The Endless Memory by Eilidh17
Category: Gen, Kidfic
Warnings: NC-17, Mental torture, Sad
Feedback: Yes Please
Please do not read this story if anything in the warnings may upset you.
The Endless Memory
Daniel is eight years old.
How did we know this?
It had nothing to do with the barrage of tests Fraiser conducted in her usual fastidious fashion. Nor was it the height to weight charts discussed at length and ultimately filed away with other assorted paediatric opinions.
The moment Daniel's eyes flew open and we saw the dread in his expression, I just knew. Poor kid couldn't finish a sentence without his words dissolving into choking cries, and their meaning was unmistakable.
According to the monks on P2R-119, the only planetary designation I will ever willingly remember because one day I'm going to return there and do unimaginable harm to the bastards who did this, Daniel will stay this way until the punishment has cancelled out his crime.
So what was his crime, you ask?
He read from the temple walls.
Innocuous enough, especially for a man who's made it his life's work to decipher the past of long dead civilizations and bring their history to life, yet such a simple act has caused so much grief for all of us.
Daniel was thrilled at the prospect of being allowed to tour the Kaftans most sacred holy temple. An ancient relic to a long dead religion, the monks had guarded its sanctity for millennia, even when its true purpose had been lost in the annals of time. From what Daniel understood, and from the threads of his conversation I'd actually remembered, the Kaftan religion as it stood today was a far cry from the blood thirsty one that existed at a time when our own history could be measured by the number of dinosaurs still roaming the Earth.
If there had been anyone around to count them.
He'd pressed the monks for more information. Heck, this is Daniel we're talking about, he'd literally goaded them for every detail they could remember, sure that at least their oral history would give up some of its secrets. It wasn't to be though. With the eventual demise of the original Kaftan religion and peace flooding their new world, the monks of the time had laboriously scribed every gruesome detail of their brutal history on the temple walls and sealed it with a curse.
Maybe they thought no-one would ever try to read those walls. Maybe the long dead language it was written in precluded anyone from even attempting to break its linguistical code. Then again, maybe they never thought they'd meet someone like Daniel Jackson either. Whatever the reason, they had failed to warn us that the temple walls were sacred and the stories it told of weren't to be spoken aloud.
So off we went. One over excited archeologist and our two monk friends.
I use the 'friends' term loosely.
I'm not one for fairy tales, but trust me, this place was picture perfect. Snow capped mountains in the background, trees every where and a temple thingie that looked more run down than my neighbour's old fishing cabin. All of this smack in the middle of a weed infested clearing. I got burrs stuck in my burrs. Okay, maybe picture perfect is a stretch, but give me a break, you get my drift, right?
Daniel bounced from foot to foot very much like the proverbial kid in a candy shop while the rest of us tried to see how the monks regarded this crumbling monument to their past as being well cared for. It was only as we got closer that we realized the temple itself was much father back from the ruins that Daniel had casually observed may have been the front face of a pantheon like structure.
It was all Roman to me, a point I made abundantly clear to Daniel as we cleared the fallen pillars. Naturally my archeologist had to slip in to lecture mode and remind me of the comparative architectural styles between varying cultures. My witty return remark about the distinguishing differences between my cabin in Minnesota and the local Colorado version was met with silence and a slow blink. I was definitely failing upwards.
The walls of the temple that held the Kaftans only surviving historical records were contained in something much larger than the room the monks had descried. Walking down several stone carved stairs we entered into a chamber lit with strategically placed wall lanterns that threw off enough light to cast eerie shadows on the supporting pillars and walls. Several halls led off in all directions from the central chamber, and with a restrained sigh I knew Daniel would want to explore every one of them.
That noted, I naturally hated the place. Teal'c commented he was reminded of the cartouche rooms found on many Goa'uld planets – which brought a curious stare from Daniel. Carter flicked out her multi purpose doo-dad, and doing a quick three sixty degree circle, declared the place to be power source free and totally boring. Well, she didn't quite say that but the far away look in her eyes when she discovered there was nothing of interest here to satisfy her natural scientific curiosity said it all.
Daniel, however, was in his natural habitat. Dropping his pack to the ground and shoving his boonie hat into a side pocket, he made a bee line for the nearest wall, running his hand lightly above a section of text.
"Boustrophedon," he murmured head cocked to one side "An ancient writing method where every second line is read in the opposite direction."
"Ancient?" I asked out of curiosity. "As in?"
Working his way down the first wall, pausing occasionally to back track a line or mumble something unintelligible under his breath, Daniel's expression ran the gauntlet from surprise all the way through to recognition.
It was the recognition that was his undoing.
"It's Uralic… very old Uralic," he stated rather matter of factly oblivious of the blank expressions of the rest of his team, namely us. "I mean its part of the Uralic family of languages from Eastern and Northern Europe. This is… wow… amazing!"
"If you say so, Danny," I said clapping a hand on his shoulder but saving my eye rolling for Carter and Teal'c who looked similarly bemused. "We're gonna go check the rest of this place out. Make sure there's nothing here you can get yourself into trouble with. You'll be alright here for a while?"
"Yep," he mumbled glasses sliding down his nose and face pressed as close to the wall as he can get without actually touching. "Just me and the walls," he added waving his free hand over his shoulder to indicate the rest of the room.
I had to laugh at this point. Despite my goading and cries of boredom when we're on missions like this, I really do enjoy watching him get so caught up in his work that even my blatantly quippy remarks are ignored. He gets so engrossed in that mystical world of his I may as well save my breath for another time.
With a parting warning not to touch anything he's not absolutely sure about, we left him to his own devices.
Not my brightest idea. Actually, with the brilliance that is hindsight, I know it's not my brightest idea, but I honestly didn't see any threat in a room full of scribbled on walls and two aging monks that couldn't fend off a twig in a light breeze.
That was to be the last time we saw Daniel as an adult.
What happened next I doubt we'll ever truly know or understand, and the monks, their faces schooled and body language unreadable, refused to tell us anything. All we can be certain of is Daniel, obviously caught up in the thrill of discovery, decided to share his find with our hosts and set about reading whole passages from the walls. None of us could have predicted what would happen next.
When we returned from giving the rest of the sprawling temple complex the once over, a child, we were told was our team mate, was lying in the exact same spot we'd left Daniel. Carter was the first to act, and kneeling down beside him declared he was likely only sleeping. Shrugging off her jacket, she laid it across his chest and tucked it around his shoulder, sparing a moment to card her fingers through his long bangs.
My reaction was a little less subdued and bordered on cold outrage. To this day I can still feel one of Teal'c's hands on my arm and the other pushing the barrel of my P-90 down as my attempt to get a straight answer out of the monks had obviously failed.
Apparently I'd promised to spare their lives as a reward for answers, and when none were forthcoming I'd decided to feed them a lead encased dinner instead.
We were told the punishment would cancel out the crime.
The curse was real and couldn't be ignored, the monks added as an after thought, as though that justified their actions.
Not offering so much as a shrug or even a sympathetic wince, the monks spun on their heels and headed from the temple, their last words still bouncing off the inside of my skull.
"Let those who read be damned to the pain of the past, and the endless cycle of its memory."
So here we are. Daniel is eight years old. How do we know this?
Because besides his physical appearance he's reliving his past - The past in which he watched as his parents died under several tons of rock as the cover stone of some tomb they'd unearthed in Egypt collapsed on top of them.
And this past is tearing him apart bit by bit.
With a clarity of thought I didn't know I possessed the monks words broke our hearts in a way none of us would recover from. The punishment was exacting. Not only was Daniel now forced to relieve what was probably the singular most devastating moment of his life, but they had regressed him to the exact age at which the accident occurred.
So, here we are.
Daniel's eyes half flicker open and his mouth begins to twitch. Whatever he's screaming, it's for his ears only, and all we can see is the torment in his face.
We've timed his nightmares now and as sure as clock work, every four hours, the memory of his parent's death is played back in his mind in real time, and in all its glory. I know when the screams will start, and even though I want to run… I can't. How can I leave him with this cycle of misery and pain?
This is what it's like; his memories are so horrendous he can no longer vocalize them. He's lost, and with a pang of recognition, I understand his pain. I've been in dark places where I wondered whose cries I was hearing, only to find they were always mine. This is where Daniel is, and it will eventually destroy him. This I know.
So we've sat here in the room for three days now just watching him. We know when the memory starts. Daniel stirs, whimpers, and then bolts upright, arms flying out in front of him. God help me, but I know what he's trying to do. Poor kid, in this endless memory he's forced to relive, he's trying to save his folks, trying to push the cover stone off them. Can you imagine what this is like? A boy, eight years old watching a rock slip and crush his mom and dad? Their screams and the smell of death hanging in the air would be the stuff of anyone's nightmares.
Eventually he collapses, tears streaming down his face, and hugging his knees he rocks slowly. Back and forth, mouth opening and shutting in silent screams… and its all I can do not to scream with him.
Carter knows she needs to be strong for Daniel, crying makes her feel better, but it doesn't help Daniel. So there she sits, next to me, her back so straight it could snap. Her eyes are red rimmed and she looks shattered, but this is Carter, she knows her duty, and so she lifts her chin and sucks it up. Still, if she thinks I miss the tears she swipes away, she's wrong. Her attempts to comfort Daniel during a memory cycle push him deeper within himself, and with each turn we lose him just a little bit more. Even Janet's attempts at sedation have failed.
Teal'c stands quietly by the door guarding against god knows what. He's bereft. His indomitable spirit has been crushed and there is nothing this warrior can do. I know he'll see this through to the end, but I don't need to tell you who will be taking point if we ever head back to P2R-119.
Daniel is winding up for another cycle now. He's breathing speeds up, eyes dart restlessly under their hoods, and his voice breaks into small whimpers. We can do this, Carter, Teal'c, and I, for as long as it takes.
Not sure Daniel can though.
So, you tell me, exactly when does the punishment cancel the crime?
To be continued…