IMPORTANT: Please read the note at the end. It has some important information that I think will make a lot of you very happy.
The mission went well. They accomplished their goal, and, better than that, nobody got killed. After arriving back at the Tok'ra base, they discussed the results.
"Well, not that this hasn't been a hoot," Jack said after the meeting was over, "but it's time for us to be getting home."
"Wouldn't it be somewhere around three in the morning there?" Jacob asked.
Sam glanced at her watch. "Yes, it would. No wonder I'm tired."
"Why not just stay and get a full night's sleep, then? You can head back in the morning. The SGC has already been contacted and told that the mission was a success."
After mulling it over in his head, and hearing from his team that they were fine with that, Jack agreed.
The members of SG-1 said good night and went off to their individual quarters. Daniel had been in his for around five minutes when he heard a knocking sound.
"Knock, knock," said Jacob's voice from the other side of the material that had been draped over the opening for privacy, something the Tok'ra did not do for their own quarters.
"Come in," Daniel responded.
Jacob pushed aside the cloth and came in. "I've been thinking about that . . . issue we discussed before."
"Yeah, me too. I couldn't think of any way that I could manage to go."
"Actually, I came up with an idea, but it will require us being a bit sneaky."
Straight-faced, Daniel said, "Sneaky? A Tok'ra being sneaky? Now, there's a concept."
Jacob stared at him, a little smile on his face. "Are you aware, Daniel, that you are starting to sound like Jack?"
Daniel made a face. "Yeah, I know. He's a bad influence on me. So, what is this sneaky plan?"
In a low voice to avoid being overheard, Jacob explained what he had in mind.
"I'm not sure Jack will go for it," Daniel told him.
"It'll only be for a couple of days, and I doubt you have another mission scheduled this soon. Will you need to be there for tomorrow's debriefing?"
"I doubt it. It's not like I'd have anything to contribute to it. I was pretty much just along for the ride on this mission."
Jacob heard a little note in Daniel's voice, but didn't say anything about it.
"I guess all we can do is ask," he said.
"So, everybody ready to get out of here?" Jack asked the next morning as he met up with his team. Jacob was there as well.
"Actually, Jack, I'd like Daniel to stay behind for a bit," the Tok'ra told him. He quickly held up his hand. "Now, before you say anything, let me explain. It isn't a mission, and he won't be in any danger. It'll be two days at the most."
Jack stared at the man suspiciously. "So, what do you want him for?"
"A translation job. There are some ruins that we've suspected for a while might have some important information contained in the writing, but none of us can translate it. I'm hoping that Daniel might be able to help."
The colonel's gaze shifted to the archeologist. "Did you already know about this?"
"Jacob approached me about it last night. I'm fine with it, Jack. At least I'll be of more use than I was on the mission."
Jacob glanced sharply at Daniel, hearing that note in his voice again.
Jack frowned. "I can't say that I'm happy about this. Can't it wait? Then we could all go there."
Daniel sighed in exasperation. "Jack, in case you didn't notice, I'm a big boy. I think I can handle being on my own with Jacob. You, Sam or Teal'c wouldn't have anything to do while we were there. You'd just be twiddling your thumbs."
Hearing the irritation in Daniel's voice, Jack relented. "All right. If Hammond gives a green light, you can go." He looked at Jacob. "But you'd better return him in the same condition he left in."
"I promise that I will keep him all in one piece, Jack."
Hammond approved of the plan, so it was just Jack, Sam and Teal'c who departed through the gate. A short while later, Daniel and Jacob left as well, but the address they dialed was not the one for the planet with the waiting translation.
As they exited Estrania's Stargate, Jacob began looking around, the symbiote inside him saddened by what he saw. Selmak took over control.
"I never returned here after we evacuated," he said. "I didn't see any point to it. Some of the others did and told me about the destruction." He sighed. "Actually seeing it for myself is a great deal more difficult. It was a beautiful city." He glanced at his companion. "But then, you already know that." He shook himself out of his melancholy. "We must get going. We do not have a great deal of time."
As they walked, Daniel glanced often at the man beside him. Selmak's gaze was going everywhere, the look in his eyes telling Daniel that he was recalling how it looked when he lived there.
When they reached the palace, they both stopped.
"I have a lot of good memories of the years I lived there," Selmak murmured.
Daniel glanced at him. "Do you remember a man named Decimus? He looked after Egeria's library of scrolls and books and did the translations for her."
Selmak frowned for a moment, then his face cleared. "Ah, yes. I remember him." He smiled. "He was quite a man."
"Yes, he was."
"He lived to a shockingly old age compared to the average life span of the human citizens here."
"How old was he when he died?"
"Oh, if I recall correctly, I believe he was in his mid-nineties."
Daniel couldn't help it. He started smiling. He then gave a little laugh. "I told him once that I had no doubt that he'd live to be at least ninety. I'm glad that I was right. What about Titus? When I left, he'd recently become Decimus' apprentice."
Selmak nodded. "I remember him well. A fine, intelligent man. He took over as the keeper of the library after Decimus died. He was still in that position when the population was moved. He loved languages. He knew quite a few, from what I recall, although he claimed that he once had a friend who knew even more." Seeing the look on Daniel's face, he said, "He was talking about you."
"Probably so. Decimus made me tell him how many I knew so that he'd have a . . . 'worthy goal' to aim for."
Seeing something flicker in Daniel's eyes, Selmak said, "You cared about Decimus a great deal."
"Yeah. I still do. For me, it's only been a little over two weeks since we said goodbye. It's hard for me to grasp that he's actually been dead for two thousand years." Daniel paused. "Um, what about Aulus Horatius. He was Egeria's master builder."
"Aulus. I recall him vaguely. I met him only on a few occasions. It seems to me that he died some nine or ten years after I blended with my first host."
Daniel nodded, happy that the first friend he made on Estrania also had a long life.
He noticed that Selmak was now staring at him quite intently.
"I have a vague memory of something. It has been so long that the details have escaped me, but, now that I am thinking about it. . . . In the west garden there was a stone arch, quite beautiful, with many reliefs. I remember that there was a statue of Egeria there, but there were also statues of a man—"
Daniel let out a groan. "I knew it! I just knew that at least one of you would remember!"
"Then my memory is not playing tricks on me. The statues were of you."
"Yes, an example of Egeria's sense of humor, I think. I was the one who designed the stone arch. It was only supposed to have the statue of Egeria on top, but she secretly had those ones of me made. I was not thrilled when I saw them."
Selmak let out a chuckle. "I can imagine that you weren't."
They resumed their journey, the Tok'ra sharing little memories with Daniel about the city as they walked, Daniel, in turn, telling him about some of his experiences. Selmak came to a complete halt when the archeologist revealed one thing in particular. It was Jacob, however, who spoke.
"Chocolate? You actually introduced chocolate here?"
"Well, it was only something like chocolate since it wasn't made with cacao beans. Egeria loved it."
Jacob chuckled. "Selmak is busy laughing. His first host loved it as well. He had to keep curbing her yen for it to avoid her getting fat. He says it's nice to know who was responsible for the constant battle they had to wage over the girth of Prisca's waistline."
Daniel gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry."
"Well, at least this answers the question of how they had chocolate here centuries before it was created on Earth. I kind of wondered about that."
They did not stop again. They covered the remaining distance to the Furling ruins, Daniel asking questions about Egeria on the way.
As they entered the room with the time device, Jacob stared at it.
"Selmak is saying that he's amazed that this incredible piece of technology was here all that time, and none of them had any clue what it was."
"Well, there's no way they could have known. It wouldn't have worked for any of them."
Jacob looked at him. "It wouldn't?"
"Oh, uh, that's right. I didn't really get into that, did I. The device apparently had some kind of sensor that could detect the presences of Goa'uld symbiotes. As long as one was anywhere around, it wouldn't work. The sensor must have stopped working at sometime because, otherwise, the device wouldn't have worked with Teal'c being here."
"So, how did you figure this out?"
"From some of the text on the walls. That's also how I learned how to temporarily bypass the sensor and turn the thing on so that I could get home."
Jacob walked up to the device and studied it. After a moment, he asked, "So, how do you set the date you want to travel to?"
"You don't. You control where you're going by thinking about it."
Jacob gave him a look. "By thinking about it?"
"Don't ask me how it does it, Jacob. That's all I know. I got sent back to Egeria's time because of a random thought I had at the moment the device activated, and I managed to get back to this time by picturing it in my mind."
"So, how did you figure that out? Wait. Don't tell me. By the writing on the walls."
Daniel explained everything to him, what he'd read and the things he'd deduced from them.
Jacob shook his head. "Daniel, you do realize, don't you, that there are probably a relative handful of people who could have figured that out, even if they knew the language fluently."
"I'm sure there are a whole lot of people who could have done it."
"I don't think so. I sure couldn't have. I'd have looked at all those sayings and thought they were nothing more than what they appeared to be. You are right about one thing, though. The Goa'uld would never have given those things a second glance. The Furlings were pretty smart doing what they did." He looked back at the device. "Okay, let's see if we can take this thing apart."
Half an hour later, they were starting to believe that they wouldn't be able to get it apart short of blasting it to bits.
"There has to be a way of getting inside," Jacob insisted. He had a thought. "How about you go take a look at that wall and see if it tells you anything."
Figuring that he might as well since he was of no use just standing there, staring at the thing, Daniel got up. As Jacob continued his search for a way to open the device, the archeologist once again attempted to find a double meaning in the sentences on the wall. It took him thirty-five minutes to find something.
"'From the center of a flower, the bee gathers its pollen,'" he read aloud. "'No pollen can be gathered from a flower with tightly closed petals. Two is then needed for the pollen.'"
Jacob's forehead puckered. "Huh?"
"Exactly. The first two are simply statements of fact. There's no deep meaning to them, no wise observations. But then you have the third sentence, which seems to make no sense."
"So, what does the whole thing mean?"
"Well, I'm pretty sure that the tightly closed flower is the device. Saying that the bees gather pollen from the center of the flower leads me to believe that the center disk has to be used in some way to open the device."
"And the stuff about two being needed? Does that mean that you need two people?"
Daniel studied the passage. "It says 'two is', not 'two are'."
Daniel shook his head. "I don't think so." He came up to the device. "To unlock the device and get it to work, I had to turn this," he pointed at the tiny dot on the center disk, "to the six o'clock mark here." He rested his finger on one of the notches etched in the mental around the center.
"So, you're saying that the 'two' in the sentence is referring to the two o'clock position."
"Yeah, I think so, but it can't be that easy."
Daniel returned to the wall and looked at the next line down. He struggled with the translation.
"'The. . . .'" He frowned and shook his head. "I can't translate the next word. Okay, skip forward. 'The something encircles the world, but its . . .' I think that's waves. Ocean! That other word is ocean or maybe sea. 'The ocean encircles the world, but its waves do not move upon the shore. One must turn to see things in a different way.'"
"Okay, that one went completely over my head, Daniel."
"Yeah," the archeologist murmured, trying to figure it out. He began to mutter to himself. "The ocean encircles the world, but its waves do not move upon the shore. What the hell does that mean? I feel like I'm back on Kheb. Maybe Oma Desala took pointers from the Furlings . . . or vice versa."
Leaving the archeologist to the task of figuring it out, Jacob looked back at the device. That's when he noticed something. "Daniel, come take a look at this." The younger man walked over, and Jacob pointed at the device. "Look at the edging on the dome. Doesn't that pattern remind you of ocean waves?"
Daniel started getting excited. "You're right! I think that's it, Jacob."
"What's it? I mean, I agree this has something to do with the riddle, but what do we do now?"
"The waves encircle the dome, but they're not moving. 'One must turn to see things in a different way.' We have to turn the ring of waves. But, first, we have to turn the center disk to two o'clock."
Jacob shrugged. "It's worth a try."
The two men positioned themselves on either side of the pedestal.
"Okay, now, when I turned the . . . the dial to six, it started a timer," Daniel said, "so I'm guessing the same thing will happen this time as well, which means that we're only going to have a few seconds to turn the ring."
"Which way do we turn it?"
"That I don't know. I'm also only guessing which one is the number two since I don't know if their clock faces were numbered clockwise or counterclockwise. Since their writing reads left to right, that would lead me to believe that the numbers are positioned clockwise."
"Well, we can try to turn the ring clockwise, too."
The archeologist nodded. He turned the center disk to the two o'clock position, then he and Jacob grabbed hold of the decorative edge of the dome, and tried to turn it clockwise. It didn't budge.
"The other way," they said simultaneously.
Seeing that the timer was already almost halfway between the two and one o'clock positions, they quickly started trying to turn the ring the other way and were rewarded with a bit of movement. Putting a little more muscle into it, they got it to turn freely. They'd traveled in a full circle before it wouldn't go any further.
As the timer returned to its original position, the entire dome top began opening like flower petals. Daniel and Jacob took a few steps back to watch. The sides of the stand began opening as well. The central disk slid open, and the unlit blue orb rose from it.
Finally, everything came to a halt.
"Wow," said two voices.
Shooting a smile at each other, the men ventured forward. Jacob's eyes took in everything that was revealed.
"This is incredible," he said. "Selmak's never seen anything like it before. We couldn't even begin to figure out how this works."
"So, how do we take it apart? I'm not seeing any screws or bolts."
Jacob studied the device carefully. "I don't think we have to take it apart, not all of it. This orb appears to be one of the primary components. If we remove it, though things like opening and shutting the door may work, I doubt it will be able to send anyone back in time." He bent down and looked underneath the orb. "There appears to be a release here. Give me a hand, Daniel."
As Daniel held the orb steady, Jacob released it from its base. The two men then carefully set the orb down on the floor outside the chamber.
"So, you think that's it?" Daniel asked.
"It should be. The question is, will it close back up without the orb? I'd hate to leave it open."
Though it proved to be a lot more difficult with the dome in the open position, Daniel and Jacob managed to turn the rim back the other way, and the device closed.
"I get the feeling that the Furlings liked riddles and puzzles," Jacob remarked once everything was back to the way it was before.
"The Ancients also seemed to have a penchant for creating time devices that were hard to understand," Daniel responded, thinking about the thing on P4X-639. "And then there were the riddles that the Asgard placed in the Hall of Thor's Might to determine if the people had advanced far enough to be told the truth about their gods."
"So, you're saying that they had some kind of galactic 'confuse the lesser mortals' pact going on."
"Could be . . . although the Nox didn't strike me as the type that went for riddles and puzzles."
They left the room and looked down at the orb.
"So, what do we do with it?" Daniel wondered.
"Good question. It needs to be put someplace where it's not going to get damaged and won't accidentally be found."
Daniel turned his mind to the problem. "P3X-797," he said after a moment.
"Which one is that?"
"The Land of Light. The inhabitants are descended from the Minoan culture. Their technology is bronze age, so there's no danger of them figuring out what the thing is. Knowing Tuplo and his people, they would be honored to act as caretakers for the orb."
"Any danger that the Goa'uld will pay them a visit?"
"According to Tuplo, it's been quite a while since any came around. I'd say that it's yet another planet that the Goa'uld lost interest in."
Jacob nodded. "All right. It sounds like as good a place as any."
As Daniel had believed, the people of the Land of Light considered it to be a great honor to be entrusted with the orb and promised that they would put it someplace that would keep it from harm.
"So, now we go to the planet with the text I'm supposed to be translating?" Daniel questioned as they approached P3X-797's gate.
"Well, we can, but, the truth is that I don't really expect you to be able to translate it. I'm pretty sure that it's a completely alien language."
"Well, it doesn't hurt to take a look. We've got the time."
They headed to the planet. The gate was sitting inside a large room with metal panels etched with writing.
"We found some pieces of pretty advanced technology here," Jacob explained, "but we couldn't learn anything about the race that constructed it."
Daniel walked up to one of the panels. He'd been looking at it for about ten seconds when he began to smile.
"Don't tell me," Jacob said. "You can actually read it?"
"As a matter of fact, I can . . . well, at least in a limited capacity. This is a language that Decimus was teaching me. The race called themselves the Kenfara. From what Decimus knew, they died out around twenty-five hundred years ago."
Jacob shook his head with a smile. "Amazing. So, you really might be able to help us on this. And here I thought that I was going to have to tell the Tok'ra that it had been a wasted trip."
"Well, I'll try my best."
They spent the rest of the day there, Daniel spending most of his time translating the writing. Jacob spent a good part of his time watching.
'He is the one Egeria spoke of when she said that all that she was now was thanks to one who gave her trust when most in his place would have given only hatred,' Selmak said to his host. 'I could never get her to tell me his name.'
'Selmak, do you get the feeling that Daniel doesn't recognize the significance of what he did?'
'Yes. He firmly believes that Egeria would have become a Tok'ra even without his guidance. I do not agree.'
'I tend to feel that way, too, but Daniel did make a valid point that there had to be a beginning of the loop, a first time that he went back in time. What happened in the original timeline? From what you've shared with me, I can tell that Egeria really loved what she'd built on Estrania. I can't picture her leaving there if she didn't have to, yet the city must have been abandoned when SG-1 came through that first time. Otherwise, they wouldn't have made it to the Furling ruins. So, what happened?'
'That is a good question,' Selmak stated. 'Unfortunately, we'll never know the answer.'
Daniel's translation efforts, though yielding a lot of interesting information, didn't give the Tok'ra anything that would really help them. They thanked him anyway and told him that if they ever encountered other samples of the writing, they would contact him.
The archeologist headed home, where Jack complained about the Tok'ra wasting their time. Daniel didn't say anything in response. He had really been hoping that the translation would be of some value.
Ever since he'd returned to the present, Daniel's desire to contribute to the downfall of the Goa'uld was stronger than ever. He kept thinking of Egeria, everything she sacrificed to end the reign of the Goa'uld, how important and significant the things she did were. She'd had so much pride in him when she learned that he was part of a movement to put an end to the Goa'uld, but he really didn't feel all that deserving of that pride. How much had he really accomplished? He didn't think it was enough.
As the months passed, Daniel's feelings about not having done enough continued to grow. And then, more a year after his trip back in time, SG-1 went on the fateful mission to Kelowna. As Daniel lay dying, he admitted to Oma Desala that he believed his whole life was a failure, that nothing he did made enough of a difference. In his own mind, he had the thought that Egeria would have been disappointed in him.
As he ascended, he hoped that, at last, he would finally be able to do enough to be worthy of the pride the queen of the Tok'ra had in him.
She was dying. This Egeria knew. For so many years, the people of Pangar had made her spawn over and over again to provide them with larvae that they used to create their drug. There had been so many times when she wished Ra had killed her instead of putting her in stasis.
She was so tired. She wished to sleep and never wake up. It would be soon now. One more spawning cycle, perhaps two, and it would be over. She was glad, though, that, before dying, she was given the opportunity to see two of her children. More than that, she was excited by the sight of the others. Even after all this time, Egeria had recognized the strange clothing, clothing she saw for the first time on the body of the man she had come to love. These were Daniel's people! She wondered why it was that their clothing had not changed in all this time and why it was that they appeared to have the same devices he did, but she thought of that for only a moment. What mattered was that her children and Daniel's people appeared to have at last formed an alliance, just as she'd hoped they would. Daniel would have been so happy to know this.
But what of the Jaffa who had been at their side? He bore the mark of Apophis' First Prime. Could it be that, after so long of being enslaved to the will and power of the Goa'uld, the Jaffa were rising up against their masters? That was something Egeria could never have dreamed would happen. If it was true, then the days of the Goa'uld were surely numbered.
Egeria's mind turned to something that she had thought of often. Many humans and other races believed in an afterlife, that even after one's final breath was taken, life continued. The Goa'uld had no such beliefs, although, with their colossal egos, one would think that they would be certain they'd live for eternity in some form.
Egeria hoped that the people who believed such things were right, that, after death, the spirit passed on to another realm. Her sole reason for hoping this was that she might see Daniel on the other side. Even if he could not be hers in that afterlife, just to see him again would bring her such joy.
At that moment, a soft white light filled Egeria's vision, and she suddenly found herself standing in a strange, surreal version of her sitting room in the palace on Estrania. She looked at a hazy reflection of herself in a mirror and saw that she was in the body of Arria, the host she had long ago.
She turned, a gasp escaping her lips upon seeing the beloved face she had not seen in over two thousand years.
He smiled and came up to her. "Yeah. It's me, Egeria."
Thinking that her dearest wish had come true, Egeria asked, "Am I dead?"
The smile left Daniel's lips, replaced by a look of sadness. "No, not yet, but you're very weak. I don't know how much longer you'll survive. I wish I could do something about that, but the others won't let me."
"Please explain what is happening. How can you be here?"
"There are things I didn't tell you because I believed that the risk was too great. What I said about being involved in an effort to bring down the Goa'uld was true, but what I didn't say was that what I was talking about had yet to happen. I was not from that time, Egeria. I had accidentally traveled back in time over two thousand years, from this time. After we said goodbye, I managed to get back home to my time. For me, it has been only two years since I saw you."
Though stunned by his revelation, Egeria accepted it without question. "I saw the humans who are here with my children. Are they your people?"
Daniel's smile returned, though it was much softer this time and held a touch of wistfulness. "Yeah. They're my friends. They don't know I'm here, though. It's . . . kind of hard to explain. My people are the Tau'ri, Egeria, from the first world, Earth. We're free from the Goa'uld now, have been for a long time. It took a while, but they finally left us alone. Since then, we've advanced far. As you've seen, we are now allied with the Tok'ra against the Goa'uld and have already brought down some of them. Ra was the first to go. Hathor's dead, too."
Egeria smiled in delight. "It brings me great pleasure to know that the symbiotes you helped to create are now your allies and that you have succeeded in destroying some of the Goa'uld."
"It's been a long road, but I do think that Earth, the Tok'ra, and the Jaffa friends we now have will eventually bring the Goa'uld down."
The Tok'ra queen studied Daniel closely. There was something about him, a feeling of power and otherworldliness. "What has happened to you, Daniel?"
"It's a long story, Egeria, one I don't have time to tell you. I'm no longer human. I have ascended to a plane of existence above the one you exist upon. I'm pure energy now."
Egeria was amazed. Her Daniel was now a being superior to the Goa'uld. What did he look like in his natural form?
"May I see what you look like?" she asked.
Egeria watched as the figure of the man she knew was transformed into a being of light and energy. He was beautiful. And she knew without asking that he was also immortal.
She smiled as his form returned to its human appearance. "I rejoice that this has happened, my Daniel. It fills me with happiness that you will live forever, for you above all deserve it."
Daniel's eyes flickered away from hers for a moment, then returned. "If I could, I'd help you ascend, too, Egeria, but I'm not allowed to because of what you are, what you used to be."
Daniel nodded. "I've been told that there is too much of a danger that the power you'd gain with ascension would bring out the lust for power that is inherent in the Goa'uld. I know that it wouldn't, but—"
"It is all right, Daniel," Egeria interrupted gently. "I am prepared for death. In fact, I welcome it. It is time for me to rest."
Daniel came up to her the rest of the way. He laid his hand upon her arm.
"I want you to know that I forgave you, Egeria. I know that what you did was unintentional, and I don't hold it against you."
Tears of joy filled Egeria's eyes. "I am so glad, my Daniel." Through the blur of tears, she took in every inch of his face, the face she had loved so well. It was so good to see him again. "Please. May I hold you?"
Daniel smiled and nodded, pulling her into a gentle embrace. She clung to him as the tears fell.
The hug was far too short for Egeria. When Daniel drew back, the look in his eyes told her that he had to leave.
"I have to go now. I wish I could stay longer. Don't tell anyone about me coming to you. It needs to remain a secret."
"I will tell no one." Egeria touched his cheek as she had many times all those centuries ago. "Thank you for coming to me, for telling me these things. I will die happy now."
Daniel nodded, blinking away tears from his own eyes. He backed away half a step.
"Farewell, my beloved Daniel," Egeria said. "In all these years, I never stopped loving you."
One of Daniel's tears broke free. "I still care about you, too, Egeria."
The mother of the Tok'ra nodded, noting that he did not speak the word "love" back to her. But she had already known that her love was never returned and had accepted that long ago.
"There is something I wish you to know as well," she said. "I was never angry or bitter that you did not return my love. No creature in this universe can rule their own heart, and I would never have wanted you to become my lover if your heart did not want it as much as I did. Though I dearly wish that there could have been more between us, just having your love as a friend was more precious to me than I could ever express."
His throat too tight to speak, Daniel nodded, more tears sliding down his face. He reached out a hand and ran the backs of his fingers across her cheek, his eyes telling her all that he was feeling.
As Daniel's form began to fade, the light around Egeria brightened. The last thing she heard before the place she was in faded away to be replaced by the real world was Daniel saying, "I will never forget you, Egeria."
With a deep sense of sorrow, Daniel stood, silent and unseen, as Egeria's shroud-covered body was taken to the Stargate. The Tok'ra queen's final act had been to save the lives of the very people who had put her through so much suffering. It didn't surprise Daniel one bit. He should have been allowed to help her ascend. If there was anyone who deserved it, it was her.
Daniel was growing frustrated with the laws of the Ascended. He was trying hard not to be, but, ever since the incident with Jack, when he'd had to pretty much sneak around behind the backs of the other Ascended to help his friend, he'd started to become disillusioned with the whole ascension thing. He had not yet met any of the other Ascended, but, from what he'd learned, they were clearly set in their ways regarding their rules, and it was likely that nothing he said to them would make any difference.
He sensed the presence of someone behind him. He glanced over his shoulder at Oma.
"You are sad," she said as she came up to him.
"Of course I'm sad, Oma. I cared about her very much. She was a remarkable person."
"You are angry that I would not let you help her ascend."
"Yes, I'm angry. How else do you expect me to feel? You were wrong about her. She wouldn't have turned evil if she'd ascended. You've spent thousands of years helping all sorts of people reach ascension, yet you wouldn't let me help her, someone who really deserved it, because of what she used to be. Apparently, it didn't matter what she had become."
Oma could hear the deep bitterness in his voice. "I am sorry, Daniel. I can only say that I did what I believed was necessary."
Daniel turned away from her, not wanting to talk to her anymore. He really wished that she'd just go away and leave him to grieve alone.
Daniel watched as the gate was activated and Egeria's body was taken through. After she was gone, he remained until his ex-teammates were also gone, then he turned and walked away, hoping that Oma would now leave. But, apparently, she was determined to hang around.
"I sense that you are troubled about something else as well," she said.
Daniel halted. "You want to know what else is bothering me? I was thinking that I was glad that Egeria never learned that the man she was so proud of was a failure, that he never accomplished much of anything in his human life, and, even as an immortal, incredibly powerful being, still hasn't been able to do much that would make a difference."
"And yet this is so untrue, Daniel," Oma told him.
Daniel rounded upon her. "Okay, so tell me one thing I did that made a significant difference, that really mattered, one thing that wasn't just a case of sheer dumb luck, of simply stumbling into some situation that enabled me to get some important information."
"I could name many such things, Daniel, but I will name only one: your role in creating the Tok'ra."
"Just another case of dumb luck plopping me down in the right place at the right time."
"It was not luck that made you choose to attempt to guide Egeria to becoming a Tok'ra when, instead, you could have remained silent. It was not luck that enabled you to find the right words to say to her, to make her see things in a new light. Opening her heart with the gift of your friendship and trust was not a matter of good fortune. These things were done by you, and there was no other who could have done the same."
Daniel shook his head. "What Egeria did would have happened regardless sooner or later, even if I hadn't gone back in time and met her. It would have just taken a little longer."
"That, Daniel, is not so."
He stared at her closely. "What are you saying?"
"The Ascended cannot see the future, but we can look upon the past and see a pattern of what might have been if events had happened differently. If you had never gone to that time, if Egeria had never met you, the Tok'ra would never have come to be, and all that has been accomplished because of their existence would not have happened."
Daniel wasn't sure he could believe her. "Oma, are you certain of this?"
"I am quite certain."
Daniel turned and walked off a few paces. Had he actually done something that made a real, concrete difference? He desperately wanted to believe that.
Oma stepped up to him. "Egeria had good reason to feel pride in you, Daniel. She would recognize that you are not and have never been a failure. Through your many actions, decisions and sacrifices, you have altered the course of history and have played an important role in defeating evil many times."
He looked at her. "So, what happened to all that stuff about us being so small and the universe so vast?"
Oma smiled wisely. "The lowly worm is a tiny, humble thing, and yet, without it, there would be no growing things. If there were no growing things, there would be no creatures to eat them and no creatures to consume the ones that eat the growing things. If it were not for that tiny, humble worm, the circle of life would have been broken."
Saying nothing more, Oma smiled and vanished.
Daniel stood unmoving for a long while, then he looked up into the sky, thinking that maybe, just maybe, Egeria would have had some reason to be proud of him after all.
Daniel laid down the mission report about Pangar, which he had just finished reading. For a while now, he'd been intending to read it and the other reports of what went on while he was ascended, but hadn't gotten around to it. The recent events on Erebus and what occurred before then had renewed his curiosity, especially about the origin of Tretonin, the drug that ended Teal'c's reliance on a symbiote. If his teammates had told him what happened on Pangar and the shocking discovery they made there, he would have read the report long before now.
So, what the Tok'ra had believed was wrong. Egeria had not been killed by Ra all those centuries ago. She was put in a stasis jar, just like what happened to Osiris and Isis. The jar was eventually found by the Pangarans, and Egeria was forced to spawn larvae for their own use. It made him angry that she had to suffer through that. Yet, if that had not happened, Tretonin would never have been created, and, not only would both Teal'c and Bra'tac be dead, the Jaffa would also have no way to eliminate their reliance on the Goa'uld to survive.
Daniel wished that he'd been there on that mission just so that he could have talked to her again, let her know the things he couldn't tell her before. He wished he could have told her that he'd completely forgiven her.
With a sigh, Daniel closed the file folder and got up from the desk. He was nearly at the door when he was frozen in place by a sudden flash of memory, like what happened when he recalled the events on Erebus. Stunned, he stood still as his mind was flooded with memories of him and Egeria in a realm much like what Oma took him to when he was dying.
As the flash of memory faded, Daniel smiled. He was there. He did speak to Egeria. He was given the opportunity to tell her the truth about him. More important than that, he was able to say that he'd forgiven her. She had died content with that knowledge.
Knowing what he did now about Anubis, Daniel understood why it was that Oma could not allow him to ascend Egeria. Though the Tok'ra queen was nothing at all like the evil, half-ascended Goa'uld, the concern that her ascension would have ended up producing another ascended being like Anubis would have made Oma and the others unwilling to take the chance. He still wished that he could have helped Egeria ascend, but he couldn't be mad at Oma for refusing to allow it. He knew that Egeria would have understood as well.
As Daniel walked out of his office he decided that maybe the time had come to finally tell his friends about the amazing adventure he had in the distant past with one of the most extraordinary women he'd ever met, a woman he would remember for the rest of his life.
THE END . . . or is it?
Okay, before you get the noose or start screaming at me, please read the following words:
There is going to be a sequel, Egeria will be in it, and it will have a Daniel/Egeria pairing.
There. Feel better now? :-D Yep, that's the surprise I told you about. Actually, it was a surprise to me as well. When I started this story, I had no intention of carrying it further than this fic, but I just have to give Egeria a happy ending. So, how will I manage to have her in the story? You'll just have to wait and see. Unlike this story, that one will definitely be AU, so expect anything to happen.
Now onto my explanations for why I could not have this story go the various ways that people wanted it to go.
ALTERNATE ENDING #1: Daniel stays in the past, becomes a Tok'ra, and uses the sarcophagus to stay alive. He and Egeria become lovers, and he manages to survive the next 2,000 years, eventually meeting up with his teammates and shocking the hell out of them.
Problems With This Ending: Well, first of all, we have the fact that it would be one of Egeria's own children who would be blended with the man who was her lover, meaning that, for all intents and purposes, she would be having a sexual relationship with one of her own kids. Apparently, that wouldn't have bothered Egeria since that's what she was thinking of doing, but they sort of had a different viewpoint on incest back in ancient times. Look at what the Egyptians did, and mythology is full of close blood relatives getting it on with each other. My reaction, however, is still "Ewww!"
Now onto the important stuff. It is impossible to predict all the effects Daniel's presence in the past throughout all those years would have on the timeline, and you can't assume that the changes would all be good. But let's say that Daniel makes every effort to minimize his impact on the future, not doing anything stupid, like throwing out all concerns for changes to the timeline and deliberately seeking to make things "better". Therefore, there aren't any enormous changes up to the point in time where the series started, and he manages to arrange things so that Earth and the Tok'ra meet up at the proper time. Of course, he could not arrange for Sam to still be taken by Jolinar. If that still happened, it would be mere coincidence. It would also take some real tricky maneuvering for him to make sure that Jacob becomes Selmak's host. Then we come to all the stuff that happens after the point in history when Daniel got sent back in time. Even if he rejoined SG-1 as a Tok'ra, there is no way that major events vital to the future of Earth would happen the same way.
The list below only has really important changes, the ones that could or definitely would have a major impact on the history of Earth and/or the galaxy or result in the death of a major character.
First, there's "The Curse". If Daniel was a Tok'ra, he'd immediately sense that Sarah was a Goa'uld. He'd do something to stop her, and Osiris would not escape. Now, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. It all depends on what happens later.
Second, there's "Exodus/Enemies". What do you think Apophis would do when he captures SG-1 and discovers that Daniel is now a Tok'ra? He's going to be pretty doggone curious, now isn't he. Daniel just might not survive that curiosity.
Third comes "2001". It was Daniel finding and reading that newspaper that clued the SGC into the fact that all was not as it appeared to be with the Aschen. What are the odds that all those events would take place the same way?
Number Four is "Summit/Last Stand". This is a big one. If Daniel was a Tok'ra, he could not have gone on the mission. Therefore, the Tok'ra would have found someone else, someone who would have no qualms against killing all the System Lords with their hosts. So, we get a bunch of dead System Lords, and the way is left open for Anubis to take over everything.
I'm not going to count "Fail Safe" as Number Five because chances are that Daniel would still manage to think of bringing the meteor into hyperspace. So, Number Five is "Meridian". It's unlikely that Daniel's symbiote would be able to heal radiation poisoning since it would have been poisoned, too. However, if, at this point, Daniel still has access to a sarcophagus, he could just be healed by it. And if there is no sarcophagus anymore, do you really think that Oma would offer a 2,000-year-old Tok'ra Daniel ascension? I have my doubts about that. And even if she did, he would very likely turn her down once he sensed that Jacob was attempting to heal him because he wouldn't want to leave Egeria. So, one way or another, Daniel would probably not ascend. Think about the impact on Season 6 and beyond that this would cause.
And, speaking of Season 6, what about "Cure?" If Daniel remained with Egeria, he'd make darn sure that she was never caught by Ra. Therefore, she would never be put in that stasis jar to be found by the Pangarans many hundreds of years later. This, in turn, means that Tretonin would not be created. Teal'c and Bra'tac would both die at the end of "Changling", and the Jaffa would have no way to end their reliance on the Goa'uld to survive.
I could keep going on and on like this, on into the rest of the seasons, but I'm not going to bother. I've made my point. Anyone who really takes a look at all the episodes and thinks about how changes to what happened could have major impacts on the future of Earth and the galaxy is going to see how important it is that things happened as they did.
So, what if Daniel becomes a Tok'ra but doesn't rejoin SG-1? Just by looking at some of the things above, you should be able to get an idea on how the lack of his presence would have disastrous consequences.
ALTERNATE ENDING #2: Daniel stays in the past and either remains an unblended human or becomes a Tok'ra and does not use the sarcophagus.
Problems With This Ending: Not only would this result in disastrous changes to the timeline, it would also put Egeria through the hell of watching the man she loves grow old and die.
ALTERNATE ENDING #3: Daniel goes back in time at some point before Egeria was captured by Ra and takes her to the future with him. (He couldn't take her before then because then the rest of the Tok'ra wouldn't be born.)
Problems With This Ending: Again, no Tretonin, no saving Teal'c and Bra'tac, and no way for the Jaffa to end their reliance on the Goa'uld.
ALTERNATE ENDING #4 (added to address points brought up by a couple of reviews). Same as #1, except that Daniel decides that he doesn't give a damn about preserving the timeline and decides to do things during those 2,000 years that radically alters the course of history.
Problems with this Ending: Let's say that, with Daniel's help and knowledge of the future, the Tok'ra become so strong that they defeat a great many of the System Lords. So, what about Ra? If he is killed before the events of the Stargate movie, then the entire visit to Abydos would happen differently. Daniel would very likely never join SG-1. The same would happen if Apophis was killed before he was in the original timeline. So, what would this accomplish? A paradox. If Daniel never joined SG-1, he'd never go on the mission to Estrania, which means that he wouldn't go back in time and meet Egeria. History would then come full circle, and we'd be right back to that original timeline Oma talked about, in which the Tok'ra never existed. Oh, but, in that case, all the changes wouldn't happen, and Daniel would go to Estrania, and. . . . Shall I go on? Time paradoxes are ugly things and are impossible to resolve. You either have to go with a divergent universe theory, where time splits off into a new universe, or just say that, somehow, everything will get sorted out in the end.
But, hey, let's not stop there. What about all those Goa'uld who were still visiting Earth 2,000 years ago. Surely, some of them would bite the dust earlier in time, which would alter Earth's history if for no other reason than that people who were taken from Earth wouldn't be. So, would Daniel even be born at all? Would Jack or Sam? What about Teal'c? It's unlikely that Teal'c would ever exist in this radically altered timeline.
The more I think about it, the bigger my headache gets. There is a good chance that some if not all of the Stargate characters would not be born or would have lives so different that, if, by some miracle, the Stargate Program still came to be, it wouldn't have the same SG-1 and would have a whole lot of other personnel that would not be the same. In other words, we'd end up with a mixed up mess like Moebius, which was a complete joke when it came to the time travel stuff. And this is just the changes to Earth's history. There would be entire civilizations out in the galaxy that would never exist because people were never brought to those planets by the Goa'uld. What kind of ramifications would that have?
Of course, this leads to one of the major issues with this Alternate Ending: how stupid Daniel would have to be to do that. I could actually picture Jack not thinking of all the ramifications and believing that it would be a stellar idea to wipe out the Goa'uld ahead of time. He didn't seem to have any concern for major changes to the timeline in Moebius (and look what that resulted in). But Daniel isn't like Jack. He actually understands that you can't play it fast and loose with history.
This is the problem with all of these alternate endings, that it would require Daniel to just ignore the fact that he could cause very big and potentially catastrophic changes to the timeline by either staying with Egeria or taking her with him. Do you honestly think he'd do that so that he and Egeria could stay together and he could save her? Come on. That's not Daniel. He's not that selfish nor that foolish and irresponsible.
History and the events of the series had to play out like they did. This story was always intended not to be AU, not to alter anything that happened in the series up through "Cure". As much as people would have liked to see a happier ending to this story, logic and common sense had to prevail. I am not the kind of writer who can ignore how altering major events in the series will impact later events. You'll just have to wait for the sequel to get the happy ending.
Now, those of you who got ticked off partway through this chapter and skipped to the note, go on back and read the rest of the chapter.