Ancient Power

Chapter 15

Daniel stepped out into the open facing the Jaffa and their prisoners. On the opposite side of the square he could see Teal'c. He'd heard his friend's speech and knew it had hit home with Anath's Jaffa. But their fear of the Goa'uld kept them from breaking free.

As he moved forward, he watched the Jaffa take a step back, fear evident in their eyes. Even Kor'ac looked unsettled at first, quickly masking his fear as he shifted the aim of his staff weapon from the villager on his knees to Daniel.

Daniel knew the rest of his team was nearby, watching, with Jack probably fuming. He also knew this was the only way to keep the villagers from being slaughtered. Jack would understand—eventually.

"You will surrender yourself or I will kill these people," Kor'ac challenged him.

"Let them go and I will come freely."

"You are in no position to make demands."

"Do you really want to challenge me?"

Daniel watched Kor'ac shift uncomfortably, considering his options. Clearly, he wasn't sure if he wanted to test Daniel's powers.

"Come forward and kneel and I will release all but two of the prisoners. And tell the shol'va to lay down his weapon."

Daniel considered his own options. He was pretty sure they wanted him to come closer so they could activate his implant. He could continue to bargain with Kor'ac but he was afraid the First Prime would start killing the villagers if he continued to resist. At least, if he went along with it, most of the prisoners would be freed.

"All right, I agree."

~o~

"What the hell does he think he's doing?" Jack hissed.

"Trying to get as many of them freed as possible, sir."

"But he's handing himself over to them!"

"He must know we're here—I think he's counting on us to help."

"Help him get killed or turned into a host? Not a good plan."

~o~

Teal'c watched as Daniel took several steps toward the platform and paused. Kor'ac signaled to his men and soon six of the hostages were running towards the crowd. Kor'ac had kept two prisoners—a woman and a young girl—knowing Daniel would be reluctant to put them in danger. Two Jaffa held tightly to them, pulling them to one side of the platform.

Stopping in front of the platform, Daniel glanced to the side, exchanging a look with Teal'c. Teal'c laid his staff on the ground, placing his trust, and his life, in Daniel's hands. One of the Jaffa pulled out the control device and touched a button. It was all Teal'c could do to stop himself from leaping to his teammate's aid as Daniel went to his knees, head down, body swaying slightly. He heard the Jaffa moving around and then the sound of rings descending. He pulled his gaze away from Daniel to see Anath appear in the center and then the rings ascended again.

Anath stood, arms crossed, crimson cape billowing behind her, and let her gaze drift across the gathered crowd, briefly studying Teal'c before coming to rest on Daniel.

"Tsk, tsk, Daniel. You have been a bad boy."

Daniel ignored her comment and remained silent.

"Bring him," she ordered.

Two Jaffa descended the platform, grabbed Daniel by the arms and hefted him to his feet. They began pulling him up the short flight of steps, half dragging him when his unsteady legs faltered.

Reaching the top, they brought him to the center and released him with a shove. He landed sprawling at Anath's feet. The Goa'uld approached him and placed a booted foot in the middle of his back. Glancing at the Jaffa with the control device, she said, "Turn it up."

Daniel continued to lie on the floor as Anath removed her foot and began to circle around him.

"We could have done this the easy way, Daniel, but you chose to make it difficult. There will be consequences for your actions."

Daniel turned his head to look up at her and Teal'c could see her dark eyes simmering with anger. "You have me—let the others go." His friend's voice was barely above a whisper.

"I don't think so. They are a guarantee that if you are able to overcome the implant, you will not act foolishly."

~o~

Jack turned to Sam, keeping his voice to a whisper. "Implant?"

"That must be what the Jaffa is controlling with that device. It's probably what gave Daniel that shock in the throne room and I would guess it's keeping him from being able to focus enough to use his powers."

"This just keeps getting better and better."

~o~

"On your knees." Anath planted her feet near Daniel's head.

Daniel brought his hands under him and weakly began to push himself up. Finally, he was upright, knees bent, sitting on his legs. He looked up defiantly into Anath's eyes. She unfolded her arms and for the first time Daniel saw the hand device capping her fingers and twining itself around her arm.

She lifted the encased hand and Daniel prepared himself. Instead of glowing, the hand swung out, slapping him across the face, metal tips digging into his cheek. The force tossed him to the floor again. Before he could recover, Anath grabbed his hair and pulled him back to his knees. She released him and lifted her hand again; this time the center jewel began to glow as she directed it at his forehead.

"You will suffer before I take you and then your friends will watch as I claim your body and mind for my own."

"I don't . . . . think so."

It infuriated her, but she laughed. "You have no choice."

The glow of the jewel intensified and Anath flung her hand forward, intending to drill it into Daniel's skull. Shock replaced the triumph on her face as Daniel brought his own hand up to intercept the stream of energy.

"I think I do."

The energy deflected off of his hand and dispersed into the air. Daniel slowly stood, his hand still locked into a dance with the energy flowing from the hand device.

Anath stood momentarily transfixed before disengaging the device and taking a step back. "How is that possible?"

"It's possible because your implant no longer has an affect on me and because the power of the Ancients is stronger than the power of the Goa'uld."

"Jaffa!" she screamed.

Kor'ac turned his staff weapon on Daniel and released a blast at him. Daniel held his hand out and it was as though the blast hit an invisible wall before diffusing into the air.

Jack was firing as soon as Kor'ac's weapon released its bolt of energy at Daniel. The First Prime was struck by the zat blast and crumpled to the ground. Jack prepared to shoot a second time, but was stopped by Teal'c's hand on his arm. Jack didn't think there was much of a chance of converting Kor'ac, but he deferred to Teal'c and held his fire.

Carter had her zat trained on one of the Jaffa whose staff weapon was aimed in their direction, but the rest of the occupants of the plaza had their eyes riveted to the two figures in the center of the platform.

Daniel faced Anath again. "You will not take me as a host. In fact, you will never take anyone as a host, ever again."

"You can't—" Anath's words choked off as Daniel stepped closer until they were inches apart.

"I also demand that you give up this host."

Anath's body stiffened as though paralyzed, her eyes growing wide with fear before rolling back in her head. Still she stood, unmoving, as Daniel reached out and placed a hand on the side of her neck. Her body convulsed once and then appeared to go limp. Daniel wrapped both hands around her and pulled her to him, gently taking them both to the floor.

Seeing Daniel deflect the staff blast and render Anath unconscious had thrown the Jaffa into disarray. With their God and the First Prime both down, they were lost. Teal'c seized the opportunity.

"Jaffa! It is as I said-your god has no real power. I give you the chance once again to leave her service and join the Free Jaffa."

With a sidelong glance at Daniel, one of the Jaffa approached the edge of the platform and, holding his staff horizontally, offered it to Teal'c. "You speak the truth. I will join you."

One by one, the remaining Jaffa followed suit, including the two holding the remaining prisoners. Their bonds were cut, sending the woman and child running to rejoin their families.

Seeing Teal'c had the Jaffa situation under control, Jack climbed onto the platform, Sam at his heals, and headed for Daniel and Anath. Sam diverted to Kor'ac, picking up a piece of rope to bind his hands.

Jack knelt next to Daniel, zat ready in case Anath surprised them, but her eyes were closed and she lay motionless. Jack turned his attention to Daniel, taking in the cut across one cheek that was oozing blood, and the haggardness of his features.

"You okay?"

Daniel's eyes remained fixed on Anath, but one side of his mouth quirked upwards into a smile. "I'm better now."

Jack glanced back at the Goa'uld. "Is she dead?"

"It depends."

What? Jack's eyes came back to Daniel. His friend met his gaze and Jack was struck by the intensity of emotion in their blue depths—pain, relief, sadness.

"What do you mean, 'it depends'?"

"It depends on whether you're talking about Anath or her host."

Did Daniel mean what he thought he meant? "Are you sayin' you were able to kill the snake without killing the host?"

Daniel's smile grew wider, this time reaching his eyes, making them sparkle with just a tiny bit of satisfaction. "Yeah."

Jack continued to be amazed by the powers Daniel had continued to demonstrate. These were the kinds of things that could come in very handy in their line of work, but at the same time, Jack was worried about the mental and physical toll it was taking on his friend. Not to mention the danger posed by those like Anath who would try to take control of that power for their own purposes. Jack wasn't sure how long they could continue to keep this a secret, especially after what Daniel had done here.

Jack placed his hand on Daniel's arm. "Ya done good, Danny. How about you get some rest and let us take it from here?"

"Okay," Daniel replied, still smiling as he proceeded to pass out.

Jack scrambled to grab him, keeping him from collapsing on top of Anath, instead, pulling him back against his own chest.

"Carter! Some help here!"

Immediately, Sam was at his side, helping him settle Daniel in a more comfortable position against his chest.

"Is he all right?"

"I think so."

"Is she dead?" Sam nodded towards Anath.

"The symbiote is."

"You want me to—?" Sam aimed her zat at the woman's body.

"No! The host is still alive."

"But how—"

"Daniel said he killed the snake without killing the host."

"My God, that's amazing!"

"Yeah, he is," Jack grinned.

Sam smiled, then leaned down and kissed Daniel's forehead.

"Carter?"

"Just checking for fever, sir."

"Uh huh." Jack's tone was light as he teased her. "What about our Jaffa friends?"

"They are willing to assist us with whatever we require." Jack looked up to see Teal'c standing over them.

"I think the first order of business is to destroy that sarcophagus."

"But, sir, we could—"

"No," he cut her off, "too dangerous and we're not takin' any chances."

"Yes, sir."

"Teal'c."

"It will be done, O'Neill. We will gather the remaining Jaffa and make them the same offer of freedom."

"You do that. And round up any extra weapons you find. Oh, and we'd better secure Grumpy over there in a cell until we can figure out what to do with him."

"It would be best if we took him to Dakara to face trial."

"Okay, just put him in a cell until then."

Teal'c bowed respectfully and left to organize the Jaffa. Another figure climbed the steps and crossed the platform to join them. Meryet kneeled next to Daniel, placing her hand on his cheek. She looked up at Jack, her mouth forming a question.

"He's okay," Jack answered, anticipating her question.

Meryet smiled with relief but in the next instant, scrambled backward in fear, when the woman on the floor moved.

"The Evil One is still alive!"

Meryet prepared to run, but Sam grabbed her. "It's all right, Meryet. The evil that was inside her is gone."

Meryet stared at the woman who had been their tormentor, shaking her head in disbelief.

"Daniel killed the evil that was inside her," Jack explained. "When she wakes up, she's going to be just a young woman like you—a scared young woman."

Meryet calmed somewhat, and looked from Jack to Daniel. "Truly, he has great power."

"I think maybe we should move her somewhere away from the other villagers," Sam said, noticing the crowd still watching from the plaza. "They might not be as ready to accept that as Meryet,"

"Why don't you take her back to the citadel?" Jack suggested. "She's probably gonna be a little freaked out when she wakes up."

"What about Daniel, sir?"

"I think we'd better find him someplace to take a nice, long nap."

TBC