"If you don't mind, I'd love to take a look at it," Sam said.
"Certainly. Someone will take you to it before you depart from our world."
"Esha, we noticed that, though your homes are of a simple design, your clothing appears to be handmade from natural materials, and you still use carts drawn by animals, you also have some items of advanced technology," Daniel commented. "It seems kind of incongruous."
It was Derdri who replied. "Our people have always valued a simple life that is in harmony with nature. As the years passed and our knowledge of how to make such things grew, we chose to retain the simpleness of our lives in as many ways as we could. The technology you see makes the lives of many easier, but we do not rely upon it, nor do we make any machine that would harm our world."
"That was a wise decision. It's a shame that our world isn't the same way," Daniel commented.
SG-1 and the three Cedarnans talked for another hour. Jack and Sam wanted to learn more about the technology of this planet, whereas the Cedarnans were very interested in Earth's medical advancements. It appeared that, though they were fairly advanced technologically in some ways, they were far behind Earth when it came to medicines and other medical treatments.
After the meeting, Derdri took Sam to go see the weapon, and Cath agreed to show Jack and Teal'c some of their other technology. Daniel wanted to learn more about their people and history, so Esha, who had expressed an interest in talking with him some more, offered to take him to their library, though Daniel figured that he might not be able to read the language.
"I have a talent for seeing the character of a person," the Cedarnan told Daniel as the two walked down the street, "and I have learned much in this time that we have spoken with you and your companions. This man named O'Neill, the one who is your leader, he is one with the heart of a warrior. There are no warriors among my people since there is no war, but we have met the warriors of other cultures. I feel that O'Neill does not trust easily."
"Well, you're right about that. It takes a lot to earn Jack's trust, but it's worth the effort."
"Teal'c, too, follows the path of the warrior."
"Yes. He once served the Goa'uld, but he came to realize that they weren't gods and now fights with us to defeat them."
"And Samantha. She is also a warrior, but she is a scientist as well. I sense that is her true passion."
Daniel smiled. "Yeah. Sam is a member of the military, and she's well trained to fight, but she is, first and foremost, a scientist. She'll have all kinds of fun figuring out how that weapon of yours works, as well as your other technology."
Esha nodded. He looked at Daniel. "And then there is you. You intrigued me the most. As we spoke, it was clear that you are a scholar, a man of great learning and knowledge. You seek to know about us as a people, not our technology. I sense also that you are a man who values peace and the sanctity of life. Yet there is the touch of the warrior in you as well. Forgive me if I am wrong, but it seems as if you are not a warrior by your own choosing."
Daniel didn't respond for a few seconds. "Years ago, nobody would have called me a warrior. My training is in studying cultures, both of the past and the present, and in their languages. But, eight years ago, my whole life changed. I became involved in the Stargate Program. We encountered the Goa'uld out there, and they became our enemy. Because of this, I have had to learn to fight, to be a warrior, but it's not something that I'd have chosen for myself."
"You would wish for there to be peace."
"Yes, if it was possible. Unfortunately, I doubt that will ever happen, not as long as the Goa'uld are still out there. They have no interest in peace and would destroy my world, if they could."
"It is a sad thing that a man of peace must practice war to protect his people."
Daniel did not reply. This conversation was getting too close to one of the things that had come to bother him a great deal before his ascension, the fact that he had lost sight of who he was and what his purpose really was. Since returning to human form, Daniel had become more content with the role he played at the SGC and on SG-1, but there were still times when he was frustrated by the actions and mentality of the military he worked for, like during the recent incident with the native population of Unas on P3X-403.
When they arrived at the library, Daniel was surprised to see that the written language bore a striking resemblance to Ogham, the oldest known form of the Irish language. With help from Esha, Daniel soon had a strong grasp of the language.
"You learn very quickly, Daniel. I am impressed," the Cedarnan commented.
"Well, this language is derived from a very old one on my planet. It's no longer used in that form, but I learned the language during my schooling."
Esha gazed at him in surprise. "But how it is that our language comes from one on your world?"
"Um, well, you see, long ago, the Goa'uld stole people from my planet and took them to other worlds. Your ancestors were originally from Earth. Once they were taken from there, they eventually developed their own culture, their language slowly changing over time."
"Then we are the same people, yours and mine?"
"In essence, yes, as well as the people on thousands of other planets across the galaxy."
"I am pleased to know this, that we have so many brothers and sisters among the stars."
Daniel spent the next three hours learning about the Cedarnans, some of it coming from books, but most of it from Esha. The man seemed very willing to share his knowledge. He was also eager to know things about Daniel and his people, and the archeologist told him as much as he thought would be wise.
The Cedarnan took an object from his pocket. "This is something you might find interesting." He handed it to Daniel.
"What is it?"
"It is a device that enables one person to share their knowledge with another by transferring it directly to their mind."
"Wow. Really? That's amazing. It must make teaching pretty easy. A teacher could transfer their knowledge straight into the brains of their students."
"Yes, but there is a drawback. Some personal memories and knowledge can also be included in the transfer."
"Ah. Yes, that would be a drawback."
"It is rarely used. However, if there was some knowledge that you or your companions needed that could not be found in another way, one of us who has that knowledge would be willing to give it to you through that."
"Thank you very much, Esha. It's a generous offer." Daniel handed the device back to the man. "If we really need it, I'll let you know, but I don't think it will be necessary."
As they left the library a few minutes later and headed back toward the Hall of Meetings, Daniel looked about at the town and its people. There was a sense of peace about the place that appealed to him. Yet there was something missing, something that should be there but was not.
And then it suddenly hit him.
"Esha, where are all the children?" he blurted out. "Are they in school?"
"Yes, those children that we have been blessed with are in school."
There was something in the man's voice, a hint of sorrow that made Daniel look at him. "Is there something wrong?"
"Children are a very rare thing for us, Daniel," the Cedarnan explained sadly. "Only one couple in four gives birth to one. It was not always that way. Once, long ago, the streets were filled with children. It is that way no longer."
"But with that low a birthrate, how do your people survive?"
The man paused before answering. "We survive however we can. It has made it necessary for us to change our lives in certain ways."
"Esha, I'm no doctor, but is it possible that there's something on this planet, either in the food, the water or the air, that's affecting your ability to reproduce? Have your scientists looked into this?"
"Yes, but they have found nothing. Our knowledge of such things is not extensive, not, I would guess, as great as that of your people."
"Well, maybe our doctors can look into it and see what's causing it."
"They would have our deep gratitude if they did."
Jack and Teal'c were already in the meeting room when Daniel and Esha got there. Sam arrived a few minutes later. Respecting that the people from Earth may wish to talk in private, the three Cedarnans left, saying that they would return in an hour with food and beverages.
"So, what did you find out, Carter?" Jack asked.
"Well, sir, that weapon is really something else. From what I could find out, it has tremendous power. What Esha said about it led me to make some guesses, and I think I was right. I believe that the weapon draws thermal energy from the planet's core. If that's true, the destructive potential would be enormous. However, it's also very dangerous. You couldn't use it very often. The more you used it, the more heat it would take from the core. If the core lost too much heat, the planet would die."
"So, I'm guessing that this isn't a technology we're going to be eager to use on Earth."
"No, sir, not on that big a scale, but it's possible that we might be able to learn enough from it to create similar weapons on a much smaller scale, like something that could be hooked up to a nuclear reactor. It would take a while to study it in depth, though."
"Of course it would," Jack responded. Nothing like that was ever quick.
"What about you, sir? Did you and Teal'c find anything of interest?"
"Oh, yes, all kinds of interesting doohickeys. Their cars are kind of cool. They let me take a little spin in one. They run on hydrogen."
Sam's eyes lit with interest. "Really? Wow. We've been working on perfecting hydrogen powered cars for years. We might be able to learn a lot from them."
"Well, I can tell you that the things wouldn't win any races. Top speed is around thirty-five miles per hour."
"That could be a matter of choice, Jack," Daniel responded. "The Cedarnans are very conscious about living in a way that doesn't damage the ecology. Faster cars would cause greater damage to plants and the soil and would mean a greater chance of hitting and killing animals. It would also increase the human death toll, and, from what I've learned, that would be a very big concern."
"What do yo mean?" Sam asked.
Daniel shared what he'd found out about the low birthrate. Sam agreed that it might have something to do with the soil, air or water on the planet.
"We'll take samples back with us for analysis," she said. "There's always a chance that we could find a way to help."
"Just don't tell them that and get their hopes up, okay?" Jack said.
"I won't, sir."
Daniel told them the other things he'd learned about the people and their history. "Judging by their written language, I originally believed that they were descended from the ancient Celtic people of the fourth to sixth century A.D., but things I learned from Esha and the books I looked at led me to believe that their ancestors came from a much earlier time period, perhaps as far back as the second century B.C.E., which is really quite exciting since the oldest known record of Ogham, the written form of Primitive Irish, dates back to no earlier than the fourth century. It's been theorized that the origin of Ogham was a great deal further back in history, and what I now know appears to support that. What's just as interesting is that I think that some of the people taken from Earth were druids."
Jack's eyebrows lifted. "Druids? You mean the people that lived inside trees?"
"No, Jack, those are dryads, also known as wood nymphs, female tree spirits from Greek mythology. The druids were a priestly class in ancient Celtic societies throughout the British Isles and much of Western Europe north of the Alps. Besides being priests, the druids had many other roles in Celtic society, including philosophers, judges, teachers, historians, and doctors. They were also believed by some to possess magical abilities and the power to foresee the future."
"So, we're surrounded by a bunch of people who create magic potions and weave spells?"
"I seriously doubt that, Jack. I saw nothing in their history books to lead me to that conclusion, and Esha didn't say a word about anything like that. If some of their ancestors were druids, it's likely that religion faded away centuries ago. However, the Cedarnans' views about nature may very well have grown from the beliefs of the druids. All of nature, most especially trees, was of great importance to the druids, and certain trees, plants and animals were particularly sacred to them, such as mistletoe. The Celtic people as a whole lived very closely with nature, depending upon it to survive."
"Um, Daniel, didn't the druids sometimes perform human sacrifices?" Sam asked.
The archeologist shook his head. "Though Julius Caesar claimed that the druids did engage in human sacrifice, many historians and archeologists believe this was a form of anti-druid propaganda. After all, he was trying to conquer the Celts, so he had good reason to make them look bad. There is no indisputable archeological evidence that proves the druids did sacrifice humans, although it's generally accepted that they did sacrifice animals."
"So much for keeping the little furry critters alive," Jack remarked.
"Animal sacrifices to gods were quite common in many ancient civilizations all over the planet, Jack."
When Esha and two other Cedarnans arrived with trays of food, the members of SG-1 looked at the fruit, bread and cheese uncertainly.
"Uh, not that we don't appreciate your generosity," Jack said, "but I think we should pass."
"You fear that the food will make you ill?" Esha asked, puzzled.
"Not ill, Esha," Daniel replied. "I think Jack's worried that, if the reason for your problem in having children is connected to the food, it could cause a problem for us, too."
"You need not fear such a thing. Sometimes, visitors come to our world and choose to stay. We have found that they are able to have children, as are their descendants for two generations afterwards. It is not until the third generation that their descendants become like the rest of us."
"Okay, then we want to make sure that our great grandkids can keep passing on our genes." Jack looked at his teammates, "not that that's going to be a concern for us if the state of affairs keeps going the way it is."
Upon seeing the Cedarnan's confusion, Daniel explained. "Teal'c is the only one of us who has a child."
Esha looked at the Jaffa. "You are most fortunate."
"Yes, I am," Teal'c agreed. "My son is a source of great joy to me."
Esha dipped his head slightly. "Bless the children, for they are a great gift to be cherished." He turned back to the others. "I understand your concern. I would not wish us to inflict upon another people the sorrow that we bear."
"If you don't mind, Esha, I'd like to take back samples of that food for our scientists to analyzing," Sam said. "We're also going to bring back soil, air and water samples."
"Certainly. Take whatever you need." The man hesitated. "Would it be permissible for us to have samples of your blood? Our own scientists wish to study your blood to see how it differs from ours."
Jack was about to say no when Daniel spoke up. "Sure. I don't see why not."
"Thank you. I will send someone to take the blood." Seeing the look on Jack's face, he added, "Or, if you prefer, they will give you the containers, and one of you can draw the blood."
"That'll be fine, Esha," Daniel told him. "We'll be here."
"Daniel," Jack said as soon as the Cedarnans were gone. "I don't think it's such a good idea for them to have some of our blood."
"What are you afraid they're going to do with it, Jack, perform some arcane, magical ritual?"
"Well, no, that wasn't the first thing that came to my mind, but now that you mention it—"
"Jack, these people have virtually no children. Look around on the streets. There should be kids playing out there. There should be mothers carrying babies around. Only one in four families gets to have that. Tell me this, Jack. If, after years if trying, you and Sarah found out that you couldn't have kids, and then someone came along who might be able to change that, what would you be willing to do to see that happen?"
Jack took a moment to reply. Though he'd only had a few short years with Charlie, he wouldn't have given up those years for anything. "A lot," he finally admitted.
"Then please don't refuse to give these people something that might help them."
Jack sighed silently. "Okay, Daniel." Then his expression changed. "But I swear, if somebody uses my blood to start doing voodoo on me, I'm coming after you."
"Voodoo, as we know it today, originated in Haiti, Jack, and was a derivative of ancient religions in Africa. It has nothing to do with the druids."
"Actually, we should get blood samples from the Cedarnans, too," Sam said. "And Janet would probably want sperm samples as well."
"Okay, now there's where I draw the line," Jack declared. "We can ask these people for some blood, but there is no way that I'm gonna ask one of those guys to make a donation in a cup."
Blood samples were taken from Daniel, Sam and Jack, and SG-1 was given samples of blood taken from a male and a female Cedarnan who had no children and from a couple who did. After gathering all the soil, water and air samples that Sam thought they might need, she and her teammates headed back to the gate, promising that they'd return soon. The Cedarnans were eager to trade their own technological knowledge for the medical knowledge of Earth.
"So, how did it go, SG-1?" Hammond asked.
"Good, sir," Sam responded. "The native people are very friendly and are eager to work out a trade for their technology."
"And nobody performed any animal sacrifices while we were there," Jack added.
The general stared at him. "Excuse me?"
"Ignore him, General," Daniel said. "I'll explain everything at the debriefing."
"Very well. We'll debrief in an hour."
In the infirmary, as they got their post-mission checkups, Daniel and Sam told Janet about the low birthrate on Cedarna. She was intrigued and promised to take a look at the samples they brought back.
In the debriefing, Sam and Daniel did most of the talking, though Jack interjected a few wisecracks here and there. The archeologist focused a lot on the Cedarnans' problem of not being able to have kids, trying to convince Hammond that they should do all they could to help.
"I'm not sure how much we could help them, Doctor Jackson, but I will let Doctor Fraiser know that she has my okay to pursue this," the general said.
"Thank you, sir," Daniel responded.
Hammond turned to Jack. "I'm pleased by the Cedarnans' willingness to share their technology, and I'm sure that my superiors will be as well. I will have Doctor Fraiser start gathering any medical information that she thinks the people might benefit from and be willing to trade for. Did they request any medical equipment or medicines as well?"
"We really didn't get into details with them, sir," the colonel replied. "We figured that could be done on the return trip."
"All right. We can turn this over to SG-9. They'll work out the details on the trade agreement."
"Um, sir, I'd really like to stay on this," Daniel said.
"Doctor Jackson, SG-1's primary designation is a first contact team. Things like working out trade agreements is the specialty of some of the other teams."
"I know that, sir, but this is more than a trade agreement. In the short time that I talked with Esha, I got to know their people pretty well, and I think that I built a good rapport with him. I'd like to follow through on it. This wouldn't be the first time that SG-1 continued taking the lead in helping the inhabitants of a planet. The Enkarans are one example. If Jack doesn't want to go back there, I can join SG-9 when they go. I just don't want Esha and the others to have to get to know a bunch of new people without at least one familiar face among them."
Hammond looked at Jack. "Colonel?"
Jack met Daniel's eyes, seeing the plea there. "We can go back, sir, at least this first time. SG-9 can come, too, and we'll make introductions."
"All right. We'll schedule the mission for 0700 hours on Friday. That will give Doctor Fraiser three days to do her analysis on the samples."
As it turned out, Janet didn't need the three days to figure out the problem.
"It's the water," she told SG-1 when they came to the infirmary at her request. "There's a chemical in it that acts as a spermicide. Small doses wouldn't do any harm, but, after years of exposure, it would build up in the body. What you told me about the descendants of newcomers to the planet leads me to believe that the chemical is being transmitted to the children, most likely through the placenta, but that it takes a few generations for the effects to become critical. I'm betting that, if you asked the Cedarnans, they'd admit that each generation from the newcomers has a progressively harder time producing children. I found the chemical in all the blood samples you brought back, both the men and women. In men, it would likely greatly reduce the number of sperm they produced. In women, it could affect the environment in the uterus, making it hostile to sperm."
"Okay, you said it's only in the water? Not the soil?" Sam questioned.
"No, it isn't in the soil at all, although I did find traces in the samples of fruit and vegetables that you brought back."
"Then it can't be coming from the rain or snow. If that was the source, the soil would be contaminated, too."
"The Cedarnans are farmers," Daniel stated. "Their primary source of food is the crops they grow, and they irrigate their crops and orchards with water from the river."
Sam nodded. "Which would explain why the chemical is in the fruits and vegetables." She turned to Janet. "If the level of this chemical keeps rising with each generation, wouldn't it mean that, eventually, none of them would be able to have children at all?"
"I'm guessing that the saturation level reaches a certain point and won't go beyond that. I've still got tests to run, which may answer more questions."
"Can we help them?" Daniel asked.
"There are certain treatments that have proven effective in increasing sperm count, but I don't know how well they'll work in this situation. We may not be able to help this generation, but, if we get rid of the chemical in the water, after a few generations, it should stop being a problem."
Though Daniel was happy to hear that the future of the Cedarnan people might be saved, he was disappointed that they probably couldn't help this generation.
"We'll work on finding a way to neutralize the chemical," Janet said. "It could take a while, though. In the meantime, I don't think it would be wise to tell them that we might have a solution, just in case we can't come up with one."
"If you can't, then maybe they can move to another planet, one that doesn't have tainted water," Sam suggested.
"You know, if these people are descended in part from druids, I find this kind of ironic," Daniel murmured.
"Well, in Pliny the Elder's 'Naturalis Historia', he said the druids believed that giving a barren animal a drink made of mistletoe would enable the animal to produce offspring. There is no mistletoe on Cedarna." That's when Daniel thought of something. "Wait a minute. That planet has wildlife, plenty of it, and the Cedarnans raise livestock, which appear to have no trouble breeding. Wouldn't this spermicide affect the animals, too?"
"Not necessarily," Janet replied. "Chemicals that affect human beings don't always have the same effect on other species. It could also be that the animals have something in their systems that provides a natural immunity to the chemical."
"If you can't find a way to neutralize it, could there be a way to synthesize something from the animals if they do have an immunity?"
"It's possible. If we don't come up with something, we can try that route."
Daniel was watching a special on Native Americans that evening when there was a knock on his door. He opened it to find Sam on the other side.
"Hey. I wasn't expecting a visit," he said with a smile. "What brings you here?"
"Oh, I just thought I'd drop by. Ever since you descended, we haven't had many chances to spend some time together outside of work, just the two of us, I mean. I kind of miss that."
Daniel's smile softened. "Me too, Sam. Come on in." They headed into the living room. He glanced down at what she was carrying. "So, what's in the bag?"
"One of your favorites, chocolate walnut cookies."
Daniel grinned. "I haven't had any of those since I descended. Thanks, Sam."
The major walked over to the TV. "What are you watching?"
"Just a special on Native America. I'll turn it off."
Once the TV was off, Sam and Daniel went into the dining room and sat at the table to enjoy the cookies.
"Mmm. I'd forgotten how good these are," the archeologist remarked.
"Daniel, there's something that I've been wondering about since we got back from Cedarna," Sam said after a few more seconds of eating her cookie. "You seem so driven to help those people with their infertility problem. Why?"
The archeologist did not say anything for several long seconds. "Did you ever wonder why Sha're and I didn't have any kids?"
"Uh, no, not really."
"Well, we tried. Throughout that whole year we tried. Sha're wanted children so badly, and I wanted to give them to her. But it never happened. During those last couple of months, I caught Sha're crying several times. She said that she was cursed, that Ra had punished her for her part in the rebellion by making her infertile. I told her that wasn't so, that it was just hard for some people to have babies, that it was nobody's fault. The truth was that I didn't know if the problem was with Sha're or with me." He paused. "When I saw her pregnant with Apophis' child, I figured that I was the one who had the problem, that I was sterile. I still don't know if that's true. I never had myself tested, didn't figure there was any point to it after Sha're died."
"I'm sorry, Daniel. I didn't know."
"I understand the pain the Cedarnans are going through, Sam. The sadness I saw in Esha's eyes is the same thing I saw in Sha're's so many times. I just want to do all I can to give the Cedarnans something that Sha're and I never got to have together."
Sam reached over and laid her hand upon her friend's. "We will help them, Daniel. I promise."