When Daniel ventured to open his eyes, he had to grab hold of the mattress to keep from tumbling off. In the distance he thought he heard a voice, but it was blurred, disjointed, like everything around him that spun sickeningly, even after he shut his eyes. Dizzily he leaned over the side of his bed and vomited.
"Gaah!" He recognized the voice now, and deep inside felt some glee at his act. He became faintly aware of cursing and someone placing a cool cloth on his head.
"Easy, lie still. You're suffering some residual affects from the blast." The voice was Sam's. He wondered where the other voice went. Residual effects, huh? Felt more like someone turning his insides out. He tried to say this but only managed a small groan.
"So, that satisfy your curiosity?" Jack asked from the far side of the room where he was toweling himself off. Served him right. Daniel still couldn't answer, just closed his eyes. . .
. . .and woke to a different voice, one that was soft yet persistent. His eyes opened and fell upon the smaller figure of.. . . "Nialou?"
"How are you, Dr. Jackson?"
"I'm. . .better. . .thanks." He tried to sit up, but fell back. "Almost." He glanced around. "Where are my friends?"
"I bade them take refreshment. They have remained by your side all this time. I said I would watch over you." He smiled. "The Colonel wasn't too happy with the arrangement."
"I see." Daniel turned his head painfully and saw a fruit tray nearby. He gulped, not wanting to think of food.
Nialou leaned over the bed. "Also, there is a matter we must discuss. Please?"
"Now?" Daniel winced. "Nialou, no offense, but when I said I was better, it didn't mean. . ."
"Please, doctor, it is of vital importance. The statue struck out. The whole town is talking about it. But – you know what the statue is. Don't you?"
The urgency in Nialou's voice caught Daniel by surprise. He managed to prop against the wall supporting his bed. "And, you know as well? I mean, you knew all along?" His lids fell heavily over his eyes. He forced them open into slits.
Nialou's eyes cast about. "I am the only one, yes. It is not something I have shared with my people," he said. "This is why we must talk."
"The statue – I'm confused. I thought it was made of a mineral, of cozumine."
"Yes. It is. And now you can see what it is capable of."
Daniel frowned. "No, not really."
"The mineral in its excited state turns into a form of rare energy. It is no longer classified as a mineral exactly, but for simplified purposes we call it such."
Daniel pushed himself from the wall and sat up. "That was the cozumine?"
"That was the cozumine."
Daniel sat up straighter. "Nialou, your people think that is an actual statue. Made of stone."
Daniel thought about this unexpected development as he weakened, his head thumping back against the wall. He grunted in annoyance. "Okay, so we have a statue that isn't, and a chance to rid this world of a deadly threat. So. . ." he winced and pinched the bridge of his nose, then continued, eyes tight in concentration. "All we need to do is create an image to substitute this one. If no one is allowed to go near the statue, then they won't know any better. If they are that afraid, there is no chance of them knowing the statue isn't solid after all. Nialou, this can be done! We need a device that can create a simple holographic projection, and we can harness that energy for the weapon to use against the Goa'uld!" He noted the expressionless face watching him. "What, do you not agree? Is there something I'm missing?"
"Yes. An exchange."
"If I give you this cozumine, what do I get in return? What assurance do I have that this will be used to help defend us?"
Daniel looked at him in confusion, knowing that his head wasn't nearly clear enough for a conversation of this magnitude. "I-I don't know, look, we need to talk about his when I can think more clearly. . ."
"I trust you, Doctor Jackson." Nialou leaned in, his eyes meeting Daniel's pointedly. "Do you not trust me? In one hour I go back before the council, and I need something to offer them. You will not be able to successfully negotiate in a hour's time."
"Council. . .nego-wait, wait! Please, don't meet with them yet. I need to be there."
Nialou had walked over to Daniel's laptop, and studied the screen. "I want assurances. If we were to be attacked, I want a place to relocate my people, a place where these Goa'uld have never been, never touched. Do you have information on places such as this?"
"Um, yeah, but it isn't something I just like to hand out."
"Then there will be no exchange. I will not willingly give over our energy if we do not have assurances for ourselves."
"A place to evacuate to if things get ugly."
Daniel rubbed his head as the room darkened around him, then forced himself to rise and stumble over to the computer. "Look, I can't give you the gate addresses. That's. . .it would just be dangerous, really." He hurriedly typed in a word and cleared the screen, then turned to find Nialou staring over his shoulder. "All I can do is give you my assurance that your people will not be left behind."
"Then there are places we may inhabit?"
"Yes, there are plenty of worlds the Goa'uld haven't occupied, but these worlds don't have a gate." He sighed. Transporting the people without a gate would be tricky at best. "Look, we really need more time to discuss this, and there may not even be a need." He winced and stumbled back to his bed. "Just, dammit, I need to be at that council." He found himself lying back, and the room fading around him. "But I suppose everything. . .will be. . .fine. . . ."
"Of course. Thank you." Nialou smiled, then patted Daniel on his shoulder. Daniel smiled faintly and eased into a healing sleep.
"He did what?" Jack paced the small area behind Daniel. The young man was sitting at his desk, staring at the screen in disbelief. A curse escaped his lips as he tapped the keys, then slammed his palm on the table.
"He broke into my computer! I don't believe this!"
"Daniel, this isn't funny."
"Of course not."
"How do you know someone broke into your computer?"
"Not someone. Nialou. He saw the screen, he was standing behind me when I changed the password."
"I change the password when I shut down."
"Call me paranoid. Anyway, I always type it in before closing the screen, and he saw it, I guess, I didn't know he was behind me. But I can't access my page, because the password I had assigned to this project is no longer valid. He didn't put a new password in. Which means someone has been tampering."
"And Nialou knows how to tamper?"
"They may seem primitive, but they're not stupid," Daniel snapped.
"That doesn't mean anything."
Daniel rubbed his hands over his face and sighed. "No, you're right."
Jack hesitated, then leaned over his friend's shoulder. "On the other hand, how much skill does it take to push a few buttons? Is anything missing?"
"I don't think so, but I can't access all the files. I'm locked out."
"No kidding. I've lost two days work." He shook his head and winced, then frowned. "Wait, wait, he said something right before I fell asleep. What was it?" Daniel rubbed the crease between his eyes. "Dammit, no, wait, I remember! He wanted assurances, he wanted to know there was a world they could escape to if the Goa'uld attacked. He was to meet before the council, and needed something to offer."
Jack tensed. "Offer?" He turned as Sam and Teal'c entered the room.
"How are you feeling, Danieljackson?" Teal'c asked.
"I was fine until a moment ago."
Sam drew her brows together. "What's wrong?"
"We think Nialou may have somehow broken into Daniel's computer for information," Jack said.
"Nialou? How? Can he do that?"
"I don't know." Daniel sighed. "The evidence points to the possibility. I'd like to speak with him."
"But why would he tamper with the computer?" Carter asked. "What was he looking for?"
"I have no idea."
"I have a theory," Jack said. "What if our friend Nialou isn't really a Hian. What if that statue isn't really a war hero, what if the cozumine mineral isn't real, and what if this is all some stupid elaborate hoax."
"Well, that's a pretty huge assumption," Daniel said in annoyance, his head still aching. "I mean, it's pretty elaborate if the entire population is in on it."
"If this material is pure energy," Teal'c speculated, "it would be ideal. The Goa'uld could acquire the means for finding different worlds, those that have gates yet untouched by the system lords," Teal'c replied.
Daniel shook his head. "Wait, did you say 'gates yet untouched'? As in buried gates? I-oh god." He stood shakily "Oh my god. Tell me I didn't just. . ." He looked up at the stern glance from Jack.
"No. Tell me you don't have references to any of those planets in your laptop."
"Oh, boy." Daniel fell back into his chair and fought past his headache. "I really need to speak to Nialou. Before we make too many assumptions. I don't suppose you've seen him around anywhere?"
"Well, yes. He was heading towards the statue," Carter replied.
"That's it. We've got to get there." Jack looked out of the window. "Teal'c, do you know where our weapons are being kept?"
"Good. There isn't much time."
"Jack," Daniel stood and waved slightly, "what are you thinking?"
"Well, in light of present circumstances," Jack said, "I'm willing to bet that the statue is a transport to that mother ship out there, and that the ship has been there for a very long time."
"But why stay in orbit around a planet that a power capable of. . .destroying them. . ." her eyes widened.
"Exactly, Major Carter," Teal'c responded. "They are guarding the mineral so that it will not be used against them. In fact, I am willing to concur that they are already using the energy source themselves."
"Oh, this isn't good." Daniel looked like he wanted to throw something, but instead he laid his head down on his desk and closed his eyes.
"So, all in favor of going to see this Hantanya person?" Jack raised his own hand, followed by Carter, and started for the door.
Teal'c glanced at Daniel and raised his eyebrow. "Should we not see to Danieljackson first?"
Jack turned from the doorway and gritted his teeth. Daniel noticed the reaction. "Oh, I'm fine, just a headache. Getting used to it. The medicine they gave me worked wonders."
"Teal'c is right, sir. We should get Daniel checked out, and report our findings to General Hammond." Sam turned to Jack. "If he was going to the statue, we won't catch him before he reaches it. And we aren't in a position to pursue."
Jack considered, then agreed. "Fine. Let's pack up, kids," he said rather grudgingly. "Next stop – the infirmary."
Daniel groaned. "Not again."
Still dark, still a painful blue-grey, still stuffy. Daniel wondered if he would ever see the briefing room as anything different, and wondered at the irony of calling it a briefing, when it in fact seemed to take forever. His head still hurt, but to a lesser degree. It had turned out that the shock emitted by the statue was a defense mechanism to keep the natives from approaching it. Daniel had wandered too close.
The General listened to their reports in growing confusion. "Are we able to get hold of this energy or not?"
"At this point I don't even know what we are dealing with, sir. We should go back and see exactly what that statue is, and what it is capable of,"Sam said.
"And what if it is a transport to that Goa'uld ship, Major? What then?"
"Well, sir. . ." she looked to the Colonel for help.
"If it is in fact a transport, then we know the people of Hian have been deceived," Teal'c said.
"What I don't understand is why they haven't destroyed this planet and just taken the statue," Daniel commented.
"Perhaps they have found an alternate use for it themselves. It is apparently a very versatile and volatile source. It may be adapted to suit various needs. And it may be too dangerous to carry on a ship in large amounts," Sam reasoned.
"Right." Jack leaned back. "Sir, I recommend we go back to the council, and see just what they know of all this. I bet there's a lot more going on than they're telling us."
"No." Daniel's quiet negative surprised everyone.
"That just takes us back to square one. What if we're wrong? Only Nialou knows what the statue is. What if the council truly believe as the people do? We're right back to destroying their faith."
Jack leaned forward, his elbows propped on the table. "And why does Nialou know about this? How does he know?"
"Still. . ."
"Daniel, might I remind you of Abydos? You remember Abydos, right? When you revealed their 'gods' for who they really were?"
"They were slaves," Daniel responded tensely. "These are free people."
"Yes, but you destroyed their faith."
"It's not the same! They had no choice but to live as they did. It-it wasn't a life. We did what was necessary to save them."
"And this is different, how?"
"I don't know!" Daniel yelled. "I don't know, okay? Look, these people are free, living, thriving beings and not affected by what is going on in this so-called war! We aren't rescuing slaves, there are none here to rescue! Instead we are thinking about wiping out the foundation of their society for our own gains!"
"Might I also remind you that your friend may very well have information that the Goa'uld don't need to get their hands on? And I'm willing to bet that no matter what he says, he isn't alone in this. Which means the council is behind it, which means they are in league with the Goa'uld, which means they are indeed slaves!"
Daniel had nothing to say to that, couldn't respond. He just sat across from Jack, breathing heavily with his lips clamped shut.
Jack leaned back. "General, request permission to get to the bottom of this crap?" He sent a pointed gaze in Hammond's direction.
The General mulled it over the nodded. "Go to the council. See what they know. Take no further action without discussing it with me first, is that understood?"
Jack nodded. "Yes sir," he said firmly.
"Dismissed." Jack rose from the table. Sam and Teal'c followed, leaving Daniel still in his chair fuming.
Hammond sat as well, waiting until the others were out of earshot. He watched the young man as he went through a visible struggle of ethics. It was one thing he admired about the doctor, but hanging on to his ethics so tightly would end up hurting him severely one day.
Hammond stood and walked over to the large window overlooking the Stargate. "Son," he said softly, "I know how you feel. I know you want to do what is right, and I respect that. But our hands are tied. Sometimes there is a greater good to consider, and I'm afraid this is going beyond what we are able to control." He turned. Daniel didn't say anything, he just listened and worked his jaw. "If you can find a way out of this, a solution that pleases everyone, then by all means tell me. You've managed it before." Daniel glanced at him. "I'm just saying that this time, there may not be anything you can do about the situation, and you are going to have to find a way to reconcile yourself with that. I've had to do it many times over the years, and it isn't easy. Part of you never forgives, or forgets."
"Then how do you reconcile it?" Daniel asked.
"You merely accept that it has happened, and move on. And don't blame yourself. You are one man, Dr. Jackson, a very powerful speaker and influential, but still just one man. Sometimes one man just isn't enough." He hesitated. "Do you understand?"
Daniel considered. "Yes, I think I do." He managed a brief, pained smile.
Hammond nodded and stood. "Then clean yourself up, get something to eat, and met us in the gate room in one hour. Dismissed, Doctor."
Daniel stood, looking as though he wanted to say something else, but instead nodded and walked out of the room.
The group that met with the council was a somber, serious group. Daniel was the reluctant spokesperson, and kept glancing at Jack, hoping to find a way out of the ordeal. Of all things, he didn't want to be the one to tell these people that their god wasn't real. He had done that once before, and didn't enjoy it, even though it meant freeing thousands of people. He had spent a year on their planet, trying to rebuild what he had helped to destroy. And it wasn't easy. He swore never to do that again, yet here he was. . . .
He started to pace the room. Sam watched him, trying to give him moral support through her glances. Jack simply sat back and waited. If he was distressed by the situation he didn't show it. Teal'c was frowning.
"Dr. Jackson, you said there was a reason for this meeting?" Laria raised her chin, looking down the bridge of her nose at the agitated man.
Daniel turned to her and forced himself to stand still. "Yes." He closed his eyes and thought of Hammond's words. Sometimes just one man isn't enough. Maybe not, but he was sure as hell going to try. He straightened his spine and met her gaze head-on. "I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind." He collected his thoughts. "First, I realize the statue means a great deal to you and your people. You've built your entire culture around it, your belief system, everything. It has brought you great peace of mind and peace on your land. Now, what I want to know is this. . ." he took a deep breath and walked up to the table, "is it worth the price of slavery?"
Laria's face reddened. "I beg your pardon," she hissed in a low voice.
I may end up begging for yours when this is over, Daniel thought nervously. "This council is responsible for laying down the laws of the land and the rules which govern the people." He walked over to a side table and pulled a folder out of the bag he had brought with him. "It's all here, documents, behavior patterns, the law, discipline, and most importantly, a mining schedule." He slapped the folder down onto the table. "I didn't want to believe it. When Nialou paid me a visit, he asked for the addresses to other worlds, as a trade in good faith. Now I knew it was needed for a reason, and that reason was made clear to me," he looked at Jack, "but I'm not certain it was the only reason." He walked up to Laria and leaned down over the table. "That statue, it isn't real, is it? It isn't stone. And it isn't the only source of cozumine, is it? You know where more can be found, you just haven't been able to get there. You and that mother ship above you that watches your every move. This isn't a peaceful planet. It's a covert mining operation. You are mining cozumine, and feeding it into that statue for storage. You are using these people to guard it by laying a claim to a religion they devised thousands of years ago to institute peace, and as usual it backfired." Daniel's voice grew bitter as realization dawned on him. "My god, it's Abydos all over again. These people are in fact slaves, guarding your precious energy, making sure that no one lays a hand on it but you." He placed his palms on the table and peered into her eyes. "But you don't have to worry about us. See, I've come to a conclusion about this energy. It's too dangerous. We don't want it." His face hardened. "We aren't going to take your precious energy. We are going to destroy it."
That got Laria's attention, as well as Jack's. His eyes widened and he started to speak out, but stopped as Carter laid her hand on his arm. She seemed shocked and bewildered herself. Teal'c looked ready to jump from his seat.
"So you see," Daniel concluded, "we have the upper hand here. And it doesn't matter if you confess, because it won't do you a damn bit of good." He stood tall, watching Laria shake with rage. Jack was right. Damn. He had said all of that with the intense hope that he was lying with every breath. He had severely misjudged these people. He had made a huge mistake. Laria denied none of it, she just turned a reddish purple and yelled out, "Seize him!"
Daniel spun and ducked as a large man made a grab for him. The rest of the team were on their feet, weapons drawn, as the other council members ducked underneath the table. Daniel took refuge behind one of the stone pillars and waited for his chance. Teal'c joined him, and they exchanged a glance. Then they launched out of the building with Jack and Carter covering them.
The statue was guarded, but not for long. Teal'c aimed a zat blast at one surprised man while Daniel took out another. He skidded to a halt right in front of the statue, as did Teal'c, who gave him a look of confidence. Daniel nodded and jumped through.
He emerged on a ring platform. There was no one around, but pounding footfalls proved that he wouldn't be alone for long. He fired his gun at the panel beside the door and walked over to the main console. "Okay, okay, okay, let's see. . ." he glanced over the symbols, "no. . .no. . .no. . .damn, why do they have to make things so complicated? What happened to the little red button?" He started to punch in various symbols until a small panel popped open. "Ah. Well, now that was too easy." He examined it, then pressed the button. Another panel popped open, this one requiring more codes. Daniel cursed and start to randomly punch.
Jack and Sam had caught up with Teal'c, who was taking cover at the statue's feet. Jack was furious. "Teal'c? What the hell is going on?"
"We are attempting to rectify the situation," Teal'c replied.
"What are you talking about?"
"Danieljackson is attempting to destroy the ship."
"What? Is he, are you. . .what?"
"I am here to make certain they do not deactivate the statue, or he will not return."
"That. . .he went through that? I was right?"
"He did, and you were." Teal'c shifted his gun as he glanced around. "I think you would be better behind me, O'Neill." Jack and Sam took cover behind him. "We talked in great length in the commissary before coming back to the planet," Teal'c continued. "He realized your theory was probably the correct one, and wanted to find a way to remedy the situation. We devised a plan."
"And why wasn't I informed?"
"There was no time." Teal'c said easily. That much may have been true, but Jack suddenly had another suspicion. He thought of the day he had nearly struck his best friend in inexplicable rage, and the uneasy truce they had forged. He wanted to apologize, explain, hell how could he explain that? But his friend had become distracted. Now he was risking his life, but this time it was to repair the damage. Of course he didn't tell Jack. Jack had betrayed his trust.
O'Neill sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "How long?"
"I am anticipating action in about seven more minutes." Teal'c looked thoroughly displeased. "However he was supposed to have contacted me three minutes ago."
"Dammit." Jack looked at the statue as voices cried out in the distance. "Look, you two hold them off. I'm going to help Daniel."
"Sir?" Sam protested.
"Do it, Major! That's an order!" Jack peeked around the corner and without a second thought ran through the statue.
Daniel had heard the rings and drew his pistol, ready to fire on who or whatever was boarding. He nearly dropped it when he saw his friend. "Jack!"
"Thought you'd take all the credit, huh?" Jack hurried over and examined the control panel.
Daniel stared in shock. "What are you doing?"
He pressed a few buttons, then locked gazes with the younger man. Daniel didn't break away. Rather his blue eyes bore into intense brown ones, and an understanding was reached. Daniel nodded.
Jack smiled faintly, and started punching the buttons again. "Don't suppose you figured this out yet."
"If I had, would we still be here?" Daniel leaned in over Jack's shoulder. "Why don't you keep that up, I have something to look for over here." He gestured behind him to another control panel.
"Oh, you know, just want to make sure there isn't anything here that shouldn't be here."
The gate codes. Right. Jack continued to pound the controls.
"You cannot remain hidden. Come out now, and no one will be hurt." Laria stood at the barrier with several guards.
Sam swallowed and looked at Teal'c. The Jaffa shook his head. "They will not approach us. They will not reveal the true nature of the statue in front of all of these people."
"How can you be so sure?" Sam asked.
"Because if that were the case, they would have apprehended us by now. We are greatly outnumbered."
"Right. Well, I feel better now." Sam glanced up. "How much longer?"
"Three minutes," Daniel announced. He punched the keypad before him furiously.
"Done." Jack looked up and crossed the room to stand beside his friend. "Any luck?"
"I think we're okay, in so far as I can tell." Daniel punched a few more keys and the screen turned blank. At that moment a voice was heard behind them.
"It won't work, you know."
Both men jumped and turned as one to see Nialou standing behind them. Jack raised a hand to his chest. "Will you please stop doing that?" he asked, closing his eyes to calm himself.
"Nialou?" Daniel asked, walking towards the man. "Why did you do this? You don't want to work with the Goa'uld. This isn't the way to save your world."
"The cozumine is ours."
"Yes, so why is it being shipped to this vessel?" Daniel stopped and raised his hands pleadingly.. "Nialou, look, we can help you. Come back with us."
"You do not understand. The Goa'uld have rightful ownership. We depleted the mines a millennia ago. But there is a reserve yet untapped, and we are merely waiting for it to charge."
"Rightful ownership? Charge?" Daniel looked at Jack, who looked as puzzled as he felt.
"Cozumine in its raw state it is not nearly powerful enough for our means. We have been collecting this uncharged mineral for some time and storing it, waiting until it reaches full potency."
"How is that possible?" Daniel asked.
"You have seen the statue. You have seen what the mineral is capable of in its excited state. How is it not possible?"
"That didn't exactly answer my question." Daniel stepped aside as Nialou moved to the computer screen. He snapped around in fury.
"This terminal has been accessed! Why?"
"Because my laptop was accessed!" Daniel paused. "Wait, how do you know that panel was accessed? Just who are you?"
Nialou smiled, and his eyes flashed a brilliant white.
Jack jumped back, grabbing Daniel's arm and pulling him to his side. "Whoa! Now tell me, just how did we miss that?"
Daniel stared. "More to the point, how did Sam and Teal'c miss that?"
"I am Nebeh," the Goa'uld said. "And you have made a grave error."
"Oh, I think not," Jack replied smugly. He and Daniel were slowly backing toward the ring platform. "See, your ship will blow. The cozumine you have accumulated will. . .expire." Jack smiled. "Plus, you obviously didn't find what you were looking for in Daniel's computer, so I guess you are just in a heap of. . ."
"Guards!" Nebeh bellowed.
"Teal'c!" Daniel yelled into his radio, "now! Do it now!"
Back on the planet, the Jaffa reached out and flipped open the panel he had been guarding. The statue glowed and vibrated for several seconds, then Jack and Daniel were flung out. Daniel landed hard on his side, breathless, while Jack rolled and yelled for everyone to duck down. They quickly regained their feet and scrambled to Sam and Teal'c, where they covered their heads as the statue began to whine and waver.
"What's happening?" Sam yelled out over the noise.
"It's losing power," Daniel replied, watching the terrified villagers in sympathy. He turned back as the statue suddenly erupted in a golden light, and an explosion rocked the ground. At the same time a huge fireball appeared in the atmosphere, a massive orange orb of explosive fury. The villagers screamed and clung to each other as the buildings shook and debris fell from the air. The team huddled close together, each one protecting their heads and each other. After several moments the tremors subsided, and they slowly looked up.
Jack had been covering Daniel and Sam, with Teal'c to her other side, and it was several more moments before he would let them up to see what had happened. An occasional aftershock rumbled the ground, but for the more part everything was silent and still. They stood and quietly surveyed the damage. The villagers were in shock, looking to one another, tapping each other and patting each other, every one of them needing reassurance. Daniel hung his head, hating the confusion before him.
Jack dusted himself of and walked up to Laria. "I would advise you form a new council," he said. "Either that or. . .leave this place." The threat in his eyes was unmistakable.
Laria's eyes flashed. "You have made a grave error," she said in a dual voice.
Jack sighed in resignation. "Yeah, I've been told that before. But you know what?" He whipped out his zat. "I doubt it." He raised the gun and fired, and Laria fell to the ground before the stunned people. His hand lowered and he regarded the body with distaste. "Carter, call Hammond and see where we can drop this bitch off." He turned, suddenly indignant "By the way, a Goa'uld?" He gestured to himself with the gun. "Anything you two would like to tell me? Like why you didn't sense it?"
Sam looked baffled. "I – I don't know, sir."
"I, too, was unable to sense a larval presence," Teal'c added.
"And the reason for that would be. . ." Jack threw his arms out to the side, waiting for an explanation, then realized he was carelessly waving the zat around.
Sam opened her mouth to reply, and shut it quickly as Daniel grabbed her arm. "Sam, look."
Everyone turned. The area around the statue had cleared, but instead of nothing there was a very huge, very solid figure of Hantanya, white as alabaster. Daniel slowly approached it, and to the crowd's amazement, he touched it and smiled. "It's real." He turned back, his smile widening into a grin. "It's real! They didn't lose it. . ." he turned back to the figure, then back to his friends, his grin widening still.
"Something about the energy field must have kept it in its excited state. It may have even blocked our ability to sense the Goa'uld." Sam said as she touched the figure herself.
"Which would be a good reason for the Goa'uld to want this, other than as a power source," Daniel said.
"Exactly. They would be free to roam with no threat of detection by the Tok'ra, or whatever other species may be able to identify a Goa'uld larva." She went back to her examination of the statue."With that barrier gone, it solidified. It's nothing more than rock now." Her hand lowered. "Daniel, that cave. . ."
"I just had the same thought." He turned to Jack. "We still have access to the cozumine. This rock is in the mine. It must be a very old deposit, depleted of energy, which is why it never showed on our scans. That cave is loaded with it. It must be what the Goa'uld called an immature deposit. They were feeding it energy."
"And I suppose now you have no problem with taking it?" Jack asked smugly.
"Well, no, not now, not in trade. But there is something to consider. The Goa'uld knows the mineral is here. They'll be back."
Jack considered. "I suppose the presence of an Asgard ship would dissuade them for a while, don't you? And it would be a good trade, protection for these people while taking some of their mineral, with their permission."
"This still changes things. Once the people find out there is more cozumine out there, what if it starts another war?"
Jack shrugged. "That's not our problem. But, seeing all that has happened, I think that they would be more willing to share. There are a lot of us out here, things are very different from a thousand years ago." He slapped his hand on Daniel's back. "Let's go talk to Hammond and get some teams out here to help clean up this mess."
Daniel nodded, and hesitated as he saw a young woman walking up to the statue. He held up a finger for Jack to wait, and joined her. Her eyes were opened in wonder as she hesitantly reached out and touched her god.
"It's really here. He is really with us."
Daniel gave a sad smile. "Yes. And he will always be with you. Everything is going to be fine."
He turned to the crowd watching him. The crowd that was clueless, and wondering what was happening.
Crap. He swallowed heavily "Right. I, uh, I guess I should try and explain this." He saw Jack watching in the distance, waiting for him. His expression was patient, his eyes encouraging. Daniel noticed, and nodded in relief, glad he finally seemed to have his friend's good wishes once again. "Okay." He held out his arms. "Your god has been – pleased – with the way your have governed yourself and the advances you have made. He has returned," he gestured behind him, "as you can see. He is no longer ashamed of the actions of long ago, of the war, and is now here for you." He thought for a moment. "He remains your protector, and is prepared to send a powerful ally, someone who will help to maintain the peace on this planet. All he asks is that in exchange we be allowed access to the white rock in the old cave of Hantanya." He lowered his hands, a little overwhelmed by the rapt attention he was receiving. "We have to go," he said in a quieter tone, "but we'll be back to repair the damage and see your ally established." He smiled. "And that, my friends, is cause for celebration." And with that a cheer rose among the people, and Daniel had to fight his way through the crowd to Jack's side.
"Nice," he said, giving his friend a smile.
"Thanks!" Daniel seemed quite pleased with himself.
"Ever think of running for office?"
This caught the young man's attention. "Huh?"
"Well, someone needs to lead the council."
"Council. . .no! I mean, no. . .no." Daniel shook his had firmly. "Not interested." Jack clapped him on the back and steered him towards the Stargate.
"SG 7 and 8 report that the cleanup is going as scheduled." Hammond said at the final briefing the following day. "The Asgard have agreed to send a ship to the planet and work with the people. It should also be noted," he said to Daniel, "that their religious ceremonies have not changed. In fact they have invited you to come back this evening for a water festival."
"Water festival?" Daniel shot a startled look at Sam.
"Uh, sir, maybe not this time. Too much to do," Sam said, exchanging a knowing glance.
"I shall miss their fruit trays," Teal'c mused, lifting his chin.
"Well, I have nothing going on tonight," Jack said, and frowned as the room fell silent. "What? What'd I say now?"