“I have to do something. I have to do something. I have to do something.”
Daniel muttered his mantra softly as he paced his cluttered lab. He was beside himself with frustration. Unless someone took action, Maybourne would take the Tollan from the SGC. Once in the clutches of the NID colonel, who knew what unpleasantness would befall the intelligent but obstinate and stubborn humanoid aliens.
“Oww!!” Daniel yelped hopping on one leg. “Damn it!!” he swore, falling heavily into his chair.
“Think, I have to think of something,” Daniel commanded himself while one hand massaged the ache from his banged knee. “Think of something. Okay, Jack’s and the general’s hands are tied. They can’t disobey orders despite the moral implications, not to mention the violation of basic human rights. I’m a civilian; I’m not bound by those orders. What can Maybourne do to me anyway?” Daniel’s soliloquy paused, as he mentally visualized possible consequences to himself if he acted. “Never mind. Forget I even asked that question. It doesn’t matter. I still can’t believe the president is sanctioning this. I can’t believe I voted for him.” Daniel removed his glasses. Eyes closed, he massaged his temples. “Anyone military would be courtmartialed if they help the Tollan escape. Fine. Great. But escape to where? None of the planets we’ve visited so far has a civilization as advanced as the Tollan. Omac made that distinction very clear during our negotiations to resettle them. Aside from the Goa’uld, the Tollan are the first truly advanced culture we’ve encountered in our gate travels.”
Daniel became silent, but the temple massaging continued. Suddenly, his fingers stilled. He opened his eyes and set his glasses on his face. “No, they weren’t the first advanced culture we encountered. They were the second. The Nox were the first. I wonder…”
Swiveling his chair, Daniel began typing on his computer keyboard. It was an act of desperation. But it was the only idea he could come up with. It hinged on his theory concerning what the Tollan were doing when they escaped their detention and went to the mountaintop. With interest, Daniel read the information scrolling across his computer screen. Grabbing his pocket notebook, he began writing down the specific spatial coordinates displayed. A lot of luck would be involved in this as well as some fortuitous diversions. But at least he was attempting to do something. Information recorded, Daniel cleared his monitor and hurried from his lab, ignoring the pain in his banged knee.
“Thank you for agreeing to speak to me, Narim,” Daniel greeted the dark-haired Tollan.
Grinning to the SF guards posted outside the Tollan detention center, Daniel guided a befuddled Narim down the corridor and angled the alien into a secluded corner. He gave a friendly wave to the additional guards stationed along the hallway toward the elevator so as not to arouse their suspicion.
“Just relax and pretend we’re talking like we’ve done since your arrival here,” Daniel instructed softly, to put the alien at ease.
“I don’t understand why you wished to see me, Doctor Jackson.”
Grin fading, Daniel directed his attention fully to the Tollan. “Well, I’m not sure myself, but I think I may have a way to get you and your people sent to a place where Maybourne can’t get you.”
“You have a means of allowing us to escape?” Narim asked, his voice rising with hope.
“Not so loud,” Daniel hissed, again grinning at the attentive Marines. “Maybe. But you have to be honest with me and trust me, Narim, or I can’t help you.”
“I will do what I can, of course.”
“Okay. The other night when you all…ahh…well went for your walk to the mountaintop, just what exactly were you doing up there?”
“Just as I told Samantha, we determined the location of the star around which our new home world orbited.”
“Okay, right. But how exactly were you doing that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You did a visual sighting, or did you do something else?” Daniel fished. “Narim,” he prompted, when the Tollan hesitated in answering, “You have to trust me or this won’t work.”
“I want to trust you, Doctor Jackson. You are, unique, amongst your people here. But this could be a ploy on your part to obtain our technology.”
“No, no, no. That’s Maybourne, that’s not me. I don’t care about your technology.” Daniel paused, rethinking his last statement. “Well, okay, yes I am curious, but never mind. Look, we are running out of time. If you’re not willing to trust me, then there’s nothing I can do for you. I realize the leap of faith I’m asking you to take.” Delving into his bag of tricks, Daniel favored Narim with what he hoped was the most sincere, wanting-to-help look he could muster.
“Very well,” Narim relented. “We have, to your way of thinking, a very advanced and rapid means of locating any star within our galaxy whether visible or not from our location.”
“Okay, I was guessing that’s what you did. Now, can you also use this technology to send a message very, very fast?”
“Yes, I believe we can adapt the technology to do that. But why? As I told Samantha, even if we sent such a message to our new home world, it would take numerous passing of your planetary years for a ship to arrive.”
“Good, yes, that’s what I wanted to hear.” Daniel quieted, and glanced toward the guards deciding they were too far away to hear what he would propose. “We’re not going to send a message to your new home world. We’re sending one somewhere else,” Daniel explained. Narim looked very confused but the linguist raised one hand, unwilling to explain further. “I know. But, just go along with me for now. Okay. I have to go and talk to Jack. You have to convince Omac he can trust me.”
“What you ask will not be easy. But, I will try.” Narim grinned. “Like Samantha, what your mind does not know your heart fills in. You are anything but primitive, Doctor Jackson.”
Daniel was baffled, his forehead wrinkling as he attempted to decipher the meaning behind what the Tollan had said. “I’m not quite sure what that means, and unfortunately, we don’t have the time for you to explain it to me. C’mon.” Daniel guided Narim toward the guarded entrance to the detention center.
“Why involve your military?” the alien whispered suspiciously.
Daniel held up one cautionary hand. “Because, we have to do this in a way that none of our military personnel—the good ones here at the base—will be held accountable if we succeed.”
“But what of you, Doctor Jackson?” Narim whispered.
“Oh, I’m a civilian. Maybourne can’t touch me. Go talk to Omac. I’ll be back.”
Grinning at the sentries, Daniel ushered Narim into the large room and then strolled down the corridor, the perfect picture of innocence.
Daniel’s frantic search for his friends finally ended in Sam’s lab.
“Here you are. Finally! Come on, we have to talk.”
He impatiently waved for his three bewildered colleagues to follow him. Sharing bemused glances, they did. Daniel said nothing, shushing them into silence until the four arrived at the surface and exited the mountain base. The group walked over to stand partially hidden between the military transport trucks waiting to haul their alien cargo away the following morning.
“Okay, Daniel, enough of this cloak and dagger stuff,” Jack huffed. “What’s going on?”
“Not so loud, Jack. Someone might hear you,” Daniel hushed.
“Daniel?” Jack prompted, quickly losing his patience.
“I think I have a way for the Tollan to escape.”
“Daniel, we’ve been over this. There’s nothing we can do. We’d be violating orders.”
“You and Sam would, yes. But I’m not military. I’m a civilian.”
“Daniel,” Jack warned.
“No, just hear me out, Jack. Please.” Daniel stared hard at the colonel, who finally relented. “Okay. You and Sam have been thinking about this the wrong way. We shouldn’t help the Tollan escape.” Jack’s mouth opened to speak, but Daniel held up a warning finger. Jack remained silent. “What if someone sent for the Tollan through the Stargate? What if this someone activated our Stargate from off-world? What if they had the capability to breach the iris, from off world? If the Tollan were sent for, we wouldn’t be implicated in helping them escape. Maybourne would have no evidence for court-martials.”
Daniel quieted, anticipating his three friends would understand. Jack was totally confused while Teal’c arched one eyebrow. Neither spoke. Sam, her forehead wrinkled in thought, also remained silent.
“Oh, c’mon, guys. It’s not that hard to figure out,” Daniel implored.
Jack reached over and placed his hand on Daniel’s forehead. “No fever. But are you feeling okay, Daniel?”
“Jack!” Daniel snapped brushing Jack’s hand away.
“The Nox,” Sam declared.
“Yes, exactly!” Daniel exclaimed, pleased, giving a little excited jump, his hands waving.
“But the Nox buried their Stargate,” Sam continued.
“I know.” Daniel confirmed, stilling. “But the Tollan can send a message to the Nox and ask them to unbury their gate. It’s the perfect solution. The Nox are technologically advanced. I just have to convince Omac to let me, let us, help them.”
“And, how do you know the Tollan can contact the Nox?” Jack asked skeptical.
“I asked Narim and he told me,” Daniel answered.
“And you believe him,” Jack continued.
“Of course,” Daniel stated, as if this was the most obvious thing.
“Carter?” Jack asked.
“It’s feasible as a plan, sir. As Daniel said, if the Tollan are sent for, Maybourne has no proof we were involved.” Sam stared at the ground, thinking out loud. “For this to succeed, I’ll have to make some minor adjustments to the computer system. I’ll have to coordinate the timing, cause some diversions, and be certain the gate can’t be shut down once the Nox activate it off-world. I also have to mask the system so the computer won’t signal it recognizes the destination of the off-world activation or initiate the self-destruct program. Maybe we can keep the blast doors down, make it appear the system tampering is coming from elsewhere.” She looked at Daniel.
“Yeah, I’ll have to get that timing information for you. And I’m certain I can get the Tollan to the gateroom when they have to be there.”
“I will assist you in that task, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c offered, speaking for the first time.
“Daniel, are you willing to take this risk?” Sam asked.
“Yes, its the right thing to do,” Daniel stated without hesitation. “I’m a civilian. What can Maybourne do to me?” Daniel looked to Jack. “What?”
“Probably try to remove you from the program. Accuse you of treason.” At Daniel’s crestfallen look, Jack quickly amended, “but that’s if he can prove you were directly involved. So, we’ll just make sure he doesn’t have that proof,” Jack assured him, patting Daniel on the shoulder. “Okay, kids, if Daniel’s willing to take the chance, I think we’re all in agreement we need to do what we can to help?” Three heads nodded. “Just one more thing. We have to tell Hammond.”
“Because he’s the base commander. I won’t do anything that could jeopardize his command. Besides, we know he’s as upset about this as we are. He’s already gone to bat for us with that quarantine tactic. If we’re successful, and Maybourne makes trouble, it’s good to have the general on our side.”
Daniel was relieved. The plan was coming together. SG-1 was in agreement. He watched Jack stroll over to the sentries to have a message relayed they wanted to speak to Hammond and, in a break with protocol, to please come topside.
Daniel tried to keep his excitement under control. He had to appear normal so as not to raise suspicions. Hammond had agreed to their plan. Now all he had to do was convince Omac of their sincere intentions of wanting to free the Tollan. Since he had already spent a lot of time talking with their alien guests, the SFs had no reason to deny him access into the detention center. Once inside, Daniel tried not to let the accusing glares of the Tollan affect him. Narim was waiting for him near the door.
“I’ve spoken to Jack. We think this can work. It all hinges on whether Omac trusts me.”
“I’ve tried to convince him. He does not trust you. He will not listen. I’m sorry,” Narim apologized, defeated.
“He has to,” Daniel insisted, spying the Tollan leader standing beside the far wall of the room. “Let me try.”
Narim nodded his head and escorted Daniel to the dour faced Omac.
“Omac, I have to speak with you. Please.”
The Tollan leader glared at Daniel. “The one you call Maybourne was here questioning my people, wanting us to take some sort of tests. And you expect me to trust you.”
Daniel understood the Tollan’s anger and suspicions. But for this to work, he would have to breach that seemingly impenetrable barrier of distrust. “Please, Maybourne is from another division of our government. We’re trying to protect you from him.”
“Well, you’re not doing a very good job of it,” Omac accused.
“No, apparently not,” Daniel admitted, ashamed. He remained quiet, uncomfortable under Omac’s scowl.
“Do you have a new place for us to go?” Apparently Narim had been able to broach Daniel’s plan to the older man.
“Well…no,” Daniel answered. Technically that was true.
“Then we have nothing else to say,” Omac dismissed him and walked away.
“Well, okay, I do know a perfect place you could go but I just don’t know how to get you there,” Daniel confessed. He knew honesty was the only way to deal with this situation.
“Well, then why do you speak of it?” This question came from Narim. Daniel glanced at the dark haired Tollan. Why was he asking this? They’d already discussed this. Unless, Narim was giving Daniel an opening in which to continue the discussion with the stubborn Omac.
“Well, I was kinda hoping you would have the technology to get you there,” Daniel answered Narim’s question but directed his words to Omac.
“This is a trick to gain access to our technology.”
“No,” Daniel denied, closing the distance between himself and Omac. “Listen, there was a planet we went to where the people were as advanced as you are, maybe even more. They were called the Nox.”
“If you went there, then why can’t we?” Omac asked.
This is hopefu,l Daniel thought. He’s curious. “Well, they thought about us pretty much the same way you do. They called us very young which I suppose is a hair bit more polite than calling us primitive. They buried their Stargate and I don’t know how to communicate with them to get it opened.”
“Then why tell us?”
“Because I was kinda hoping you would have the technology to communicate with them.”
A tense silence ensued. Daniel silently prayed Omac would take the chance to trust him, and let him help. Otherwise, the Tollan were doomed to a life of imprisonment under Maybourne’s control.
“Do you know where this planet is?” Omac finally asked.
“Yes,” Daniel confirmed taking his notepad from his jacket pocket. “I have the coordinates right here.”
“Then we must go back to the mountaintop,” Omac declared matter-of-factly.
This was a contingency Daniel hadn’t planned for. He had assumed the Tollan would show him how to send the coordinates. “I can’t, I can’t get you out of here,” he stumbled.
“That’s not a problem,” the Tollan stated, a hint of smugness in both his tone of voice and the tiny grin on his face.
Sudden realization dawned for Daniel. “Right. Oh, but I have to go with you,” he insisted.
Omac lost his grin as he walked away from the archeologist. Daniel waited, tense and nervous.
Finally, Omac spoke. “Give me your hand.”
“Do you wish to come or not?”
Daniel got his feet moving. He walked to the waiting Tollan and tightly clasped Omac’s hand. As the wall before them began to waver, Daniel instinctively tightened his grip. This was going to be weird he thought as Omac stepped forward disappearing into the distortion. Daniel hesitated, trying to convince himself this was a safe thing to do. Just think of it as a mini wormhole, he told himself cautiously touching the shimmer with his free hand before he was unexpectedly yanked through.
“Whoa!” Daniel gasped.
He was so stupefied with the experience he was speechless as his mind tried and failed to rationalize what his body was doing and how it was doing it—going through solid matter. Silent, but astonished, he allowed Omac to guide him through the solid concrete walls of the base to arrive on the surface. Nighttime had fallen. The area was blanketed in velvety blackness. Overhead, the stars illuminated the vastness of the universe beyond in the cloudless and moonless night.
Together the two men climbed through the forest until they arrived at the location where the Tollan had been discovered the previous night. Daniel gazed upward. The stars were brilliant in their luminance. No wonder Jack enjoyed spending hours looking through his telescope, Daniel mused. This was beautiful.
Omac removed one of the small devices from his arm holster. “The coordinates.”
Daniel replied by offering Omac the notepad with the scribbled information. The two men knelt. Daniel watched, fascinated, as Omac entered the pertinent data into the device. The Tollan pressed the center button. A shaft of white light rose upwards, wavered, then shot into the nighttime sky. Daniel watched it lift off, quickly swallowed by the universe overhead.
“Listen, I’m no astronomer, but won’t that take thousands of years to reach the Nox world?” he asked, unable to keep his curiosity in check.
“Why would it?”
“Well, that’s just a laser, right? I mean, it takes light a long time to travel that far.”
Daniel was amazed to see Omac grin at him with bemusement before the older Tollan searched the ground. Finding a leafy stick he picked it up. He held the stick before him in his hands. “The distance between these two points seems far, until you do this.” Omac circled the pliant stick so both ends were touching.
“Okay, okay, I remember this from college physics,” Daniel declared, pleased. “One of our scientists, Einstein, explained this the same way. You’re talking about actually folding space, right.”
Omac’s bemused grin remained and Daniel noted the man’s gruff facial features actually softened. “No,” he said gently. “You wouldn’t understand,” he added, but without malice.
Daniel was crushed. “No, I guess not. I just hope the Nox do,” he said, looking skyward.
Several moments passed. Daniel could clearly hear the night sounds echo around their position, but he and Omac remained quiet. Feeling his neck begin to protest the effort to hold his face skywards, he lowered his head to look at the immobile Tollan kneeling beside him. Daniel was just bursting with questions, which he knew would go unanswered. He really would like to know how they walked through the walls with no difficulty, even if his perspective of human limited science would prevent him from fully grasping the concept. Still, he couldn’t wait to discuss the experience with Sam. She was way smarter than he was in the physical sciences. He was confident she could develop several plausible theories.
“Ahh,” Daniel began, rousing himself, “this isn’t going to take very long, is it?” he asked.
“That’s good. Because we are kinda running out of time. We have to get you out of here by morning,” Daniel explained. Omac did not answer. The Tollan continued to gaze skyward.
Once again they were surrounded by silence. To occupy himself while he waited, Daniel’s eyes began to roam and drifted to the discarded stick. He took it up and held it in his hands. Muttering the same words Omac had spoken earlier, he carefully circled the stick, duplicating Omac’s motions touching the two ends. Then he separated them and touched them again. “Infinite number of points on a circle, sooo…” His brow lined with the concentrated effort. Nothing. He couldn’t figure it out. He happened to see Omac watching him, an amused smile on his face, his pale blue eyes alive with humor. Even in the dark, Daniel felt himself blushing in embarrassment under the scrutiny.
“Its such a simple concept I’m going to feel very foolish when I figure this out, aren’t I?” he asked, sheepishly.
“It’s a simple concept, yes,” Omac admitted. “But a great leap in intuitive thinking is required if, or when, you understand it.” His grin widened. “I sense you are someone who is determined to find an answer to every question, a solution to every problem.”
Daniel smiled at the offhanded praise. He suspected Omac hid a great deal under his gruff exterior. The Tollan had to be more than what he appeared to be. Still, Daniel sensed he had managed to crack the obstinate man’s defenses. Encouraged, Daniel decided to try asking some of his myriad questions. Maybe he’d get some answers this time.
“So, umm, Omac, were your ancestors brought to Tollan by the Goa’uld?”
Omac resumed gazing into the nighttime sky. “Yes,” he finally answered. “Then the Goa’uld never returned.”
“Really?” How long ago was that, exactly?” Daniel continued, excited.
“Long ago,” came the cryptic reply.
“Oh. Well, I’m curious because we’ve discovered most of the human cultures we’ve encountered
in our travels originated here, on Earth and they were transplanted by the Goa’uld. Even if your ancestors originated from here, you’ve obviously evolved far beyond us. I’m guessing because in our history was a time called the Dark Ages where learning and science were forbidden or maybe we’d almost be your equals technologically speaking.” At this Omac frowned at Daniel. “And I’m babbling. Sorry,” the linguist apologized feeling himself again blushing in embarrassment under the harsh stare.
Then Omac’s features softened as his grin reappeared. “You are as much a mystery to me, Doctor Jackson, as what we are attempting to do here is to you,” Omac continued, deftly diverting the conversation away from the history of the Tollan people.
“Not as much a mystery as you are to us,” Daniel said, understanding that topic was closed. “I mean, look at your technology, the level of your civilization, look at what you’re capable of doing. Walking through walls,” Daniel trailed off, actually at a loss for words
Omac’s smile widened. Daniel noticed he appeared to be a different man with the smile softening his stern features. “Why are you offering to assist us, Doctor Jackson?” Omac’s question was unexpected.
“Because its the right thing to do,” Daniel answered without hesitation.
“Yes.” Omac paused. “Doctor Jackson, I apologize for my rudeness earlier. I’m grateful you and your friends risked yourselves to rescue us from Tollana. It was a very compassionate and courageous deed on your part, given the circumstances. Our refusal to answer your questions was because we believed you wished only to gain access to our technology and knowledge, not because we were ungrateful. However, Narim said you were not interested in our technology. Why not, when all your colleagues are?”
“Well, of course I’m interested,” Daniel confessed. Now that he had Omac talking, truth and honesty were needed to encourage the Tollan. “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want to know some of what you know, especially about the Goa’uld. But, Sam told me what Narim told her of Cereta. I understand, now, your hesitance to share your knowledge and technology with us.”
“Narim speaks well of both yourself and Captain Carter,” Oman confessed. “He believes we can trust you.”
“Well, thank you. I told you when we first talked, we’re peaceful explorers.” At Omac’s disbelieving gaze, Daniel amended. “Well, we try to be. That’s sort of my job. To remind our military of this humanitarian facet of our Stargate program. We want to learn all there is to learn out there,” Daniel waved his hand to take in the universe. “Not all of us follow Maybourne’s agenda. As I said, I study cultures and ancient history. I would like to learn of your history and your culture. We could exchange information.” At Omac’s bemused look, Daniel knew he would once again be denied. “Right. No sharing of information. But, we could still be friends, couldn’t we?” Daniel persisted. This was the longest conversation he’d managed to pry from the obstinate Omac.
“Perhaps, in time, we could be friends,” Omac finally conceded. “A man who studies cultures and ancient history and yet you work for your military. That is a contradiction.”
“Yeah, but its the only way I can travel through the Stargate. I’m searching for something,” Daniel added, wistfully.
“And you are fighting the Goa’uld.”
“And we’re fighting the Goa’uld,” Daniel echoed Omac’s statement. “In our travels through the Stargate, we hope to find technologies and allies so we can protect our planet from the Goa’uld. Just not in the way Maybourne wants to obtain it.”
“And this Maybourne, he’ll be displeased if we escape?”
“Yeah, very displeased.”
Omac studied Daniel, who began to feel uncomfortable under the scrutiny. “Perhaps, if we are successful here, you should come with us. You would be most welcome on the new home world.”
Daniel was flabbergasted. “Ahh…what…come…come with you?” He couldn’t believe the opportunity Omac was offering him: to be allowed to study the culture of a technologically advanced race of humans. Then reality crashed down. How could he go and delay his search for Sha’re? Not to mention abandoning Sam, Jack and Teal’c, to leave them behind to face any consequences because of his actions? He couldn’t in good conscience allow his friends to suffer any punishment because of his involvement in the Tollan’s escape.
Crestfallen, Daniel stared at the ground. “I…I can’t. It’s a great opportunity, of course. But I can’t leave my friends.” Daniel looked at Omac and shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t think any further explanation was necessary.
“You’ve been very honest with us since our arrival here, Doctor Jackson. And I thank you for that. Narim is right, you are unique amongst your people.”
“I’m no one special,” Daniel denied, feeling his face warm from the compliment. “I’m just a civilian.”
“A civilian. And that means?” Omac prompted.
“I’m not military.”
Omac suddenly looked skyward, effectively preventing further conversation. Daniel did the same. A few seconds passed and then he saw it. A speck of light, a moving speck of light traversing through the blackness. Suddenly, it blazed toward them to land in the small Tollan device. Omac picked it up and stared at it. He looked to Daniel, smiling.
“The Nox have received our request and have agreed to assist us. We must be ready to leave in,” Omac became silent, his brow furrowed then smoothed. “In three of your hours.”
Daniel looked at his wristwatch. “Okay, that’s, ah, that’s going to make it close. Here, can you write down the information Sam needs,” Daniel offered his notepad and pen to Omac. After several moments of writing, the Tollan gave it back to Daniel.
“Okay,” Daniel stood. “This is going to work. With luck, you and your people will be going with the Nox. I imagine they can get you to your new home world.”
“Perhaps” Omac stood as well, reattaching the device to his sleeve, “but we will be going somewhere whether this is successful or not. We will not be enslaved.”
Together, the two men returned unnoticed into the mountain base.
I hope this works, Daniel thought, as they phased into the concrete wall.
Daniel heard Jack’s bemused question but still refused to turn away from the now inactive Stargate. “Oh, I was just remembering what the little guy with funny hair once told us.”
“The very young do not always do as they’re told.”
SG1’s euphoric success was quickly vanquished when they heard approaching footsteps outside the gateroom. Additional armed soldiers burst in, Maybourne leading the charge. The infuriated red-faced colonel stormed to the ramp. He pointed an accusing finger in Daniel’s face. “You!”
Daniel flinched and took a step backward as Teal’c took one forward, offering a partial Jaffa shield.
“Hey, got a problem, Maybourne?” Jack casually asked, raising his own arm to deflect the accusatory finger away from the archeologist.
Daniel recognized his friend was trying to diffuse the mounting tension and, for the moment, he was more than willing to allow Jack to run interference.
“You were responsible for this, Doctor Jackson!” the NID colonel spat, ignoring O’Neill. “There will be ramifications, I can guarantee it!” he threatened ominously.
Daniel concentrated on not displaying his mounting anxiety but silently admitted he was somewhat frightened by Maybourne’s threat. The personal consequences of his actions, which he had refused to consider, were beginning to clamor in his mind for attention. In hindsight, maybe he should have accepted Omac’s offer.
“Was that a threat, Maybourne?” Jack asked, moving to physically place himself between the infuriated NID colonel and Daniel. “Weren’t you listening? The Nox sent for the Tollan. Didn’t you see what happened?”
“I saw what happened, Colonel. Can you explain how Doctor Jackson and Teal’c just happened to be in the gateroom with the Tollan when the Nox arrived?”
Before Jack could answer, Daniel saw Teal’c a second step forward. He noticed the Jaffa appeared to be looming.
“Daniel Jackson and I were summoned to the briefing room. We were obeying that summons when the alarm sounded. We arrived in the gateroom only to discover the Tollan were already present.”
Maybourne’s ire was now focused on Teal’c as Daniel suspected the Jaffa intended.
Teal’c leaned forward a fraction. “Jaffa do not lie. If we were on Chulak, I would be within my rights to demand forfeiture of your life for what you have accused,” he rumbled.
“Want some advice, Harry?” Jack smoothly interjected. “Give it up. You lost the Tollan to the Nox. Accept it and move on.”
Maybourne straightened, his face a reddened mask of controlled fury. “I won’t forget this, Colonel O’Neill.” His voice was menacing. His dark eyes bore into Daniel. “I won’t forget you either, Doctor Jackson.” Threat delivered, he stormed from the embarkation room, his soldiers obediently following.
“Like I said, not a happy camper,” Sam repeated her earlier observation.
“You let me deal with Colonel Maybourne,” Hammond declared. “Doctor Jackson, my official report on this incident will clearly state the Nox came for the Tollan and we were powerless to prevent their leaving.”
“Yeah, general, remember to mention both the Nox and the Tollan were way smarter than we are, sir,” Jack offered.
Hammond’s hardened expression stated he didn’t fully appreciate Jack’s sarcasm at the moment before he departed to deal with the fallout certain to come.
“Daniel,” Jack said, guiding the younger man out of the embarkation room towards the elevator. “A word in your office.”
Daniel led Jack into his cluttered lab. Their walk from the gateroom had passed in silence. Daniel was curious but remained silent. He sat down behind his cluttered desk and waited.
“Hey, Daniel, why so glum?” Jack asked, straddling an unoccupied chair. “Like I said, you did good today.”
“I know. I did the right thing, the moral thing, and under similar circumstances, I’d do it again without hesitation. But …”
“Well, the Tollan took all their knowledge, all their technology with them. Another opportunity for us to fulfill the mandate of the Stargate program has slipped through our fingers. You must be disappointed,” Daniel apologized.
“Yeah, a little. Would have been sweet to know how they move through walls. They could have shared something with us. After all, we did save their technologically advanced butts. But there’s a right way to get stuff and a wrong way. Maybourne’s way is definitely wrong. Your way is right. And the Tollan are gonna remember us and what you did.”
“They’ll remember we’re primitive,” Daniel stated, ignoring Jack’s praise.
“Yeah, maybe. But you got them home.”
Daniel looked away from his friend, his fingers locating and fumbling with a potshard amid the clutter. “He invited me to go with them.”
“What? Jack asked, obviously perplexed.
Daniel looked up. “Omac. He invited me to go with the Tollan to the Nox home world.”
“Why? Because he liked you?” Jack’s tone indicated he didn’t believe this.
“So, why didn’t you?”
“I was tempted, “Daniel confessed. “It’s not the first time I was willing to walk away from here to study an advanced culture.”
“Yeah,” Jack sighed, resting his chin on his crossed hands. Apparently they were each remembering what had happened on Ernest’s planet.
“But I can’t abandon Sha’re and I can’t abandon you guys.”
“And you couldn’t leave us to face the music if there were repercussions to losing the Tollan.”
Daniel nodded, replacing the potsherd where he’d found it. “So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
Jack stood, scooting the chair aside. “You’re coming home with me tonight. I’ve been meaning to tell you, I’ve got a feeler on a vacant apartment in a secure building located in a nice part of town. Some of the Air Force personnel from the Academy and NORAD rent there. I want you to check it out. With what’s happened, now may be a good time.”
“Why?” Daniel repeated. He had an apartment; one he liked just fine. He didn’t want to move, again. Besides, once he found Sha’re, he was leaving Earth permanently.
“Daniel, just humor me on this one, okay? I’ve dealt with men like Maybourne before. He won’t forget.”
“But you agreed, I’d be safe because I was a civilian. And he can’t prove anything.”
“Proving and knowing aren’t the same.”
“But you guys took as much a risk as I did.”
“We’re more protected then you are because …”
“I’m a civilian,” Daniel finished Jack’s sentence.
“Right. I’m not saying this to scare you. It never hurts to be cautious. You need to be more aware of that.”
“Do you think Maybourne will have me removed from the program?”
“He’ll try. I’m sure Hammond can keep that from happening. Besides the president, even if Maybourne stonewalled him on this, still likes you. What I’m saying is men like Maybourne don’t play by the rules. There’s more than one way to remove someone, if you catch my meaning.”
Daniel frowned, crossing his arms before him. He didn’t like what Jack was implying. On the other hand, Jack had more experience in this kind of subterfuge. Despite what his friend said about his lack of awareness, Daniel could take care of himself. After all, he’d been doing so most of his life. Still, if moving to a better apartment would make Jack happy, he would do as the older man suggested. Resigned, Daniel nodded his head. “Okay. I can still have my fish, right?”
“You can still have your fish,” Jack assured him, walking toward the doorway. “I’ll come get you later.”
“Okay? Um, Jack can we stargaze tonight?” Daniel asked. He had an overwhelming need to be able to do so.
Jack smiled, pleased. “Sure, if the weather cooperates. I’ll even buy the beer.”
Daniel watched his friend depart. No matter how inconvenient and disruptive to his life, moving was a small price to pay for doing the right thing. He grinned. At least the Tollan were safe. He doubted he could ever forgive himself if he had merely stood aside and let the humans be enslaved by NID. Like he had said, forced intellectual labor. Daniel wouldn’t like it if it happened to him and no one did anything to prevent it. The Tollan would remember what was done for them here. He’d certainly succeeded in impressing Omac, recalling the Tollan’s parting words, Narim was right about you. Perhaps, in time we’ll meet again. The Tollan were aware of Earth and what they were doing with gate travel. Maybe, one day, the Tollan will return the favor.
Daniel smiled, somewhat pleased with himself. He often regretted being “the civilian” always butting heads with protocol, the often illogical mandates and the too rigid chain of command in this military operation. But today, being a civilian had given him the leeway to act when Jack and the others couldn’t. Being a civilian was just fine with him. Daniel wouldn’t have it any other way.
First published in Redemption 2
March 21, 2004 The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.